So you want to play in a points league, huh? I don’t blame you! A vast majority of fantasy baseball leagues are decided in either a head-to-head categories format or a season-long rotisserie league. And let’s be honest, while those formats may be a little fairer in determining an accurate season-long winner, a points league is by far more exciting. Fantasy baseball is an absolute grind. And by the time the fantasy playoffs start and most teams have stopped caring about the league, fantasy football is starting up, which draws a ton of attention. Points leagues are much more intriguing in that you’re gradually accumulating points throughout the week. You aren’t worried about chasing categories and trying to come back from an 8-to-4 deficit to maybe squeak out a 6-5-1 win. With a points league you just want every last point out of your team and in this regard a fantasy baseball points league somewhat equates to season-long fantasy football. If you want a little more excitement with your fantasy baseball fix, then get yourself into a points league and take the following suggestions to heart.

As Always… Know Your League Rules

Here’s a quick breakdown of most points leagues I’ve participated in:



Single – 1 point

Inning pitched – 2.25-to-3.00 points (0.75-to-1.00 points per out)

Double – 2 points

Earned Run – Loss of 2 points

Triple – 3 points

Strikeout – 1 point

Home Run – 4 points

Walk – Loss of 1 point

Run Scored – 1 point

Win – 3-to-7 points

RBI – 1 point each

Quality Start – 3 points

Stolen Base – 2 points

Save – 5 points

Walk – 1 point

Loss – Loss of 5 points

Strike out - Loss of 1 point

Blown Save – Loss of 3 points


Hold – 2 points

Now these are not the industry standard. I’ve seen some settings where a single earns you one point, an extra base hit is two points, and a home run gets you an additional half-point. So it varies across the board. Now it’s important to customize the scoring to your league’s liking. These are just some of the settings I’m most familiar with, so I’ll use these settings as examples for the points I’m about to make.

So if you’re going with a similar scoring system for a points league, you’ll want to be aware of the specifics. For example, in most points league stolen bases are only worth two points, which isn’t a lot in comparison to the power numbers. So while there was once a time when Billy Hamilton had value in a roto league or a categories league, he has little value in a points league. Take his 2017 campaign as an example. He slashed .247/.299/.335 with 59 stolen bases and 74 runs scored. He was second behind Dee Gordon in steals (Gordon stole 60 that year) and yet Billy Hamilton finished tied for 47th with 85 runs scored. 85 is still a nice number, but Gordon scored 114 runs and is just generally a better hitter than Hamilton. 2018 didn’t get much better for Hamilton as he was the batting average drop even more and the steals dropped to 34 so he killed you in a points format. In a roto league or a categories league you can make up for Hamilton’s deficiencies by drafting players that can compensate for where he hurts you. In a points league, especially with steals only being two points, there’s little reason to draft him unless steals are given more value, but you can’t value stolen bases at more than three points. Typically, a solo home run nets you six points and there’s no way two steals should equal a solo shot based on the scoring in the table provided above.

It’s also worth acknowledging that typically saves are only worth five points in a points league and a blown save could really ruin your week by earning you negative points. For the most part, you can fade closers, or relievers in general, if only saves are rewarded (not holds) and if seven or more points are rewarded for wins, and if quality starts are rewarded. If a league rewards for wins and quality starts, then I’ll tend to aim for drafting mostly starters with few relievers. The reasoning is simple: closers traditionally earn less points in this format and a lot of closers lose their jobs throughout the season and then you have to scramble on waivers to get the replacement.

To be completely honest SP/RP eligibility is huge in points leagues. If you do fade relievers, the next best thing to do is find a starting pitcher with relief pitching eligibility to slot in. Carlos Martínez gets a bump in points leagues heading into 2019 because he made 15 appearances out of the bullpen and actually logged five saves. He’ll likely get an opportunity to find his way back into the starting rotation and he’s currently being drafted outside the Top 100 players according to Greg Jewett’s most recent ADP and Draft Trends article. So definitely prioritize SP/RP eligible arms if you’re in a league that diminishes the value of relievers.

Strikeouts vs. Walks

Another reason Billy Hamilton is a nightmare to own in points leagues is that he strikes out way too much and doesn’t walk nearly enough. In each of his last three seasons his strikeout rate was over 20% while his walk rate was below 10%. Hamilton walked 46 times last year and struck out 132 times. That’s negative-86 points right there. Now most players in baseball struck out more than walked last year. But most players not named Billy Hamilton , provided power and other means of accumulating points. Bryce Harper struck out 24.3% of the time last year, but he at least walked in 18.7% of his plate appearances, hit 34 home runs, drove in 100 RBI, and scored over 100 runs. José Ramírez was a phenomenal value between the second and third rounds because of his power numbers and his ability to walk (15.2% rate) more than he struck (11.5% rate). This type of production was also why Joey Votto was so valuable in points leagues from 2015-2017 when he was walking at such a higher rate despite striking out nearly just as much.

In 2018 Chris Davis had the worst strikeout rate among qualified hitters at 36.8% and he hit just 16 home runs last season. He was an absolute nightmare in points leagues. But Joey Gallo had the second-worst strikeout rate at 35.9% but he at least hit 40 home runs, drove in 92 RBI, and scored 82 runs. If you can find guys that can cover their plate discipline issues, then that’s fine. But if you’re struggling in deciding between two players in a points league, go with the one that walks more. Walks potentially lead to runs being scored and that results in more points. You really want to channel your inner Billy Beane and find the guys that get on base.

On the other end of the spectrum, pitchers that generate more strikeouts hold more value in points leagues than those who don’t. Pretty wild concept, right? But pitchers with a higher strikeout per nine innings (K/9) and a high strikeout-to-walk (K:BB) ratio hold yield a higher return in points than those who struggle to garner strikeouts. Ace pitchers have a lot of value in points league. Pitchers are already getting rewarded for each out and strikeouts provide more points.

Wins are a bit of a controversial issue because in points leagues it is better to go by quality starts because that’s the better indicator of how well a pitcher is doing on his own. Wins are never a guarantee because they require offensive support for the starting pitcher. But it’s perfectly fine to still reward for wins and losses, but I highly recommend incorporating a few points for quality starts.

Draft Strategy

If you can get an elite pitcher or two, then by all means go for it. However, the best strategy for this format is loading up on elite bats. The best offensive players average around three-to-four points per game. You want to get the players that get at least 500 points in a season. Obviously not everyone on your roster will get to that level of success, but the best hitters are the most consistent on a day-to-day basis. Like in most drafts there is plenty of value at pitching later on. But if you prefer the safety of a starting pitcher going out and getting 20-to-30 points per start then go ahead and draft some starters early on if that’s your cup of tea. If you really want Max Scherzer and Luis Severino then you might be able to make that work. But if you miss out on top-tier pitching then don’t fret. There’s a way to recover from that and we’ll get to that shortly.

Don’t hesitate to use five of your first six, or six of your first seven draft picks on positional players. Starting pitchers tend to find themselves on the disabled list (or injured list if they really plan on changing the name) more than positional players. So it’s definitely safer to grab as many power bats as possible and load up on starting pitchers in the mid-to-late rounds.

Learn to Stream Starting Pitchers

In a categories league it’s less popular to stream pitchers because you’re potentially sacrificing the ratio categories if a streamer has even a mediocre start. However, in a points league a player that goes out and pitches six innings, giving up three earned runs, with six hits, four strikeouts, and three walks is still getting you a few points in most leagues, but that kind of performance will hurt you in roto or categories leagues.

Typically, you should have four-to-five starting pitchers on your team you want to start each week and that’s not including any SP/RP eligible pitchers. It’s a points league, you should want to accumulate as many points as possible and you can do that by streaming pitchers each week. There are two kinds of streamers to look for on waivers and luckily Fantasy Alarm provides weekly recommendations for both.

The first of which are two-start pitchers. Ivar Anderson does a great weekly breakdown of the pitchers toeing the rubber twice each week. He identifies every single pitcher getting two starts, even the ones that are available on waivers. Obviously the elite pitchers won’t be available for you, but a two-start streaming option puts you in a position to collect more points just through streaming an innings eater. Even if a pitcher gets you just 10-to-20 points across those two starts, that’s better than nothing and you’ll take it for your team.

The other kind of streaming option is just a day-to-day streaming pitcher. If you’re playing in a league that has a limit on the number of transactions, you can make each week you’ll need to identify the pitchers in the best matchup. If playing in a league that allows you to make unlimited transactions, then try to identify a streamer or two each day. Some guys will burn you and cost you some points, but more often than not if you can identify the best matchups where you can net points from streamers then you’ll increase your chances of winning your weekly matchups. In this instance sometimes quantity is better than quality. Perhaps the 30-to-40 extra points you earn in a week from streamers pushes you to a victory if your opponent is sitting back and not doing the same. You have to be more aggressive in points leagues and identify the best pitchers to stream.  Keep an eye out on Saturday mornings for the Fantasy Alarm Starting Pitching Streamers article written by yours truly.

Give yourself some time to adjust to the settings of a points league. Again they may not be as fair and as accurate as a head-to-head categories league or a roto league. However, and this is a subjective viewpoint, points leagues are much more exciting with the immediate return on points, but this format requires an adjustment period. You’ll learn quickly that players that typically contribute in just one or two categories may not thrive in this format so you need to put in the research to see which players hold more weight in points leagues. It’s definitely a wild ride in a points league and I wish you the best of luck if this is your first year in one!