- Draft Prep Tiers:
Playing in multiple formats? Or switching from one to another? Or don't know which one to choose? This column is for you.
Much of player value is built on reputation, and particularly for experienced Fantasy Baseball owners, it can become a crutch. You learn to classify players as either desirable or undesirable, and you presume that's what they are no matter where you go.
But for some, the format makes an honest-to-goodness difference.
The goal is to highlight those players -- the ones most representative of their format. Please note it is not to showcase the best possible lineup for each format, which would of course include Mike Trout, Jose Altuve and others who are equally studly in both. Not a particularly valuable exercise, that one. No, we're looking for the players with the biggest gap in their Head-to-Head and Rotisserie value.
Those are the two most popular on CBS Sports, and when we say "Head-to-Head," we mean a points-based format with Fantasy Football-style scoring. Some Head-to-Head formats convert traditional Rotisserie scoring into a matchups-based competition, and owners who play in such a format should look to the All-Roto team for guidance.
Or really, they should look to both, because the players who excel in the other format are also the ones who fall short in yours.
Based on standard CBS Sports scoring:
|Head-to-Head point values|
|For hitters|| ||For pitchers|| |
Hit by pitch
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Volume is paramount in this format. Percentages like batting average have no direct value. It's all about totals, so for a hitter to measure up, he needs to play every day. Likewise, pitchers earn points through the simple accumulation of innings. What kind of leash one has -- how deep he's allowed to pitch into a game, basically -- becomes a major part of his valuation. The format does reward a wider range of contributions than a standard 5x5 Rotisserie format, which is great news for hitters who make frequent contact, walk and pile up doubles, but the impact of strikeouts is diluted for pitchers.
Catcher is the main position where a player can stand out purely because of playing time, and it's most evident in Head-to-Head points leagues, where the top four catchers last year all happened to be the top four at-bat getters. Realmuto was No. 1 in that measurement last year, and his extra-base pop and lack of strikeouts also help him excel in this format.
Honorable mention: Yadier Molina, STL
The captain of the All-H2H team goes from questionable to studly in a format where walks are as good as hits and batting average counts for nothing in and of itself. In this way, I'd argue that this format is truer to real life and a better reflection of Santana's offensive capabilities than traditional 5x5 scoring.
Honorable mention: Matt Carpenter, STL
Though twice a 30-30 man, Kinsler's production is capped at about 20 homers and 15 steals these days, neither of which really moves the needle in Rotisserie. But a lot of small contributions -- not the least of which is his low strikeout rate -- can add up to big production in this format, where Kinsler was nearly top 12 last year despite some horrid BABIP luck.
Honorable mention: DJ LeMahieu
Rendon is of course an early-rounder regardless of format, but when his walks count for something in and of themselves, he's unquestionably elite. He was one of just four qualifying batters who had more walks than strikeouts last year (Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo and Justin Turner being the others), and when he does that, who cares if he's hitting "only" 25 home runs?
Honorable mention: Kyle Seager
Granted, there are reasons to wonder if Simmons will excel in any format this year, given his track record, but certainly the player he was last year worked nicely in this one. If he can provide just modest power and speed, the points he's safeguarding by making consistent contact -- a skill that goes completely unrewarded in Rotisserie -- will push him ahead.
Honorable mention: Zack Cozart
Once again, superior plate discipline is what sets these players apart in a league where it actually counts for something. Hoskins is like the second coming of Anthony Rizzo, who ranked up there with Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman in Head-to-Head points per game last season even though his batting average didn't compare. None of these three are useless in Rotisserie -- Brantley can help a little in batting average and Fowler a little in steals -- but it takes a more varied scoring format to appreciate their full skill sets.
Here's where volume becomes most important. Obviously, limiting runs and baserunners still matters in this format, but you'll accept a higher ERA and WHIP from a pitcher who lasts longer, given that innings are worth three points apiece. And given that strikeouts are worth just half a point apiece, those mid-level workhorses who fall just outside of having ace potential are more impactful than you may realize. Yes, injury prevented Duffy from having a big innings total last year, but he went beyond six in half the starts he did make, giving him more upside than, say, Drew Pomeranz from one week to the next.
Even as a celebrated closer for the Pirates, Melancon's underwhelming strikeout totals put him well behind Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel in Rotisserie leagues, where strikeouts are one-fifth of a pitcher's production. Mostly, you just want a bunch of saves in this format, and Melancon is equipped to provide them in San Francisco. Likewise, starting pitchers with relief pitcher eligibility are golden here (because, again, volume) and Minor is the best of that group this year.
Based on standard 5x5 categories (BA, HR, RBI, R, SB for hitters and W, ERA, K, WHIP, SV for pitchers)
Rotisserie leagues allow you to narrow your focus to just five contributions on each side of the ball. They're all weighted equally and required on some level, creating an environment where a scarcity can inflate the value of a stat beyond its real-life utility. This phenomenon is most evident with stolen bases and saves, and the biggest contributors in those areas are valued more than in Head-to-Head.
Any hitter who excels at one thing is impactful in this format, even if his peripherals would sink him in the other. But while efficiency is a lower priority for hitters, it's a higher one for pitchers. You can make do with fewer, which is why they tend to go later, but the gap between the big bat-missers with impressive ratios and innings eaters with middling ratios is bigger than in points leagues.
Zunino does basically two things: hit home runs and strike out. He does both at an especially alarming rate for a catcher -- or really anyone. The former is enough to make him a prized asset in Rotisserie leagues. Combined with the latter, though, he's no more than a fringe starter in Head-to-Head points.
Honorable mention: Evan Gattis, HOU
A first baseman who steal bases is a rare find who can only be fully appreciated in this format, especially when he's known to strike out 100 times more than he walks.
Honorable mention: Jose Abreu, CHW
Say it with me now: stolen bases. There are three genuine standouts in the category (Trea Turner and Billy Hamilton being the others), and as scarce as steals are in baseball today, any of those three could carry you in the category. And in the format where that one contribution is one-fifth of a player's overall production, that's a big deal.
Honorable mention: Rougned Odor, TEX
Stolen bases and batting average are the scarcest hitter categories, but a player who dominates at anything will be of high interest on Draft Day After Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, Gallo might be the most likely player to hit 50-plus home runs, and unlike in Head-to-Head, you won't care that he's striking out 220 times to do it.
Honorable mention: Miguel Sano, MIN
After homering 25 times in 417 at-bats last year, DeJong may be the best pure power hitter at a position still lacking in them. He doesn't walk at all, but all that does in this format is limit his run-scoring potential. For cheap power from a middle infield spot, you'll accept that tradeoff.
Honorable mention: Jean Segura, SEA
If Carlos Santana is the captain of the All-H2H team, then Marte leads the Rotisserie brigade, getting on base almost exclusively by way of batting average (which tends to be high) and swiping bases at a pace only a handful of today's players can match. He excels at the two scarcest categories, in other words, which, at least in this format, more than makes up for his shortcomings elsewhere. The other two each excel in one of those categories, but Garcia doesn't walk enough for Head-to-Head owners to pay him much notice and Hamilton doesn't do much of anything else right.
Inning for inning, these five have the potential to dominate, but the problem is they may come up a little short on the innings. It's still an issue in Rotisserie since strikeout total is the relevant category, not strikeout rate, and since low ERAs and WHIPs count for more when sustained over more innings. But good ratios are better than bad ratios over any number of innings, and these pitchers all have a good chance at good ratios. Of the five, Paxton has the best chance of throwing 180-plus innings. McCullers', Ohtani's and Maeda's will all likely be limited by design.
Saves is one of the five pitching categories in standard Rotisserie leagues, so you certainly need them. But because you can fill your nine pitcher spots with any sort of pitcher you choose, you can make up for a low save total from one reliever by just ... starting another reliever. And so those who may not be in line for as many saves but excel in other areas are more valuable here than in Head-to-Head points leagues. Hand is really good, but seeing as he pitches for the Padres, he's not a really good bet for 30 saves. Miller isn't even a closer but may well be the best source of ERA and WHIP of any reliever.