Under the Radar OBP League Options

I asked. You answered. Who knew the most commented on post with my byline would be a poll about OBP leagues? Over 1,000 of you play in leagues that count OBP in some way or another. So that means I will be publishing articles specifically focusing on players in this scoring format. Today I will identify a couple of hitters who may be available in your league and gain value when OBP, rather than AVG, is a category.

Remember, it’s not enough to look at just the hitter’s OBP, but rather how he performs relative to the average versus how he performs in AVG. If two hitters have the same OBP, the one with the lower batting average will enjoy a larger value boost in such a league. Another way of looking at it would be a sort of isolated on base rate, which is just OBP – AVG. The higher that number, the bigger the value boost.

Brandon Belt

Belt enjoyed a huge spring training, where he, ahem, belted eight long balls and posted a 1.265 OPS. Already a post hype sleeper, this simply served as additional support that a breakout may be on its way. But forget about his power for a second and focus on his plate patience. While the projection systems generally peg him as a .270 hitter, which would be rather neutral to your team batting average, they expect him to get on base at a .360+ clip, due to his excellent walk rate. While he was only a sure bet to contribute positive value in one category in AVG leagues (stolen bases, depending on league depth of course), he would be a two category contributor in OBP leagues, with the upside to produce in the other three.

Matt Carpenter

I admit it, I was not on the Carpenter sleeper train this draft season. I thought he was being overhyped, as he possesses limited speed and power and is unlikely to contribute significantly in batting average. However, he has always shown excellent patience, posting fantastic walk rates in the minors. With David Freese back, I am not sure if Carlos Beltran will hit in the two hole on a regular basis or Carpenter will stay in the slot when he’s in the lineup. Either way, his value gets a boost with the switch to OBP and he will be worth even more once he gains second base eligibility.

Carlos Pena

It pains me to recommend an Astros hitter, though that just makes it more likely that Pena is available in your league. Though he hit just .197 last year, he still posted a respectable .330 OBP. He walks, a lot. In fact, he ranked sixth in baseball last year in BB% among those with at least 400 plate appearances. He still has power and hits in the middle of the order (I don’t care how bad the order might be, hitting in the middle of it is good no matter the lineup!).

Matt Joyce

Joyce can’t hit lefties and will sit against southpaw starting pitchers. We know this. But he hits pretty well against righties and has posted some strong walk rates. While he has only amassed over 400 at bats once due to injury issues, he should provide value while healthy with good power and a spot in the middle of the Rays order.

Travis Hafner

Given Hafner’s scorching start and big day yesterday, this may be a bit late. But if he is still available in your league, make the leap. Hitting clean-up in the Yankees lineup and calling a park home that significantly boosts left-handed home runs is the perfect situation for Hafner’s fantasy value. While he would normally hurt a fantasy team’s batting average, he should help in OBP and produce positive value overall while he’s healthy (which given his history, may not be for very long).

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

12 Responses to “Under the Radar OBP League Options”

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  1. Kevin says:

    I know a lot of people, like myself, play in leagues that use AVG and OBP together. Do you think there’s a chance you could do a series on those leagues as well? Because while Pena has a nice boost from his OBP, that AVG is still pretty killer

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  2. dzigga says:

    Good post, but every single player here was drafted in my 14 person OBP league. Can we go deeper still? Under the sonar?

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    • Hafner was drafted? He wasn’t in my Tout Wars league, which is 15 teams. Lucky for me, since I picked him up before the season and he’s been awesome. We could surely go deeper. I will probably include OBP league options in my deep league waiver wire columns.

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      • dzigga says:

        Yep, 24th round… we have a long bench, which makes the league even deeper. Our waiver wire options include guys like Chris Parmelee, Leonys Martin, Franklin Gutierrez, Omar Infante, Nate Schierholtz…

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  3. YanksFanInBeantown says:

    Dammit. I added Hafner and dropped him the next day to pick up Wilson Ramos as part of my master plan to stockpile good starting catchers and gouge everyone in trades.

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