July 22, 2015
Immune to the Platoon
Target: RHB's Brian Dozier 2B ($4600, +159 OPS and +.071 ISO vs. LHP), Torii Hunter OF ($3600, +52 OPS and +.013 ISO vs. LHP), and Trevor Plouffe 3B ($3800, +103 OPS and +.022 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP C.J. Wilson ($8500, +145 OPS and +.043 ISO vs. RHB)
Dozier has really come into his own this season, and though the key to his breakout has been the ability to handle right-handed pitchers more effectively, his utter domination of southpaws has allowed him to ascend to the highest echelon of batsmen when he has the platoon advantage. Hunter has had some monster games this season, and the $3600 price tag is a bargain whether or not he has the platoon advantage (which he does). Plouffe is having a career year, with a .455 slug that matches his offensive spike of 2012 mixed with a handful of extra hits that have raised the boundaries of his OPS. Plouffe's last 21 games have been especially productive, with a .308/.365/.526 line that includes 10 extra-base hits and a pair of steals.
Target: RHB's Steven Souza OF ($4000, +358 OPS and +.158 ISO vs. LHP), Evan Longoria 3B ($3500, career +110 OPS and +.041 ISO vs. LHP), Logan Forsythe ($3400. +162 OPS and +.090 ISO vs. LHP), and Joey Butler 1B/OF ($3400, +27 OPS and +.048 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Adam Morgan ($4000, +233 OPS and +.260 ISO vs. RHB)
Souza came back from the DL yesterday but had been on a rough ride prior to the injury, with just two hits in 33 plate appearances leading up to the DL stint. His extreme platoon splits are undeniable, and he's a sneaky play for those that have not yet soured on Souza's skill set. Longoria has just two hits and two walks in his last 30 plate appearances, further dampening the ratios of a career-worst season, but even during the 2015 collapse he has managed an 899 OPS in 80 plate appearances against southpaws; the price is as low as it gets for the former 30-homer threat. Butler's playing time has been chopped in light of a recent slump, but his spot on the roster is dubious if he doesn't get play versus southpaws so he should be in the lineup today (and perhaps batting high in the order) against lefty Adam Morgan. It's a bit odd that all of these Tampa hitters cost the same amount ($3400), but that cost falls below the positional average even if playing an All Day tourney and rostering the two most expensive pitchers of the day (Sonny Gray and Noah Syndergaard for a combined $21100). Morgan's sample is much too small to read anything into those splits, but suffice to say that he doesn't appear to be immune to the platoon.
Temper: RHB's Jhonny Peralta SS ($4300, +47 OPS and +.022 ISO in career vs. LHP), Matt Holliday OF ($3900, +3 OPS and -.015 ISO vs. LHP), and Randal Grichuk OF ($4200, -60 OPS and -.033 ISO vs. LHP) facing LHP John Danks ($5600, +18 OPS and +.027 ISO vs. RHB)
Speaking of immune to the platoon, part of the reason why St. Louis typically struggles against southpaws is that their big right-handed bats are equal-opportunity mashers rather than lefty specialists. I'm not suggesting that anyone abandon the Cardinals offense against a pinball cushion like John Danks (hence the “Temper” label), particularly with each of these players falling in a price range that's right within the sweet spot of $3500-$4500 on Draft Kings. but it's worth noting that St. Louis' right-handed bats haven't followed the typical platoon trend.
Lynn has been tough on opposing baserunners from the start, with thieves going just 21-of-41 (51.2 percent) in his five-year career, though super-backstop Yadier Molina certainly receives some of the credit for keeping those runners at bay. The White Sox have been horrendous in that department this season, successful on just 28 of their 54 attempts for the campaign, and odds are against their improving those marks tonight against Lynn and the Cardinals. Not that anyone was rushing out to secure Ramirez's services, but Lynn likely eliminates whatever incentive may have existed to roster the White Sox shortstop.
Target: Matt Kemp OF ($4000) facing RHP Matt Cain ($7900)
Kemp has largely been a disappointment for the Padres this season, but while the rest of their off-season acquisitions have gone cold at the plate Kemp has exploded. He had an eight-game hitting streak that was snapped in yesterday's game, with four jacks among eight extra-base hits and a .452/.514/.968 line during the stretch. His price tag is modest considering the hot streak, and today Kemp faces a pitcher that he has opposed more times than any other active arm, with 63 plate appearances of a power-infused .237/.286/.534 line in head-to-head play, but with 15 strikeouts against four walks. I'm reticent to start Kemp against a right-hander, but the combination of head-to-head results and recency bias conspire to turn up the intrigue.
The power has been missing from the Panda's bat for three weeks now, with just a pair of doubles and two walks to show for his last 70 plate appearances, stumbling to a .221/.243/.250 slash since June 29th. Sandoval's salary has been severely discounted to reflect his struggles over the past month and change, so he needs just an RBI single to justify his cost against the salary cap, but his recent performance suggests that even that modest request might be too much to ask.
The A's picked up Smolinski via waivers on June 21st, figuring that he could be a platoon bat that specialized in tagging left-handers. The green n' gold happens to be in the middle of a southpaw string that will likely net Smolinski his third consecutive start tonight, and after two very successful games batting out of the five-hole one would expect him to bat that early in the order for today's game.. The first few starts went well enough, including a two-homer outburst on Sunday and an RBI triple in yesterday's game,, so his salary will likely ride the escalator to a higher floor in the very near future. He doesn't need to have a monster day to justify the barrel-scraping salary and he'll likely get a chance for an encore against the lefty Doubront. Of course, Smolinski also had a 470 OPS in spotty playing time with the Rangers before earning his release, so this flash in the pan might already be exhausted.
Sometimes the salary generator at Draft Kings spits out a value that shoots the moon, and today it's the exceedingly high price of Jonathan Schoop. Don't get me wrong, Schoop is on a nice little run with a combined 61 fantasy points over a five-day stretch, but he was also available for just $3200 as recently as July 17th. The short-sample slugging percentage of .619 is certainly fueling some computerized optimism, but the skeptic in me can't help but focus on last season's sub-600 OPS through 481 plate appearances in preference to his 66-PA sample from 2015.
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