We’re less than two weeks away from the MLB season, which means fantasy baseball leagues will commence soon. With the MLB schedule published, we’ll look at a few MLB teams with fantasy friendly matchups. There were two great MLB.com articles that led me to look a little further into particular fantasy friendly matchups. Some of this information helps us identify players and matchups to target and avoid.
If you want to see a Twitter thread with the schedule broken down by team, then check out the thread by MLB Moving Averages (@MLBMovingAvg). His Twitter thread provides an overview of the schedule for each team.
We’ll also look at easier and tougher team schedules while noting three teams that start the season with 20 games in 20 days. Then we’ll look at some teams with fantasy-friendly matchups played at their home ballparks. The projected pitchers haven’t been revealed, so keep that in mind when looking through these fantasy friendly matchups.
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Fantasy Friendly Matchups
Easier New Schedules
First let’s look at what teams have easier new schedules. This information comes from an MLB.com article by Mike Petriello that looked at the full season schedule compared to the new schedule. The list below shows six teams with an easier new schedule.
As many expected, the top teams with easier schedules come from the Central Divisions. These teams are playing more games against their regional opponents, many of which struggled last year in the AL and NL Central Divisions. According to an article on Home Run Park Factors by Max Freeze, the Reds and Brewers rate the best amongst the six teams with easier new schedules. The Cubs home ballpark rated slightly above average to left and center field, but less so than the Reds and Brewers. Main takeaway: target players in the Central Divisions.
Tougher New Schedules
On the flip side, five out of the six teams with tougher schedules finished 2019 below .500. Although it seems odd, it’s partly because these teams now have to play most of their games against their foes in the AL and NL West Divisions. The Rangers have a new home ballpark, and it’s to be determined on how that impacts hitters. Although we heard that Joey Gallo was concerned about the new Rangers ballpark being less hitter-friendly.
Outside of the Rockies home park, the other home parks on this list aren’t hitter-friendly. We could argue the Angels home park is hitter-friendly since they ranked second in center field home run park factors. However, the Angels ranked below average to left field and near average to right field. The Mariners and Diamondbacks home park rated about average to all fields.
Fantasy Friendly Matchups – Reds
With the Reds having one of the easier new schedules, they also present a few weeks of fantasy-friendly matchups. The Reds home ballpark ranked third in left field, sixth in center field, and second in right field home run park factors. A hitters ballpark in the warmer months could mean opportunities to feast for the Reds and their opposing hitters.
|Fantasy Weeks at Home for the Reds|
|Week 1: 7 straight games at home out of 10 total games
Week 3: 6 out of 6 games at home
Week 8: 6 out of 6 games at home
For week 1, the Reds hitters could feast on Tigers pitchers outside of Matthew Boyd although he did have a 18.2% HR/FB rate. Similarly for Cubs pitchers, there aren’t many pitchers to fear outside of Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. Maybe the Reds hitters could get hot out of the gate? In weeks 3 and 8, there are only a few pitchers on the Pirates, Royals, and White Sox that present tough matchups.
No Days Off – 20 games in 20 days
Next let’s look at three notable teams that start the season with 20 games in 20 days from July 24 – August 12. This information came from an MLB.com article by Sarah Langs and Matt Kelly where they broke down the schedule quirks. Those first 20 games include about 2.5 scoring periods with the first scoring period being 10 days long.
Braves, Mariners, & Tigers – 20 games in 20 days
The Braves, Mariners, and Tigers all start 2020 with 20 games in 20 days. Try saying the last part five times fast. For hitter options, the Braves are clearly better than most of the Mariners and Tigers. However, don’t sleep on Tigers and Mariners hitters like Niko Goodrum, Jonathan Schoop, Dan Vogelbach, and Kyle Lewis. Schoop’s one of my five underrated hitters to target and you can find the rest of those players here.
Although their home ballparks don’t scream fantasy friendly matchups, this is more about the accumulation of games and plate appearances to start the season. Every plate appearance will matter more in a shortened season, so we may see players on the Braves, Mariners, and Tigers accumulate quite a bit of counting stats to start the year.
In addition, there are four other teams that will play 20 games in 20 days starting in mid-August. Those teams are the Twins, Rockies, Blue Jays, and Phillies. We’ll touch on those matchups later in the season during our weekly hitter series.
Fantasy Friendly Matchups – Rockies
Now let’s look at the notable matchups for the Rockies since they’re a team with stark home and away splits.
|Fantasy Weeks at Home for the Rockies||Fantasy Weeks Away for the Rockies|
|Week 2: 4 out of 7 home games
Week 3: 6 out of 6 home games
Week 8: 6 out of 6 home games
|Week 4: 5 out of 7 away games
Week 5: 4 out of 7 away games
Week 9: 7 out of 7 away games
In weeks 3 and 8, we see 12 out of 12 games at home, and which screams delicious weeks for hitters in that ballpark. Cue up Sam Hilliard, Garrett Hampson, and dare I say – Brendan Rodgers? Let’s also note a few weeks for Rockies hitters away from Coors Field, especially the final week of the fantasy baseball season with all away games. That doesn’t mean sit all Rockies the final week, but it might be safe to sit any struggling Rockies outside of Arenado, Story, and Blackmon (hopefully he’s healthy).
Fantasy Friendly Matchups – Orioles
The Orioles are the next team with fantasy-friendly matchups at home. The Orioles ranked second in left field and third in center field home run park factors. For right field, their home ballpark rated average. It goes without saying, but target Orioles hitters and those playing against the Orioles. Let’s look at notable home weeks for the Orioles.
|Fantasy Weeks at Home for the Orioles|
|Week 1: 5 out of 10 at home with 5 straight at home to end the week
Week 4: 7 out of 7 at home
Week 6: 5 out of 6 at home
Week 8: 7 out of 7 at home
In summary, weeks 4, 6, and 8 stand out with 19 out of 20 home games during those weeks! Mark those dates on your calendar because we’ll probably see high scoring weeks from hitters playing in Baltimore. I’ll apologize on behalf of the MLB schedulers to the Orioles’ pitchers, but hopefully you weren’t relying on too many Orioles pitchers. A few later round bats to target on the Orioles are Austin Hays, Hanser Alberto, and Renato Nunez.
The Reds, Rockies, and Orioles are three teams with fantasy-friendly matchups this year. These teams especially stand out because their home ballparks rate well in home run park factors. Keep in mind that teams haven’t announced projected starting pitchers and their usages. I’m not saying only draft players from these teams, but rather keep these fantasy-friendly matchups in mind during upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.
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