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Weekly Hitter Rankings: Opening Day is Here

Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

The Weekly Hitter Rankings is a companion piece to the weekly Weekly Pitcher Rankings. While in many leagues your offensive roster slots are set 'em and forget 'em, in deeper formats where every at-bat counts, knowing which teams have friendly schedules for hitters, and which platoon bats will be getting more action than usual, can be valuable information, especially in head-to-head formats and leagues where you make moves weekly instead of daily. The Weekly Hitter Rankings will summarize all that info in one spot, for your roster-juggling convenience.

For the period April 3-10.

7 GAMES

1. Toronto
at TB 4 - Archer (R), Smyly (L), Odorizzi (R), M. Moore (L)
vs. BOS 3 - Porcello (R), Price (L), S. Wright (R)

Picking up right where they left off last season, the Jays top the rankings on the strength of their offense and the weakness of the non-Price part of the Red Sox rotation. Three opposition lefties means Chris Colabello should see enough at-bats to be interesting.

2. Texas
vs. SEA 3 - Hernandez (R), Iwakuma (R), Miley (L)
at LAA 4 - Weaver (R), Santiago (L), Shoemaker (R), Richards (R)

The Rangers' offense is potent anyway, but they get an extra boost this period by facing the sketchy back end of the Angels' rotation, where both Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker could struggle to approach league average.

3. San Francisco
at MIL 3 - Peralta (R), Nelson (R), Garza (R)
vs. LAD 4 - A. Wood (L), Stripling (R), Kershaw (L), Kazmir (L)

The Giants had a top-five road offense last season, and if they carry that forward into 2016 they could feast on a ragged Brewers rotation. The first skirmish in this year's battle for the NL West figures to be a stingier affair, but with three lefties on the hill for the Dodgers, Brandon Belt could lose some at-bats with Buster Posey sliding out from behind the plate, while Kelby Tomlinson might pick up some early playing time.

4. Tampa Bay
vs. TOR 4 - Stroman (R), Dickey (R), Happ (L), Aaron Sanchez (R)
at BAL 3 - M. Wright (R), Tillman (R), Undecided

In theory the "Undecided" game on the 10th will see the Rays facing Kevin Gausman, but that's only if his shoulder cooperates. This is a potentially volatile stretch, as not even the Jays really know what they'll get yet from Happ and Sanchez, but having the lefty follow the knuckleballer could be a nightmare for opposing hitters who have to face them back-to-back. Expect to see lots of Logan Morrison in Tampa's new first base platoon.

5. Arizona
vs. COL 3 - J. De La Rosa (L), Bettis (R), Chatwood (R)
vs. CHC 4 - Lackey (R), Hammel (R), Hendricks (R), Arrieta (R)

Seven home games in the desert is always a nice way to start the season, and getting the lackluster Rockies rotation for half of them is even better. Facing Jake Arrieta on the 10th could bring the D-backs' bats back down to earth, though. All the right-handers on the slate should give Socrates Brito a running start, though A.J. Pollock's elbow injury might have forced him into an every-day role anyway.

6. Oakland
vs. CHW 4 - Sale (L), Quintana (L), Rodon (L), Latos (R)
at SEA 3 - T. Walker (R), Karns (R), F. Hernandez (R)

This ranking seems high on first blush, but if Mat Latos pitches like he did last year, he could single-handedly justify this spot for the A's. If your league allows mid-week transactions, you're almost ideally positioned to plug Mark Canha in through Thursday before benching him over the weekend, or vice versa if you've got Yonder Alonso rostered.

7. Chicago White Sox
at OAK 4 - Gray (R), Hill (L), Bassitt (R), Graveman (R)
vs. CLE 3 - Cody Anderson (R), Tomlin (R), Kluber (R)

Things go downhill pretty quickly in the A's rotation, especially if Rich Hill's resurgence gets left behind in 2015. The relative lack of lefties could mean Alex Avila sees more action to start the season than expected.

8. LA Dodgers
at SD 3 - T. Ross (R), Shields (R), Cashner (R)
at SF 4 - Peavy (R), Cain (R), Bumgarner (L), Cueto (R)

With a full road slate, the Dodgers bring up the rear this period among the teams playing seven games. There are some soft spots here, but with Bumgarner as the only lefty opposition, Scott Van Slyke is best left on your bench.

6 GAMES

9. Baltimore
vs. MIN 3 - E. Santana (R), Gibson (R), Hughes (R)
vs. TB 3 - Archer (R), Smyly (L), Odorizzi (R)

With six home games, three of them against the Twins' collection of mediocre flyball righties, Chris Davis could get his season off to a flying start. The tilted sked could also get Ryan Flaherty some early work, especially if the O's decide they need a veteran platoon partner in left field for Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard.

10. NY Yankees
vs. HOU 3 - Keuchel (L), McHugh (R), Fiers (R)
at DET 3 - Amibal Sanchez (R), Pelfrey (R), Greene (R)

The back end of the Tigers' rotation, as well as Mike Fiers' homer-prone tendencies, should give the Yankees' batters a nice stretch to begin the season. The extra off-day Tuesday should allow the creaky old bones of the team's starters to stay on the field, but if manager Joe Girardi does decide to ease anybody into action, Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley could pick up some valuable at-bats.

11. Houston
at NYY 3 - Tanaka (R), Pineda (R), Eovaldi (R)
at MIL 3 - Jungmann (R), Chase Anderson (R), Peralta (R)

The Astros get six road games against some potentially nasty arms, but both parks they visit are friendly to hitters. It's still likely to be feast or famine for them, though, meaning either loud contact or no contact at all. The lefty-free period could cost rookie first baseman Tyler White some early action, and should ensure lots of work for Preston Tucker.

12. San Diego
vs. LAD 3 - Kershaw (L), Kazmir (L), Maeda (R)
at COL 3 - Lyles (R), J. De La Rosa (L), Bettis (R)

It's the best of times and the worst of times for the Padres, who could get completely stifled at home by the Dodgers' big guns before they ascend to hitter heaven, aka Coors Field. The even lefty-righty split makes Melvin Upton Jr. a possible play if you really need him, but facing Clayton Kershaw in one of his potential starts puts a big damper on his upside as a sneaky play.

13. Minnesota
at BAL 3 - Tillman (R), Gallardo (R), Jimenez (R)
at KC 3 - Ventura (R), C. Young (R), Medlen (R)

Truth be told, I want to bump the Twins up a little further due to the quality of the pitching they'll be facing, but in the first week of the season I'm not assuming I know anything about anybody just yet. None of the O's arms are scary, though, and if Kris Medlen returns from two Tommy John surgeries to be an effective starter again, he'll be the first guy to do so. No lefties could mean a few extra at-bats for Oswaldo Arcia, if Byung-ho Park has any trouble with same-side pitching.

14. Chicago Cubs
at LAA 2 - Richards (R), Heaney (L)
at ARI 4 - R. De La Rosa (R), Ray (L), Greinke (R), S. Miller (R)

Four games in the desert should provide a solid base of production for the Cubbies, but they'll have to get through Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to fully take advantage of it. The two-game set with the junior team in Los Angeles isn't great either, as Angel Stadium actually rates as the sixth-stingiest park in the majors over the last three years and both Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney could be gearing up for breakout seasons.

15. Pittsburgh
vs. STL 3 - Wainwright (R), Wacha (R), Leake (R)
at CIN 3 - Simon (R), Iglesias (R), DeSclafani (R)

No lefties is good news for newly-anointed first baseman John Jaso, but overall this is a fairly middle of the road slate for the Bucs, especially if Adam Wainwright comes out firing after his shortened 2015. A road game in Cincinnati against Alfredo Simon might be their best shot at crooked numbers this period.

16. St. Louis
at PIT 3 - Liriano (L), Niese (L), Nicasio (R)
at ATL 3 - Wisler (R), Chacin (R), W. Perez (R)

Two lefties isn't great news for newly-anointed first baseman Matt Adams, as it probably means Matt Holliday will steal a couple of his starts, but the righties the Cards get this period aren't what you'd call intimidating despite Juan Nicasio's ridiculous spring. They also dodge a bullet (well, a lot of bullets) with Gerrit Cole being held back a few days by the Pirates.

17. Cincinnati
vs. PHI 3 - Hellickson (R), Nola (R), Morton (R)
vs. PIT 3 - G. Cole (R), J. Locke (L), Liriano (L)

This slate would look better, but with Gerrit Cole landing on the fourth game of the season instead of Opening Day due to his abbreviated spring, the Reds get stuck facing an extra ace. Scott Schebler gets the early advantage in their left field platoon, and Adam Duvall may see fewer at-bats than you'd expect if the team starts looking for excuses to get Jose Peraza in the lineup.

18. Seattle
at TEX 3 - Hamels (L), M. Perez (L), C. Lewis (R)
vs. OAK 3 - Doubront (L), Gray (R), Hill (L)

Wow, things go downhill quickly in the Rangers' rotation, don't they? Hurry back, Yu! Four lefties this period should mean plenty of work for Franklin Gutierrez, and Dae-Ho Lee could be the first baseman to roll with rather than Adam Lind if manager Scott Servais uses a strict platoon.

19. Milwaukee
vs. SF 3 - Bumgarner (L), Cueto (R), Samardzija (R)
vs. HOU 3 - Feldman (R), Fister (R), Keuchel (L)

The back end of the Astros' rotation gives the Brewers' hitters something to sink their teeth into, but their other four matchups could leave them very hungry. They don't have many obvious platoon possibilities, but Rule 5 pick Colin Walsh could be the lucky recipient of at-bats against Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel if manager Craig Counsell takes a liking (or maybe a disliking, depending on how you look at it) to the kid.

20. Colorado
at ARI 3 - Greinke (R), S. Miller (R), Corbin (L)
vs. SD 3 - Rea (R), Erlin/Pomeranz (L), T. Ross (R)

There's a lot of favorable hitting environments here, but the Rockies' typical struggles on the road and the quality in the Diamondbacks' new rotation could make the first three games a washout. Tackling the back end of the Padres' rotation in Coors should make up for it, though. If Colin Rea loses his spot to Drew Pomeranz (still a possibility as I write this) instead of Erlin, that's potentially two home starts at first base for Mark Reynolds, which makes him almost a must-start in deep formats.

21. Boston
at CLE 3 - Kluber (R), Carrasco (R), Salazar (R)
at TOR 3 - Stroman (R), Dickey (R), Estrada (R)

If it seems like there's a big dropoff between 20 and 21 in this week's rankings, that's because there is. The Red Sox face a nasty array of right-handed heat, with R.A. Dickey's knuckleball cruelly thrown into the middle. That slate should also keep Chris Young stapled to the bench, while Brock Holt and Travis Shaw get an extended early shot at locking up their starting jobs.

22. Cleveland
vs. BOS 3 - Price (L), Buchholz (R), J. Kelly (R)
at CHW 3 - Danks (L), Sale (L), Quintana (L)

Four lefties should mean a healthy does of Rajai Davis this period, and maybe even a few at-bats for Collin Cowgill. Tyler Naquin could get off to a slow start as well, as he's more likely to sit in favor of Davis than Michael Brantley.

23. LA Angels
vs. CHC 2 - Arrieta (R), Lester (L)
vs. TEX 4 - D. Holland (L), A.J. Griffin (R), Hamels (L), M. Perez (L)

Another four-lefty period, and with Daniel Nava a bit banged up anyway, Craig Gentry figures to see a lot of early playing time. Being at home for six games isn't necessarily a big boon for the Angels either, as they scored a quarter-run more per game on the road last year.

24. Philadelphia
at CIN 3 - Iglesias (R), Finnegan (L), T. Melville (R)
at NYM 3 - deGrom (R), Matz (L), Colon (R)

There's a noticeable lack of star power in the opposition pitching aside from deGrom, but with six road games including three in Citi Field, the Phillies could still struggle to cross the plate. Cedric Hunter, who could be the strong side of a left field platoon with Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel, might be worth a look though if you're in a bind.

5 GAMES

25. Washington
at ATL 2 - Teheran (R), B. Norris (R)
vs. MIA 3 - Conley (L), Koehler (R), Cosart (R)

The best of the five-game dregs, the Nats at least get to face Bud Norris, who is somehow the Braves' No. 2 starter to begin the year.

26. Kansas City
vs. NYM 2 - Harvey (R), Syndergaard (R)
vs. MIN 3 - Milone (L), Nolasco (R), E. Santana (R)

The two-game rematch with the Mets to kick off the season isn't promising, but facing Ricky Nolasco can cure some hitting ills. If manager Ned Yost intends to use any kind of platoon in right field between right-handed hitting Paulo Orlando and left-handed speedster Reymond Fuentes, you could see early signs of it here.

27. NY Mets
at KC 2 - Volquez (R), C. Young (R)
vs. PHI 3 - Eickhoff (R), Velasquez (R), Hellickson (R)

An all-righty period is good news for Michael Conforto and bad news for Juan Lagares when it comes to playing time. The names don't look impressive, but the back end of the Phillies' rotation could be tougher than you expect, as both Jerad Eickhoff and Vincent Velasquez have some upside.

28. Detroit
at MIA 2 - Chen (L), J. Fernandez (R)
vs. NYY 3 - Severino (R), Sabathia (L), Tanaka (R)

The Tigers at least get a day off between Jose Fernandez and Luis Severino, otherwise that could have been an unpleasant amount of heat for early April. It's hard to say whether being an everyday starter instead of being in a platoon will help Anthony Gose's value or not, but having CC Sabathia be one of the lefties he faces could tip the scales in favor of the full-time gig.

29. Miami
vs. DET 2 - Verlander (R), Zimmermann (R)
at WAS 3 - Strasburg (R), Roark (R), Scherzer (R)

Well, that's just an ugly set of pitching matchups to start the season. Justin Bour, at least, shouldn't lose any at-bats during the period. I'll be keeping a close eye on whether the altered dimensions in Marlins Park boosts offense or not, but over the last three seasons it has played almost exactly neutral (0.998 park factor, so shaded ever-so-slightly in the pitchers' favor) despite the fact that it massively suppressed home runs.

30. Atlanta
vs. WAS 2 - Scherzer (R), G. Gonzalez (L)
vs. STL 3 - J. Garcia (L), C. Martinez (R), Wainwright (R)

Speaking of ugly pitching matchups ... the Braves couldn't score runs last year anyway, though, so who they face is the least of their worries. The nearly even lefty-righty split should give a good early indication of whether the workload behind the plate will be a straight platoon between A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers or not, though.