Earlier this week I partook (a much fancier word than participated) in my first mock draft of the season. As most of you know I am much more of a points league player, but I have no issue going both ways. This draft, however, represented a less common fantasy baseball format known as the 5×5 head-to-head league. This was actually the first time I had even drafted for this format, and with barely an hour to prepare, I’m not sure how I feel about the results. In hindsight, had I had more time to calculate more precise player values for this league format I believe I would have applied a different strategy when selecting my players. While I obviously cannot go back and actually change my picks, I can imagine the results with a different outcome. After all, imagination is the essence of discovery.

This whole exercise highlights a very important fact about ranking players in preparation for a draft. All leagues are not created equal. I have stressed this point specifically many times in my posts about points leagues. Even the slightest change in the scoring system can have a reasonable impact on the value of each player. Based on 2016 stats, in a league that subtracts one points for a strikeout, as all points league should, Chris Davis was the 100th ranked hitter based on points. Now in a different, imaginary, league where strikeouts don’t count against the hitter, he jumps up to the 36 spot. Chris Carter moves from 87 to 40.

The same principle applies in non points leagues leagues. Someone correct my grammar if that was wrong, but I think it was ok to use the word “leagues” twice in a row as I did in the first sentence. Even if it wasn’t, I did it anyway. Don’t believe me? Go back and read it again. And again.

I don’t have exact numbers here, but I believe that Roto (does anyone say rotisserie anymore) is the most popular format for fantasy baseball. Back when I started playing, circa 1990, it was the only game in town. The gold standard is the five by five format. Even though it has been proven by Sabermetricians that the ten stats targeted in these leagues don’t ultimately decide the outcome of MLB games, they are still the “go to” categories. Perhaps it’s because they are the simplest for the masses to identify with, or perhaps it’s just because they are the old school way of doing things and old school is cool.

Today we have several different flavors of rotisserie (said it) baseball. In addition to the classic 5×5 model, you can commonly find 4×4 and 6×6 leagues. And within those formats there is also both new and old school versions, each defined by the different stats being used to determine the winner. The combination of statistical categories establishes a direct correlation with how players should be ranked within each league and when they should be drafted. Consider this the equivalent of a different scoring system in a points league. Other league details such as number of teams and keeper rules also establish themselves as variables in the ranking equation.

First I’d like to thank Scott White from CBS for allowing me (and Son) to be part of this mock draft and enabling me to step outside my comfort zone and ultimately be forced to think outside the box. I went into this draft with the mindset of a normal season long 5×5 Roto league, but that might not have been the best approach. Here’s why.

In Scott’s writeup of the mock draft he points out a very interesting fact about Francisco Lindor. Last season Lindor hit 15 home runs, drove in 78, scored 99 and stole 19 bases. Over the course of the season, those are some nice numbers across the board. A roster full of Lindors would be a pretty good thing. Maybe not a roster full, but if the majority of your lineup was Francisco Lindor, you’d probably be in good shape. The problem is that this isn’t a season long league. Instead, it’s really a weekly league where you just need to beat one other guy in your league each week. If you breakdown Lindor’s stats, over the course of 26 weeks, here’s hit output on a weekly basis.

Home Runs: 0.576
RBIs: 3
Runs: 3.807
Stolen Bases: 0.73

This “slow and steady” approach might play well in a full season, but in a weekly format, I’m not sure it’s going to get the job done. Or will it? Let’s see if we can find out. We start nine hitters each week. If they were all Lindor, here’s what my weekly totals would average.

Home Runs: 5.183
RBIs: 27
Runs: 34.263
Stolen Bases: 6.57
Batting Average: .301

Not having results from previous seasons to compare makes nailing this down a bit difficult, but giving it the old eyeball test suggest no. I’d probably win batting average, but I’m not so confident in much else. Instead of Lindor, let’s look at Mark Trumbo. Based on 2016 stats, here’s his weekly performance.

Home Runs: 1.846
RBIs: 4.23
Runs: 3.653
Stolen Bases: Irrelevant

In both home runs and runs batted in, Trumbo is superior to Lindor. In my opinion runs scored was close enough not to move the needle in either direction. Sure, Lindor is going to provide 0.73 more stolen bases per week, but there’s a solution for that minor difference. Lindor was drafted in the early 4th round as the 39th pick. Instead of picking Lindor, why not pick Trumbo and then in the next round grab a stolen base specialist like Billy Hamilton. I actually wouldn’t take Hamilton in the 5th, since I could get him much later. Personally I love Scott’s 4th round pick of Jonathan Villar. He was actually who I was targeting before Scott grabbed him the pick immediately preceding mine. Who did I take with that pick once Villar was off the table? That’s right, Francisco Lindor.

In my opinion, the ideal play here would have been Villar in the 4th and Trumbo in the 5th. These two players make for a powerful combination in 5×5 H2H Categories leagues.

Now let’s take a quick look at my picks, and with the benefit of hindsight, who I wish I had taken instead.

1.10 Manny Machado – With the tenth pick I had to decide between Machado and Bryce Harper. I chose Machado. Harper has all the talent in the world, but felt Manny was the safer choice.

2.3 Miguel Cabrera – I really wanted to take Trea Turner, but I just couldn’t justify taking him over Cabrera. I knew he wouldn’t last until my next pick and I almost took the plunge, but ultimately went with Miggy. Saying Turner was great in his 73 games in 2016 would be an understatement, but I need to see at least one full season from him to move him ahead of Cabrera. Although considering my earlier rant about Trumbo, it might have been smarter to take Turner and grab Trumbo a few picks later. Trumbo bested Cabrera in homers, RBIs and runs scored. The Turner/Trumbo (Turnbo) power couple is even better than the Trumbo/Villar. It’s also worth noting that I considered Max Scherzer, but decided against taking a starting pitcher.

3.10 Yu Darvish – I can’t say I’m overly excited about this pick. I really wanted one of Chris Sale or Madison Bumgarner as my ace, but they were long gone by the time this pick came around. So was Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard and Jake Arrieta. I kinda felt like I needed to grab an SP at this point. I almost chose David Price, but made a last second click on Darvish. Maybe I should have just taken Villar with this pick and grabbed an SP in the next round which was just five picks later.

4.3 Francisco Lindor – I do love me some Lindor, but looking at things, I’m thinking Brian Dozier would have been a better selection considering his 2016 weekly averages (home runs: 1.615, RBIs: 3.807, runs: 4, stolen bases: 0.692). Had I taken Villar in the third, I also could have taken Darvish, Lester or Price with this pick.

5.10 Andrew McCutchen – I’m looking for a bounce back season from ex-dread pirate. I was actually targeting Gary Sanchez, but he was taken a few picks earlier. Perhaps Wil Myers might have been a better pick than McCutchen. He was selected one pick later so I could have had him.

6.3 Kyle Hendricks – Would have preferred Chris Archer, but he was taken two picks before my turn. Ian Desmond presents as another good pick at this spot based on his weekly averages (home runs: 0.846, RBIs: 3.307, runs: 4.115, stolen bases: 0.807). Better numbers than Lindor across the board.

7.10 Adam Eaton – It seems Eduardo Nunez would have been a much better pick than Eaton. Let’s compare 2016 numbers.
Eaton: (0.538 home runs, 2.269 RBIs, 3.5 runs, 0.538 stolen bases)
Nunez: (0.615 home runs, 2.576 RBIs, 2.807 runs, 1.538 stolen bases)
Since I already had Machado and Lindor at 3B and SS, I would have had to put Nunez at the Utility spot. I later drafted Justin Upton at Utility, but I could have slotted him into the outfield if I had Nunez at U. Draft and learn. Better yet, mock draft and learn before your actual draft.

8.3 Gerrit Cole – I’m still a believer in Cole. Considering I also drafted Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow, it seems I am believer in Pirates starting pitchers in general. I even considered Ivan Nova at one point. In Ray Searage I trust!

9.10 David Dahl – If Dahl becomes a regular starter, I’m going to like this pick. However I did consider Andrew Benintendi.

10.3 Justin Upton – I’m not too upset about this pick. Matt Kemp went right before him. Still should have taken Nunez, who went in the twelfth.

11.10 Jeurys Familia – Was time for some saves.

12.3 Alex Reyes – Breakout potential.

13.10 Jonathan Schoop – Ignoring batting average for a moment, let’s compare Schoop and Daniel Murphy. Both hit 25 home runs. Murphy had 6 more runs scored. Neither contribute stolen bases, but Murphy did have 22 more runs batted in. While I’d take Murphy every day of the week, especially when you factor in batting average, you have to remember that Murphy was selected at the end of the second round, while I got Schoop at the end of the 13th.

14.3 Jameson Taillon – Breakout potential.

15.10 Ben Zobrist – Just because. I kinda like the 2B/OF eligibility, but perhaps I should have taken Kendrys Morales.

16.3 Dylan Bundy – Breakout potential. Like what I saw last year and he has the SP/RP eligibility.

17.10 Hunter Renfroe – Breakout potential.

18.3 Tyler Glasnow – Breakout potential.

19.10 Welington Castillo – Needed a catcher. Was hoping to steal J.T. Realmuto or Tom Murphy, but both were taken before I could snake them. Matt Wieters anyone?

20.3 Greg Holland – Hoping he closes. Even if it is in Colorado.

21.10 Jharel Cotton – Call it a hunch.

My ideal draft might have looked like this. Just a few changes in rounds two through seven. I could sit here all day and make changes, but I like how these players setup my starting nine.

1.10 Manny Machado, 3B
2.3 Trea Turner, OF
3.10 Jonathan Villar, SS
4.3 Brian Dozier, 2B
5.10 Chris Archer, SP
6.3 Kyle Hendricks, SP
7.10 Jose Abreu, 1B
8.3 Gerrit Cole, SP
9.10 David Dahl, OF
10.3 Justin Upton, OF
11.10 Jeurys Familia, RP
12.3 Alex Reyes, SP
13.10 Jonathan Schoop, 2B
14.3 Jameson Taillon, SP
15.10 Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF
16.3 Dylan Bundy, SP/RP
17.10 Hunter Renfroe, OF
18.3 Tyler Glasnow, SP
19.10 Welington Castillo, C
20.3 Greg Holland, RP
21.10 Jharel Cotton, SP

With all of that said, I believe I have now solved the mystery of 5×5 H2H Category leagues. It was Mr. White, in the mock draft room with a cheat sheet!

The Rock in 2020!

  1. Noam says:

    Nice write up! I’m interested to see how Hendricks does this year.

    Points league keeper question if you don’t mind.

    Im glad to see the war room is back!

    I have a question regarding keepers. I’m in a 12 Team CBS H2H Points – Weekly Lineups
    C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, 3OF, 2U
    6SP, 2RP per week

    Points: Hitting is standard, +2 for SB, no penalty for Ks.
    Pitching: +1 for K, IP
    -1 for ER, BB
    +5 for QS
    +10 for W
    -5 for L
    +7.5 for SV

    Keep 3-5 (years they can be kept is listed). Each consecutive year they are kept decreases by a round. So next year, Trumbo would be a 13th round keeper. Free agents cost a 10th round (if two are kept then I forfeit the 10th and 9th and so on

    B. Dozier – Rd 3. 1 Year
    J. Arrieta Rd 4 1 Year
    S. Marte Rd 7 1 year
    David Dahl Rd. 10 2 Year
    Jake Lamb Rd. 10 2 Year
    M. Trumbo Rd 14. 3 Years
    J. Hammel Rd. 15 3 years
    AJ Pollock Rd 17 2 years
    K. Gausman Rd 21 3 years
    Roberto Osuna Rd. 25 3 Years

    Effectively, pick 3-5 from above
    Thanks so much!

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:

      @Noam: Running some calculations for you. Will have an answer for you later today…

      • Noam says:

        @malamoney: Thanks!

        • malamoney

          malamoney says:

          @Noam: So based on your scoring system, here’s who I’d keep.

          Brian Dozier. He’ll cost you a 3rd rounder, but last year he had the 8th most points in your league. You’re getting a guy the produced like a first rounder in the third round.

          I think you probably need to keep Pollock since he’s a 17th rounder for sure with two years eligibility.

          Mark Trumbo was in the top 25, but I’m not sure I can keep him.

          I kinda like Dahl. I haven’t spit out my projections yet, but he plays in Colorado and looks like he might have a starting spot. My initial guesstimate is that he will have an ADP around round 8. So getting him in the 10th would be a small discount and locks him up. His points per plate appearance was 0.852 which is right around Jackie Bradley Jr (0.851), Robinson Cano (0.859), and Manny Machado (0.848).

          Arrieta scored the 14th most points of all starting pitchers in your league. This is a tough one. He’s a stud, but he’ll cost you a 4th rounder. The thing is that in your league there are only 23 starting pitchers in the top 200 based on points. That tells me that you will get the majority of your points from hitters. However, you do have to start 6 starting pitchers. Do you have sense for which other starting pitchers will be kept based on previous seasons? If there were no keepers in this league I’m not sure I’d take Arrieta in the 4th round, but with other starting pitchers being kept and aces potentially being slim pickings, I might.

          So with that all said. I’d keep Dozier, Pollock, Dahl and Gausman. Then you have to think about Arrieta. Without seeing every team’s potential closers I cannot determine which other aces will be kept. If you feel that most of the other aces will be kept, then I’d keep Arrieta. But if you believe that there will be other similar aces available to you in the 4th round, then I might leave him out there. I would be taking bats with my 1st and 2nd round picks. Then you have Dozier in the 3rd. Also not seeing previous seasons’ draft results I do not know how teams value and pick pitchers in this league.

          Trumbo in the 14th is pretty good value too. Heck so is Marte in the 7th. Based on the numbers they have almost identical points per plate appearance (0.88). That would tell me to keep Trumbo in the 14th instead, freeing up the 7th round.

          Good luck…

          • malamoney

            malamoney says:

            @malamoney: “potential closers” should read “potential keepers”.

            • Noam says:

              @malamoney: great info! Thank you!

  2. Son

    Son says:

    Good stuff malamoney.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:

      @Son: Thanks man!

  3. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:

    Interesting writeup. Not sure I would have gone so heavy on pitchers in this format (since week to week, any pitcher could produce like an ace with the right matchups), but I really liked your focus on per-week averages, which I never really explicitly though about before. This format definitely favors the razzle dazzle guys over the the slow and steady types (though probably good to have a mix of both).

    Aside from average weekly production, I’d also focus on streakiness. Having a guy who gives you 80% of his numbers in 1 month of the season *COUGH* damn you justin upton *COUGH* is brutal in this format, especially around playoff time.

    More than any other format, in H2H categories I target almost exclusively (a) at the high end, 4 or 5 category guys, and (b) at the lower end, guys with 1 or 2 elite skills. The elite 1-2 skill guys are really great if the matchups have daily lineups because you can swap your Billy Hamilton-type for your Khris Davis type halfway through the week depending on needs.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:

      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: Thanks. Great points. I’ve never even considered this format, so I really have to think about this one. It was like the first time I played pot-limit Ohama…

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:

        @malamoney: hah

    • I don't want to brag but i have irritable bowel syndrome says:

      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: except upton was doing that DURING h2h playoffs, so if you want to claim he’s a guy who does that 80% of his stats in one month you’d have to incorporate that.

  4. Stickball Al says:

    I’m in a H2H points league that strike outs are a minus -1 and man does that change your draft strategy !!! It minimize’s a lot of the big swinger’s especially if they don’t take that many walks. The K’s will kill you H2H.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:

      @Stickball Al: I’ve been preaching that since I started writing for Razzball…

  5. Lance

    Lance says:

    Nice man.

    What you mention about Lindor is interesting. I always find value in staying away from extremely streaky or ‘one half’ performers though(T.Frazier comes to mind, JBJ is another example).

    Think Trumbo carries a bit of that risk? Homers were pretty consistent on a monthly basis (ranged from 6-10), but the AVG was all over the place (ranged from .184 to .337).

    Most guys have hot streaks relative to other parts of their seasons, but think this is amplified with some? I think it is, but it might be a selective bias I have with points leagues.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:

      @Lance: The streaky guys are going to make or break you and, more often than not, it will be break you. I hate streaky players. They hurt way more than they help because their help is so unpredictable. You might even have them on the bench when they go off.

      With Trumbo I’m not owning him for his BA and will have to be able to cope with the BA swings…

  6. I don't want to brag but i have irritable bowel syndrome says:

    i’m pretty sure 5×5 h2h leagues are more common than points leagues.

  7. Jason Morgan says:

    Welcome back malamoney. Love your points league posts every year. Your spreadsheets have helped me tremendously. I was wondering if you will be doing them again this season?

  8. Jimmy says:

    Hey malamoney,

    Was curious your take on Trea Turner in H2H Points leagues. He’s shooting up standard roto draft boards into the first round even. Is he going to climb in points leagues too? In your ‘mock’ post he didnt make your top 24, though im not sure that was a true representation of your rankings list directly. Thanks!

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:

      @Jimmy: Sorry for the delayed response. Turner excites me, but I’m not sure we’ve seen enough to fully buy in at his current asking price. He’s certainly going to climb in all formats. For three reasons. His projections are solid and as much as we should all take projections with a grain of salt, many take them as gospel. The second is a manufactured hype. Supply and demand issues. Everyone has to have him, but there is only one Trea Turner. That is causing everyone to consider taking him a pick (or even a round early). Every single league is going to have at least one member that insists on drafting him and to do so they grab him early. That is driving up his ADP and making everyone else think to themselves “If I want him on my team I’m going to have to take my by a certain pick”. It’s a frenzy.

      And lastly, let’s not forget that he is a good player on a good team…

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