An owner in a fantasy baseball head-to-head points league need not worry about stolen bases, home runs, ERA or WHIP, but rather total points and, more specifically, how to score more points than his/her opponent on a weekly basis.
There are many creative ways to gain an edge over your opponent in a points league each week of the season, including loading up on two-start pitchers, starting RP/SP eligible pitchers in your RP slots or filling your lineup with players with seven games in a week or double-headers scheduled. But, the best and only way to gain that edge on draft day is by knowing and understanding the point differentials by each position and determining where your top picks are best spent.
Think of it like a fantasy football draft. Everyone knows that quarterbacks will lead the league in scoring throughout the season, and while Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady might separate themselves from the pack a bit, a majority of quarterbacks worth drafting will offer similar scoring potential. Therefore, it’s often running backs like Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and others that are chosen with the top picks in a draft because their worth is far superior to the average running back in the league.
Similar thinking should be applied in a head-to-head points league where, most likely, starting pitchers, first basemen and possibly outfielders will score the most points throughout the season, but they might not offer an edge over your opponent as he/she too is likely to have one or multiple top-scoring pitchers and outfielders.
Therefore, by knowing point differential, you’ll be able to see where you can gain an advantage on your opponents before the season even starts.
See each position’s point differential after the jump:Point differentials are based on a 12-team mixed league, using 2011 point totals and position eligibility. Therefore, I’ve provided the top scorer at each position, followed by the 12th highest scorer (36th for outfield) to determine the point differential. I’ve also included the average point total of the Top 3 at each position as compared to the average of the Top 12 (Top 36 for outfielders).
#1) Carlos Santana, CLE - 389
#12) Chris Iannetta, ANA – 242
Point Differential: 147
Top 3 Catchers Average - 362
Top 12 Catchers Average - 306
Point Differential: 56
#1) Miguel Cabrera, DET – 575
#12) Gaby Sanchez, MIA – 377
Point Differential: 198
Top 3 First Basemen Average – 551
Top 12 First Basemen Average – 477
Point Differential: 74
#1) Ian Kinsler, TEX – 572
#12) Rickie Weeks, MIL – 299
Point Differential: 273
Top 3 Second Basemen Average – 544
Top 12 Second Basemen Average – 399
Point Differential: 145
#1) Jose Bautista, TOR – 559
#12) Kevin Youkilis, BOS – 320
Point Differential: 239
Top 3 Third Basemen Average – 489
Top 12 Third Basemen Average – 360
Point Differential: 129
#1) Jose Reyes, MIA – 490
#12) Emilio Bonifacio, MIA – 346
Point Differential: 144
Top 3 Shortstop Average – 467
Top 12 Shortstop Average – 373
Point Differential: 94
#1) Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS – 620
#12) Hunter Pence, PHI – 433
#36) Corey Hart, MIL – 345
Point Differential: 187, 275
Top 3 Outfield Average – 596
Top 12 Outfield Average – 506
Top 36 Outfield Average – 414
Point Differential: 90, 182
Based on point differential, I think it’s safe to say that a first or second round pick would be wisely spent on one of the top three second basemen – Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano – as Kinsler outscored the #12 second basemen by 273 points and the trio outscored the field by 145 points.
There was also a noticeable differential between the Top 3 outfielders and the Top 36, but considering there were 19 outfielders that scored more than 400 points as opposed to 5 second basemen, it would seem that those points could be made up elsewhere, possibly while your opponents are drafting second or third tier infielders.
Jose Bautista had the highest individual point differential at a position as his 559 points outscored the second best third basemen (Michael Young) by 86 points. Carlos Santana was the next best with 35 more points than Mike Napoli at the catcher position.
Shortstop didn’t have quite the differential I might’ve expected with Jose Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki and Jimmy Rollins averaging only 94 more points than the Top 12. My guess is the minimal amount of strikeouts throughout the Top 12 combined with a balance of speed and OBP is what keeps the shortstop differential in check. While others at your draft target Tulowitzki early for position scarcity, it might be wiser to lean toward Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
Considering the Top 3 catchers only average 56 more points than the Top 12, you are probably best off waiting until late in your draft to grab a backstop.
For questions on point differential, your draft or fantasy baseball H2H points league strategy, please comment below.