ALTERNATIVE: 2020 Points League Draft Guide—Hitters

In points league, playing time trumps ratios. For hitters, that means only batting average becomes irrelevant while total bases remain paramount. For our purposes, we will assume a twelve-team, one-catcher league with standard lineup construction. 

The first exercise is to use our BaseballHQ Custom Draft Guide—an incredible tool to allow for the input of your customized league scoring system. Many points leagues evolve over time, adding categories and fractional points. If that’s you, center your prep on our Custom Draft Guide (CDG).

The basic league format provides an easier point for analysis and helps you gather new managers easier. The immediate gratification from scoring a point with every run, RBI, hit, or walk rivals no other. A home run is like a touchdown in fantasy football: six points!

Let’s dive into the position players. After you have done projections from the CDG, then you need to figure out the runs over replacement (RAR) value of each position. Multiply the number of teams in your league by the number of players needed by position. Then do the same for corner and middle infielders, and designated hitter spots. Finally, separate each position by tiers and add in the gaps between the tiers when deciding between two players at different positions.

The other thing to keep in mind with each projection is whether it represents what you perceive as the high end or low end of their potential. Within a tier, select the player with more upside from their projection.

Scarcity… what scarcity?

Most every year we have discussed at length the difference between the replacement values at each position. With the advent of power-hitting middle infielders and lack of depth at first base, all positions have an equal distribution of points for this format except catchers. So look for the tiers at each position without paying up for perceived scarcity.

Catchers

Replacement level for catchers is 325 points, 120 lower than other hitters. So you need to add that amount to each catcher except those near the replacement level to make up the difference. Note there are three very distinct tiers above replacement level behind the plate.

The top tier surprises no one with JT Realmuto (C, PHI) and Willson Contreras (C, CHC). Before getting hurt, Contreras posted a 151 PX with 17 HR in 237 at bats. So he certainly possesses more upside than the 26 HR we project. In addition, he played a couple games at first base in 2019, opening up more potential playing time on his rest days. With approximately 450 projected points, these two guys deserve consideration anytime in the second half of the second round, utilizing the gap between top tiers.

Thirty points behind lie Yasmani Grandal (C, CHW) and Gary Sanchez (C, NYY). Grandal may have some room to add a few homers to the two dozen we project. His increase to 28 resulted from increased playing time last year. Grandal’s 120 PX was his lowest recently, but his 133 xPX remained consistent with previous years. Guaranteed Rate Field also allows 13% more home runs than Miller Park to left-handed batters.

A huge 55-point gap and durability concerns exist before the next pair of catchers around 365. So you must specifically target those you want at different points in the draft:

Wilson Ramos – 369
Salvador Perez – 365
Carson Kelly – 361
Will Smith – 360
Omar Narvaez – 353

Wilson Ramos (C, NYM) gains Roto value from the batting average category. In points leagues, note that 2019 was his first time over four hundred at-bats in three years. He also posted a career lows with a 63 PX and 50 xPX, so do not figure any upside in his numbers.

Where is Mitch Garver (C, MIN)? Due to his defensive inadequacies, Garver loses plate appearances with only 311 at-bats in 2019 despite incredible offensive production. The expected regression from his 186 PX combined with this lack of playing time makes him replacement level. More at-bats would yield more points, but last year’s pace remains an anomaly.

First Base

Two gentlemen top the field by thirty and sixty points. Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD) tops the list at 639 points, and at 24 years old, could surpass that! If Freddie Freeman (1B, ATL) raises his FB% from 34% to the 41% from a few years ago, he could surpass forty home runs and his 609 point projection.

The next tier features a pair of young guns and a veteran:

Pete Alonso – 578
Paul Goldschmidt – 573
Josh Bell – 564

Without a strained left oblique, Josh Bell (1B, PIT) could have topped 40 HR with his 122 HctX and 150 PX.

The next trio doesn’t offer much upside:

Carlos Santana – 539
Jose Abreu – 537
Anthony Rizzo – 533

Compared to that tier, the next one provides more room to grow:

Max Muncy – 524
Rhys Hoskins – 521
Edwin Encarnacion – 518
Matt Olson – 513

Rhys Hoskins (1B, PHI) has posted an xPX of at least 143 each season. He is at the prime breakout age in the major's best right-handed batter’s home run park. Matt Olson (1B, OAK) doesn’t enjoy that ballpark advantage, but his 161 PX and a healthy hamate bone puts forty home runs well within reach.

Trey Mancini – 493
DJ Lemahieu - 492
CJ Cron – 489
Yulieski Gurriel - 477
Joey Votto – 470
Eric Hosmer – 452

The final tier before replacement level does not offer upside, but there is a thirty-to-forty-point gap between them and replacement level. Rarely do you find such a gap this close to the bottom. First base no longer overflows with major talent. This final tier represents a great profit opportunity toward the end of the draft.

Second Base

Four second baseman top the tier:

Mike Moustakas – 534
Ozzie Albies – 527
Max Muncy – 524
Gleyber Torres – 519

If Max Muncy (2B, LAD) can garner more than five hundred at-bats, he could post significantly more points with his 150 xPX.

Jeff McNeil – 506
Ketel Marte – 504
Keston Hiura – 497
Whit Merrifield – 494
Jose Altuve – 493
DJ Lemahieu - 492

We have to assume Ketel Marte (2B, ARI) will regress according to his indicators, but in 2019, he just posted a hundred points more than his projection.

Cavan Biggio – 484
Eduardo Escobar – 478
Ryan McMahon – 469

Notice how tightly bunched the second basemen are. With no high-end target that warrants a top pick, wait until near the end of the draft for your second baseman.

Third Base

No surprise at the top tier of third basemen:

Alex Bregman – 612
Nolan Arenado – 601
Anthony Rendon – 596
Jose Ramirez – 571

The next tier offers some targets with top-tier upside:

Rafael Devers – 541
Matt Chapman – 539
Mike Moustakas – 534
Kris Bryant – 530
Josh Donaldson – 526
Max Muncy – 524

Rafael Devers (3B, BOS) features a 107 HctX and only a 34% FB%. Raising this back to the 39% level he posted in 2018 could propel Devers to the top tier. Nearly every factor forebodes a major breakout for Matt Chapman (3B, OAK).

Manny Machado – 514
Miguel Sano – 512
Jeff McNeil – 506
Eugenio Suarez – 505
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. – 500
DJ Lemahieu – 492

If he could ever stay healthy, Miguel Sano (3B, MIN) could amass as many points as any player at the position. He has a career 168 PX and 146 xPX.

Eduardo Escobar – 478
Yulieski Gurriel – 477
Ryan McMahon – 469
Justin Turner – 468
Kyle Seager – 461
Brian Anderson – 452

We also expect significant regression from Eduardo Escobar (2B/3B, ARI) but again, he just posted a season a hundred points higher. In this case, however, a 150 xPX gives you more reason for upside.

Shortstops
 
Alex Bregman (SS/3B, HOU) rides his 17% bb% to the top projection (612), by far, at shortstop. Then you find the standard top tier of great shortstops:

Francisco Lindor – 550
Trea Turner – 545
Bo Bichette – 540
Trevor Story – 540
Xander Bogaerts – 537
Javier Baez – 533
Marcus Semien – 529
Gleyber Torres – 519
Manny Machado - 514

The road splits for Trevor Story (SS, COL) give some cause for concern at this top level. Also don’t expect further growth from Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS) and Marcus Semien (SS, OAK).

Adalberto Mondesi – 483
Paul DeJong – 477
Jorge Polanco – 470
Fernando Tatis, Jr. – 461

Fernando Tatis, Jr. (SS, SD) could score another one hundred points if he avoids further injury. Those concerns keep our projection low.

Tim Anderson – 450
Nick Ahmed – 443
Amed Rosario – 440

A 40% H% and .278 xBA show that Tim Anderson (SS, CWS) cannot win another batting championship in 2020. With a consistent 84 xPX, no power upside exists to carry him to the top tier.

Outfield

No surprise at the top...

Christian Yelich – 670
Mike Trout – 657
Cody Bellinger – 639

The next tier contains big names that top many draft boards:

Juan Soto – 623
Bryce Harper – 611
JD Martinez – 609
Ronald Acuna, Jr. – 596
Mookie Betts – 595

The top two players move up in this format due to their high bb%. The bottom two rank less than their top five Roto rankings due to the absence of steals as a separate category. They still help, but no more than a walk, run, or RBI in a basic points format.

Due to injury concerns to the big Yankee outfielders, Charlie Blackmon (OF, COL) stands alone in the next tier. He lacks the stolen base prowess anymore to make him a Roto God, but in this format, his power and sheer number of at-bats at the top of the lineup generate lots of points.

Aaron Judge – 570
Charlie Blackmon – 544
Giancarlo Stanton – 543
George Springer – 531

George Springer (OF, HOU) offers hidden upside since we only project 511 at-bats. A full season could garner you another one hundred points.

Kris Bryant – 530
Eloy Jimenez – 524
Michael Conforto – 518

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) just turned 27 and is another year further from his shoulder surgery. He posted a 166 PX as recently as 2017.

Jorge Soler – 512
Randal Grichuk – 510
Austin Meadows – 508
Jeff McNeil – 506
Nick Castellanos – 505
Ketel Marte – 504
Franmil Reyes – 503
Michael Brantley – 501

Little upside exists for Randal Grichuk (OF, TOR), as we project 610 at-bats and a .249 BA. Nick Castellanos (OF, CIN), however, could easily top our 25 HR projection if he duplicates his 175 PX and sixteen homers after he left Detroit the final two months of the season.

Starling Marte – 496
Trey Mancini – 493
Bryan Reynolds – 491
Andrew Benintendi – 488

No upside or problems in this tier but look at the next one...

Joey Gallo – 482
Kyle Schwarber – 477
Marcel Ozuna – 475

Joey Gallo (OF, TEX) has some upside on his projection of 458 at-bats and .228 BA. While he has never garnered more than 500 at-bats, the potential to do that and reach his .240 xBA provides plenty of upside. Marcel Ozuna (OF, ATL) could garner an extra 75 at-bats and the 127 HctX he posted the past two seasons tops that of his 37 HR performance from 2017.

Speed provides much of the value in the next tier:

Tommy Pham – 467
Yasiel Puig – 467
Victor Robles – 465

Hard to find additional upside here:

Eddie Rosario – 457
Teoscar Hernandez – 454
Justin Upton – 454
Max Kepler – 453
Ramon Laureano – 451

We expect a regression from Max Kepler (OF, MIN). But we only project 487 at-bats, 25 HR, and a 2.55 BA. Kepler’s xBA suggests twenty more points on his 2019 BA. His 130 PX and 2019 performance shows that while he may not repeat, he could easily surpass our projection.

Ramon Laureano (OF, OAK) has yet to play a full season, so we don’t project one. But if by chance he does, the extra one hundred at-bats could yield 75-100 more points. His career line equates to a full season of 29 HR, 106 R, 86 RBI, and 20 SB with a .288 BA.

Oscar Mercado – 443
Ryan Braun – 439
Andrew McCutchen – 437
Kole Calhoun – 433
Adam Eaton – 431
Hunter Dozier – 429
Luis Robert – 428

A few veterans sandwiched between some young bucks. You might think there is room for upside with the publicity surrounding Luis Robert (OF, CHW). We project him at over five hundred at-bats and with solid performance, so with any upside comes lots of risk.

Next time, we look at the pitchers.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.