Using a platoon system in fantasy baseball is often thought of as painstaking, but in actuality, it really isn’t all that time consuming, especially when you get a good grip on your roster’s intricacies. To best utilize these strategies, it may take a month or two to see how your players are shaping up. Some players have career trends to go off, while others you’ll get a better feel after April passes. Obviously, the following only applies to those who play in daily formats:
Rule No. 1 – Using righty/lefty splits with hitters
This is still underused in most fantasy leagues yet extremely simple. At the beginning of each series, you can look at the projected starters and arrange your starting lineup accordingly. You’d only have to do this twice a week, and it wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Some extreme split examples from last year include bigger names than you’d think:
Grady Sizemore – vs. righties (.329/.416/.586) vs. lefties (.214/.290/.427)
Jim Thome – he hit .321 with 36 HRs in 299 at-bats vs. right-handers compared to hitting .236 with just six HRs in 191 at-bats against southpaws.
Inevitably, fantasy owners will have a hard time benching a stud such as Sizemore or Thome, so this strategy may come more into play with lesser talents:
Corey Patterson – batted .301 with 37 steals vs. righties compared to .207 with eight steals vs. left-handers. His stolen base success rate also fell from 88 percent to 66 percent when a southpaw was on the hill.
Chris Duncan – He hit .170 vs. southpaws last season but mashed righties, batting .318 and belting out 20 home runs in just 233 at-bats.
Wily Mo Pena – Makes a fine platoon partner this season, as JD Drew figures to sit frequently against lefties (not only because he struggles but also in an attempt to keep him healthy), and Pena has clobbered 20 HRs in 361 career at-bats vs. southpaws.
Lance Niekro – Using an extreme example to highlight just how effective this strategy can be, Niekro, who was likely a free agent in most leagues, had a ridiculous 1.019 OPS with nine home runs in 108 at-bats vs. left-handers during the 2005 season. There will be a similar player sitting on your waiver wire this year.
Rule No. 2 – Using home/road splits
This strategy works both for hitters and pitchers and is fairly obvious. Unlike basketball and football, homefield is extremely variable when it comes to baseball:
Hank Blalock – What a frustrating player failing to live up to his potential. While this may be true, he’s still valuable if used correctly: For his career, he has a .693 OPS on the road and an .887 OPS at home, knocking out 23 more home runs despite fewer at-bats. This same type of home success can be said for nearly every Ranger.
Jamie Moyer – When spot starting, it’s not difficult to figure out which parks you want your hurlers pitching in. Moyer’s 2005 season could go down as one of the all-time greatest discrepancies, as he posted a 6.11 ERA on the road and a 2.95 ERA at home.
NL West - Not only is this the easiest division to pitch in, but one where you know when to bench your starters. Sure, Coors Field has seen its runs scored decline in six of the last seven years, but over the final month last season, nearly 8.5 runs were scored per game. Even before that, the stadium yielded a half of a run more per game than the NL average. Bottom line, it’s still very much so a hitter’s park, and you’d be wise to sit your starters there.
Rule No. 3 – Draft injury-prone base stealers
An offshoot of this is drafting someone you know will miss time with injury, such as Dave Roberts (never played 130 games in a season). His 35-40 SBs in 350-400 at-bats are more valuable than Willy Taveras and/or Chris Duffy getting 45 steals in 600 at-bats because someone on your waiver wire will be of more help in the HR and RBI categories during those 200-250 replacement at-bats. This also applies for Ryan Freel.