One of the fastest-growing formats in fantasy sports is best ball. And why not? As many managers can attest, drafting your team is one of (if not the) best parts of fantasy sports. You can throw some caution to the wind in this unique format and get a bit more creative with roster construction. Now, because the scoring system is point-based and automated, some exciting values will be available later in the draft.
Before we get to the players, how about a format overview to discover why there might be hidden values. One of the different caveats to best ball is the rosters. As shown below, the players per position don’t line up; and that’s what may cause quite a few errors in evaluation. Additionally, the number of teams in each league is different. Cutline is a 10-team league, while BB10s and Fantrax require 12-teams. So, for example, while the league needs 20 starting catchers for Cutline, BB10s and Fantrax would only need 12. Positional scarcity will be different, depending on your league.
Next up, the scoring systems are a bit different as well. Rather than a traditional 5×5 style, best ball is a point-based system. And as you can see from the chart below, not every system scores the same. Cutline and BB10s have the same point system, while Fantrax is entirely different. Pitching on Fantrax tends to favor pitcher usage and is less about how dope the pitcher may be. Cutline and BB10s tend to allow more points to hitters that put the ball in play.
Phew! Quite a bit to chew on there before we even started checking out players. Enough of the details; let’s talk about the players!
NFBC Cutline ADP-196 / BB10 ADP-216
If we had to pick a catcher to lead the position in HRs, Gary Sánchez should be one of the first names that come to mind. Since 2018, Sánchez only trails Salvador Perez by a single longball. Now, we aren’t here to predict which backstop will hit more HRs, but rather, what makes the market pass on Sánchez and make him a bargain. In my estimation, part of the oversight is recency bias.
First, the stigma always seems that Sánchez strikes out too much. This is a concern since his career K% hovers around 26%. However, if you look at the rolling graph below, the market is weighing 2020’s shortened season too heavily, and there is a massive discrepancy in K% for him in that season.
Furthermore, Sánchez traded strikeouts for more batted balls. His contact rate jumped to a 73% mark while maintaining his robust contact quality. If you’re a Statcast minded person, you should love Sánchez-in terms of barrel%. Since 2016, Sánchez has had double-digit barrel rates in every single season. Fewer strikeouts, more contact, and consistent quality of batted balls? If you’re willing to wait at catcher, this could be a massive return at a more negligible draft cost. Sánchez tilts a little better in the Cutline and BB10 formats.
Post 300 ADP C Suggestion: Austin Nola
NFBC Cutline ADP-219 / BB10 ADP-202
In a limited 381 plate appearance sample, Brandon Belt was phenomenal by smashing 45 extra-base hits(29 HR, 14 2B, and two triples). You might be asking yourself, “Why didn’t he get more playing time?”. While the Giants are one of the heavier platoon teams, that wasn’t the case. Belt dealt with a few injuries and missed June due to knee inflammation. If you look from his August 8th return date until the end of the regular season, Belt finished incredibly strong(180 PA, 18 HR, 66 runs+RBI, and a .297/.394/.690 slash line). It’s safe to say he was 100% healthy to finish the season. And, if you needed any more reassurance, the organization awarded his performance by extending him an $18.4MM qualifying offer for next season.
My advice is don’t sleep on the limited number of accumulative stats from 2021. Look at his strong finish to the season, when he was fully healthy and batting atop on the highest running producing ballclubs. When available, Belt is a steady contributor, as shown by his 173 wRC+ and 158 wRC+ in the previous two seasons. Likely, he will be your second 1B drafted but with top-10 potential if he racks up the plate appearances.
Post 300 ADP 1B Suggestion: Rowdy Tellez
Eugenio Suárez, Cincinatti Reds
NFBC Cutline ADP-160 / BB10 ADP-149
Last season was a challenging one for Eugenio Suárez. The batting average dipped under the Mendoza Line, and his defense at shortstop was one of the worst we’ve seen in some time. However, there is still plenty to hang your hat on, as Suárez did what he always does – mash HRs! The 31 moonshots tied him with such sluggers as Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt. While he won’t have a batting average anywhere near those two, there is a very reasonable chance he will swat more HRs than both of them again.
Furthermore, take a glance at the chart below. Eugenio really turned things on towards the end of the regular season. In his final 25 games, Suárez blasted eight HRs, and power came back in full force. One of the main components to a successful conclusion was a 5 point drop in K%. From Opening Day until August 30th, Suárez was striking out over 30% of the time, and the final portion was only 25%.
In conclusion, Suárez has all the skills to create a monster season. The market appears to be weighing factors like batting average too heavily and letting him slip through the cracks. There couldn’t be a better format than best ball for a player like Eugenio Suárez, who runs so hot and cold at times.
Post 300 ADP SS Suggestion: Paul DeJong
NFBC Cutline ADP-183 / BB10 ADP-164
Older players like Josh Donaldson tend to drop in drafts because of varying reasons. In Donaldson’s case, the market might assume that his production could fall off a cliff due to age, or perhaps his skills are eroding. When you peek under that hood at his Statcast numbers, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. His play page lights up with red in all the purposeful metrics. The hard-hit rate is well-above 50%-again! Also notably, a 17.4% barrel rate and 114-mph max exit velocity. Simply put, the Twins 3B destroys baseballs when he makes contact. The profile is just so strong, even at his age.
The elephant in the room is his playing time and injury concern. Yes, for a daily or weekly transactional league setup, Donaldson might be cumbersome because he might need added rest days. However, let the best ball format do the dirty work for you. Donaldson has shown he will provide all the stats you need; you won’t have to worry when he needs those pesky days off.
Post 300 ADP 3B Suggestion: Hunter Dozier
NFBC Cutline ADP-204 / BB10 ADP-280
Charlie Blackmon is also no spring chicken at 35 years old, but he still possesses fantasy-friendly skills. Sure, the power has taken a dip, and he isn’t going to swipe 40-plus bases, but the underlying metrics still warrant our attention. For starters, Blackmon owns the zone, specifically in terms of contact. His 81.3% contact% and 88.2% zone-contact rate are both in the upper echelon for outfielders. It’s no wonder that his ability to pile up hits even with diminishing skills continues. His 139 hits were good enough for 19th among all batters in the MLB. Also, keep in mind that the format (especially Cutline and BB10s) gives a nice bump to balls in play, even if they don’t leave the yard.
Lastly, one of the most significant issues with batters on the Colorado Rockies is their home/road splits. However, the format bodes well for them because the automated scoring allows you to maximize their games inside Coors Field easily. Get yourself a full-time outfielder from the Rockies that’ll likely play every day in a prominent spot in the lineup. Think of Blackmon as more of a steady contributor with a high floor to help bolster a position that needs depth.
Post 300 ADP OF Suggestion: Connor Joe
NFBC Cutline ADP-221/ BB10 ADP-195
With very little baseball news over the last month, it would not be easy to miss one of the more important stories of 2022-the pushback of Camden Yards’ fences. Baltimore has elected to try and dial down the HRs by extending the fences and increasing wall heights in left field. The greatest benefactor is likely John Means. A glimpse at his HRs allowed in 2021 provides a great shot of how much Means would have been affected. In short, we could see the earned runs get shaved off of his totals.
There is plenty more than just allowing fewer HRs to make Means a solid value on draft day. He gets the nicest bump in Fantrax best ball leagues since they focus more on the quality of an outing. Means has never been one to pick up a slew of Ws, but his ability to go deep into games is outstanding. In 14 of his 26 games started, Means was efficient enough to go 6-plus innings, and innings-eaters like Means get a slight boost by getting additional points for each inning completed.
Lastly, Means does what you really want best ball pitchers to do – keep the basepaths clean. His minuscule 1.03 WHIP was the 13th best among SPs, with at least 100 innings pitched. With the scoring system deducting points for walks and hits, Means again gets even more edge in the vast pitching field. For those patient drafters looking to make a big splash with an inexpensive draft cost, Means has all the tools for a nice return.
Post 300 ADP SP Suggestion: Dylan Bundy
*ADP from January 15th – February 3rd
Photos from Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)