- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
The most obvious name that moves up in fantasy formats that count walks or on-base percentage is that of misjudged Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Not only did the terrific Votto draw a cool 135 walks last season, but that was 23 more than anyone else in baseball, and only three players reached triple digits in the category. Ironically enough, Votto's general fantasy value in standard formats has lessened due to his extreme patience and lack of RBIs -- a year ago Votto was the No. 10 player in ESPN average live drafts, and now he's barely in the second round -- and that's a foolish reason. Still, for the growing number of fantasy owners switching batting average for OBP, Votto is a sure-thing first-round choice, and perhaps top five overall. He's also top 10 in points leagues.
As for others who see their value rise if OBP is a category, or simply if batting average is no longer a factor, it'd be too convenient to list the walks leaders who don't hit for average, such as Chicago White Sox designated hitter/first baseman Adam Dunn, Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, and more. But I don't think Dunn and Uggla are going to be particularly valuable this season, even in that format. Uggla posted poor OBPs in two of three seasons and prospect Tommy La Stella is ready to push him aside. Dunn is essentially sharing the DH role with Paul Konerko, unless Jose Abreu fails, which he won't. Regardless, since I've been asked about OBP quite a bit recently on Twitter or in chats -- this week I'm chatting on Friday at 11 a.m. ET instead of my normal Wednesday morning time! -- I figured we'd devote a blog entry to it. Here are players I'm more likely to target in an OBP format.
Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals: A sixth-rounder in standard formats, Carpenter doesn't offer much power and doesn't steal many bases, and ESPN Fantasy projects "only" a .299 batting average. In roto, it's basically about the multi-position eligibility and runs scored.