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Hitters to Target in OBP & Points Leagues (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

by Carmen Maiorano | @carmsclubhouse | Featured Writer
Mar 12, 2020

Rhys Hoskins gets a big boost in OBP and points leagues.

Third time is the charm. I’ve written about hitters to target in OBP and points leagues here and here before, so I’m a seasoned vet at this point. Those articles provide a good foundation into what OBP and points leagues consist of, as well the guys who perform better in these types of leagues.

This year, I’ve made my own rankings (you can find them in the ECR) for roto, so I’ve calculated the points leagues and OBP ranks. From there, I ran a comparison on players you should be targeting in OBP and points leagues, based on how much better they are in those formats than in standard roto or head-to-head categories. I’m going to write about players I haven’t highlighted in the past, so I encourage you to read up on Joey Votto and Carlos Santana in those links above!

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Points Leagues Targets

Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI)
Roto Hitter Rank: 99; Points League Hitter Rank: 36
Hoskins has fallen down draft boards to the point of being a bargain (ADP currently sits at 105), but this should not be the case in points leagues. His 15.2% three-year average walk rate and nearly league-average strikeout rate make him a great points league bet. He also mashes doubles, as evidenced by his above-average wOBA, and I’ve got him with another 30+ homers this year. Don’t discount his 11 hit-by-pitches last year either.

Jurickson Profar (2B – SD)
Roto Hitter Rank: 147; Points League Hitter Rank: 95
This name surprised me after doing the math. After digging in, it seems that Profar is the prototype for points leagues. He has consistently raked doubles (59 over the past two seasons), gets hit by pitches at a good rate, and strikes out just five percent more than he walks. Factor in slight positive regression in the hits department, and he should be a top-15 second baseman in points leagues.

Daniel Vogelbach (1B – SEA)
Roto Hitter Rank: 229; Points League Hitter Rank: 143
Much like Hoskins, Vogelbach hits the ball in the air a bit too much (17.6-degree launch angle), but over 15% of his plate appearances end in a walk. He also does not steal bases, but stolen bags do not matter — like, at all — in points leagues. He managed elite walk rates in the minors, which is supported by elite O-Swing percentages. There’s also hope that he can get back to striking out around 20% of the time as he did in the minors. A more aggressive approach may actually serve Vogelbach well since his 8.6% swinging-strike rate is low. He’s worth a dart throw in deeper leagues.

Justin Smoak (1B – MIL)
Roto Hitter Rank: 183; Points League Hitter Rank: 126
I love Smoak this year. I’ve written about him previously, and he is a sleeper amongst the industry.

OBP Targets

All the guys above get a boost in OBP leagues as well, but the names listed below take the biggest leap from an average to OBP world.

Joey Gallo (OF – TEX)
Average Rank: 381; OBP Rank: 89
Gallo made our hearts beat with joy when he posted a .253 average in what amounted to a half-season last year. The bad news is that it came on the heels of a BABIP 115 points higher than the previous year, so he’s unlikely to repeat that average again. In fact, I project him hitting .223, which would still be the second-best output of his career.

Now, we wouldn’t be here without discussing his walk rate. He improved it nearly five percentage points last year, as it climbed all the way to 17.5%. The question is: Were those gains sustainable? Let’s dive in:

O-Swing % Z-Swing % Zone % SwStr%
2017 32% 74% 36% 19%
2018 32% 74% 38% 18%
2019 24% 66% 40% 16%

 
The trends you see are Gallo swinging less in general, seeing more pitches in the strike zone, and lowering his whiff rate. This tells me that his increase in walks was largely earned. With that said, maintaining what would be the second-best walk rate in baseball over a full season is difficult. I’ve got him regressing to 15%, which would still be the second-best rate of his career.

Yasmani Grandal (C – CWS)
Average Rank: 317; OBP Rank: 80
Grandal’s average falls just less than a standard deviation below the mean, but his OBP is more than a half standard deviation above the mean. Okay, I’ll hop out of stats class. His 13.5% walk rate stands his OBP up to a projected .349, putting him a full 70 spots above consensus number one catcher J.T. Realmuto in that category. When switching out average for OBP, Grandal projects to be a better value than Realmuto.

Cavan Biggio (2B – TOR)
Average Rank: 335; OBP Rank: 32
Biggio hits too many fly balls, doesn’t hit the ball too hard, and won’t hit a ton of doubles. What he lacks in those categories, he makes up for in a nifty 16.5% walk rate. No, I didn’t regress him from last year’s rate, because he walked 17.8% of the time in over 550 plate appearances in Double-A, and almost walked 20% of the time in 43 games in Triple A. In OBP leagues, Biggio has a shot at being a top-five second baseman.

Eric Thames (1B/OF – WAS)
Average Rank: 322; OBP Rank: 114
A bit of an under-the-radar play. Thames strikes out nearly 32% of the time and is an average killer, but he sported a 12% walk rate over the last three seasons. At this point, his game isn’t likely to evolve, but he makes for a solid bench piece in deep 15-team OBP leagues.

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Carmen Maiorano is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Carmen, check out his archive and personal fantasy blog and follow him @carmsclubhouse.

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