In last week’s primer, we covered some useful ground rules for making the mental adjustment from standard head-to-head or rotisserie formats to points leagues. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be putting those guidelines into practice and looking at player values for points leagues.
Nick Mariano is breaking down our tiered points leagues rankings, and today we're taking a look at 2017 sleepers and draft values for points leagues. Over the next few days, I’ll be offering my own thoughts on overvalued and undervalued points league targets. Starting right…about…now.
Editor's note: You can find more draft values and potential sleepers in our running list all preseason long, and be sure to also check out our rankings dashboard which is loaded with lots of great analysis.
2017 Points League Sleepers
Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bell made his debut last season and acquitted himself well, hitting .273/.368/.406 with three home runs and 37 R+RBI in 152 plate appearances. He walked more than he struck out, becoming just the sixth rookie since 2000 to do so (min. 150 PA). That kind of plate discipline bodes well for his future and makes him immediately appealing in points leagues.
It remains to be seen how much he’ll play. Bell’s defense is, to put it mildly, a work in progress, and the Pirates certainly know firsthand how important glovework can be. Pittsburgh retained David Freese and may elect to start him against southpaws. Bell is a switch-hitter, but stronger from the right side. He has also lacked the pop of a prototypical first baseman to this point, although his 17 homers between Triple-A and the majors last season represented a career best. All that said, Bell’s current price tag makes him a potential bargain.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals
Moustakas enjoyed a long-awaited breakthrough in 2015, hitting .284 with 22 home runs. Through the first month of last season, he looked well on his way to an even better follow-up. Unfortunately, a torn ACL ended his season prematurely, but he’s expected to be 100 percent before the start of the upcoming season. It’s understandable that he’s something of a forgotten man given the crazy depth at the hot corner this season, but Moustakas could easily produce something like Justin Turner’s 2016, and he’s available 75 picks later.
An encouraging sign for owners in points leagues: Moose Tacos has seen his strikeout and walk rates improve every season in the majors. While he’s only hit .247 for his career thanks to his propensity for pop-ups and lack of foot speed, Moustakas’ contact quality has taken a substantial jump in recent years, portending better days ahead.
Matt Holliday, OF, New York Yankees
Holliday was one of the most bankable assets in baseball for the first decade of his career, but recent times haven’t been kind to him. Injuries have limited him to just 700 total plate appearances in the last two seasons. In 2015, he managed just four home runs after averaging 26 over the previous nine seasons. Last year, he hit a career-worst .246 and posted a walk rate below 10 percent for the first time since 2007. Now he’s moving to the superior league at age 37.
So why draft him? Well, the batting average woes last season were almost certainly a mirage. Despite his contact quality, batted ball distribution and strikeout rate all being in line with his career averages, he suffered from a .253 BABIP, 80 points below his career mark. That probably contributed to his first walk rate below 10 percent since 2007. He’s also going to be playing half his games in Yankee Stadium, one of the most homer-friendly park in baseball. Finally, he’ll be able to DH, increasing his chances of staying healthy.
Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
In his first full big-league season, Nola maintained his solid walk rate while adding several percentage points to his K% and cutting down on home runs. Under normal circumstances, he'd be somebody for whom we were all paying an expectant price. Unfortunately, an elbow injury and one of the lowest strand rates of the last 25 years conspired to wreck his ERA and ultimately, the injury ended his season.
Recent reports indicate that he'll enter spring training with no restrictions. Nola was in the midst of a breakout before the injury, but he’s been the 56th pitcher off the board on average in drafts so far. It’s rare that you have the opportunity to buy a breakout for peanuts after it’s already happened. Don’t let it pass you by.
Addison Reed, RP, New York Mets
Reed has been a high-strikeout pitcher from the jump, but he usually gave up a few too many home runs to crack the ranks of the truly elite relievers. Over the last two years, Reed has streamlined his mechanics, improving his production across the board. Not having to pitch in the White Sox or Diamondbacks bandboxes probably helped as well with the homer issues, but what we’re really interested in here is this: Since the 2015 All-Star break, Reed has pitched to a 1.81 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, with 122 strikeouts against just 21 walks in 109 innings.
Also interesting – Reed will likely open the season as the Mets’ closer, with Jeurys Familia expected to be suspended for at least a month following domestic violence allegations. If he continues to dominate like he has over the last year and a half, it’s possible that Reed could remain in the role even after Familia returns. Even if he doesn’t, Reed’s excellent K/BB and heavy volume (he was 10th in the league in innings among relievers) give him value in points leagues.