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The Daily Duel: The Key Cog

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

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Tip of the Week - Beware of small sample sizes with hitter vs. pitcher splits

One of the great stats you can use to set your starting lineup is the hitter vs. pitcher splits, but I would heed caution when using these stats. For there to be significant meaning, you should make sure there is a decent sample size. In other words, a player going 3-for-8 with two doubles isn’t overly impressive due to the limited amount of at-bats. There are too many potential variables in a small sample that could lead to limited success. Was the pitcher “off” that day and the whole team was teeing off him (see the Red Sox game from Tuesday)? Was the player in the middle of a hitting streak and just feeling it at the plate during a handful of at-bats? Typically looking for a larger sample, such as a minimum of 20 at-bats, is a better indicator of a good matchup. Albert Pujols vs. Chris Capuano (21-for-40, five home runs, 1.604 OPS) and Carlos Beltran vs. Kyle Lohse (24-for-48, four home runs, 1.458 OPS) are two good examples of “must-play” hitter matchups given their large, successful splits vs. those pitchers. Also be wary of the overall splits of older players, as their production against a pitcher could have come in their prime when they were a different player than now.

Value Players Looking To Rebound

Here are some players who have seen their value drop significantly due to poor production in the season thus far. You might be surprised at some of the names and how much their stock has fallen. That being said, most of these players have a track record of success or enough pedigree that they should be able to turn their season around sooner rather than later and have good value in the near future as a result.

Billy Butler, KC, $3100 – Butler finds himself in a bit of a slump, going 6-for-35 over his last 12 games. He hasn’t homered since May 14, and he’s on pace for about 20 fewer extra base hits this season. Obviously, there’s still plenty of time to turn his .254 batting average around and his 33:32 K:BB ratio definitely hints at better production. Butler is too talented to stay in a slump for very long and a nine-game home stand (with three against the Astros) could be just what he needs to snap out of his slump.

Starlin Castro, CHI, $2800 – Castro has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments this season, notching only three home runs and three stolen bases so far. His .650 OPS this season is over 100 points worse than any of his first three seasons in the league. Possibly the most distressful stat is that he’s reached first or second base 65 times but has only attempted four stolen bases. Only 23, and part of a full rebuild mode, look for the Cubs to work with Castro to improve whatever the problem is at the plate.

B.J. Upton, ATL, $2300 – If you believe in the theory to “buy-low”, Upton is the poster child for “buy lowest” given his struggles this season. Despite the extremely slow start at the dish, Upton still offers a speed/power combo platter that has 20-home run and 40-steal upside. This season has been a struggle at the plate as Upton has a career-low 62 percent contact rate coupled with a career-worst 34 percent strikeout rate. The good news with Upton is that he might be turning the corner. After Tuesday night’s game, he’s up to three home runs over his last nine games. The presence and success of Evan Gattis and Jordan Schafer isn’t going to help Upton’s playing time, but the Braves should give Upton every opportunity to right the ship given the $75-million contract they gave him during the offseason.

On Fire

These players have been some of the hottest hitters in the league recently. They are worth considering putting into the lineup regardless of the price they cost. Hot streaks don’t always last, but one of my rules is if a player’s smoking the ball, there’s no reason to sit him down.

Omar Quintanilla, NYM, $2400 – I really never thought I’d be writing about Quintanilla at any point this season to be completely honest. However, he’s swinging a hot bat lately and has pushed his way onto the fantasy radar. After a game with a double and triple Tuesday against Jordan Zimmermann, Quintanilla now has four straight multi-hit games (9-for-14, .643). His price is right and overall the shortstop position has been relatively weak this season.

Chris Coghlan, MIA, $2300 – Do you remember who won National League Rookie of the Year back in 2009? Coghlan has been a big disappointment since then, as he has constantly battled injuries and even earned himself a demotion to Triple-A last season. This season he’s gotten another chance and has started raking over the last week. Coghlan entered Tuesday night’s contest hitting in the three spot and riding a 10-game hitting streak in which he’s gone 18-for-42 (.429) with eight RBI and six extra base hits. His price is perfect to mix with a strong starter or a bunch of studs and the Marlins offense has looked much better over the last week.

Domonic Brown, PHI, $4300 – If you were an avid baseball card collector as I was a long time ago, you’ll remember that one of the hottest rookie cards in 1987 was the Topps Wally Joyner with the little “Topps All-Star Rookie” trophy in the lower right hand corner. Joyner was hired by the Phillies as a hitting coach back in October and he seems to have worked his magic with Brown. The key is that Brown has shortened up his swing and is over his wrist injury that he suffered back in 2011. He plays in a fantastic hitter’s park and his huge frame (6-5, 200) matches that of a power hitter.

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