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.
Today we're looking at some potential shortstop sleepers and busts, or draft targets and avoids in points leagues.
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Overvalued for Points Leagues
Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants
In 2016, Nunez showed unexpected pop to go with a high number of stolen bases. The veteran’s 16 homers nearly equaled his output in the previous five years – all part-time seasons, but the point remains. While he doesn’t have strikeout issues, Nunez also doesn’t walk much. His career OBP checks in at a pedestrian .314, meaning he’ll have to get the green light an awful lot to replicate his 40 swipes from a year ago. Despite his breakout performance at the plate, his run production didn’t move the needle, as he managed just 140 R+RBI.
Nunez struggled mightily down the stretch in 2016, hitting just .244/.297/.357 after the All-Star break. It’s fair to wonder if he can be productive over a full season, given his lack of a track record in that department. Considering most of his value comes from stolen bases – which don’t carry the weight in points leagues that they do in other formats – it’s not worth gambling on him.
Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs
I actually like Russell quite a bit, as regular readers – or even people who just read what I wrote on Monday – know. But he does have some shortcomings, and they’re particularly harmful to his value in points leagues. Even with the strides he made in 2016, Russell still has trouble making contact. When he does put wood on the ball, it’s all too often a lazy pop fly.
The age, pedigree, and context make his current price tag understandable, but it’s also an expectant one. If he doesn’t take another step forward, you’ll wish you had waited to draft vets like Troy Tulowitzki or Marcus Semien, who had similar production to Russell but come at a significantly cheaper cost.
Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays
Going into last season, Miller had 29 career home runs in about two seasons’ worth of plate appearances. So of course he hit 30 bombs, because #2016. That newfound power led to career-best run production, but also a lousy .243 average and strikeout rate just shy of 25 percent.
Given the plethora of viable shortstop options, low-average guys with pop, and the overlap between those two groups, Miller isn’t a great value at his current price. That’s particularly true in points leagues. Jedd Gyorko is being drafted 80 picks later, and they were basically the same player last season (plus Gyorko hits in a better lineup).
Undervalued for Points Leagues
Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals
Speaking of Cardinals, Diaz was a revelation in 2016. Sure, his hot start was heavily influenced by a crazy-high BABIP, but even stripping that out you're left with a .269/.350/.455 line with 12 HR, 49 R, and 48 RBI in about half a season’s worth of plate appearances. Diaz struck out in just 13 percent of his trips to the plate, while posting a 8.9% walk rate.
Should you miss out on the half-dozen studs at the shortstop position, waiting until the middle rounds for Diaz is a solid contingency plan.
Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics
Semien strikes out a bit more than you’d like in a points league, but he was third among all shortstops last season with 27 home runs, and only four players at the position managed 20 homers and 10 stolen bases. The others: Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and (somehow) Freddy Galvis. The former two are going to cost you a pick in the first two rounds, and Galvis is not actually good.
Semien, though? You can grab him after pick 200. He walks at a solid clip and will hit in the middle of what ought to be an improved Oakland lineup.
Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets
Cabrera quietly hit .280 with 23 homers last season, his best showing since 2011. The veteran spent a couple of years lost in the wilderness after a horrific quad injury in 2013, but his triple-slash has steadily trended upward since then. He posted the best hard contact rate of his career and pulled the ball more than ever before, so the power surge doesn’t seem fluky.
He’s not a sexy option by any stretch of the imagination, and shouldn’t be your primary shortstop. However, Cabrera is an afterthought in drafts (272 ADP) and should turn a profit at that price.