Fantasy baseball points ranks: How platooning can create big results

What's the best way to use a player like Jonathan Villar, who relies on steals to boost his fantasy value, in points-based formats? Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

This past week, I was asked by a reader to defend what was deemed an "unusually high" ranking of Jonathan Villar, who at the time was ranked No. 43 overall in my top 300. After all, these are points league rankings and, without a need to focus on production in specific categories, such as stolen bases -- which is the primary appeal of a player like Villar -- why should we care about a player who has been averaging just 2.0 fantasy points per game in an ESPN standard league?

Truth be told, there are a lot of moving parts that go into creating a top-300 list. It's a tough enough task when you're simply ranking each player's past performances, let alone trying to do the impossible by accurately predicting the future. However, the upshot is that you're trying to balance a player's inherent skill set along with their ability to contribute across multiple categories (yes, that also matters in points leagues) and each individual's level of consistency.

Now, over the past seven days, all of the crunching of the numbers has led to me dropping VIllar -- who hit just .208 with seven strikeouts and only two steals in three attempts over the past week of play -- down to No. 64 overall. Another week like that and he's likely to fall out of the top 10 at second-base eligible players. However, the reality of fantasy baseball, whether you want to believe it or not, is that there's always a chance for a fantasy manager to take lesser talent and beat out his competition, even if they've got a bevy of All-Stars.

Let's take a look at the stats of Villar, along with those of Kolten Wong -- both of whom are among the most-dropped second basemen over the past seven days:

By themselves, neither of these two individuals can come close to competing with the overall stats of either of the second baseman at the top of the ESPN Player Rater, Ketel Marte and Whit Merrifield.

However, a funny thing happens if you combine Villar and Wong into a single entity. When you use a "best ball" format, selecting either Villar or Wong on each day of the season, based upon which one had the better stats for that day and then adding those results together, you get astounding results.

Sure, it's with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, but if you were to have taken these two lesser fantasy performers and platooned them correctly on each day of the season thus far, you'd have generated better overall stats than someone who had simply started either Marte or Merrifield and let things be.

But wait, there's more! Let's say a fantasy manger had drafted both Marte and Merrifield and could start only one of them each day. If they had managed to pick the wrong guy on every day during the season, look at the sad outcome that could have resulted:

In other words, if you have strong talent on your fantasy roster, don't overthink things. Odds are that you'll only end up sabotaging yourself. On the other hand, if you find yourself with a team of mediocre talents, then go ahead and throw caution to the wind. Play hunches and, especially if you can make daily moves, don't be afraid to make as many switches as you want.

Don't lose hope! It may well be a long shot, but as I've shown above, sometimes you can take some less-than-stellar ingredients and end up with a finished meal that tastes quite delicious indeed.

Top 300 rest-of-season rankings

The following list reflects AJ's rankings for points leagues going forward. Note that this is different from a ranking of how each player has played thus far in 2019. For a ranking of performance to-date, check out the ESPN Player Rater.