At the end of the day, whether a team wins or loses has nothing to do with how many hits it scratches out against a tough pitcher or how many bases it can steal against a weak-throwing catcher. Teams win games by scoring more runs than their opponents, plain and simple. That's why it stands to reason that the players most responsible for putting runs on the board would be the most valued players in the game of real baseball.
The problem comes when trying to determine exactly who is responsible -- and to what extent -- for each run scored. If Cody Bellinger hits a solo home run, it's pretty clear he should get all the credit. However, if Bellinger walks, and Corey Seager moves him to third base on a single, exactly how much credit should we give Alex Verdugo for driving him in with a sacrifice fly? Each person had a share in that run, be it by getting on base in the first place, moving the runner into scoring position, or hitting the ball deep enough to allow the runner to tag up and saunter into home. Bellinger couldn't have scored on his walk alone, and Verdugo's fly ball is just an out without Bellinger already standing on third.
Luckily, there does indeed exist a sabermetric shortcut that can help estimate the individual impact of hitters: "Runs created per 27 outs" (RC/27 for short). This statistic, originally created by Bill James (though it has gone through multiple tweaks and modifications over the years) is a template to see how many runs a team would score in a game if that team was made up entirely of nine identical copies of an individual player.
While the math involved in calculating RC/27 indeed gets quite "mathy," the basic gist of the equation is that players are rewarded for hits, total bases, walks and steals, while being penalized for strikeouts. Quicker than [GoT SPOILER ALERT!] Daenerys Targaryen can change her attitude towards the residents of King's Landing, you've got a fairly good estimator of which players have been contributing in the key statistical areas that translate into points-league value.
If we take a quick look at the top of the current RC/27 leaderboard (qualified hitters only), you probably won't be surprised to see Bellinger's name at No. 1 with 13.88. Christian Yelich (12.01) and Mike Trout (9.86) round out the medalists in this statistic.
However, at No. 4 is Hunter Dozier (9.44), who is a bit of a surprise if you compare this to his No. 37 on the Player Rater. That said, it is a sign that his week-over-week rostered percentage rise of 11.7 to 82.7 percent is more than justified. Other players who should also be valued far greater than they currently are include Josh Bell (9.20), Jorge Polanco (8.60), Jeff McNeil (8.07) and Trey Mancini (7.57).
On the flip side, there are many players whose RC/27 suggests that perhaps their value in the points format is way lower than the Player Rater's roto-based slant might have you believe -- including Trevor Story (6.54), Edwin Encarnacion (6.54), Whit Merrifield (6.28), Marcell Ozuna (5.31) and Eddie Rosario (4.78).
Obviously, this isn't a perfect statistic, because in the real world, Encarnacion isn't surrounded by eight players just like him. The Mariners, as a team, are going to sacrifice and steal bases a lot more than is reflected by a lineup of just nine Edwins, which is why his overall fantasy points production has him as the No. 6 first baseman in the league. However, it does indicate that EE is far more reliant on his supporting cast for his fantasy success than, say, the likes of Bell (the No. 3 first baseman)
The takeaway here should be that RC/27, in general, gives you a fairly good method to separate the fantasy must-haves from the bottom of the barrel. When it comes to surfing the waiver wire and deciding between a pair of players with similar to-date fantasy point totals, RC/27 should absolutely be among your deciding factors.
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.