Every draft season, owners look into “sleepers.” Whether you believe sleepers still exist or not is up to you, but ultimately, owners are looking for players they think can return more value than their price tag. It’s great to have a list of players you want to target. But just as important is to find players that are being drafted too high, therefore, making any value hard to receive. Remember, if you draft a player based on his ceiling, all he can do is live up to expectations or disappoint, not exceed them.
On Twitter, I asked, “Which players are overvalued hitters in H2H points leagues?” The responses varied, but all were hitters that strike out frequently. With many leagues deducting 0.5 points for each time a hitter goes down on strikes, it really could add up. Other important factors that need to be considered for those new to points formats are consistency, and that category specialists are far less valuable. There are a number of players that provide more value in Roto formats than in H2H play. Let’s get started!
Overvalued Hitters in H2H Points Leagues
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
This is going to be an extremely unpopular pick, but it’s true. The hype for the slugging catcher has ballooned during the offseason. In a Roto formats I have no gripe with taking him in the fourth or fifth round, as he provides an elite boost in power at a weak position. However, he has been climbing up draft boards and going as early as the second round. That would be a mistake in a H2H points league. Yes, he
should still be the second catcher off the board, and he will hit 25-plus home runs. But last year he struck out 28.2 percent of the time and only had six doubles in 69 games. He will help make up for the high strikeout rate with his ability to get on base, but the strikeouts are not his only blemish. He hit just .143 in 56 at bats against lefties. His minor league numbers show he can improve in this aspect, but it is still a troublesome sign. Given the abundance of options the Cubs have, he could be benched against southpaws, or be taken out of the late innings of games for defensive reasons. Owners shouldn’t reach for Schwarber before the fifth round, especially in one-catcher league formats.
Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers
Much of Desmond’s value is due to his shortstop eligibility. From 2012 through 2014, he posted three straight 20/20 seasons, which is exceptionally valuable in Roto formats. People are willing to overlook his low OBP to get those counting stats. Last season, he failed to deliver, hitting just 19 home runs while stealing 13 bases and posting a .290 OBP. Want to know where he finished amongst shortstops in standard CBS H2H points leagues? He finished 14th, behind names like Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar and Asdrubal Cabrera. His value takes a big hit in points formats because he strikes out so frequently without walking much. Last year, his strikeout rate climbed for a third straight season to 29.2 percent, while his walk rate remained stagnant at 7.1 percent.
Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Jones is a great player; it’s just that his skill set profiles better for category formats. While his home run total dropped for a second straight year, he still hit 27 homers. The decrease in runs and RBIs hurt his value more than the slight power decrease. Additionally, he had just three steals, when he used to be good for double-digits. His average also dropped last season, but his OBP remained extremely low. Jones does not draw walks, evident in his 4.1 percent walk rate being a three-year high. It is easier to live with this OBP in Roto, since it is just one category, but it provides a ton of points in H2H leagues. He finished as the 31st outfielder in standard points leagues.
Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels
Despite a decrease in Isolated Power (ISO), Calhoun hit a career-high 26 home runs last year. However, similar to Jones, he does not get on base much at all, which hurts his value. Last year he hit .256, with a 6.6 percent walk rate, resulting in a .308 OBP. He finished as the 30th overall outfielder in points leagues. He is being drafted accordingly, as the 35th OF off the board according to his ADP. He would need to hit 25-plus home runs again to return that value.
Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
Despite hitting a career-high 27 home runs in 2015, Davis finished as the 53rd OF in points leagues. Yes, he only played in 121-games, which limited his counting stats such as runs, RBIs, etc. However, his low finish was also heavily tied to a high K-rate (27.7 percent).
Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
Sano has sky-high potential. He hit 18 home runs in just 80 games, and his .262 ISO seems sustainable according to his minor league numbers. However, he posted a .269 Batting Average, largely due to a .396 BABIP. If Sano qualified he’d have the highest BABIP in the league by a pretty wide margin. That is not sustainable. His OBP will likely fall with his average, but he does draw a lot of walks (15.8 percent). So, why do I think he is overvalued? He struck out a whopping 35.5 percent of the time last season. That’s awfully high for a player being drafted in the fourth or fifth round. Given that he is only Utility eligible in many leagues, I’d prefer to wait three rounds and nab David Ortiz in redraft leagues.
The first player that comes to mind is Billy Hamilton. Let me tell you, even in Roto formats I hate drafting Hamilton. He will give you over 50 stolen bases, but he will kill you in EVERY other category. He hits just .226, has a .274 OBP, hit four homers, scored 56 runs and drove in 28 RBIs. Last season, he also got moved down to eighth in the batting order. Despite all this, people will still pay for the steals, and in Roto formats you can justify it. Hamilton finished as the 60th OF in points formats. He is being drafted as the 30th OF off the board according to his ADP. That is inflated due to Roto formats, but it is still way too high. Other players like Hamilton include Ben Revere and Delino DeShields Jr.
This is an underrated factor in H2H points leagues. In a Roto format you can live with inconsistency, as long as the end of the season numbers are there. Not so much in points leagues, where you are competing for a win on a week-to-week basis. The perfect example that comes to mind is Justin Upton. Here are Upton’s month-by-month OPS results from 2015: .842, .964, .608, .552, .923, .757. This has been a trend for Upton throughout his career. Upton is still worth an early round pick, as he will singlehandedly win for you during weeks when he is hot, but leave you scratching your head during his slumps. It is why I often elect to take Yoenis Cespedes, J.D. Martinez or Nelson Cruz over Upton in points league drafts.
All of these players can still return value in points leagues, but drafting them similar to their value in Roto formats is a mistake that far too many owners make.
Shout out to Frank Stampfl (@Roto_Frank) for giving me suggestions for this list. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.