Weekly Hitter Rankings: Holding All The Cards

Weekly Hitter Rankings: Holding All The Cards

This article is part of our Weekly Hitter Rankings series.

The Hitter Value Meter is a companion piece to the weekly Pitching Value Meter. 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 Hitter Value Meter will summarize all that info in one spot, for your roster juggling convenience.

For the week July 6-12

8 GAMES

1. St. Louis (at CHC 4, at PIT 4) – Tuesday's scheduled double-header gives the Cardinals that rarest and most precious of all slates, the eight-game week. Sure, all eight games are on the road, but you just can't beat that kind of volume. When you also consider that the Cubs had to trade for retread Clayton Richard just to fill that second start on Tuesday, the possibilities for big numbers this week seem even better. Even the Cards' platoon options have it good, as four of the eight games should come against lefties (Richard, Jon Lester, Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano), which makes deeper-league plays like Mark Reynolds even more appealing.

7 GAMES

2. Atlanta (at MIL 3, at COL 4) – If you have to spend the whole week on the road as a hitter, there may be no better places to do it than Milwaukee and Colorado.

The Hitter Value Meter is a companion piece to the weekly Pitching Value Meter. 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 Hitter Value Meter will summarize all that info in one spot, for your roster juggling convenience.

For the week July 6-12

8 GAMES

1. St. Louis (at CHC 4, at PIT 4) – Tuesday's scheduled double-header gives the Cardinals that rarest and most precious of all slates, the eight-game week. Sure, all eight games are on the road, but you just can't beat that kind of volume. When you also consider that the Cubs had to trade for retread Clayton Richard just to fill that second start on Tuesday, the possibilities for big numbers this week seem even better. Even the Cards' platoon options have it good, as four of the eight games should come against lefties (Richard, Jon Lester, Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano), which makes deeper-league plays like Mark Reynolds even more appealing.

7 GAMES

2. Atlanta (at MIL 3, at COL 4) – If you have to spend the whole week on the road as a hitter, there may be no better places to do it than Milwaukee and Colorado. Both teams feature weak, patchwork rotations and have offense-friendly home parks, making it a great period to roll with your Braves. Jorge De La Rosa is the only lefty they're scheduled to face though, so this probably isn't the week to roll the dice with Chris Johnson or Ryan Lavarnway.

3. Chicago Cubs (vs. STL 4, vs. CHW 3) – It's grudge match week for the Cubs, who host the hated Cardinals for four games (including that Tuesday double-header) then welcome the White Sox for their annual inter-league rivalry. It's also going to be a very lefty-heavy slate, as St. Louis will likely go sinister on both ends of the double-header with Jaime Garcia and Tim Cooney, before the nearly all-southpaw South Siders head over with Carlos Rodon, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. In other words, it could be a good week to have shares in Chris Denorfia.

4. Minnesota (vs. BAL 3, vs. DET 4) – The Twins also get to stay home all week, so the fans will get a good long look at their new wunderkind, Miguel Sano. No pressure, kid. They get three lefties (Wei-Yin Chen, David Price and Kyle Ryan) and nobody particularly scary among the right-handers, so only Wrigley's warm-weather potential for homers keeps them out of the top three.

5. Cleveland (vs. HOU 4, vs. OAK 3) – Another all-home slate, and another chance at some big numbers. Dallas Keuchel's the only left-hander Cleveland welcomes this week, but the rest of the Astros starters are inconsistent, and they luckily get Sonny Gray coming back from salmonella poisoning, if he's even able to pitch at all.

6. Kansas City (vs. TB 4, vs. TOR 3) – Seven home games against a true mixed bag of starters. Chris Archer stands out as the tough matchup, but none of the three lefties they get (Matt Moore, Mark Buehrle and likely Felix Doubront) are dominant, they don't have to face Marco Estrada immediately after R.A. Dickey (who they miss entirely), and they get the struggling Alex Colome in what's probably his last start before he gets bumped for Jake Odorizzi (who they also miss). Dame Fortune seems like she's smiling on this slate.

7. LA Dodgers (vs. PHI 4, vs. MIL 3) – Dodgers Stadium (how awesomely quaint is it that they've never sold the naming rights?) isn't exactly a hitter's haven, but they still get seven home games against a couple of dreadful rotations. They duck Cole Hamels, but get what passes for the better part of the Brewers' rotation, not that that's particularly meaningful. Adam Morgan figures to be the only lefty they see this period.

8. Toronto (at CHW 4, at KC 3) – At this point we just have to assume that the Jays can rack up runs no matter where they play, so seven games on the road isn't the worst thing. Seriously, their 5.45 runs/game so far is about three-quarters of a run better than the second-place Yankees, and their team OPS is 19 points better than the second-place Dodgers. It's kind of ridiculous. As with any team facing the White Sox they get plenty of portsiders, and Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks are joined this period by the Royals' Danny Duffy. Did I mention that the Jays' team OPS is 98 points better against lefties, and their league-leading OPS against lefties is 99 (!) points better than second-place Detroit? Did I mention the ridiculousness of their offense right now?

6 GAMES

9. Colorado (vs. LAA 2, vs. ATL 4) – It had to happen sooner or later. Despite the fact that, since I started this column, I've tried to adhere to a rule that no six-game slate was worth more than a seven-gamer no matter the park factors or opposing pitchers, I just couldn't rate any of the other full weeks over the Rockies this time. There's just too much upside in having six games at Coors compared to the muddled schedules below. Colorado also gets three lefties (Andrew Heaney, Alex Wood and Manny Banuelos), plus Matt Shoemaker and his 1.71 HR/9 rate on the season, so their right-handed options like Wilin Rosario could be wielding some especially heavy lumber.

7 GAMES

10. Chicago White Sox (vs. TOR 4, at CHC 3) – US Cellular hasn't played like much of a hitter's park so far this year, so this ranking may be too high, but as the weather warms up I expect it to return to form. Plus, those park factors might be skewed by how bad the White Sox offense has been this season. Hey, it's not my fault if their hitters can't take advantage of good scheduling. Anyway, they get three lefties this week (Mark Buehrle, Felix Doubront and Jon Lester) and have no DH against the Cubs, so that's probably more bad news for Adam LaRoche than it is good news for any of their platoony bench bats.

11. Tampa Bay (at KC 4, vs. HOU 3) – Eh, could be worse. The Rays get the best that the opposition has to offer right now in Edinson Volquez and Dallas Keuchel, but also see Jeremy Guthrie and a Royals undecided on Thursday which, if it's not a returning Yordano Ventura, won't be anything special, so it balances out. Keuchel's the only left-hander on the slate.

12. Seattle (vs. DET 3, vs. LAA 4) – You can't discount the value of a solid homestand, even if it comes in a pitcher's park, and the M's manage to avoid seeing David Price as an added bonus. Four lefties come to town even without Price, as Kyle Ryan gets followed by the Angels trio of Hector Santiago, C.J. Wilson and Andrew Heaney, so if Mark Trumbo is ever going to break out this might be the time, and desperate deep league owners may want to take a chance on Franklin Gutierrez.

13. Pittsburgh (vs. SD 3, vs. STL 4) – See above, only with a much worse set of opposition starters. When Andrew Cashner is the weak link, you know runs could be at a bit of a premium, even in the friendly confines. Jaime Garcia is the only lefty on the slate, so it's probably not a good week to see what Melvin Upton Jr. has left in the tank.

14. Cincinnati (at WAS 3, at MIA 4) – NL East swings are becoming increasingly nasty with Jose Fernandez back, and the Reds get both him and Max Scherzer in their seven game road slate. The rest of the Marlins rotation is less imposing, however, so things brighten up for Cincinnati towards the end of the week. Gio Gonzalez figures to be the only lefty they'll face.

15. Detroit (at SEA 3, at MIN 4) – The Tigers lose Miguel Cabrera just as they head out for a road trip through tough territory, but it's not like there's a good time for a Hall of Fame bat still near his prime to go down. Taijuan Walker is pitching like an ace, Hisashi Iwakuma returns from the DL, Ervin Santana will be making his second start after returning from his suspension... if it weren't for Mike Pelfrey, there would be no soft spots at all here. J.A. Happ is the only lefty they have lined up.

16. Houston (at CLE 4, at TB 3) – The combination of Cleveland starters and Houston hitters could produce enough wind energy to power Progressive Field for the rest of the season, and things don't get much better in Tampa with Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore waiting for them. It's still seven games though, and when they're not striking out by the bushel, the Astros should stumble across the occasional run. Moore's the only lefty on the slate.

17. Philadelphia (at LAD 4, at SF 3) – This is like the opposite of the Rockies, where I was tempted to drop the Phillies below some other six-game periods because this could get pretty ugly for them, especially in the middle of the week when they have to run the Clayton Kershaw-Zack Greinke-Madison Bumgarner gauntlet, with Brett Anderson (no slouch himself) checking in as the third lefty they'll get. It's still seven games though, and there are enough non-aces like Carlos Frias and Ryan Vogelsong on the schedule to give them a fighting chance.

6 GAMES

18. San Francisco (vs. NYM 3, vs. PHI 3) – Six home games, against two crappy offenses? Sweet. The Giants also get the older end of the Mets' rotation, with both Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon lined up to start the week. Jacob deGrom is tough and Cole Hamels is tougher, but then after that it's pretty smooth sailing, unless Chad Billingsley turns back the clock to about 2008. Hamels and Niese make it a two-lefty period for San Fran.

19. Baltimore (at MIN 3, vs. WAS 3) – This was already one of the better six-game slates, but it looked a lot better when Stephen Strasburg came off the mound during his Saturday start with what, at first blush, appeared to be an oblique strain. The Nats' rotation isn't a pushover even if he gets replaced by rookie Joe Ross, but the O's get them at home, and nobody the Twins will send to the hill strikes fear in anybody's hearts. Tommy Milone is probably the only lefty they'll see.

20. Miami (at BOS 2, vs. CIN 4) – A little two-game interleague jaunt to Boston is a nice supplement to a four-game set against Cincinnati, although the generous duo of Rick Porcello and Wade Miley might get broken up by that mean old John Farrell. If Porcello does get skipped, it probably means Brian Johnson is getting called up, and facing two lefties with the DH available might give Jeff Baker some short-term value. The Reds' series will be a typical mixed bag of starters, but Johnny Cueto looms on Sunday.

21. Washington (vs. CIN 3, at BAL 3)Johnny Cueto also looms for the Nats at the beginning of the week, but the rest of the matchups are potentially juicy, as he's sandwiched between young enigmas Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen, and then the O's follow up with the equally head-scratch-inducing Chris Tillman. With Miguel Gonzalez having hit a rough patch, Wei-Yin Chen (the only lefty the Nats will see) is the only Baltimore starter who might give them trouble.

22. NY Yankees (vs. OAK 3, at BOS 3)Jesse Chavez might be wearing down as he did last season, but Jesse Hahn and Scott Kazmir are locked in right now, and the Yankees have to deal with the better arms in the Red Sox rotation in Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez. Taking advantage of Justin Masterson on Friday could be their best bet to rack up some numbers.

23. LA Angels (at COL 2, at SEA 4) – A little two-game set in Denver is nice, but following it up with four games in Safeco Field against a resurgent Mariners' rotation is a nasty comedown. The Angels also won't have the DH against the Rockies, so some hitters who could use the altitude boost like Matt Joyce might not get a chance to enjoy it. Chris Rusin and Mike Montgomery are the only two lefties they're set to face.

24. Milwaukee (vs. ATL 3, at LAD 3) – Sure, the average age of the Braves' starters in this series seems to be about 16, but they're not untalented. The Brewers also manage to squirm out of facing Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke, but the back of the Dodgers rotation is still pretty good. In other weeks this sked wouldn't look too bad, but this week it rates as one of the weaker options. Manny Banuelos and Brett Anderson fill the lefty quota.

25. Oakland (at NYY 3, at CLE 3) – A lot of big names with less-than-big performances are on tap for the A's this week, so while they could end up having a productive period, if pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka or Carlos Carrasco suddenly click, it could get bleak. CC Sabathia's the only lefty Oakland's set to face, so Josh Phegley might be better left on your bench.

26. NY Mets (at SF 3, vs. ARI 3) – The Mets get the squishy part of the Giants rotation, with rookie Chris Heston arguably being the most reliable of the three arms they'll trot out given how Matt Cain and Jake Peavy looked in their first starts back. Chase Anderson is also fading for the D-backs, and who knows how Patrick Corbin will fare, but Rubby De La Rosa has been en fuego lately and is a rough way to end the week.

27. San Diego (at PIT 3, at TEX 3) – No Gerrit Cole is always nice, but A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano are still pretty stingy. The Rangers also send out their best grizzled vets, including Yovani Gallardo and His Amazing Goose Egg Machine, so this is a tougher slate than it might appear at first glance. Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez make it a two-lefty period.

5 GAMES

28. Boston (vs. MIA 2, vs. NYY 3) – Well, all five of their games are at home and they don't have to face Jose Fernandez, so it's not the absolute worst schedule this week. There's still no reason to be giving away two or even three games if you can help it, though. It is an all-righty period, so if you have some tough decisions to make in a deep league, David Ortiz and Alejandro De Aza might be your less-awful options.

29. Texas (vs. ARI 2, vs. SD 3) – Like the Red Sox, the quality of the opposition starters isn't too bad, it would just be nice if there were more of them. Robbie Ray is the only lefty on the slate, and arguably the pitcher the Rangers should be the most worried about given how James Shields has been doing lately.

30. Arizona (at TEX 2, at NYM 3) – The schedule-makers giveth, and the schedule-makers taketh away. The Diamondbacks go from first to worst in the rankings, getting stuck with the only five-game road slate of the week. Three of their five games are even in Citi Field against the teeth of the Mets' young gun rotation, adding insult to injury. They do get the returning Matt Harrison as one of the two lefties they see (Steven Matz being the other) though, if you think that counts for something.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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