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July 16, 2012 5:00 am

Resident Fantasy Genius: To Platoon or Not to Platoon?

3

Derek Carty

Derek lists the factors you need to consider before deciding to platoon two players on your fantasy team.

On Thursday, reader “jimcal” asked me in the comments section of my article to give my thoughts on platooning players in fantasy baseball. While platooning is a bit of a complicated subject, I’ll do my best to tackle it all in one article today. When considering platooning, there are two main concepts that the discussion can be distilled down to: sample size and opportunity cost.

What most people don’t realize is that very few players truly need to be platooned. We tend to look at a player’s performance versus same-handed pitching either for the current year or even over a three-year period when making such decisions, but this isn’t nearly enough data to make a reasonable guess as to whether the player is best used in a platoon (absent scouting data that supports his performance, which makes this a more complicated decision).

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March 7, 2011 9:00 am

Fantasy Beat: Value Picks at First, Third, and DH

11

Michael Street

A look at two potential platoon situations in Cleveland and Oakland, and the likely fate of a promising prospect.

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Catching tandems and managerial tactics run up against limited rosters and slim pickings.

I've been arguing for a few years now that a kind of tactical stasis has become the rule of the day on offense, in part because of the foreshortened rosters teams stick themselves with as a result of the 12-man pitching staff. One consequence has been the decline or increasing rarity of stable platoons. It's fairly hard to build all that many platoons in the first place, with rosters limited to three non-catcher reserves on most American League teams, and four in the National.

That's not to say there isn't plenty of pursuit of platoon advantages among contemporary major-league skippers. You can still have the floating platoon guy, the player who might be the adaptable righty-batting tweener or just an outright thumper. The Rockies' Ryan Spilborghs didn't platoon in right or left — instead he platooned in both, splitting time with Brad Hawpe and Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez, and making two-thirds of his 78 starts against lefties. Marcus Thames platooned for the Yankees, making 44 of 57 starts against lefties, but he wasn't paired up with any one player, as his lineup assignments drifted between DH and the corners.

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October 14, 2010 8:00 am

Playoff Prospectus: ALCS Preview: Rangers vs. Yankees

17

Jay Jaffe

The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.

From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.

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July 3, 2009 11:01 am

Checking the Numbers: Contextual Platooning

18

Eric Seidman

Making a choice to platoon or not to platoon cannot simply rely on one number in isolation.

Nothing grinds my gears within the realm of sabermetrics as much as the avoidance or misuse of context. For whatever reason, something simple like using the appropriate frames of reference has become the type of analytical tool that makes sense to implement only when it furthers a predetermined point. In fact, if nothing else is taken away from this article, heed the following warning: never trust any conclusions drawn from performance splits if the league average of that split is absent from the same analysis. If the goal involves evaluating pitcher performance with the bases empty vs. with ducks on the pond, the results of each individual must be compared to the aggregate league split before anything of interest can be parsed. The same can be said for gleaning useful information from platoon splits, which happens to be our topic du jour. Platoon splits are certainly existent, but before suggesting that certain players should split duty at a position, we need to understand what the data really explains and the appropriate context in addition to potential shortcomings for which to look out.

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April 27, 2006 12:00 am

Schrodinger's Bat: Of Crowds and Splits

0

Dan Fox

Dan responds to readers' thoughts on the subject of platoon splits.

In the fall of 1906 Francis Galton (1822-1911), the British polymath and half-cousin of Charles Darwin, decided to attend a country fair near his home. Galton was a man of many and varied talents--he invented the weather map, a method for classifying fingerprints, and even the silent dog whistle--but among them was a statistical bent, and he had used his skills to try and understand human differences and heredity.

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April 13, 2006 12:00 am

Schrodinger's Bat: The Irreducible Essence of Platoon Splits

0

Dan Fox

Dan takes a closer look at platoon splits, responding to some questions about why splits aren't taken more seriously in sabermetric circles.

That quote is from one of my favorite authors (himself a big baseball fan), and was appropriately used by Nate Silver when he introduced the PECOTA system in the 2003 Baseball Prospectus. The concepts embodied in the quote have been on my mind the past couple of weeks, ever since I mentioned Wily Mo Pena's platoon split in my inaugural column and received a healthy dose of reader feedback.

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June 30, 2005 12:00 am

Crooked Numbers: Left Wing Conspiracy

0

James Click

Why is it that so many of the greatest hitters of all time bat from the left side of the plate? Is there more than just their platoon advantage? James takes a swing at an answer.

Towards the end of last season, I was digging up some data involving platoon splits and noticed that back in the 1980s and early 1990s, the number of lefty-lefty matchups was a lot higher than it is now. That led to an article showing that left-handed pitchers are pitching a significantly smaller percentage of the available innings (or PAs) than they were just 10 to 15 years ago. In 1991 nearly 34 percent of PAs were against LHPs; in 2002, it was under 24 percent.

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Jonah Keri takes a closer look at roster construction, in search of a better way. Bobby Cox, Earl Weaver, Casey Stengel and George Stallings lend a hand.

Rarely does a game go by in which I don't see a player thrust into a situation in which he's overwhelmingly likely to fail. We're told that the talent pool is shallower than it used to be, that players don't have the same breadth of skills they used to have. Some say that for every strong major league player, there are three more on the roster who barely belong there, and there's not a thing we can do about it.

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May 27, 2004 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Southpaw Stories, Part I

0

Nate Silver

Two months ago, the Oakland Athletics signed Eric Chavez to a six-year, $66 million contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2010. Despite some head-scratching from the public, there are good reasons behind why Billy Beane campaigned to do for Chavez what he hadn't done for former MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada. Unlike Tejada, Chavez is a player whose skills, like his fine defense and his ever-improving plate discipline, are likely to be undervalued by the market. On top of which, Chavez has continued to demonstrate growth season after season, and PECOTA thinks that he's a very safe bet going forward. It is no secret, however, that Chavez has a tragic flaw: he can't hit left-handed pitching. From 2001-2003, Chavez managed a stellar line of .306/.375/.579 against right-handers, but a Mathenian .229/.278/.395 against southpaws. The A's, recognizing his defensive value and perhaps hoping that repetition would breed improvement, continued to start him anyway, in spite of a rotating array of viable platoon alternatives. This year, indeed, has brought about a turnaround--Chavez is crushing lefties so far on the season (.288/.373/.561), while performing well below his career averages against righties (.214/.358/.398). Whether there's any rationale for the change other than sample size, I'm not certain (I don't get to see the West Coast teams play as often as I'd like to). What is clear, however, is that if such a change becomes permanent--if Chavez learns how to hit left-handed pitching at the age of 26--it would be a relatively unprecedented development. In most cases, a platoon split for a left-handed hitter is something like a finger print or a dental record: it remains a readily identifiable and more or less unchanging part of his profile throughout the different stages of his playing life. A left-handed hitter with a big platoon split early in his career is, in all likelihood, going to have a big platoon split later in his career.

It is no secret, however, that Chavez has a tragic flaw: he can't hit left-handed pitching. From 2001-2003, Chavez managed a stellar line of .306/.375/.579 against right-handers, but a Mathenian .229/.278/.395 against southpaws. The A's, recognizing his defensive value and perhaps hoping that repetition would breed improvement, continued to start him anyway, in spite of a rotating array of viable platoon alternatives.

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March 15, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: More Job Battles

0

Joe Sheehan

The Cards' decision to make Albert Pujols the everyday first baseman opened a hole in left field, and no matter who stands out there on April 5, it's going to be hard to argue that it's been filled. None of the candidates for the platoon--and it will almost certainly be a platoon--has anything resembling a track record of success. Kerry Robinson and So Taguchi are fifth outfielders who bring defense and some speed and little else. Mark Quinn and Ray Lankford combined for 76 major-league at-bats in 2003. Emil Brown hasn't played in the majors since 2001, but he's 8-for-14 with two homers so far, so he's in the mix. I don't think there's an acceptable solution here.

Cardinals' second-base and left-field jobs

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February 11, 2004 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: January 12-February 6, 2004

0

Christina Kahrl

The Braves strike NRI gold with Russell Branyan. The Astros do what they need to do to compete in the NL Central. Everything you ever wanted to read about Eric Karros. The Padres address their chasm in center. These and other news, notes, and Kahrlisms in today's Transaction Analysis.

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