Platoons. Baseball Managers are well-known for using them all the time to play the odds and help ensure a better success rate. Knowing players’ tendencies and acting on them has long been a strategy employed by baseball Managers (early notables include Earl Weaver and Casey Stengel) and coaches alike. Not content to simply utilize lefty-righty matchups in their batting line-ups, Managers will also use their bullpen according to previous success rates against certain opposing hitters. Using this same tactic can help ensure success in fantasy baseball as well. There are often distinct lefty-righty split stats that can help out any fantasy team.
It can be a benefit to know which pitchers fare better against left-handed or right-handed hitting when setting your line-up. This is generally a rule of thumb however since any Major League line up consists of both LHB and RHB but if you know certain teams that are heavy either way (think Toronto, Detroit, Texas, Milwaukee, Houston, Washington for RH-heavy line ups, think Boston, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Atlanta for LH-heavy line-ups), it can help to know which starters stack up better than others.
Charlie Morton (PIT) –
Traditionally stronger against Right-Handed Batters throughout his career, Morton exemplifies this split stat so far in 2011. LHB have hit at a .341 clip against him this season while RHB have fared much worse, hitting only .172 against Morton.
Justin Masterson (CLE) –
Much like Morton, Masterson feasts on RHB to the tune of 1.17 ERA, .78 WHIP and a .144 BA. Lefties have hit him much better at a .302 clip thus far in 2011. This has been pretty consistent throughout his career so avoiding LH-heavy line-ups may be wise.
Pitchers who have shown success against LHB in 2011 include:
Kyle Lohse (STL), David Price (TB), Ian Kennedy (ARI), Phil Coke (DET)
Pitchers who have shown success against RHB in 2011 include:
Alexei Ogando (TEX), Scott Baker (MIN), Tim Stauffer (SD)
Of much greater use is knowing which hitters fare better against left- or right-handed pitching as you can easily stream them in and out of your line-up based upon their pitching opponent (if you play in leagues which allow daily moves). Let’s look at a few notables:
HITTERS BATTING WELL AGAINST LEFT-HANDED PITCHING:
Geovany Soto (CHC) –
He is seeing southpaws very well and hitting them at a .419 clip to go with a Ruthian .810 SLG. By comparison, Soto is only batting .176 versus right-handers.
Aaron Rowand (SF) -
Rowand is hitting twice as well (.385 AVG) against lefties as he is against righties (.194 AVG). Also, his slugging % is a very respectable .564 when hitting southpaws but plummets 273 points against right-handers. Spot a trend?
Jeff Francoeur (KC) –
“Frenchy” has hit 5 of his 9 home runs on the season against lefties. What makes this so impressive is that he has 100 less at bats facing LHP than he has against RHP. He has been mashing LHP to the tune of .778 SLG as opposed to slugging only .409 against RHP.
J. P. Arencibia (TOR) -
The Blue Jays’ catcher has hit 3 HR in only 38 AB vs. LHP as opposed to 5 HR in 101 AB against RHP. More importantly, his AVG is 170 points higher against LHP. When facing righties, he is wallowing below the Mendoza Line.
Jerry Sands (LAD) -
The highly-touted rookie has been eating up LHP since joining the Major League ranks with a slash line of .333/.438/.704. Against righties the slash is a horrendous .188/.288/.275. Sure, he’s hitting better in May (after a slow April), but if he doesn’t start hitting RHP, his Major League status could be in trouble.
HITTERS BATTING WELL AGAINST RIGHT-HANDED PITCHING:
Matt Joyce (TB) –
Just to prove that even the hottest hitters in baseball are not always immune to split stats, the current AL batting leader is hitting a ML-best .408 against RHP to go with only .190 versus LHP.
Seth Smith (COL) –
Smith is currently hitting only .214 against LHP and that is 24 points above his career average. Use him against right-handers, where he sports a nifty .328 BA to go along with all 5 of his HR.
Mitch Moreland (TEX) –
Although there are big hopes of Moreland being more than a platoon player, unless he starts to hit against LHP he could be slated for that role. With Mike Napoli and especially Michael Young hitting lefties very well, Mitch had better start improving upon a .168 BA and an atrocious .190 SLG if he hopes to play every day. In the meantime, you might want to stick to slotting him in your line up against right-handers exclusively.
Carl Crawford (BOS) –
Known in baseball circles as one of the hardest-working players in the game, Crawford has finally started to heat up at the plate and is now hitting .304 against RHP. He has still yet to get it going against LHP, however. With a pathetic slash line of .115/.169/.180, Crawford is still a risky play against southpaws.