Fantasy Baseball Bests in Week 21

Looking at this week’s top fantasy players, format greatly affects the ordering. In the shallow 5×5 Mixed LeagueAdam Wainwright is a clear MVP, and pitchers occupy 5 of the top 6 slots.
Wainwright was dominant in two wins, with a 1.12 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, and 20 Ks in 16 IP, earning $59.66 on the week, beating the Cubs and tossing a complete game against the Braves. His was also the top week in the deeper 5×5 NL only league, at $40.39, and he was runner-up to Will Venable in the 4×4 NL only league.
Marlins’ rookie star Jose Fernandez had the second-best mixed-league RotoValue at $49.24, as he also won both his starts, and posted a 0.846 WHIP, 0.69 ERA, and 16 Ks in 13 IP.
Evan Longoria edged out Max Scherzer and Jarrod Parker for the third-best week. Longoria, the only hitter in the top 6, hit .393 with 5 HR, 6 R, and 7 RBI, earning $47.84, just ahead of Scherzer ($47.20; 1.29 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 15 Ks, 2 W in 14 IP) and Parker ($46.60; 1.06 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, 13 Ks, 2 W in 17 IP).
But while pitchers dominated the shallow 5×5 mixed league, they ranked much lower in the deeper single-league pools, especially in the 4×4 format. This shouldn’t be surprising that starters are relatively more valuable in a 5×5 than a 4×4: because saves and wins are negatively correlated (in plain English, pitchers who get lots of wins don’t get saves, and vice-versa), a pitcher really only helps you in at most 3 categories of a 4×4 league. But add in strikeouts, and a good starter can help a lot in 4 of 5 categories (and this also explains why closers are worth more in 4×4 than 5×5: their strikeout totals are nowhere near top starters’ numbers).
In the deeper 4×4 NL only league, Will Venable was once again NL fantasy MVP, as he hit .355 with 3 HR, 5 R, 6 RBI, and 1 SB to earn $39.09, ahead of Wainwright’s runner-up $37.63 RotoValue, followed by Phillies teammates Carlos Ruiz ($36.42; .517, 2 HR, 6 RBI) and Darin Ruf ($36.31; .286, 4 HR, 7 RBI).
Venable’s stats earned $37.62 in the 5×5 NL, second behind Wainwright ($40.39). Both Ruiz ($36.87) and Ruf ($35.56) scored 5 runs on the week, and so in 5×5 rankings they both fall behind Adam Eaton ($36.90; .361, 1 HR, 7 R, 7 RBI, 1 SB), and Ruf also drops behind Khris Davis ($36.60; .440, 3 H, 6 R, 6 RBI) into a tie with Carlos Beltran ($35.56; .361, 3 HR, 6 R, 6 RBI). Why did Ruiz’s value rise slightly while Ruf’s dropped, even though both scored the same number of runs? Because of positional eligibility – a player is compared to the replacement-level at his position, and replacement level catchers’ value drops in a 5×5 setting compared to outfielders.
Wainwright easily led NL pitchers in both formats, but in the 4×4 NLJeff Samardzija earned $34.66 to rank 2nd ahead of Jose Fernandez ($33.88). Samardzija won twice with a 1.59 ERA, 0.882 WHIP, and 12 Ks in 17 IP, earning $32.02 in the 5×5 NL to rank 3rd behind Fernandez, at $34.52 and well behind Wainwright’s $40.39. Wainwright’s 4×4 value was $37.63, as his league-leading 20 Ks did not factor into the valuation there. Jonathan Papelbon had the best NL week among relievers ($30.13 in 4×4, and $22.50 in 5×5), as he notched 2 wins, a save, a 1.00 WHIP, and 4 Ks in 4 scoreless innings to beat out Huston Street ($27.83 in 5×5, $20.78 in 4×4), who had 1 win, 2 saves, 4 Ks, and a 0.75 WHIP in his 4 scoreless innings on the week.
In the AL only leagues, Evan Longoria earned $39.76 to edge out Austin Jackson ($39.27; .438, 2 HR, 9 R, 7 RBI) as MVP in the 5×5 AL only, and his $43.58 RotoValue bested Miguel Cabrera ($42.26; .379, 3 HR, 5 R, 11 RBI) and Adam Jones ($42.25; .310, 3 HR, 4 R, 8 RBI, 2 SB) in the 4×4 AL only league.
Max Scherzer was the most valuable pitcher in 5×5 AL only at $35.27, but that ranked him just 5th among all AL players in that format. And when not counting strikeouts, Scherzer dropped to 3rd best pitcher in the 4×4 AL only league with a $34.39 RotoValue, behind Jarrod Parker ($36.09; 1.06 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, 13 Ks, 2 W in 17 IP) and Jon Lester ($35.86; 0.57 ERA, 0.957 WHIP, 9 Ks, 2 W in 15.67 IP).
The AL’s top reliever for the week was again Addison Reed, who followed up his stellar week 20 by earning $20.90 in the 5×5 AL only league and $28.36 in the 4×4 AL only league after posting 5 saves 4 Ks, and a 0.600 WHIP in 5 scoreless innings. Close behind Reed was the ageless Mariano Rivera, who earned $27.21 in the 4×4 and $19.16 in the 5×5 with 3 saves, 1 win, 3 Ks, a 1.071 WHIP, and a 0.00 ERA in 4.67 IP.
Finally, although Will Venable and Addison Reed continued their hot streaks, despite being even more dominant last week, Alfonso Soriano mostly crashed back to earth, following up an all-around monster week of .484, 5 HR, 9 R, 18 RBI, and 2 SB with a less-than-stellar .125, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, and 1 SB. Soriano’s much weaker stats still had positive value in the deep AL-only formats, earning $7.01 in the 5×5 and $7.23 in the 4×4, but in the much shallower 5×5 mixed league, he had negative value.

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