2018 fantasy baseball rankings for 6x6 roto leagues

Bryce Harper gets a boost in value when considering Tristan H. Cockcroft's 6x6 fantasy baseball rankings. Getty Images

As baseball continues to advance through the analytical age, we've come to the realization that such widely cited statistics as wins and batting average aren't the indicators of player skill that we once thought. For five seasons now, I've pitched fantasy leagues moving to a 6x6 scoring system, replacing such categories with ones that better exemplify a player's own ability, rather than team- or luck-influenced measures. Perhaps you've already migrated your league to this new system. If you haven't and might consider it now, you can go back to read my detailed pitches from 2013 and 2014.

This "modernized" scoring system, six categories apiece for hitters and pitchers -- one I originally proposed as far back as 2010 -- uses the following statistics. All of these are available on ESPN as custom league categories.

Why these new categories, in brief

On-Base Percentage (OBP): It rewards walks, perhaps the most glaring omission from the original Rotisserie Baseball rules.

Slugging Percentage (SLG): It gives value to doubles and triples, things that were also overlooked in the original rulebook.

Quality Starts (QS): Regardless of your opinion of the category, it remains a better indicator of pitching success over a singular game than wins. You've surely heard its critics' lazy argument against it: "But a quality start means a 4.50 ERA!" I reply: That's the minimum qualification, the only three quality start-eligible stat lines that qualify which result in a four-plus ERA are the ones with three earned runs allowed and either six, 6 1/3 or 6 2/3 innings pitched, and in 2016, there were far more non-quality start wins (397) than there were four-plus-ERA quality starts (305).

Innings Pitched (IP): To put it simply, innings pitched equals outs ... or at least multiplying by three gets you to a pitcher's total. And aren't outs one of a pitcher's two primary functions (the other being the prevention of runs)? In fantasy terms, innings pitched also acts to counterbalance a relief pitcher-heavy strategy, especially when adding the next category to the mix.

Strikeouts per Nine Innings ratio (K/9): Some might think keeping strikeouts a counting category might be simpler, and that's true, it would be simpler, but it'd also depress relief pitcher value plus further encourage the streaming strategy. Migrating to a ratio targets skill as well as more detailed selection of matchups. It also makes those middle relievers more appealing.

Stolen Bases: Total or Net?

Critics of the 6x6 plan astutely point out that there's no natural symmetry in the ratio of counting versus ratio categories in the above plan -- though as an aside, neither Rotisserie 4x4 nor 5x5 did, either.

Addressing that, as I did in last year's edition, migrating the 6x6 plan to three counting and three ratio categories on either side -- three apiece for hitting, three apiece for pitching -- has perfect symmetry. To do that, consider adding stolen base percentage -- successful stolen bases divided by total attempts (steals plus caught stealing) -- if your league supports it.

Top 300

Note: "Elig. Pos." is the player's eligible position(s). Position eligibility is determined based upon a minimum of 20 games, otherwise the position the player appeared at most, in 2017. "Pos. Rank" is the player's ranking at his ESPN primary position. Player ages are as of Opening Day, March 29, 2018.

Positional rankings

Note: Players are listed by position, and their overall rank is included if in the top 300. Players outside the top 300 are denoted by NR.