Just a short time ago, my esteemed Fantrax cohort Chris Clegg did a piece on BABIP Bounce-Backs, comparing each player’s historic BABIP to that in 2021. It was a way to see which players might see increased value in 2022. It reminded me of something I usually do when researching DFS, but it could also help fantasy managers exploit platoon splits if they play in a league that allows daily lineup changes.
My little bone to pick with the current state of fantasy baseball analysis is that while we see a ton of deep-dive analysis into specific players, I think there’s a definite lack of content about game strategy and the data that might help in that regard. Consider this article one step in trying to right that wrong in a little itty bitty way.
What you’ll be seeing in the tables below is very basic. I simply compared the OPS for each player over the last three seasons vs. LHP with their OPS against RHP. I narrowed the list down by requiring 100 plate appearances against pitchers of each hand and only listed players with a differential of .175 or greater. I also got rid of players who will not be active in 2021 and those that don’t offer enough value to be drafted in any realistic format.
I chose OPS because I think it does a solid job of capturing value for roto and points leagues as well as the various DFS formats. I broke the OPS Differentials into two sections; those for players that perform much better against LHP and those that skew to the extreme vs. RHP.
While I believe there is value in this process, please don’t overreact. Some of these players you might not use except in the deepest of formats. And just because a player excels against either LHPs or RHPs doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to sit them against the other. Enough with the babble. Let’s take a look at the platoon splits and how we can exploit them.
Platoon Splits Advantage Against LHP
Interesting list of hitters who excel vs. left-handed pitchers. There are quite a few names that might go undrafted in shallow mixed leagues who could actually be of use if you have the roster flexibility. Here are some quick takes on a few players that stick out to me.
- I already thought Tom Murphy was a nice little sleeper at catcher. If you can find a way to use him mostly against LHPs he turns into one of the better bats at the position.
- Andrew Vaughn is a popular breakout pick and the early results are positive. He still has to prove he can solve right-handed pitching to fulfill that promise. Until then he makes a nice bat to target when he faces a southpaw.
- I think Wander Franco is a great hitter but a bit overrated in fantasy. With that said, he was a beast against LHP last year. I got to see him live quite a bit and the ball jumps off his bat from the right side. He’s a solid hitter from the left, but not nearly the same threat on the power front. Do you dare bench him against righties? Probably not, but it’s something to monitor.
- Eric Haase and Mike Zunino offer more ways to maximize the catcher position against lefties.
- Is it me or did Andrew McCutchen’s 27 HRs last year go completely unnoticed? He’s a borderline player in mixed leagues, but at least against LHP he’s still a very real threat. The new home in Milwaukee isn’t gonna hurt either. I’m using him in my DFS lineups almost any time he faces a lefty.
|Name||PA vs. LHP||OPS vs. LHP||PA vs. RHP||OPS vs. RHP||+LHP OPS DIFF|
Platoon Splits Advantage Against RHP
I’m not sure whether this list tells us more about which players to use against right-handed pitching or which players we might need to bench against lefties. Just like with what we did above, here are some quick thoughts.
- Oh, Jesse Winker… Three home runs with a .176 average against lefties in 2021? His career splits are no better. It hurts to see these numbers. I used to think he offered too much upside to bench. Not anymore. He’s on my bench anytime a decent southpaw takes the mound. On the flip side, he’ll see plenty of time in my DFS lineups when he faces RHP.
- Brad Miller? In a mixed league? How big is your bench?
- In 912 career at-bats vs. RHP Ji-Man Choi has 46 HRs. In 195 at-bats vs. lefties, he has 4. You know what to do with that data right?
- I’m not benching Freddie Freeman or Rafael Devers but they’re not exactly elite bats when a lefty is on the mound.
- Brandon Belt, can you just stay healthy? He’s really a top-notch hitter against RHP and could put up some pretty nice numbers if he can ever put a full season together.
|Name||PA-LHP||OPS-LHP||PA-RHP||OPS-RHP||+RHP OPPS DIFF|
|Tommy La Stella||175||.644||616||.835||.191|
I have no doubt about the value of this list in DFS. Most DFS sites do some tweaking on salaries based on platoon differentials, but not to the extreme that these splits probably merit.
The value of this list for season-long leagues is highly dependent upon the frequency with which you can set your lineups and the flexibility built into your rosters. If your league offers daily waiver pickups? This list is gold.