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Exploiting Platoon Splits in Daily Lineup Leagues or DFS

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.

Things look bleak now but there will be baseball in 2022! Why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!

OPS Differential

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.
Tom Murphy303.933303.580.353
Andrew Vaughn141.938328.610.328
Wander Franco1101.020198.696.324
Austin Slater333.911269.609.302
Carson Kelly287.958566.674.284
Hanser Alberto407.890629.618.272
Andrew McCutchen329.975748.706.269
Jordan Luplow307.950239.681.269
Luis Robert1191.058404.799.259
Manny Pina195.870237.616.254
Khris Davis250.837496.583.254
Eric Haase138.881279.628.253
Niko Goodrum252.870724.622.248
Mike Zunino255.868493.624.244
Yan Gomes239.898613.657.241
Todd Frazier217.879494.658.221
Miguel Rojas352.889856.669.220
Ketel Marte3431.071854.853.218
Rhys Hoskins393.997940.783.214
Nelson Cruz3851.088934.875.213
Randy Arozarena260.974443.761.213
Starlin Castro280.881805.675.206
Paul Goldschmidt3021.0181290.818.200
Evan Longoria299.915709.715.200
Ozzie Albies361.9721151.772.200
Nick Ahmed383.839932.643.196
Albert Pujols393.835611.640.195
Kelvin Gutierrez108.754278.560.194
Yadier Molina196.843885.651.192
J.D. Martinez4591.0031068.811.192
Lewis Brinson214.699436.508.191
C.J. Cron306.981792.793.188
Teoscar Hernandez359.977906.793.184
Jonathan Schoop358.903957.720.183
Alex Bregman3911.031879.851.180
Mitch Haniger298.921676.743.178
Trea Turner3591.0351115.857.178
Dylan Carlson152.892586.717.175

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.
Jesse Winker209.602843.976.374
Jason Castro126.479420.845.366
Jared Walsh236.604544.945.341
Akil Baddoo108.523353.841.318
Brett Phillips105.445325.761.316
Brad Miller122.566596.864.298
Daniel Vogelbach195.542757.815.273
Michael Brantley419.655913.927.272
Ji-Man Choi191.574746.846.272
Harold Castro116.462646.732.270
Freddie Freeman429.75012201.017.267
Rafael Devers560.7271054.973.246
Mitch Moreland131.606608.843.237
Gavin Lux121.499411.735.236
Keston Hiura205.599586.834.235
Austin Meadows407.670927.899.229
Joey Votto400.678964.906.228
Tucker Barnhart132.502730.729.227
Will Smith242.737592.958.221
Joey Wendle231.552717.771.219
Omar Narvaez187.574866.792.218
Mike Trout294.9106931.125.215
Brandon Belt266.697910.905.208
Jarred Kelenic143.490234.695.205
Jason Heyward236.577887.781.204
Tyler Naquin163.611726.811.200
Tommy La Stella175.644616.835.191
Michael Conforto425.696935.883.187
Alex Verdugo392.683809.862.179
Myles Straw272.559580.737.178
Bradley Zimmer100.509312.685.176
Brian Goodwin211.617682.792.175

Final Take

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.

For more great analysis and rankings, make sure to check out the 2022 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!
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