Big Board's Picks: Sultans of Stats

It's the thick of draft season, and once again this year, members of the Reddit fantasy baseball community are rallying to the /r/SultansOfStats subreddit to sign up for drafts. SoS uses a unique format, in which managers seek to progress season-to-season through a premier-league style system of four divisions. Make your way up to Division 1, and you could even challenge yours truly for the title! To add yet another wrinkle, these leagues use a unique 6x6 roto scoring setup (HR, R, RBI, SB, OBP, OPS for hitters and QS, SO, ERA, WHIP, SV, HD for pitchers). To that end, I'm here today to write about the top players that are value gainers in this format, and the top players that are value losers in this format from the changed categories. All of this analysis was done using the Big Board - if you're interested in creating your own customized rankings and winning your fantasy leagues (like I did in SoS), check it out! Additionally, I'll drop them into a few categories, as you'll see there are certain types of players that are good or bad in SoS.

Incidentally, I'm already more than halfway into my D1 slow draft at the time of writing here, so worry not - I will not bias my words here to throw off my competitors! Hope this is of interest to the rest of Sultans of Stats, let me know your thoughts in the comments - anyone else you're targeting or avoiding? Agree or disagree on the guys listed here?

GAINERS

Elite Hitters

The rich get richer in this format. Players that were already elite in 5x5 tend to also have elite OBP's/OPS's! It's important to get your early hitter picks right in SoS. For example, here are five guys, along with their projected OBP/OPS and the difference in projected $ value...

Mike Trout (.430 OBP, 1.032 OPS), +$22
Joey Votto (.440 OBP, .995 OPS), +$18
Bryce Harper (.411 OBP, .980 OPS), +$15
Aaron Judge (.375 OBP, .915 OPS), +$12
Anthony Rizzo (.391 OBP, .925 OPS), +$12

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Guys That Mash Dingers

OPS includes a player's slugging, so HR pump it up, and HR are already extremely valuable in fantasy since they correlate to R and RBI as well. For example, here are five guys, along with their projected HR/OPS and the difference in projected $ value...

Joey Gallo (38 HR, .865 OPS), +$9
Brain Dozier (33 HR, .830 OPS), +$4
Kyle Schwarber (31 HR, .823 OPS), +$4
Greg Bird (33 HR, .844 OPS), +$4
Matt Olson (36 HR, .835 OPS), +$4

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Good Eyes

OBP and OPS both benefit in a big way from taking walks. For example, here are five guys, along with their projected OBP and the difference in projected $ value...

Matt Carpenter (.385 OBP), +$8
Carlos Santana (.370 OBP), +$8
Alex Avila (.360 OBP), +$6
Anthony Rendon (.390 OBP), +$5
Brandon Belt (.375 OBP), +$4

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Setup Men and Middle Relievers

This one is sort of a 'duh', but it turns out, if you have Holds as a category, you need to value middle relievers! Many of these guys are questionably rosterable in standard formats. In SoS, the elite middle relievers are just as valuable as elite closers, and Andrew Miller is just as valuable as Jansen/Kimbrel, even though he's unlikely to see the 9th often or at all. What's more, some of them put up a ton of innings with elite ERA/WHIP, meaning they can really help improve your ratios. For example, here are five guys, along with their projected ERA/WHIP/HDs and the difference in projected $ value...

Andrew Miller (2.37/0.90/25, handful of SVs), +$11
Addison Reed (3.70/1.14/21, upside for SVs), +$9
Josh Hader (3.00/1.10/20), +$9
Chris Devenski (3.40/1.02/21, 75+ innings), +$8
Tommy Kahnle (2.80/1.12/18), +$8

LOSERS

Speedsters (AKA guys that don't mash dingers)

As it turns out, there aren't that many guys in the majors that have a good OPS while also stealing bases. Those that do are among the most elite players in fantasy. So when it comes to drafting speedsters, you'll find that they're far, far less valuable in SoS, because they drag your OBP/OPS way down. On top of that, it actually takes *less* steals to be competitive, because people don't like to roster SB-only guys! So the steals themselves are also less valuable. This is really a tough thing about managing a team in SoS - many of your competitors will draft this like it's a standard league, and that means that the SB-only players will be drafted too early, so finding SBs can be tough. For example, here are five guys, along with their projected SB/OPS and the difference in projected $ value...

Dee Gordon (56 SB, .690 OPS), -$14
Billy Hamilton (60 SB, .650 OPS), -$12
Whit Merrifield (27 SB, .737 OPS), -$10
Cameron Maybin (29 SB, .695 OPS), -$6
Delino Deshields (35 SB, .715 OPS), -$5

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Bad Eyes

Another way to describe this category would be guys who play a lot and have bad rate stats. In standard formats, you can sort of "get away" with having a bad AVG, it's just one category after all. But in SoS, a bad OBP is counted twice, since you have OBP and OPS as categories, so players with bad contact skills or bad eyes can be really costly, even if they contribute well in HR/R/RBI/SB. For example, here are five guys, along with their projected OBP/OPS and the difference in projected $ value...

Adam Jones (.300 OBP, .755 OPS), -$9
Didi Gregorius (.312 OBP, .767 OPS), -$8
Jonathan Schoop (.314 OBP, .794 OPS), -$7
Salvador Perez (.290 OBP, .755 OPS), -$6
Trey Mancini (.326 OBP, .796 OPS), -$6

(sorry, Orioles fans... 3 out of 5, and I almost included Trumbo as well)

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Starting Pitchers

This one catches people off guard. In SoS, a much higher proportion of your innings and roster spots are reserved for relievers than in standard formats. That means that starters contribute less overall to the value of your team, and should therefore be drafted lower! The challenge, which I will leave up to you to solve, is that most drafters DGAF about this, and draft SPs just as high as they normally would. Do you reach to grab SP? Or just wait and take whatever's left? That's a difficult strategic decision.

On top of that, QS are a factor. Pitchers on good teams normally get a slight boost for higher expected W totals. You can also expect that guys expected to start 30+ games will also just accidentally run into a fair amount of W. Five-and-dive types are downgraded in SoS, since you can't get the QS without going at least 6IP, as are the SP on good teams.

To get you oriented on how much lost value I'm talking about, here are five guys, along with their projected QS and the difference in projected $ value...

Jordan Montgomery (12), -$3
Rick Porcello (16), -$3
Charlie Morton (13), -$3
Rich Hill (13), -$2
Gerrit Cole (17), -$2