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May 26, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Playing The Platoon

by Craig Brown

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One of the things I love about Scoresheet is the ability to play platoon splits to set your optimal lineup.  I find myself visiting my team on a daily basis, revisiting my lineups to get the most value out of my team.  

What follows is a look at three players whose roles should be adjusted in Scoresheet leagues based on their extreme platoon splits in the first quarter of the season.  In an effort to uncover some potential hidden gems, I searched for players with greater than normal splits.

Keep in mind, this info isn’t exclusively for Scoresheet players.  Teams with daily transactions can benefit from playing these splits as well.  Just don’t forget to reset your lineups to gain the full platoon advantage!

Orlando Cabrera
Career Splits
vs LHP - .283/.347/.399
vs RHP - .272/.313/.397

3 Year Splits (2008-2010)
vs LHP - .290/.359/.395
vs RHP - .279/.310/.373

2010 Splits
vs LHP - .435/.509/.522
vs RHP - .222/.243/.325


As you can see, the right-handed hitting Cabrera has performed better against the lefties.  However, this year he’s taken his splits to a whole other level.  His OBP against left-handed pitching currently ranks him second (Kevin Youkilis has a .588 OBP in 50 plate appearances against LHP) in baseball.  Cabrera is simply better at making contact against southpaws as he's twice as likely to strike out against right-handers.  He’s whiffed in 12.5% of all plate appearances against RHP compared to 5.6% of the time against LHP.

Since May 7, he’s been the Reds primary leadoff hitter, no matter the handedness of the starting pitcher.  Even though he’s hit .310/.355/.380 since moving to the top of the order, he’s still maintaining his extreme splits.  He’s hit .474/.524/.526 against LHP as the primary leadoff man, while batting just .250/.291/.327 against RHP.  

Don’t manage like Dusty.  Definitely lead him off against the left-handers where his OBP will drive your team in Scoresheet and either bench him or hit him at the bottom of the order against the right-handers.

Ichiro Suzuki
Career Splits
vs LHP - .342/.382/.441
vs RHP - .330/.376/.431

3 Year Splits (2008-2010)
vs LHP - .308/.347/.389
vs RHP - .344/.388/.441

2010 Splits
vs LHP - .262/.297/.295
vs RHP - .384/.430/.488


Up until 2007, the left-handed hitting Ichiro was actually better against left-handed pitching.  Much better.  Since then… Not so much.  Usually though, the differences between his OBP depending on the handedness of the pitcher hasn’t been that great.  We’re talking a 20 point difference or so… Not enough to merit notice.  This year is the first time in his career he’s really struggled against southpaws.  

Ichiro has always had an awesome BABIP, and with an overall .380 BABIP so far in 2010, this year is no exception.  However, he owns a .297 BABIP against left-handers which suggests that maybe he's becoming a bit of a mortal at the plate.  Only against lefties, mind you.  He’s still hitting more than his share of grounders, but his line drive rate against LHP has dipped to 13% compared to a line drive rate of 19% against RHP which is another uncommon disparity for Ichiro.  For his career he owns a 20% line drive rate against lefties compared to 21% against right-handers.

Ichiro obviously belongs in all Scoresheet lineups, but you should hit him in the lower third while you see if he can get a few more hits to fall against left-handers.

Chase Headley
Career Splits
vs LHP - .247/.302/.360
vs RHP - .276/.355/.413

3 Year Splits (2008-2010)
vs LHP - .249/.304/.363
vs RHP - .276/.354/.415

2010 Splits
vs LHP - .204/.254/.204
vs RHP - .322/.368/.455


Why do hitters insist on switch hitting when they have a clear advantage from one side of the plate?  The 50 point spread in both OBP and slugging is a lot to overcome.  It’s plausible he would do just as well, maybe even better, when eschewing the platoon advantage and hitting from his stronger (left) side.

At any rate, Headley is having absolute fits against southpaws this season.  His .254 OBP against lefties is the third worst in baseball,  only ahead of the disabled Grady Sizemore (.204 OBP vs LHP) and Adam Lind (.176 OBP vs LHP).  Headley’s problem is he’s much more likely to hit a ball on the ground as a right-handed batter.  His GB rate is 54% against lefties compared to 38% against pitchers who deal from the right side.

Headley, as you would expect, also hits for less power from the right side. Last year his ISO was .140 against RHP, and .111 against LHP.  This year, he owns a .129 ISO against RHP, but has just 11 hits - all for singles - against lefties which gives him the triple bagel ISO of .000.

If you have the roster flexibility, Headley should be completely removed from your Scoresheet lineup and benched in daily roto leagues against left-handed pitching.

Craig Brown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

Related Content:  Platoon Splits,  Left-handers,  Southpaws

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