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Points League Values: Catchers Set to Outperform ADP in 2022

This article will examine a few eligible catchers for the 2022 MLB season that are being selected later than their Steamer projections suggest they should in points leagues and H2H points formats. RotoBaller's fantasy baseball points analyst Antonio Losada will be offering a few picks for both potential overperformers (sleepers) and shortcomers (busts) when it comes to the following baseball season at each of the six (C/1B/2B/3B/SS/OF) rosterable positions through the remainder of the offseason gearing up to training camps and the preseason. ADP figures come from point-format contests over NFBC.

In general, points leagues and H2H points formats are extremely underserved by the fantasy baseball community and fantasy baseball outlets. But in case you weren't aware, here at RotoBaller we really take pride in and specialize in points leagues. All through the preseason and MLB season, we'll be publishing rankings, tools, and analysis articles all geared for fantasy baseball points and H2H points leagues.

Before we get to the players themselves, let's quickly review points leagues and how they are different than other formats. Typically, points leagues have different league settings and scoring formats than other fantasy baseball leagues. Different MLB stats and categories are assigned different point values, and those can vary by individual league settings. Those different point buckets are then added up over the course of a scoring period or season. In many cases, hitters who walk more and strike out less are preferred for points leagues. Also, many league formats tend to give more weight to pitchers than normal as they can easily accrue points through categories like Innings Pitched. Without further ado, let's get it popping!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Keibert Ruiz, Washington Nationals

ADP: 105.6 - OVR Rk: 114 - POS Rk: 2

Let's make this Keibert thing clear for a minute: 396th overall player in ESPN points leagues last season, 52nd-best C, 58 (fifty-eight !!!) fantasy points over the full season. Yikes. That sucked, of course, but that also came in a season in which Ruiz played all of 29 games and went to the plate 96 times. The average FPPG sat at a high 2.00 over those plate appearances, and that means Ruiz was on a 363 FP per 600 PA when we prorate his averages. That, my men reading out there, would have been the fifth-best fantasy score for a player at the C position, which is far from a joke if you ask me.

Of course, making those sorts of assumptions is not the soundest approach to this, but still. Keibert is locked into WAS no. 1 starting catcher slot with Riley Adams taking on the remaining reps. Adams, mind you, logged 120 PA and... a putrid 0.77 FPPG to go with a prorated 180 total FP on a supposed 600 PA basis. Jesus Christ, this man.

Ruiz is coming off his age-22 season and second among pros. His slash line sat at .273/.409/.742. Best of all? That BABIP was as low as a .276 over his near-100 PA and the BB/K ratio was bonkers with a low walk rate of 6.3%... but an astonishingly low 9.4% strikeout rate that was the absolute lowest among catchers with at least 90 PA. The result? A phenomenal 0.67 BB/K that was bested by just three other C: Yasmani Grandal, Alejandro Kirk, and Austin Nola. Not bad company for someone getting off draft boards past the 100th overall, isn't it?

 

Travis d'Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

ADP: 154.5 - OVR Rk: 175 - POS Rk: 7

Highlighting TdA as a potential ADP-beater is... easy? I mean, of course, catchers are always going to go low in drafts past the 1A-1B type of players in Salvy and Yasmi. Should that be the case in points leagues where you must have a different approach to the C-cohort and focus on who is about to hand you the real goodies? Maybe, maybe not. Travis is projected by Steamer to have a good-not-great .248 AVG and subpar .734 OPS to make for an overall 95 (yes, 95) wRC+ over the next season. Ugh.

For those who play classic cats, that might be a killer (rest of line: 19 HR, 62 R, 66 RBI, 2 SB), but for me doing it on points leagues? No sir, not at all. See, TdA comes with a projection of a .315 OBP. That's not Juan Soto's levels of discipline and ability, let's say, but that's not Adalberto Mondesi's either. Repeat with me: plate discipline matters in points leagues, and we don't care about speed nor single-hits. That's the key to getting those wins.

Travis is projected to 122 hits, 25+1 of those going for two and three bags along with the aforementioned 19 homers. That's nothing incredible but that pairs with a nice enough 44-walk, 125-strikeout projection that yields a viable 0.35 BB/K ratio. See, the discipline has been getting lower for three years in a row and last season, TdA posted a career-low 0.32. His career average, though, sits at a better 0.42 (not counting his four-game 2018 season), and on top of everything, I don't expect Manny Piña to take too many reps from TdA in his age-35 campaign... top-three catcher, d'Arnaud? Hard to see it happening. Top-five and ADP-beater? You bet it's coming.

 

Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks

ADP: 215.5 - OVR Rk: 240 - POS Rk: 12

As hard as I try, I just can't understand. Kelly is entering his seventh year of pro-ball at the highest level, and even then he's just about to ball at age 27. All of that is good, but the truth is that Kelly has yet to surpass the 100-games-played mark for the second time in his career (111 back in 2019) and to break the 365-PA barrier career-wise. And still, Kelly's plate discipline is great. Yes, the 20%+ strikeout rate has been there for three seasons straight, but so is the low 10.1 BB% average in the past three seasons (those we can consider his only full-time ones) with a career-low (not counting 2020) of 12.3% last year.

The BB/K was at a marvelous 0.59 ratio last season. The BABIP was as low as .271, .250, and lastly .270 in the past three years, which bodes well for the young Kelly to keep things up and improve on all he's already done. The steals are a net-zero (which will definitely help you snatch Kelly when you draft against your rivals in points leagues full of cat-geared dudes) but the extra-base hits are always there and the opportunities should be coming in bunches.

About that last point: Daulton Varsho. Varsho can man the plate on his knees. I know you know that, everybody knows that. But are we sure he will do so, instead of fielding balls near the 'Zona walls? The consensus thought here is that Varsho will in fact be part of the D-Backs outfield, opening the C slot to Kelly to fully enjoy. I have Varsho pegged as the no. 1 CF with no. 2 RF second-position duties. Then, maybe, backup catcher. Another warning sign for other fantasy GMs that you shouldn't fall for, boosting your chances at scoring some Kelly shares come draft day. What's not to love!?

 

Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays

ADP: 221.2 - OVR Rk: 211 - POS Rk: 9

If you read Kelly's section above, you know about the Varsho-Carson Dilemma. See, playing time/availability/volume/call-it-what-you-want is fundamental in points leagues. It's not rocket science: the more a guy plays, the more fantasy points he gets. Simply as 1+1 equals 2. Which is the case at Toronto's plate in the 2022 season of baseball. Ugh. Steamer projects Kirk to 334 PA compared to teammate and fellow C Danny Jansen's 361. I mean, it's not that 30 PA amount to anything neglectful, but that's not the problem. The problem is that Kirk would take the plate just 48% of the time, which plain sucks. Are we sure that'd be the case, though?

Toronto could very well start the year without Danny Jansen around. Sorry, DJ. Kirk is entering his age-23 season and has featured in two different seasons for the Jays already. Do you know who debuted at age-23? Our boy Jansen. Do you know how many total fantasy points (ESPN system) have Kirk and Jansen scored since the latter debuted in 2018? 130 and 399, respectively. Oh, just for context, they did so in 69 and 251 games played, respectively, which means Kirk has put up an average of 1.93 FPPG while Jansen is way worse at 1.60. Yes, he's improved for two years in a row but is still at a measly 1.71 compared to Kirk's 1.87 last year. Oh, and they went to the plate a similar 189 and 205 times, so it's not that the numbers are fakety fake.

Kirk is going to earn that no. 1 C role whether Toronto likes it or not. He's coming off a viral 0.86 BB/K rate that was topped by... one (!) other catcher in Yasmani Grandal, your top-five man at the position last season. Yessir! Who's Kirk, who's Yas? .242/.436/.764 vs. .240/.520/.939 were the slash lines. 10.1 BB% + 11.6 K% vs. 23.2 BB% + 21.9 K% at the plate. Lil Yas ain't no joke, is what I'm saying.  And I haven't even mentioned the .844 OPS that he's got projected! (The best among catchers in Steamer's sheet as I'm writing this). (For the 222nd-overall pick). (Just saying).



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