MLB

Fantasy Baseball: Sannes' Season-Long Points League Rankings

In all fantasy formats, no matter what the sport, you've got to know the rules. If you don't, you'll be up the creek without a paddle before even making a pick.

There is no format in which this is more true than a fantasy baseball points league.

The reason for this is that there isn't really a standard template for how the scoring should look from one site to another. On ESPN, standard scoring deducts a full point when a hitter strikes out. On CBS, it's a half-point deduction, and for DRAFT's best-ball leagues, you can strike out as much as you please. This same variance is true for wins, saves, losses, and on and on and on.

In 2018, Alex Bregman and Giancarlo Stanton both had 705 plate appearances. But in that sample, Stanton had 126 more strikeouts, meaning he lost 126 additional points on ESPN relative to Bregman and 63 points on CBS. Stanton certainly made up for it in other spots, but that's a massive swing. If you're not accounting for it, your team is already toast.

That is all to say that there's not a one-list-fits-all approach to ranking players in points leagues for fantasy baseball. At the end of the day, you've got to know your league and make adjustments based on that. But that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun and shoot some broad lists out there.

Below are my personal season-long points-league rankings for the 2019 season. It's important to note that these are separate from numberFire's season-long rankings, which you can see right here. They're a tool I use in my process, but it's easier to justify listing Jed Lowrie irrationally high yet again when I can toss in a bit of personal feelings on players, as well.

Because spring training stats matter, I'll be making tweaks to this list as March goes along. But for now, here's how I'm feeling about each player as things get going in Florida and Arizona.

While building these rankings, I worked with CBS's default scoring rules. This cuts the strikeout conundrum right down the middle, making things a bit easier. But if you're playing on ESPN with the full one-point deduction for a strikeout, you'll want to move guys like Joey Gallo and Yoan Moncada who are quite fond of that third strike down your list.

We'll do this position-by-position with short annotations for each. So let's get it poppin' starting with everybody's favorite position: catcher.

Note: Rankings were last updated March 5th to reflect the news that Miguel Sano would miss the opening month due to a heel injury.

Catcher

Rank Player Tier
1 J.T. Realmuto 1
2 Gary Sanchez 1
3 Wilson Ramos 2
4 Yadier Molina 2
5 Willson Contreras 2
6 Yasmani Grandal 3
7 Buster Posey 3
8 Danny Jansen 4
9 Welington Castillo 4
10 Francisco Cervelli 5
11 Tucker Barnhart 5
12 Robinson Chirinos 5
13 Jonathan Lucroy 6
14 Mike Zunino 6
15 Jorge Alfaro 6
16 Omar Narvaez 6
17 Austin Hedges 7
18 Chris Iannetta 7
19 Kurt Suzuki 7
20 Francisco Mejia 7
21 Yan Gomes 7
22 Elias Diaz 8
23 John Hicks 8
24 Tyler Flowers 8


Even before the news that Salvador Perez could potentially miss the season, Yadier Molina was ranked fourth on this list, a bit higher than he's going on CBS. That's due to both his massive playing time and how good he has been recently.

Despite spending some time on the disabled list last year, Molina still logged 500 plate appearances for the fourth consecutive season and the ninth time in the past 10. He clubbed 20 homers over that time with a 44.4% hard-hit rate and 36.9% fly-ball rate, numbers that will drive in a bunch of runs when they're coming behind a lineup that now includes Paul Goldschmidt. Molina's still a desirable fantasy asset entering his age-36 season.

On the flip side of both the value and the age spectrum, it's hard to get enthused about Francisco Mejia at his current cost. Teammate Austin Hedges is mighty skilled defensively and showed a bit of pop with a .236 isolated slugging percentage after last year's All-Star break. If Mejia can find a spot to play more regularly, he'll shoot up these rankings, but he's sticking a bit lower until that point.

First Base

Rank Player Tier
1 Freddie Freeman 1
2 Paul Goldschmidt 1
3 Cody Bellinger 2
4 Matt Carpenter 2
5 Anthony Rizzo 2
6 Joey Votto 2
7 Max Muncy 2
8 Joey Gallo 3
9 Matt Olson 3
10 Jesus Aguilar 3
11 Jose Abreu 3
12 Edwin Encarnacion 4
13 Miguel Cabrera 4
14 Jurickson Profar 4
15 Justin Smoak 4
16 Carlos Santana 4
17 Ian Desmond 5
18 Jake Bauers 5
19 Eric Hosmer 5
20 Ryan Zimmerman 5
21 Yuli Gurriel 5
22 Trey Mancini 6
23 Luke Voit 6
24 Marwin Gonzalez 6
25 Yonder Alonso
6
26 Justin Bour
7
27 Josh Bell
7
28 Ryan McMahon 8
29 Tyler White 8
30 C.J. Cron 8


Given that Matt Olson couldn't quite live up to the lofty expectations drafters put on him entering last year, it makes sense that he has slid down some boards this year. But it really does make him an attractive value at an underwhelming position.

Olson cut his strikeout rate down to 24.7% in 2018 while upping his walk rate to 10.6%. His home run total wasn't jaw-dropping at 29, but with a 47.3% hard-hit rate and 43.1% fly-ball rate, we should expect a few more dingers to leave the yard this time around. Olson's being drafted as the 17th first baseman off the board on CBS, and that is much lower than it should be.

The other name to watch here is Jake Bauers. Roster Resource pegs him to bat fifth for the Cleveland Indians, trailing a bunch of dudes who can get on base. Bauers gets a boost in points leagues with his 13.9% walk rate, and with what should be plentiful playing time, he's a solid late-round value.

Second Base

Rank Player Tier
1 Jose Altuve 1
2 Javier Baez 1
3 Whit Merrifield 1
4 Gleyber Torres 2
5 Ozzie Albies 2
6 Travis Shaw 2
7 Rougned Odor 2
8 Daniel Murphy 3
9 Scooter Gennett 3
10 Brian Dozier 3
11 Jonathan Villar 4
12 Yoan Moncada 4
13 Robinson Cano 4
14 Cesar Hernandez 4
15 Dee Gordon 4
16 Jed Lowrie 4
17 Asdrubal Cabrera 5
18 Joey Wendle 5
19 Marwin Gonzalez 5
20 Ketel Marte
5
21 Jonathan Schoop
5
22 Lourdes Gurriel
6
23 Niko Goodrum
6
24 Starlin Castro
6
25 Kike Hernandez 7
26 DJ LeMahieu 7
27 Adam Frazier 7
28 Nick Senzel 8
29 Jeff McNeil 8
30 Ian Kinsler 8


Normally, when a young player blows up as a rookie, their cost will be prohibitive the following season in fantasy. That's especially true when they're wearing pinstripes.

Both of those apply to Gleyber Torres, but he still seems to be acceptable where he's going.

Some of the hesitance around Torres likely revolves around his slower second half. Even when you include that, though, he still had a 38.4% hard-hit rate and 42.7% fly-ball rate, numbers that validate his 24 homers over 484 plate appearances. Put those numbers in a park like Yankee Stadium, and Torres could easily duplicate or exceed his .271/.340/.480 triple slash. Until Torres' cost rises -- which it very well could -- consider me in on him for his sophomore campaign.

Third Base

Rank Player Tier
1 Jose Ramirez 1
2 Nolan Arenado 2
3 Alex Bregman 2
4 Kris Bryant 3
5 Javier Baez 3
6 Anthony Rendon 4
7 Eugenio Suarez 4
8 Matt Carpenter 4
9 Josh Donaldson 5
10 Max Muncy 5
11 Travis Shaw 5
12 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 5
13 Matt Chapman 5
14 Mike Moustakas 6
15 Justin Turner 6
16 Miguel Andujar 6
17 Wil Myers 6
18 Jurickson Profar 6
19 Rafael Devers
7
20 Eduardo Escobar
7
21 Asdrubal Cabrera
7
22 Joey Wendle
7
23 Jeimer Candelario 7
24 Jung-ho Kang 7
25 Evan Longoria 7
26 Ian Happ 8
27 Jake Lamb 8
28 Miguel Sano 8
29 Yuli Gurriel 8
30 Brian Anderson 8


The big story at third base is obviously Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and whether you should draft him, knowing he'll likely start the year in Triple-A. It may be an underwhelming answer, but truthfully, it depends. (Note: Guerrero has since strained an oblique and is expected to miss three weeks. His ranking above now reflects that news.)

Right now, Guerrero is going seventh among third basemen on CBS. That's not far off from where he's at on my list. But it does mean he's going ahead of both Matt Carpenter and Eugenio Suarez, and that's where things get a bit tough.

Carpenter's walk rate makes him a monster in points leagues, and adding Goldschmidt should boost his run and RBI totals. Suarez will also draw his fair share of walks and posted a 48.6% hard-hit rate and 37.1% fly-ball rate in a hitter-friendly park. Those are awesome fantasy assets to have on your roster.

Once you get past those two, there are a couple extra question marks, which makes Guerrero more palatable. As such, if he slips a tad below his current ADP, it'd likely be wise to pounce and scoop him up. But if you're on the clock and have the chance to snag either Carpenter or Suarez instead, it's not a bad idea to take the less flashy route.

Shortstop

Rank Player Tier
1 Trea Turner 1
2 Alex Bregman 1
3 Francisco Lindor 1
4 Manny Machado 2
5 Trevor Story 2
6 Javier Baez 2
7 Adalberto Mondesi 3
8 Carlos Correa 3
9 Gleyber Torres 3
10 Xander Bogaerts 4
11 Jose Peraza 4
12 Jean Segura 4
13 Corey Seager 4
14 Jurickson Profar 5
15 Paul DeJong 5
16 Elvis Andrus 5
17 Jorge Polanco 5
18 Andrelton Simmons 5
19 Eduardo Escobar 6
20 Marcus Semien 6
21 Asdrubal Cabrera 6
22 Willy Adames 6
23 Marwin Gonzalez 6
24 Amed Rosario 7
25 Garrett Hampson 7
26 Tim Anderson
7
27 Ketel Marte
7
28 Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
7
29 Didi Gregorius 8
30 Chris Taylor 8


At shortstop, everything revolves around the health of Francisco Lindor. Even with Lindor likely to miss some time at the beginning of the season, he still seems worthy of a top-end selection.

Prior to Lindor's injury, he was going fourth overall in drafts for the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) and tops among all shortstops. He has since slipped to 13th overall and third among shortstops (though it's worth noting that the NFBC is a categories league rather than points). You are getting a discount because of Lindor's health.

Lindor has started to hit in a cage and take ground balls, according to Marly Rivera of ESPN. That means that while opening day may be out, he should be back some time by mid-April. In the time until he returns, you're not taking a zero at shortstop; instead, you'll get whatever value a late-round fill-in at the position can get.

So the question becomes at what point does a late-round sub for two weeks plus Lindor get you more than the other players available. For me, that would be the case after Trea Turner and Alex Bregman are off the board in points leagues. As such, it seems like the market is handling the news around Lindor appropriately, and he's still someone we should be willing to consider.

Outfield

Rank Player Tier
1 Mike Trout 1
2 Mookie Betts 1
3 Bryce Harper 2
4 J.D. Martinez 2
5 Aaron Judge 2
6 Giancarlo Stanton 2
7 Christian Yelich 2
8 Ronald Acuna 3
9 Charlie Blackmon 3
10 Kris Bryant 3
11 Rhys Hoskins 3
12 Cody Bellinger 3
13 Juan Soto 4
14 Whit Merrifield 4
15 Andrew Benintendi 4
16 George Springer 4
17 Joey Gallo 5
18 Lorenzo Cain 5
19 Yasiel Puig 5
20 Starling Marte 5
21 David Dahl 5
22 Tommy Pham 5
23 Eddie Rosario 5
24 Mitch Haniger 5
25 Marcell Ozuna 5
26 Michael Conforto 5
27 A.J. Pollock 5
28 Justin Upton 5
29 Andrew McCutchen 6
30 Nicholas Castellanos 6
31 Eloy Jimenez 6
32 Mallex Smith 7
33 Michael Brantley 7
34 Aaron Hicks 7
35 David Peralta 7
36 Wil Myers 8
37 Victor Robles 8
38 Stephen Piscotty 8
39 Byron Buxton 9
40 Brandon Nimmo 9
41 Adam Eaton 9
42 Ender Inciarte 9
43 Ian Desmond 9
44 Nomar Mazara 9
45 Jake Bauers 9
46 Ramon Laureano 9
47 Dee Gordon 10
48 Austin Meadows 10
49 Max Kepler 10
50 Kyle Schwarber 10
51 Hunter Renfroe 11
52 Corey Dickerson 11
53 Randal Grichuk 11
54 Jackie Bradley Jr. 11
55 Jesse Winker 11
56 Nick Markakis 11
57 Trey Mancini 11
58 Marwin Gonzalez 11
59 Kevin Kiermaier
11
60 Odubel Herrera
11
61 Domingo Santana
11
62 Harrison Bader
12
63 Steven Souza Jr.
12
64 Christin Stewart
12
65 Billy Hamilton
12
66 Ryan Braun
13
67 Chris Taylor
13
68 Cedric Mullins
13
69 Jose Martinez 14
70 Shin-Soo Choo 14
71 Jay Bruce 14
72 Manuel Margot 14
73 Ian Happ 14
74 Matt Kemp 14
75 Kevin Pillar 15


It may seem aggressive to put Bryce Harper ahead of Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna, and J.D. Martinez -- all of whom are going ahead of him on CBS -- but Harper is an ideal asset for points leagues.

Harper in 2018 drew an 18.7% walk rate, his third season within the past four with a walk rate of at least 17.2%. Those are all equivalent to a single in points leagues whereas they have only secondary benefits in a categories league. Toss in a great new park with a solid supporting cast, and it's easy to buy Philadelphia's newest millionaire.

Byron Buxton has generated plenty of talk this spring with his sudden affinity for dingers, and that's justified, but his teammate, Max Kepler, seems to be the big value. Kepler has been holding down the leadoff spot this spring, which would be huge for his volume in a points league. He also upped his walk rate to 11.6% last year, and when coupled with just a 15.7% strikeout rate, it hints at a player who could break out in 2019.

Utility

Rank Player Tier
1 Khris Davis 1
2 Nelson Cruz 1
3 Shohei Ohtani 2
4 Ji-Man Choi 3
5 Mark Trumbo 4
6 Kendrys Morales 4


Because Khris Davis and Nelson Cruz are eligible only at the utility slot, you're getting a major discount on them this spring. It's a discount you should be willing to take.

Davis is going 59th overall on CBS while Cruz is going 110th. This means Davis is going between Starling Marte and Michael Brantley among outfielders, and Cruz is between Max Muncy and Travis Shaw. Muncy and Shaw are also fairly attractive options in that range, but Cruz has hit 37 home runs for five straight seasons and now heads to a good park and a solid lineup. And with Davis, because it's a points league, he won't hurt you in batting average when he hits .247 for the fifth straight season, giving him very few warts to speak of. These two are worth the decreased flexibility that comes with drafting them.

Shohei Ohtani is a bit of a tougher sell due to an assumed lack of volume. Not only will he be on the shelf to start the season, but he can't play the field, which will keep him out of the lineup for road inter-league games. Toss in that his strikeout rate went up to 31.8% against lefties last year, and you could also see Ohtani sitting when he doesn't have the platoon advantage. As such, even with Ohtani's immense talent, he's likely best left to leagues with daily lineup changes or to your rosters in daily fantasy.

Starting Pitcher

Rank Player Tier
1 Chris Sale 1
2 Max Scherzer 1
3 Justin Verlander 1
4 Gerrit Cole 1
5 Jacob deGrom 1
6 Carlos Carrasco 2
7 Aaron Nola 2
8 Noah Syndergaard 2
9 Trevor Bauer 2
10 Corey Kluber 3
11 Blake Snell 3
12 James Paxton 3
13 Walker Buehler 4
14 Patrick Corbin 4
15 Luis Severino 4
16 Clayton Kershaw 4
17 Stephen Strasburg 4
18 Mike Clevinger 4
19 German Marquez 5
20 Jack Flaherty 5
21 Jameson Taillon 5
22 Jose Berrios 5
23 Zack Greinke 6
24 Zack Wheeler 6
25 Masahiro Tanaka 6
26 Rick Porcello 6
27 Miles Mikolas 6
28 David Price 6
29 Cole Hamels 6
30 Charlie Morton 7
31 Robbie Ray 7
32 Luis Castillo 7
33 Chris Archer 7
34 J.A. Happ 8
35 Madison Bumgarner 8
36 Yu Darvish 8
37 Tyler Glasnow 8
38 Rich Hill 9
39 Nick Pivetta 9
40 Kenta Maeda 9
41 Dallas Keuchel 9
42 Kyle Hendricks 9
43 Jake Arrieta 9
44 Kyle Gibson 9
45 Joe Musgrove 9
46 Eduardo Rodriguez 10
47 Alex Wood 10
48 Joey Lucchesi 10
49 Jesus Luzardo 10
50 Andrew Heaney 10
51 Mike Foltynewicz 10
52 Tyler Skaggs 10
53 Jose Quintana 10
54 Marco Gonzales 10
55 Nathan Eovaldi 10
56 Ross Stripling 10
57 Shane Bieber 11
58 Jon Lester 11
59 Zack Godley 11
60 Yusei Kikuchi 11
61 Hyun-jin Ryu 11
62 Jimmy Nelson 11
63 Carlos Martinez 11
64 Matthew Boyd 11
65 Carlos Rodon 12
66 Kevin Gausman 12
67 Touki Toussaint 12
68 Alex Reyes 12
69 Reynaldo Lopez 12
70 Michael Wacha 12
71 Chris Paddack 12
72 Mike Fiers 12
73 Jon Gray 12
74 Forrest Whitley 13
75 Steven Matz 13


In a points league, you need strikeouts. Desperately. If a pitcher isn't going to get you those, the margin for error is razor thin. That's why I'm willing to take risks on guys like German Marquez, even when the park is far from ideal.

The turnaround for Marquez last year started on June 24th, when he jacked up his average curveball velocity (it was 80.3 miles per hour prior to that day and 83.1 miles per hour from then on). Over his final 18 starts, Marquez had a 32.8% strikeout rate, pairing his 2.63 SIERA with a 2.79 ERA. In this format, that's absolute money.

Now, those who are skeptical of Marquez will be quick to point out that only 8 of those 18 starts came in Coors Field, and they would be fully justified in saying this. Off-speed pitches work differently at altitude, which could nullify the improvements in Marquez's curveball.

But in those eight starts at home, Marquez had a 2.66 ERA and a 35.4% strikeout rate. That thin air couldn't kill his vibe.

There's definitely risk in Marquez because of his park and because his success was in a relatively small sample last year. With that said, he's entering just his age-24 season, he's not overly costly in fantasy yet, and his upside is immense due to the strikeouts. That could be enough to justify him even as a top-30 starting pitcher.

Relief Pitcher

Rank Player Tier
1 Edwin Diaz 1
2 Roberto Osuna 2
3 Kenley Jansen 2
4 Aroldis Chapman 2
5 Craig Kimbrel 2
6 Blake Treinen 3
7 Sean Doolittle 3
8 Brad Hand 3
9 Cody Allen 4
10 Collin McHugh 4
11 Kirby Yates 4
12 Josh Hader 4
13 Corey Knebel 5
14 Matt Barnes 5
15 Ken Giles 5
16 Felipe Vazquez 5
17 Brad Peacock 5
18 Jose Leclerc 5
19 Wade Davis 6
20 Will Smith 6
21 David Robertson 6
22 Raisel Iglesias 6
23 Jose Alvarado 6
24 Trevor May 6
25 A.J. Minter 7
26 Ryan Brasier 7
27 Andrew Miller 7
28 Pedro Strop 7
29 Jordan Hicks 7
30 Seranthony Dominguez 7
31 Yonny Chirinos 8
32 Ryan Yarbrough 8
33 Alex Colome 8
34 Adam Ottavino 8
35 Jeremy Jeffress 8
36 Dellin Betances 8
37 Craig Stammen 8
38 Kelvin Herrera 9
39 Mychal Givens 9
40 Archie Bradley 9
41 Blake Parker 9
42 Shane Greene 9
43 Arodys Vizcaino 9
44 Drew Steckenrider 9
45 Jose Castillo 9


In a categories league, we can lean on guys like Dellin Betances who will get strikeouts and suck down our ratios. Those guys also have value in points leagues, but in reality, it's all about save opportunities.

On CBS, a save is worth the same number of points as a win. If a pitcher is unlikely to get either of those, they're fighting an uphill battle in a points league. That's why we have to put a fairly heavy emphasis on these two stat categories.

Because of this, guys like Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are interesting late-round gambles. Both are expected to compete for the Boston Red Sox's closer role with Craig Kimbrel likely out of town. Whoever wins that job would have access to monster upside via saves on a team that good.

If your league doesn't draft until later this month, then you should be monitoring this situation closely to see if news leaks before then. But if you draft in early March, you'll want to take swings at both of these guys. Barnes was electric with a much higher strikeout rate last year, which is why I have him higher on my list, but you can bet that if I miss out on Barnes, I'll be looking to snag Brasier later on to compensate.