February 21, 2013
Getting the Platoon Advantage
There was a time, not too long ago, when my bench spots were all occupied by pitchers. The benefit to that was obvious—I could stick lower-end starting pitchers there to take advantage of quality matchups and stash relief pitchers that are good handcuffs to potentially shaky closers. However, with the popularization of deeper benches and daily transactions/lineup changes, my thinking on this has shifted slightly. There is now no shortage of leagues out there with benches that go five players deep or larger, and the changes in format haven’t led to a different way of thinking about how best to deploy a fantasy bench. Until now.
The exercises below show the benefits of using one of your bench spots specifically to platoon one of your final offensive players, using the 2012 season as the example. The guidelines of the exercises are simple. For each scenario, I took two players who were drafted outside the top 200 last pre-season and set a fixed schedule of when one would be in the lineup over the other—leaving no room for subjectivity. The only exceptions to this were when one of the players was not in the starting lineup (out) or one of the players was participating in a doubleheader (in). Then, I went back through the 2012 game logs to determine the actual statistics and value earned out of this “alternative arrangement.” But before we dive in, we have to set a baseline of value for the roster spots.
Let’s assume, for the purpose of this demonstration, that this owner would have gone with a more standard strategy of taking one full-time offensive player and one flier on a starting pitcher with his/her two final draft picks. Let’s also assume that we’re dealing with a 12-14 team mixed league with five bench spots. The 200th player drafted in a league this size yields a positive return on investment if he earns $4 over the course of the season. Let’s even say that the owner is particularly prescient and is able to squeeze $6 of value out of the starting pitcher by sitting him for a few harsh matchups; even this brings us to a $10 overall value for the two picks.
Now it’s time to see how the arrangements stack up. We’ll start first with a platoon based on home ballparks, and then move to one based on actual platoon splits.
Let’s dive into the arrangement with a lower level of difficulty: a platoon of advantageous home ballparks. There are a couple of parks to that exaggerate the statistics of the players that call them home. For this exercise, I chose one player who plays half of his games at Coors Field and one who plays half of his games at Chase Field. Dexter Fowler went into 2012 with a decent amount of buzz, but still saw his ADP sitting at 214 overall. Jason Kubel was generating similar sleeper hype, as he was going from a park that stifled left-handed power to one of the gentlest environments for it. Kubel’s ADP was just a few picks ahead of Fowler’s, at 210 overall.