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Point League Busts - Players to Fade

Points leagues can be a whole different ball game from your average roto leagues. When prepping for a points league, whether you're looking at ADP or online rankings, you're likely looking at data that is skewed by standard roto leagues. While it's good as a general starting point, some players simply perform better in one format over the other due to the differences in scoring.

We favor plate discipline and extra-base hits while devaluing steals in points leagues. Whereas steals are gold in roto and extra-base hits count for nothing unless you've altered the scoring categories. You must be particularly cognizant of your league's scoring system in points, as platforms reward categories differently. Strikeouts are punished on CBS but doubly so on ESPN. However, they're ignored on Fantrax, Yahoo, and NFBC Cutline.

With that in mind, many players will wind up being busts in point leagues, even though they could be quite valuable in Roto leagues. Here are five possible busts for 2020 that you may want to avoid in your points league.

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Adalberto Mondesi (SS, KC)

There may not be a more polarizing player in fantasy baseball than Adalberto Mondesi. You can look at his .263 average, nine home runs, and 43 steals in only 443 plate appearances in 2019 and think, "Wow, this guy can be a top-15 hitter in fantasy". But then there's the 4.3% walk rate, 29.8% strikeout rate, and a .291 on-base percentage. "Send him down to Triple-A!" It's precisely this kind of profile that does not bode well for points leagues.

Remember, we want players with better plate discipline and power over speed because when a hitter takes a walk, you score a point. Mondesi, however, seems allergic to plate discipline,  finishing second in swinging-strike rate (21%), top-10 in chase rate (42.2%), and dead last in contact rate (63.4%) among the 207 hitters that accumulated at least 400 plate appearances in 2019.

This isn't what you want to see from someone with an overall FantasyPros consensus 44 ADP. The Statcast data above shows a profile that just isn't conducive to points leagues, where speed is devalued on most platforms. This combination of little power and bad plate discipline makes Mondesi one of the more overrated players in a points format.


Paul Goldschmidt (1B, STL)

There's no doubt Goldschmidt was a bust for many fantasy owners last year, finishing his first season with the Cardinals by slashing .260/.346/.476 with 34 home runs and three steals. With a current FantasyPros consensus 64 ADP of 64, there's just too much going against Goldschmidt for me to believe he'll return good value in points leagues.

For much of his career, Goldy played in one of baseball's best hitters parks at a pre-humidor Chase Field. But Goldschmidt's move to St. Louis meant playing in a home park that ranks 30th in woba-xwoba on fly balls and line drives over the last three years. Which is another way of saying that players just tend to underperform at Busch Stadium. With that in mind, it's not surprising that Goldschmidt's 2019 triple-slash helped produced the worst numbers he's put up since his rookie campaign.

Not everything can be blamed on the stadium, though. Goldschmidt has shown a steady decline in his plate discipline over the last few seasons, a common trend in players as they age. As you can see in the chart above, his O-Swing%(chase rate) has increased every year over the last four seasons, and as a result, his walk rate has decreased in each of those seasons.

The data also shows a more aggressive approach with a slight decrease in contact rate and the highest swinging-strike rate since his rookie year. Additionally, his exit velocity on line drives and fly balls has fallen from 96.5mph in 2017, to 95.9mph in 2018, to 94.5mph last season. With these trends not going in the right direction, I'm going to fade Goldy at his current ADP.


Miguel Sanó (1B/3B, MIN)

Miguel Sanó gave us a taste of his massive power potential last season, hitting a career-high 34 home runs in only 105 games. While a FantasyPros 114 ADP says much of the industry hopes he can build off that, he's still not someone I'm going to trust in a points league. Getting 34 home runs in under 500 plate appearances is fantastic in a roto league, where you can add to that total with a replacement player, making it somewhat moot when his production comes. Things don't quite work like that in a points league, though.

In any head-to-head format, you need players you can count on week in and week out. And consistency is not a good part of Sanó's game. He's yet to surpass 500 plate appearances in a season as he's been limited by injuries throughout his career. He's also never had a strikeout rate lower than 35%. With that, you're going to get massive variance in his batting average and on-base percentage from week to week.

For example, take a look at Sanó OBP in 2019. Here are his numbers month by month: .320, .290, .411, .313, and .395. In a shortened season, there's a wide range of outcomes for someone like Sanó, making for a decent chance that he's a bust at his ADP.


Luis Robert (OF, CHW)

I want the shiny new toy just as much as the next guy. And in roto leagues, I'm in on Luis Robert. Someone with 20/20 potential, heck yeah. But don't fall into that trap in a points league because Robert has another profile that just doesn't play well in the format.

Over the last two seasons in the minors, Robert's walk rates have sat around 4-5%, with strikeout rates over 22%. This goes back to the plate discipline points players generally want to see. Can we really expect anything better in his first taste of the majors? And is it worth finding out at a consensus FantasyPros 99 ADP?

Add that to his probable position at the bottom of the White Sox lineup, with plate-appearance volume being pivotal in points leagues. Hitting at the bottom of the order with bad plate discipline is a recipe for a points league bust, particularly within the top 100 picks.


Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, KC)

The final points league bust on the list comes with Royals' outfielder Whit Merrifield. Going at a FantasyPros consensus 48 ADP, that's way too rich for me in a points league. Because while he's been able to hit for an excellent average, there has been a downward trend in Merrifield's contact rate in the last three seasons, particularly on pitches in the zone.

Merrifield's Z-Contact% (contact on pitches in the strike zone) has fallen from 91.8% in 2017, to 88.4% in 2018, to 87.2% in 2019, inching him closer and closer to a league average around 85%. Paired with that decline, Merrifield's strikeout rate has slightly increased as well, going from 14% in 2017, to 16.1% in 2018, and 17.1% in 2019.

Obviously, these numbers aren't trending in the right direction. Add to that the fact that Merrifield just won't hit for much power, and you have a player I'm going to fade in points leagues. You could be getting someone like Adam Eaton, but around 150 picks earlier.

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