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Using BB/K rate to find undervalued hitters in points leagues

Andrelton Simmons' stellar BB/K rate this season has greatly increased his value in points leagues. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Andrelton Simmons was No. 165 in ESPN Fantasy Baseball's 2018 preseason draft rankings for roto leagues. In points leagues, he was ranked over two rounds higher. Why the disparity?

Well, the obvious answer is that different scoring systems breed different results -- and the season-to-date numbers certainly point to that truth. Simmons is the No. 12 shortstop on the ESPN Player Rater, but for the year, he ranks No. 8 at his position -- ahead of both Xander Bogaerts and Trea Turner.

One of the most telling statistics -- and easiest to notice at a glance -- that can indicate which hitters should be more highly valued in points leagues is BB/K. Anything over 0.65 is really good, and in fact, only 34 qualified players have hit that milestone for all games played since the start of the 2014 season -- most notably "points league coverboy" Joey Votto (1.12).

Simmons entered this season with a career BB/K of 0.69, which placed him at No. 15 overall among players currently on an active roster. So far in 2018, Simmons has fanned just 16 times in 369 at-bats while walking 28 times -- for an insane 1.75 BB/K, far and away tops in baseball. It's no wonder he's doing so well in points leagues compared to his positional peers.

Take a quick look at the top 25 in this key assessment category for points leagues and you'll quickly come across five players who are currently way underowned, especially given their recent hot streaks. If these guys are still on your waiver wire, you should know what to do:

Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs (45.5 percent rostered, 1.08 BB/K): Zobrist is batting .302 in his last 15 starts, with 12 RBI. Over the past 30 days, he's had more points (ESPN standard scoring) than Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana and Trea Turner, all of whom are rostered in at least 84 percent of leagues.

Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (46.5 percent, 1.07 BB/K): He's hitting .458 in the month of July, with 11 RBI, and has reached base safely in 16 consecutive contests. That's good for No. 12 overall in points-league scoring but apparently not good enough to be on as many rosters as J.D. Martinez or Nolan Arenado -- both of whom have scored five fewer points than Winker has in the last 30 days.

Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs (39.4 percent, 0.86 BB/K): Another Cubs hitter who is turning things around of late, Heyward is batting .317 in his last dozen games, with one home run and one steal -- proving he can contribute in multiple categories. For points-leaguers, it's worth noting he's outperformed both Edwin Encarnacion and Didi Gregorius in the last 30 days.

Denard Span, Seattle Mariners (24.5 percent, 0.78 BB/K): Old Man Span has hit .304 this month to go along with a .500 slugging percentage, which is well above his career .398 rate. No, he's not going to hit a ton of balls over the wall, but he's also far from washed up at the age of 34. In fact, he's scored just one fewer point than Andrew McCutchen in the last month.

Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins (32.7 percent, 0.75 BB/K): Don't be scared away by his .226 batting average for the season. Now with a 14-game streak in which he's reached base safely, Kepler has hit .265 over this stretch, with four homers and 14 runs scored. And for the last 30 days? Well, if you had Paul Goldschmidt or Bryce Harper in your lineup, you got exactly the same amount of production in points leagues.