If you ask an “expert” for advice about your points league and they don’t answer with a question then you have very likely asked the wrong person. Or perhaps just a lazy person. While many points league have similar scoring systems, how is the person you’ve solicited advice from supposed to know that a stolen base is worth two points and that your league doesn’t penalize for strikeouts. Heck maybe you and your leaguemates had one too many Skrewballs, that’s peanut butter whiskey for those of you that think I misspelled the pitch (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), and you decided to make doubles worth more than a home run. These simple facts are going to have a direct effect on the value of a player and his comparison to the next.
For those of you that have been loyal readers (thanks), this is a topic I have touched upon more than once before, but I feel it’s extremely important to hammer home. The first thing an analyst should ask you upon receiving your inquiry is “what’s your scoring system?”. Only then can he/she provide you with an answer customized for you. Imagine logging into Amazon Prime and ordering underwear without specifying a size. You could get lucky, but more often than not you’re going to be uncomfortable. One size does not fit all when it comes to points league advice and underwear.
Even attempting to figure out a “one size fits all” scoring system is pretty much impossible as everyone has their own opinion and that flexibility to craft your own scoring system is what makes points leagues unique. For the sake of most of my posts I use the following scoring system as the basis for my content. However, when responding to questions in the comments I will always ask for your scoring system. If I don’t, move on.
RUN (+1), RBI (+1), 1B (+1), 2B (+2), 3B (+3), HR (+4), BB (+1), KO (-1), HBP (+1), SB (+2), CS (-1), SF (+1)
WIN (+5), LOSS (-5), IP (+3), K (+1), BB (-1), SAVE (+5), BLOWN SAVE (-3), ER (-1), HIT (-1)
I’m not saying this is the optimal scoring system, but it’s simple enough and close enough to many standard offerings by the major sites. However, as I said earlier the ability to move all of the many knobs up or down really gives you a wide rangle of possible scoring systems. There is actually an infinite number of possible scoring systems. Mind blown!
Take a look at the Ottoneu scoring system.
AB (-1), H (+5.6), 2B (+2.9), 3B (+5.7), HR (+9.4), BB (+3), HBP (+3), SB (+1.9), CS (-2.8)
Or how about Fanduel.
1B (+3), 2B (+6), 3B (+9), HR (+12), RBI (+3.5), R (+3.2), BB (+3), SB (+6), HBP (+3)
You can quickly see how simple, or complicated, things can become. In most regular homegrown leagues, the differences are typically found in the following categories:
Strikeouts – I think the norm is to penalize a batter for a strikeout. This is an area in which I used to feel very strongly about because a strikeout really feels like a waste of an at bat, unless you count the fact that the pitcher had to throw at least three pitchers. Some will ask why penalize for a strikeout, but not a groundout. I think the key factor here is that runners almost always fail to advance on a strikeout. In my personal leagues I attach a -1 to a strikeout, but I am in some that only subtract half a point. Let’s take a look at the effect of not penalizing for strikeouts. Based on 2019 regular season stats and the standard scoring system I mentioned above, Alex Bregman led all hitters with 624 points. Eugenio Suarez was the 40th ranked hitter with 418 points. If we give him back the 189 points we subtracted for his 189 strikeouts, he becomes the 20th ranked hitter. That’s going to make a reasonable difference when being asked if you should trade Suarez for Kris Bryant. Ignoring strikeouts, Suarez had more fantasy points than the following list of player: Francisco Lindor, Ketel Marte, Ozzie Albies, Kris Bryant, George Springer and many more.
Stolen Bases – Most leagues seem to award a player two points for stealing a base. Is a stolen base really worth more (double) than an RBI or run scored or is everyone just trying to make base stealers more draftable, thus expanding the usable player pool? If I’m being honest, I really need to think that one over a bit more. In years past I’ve counted an SB as +1, but as you can see from above I’ve changed that to +2 this year. Mostly because I want to keep the SB stat alive and mostly because I don’t think it really makes a big difference. If you really want to get creative and give base stealers a bigger draft day presence, trying making stolen bases worth three or four points. But that’s just crazy because how can a single stolen base be equal to a home run?! Suddenly Jonathan Villar is a top twenty bat!
Wins – On the pitching side of things I’ve seen wins commonly worth five, seven or even ten points. This can make a huge difference when comparing pitchers to hitters. Amongst pitchers it won’t make a huge difference as the number of wins is never a big number. Last year Justin Verlander led all pitchers with 21 wins, but there were 66 other pitchers who ended the season with double digit wins. Even if we make wins worth ten points versus five, the difference between 21 wins and 11 wins is only 50 points. While that’s not chump change I’m not sure it creates that big of a separation between pitchers. Over a 26 week season, that’s less than two points per week. However, at ten points a win and three points per inning pitched, pitchers are going to rack up way more points than hitters making the top pitchers very valuable. Using my standard pitching scoring system above with ten points for a win, Verlander would have ended 2019 atop all pitchers with 906 points. Compare that to Bregman’s 624. Quite the difference. But here’s the kicker, there are eleven pitchers with more points than the highest scoring hitter (Bregman). That’s going to have a reasonable influence on draft day decisions. My only bit of advice here is that whatever you give for a win should be the same amount subtracted for a loss. Fair is fair.
Holds – To hold or not to hold, that is the question. Should I have ended that sentence with a question mark? I know I needed to end that one with a question mark, but I’m still uncertain on the first. This really comes down to whether you want to expand the player pool. Do you want to make middle relievers relevant? While there are plenty that score the hold, I believe the majority of points leagues ignore this stat. I’d like to see the hold treated like a save and include an extra RP roster spot or two.
I could probably continue this exercise with more stat categories, but I think I’ve made my point. Something I hope to continue doing all season.
Small tip. If you want to simplify your scoring system and you typically have 1B(+1), 2B(+2), 3B(+3) and HR(+4), just do TB(+1). It’s the same thing.
Follow malamoney on Twitter at @malamoney