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March 11, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Fantasy Platoon Options

by Bret Sayre


One of the first articles I wrote here at Baseball Prospectus was a detailed look at how platoon splits, when deployed tactically and objectively, can create a surplus of value by taking two roster spots and turning them into one “super position player.” And the great thing about this concept is that you can keep using it from year to year, just with different names. There are always going to be players with flaws available later in the draft, but there’s a competitive advantage to being able to use certainly players in a way that optimizes their strengths and negates their weaknesses. Here’s what the original experiment looked like:

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.

The conclusion we came to is that by creating an objective framework to work within at the start of the season, a fantasy owner could replicate the season of a high-end position player with two players freely available later on in drafts. And there were two main ways to accomplish this—either the ballpark split or the platoon split. So to follow up on last year’s post, I’m going to dive into the players who you can use this strategy with in 2014 for various sized leagues.

For ballpark splits, there’s really not a whole lot to do as far as player evaluation. These player splits tend to skew towards the team level, so when we’re looking for players to use here, they’re going to come from the places you’d expect. Hitters on the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Reds, and Yankees are likely to be more valuable at home, and some of the names that fall into that draft range are Corey Dickerson, Kelly Johnson, and Ryan Ludwick. Conversely, hitters on the Giants, Padres, Pirates, and Marlins may be more likely to find success on the road. Take potential sluggers like Michael Morse, Garrett Jones, and Andrew Lambo as examples.

However, for the platoon splits, all of this is very player-dependent. We’re looking at players who have at least a .750 OPS versus opposite-side pitching over the last three years combined, and who demonstrated at least that mark specifically in 2013. Additionally, these are all going to be players who have ADPs outside of the top 200 overall (including some who are available much later). And here are the best players to try to use this strategy with:

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13 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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boatman44

Love these stats Bret.

I have another who I have drafted as part of a super platoon in a couple of points leagues ,Justin Ruggiano (career vs Righties .249.308.393 vs Lefties .256.328.506 with an OPS of .834 ), So although the batting average is similar against both , he seems to hit lefties harder, which is handy to know in a points league.

Mar 11, 2014 04:58 AM
rating: 1
 
boatman44

By the way, using Michael Brantley or David Dejesus as the thick end of these super platoons $3 for the lot :)

Mar 11, 2014 05:13 AM
rating: 1
 
DABanales

He sure had a great second half in 2012 and a very disappointing 2013 losing a ton of playing time.

Mar 11, 2014 08:36 AM
rating: 0
 
Keith Cromer

Great information, Bret.

Another platoon guy to consider against LHP is Gaby Sanchez. He has tore up lefties the past three years, and has a career slash line of .300/.399/.496 vs LHP in 566 PA's.

Mar 11, 2014 06:25 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Absolutely. He was on the short list for inclusion in this exercise.

Mar 11, 2014 09:17 AM
 
woof755

Matt Adams
Andre Ethier
Brandon Moss

All righty crushers, not every day players

Mar 11, 2014 07:25 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Yea, but guys like Adams and Moss have far too high of a draft position to qualify here, and Ethier doesn't have a job--which makes the platooning far too cumbersome for most.

Mar 11, 2014 09:18 AM
 
DABanales

Any research been done with Month platoons? Somehow I remember Jeff Francouer always having unbelievable Aprils and Mays. Then sucking it up the rest of the way.

Mar 11, 2014 08:38 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I vaguely remember seeing some, but there's not much to it. There are some recent examples of players who have that rep (be it Mark Teixeira and Aramis Ramirez as players who are worse in April/May), but those are the extreme examples.

Mar 11, 2014 09:19 AM
 
boatman44

Hey Bret ,

How long do you leave a guy before you put a platoon tag on them ? As I have looked at Christian Yelich's splits for last year and he is so lopsided toward right handed pitchers for the season that he screams platoon, but it is a small sample size, would you platoon after one year's stats? Do you look at minor league numbers ? Or is it a wait and see for another year ? Thanks.

Mar 11, 2014 13:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

So I have Matt Joyce in a dynasty league (14 team, standard 5x5 roto), who mostly sits against lefties. Is he good enough against righties to be worth using in this strategy, and who am I best using as the other half player, given that I want to have someone out there every day, and I want to maximise the amount of time I have the advantage?

Mar 12, 2014 04:20 AM
rating: 0
 
RHParn

I really like Matt Joyce as a platoon. Go check out his splits. He mashes righties and should be out there 2/3 of the time.

Mar 13, 2014 08:58 AM
rating: 0
 
RHParn

This is great. I have been looking for an article like this. Thanks!

Mar 13, 2014 08:57 AM
rating: 0
 
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Fantasy Article Five to Watch: Nationa... (03/11)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Adj... (03/10)
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