Which Hitters Will Be Affected Most by FanDuel's New MLB Scoring Rules?
It's 11:30 pm Central time. Your MLB DFS team on FanDuel is swimming in points, and you're ready to start counting those stacks.
You got a dong from Josh Donaldson. Dexter Fowler's three-run double brought tears to your eyes. And David Peralta kept on smacking right-handed pitching. Every pick you made went right, and it's got you sitting higher on the leaderboards than you've ever been before.
Then it all comes crashing down.
With only 0.2 points separating you and your annoying co-worker, Steve, you realize the San Francisco Giants are about to hit extra innings. Brandon Belt is 2-for-4 with a couple of RBI, but if he gets another plate appearance and can't get on base, Steve's going to notch that "W." Devastation.
Fret not, dear friends. Extra innings will no longer be the bane of your existence. With FanDuel's new scoring rules, those negatives that brought nightmares of close games are gone. Rejoice and be glad!
As is always the case with changes in scoring rules, this will have an impact on on individual players' values. Which guys are getting the biggest bump -- in the positive or negative sense -- under the new rules?
We'll list a few specific names below, but the intent is not to narrow the scope to those specific guys. Rather, we're looking for types of hitters who will either benefit or take a hit under the new scoring rules. There are names attached, but the main takeaway should be why that hitter is on the list.
A Quick Note on Scoring
For those of you who haven't checked out the new scoring rules yet, things haven't really changed much.
The only change that was made was the elimination of a 0.25-point reduction for an at-bat that results in an out. All other events had their point totals multiplied by three, for both hitters and pitchers. The new rules for hitters are in the table below.
|Home Run||12 Points|
|Run Batted In||3 Points|
|Run Scored||3 Points|
|Stolen Base||6 Points|
|Hit By Pitch||3 Points|
You get three points for each total base and three points for every other event except for a stolen base. Pretty easy to keep track.
Although the changes aren't big, it's still going to have an impact. Because of the nature of the changes, it seems as though it would provide an advantage to batters at the top of the order. Speaking of which...
Alcides Escobar really is not a good hitter. His .320 slugging percentage was below the league-average on-base percentage of non-pitchers last year. But as long as he's at the top of the order, he'll still at least have some kind of value.
Under the old scoring rules, Escobar ranked 201st in FanDuel points per game of the 352 batters who had at least 200 plate appearances. Now, he slides up to 170th with the elimination of point deductions. That 31-place jump was the largest leap in the positive direction in the entire league.
The new scoring rules will add an extra incentive to roster mediocre hitters who find themselves at the top of the order. They can't lose points, and the number of plate appearances they see will only give them extra chances to rack up points. What's not to love?
Of course, this will all boil down to price. If Escobar's salary rises after the first part of the season, then it's fine to fade him. But if you can get a mediocre, cheap hitter at the top of the order, the increase in volume could make a big difference.
While we're on the topic of bad hitters, we may as well touch on Wilson Ramos. Ramos' .265 wOBA was the second worst in the league last year among all batters with at least 500 plate appearances. However, he doesn't hit leadoff for the Washington Nationals, so why is he on this list?
It turns out that hitting behind one of the greatest hitters of the past decade is beneficial.
Bryce Harper finished last season with a .460 on-base percentage. He hit either third or fourth every game, meaning the guys hitting in the middle part of the order had plenty of opportunities with guys on base. Enter Ramos.
More than three-fifths of Ramos' plate appearances came in the top six in the order, meaning he was usually within a few spots of Harper. When Ryan Zimmerman had his stupid-hot month of August, Ramos benefited from that, too. He wasn't individually talented, but he got to clean up the scraps of his quality teammates.
The implication here is that poor hitters in quality lineups now have higher value. Whereas Ramos' RBI may not have been worth the negative points in the past, the downsides are now lower. They're not going to contain the same upside as their more-talented counterparts, but you should be considering the quality of the surrounding lineup even more under the new rules.
John Jaso was my favorite batter to use all of last year. He was eligible at catcher (most of the time), and he hit near the top of the order. However, he actually finds himself on the opposite side of the coin from Escobar. Why would that be the case?
Even though Jaso got the bump in volume from hitting at the top, he got an equal -- and possibly greater -- drop in volume because of his struggles against left-handed pitching. Jaso only had 19 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers last year because the Tampa Bay Rays would take him out when the opposing team brought out a lefty. That doesn't help.
There were eight games last year in which Jaso hit leadoff for the team and still only saw three plate appearances. He was in the best spot he could possibly be in the order, yet his volume in those games was still only around that of a person hitting in the bottom third of the lineup. These are the types of guys who are going to take a hit under the new rules.
If you look at most of the players whose per-game scoring ranks dropped most, they are largely strict platoon hitters. Andre Ethier, Ryan Raburn, Ben Paulsen, and the aforementioned David Peralta all dropped at least 24 spots. That's a concern.
If there's a hitter you want to roster who gets the hook when the opponent goes to the pen, you may want to think twice. In the old system, they got to bask in their dominance against pitchers of one handedness while not losing points against the the others. Now, it's just a drop in volume that may not be worth it.
Don't try to twist this one too much; Miguel Sano is still the object of my affection. He just takes a downturn in the new scoring rules.
Under the old system, Sano ranked 18th in points per game; he falls to 23rd in the new one. That's not a huge drop in overall positions, but no other player in the top 55 took as big of a hit as Sano.
The main reason here is that Sano came up at a bad time. He got called up in July and usually hit fourth in the order. This put him behind (most often) Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, and Joe Mauer. This was the opposite effect of what Ramos saw.
In the second half of the season, Hicks, Mauer, and Dozier combined to slash .238/.312/.376. When that's what Sano's trailing, it makes sense that his production in the RBI department would be a bit lacking.
As much as you need to elevate poor hitters in otherwise good lineups, you should also be wary of quality hitters who are surrounded by players who are struggling. Sano was fantastic last year, but his supporting cast was less so.
This is also applicable on a day-by-day basis. Let's say that both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are stroking it early in the season. This increases their prices to a point beyond their individual production as they are feeding off of each other's Gucciness.
Then, Trout gets a random day off for whatever reason. If that happens, we should be cautious about using Pujols as the lineup's expected runs scored would decrease without Trout's presence. Even if Pujols has a good game, our expectations should be lower for him if the quality of batters in front of him decreases. This is even more true under the new scoring system.
Based on the players who were most affected by the rules change, we can make two key conclusions: volume matters more and so does batting order.
Under the new rules, lesser hitters will have higher value if they are either hitting at the top of the order or surrounded by quality hitters. With the elimination of negative points for outs, these guys no longer possess the same downsides they did in the past, and they can further capitalize on their extra opportunities.
This also works the other way. Using a platoon hitter at a reduced cost is great, but you'll want to be cautious. If they get yanked in the seventh inning for a pinch hitter, that's going to cost you crucial plate appearances that could hurt you in the long run.
Finally, even the best hitters need something to work with around them. If you've got a lone duck in a lowly lineup, that person's value is going to be lower, and this is even more true with the new scoring rules. Their own personal quality is a bit devalued, making it even more important that they find themselves with opportunities to drive in runs.
Again, these changes really aren't that drastic. Some batters didn't see any change at all, and most of the others didn't move far. Still, keeping these keys in mind may give you a minor leg up early in the season as other players adjust to these fluctuations.