Identifying the best late-round options for mixing and matching in your fantasy lineup.
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.
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The newly-recalled Mike Carp and the newly-liberated Nate Schierholtz join VP this week.
Departures Carlos Gomez(Yahoo! 28%, ESPN 49%, CBS 22%), along with, interestingly enough, Drew Stubbs, set the pace for the other VP hitters to follow this week. Gomez kept cranking out the production with six runs, a homer, and three steals—all while playing center every day for the Brew Crew. That uptick in playing time is key to his value and makes him rosterable in all leagues, which fantasy baseballers have started to notice.
Pinpointing the positions with the worst projections on this season's likely contending clubs.
Every year, several teams finish out of the playoffs by a handful of games, close enough to taste October but just as ineligible for post-season play as the lowliest of last-place finishers. Last season, the Red Sox and Braves were both eliminated on the season’s final day after watching what had seemed to be safe leads evaporate. Since a one-game swing for either team would have meant a much different outcome, it was tempting to look back and wonder where in the lineup they could have eked out an extra victory.
As Jay Jaffenoted in January, right field proved to be a particular weak point for both teams. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward slumped to a .254 True Average (TAv) in an injury-plagued sophomore season, and his replacements—primarily Eric Hinske, Joe Mather, and Jose Constanza—hit only .252/.294/.346 in his absence. In Boston, J.D. Drew added a 60-day DL stint for a left shoulder impingement to his lengthy injury history and hit just .222/.315/.302 when active. His replacements—mainly Josh Reddick, Darnell McDonald, and Mike Cameron—made Heyward’s look good, mustering only a .234/.282/.377 line. As a result, Braves right fielders accumulated 0.6 WARP, and Red Sox right fielders checked in at 1.3 WARP. It’s reasonable to wonder whether both teams would have made the playoffs with even average (roughly 2.0 WARP) production in right.
The tater trots for May 22: a perfect game in Cleveland while Juan Rivera and Curtis Granderson strive for their own forms of perfection.
The first weekend of interleague play is now concluded, and what have we learned? Players can hit balls just as hard off opposing league pitchers as they can off their own league's pitchers. It's pretty amazing, really. I can't way for when interleague arrives in June for real (for five series in a row instead of just one) so we can learn the same lesson again.
The tater trots for April 18: Schierholtz and Burrell make the Giants 1st inning fun, while Heisey and Zobrist race to the finish.
For those of us in the Great Lakes area who have somehow been transported back into the middle of January, we take solace in knowing that baseball is being played around the country. It may be cold and ice-pellety outside, but at least home runs are being blasted out of parks from Los Angeles to Miami.
It's a series that will feature superb pitching staffs, and one team will come away with a long-awaited title.
In baseball as in literature, archetypes tend to be formulaic, proof that fiction falls short of reality when it comes to the power to describe any one thing in shorthand. The need, indeed one of the great benefits of the human mind is to identify patterns, and to peg things that fall within those patterns, or to re-evaluate the pattern as a whole to create some new rubric, some new way of explaining things. Take our current post-season slate: instead of a much-anticipated rematch between the Evil Empire and the Phillies' a-bornin' senior-circuit dynasty, last week we got the pleasure of witnessing imperial ambitions utterly overthrown in both leagues.
A series that will feature spectacular pitching may come down to the tiniest advantages to decide the winner.
So, let's see, for an initial checklist for maximum LCS entertainment potential, is there anything missing? Record-wise, the two best teams in National League? Check, even if we allow for the fact that the Giants weren't one of the top two teams in Clay Davenport's adjusted standings. The two best rotations in baseball? Check. Heck, it even features two of the three best defensive units in the league (via PADE), with only the already-vanquished Reds separating the Giants and Phillies. And the offenses are... well, OK, this whole clash of the titans thing only goes so far, because they're not both among the best in the league. The Phillies are, tying for third in the league in team-level True Average, but the Giants finished back in ninth place, even with Brian Sabean's ticky-tack trades to accrue incremental improvements.