Player Value Changes Between Points and Category Leagues (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
There are two types of people in this world. People who are roto snobs and those who embrace points leagues as a fun variation from a traditional format. Some might even say that points leagues represent real-life baseball better, as it accounts for strikeouts and caught steals for hitters and quality starts and types of base hits for pitchers.
In a nutshell, points leagues tend to reward hitters who get on base more and pitchers who go deep into games. The ranks below are based on CBS points leagues but feel free to shout if your points league scoring differs, and we can take a look at whose potential value rises and falls.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KAN)
Roto Hitter Rank: 12
Points Hitter Rank: 112
Mondesi is a controversial (to say the least) draft selection in roto but is completely avoidable in points leagues. He obviously gets extra credit for the doubles and triples he hits due to his speed. However, points leagues significantly hinder steals, given that they are typically worth just one point each. Mondesi is the anti-crown jewel of how steals can essentially be thrown into the dumpster in points leagues. Points leagues also typically deduct one point for any caught steals. While Mondesi has a near-elite 81% stolen base rate, we can expect him to still get caught over ten times every season. That also hurts him.
The other aspect of Mondesi’s game that devalues him in this format is all the strikeouts. Specifically, the career 29.3% strikeout rate over nearly 1,200 plate appearances. Of course, all of the plate discipline metrics back up his awful strikeout rate. He swings at too many pitches out of the zone and doesn’t make nearly enough contact. In fact, his swinging strike rate suggests he should strike out even more.
Given that he will earn one less point for each strikeout, his value falls precipitously in points leagues. On top of that, with just a career 4.3% walk rate, we aren’t getting any points back that way. Mondesi is guaranteed to get selected prior to the 75th overall pick, and you’ll be able to smirk and know that is likely a wasted pick.
Luis Robert (OF – CHW)
Roto Hitter Rank: 34
Points Hitter Rank: 90
Unsurprisingly, Robert falls in points leagues because of similar reasons to Mondesi. Robert is projected to get 25-30 stolen bases, which we know prop up his value in roto, but drag him down in this format. Similar to Mondesi, Robert posted an 80%+ success rate on stolen bases, so getting those negative points for steals isn’t a dealbreaker.
Robert also has poor plate discipline, resulting in a large number of strikeouts.
Somehow, he’s even worse than Mondesi in terms of plate discipline. He struck out around 23% of the time in the minors, so there is a chance that his plate discipline improves over time. However, I’m not counting on that in full this year.
The one reason that Robert doesn’t fall as far as Mondesi is due to his walk rate. He walked 8.8% of the time last year. While he didn’t show that kind of walk rate in the minors, he could post a walk rate of six percent this year, which would be slightly higher than Mondesi. Those walks count as a point each and will also lead to some runs, which means that Robert’s floor is a bit higher.
Joey Votto (1B – CIN)
Roto Hitter Rank: 161
Points Hitter Rank: 75
Votto does the opposite of the two players listed above, as he doesn’t steal any bases and walks a ton. Votto has always been the main exhibit in the points league museum, given his career 16% walk rate. He became a bit more passive at the plate last year, which means that even more walks (and strikeouts) could be coming.
Votto’s plate discipline is second to none. So, he gets a huge boost for walks. He is also locked into the upper-third of the Reds’ lineup, providing a safe combined-runs and RBI floor. Remember, runs and RBI are all one category (points), so we don’t have to be concerned if Votto’s runs and RBI do not meet projections individually, as long as they come in near projections in total.
Carlos Santana (1B – KAN)
Roto Hitter Rank: 112
Points Hitter Rank: 44
Like Votto, Santana sports an elite walk rate. He posted a career-high 18.4% rate last year and sits at 15.5% for his career. Just to see how the two compare, let’s take an in-depth look at those plate discipline metrics.
Santana has a (maybe surprisingly) somewhat better swinging-strike rate, and they have a very similar approach to hitting. Santana projects to hit third in the order for a new-look Royals squad that could surprise. While Santana is slow (nearly bottom 20th percentile in sprint speed), these walks help him score more runs than the average hitter in the three-hole. On the rare occasion that a draft room forgets that Santana is a legend in points leagues, make sure to scoop him up as your starting first baseman.
Sixto Sanchez (SP – MIA)
Roto SP Rank: 51
Points Rank: 78
Since points leagues benefit innings-eaters most of the time, young pitchers like Sanchez get docked in this format. I don’t see him pitching more than 150 innings, given his relatively small frame, and more importantly, because of his innings pitched to date.
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Organizations typically increase innings ten percent every year, which would set him up to pitch just 130 innings in 2021, using 2019 as a baseline. Further, he also projects to have a below league-average strikeout rate, despite his jaw-dropping changeup and high-powered four-seamer. This means fewer points for us, which is compounded on top of his low innings total. Someone will be hoping for upside and take him earlier than he should be drafted in this format, and you can let him slide on by.
Dinelson Lamet (SP – SDP)
Roto SP Rank: 46
Points SP Rank: 106
Lamet’s injury status is up in the air, given that he just started throwing off a mound a few weeks ago. The writing is on the wall for Lamet to start the year on the IL or go on it at some point during the season. He’s been injured at some point in every season since he debuted in 2017. At the end of the day, I would be shocked if Lamet pitched more than 115 innings this year, which severely limits his upside in this format.
On top of that, he will approach a walk rate close to double digits and is 25% above the league average in his career hit by pitch (HBP) rate. You lose a point per hit batter and walk in points leagues, which means that a seemingly tiny issue like HBP rate is pretty glaring. There will be someone in your draft room that banks on him staying healthy – don’t let that be you.
Marcus Stroman (SP – NYM)
SP Roto Rank: 122
SP Points Rank: 81
These next two pitchers I said not to draft in standard roto leagues, but I am back on the bandwagon for points leagues. The simple reason is that Stroman eats innings and avoids bad innings due to his high groundball rate.
Stroman has pitched at least 180 innings in three of the last five seasons, and the Mets figure to let him go relatively deep into games due to their lack of starting rotation depth. I’m sorry, but I don’t trust Joey Lucchesi as a fifth starter, and Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard will start the year on the IL. There is a chance that Stroman’s innings are limited since he opted out of the 2020 season, but I expect him to pitch at least 165 innings, provided he stays healthy.
While a high groundball rate means a point deduction for every hit, he doesn’t give up a significant amount of extra-base hits or homers, limiting the total points damage done. He also holds a league-average walk rate but makes up for it with a HBP rate that is just half of the league average. The final consideration for his bump is that wins are worth seven points in most formats, and the Mets figure to score runs in bunches and are projected to score the third-best run differential in the NL.
Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA)
SP Roto Rank: 95
SP Points Rank: 59
You might disagree with my roto rank, but his low strikeout rate and near double-digit walk rate spell trouble for his WHIP. Posting average ratios over a larger amount of innings compounds the problem. However, in points leagues that reward innings pitched, Alcantara is one of the few locks to hit 170+ innings pitched.
Given that he has a projected ERA around 4, that lines him up to get a ton of quality starts in addition to those innings pitched, which gives him an additional boost. While the Marlins won’t score as many runs as the Mets, Alcantara should post a .500 record or better by virtue of pitching deep into games. Given that I am the low man on Alcantara, you will have to pay SP2/3 price to get him in points leagues. He needs to better his K-BB rate before I start to see the light.
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