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If you’ve been following our Fantasy Categorical Breakdown series, you’re aware that the birth of the Rob Manfred era has catalyzed a high-octane offensive environment and dramatically reshaped the fantasy landscape over just a two-year span. As league-wide home run totals continue to skyrocket, nearly a quarter of all plate appearances now end in a strikeout, and stolen bases have declined to their lowest level in decades.

The primary aim of this series is to analyze the impact of these recent contextual trends and how fantasy owners should respond in 2017. For each fantasy category, we’re providing a 10,000-foot overview—such as this article here—to go along with a specific article highlighting 2016 over/underachievers and another one targeted for deeper leagues.

We’ve covered the unpresidented unprecedented league-wide run scoring uptick in considerable detail throughout the offseason. Its impact is reflected once again in the fantasy valuation of a single run and RBI.

Run & RBI valuations, 15-team mixed-leagues (2014-2016)

Year

Value per R ($)

Value per RBI ($)

2014

$0.05998

$0.06120

2015

$0.06362

$0.06412

2016

$0.05826

$0.06044

Not what you were expecting? Me either. I actually called BP’s resident valuations guru Mike Gianella to discuss it. As he explained during our lengthy conversation, there has been some minor fluctuation in the data. However, the value of a single run and RBI has consistently hovered around six cents in each of the last three years.

There has been a significant change in the league-wide offensive environment, yet just like dumping a few gallons of water into the ocean, it hasn’t dramatically changed the value of a run or RBI among the top 200-plus hitters in fantasy baseball. According to Gianella, the raw data puts into perspective just how much of a dramatic shift (an event like major-league expansion back in 1993) would need to occur in order to actually move the valuation of a single run or RBI.

Any discussion involving fantasy valuations is incredibly complex, but it’s important territory to cover in order to identify which categories have been impacted the most by recent offensive trends. As we’ve explained throughout this series, the biggest drivers of value for individual hitters in the current home-run stuffed landscape are batting average and stolen bases.

Constructing a roster devoid of elite power hitters is nearly impossible given the plethora of options available on draft day and to neglect them would be a sub-optimal strategic approach. Given their prevalence, home runs remain the bedrock on which fantasy rosters will be constructed in 2017. However, given the scarcity of batting average and concentration of stolen bases those are the more important categories to consider than factors like dingers, runs scored, and RBI when building a fantasy roster in the current offensive landscape.

Runs scored and RBI totals for individual hitters are two prime examples of context-dependent statistics that depend largely on factors outside of a batters control like lineup construction, surrounding talent and offensive environment/park factors. While they offer very little insight regarding a hitter’s offensive prowess, they do reveal a great deal about their contextual surroundings, which matter a great deal in fantasy.

Before we transition to individual standouts from each category during recent years, let’s start with an overview of how many hitters reached the following runs scored and RBI benchmarks, divided into three separate buckets.

Year

50+ Runs

75+ Runs

100+ Runs

2012

177

78

12

2013

162

64

9

2014

160

52

7

2015

177

62

13

2016

186

79

21

More hitters eclipsed the 100-run plateau in 2016 than the previous two seasons combined. The more revealing number is how many batters (186) crossed the plate at least 50 times last year. It was the most in any season dating back to 2009 (204). You’ll notice a similar development on the RBI front as well.

Year

50+ RBI

75+ RBI

100+ RBI

2012

171

72

18

2013

150

62

15

2014

147

52

12

2015

156

75

13

2016

171

82

22

Now let’s examine the individual performers. Over the past three seasons, only seven hitters have racked up 100-plus runs scored multiple times. Mike Trout, a redwood among mere sprouts, headlines the list. Brian Dozier, an enigmatic slugger in his own right, fresh off a 42-homer campaign, joins him atop that list.

100+ Runs

Years

From

Mike Trout

3

2014-2016

Brian Dozier

3

2014-2016

Manny Machado

2

2015-2016

Paul Goldschmidt

2

2015-2016

Josh Donaldson

2

2015-2016

Ian Kinsler

2

2015-2016

Jose Bautista

2

2014-2015

Only 12 hitters have reached the vaunted 100-RBI ceiling on multiple occasions during the same period. Frankly, I miss Big Papi already.

100+ RBI

Years

From

David Ortiz

3

2014-2016

Jose Abreu

3

2014-2016

Anthony Rizzo

2

2015-2016

Matt Kemp

2

2015-2016

Edwin Encarnacion

2

2015-2016

Nolan Arenado

2

2015-2016

Mike Trout

2

2014 & 2016

Albert Pujols

2

2014 & 2016

Nelson Cruz

2

2014 & 2016

Miguel Cabrera

2

2014 & 2016

Yoenis Cespedes

2

2014-2015

Jose Bautista

2

2014-2015

Trout and 36-year-old slugger Jose Bautista, who remains a free agent as of press time, are the only ones to appear on both lists. Young, rising fantasy superstars entrenched in the heart of their respective franchises lineups, that reached both 100 runs and RBI in the same season for the first time in 2016, include Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts and Kris Bryant. Veteran second baseman Robinson Cano enjoyed a renaissance campaign last year, reaching both benchmarks for the first time since leaving New York (2011).

Despite a rising offensive tide, the fantasy value of a single run scored or RBI hasn’t been substantially impacted. Projecting individual totals remains a difficult challenge given their year-to-year volatility. Remaining cognizant of the variables directly influencing them is the key to identifying future changes. Those are the most important fantasy takeaways to consider for these specific categories in 2017.