Points Leagues First Basemen: Overvalued and Undervalued

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As we’ve discussed, points leagues are a bit of a different animal from the more popular head-to-head and rotisserie formats. One of the easiest and best ways to ensure that you’re making a smooth transition between these disparate styles is to identify players whose values change most.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering my thoughts on potential points league bargains and busts at every position.

Today we're looking at some potential first base sleepers and busts, or draft targets and avoids in points leagues.

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Overvalued for Points Leagues

Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

Over the last five years, Davis leads all MLB hitters with 197 home runs. He’s fifth in RBI and 12th in runs scored as well. Unfortunately, Davis has also struck out more than anyone else during this stretch, and it isn’t even close. His 968 whiffs are over 100 more than the next-highest total, which unsurprisingly belongs to Chris Carter. Only nine other players have even K’d 700 times in this span. It’s little wonder that Davis has batted .196 and .221 in two of the past three seasons. You can still get value from him thanks to that prodigious power, but he’s a high maintenance asset in points leagues.

 

Wil Myers, San Diego Padres

Myers finally stayed healthy for a full season in 2016, and the results were impressive. He came close to being the first 30/30 player in MLB since 2012, scored 99 runs, and drove in 94. So what’s not to like? Well, obviously the injury history is discouraging. Even if he can avoid the disabled list, Myers clearly hit a wall in the second half. He’ll need to prove he can be productive over the long grind. Beyond that, Myers’ newfound stolen base prowess doesn’t move the needle in points leagues as much as in other formats. He’s also a career .257 hitter with moderate strikeout issues.

 

Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

Hosmer is a weird player who has gotten more love from fantasy owners than seems prudent. After all, before last season, he’d never hit more than 18 homers, and while he’s knocked in 197 runs the last two years, he had previously never cracked 80 in a season. Hosmer plays his home games in a pitcher-friendly park, but the big reason he hasn’t hit for more power is that he simply hits too many ground balls. You might think he reversed this trend last year based on the career high in homers, but you’d be wrong – Hosmer actually hit even more grounders than usual. He also posted the worst contact rate of his career. The surface stats and his age (27) feed a breakout narrative, but don’t be fooled.

 

Undervalued for Points Leagues

Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

Since he broke into the big leagues in 2010, only Joey Votto and Jose Bautista have posted a higher walk rate than Santana’s 15.5%. Last season was the best of his career, as he posted career highs in home runs (34), runs (89), RBI (87), and trimmed his strikeout and infield fly rates by several percentage points. Santana’s lack of speed and extreme pull approach will always keep him from being an asset in batting average, but he makes up for the lack of singles in points leagues with all those walks.

 

Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

Gonzalez dealt with back issues last season that robbed him of his usual pop. He’ll be 35 in May and the Dodgers do have Cody Bellinger lurking in the minors. That said, A-Gon has been a rock solid fantasy contributor for over a decade, and his second half performance suggested that reports of his demise had been greatly exaggerated. The veteran should be good for his usual high batting average and a home run total in the mid-20’s, plus excellent run production and solid plate discipline.

 

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants

Belt might be the poster child for points leagues. In H2H and roto, he’s always been overrated, thanks to a home park that murders left-handed power. Belt is entering his age-29 season and still hasn’t hit 20 homers, and last season’s good but not great run production (77 runs, 82 RBI) was a career best. However, Belt racks up a lot of doubles and triples, and last season saw him finish fifth in the majors in walk rate. I’ll continue to keep him off my draft board in the more popular formats, but in points, he’s a guy worth reaching for earlier than his ADP indicates.

 

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