The time has come to get our final preseason notes in order so there’s no time like the present to dive into the rankings and see who rises and falls in points leagues. For example, Bo Bichette falls all the way out of the top 10 because the total base numbers just aren’t there. Mind you it’s not far out of the top 10 but it does illustrate the difference. Another guy who takes a tumble in points rankings is Luis Robert, who drops down around 30. In both cases, these guys are young and have to upside to beat their projections but you might not get quite the value you were hoping for. Remember that for hitters, total bases are king. Obviously, home runs are great but I like to look for the guys with doubles power. I love triples but they just aren’t reliable enough to bank on. For starting pitchers I focus on innings and strikeouts, especially later in the draft when the sure things are gone. Now that I’ve rambled on that points leagues are just different and you need to focus on different stats, let’s get on to some guys to target in drafts if your league waited. Either way, these are guys I like better in points league formats.
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Up first we have Bryan Reynolds and his juicy double projection. He put up 35 last season so 33 this year seems more than manageable. Add in his ability to find triple’s alley (8 last year) and we’ve got a winner. That shoots him way up the rankings and makes him a prime target to snag while your league sleeps on him. He’s coming off the board around 55 in ESPN leagues, but a bit later on platforms. Even at his ESPN ADP he represents a huge value.
Josh Bell has been a points league hero for a few years now because of his doubles power. He should easily be a top 50 player once again that you can snag at a discount if your league isn’t paying attention. He’s one of the biggest risers and you don’t want to forget about him.
If Padres super-utility man Jake Cronenworth hits the 35 doubles he’s projected for he will be a screaming deal. And unless he suddenly loses that super-duty role there’s no reason to think that number is unattainable, after all, he did smack 33 last season. He can play everywhere so there’s a path to regular playing time even if he doesn’t lock it down at any single position. In daily leagues, he’s even more valuable because you can slot him in all over your lineup.
The bad news for Nelson Cruz is that he’s only eligible and given that he’s approaching 42 trips around the sun, it strikes me as unlikely that he will pick up any additional eligibility during the season. The good news is that he’s a masher and regardless of baseball purists’ feelings on the matter, the universal DH will be great for fantasy.
This one is a bit of a gamble until we see how the lineup shakes out, but Alex Verdugo could be a points league stud. He has the doubles power for big games and the consistency to be a daily contributor. Unfortunately, we don’t quite know where he will bat in the lineup. If he finds his way to the top part of the order, I love him. If he doesn’t… well, he loses a lot of his luster. He’s been seeing some at bats in the two hole during spring training so I have hope that Alex Cora will give the people what they want.
We’re a ways removed from the days of Charlie Blackmon being a first round pick, but that doesn’t mean he’s washed. He still has that glorious beard for one thing. He also still has the whole Coors factor going for him, at least for now. The Rockies do owe him a significant amount of money so it would make sense to deal him to a contender which would definitely hurt his value. Regardless of the park he calls home I still like him as a solid later round piece.
You may have seen Brandon Belt’s name thrown around in some fantasy circles because his last 162 games have been pretty darn impressive. That’s all true but unfortunately, his last 162 games did not come in the same season. Even so, his ADP reflects the injury concerns that have kept him out of the lineup off and on over his career. I like him after pick 200 if you’ve already drafted another first baseman. His skill set translates well to points leagues because he has always displayed a strong eye for the zone and is capable of going on a week long power binge.
After coming out of the gates blazing hot and looking like a Cy Young candidate, Kevin Gausman stumbled down the stretch. That recency bias seems to have pushed his ADP into the 50s where I think he represents a good value on the mound. Maybe that’s just the Giants homer in me who was hoping they would re-sign him, but I believe in his ability to log a chunk of innings with solid strikeout numbers. That’s the recipe for a good points league starter.
Another starter I like is Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s available after pick 150 but his projection puts him right in line with guys going significantly earlier like Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. Why take them when you can get basically the same production 50 picks later. He’ll give you Ks and innings, the points league special. Need more convincing? Grey wrote a sleeper post about him.
A deeper starter I like is Yusei Kikuchi who can be had after pick 250 but will give you innings and Ks in line with solid mid tier starters. He walks a few too many guys which can get him into trouble but by the time you reach this point in the draft everyone on the board has a weakness. That makes him well worth the speculative pick to me. If he comes out of the gates ice cold you can always cut bait for a streamer.
Hit me with your questions here or @me on Twitter @deltaxi1842