I’m going to repeat something that I have repeated many times and will continue to repeat until I am no longer attempting to give advice to others on points leagues. For the most part, in order to be able to compare players in a points league, one needs to know the scoring system for the given league. I say “for the most part” because I don’t care what your scoring system is if you ask me to rank Juan Soto, Ford Proctor and Bryan Reynolds. The answer will always be Soto, Reynolds, and I have no bleeping clue who the third guy is. But depending on how your league doles out points it can influence the value of a player.
Let me use my “go-to” example. Last season, in leagues that subtract one point for strikeouts, Kyle Schwarber had the 25th most points amongst hitters. In leagues that only subtract half a point he moves to 18th. And in leagues that don’t penalize at all for strikeouts, he jumps up 6th. Now I’m a firm believer that a strikeout should be worth at least the opposite of a single, but not everyone is me and not all leagues are created equal. My point here is if you asked me what I thought about trading away Nolan Arenado for Kyle Schwarber, I really couldn’t answer unless I knew your scoring system. If your league takes away a point for a strikeout then I’d rather have Arenado who outscored Schwarber by 79 points. But if you’re in one of those questionable leagues ignore strikeouts, Schwarber ends up ahead by 49 points. In most cases, I’m going with Arenado, but in the second I’d be interested in who you’d replace Arenado with at 3B.
I’ve noticed over the years that some leagues subtract a point for errors. I started thinking about that this afternoon and I think it’s nonsense. The reason I say this is because errors and passed balls seem to be the only defensive categories that leagues regularly consider. To me, that seems a bit unfair. If you’re going to penalize a catcher for passed balls, then you’ve got to reward them for throwing out attempted base stealers right? Or better yet, is there an official stat for when a catcher blocks a would-be wild pitch? That’s a serious question. If so, you’ve got to reward for those if you’re penalizing for passed balls. And back to errors, how do you take away a point for an error but don’t award a point when a first baseman runs up the right field line and dives into the first few rows to catch an inning-ending foul ball?
At first, my gut reaction was that those categories (errors and passed balls) should just be ignored by points leagues. However, the more I thought about this the more I began to convince myself that perhaps points leagues should embrace fielding. Never underestimate the power of the dark side. Instead of being all about offense, how about we include the most common defense statistics, giving us a more well-rounded representation of a player? The two categories that stick out are putouts and assists. If we want to enhance catchers, how about rewarding them for throwing out runners, but also penalizing them for successful steals? An argument can be made that those stats are too heavily influenced by the pitcher, but I wouldn’t feel guilty including them. I’d probably counter by saying we should penalize pitchers for bases stolen against them as well.
If you want to get crazy, I’d love to reward outfielders for robbing a home run. I’m not sure how easy it is to find that stat. However, I did come across the “runs prevented” stat. I like the sounds of that one. Let’s include it!
This leads us to the next question. How many points should each of those categories be worth? I really don’t have an answer because I haven’t really done a deep enough analysis. Here’s what I’m thinking without really thinking.
Nathaniel Lowe led the Majors with 1252 putouts. A guy like Bobby Witt Jr. had only 145 putouts. That’s quite the spread. Let’s experiment with 0.05 points per putout. As for assists, Marcus Semien led with 441 and both Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt had 91. How about 0.1 points per assist? For caught stealing, I’m going with two points and for successful steals, I say we subtract half a point.
Let’s plug those values into the 2022 stats and see what happens. I’ll share the top 100 hitters based on the new scoring system. On first glance, I think I like it. I’m obviously going to have to take a much closer look, but the whole purpose of today’s post was to explore scoring systems. The biggest winner in this new format is J.T. Realmuto, who jumps up 25 spots. Here’s what I notice, this exercise seems to help first basemen and catchers, but hurts designated hitters. It makes sense that this would have an adverse effect on DH considering they have little to no fielding stats. Essentially it appears that adding these fielding stats provides a boost to players not playing in the outfield and serving as the DH.
|Name||FPTS||New FPTS||Change||Rank Change|
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||454||507.15||53.15||6|
|Bobby Witt Jr.||357||399.15||42.15||3|
|Michael Harris II||307||319.9||12.9||-13|
For the record, the above table does not include any points for “run prevented”. For shifts and giggles, Jonathan Schoop led the league with 20. Mike Trout, Corey Seager, Jose Ramirez and Aaron Judge had 3. If you ask me, this sounds like a pretty valuable stat, but I don’t know enough other than judging it by its name.
I wonder what else I could/should consider. A quick Google search yielded the following statements. For outfielders, Baseball Prospectus’s Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) is the “best” defensive metric For infielders, MLB’s Outs Above Average (OAA), which is based on Statcast and still evolving, is the “best” defensive metric. I wonder how they can be incorporated into points leagues.
Now before you jump down my throat and tell me that your league includes putouts, assists, and some other defensive stats, I’m going to reply by saying “that’s great, I think more leagues should consider following suit”. It’s 2023. I think all points leagues need to take a good look at their scoring systems and consider making some changes. And with that, I’m out.
Follow malamoney on Twitter at @malamoney