Sample Sizes Are Starting to Matter – Sit Rizzo and Benintendi?
It is amazing how time flies. I remember like it was yesterday, fawning over ADP’s and overdrafts. Vlad Jr, I am staring directly at you with a grimace and a baffled brow my soon-to-be promoted friend. Now, it’s sell high, buy low and trade opportunities front and center. Seventy-five at-bats and some owners are already rushing to dump their “busts” while others are waiting in the weeds to pounce on an opportunity to take advantage of co-owners with weak stomachs. Chris Sale. I am staring directly at you my friend. How is this relevant to the weekly hitting planner? I always reference sample sizes and how we need them to make sound, supported decisions. Well, Start/Sit decisions are starting to be impacted by 2019 stats. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions. They are becoming relevant rather than deceptive or insignificant nuisances to be seen, but not heard.
Sample sizes are growing and with more data comes more legitimacy. Trends that owners can use to inform rather than deceive are developing. How a player is slugging in the last seven to 14 days is beginning to matter. A player’s career, his left/right splits, pitching matchups or how many games they have on the schedule always matter, but recency is less biased and more relevant now than before. That’s a meaningful change. It shouldn’t be a significant factor when deciding whether to buy or sell struggling stars yet, but it should inform your Start/Sit decision-making process.
Five Game Schedules For Your Week 5 Start/Sit Decisions
As I said in previous weeks, when a possible “starter” has five games and his alternatives have seven, he immediately becomes a possible “sitter,” regardless of any other possible factors. It is one of the most impactful situations owners need to consider. I have already sat Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Joey Gallo, and Starling Marte for lesser alternatives because of the scheduling disparity in 2019. Fortunately for Fantasy owners, it’s a lesser factor in Week 5.
There are only three teams with a five-game slate and two of them are the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays. Neither team has a must-start player or any serious alternatives to consider before the scheduling disadvantage this week. If you are starting Freddy Galvis or Justin Smoak in deeper leagues, their schedule puts them on the Sit list, but outside of them, the pickings are slim way out West in San Fran and up and up and away in the nasty North where the Jays roam and play. There are a few tougher calls with the third five-game team, the San Diego Padres.
The Padres have two games at home, a friendly pitchers park, and three in Washington where they will face Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. They also face Jeremy Hellickson, but that’s hardly an enticer with the scheduling bind Padre owners have been put in this week.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS San Diego Padres
Six HRs – 13 RBI – 11 Runs Scored – Four SBs – .296 Batting Average
Tatis Jr. is tied for third in points scored for shortstops, two points behind leaders Paul Dejong and Javier Baez. He is tied for the position lead with six home runs and tied for third in stolen bases. Five games or not. Scherzer and Strasburg or not. Tatis is a Must-Start and one of the best steals of Draft-Day season. He has played like a Top 50 pick (Vlad Jr., looking at you again) even though he wasn’t selected anywhere near it.
Eric Hosmer, 1B San Diego Padres
One HR – Seven Runs – Nine RBIs – .184 BA
Hosmer is more of a name than a serious Fantasy asset and he has been worse than the underwhelming first base contributions that we have come to expect. I mentioned him because his name still draws some respect while his numbers need to be known so that name recognition doesn’t make him a Start when he is actually a Must-Sit.
Wil Myers, 3B/OF San Diego Padres
Five HRs – Two SBs – Nine Runs – Nine RBIs – .294 BA
Myers is a tough call. Five total games with two against Scherzer and Strasburg, struggles from Strasburg notwithstanding, is a difficult position for owners to be in.
He is bringing it on the bases and in the box, both in batting average and in home runs. On top of that, he competes for the start against third base and outfield alternatives, allowing owners to Sit their strugglers or mask their roster weaknesses by moving him around and considering more potential alternatives on the roster or the wire.
In shallower leagues, there is an argument for sitting Myers, but it’s a weak one. He is as close to a Must-Start as a player gets without officially being so. I have Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts with seven games and Victor Robles with three of six starts in Coors field. Even with those extremely strong alternatives, I am likely starting Myers. Sorry, Victor. Start.
Small Samples: Starts/Sit Stars On the Hot Seat
With sample sizes growing in totals and legitimacy, it’s time to at least consider benching struggling stars. It’s still too early to cut bait and sell them on the cheap when low-ball trade offers pour in, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your head-to-head matchups out of some misplaced sense of loyalty. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions and that includes stars as well as scrubs and borderline calls.
Here are a few Star-Crossed Start/Sit Samples that matter for Owners Decisions
Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B Cleveland Indians
7-Day Trends: 3/21 – 1 HR – 3 Runs – 1 RBI – 2 SBs – .143
14-Day Trends: 7/47 – 1 HR – 5 Runs – 2 RBI – 4 SB – .149
Pablo Lopez/Sandy Alcantara/Gerrit Cole/Collin McHugh/Wade Miley/Brad Peacock
He has zero home runs, one RBI, 10 strikeouts, a .120 batting average and .350 OPS against right-handed pitching in 2019. He will face five of them in Week 5. He killed them in 2018, so it looks like Ramirez is struggling rather than trending, but that kind of performance is an issue, small sample or not.
The pitching matchups aren’t overly troubling and Ramirez benefits from four games in hitter-friendly Houston while he is at a disadvantage with two starts in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in Miami.
The samples are growing, but are still too small to bench the Fantasy star. Come back next week if this one is another stinker. I wanted to say Sit this week, but I couldn’t quite get there. Next week I may not be so forgiving.
Andrew Benintendi, OF Boston Red Sox
7-Day Trends: 2/7 – 0 HR – 1 Run – 0 RBI – ..286 BA
Spencer Turnbull/Tyson Ross/Jordan ZImmerman/Daniel Norris/Charlie Morton/Tyler Glasnow/TBA
Fenway Park is not a good place for left-handers to hit for power, especially early in the season, and we are seeing that with Benintendi in 2019. He’s batting .279 with six extra-base hits with an OBP of .357. He isn’t struggling. He hasn’t been bad. He just hasn’t been anything special. He has been “Fantasy pedestrian.” Six runs scored, six RBIs, one home run and one stolen base. Those aren’t Must-Start numbers, especially considering how high he was drafted in yearly leagues.
He has seven games on the schedule, but he will face the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. He won’t face any aces and he should avoid Blake Snell who is on IL.
In deep leagues, he is a fourth or fifth OF that can be benched depending on the skill sets of owners’ alternatives. In shallow leagues, he is a Sit until he starts hitting for power or stealing bases in bunches. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions and while Benintendi’s aren’t disturbing, they aren’t glowing either. I lean Sit for Benny Biceps.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B Chicago Cubs
7-Day Trends: 1/16 – 0 HR – 3 Runs – 1 RBI – .063 BA
14-Day Trends: 4/40 – 1 HR – 7 Runs – 6 RBIs – .100 BA
Kenta Maeda/Walker Buehler/Julio Urias/Robbie Ray/Zack Godley/Luke Weaver
I looked at seven-day trends to see who is struggling and who is roasting when preparing this column. For the stars that were struggling, I looked at the 14-day sample to see if it was a NoteWorthy, rough week or something more like a Trend. For Rizzo, it’s an ugly early-season trend. Batting .100 in 40 at-bats doesn’t change my opinion of a player’s career of course, but it means enough to consider sitting them in 2019.
Rizzo batted .283 with 21 of his 25 home runs against right-handed pitching in 2018 and he faces four of them in Week 5. That’s good. His recent numbers. A lot of bad. I was offered Rizzo for Chris Sale in a trade this week. Makes me laugh now. Rizzo is a Sit this week. 40 bad at-bats is enough to go another way until he turns it around.
Carlos Correa, SS Houston Astros
7-Day Trends: 2/19 – 0 HR – 1 Run – 1 RBI – 0 SB – .105 BA
14-Day Trends: 10/42 – 1 HR – 5 Runs – 6 RBIs – 1 SB – .238
The bright side for Correa. Seven games, all at home, in a bandbox for right-handers with a short porch down the left field line, batting in a loaded lineup that enhances his RBI and Runs scored potential. Add Correa’s reputation and it seems implausible to believe he is a Start/Sit consideration. But he is. His current performance has been poor and he is scheduled to face Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber and Corey Kluber. I am sitting Correa. Not just sitting, Must-Sit.
The Also-Rans and Borderline Start/Sit Decisions
Sitting a star after only four weeks is tough to do. Starting a “scrub” after only four weeks can be just as difficult. A star has a track record sitting there for all to see on the back of a baseball card. A scrub either doesn’t have a track record or it’s a bad one. It’s why he is labeled a “scrub” in Auction league lingo. It’s why he is on the waiver wire in the majority of leagues as well. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions and that can apply to lesser known players with little or no track record to either bolster or refute their current stats. The lack of a track record doesn’t mean a player isn’t good and it doesn’t mean owners should dismiss the small sample. It just makes them undervalued or under appreciated and this week, it could make him your starter.
Here are a few Also-Rans, or in auction leagues, players known as “scrubs,” that deserve Start consideration.
Austin Meadows, OF Tampa Bay Rays
7-Day Trends: 0 HR – 3 Runs – 2 RBIs – 1 SB – .333 BA
14-Day Trends: 4 HRs – 9 Runs – 12 RBIs – 2 SB – .429
Brad Keller/Homer Bailey/Jacob Junis/David Price/Chris Sale/TBA
Meadows was a small-sample size darling for awhile and deservedly so. What everyone forgot was that while he was a touted prospect for a minute in Pittsburgh, he was eventually a disappointing one. He never profiled as a 30-home run, 30 stolen base super star even though he has looked like one early on in 2019. From a Fantasy perspective, he always profiled as a good to very good prospect. But, he always lacked ceiling.
His 14-Day trend suggests he is a must-start. The matchups and his 7-Day trend suggests he’s a Sit. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions, but that doesn’t always mean for the better. It can still be deceptive. The 2019 Meadows we have seen appear to be unsustainable and while even his small sample has been erratic and inconsistent, they look too good to Sit. They look too good because the sample is still too small. Sometimes an indicator is just a flashing light that will eventually lead nowhere.
Three games at Fenway Park with the wind potentially blowing in and a possible rain out or two, a huge right field and two power left handers (Chris Sale and David Price) on the bump. I realize the Red Sox have pitched horribly, but does anyone believe Sale and Price are THIS bad? Are owners loading up lefties against them in Daily Fantasy?
Meadows has been pedestrian in his last seven after a monstrous week and a very good overall start. He needs to be owned, but in most formats, benched, in Week #5. I struggle to feel sorry for owners that bought Meadows hot Start. History matters and the reports on him were never glistening. I could be wrong. Meadows may be a Fantasy All Star this season. But, while the samples are still small, I am still a skeptic and that means he is a Sit this week.
Christian Walker, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks
7-Day Trends: 11/25 – 3 HR – 4 Runs – 5 RBIs – 2 SB – .440 BA
14-Day Trends: 13/41 – 3 HR – 5 Runs – 5 RBIs – 2 SB – .317 BA
Five of Walker’s six home runs have been against right-handed pitching and he will face six of seven this week. The pitching matchups don’t make you run and hide, but it is tougher than the average Start/Sit consideration. Darvish strikes out a lot of batters, even with his command issues. Jordan Lyles, Joe Musgrove and Trevor Williams have ERA’s of .53, .81 and 2.59 respectively while Jameson Taillon has a very respectable 3.43 ERA. Not a lot of high-profile names but the Pirates rotation has quietly been exceptional and that’s who Walker will face this week.
Walker and his seven-game week deserve consideration. A .440 batting average is a hot-streak owners can capitalize on and his hot hitting against right-handers enhances the case for a Start. But, it is still a small sample and the matchups are more difficult than they appear on their face. I lean Sit, but it’s a reluctant one. He is worthy in deeper leagues and needs to be owned in more than 35% on Yahoo.
Omar Narvaez, CA Seattle Mariners
7-Day Trends: 7/18 – 3 HRs – 6 Runs – 6 RBIs – .389 BA
14-Day Trends: 13/40 – 3 HR – 11 Runs – 7 RBI – .325 BA
Nick Margevicius/Chris Paddack/Adrian Sampson/Shelby Miller/Mike Minor/Lance Lynn
Narvaez is on a seven day hot streak with a friendly six game schedule in Week #5. He has hit .313 with a .887 OPS and four home runs against right handed pitching this season. He has also hit three of his five home runs at home, of which he also has four games this week.
Narvaez is tied for eighth overall in runs scored and leads catchers. He is tied for second amongst catchers in home runs, ranks fourth in RBIs and has a .304 batting average on the season. All that, and he is still only owned in 61% of Yahoo leagues. He is a must-own and with a friendly group of pitching matchups and a six game week, he is a Must-Start this week.
Noteworthy Left/Right Splits of the Week
Strangely enough there hasn’t been an overly dominant hitter against left handed pitching. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions, but when it comes to trends against left handed pitching, the sample isn’t showing us enough to be worth considering. Khris Davis leads the league in home runs against lefties with only five while Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez have hit four apiece. All three are must-starts regardless of splits or trends. The fact that they lead the league with less than overwhelming totals doesn’t do us much good in identifying helpful samples. To find a borderline starter that this weeks splits against left handed pitching could swing the scales I had to look to Ketel Marte who only has three home runs, a .310 batting average and .966 OPS. Hardly worth a write up. Against right handers, the pickings were a bit more poultry.
Jesse Winker, OF Cincinnati Reds
NoteWorthy Splits vs. Right-Handed Pitching
6 HRs – 9 RBI – .182 BA
Winker is a right-handed hitter who happens to be slugging well in a reverse split. On the downside, he has struck out 12 times and is batting .182 against right-handed pitching in 2019, but he has six home runs and nine RBIs against them. Mikolas has an ERA of almost 5.00 (4.95) while Flaherty DOES have an ERA of exactly 5.00. It could be argued that they are the toughest matchups Winker might face this week unless you buy into Kevin Gausman’s early season 2.75 ERA and .76 WHIP.
The Reds have a crowded outfield that could limit his at-bats but with his power splits and all of his team’s games against right-handers, he should see enough at-bats to be a strong start with beneficial power splits. He has 23 at-bats in his last seven days and is only owned in 45% of leagues.
For teams that can’t find a spot for Winker, he is at the very least an affordable DFS play. He is scheduled to face Julio Teheran, who has allowed five home runs in five starts. He will also face Dakota Hudson, who has allowed five home runs with a 6.08 ERA and 2.33 WHIP in only four starts and Jack Flaherty who has allowed four home runs in four starts and 18 innings pitched in 2019.
I don’t buy into Winker as a player, but if the alternatives are equally as “questionable,” the power he has shown against right-handed pitching puts him slightly ahead of some mediocre to bad alternatives. If Winker is on your radar then his splits are probably enough to put him on the Start side rather than the Sit side of a difficult decision.
Joc Pederson, OF Los Angeles Dodgers
Noteworthy Splits vs. Right Handed Pitching
8 HRs – 14 RBIs – .267 BA – 1.125 OPS
I wrote up, claimed and started Pederson last week because of his strong splits against right-handed pitching. And his season stats are why he deserves a repeat mention this week. He will face four right-handers in a six-start week. However, he is more of a sit than a start due to a slightly less appealing mix of matchups. Sample Sizes are starting to matter in Start/Sit decisions and in the case of Pederson, we saw a small 2019 sample proven true. He has had a strong performance in week #4 after the matchups and his splits against right-handed pitching suggested he would.
He does face four right-handed pitchers this week, but three of the four are Pirates starters who have ERA’s of 2.00 (Archer), .81 (Musgrove) and 2.59 (Williams). If the ERA wasn’t enough of a deterrent, they have allowed a combined total of four home runs. The Dodgers lean heavily on the left/right splits when it comes to filling out the lineup card and with two lefties on the bump, Pederson could sit against Quintana and Hamels. Even if Pederson gets five starts, that puts his at-bat totals in the borderline area compared to most alternatives and that’s before we factor in the pitching matchups, which are on the tougher side this week. The season splits suggest Pederson is a must-start, but if you look closer, he is a Sit this week.
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