Let's get straight to the splits.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF ($4400)
vs. RHP: .296/.350/.447 with 218-of-253 SB in 2775 PA
The 32-homer power of 2011 was clearly a fluke, but Ellsbury is coming off of a 2014 campaign that had the second-highest ISO (.148) of his career in addition to 16 homers. The pop sure hasn't transferred to 2015, with one bomb and an .048 ISO that would qualify as a career-low, but nobody is complaining when a leadoff hitter is posting a robust slash of .327/.411/.374 in the team's first 39 games of the season. The over-the-fence power is unlikely to re-emerge today, given a career-long power drain against left-handers and the homer-reducing skills of his opponent on the hill, Washington's Gio Gonzalez. Interestingly, Ellsbury's career platoon splits are very similar to those of Michael Brantley (also covered in yesterday's piece), though they have career arcs that are quite different.
Join Doug in playing Baseball Prospectus Private League on Draft Kings – click here for lobby.
Details ($3 Entry):
Matt Holliday, OF ($4100)
vs. LHP: .302/.407/.504 in 1664 PA
vs. RHP: .310/.380/.527 in 5273 PA
One thing stands out about Holliday's platoon splits: he hits everyone. The fact that he is facing lefty Jon Niese does little to adjust Holliday's value, but his line underscores a key component of Holliday's value. His time spent in Colorado might be jading some of the career numbers, but his skills have translated exceptionally well to sea level: since coming to St. Louis at the 2009 trade deadline, Holliday has hit .301/.388/.503 in 3575 plate appearances for the Cardinals covering his age 29-through-35 seasons, and he's hit 20 or more homers in every season since 2006.
Holliday vs. pitch types (AVG/SLG)
Hard: .313/.507 in 2614 AB
Breaking: .279/.497 in 1103 AB
Off-speed: .294/.556 in 446 AB
The guy just hits – everything, everyone – throughout his career. The opposing pitcher's handedness doesn't matter, nor does the pitch type. The above ratios even hold when further parsing the stuff: the lowest slugging percentage that Holliday has against any pitch type with more than 20 at bats (of which there are seven) is his .469 slug against the cutter in 275 career at bats that ended on the pitch. What Niese throws is only semi-relevant, but just for kicks he has increased the use of his change-up from a 6.4 percent career rate to this season's 13.3 percent frequency (16 percent to right-handed batters).
Billy Butler, 1B ($3800)
vs. LHP: .313/.393/.518 in 1327 PA
vs. RHP: .287/.345/.422 in 3647 PA
The A's reached into their shallow pockets for 10 million shekels per year through 2017 to secure Butler's services, and though he was coming off of a horrific season of .271/.323/.379 performance at the plate, it seemed reasonable that the 29-year-old's bat would resurface and settle close to career norms. Instead, Country Breakfast has essentially repeated the ineptitude of last season, slashing.274/.317/.401 in 2015, and the last time that he slugged higher than .412 was back in 2012.
Butler platoon, 2014-15
vs. LHP: .313/.386/.464 in 189 PA
vs. RHP: .257/.300/.356 in 577 PA
Butler has beat up on southpaws throughout his career and that characteristic has not changed, but the issue with hitting right-handers has been much more glaring in the past two seasons. Butler was signed to he a source of OBP and gap power in the middle of the Oakland lineup for the next three years (or until they deal him), but if this type of performance continues then he'll be relegated to the short-side of a platoon at the DH position, making him an expensive luxury for a team that otherwise emphasizes depth and flexibility with the active roster.
Gio Gonzalez, WAS vs. NYY ($9000)
Gio has been the picture of consistency for much of his career, consistently demonstrating an ability to keep the baseball away from batter strengths, with a willingness to give away a walk rather than give the batter an easy pitch to hit. For the past five seasons, the result was a hit rate that was below 7.9 hits-per-nine, a K per inning, and a few more walks than the league-average player but an ERA that put him comfortably on the healthy side of the margin. He has also demonstrated an ability to keep the ball in the park, and though his current pace of one homer given up through 42.3 innings is unsustainable, his ability to take some distance off of the big fly will play well against a Yankee ballclub whose 46 homers are the third-highest total in the American League.
Aaron Harang, PHI at COL ($6200)
The 14-year veteran is having a career season, with a current ERA of 2.03 that ranks sixth in the National League and dwarfs the next-best mark of his career (last season's 3.57 ERA). Harang has ridden one of the game's simplest deliveries to survive the gauntlet of balls in play, shutting down opponents thanks to a 4.8-percent walk rate and despite a modest K rate of 17.9 percent. That approach is doomed in Colorado, where the spacious dimensions and thin air create a pinball effect that can light up a pitcher's stat line in a hurry. Teammate Cole Hamels was able to defeat the elements in yesterday's game in Denver, but rain might be the only thing that keeps Harang from getting doused by the Rockies today.
Taijuan Walker, SEA at BAL ($5900)
First, he gave up nine runs in his inaugural start of the 2015 season. In his next turn, Walker surrendered five more tallies. He then recovered for back-to-back starts with a total of two runs (one earned) and 13 strikeouts over a dozen innings, only to kick off May with an eight-run disaster that slapped those DFS managers who put faith in the lad. Walker's last two turns have been more tame, with hints of the skills that inflated the hype balloon during the preseason, but one can understand the trepidation to put him on a roster. The decision is sealed by the fact that he's facing a hard-hitting Baltimore club in the hitter-friendly confines of Camden Yards. It's not a day with many high-priced arms but the key to success will likely be found in the middle tiers as opposed to dumpster-diving, as players like Walker are more likely to end your day early than anchor a profitable roster.
Brandon Belt, 1B ($4500)
The lefty started slowly out of the gate due to a groin injury, and his bat took six weeks before it came around. He was hitting 276/.355/.378 entering play on May 15, and over the next three games he would collect nine hits (three in each game), three home runs (one in each game), seven RBI and eight runs scored. By the time that he closed shop on Sunday, Belt's line stood at .321/.392/.509, a testament to how a great set of games can alter a slash-line in mid-May and the extent to which this was a tremendous weekend of baseballing by Brandon Belt.
Belt's epic weekend against Cincinnati was not a case of exploiting a specific weakness; he just hit everything that was thrown his way. He had multiple hits against fastballs, breaking balls, and off-speed pitches. His three homers were hit off of a sinker, a changeup, and a curveball. He avoided Reds' staff ace Johnny Cueto and was afforded the opportunity to face meatball specialist Jason Marquis, but Belt also wreaked havoc on intriguing prospect Anthony DeSclafani and a Red-hot Mike Leake.
Plantar fasciitis continues to keep Corey Dickerson (foot, $5000) out of the starting lineup for Colorado
Kris Bryant (illness, $4200) left Sunday's game but is expected back for today's tilt in San Diego
Carlos Santana (back, $4200) was scratched from yesterday's game due to back spasms and is considered day-to-day
Victor Martinez (knee, $3900) has been dealing with issuesin his surgically-repaired left knee, and the Tigers are considering a DL move for the veteran
Devon Travis (shoulder, $3500) has missed the last two ballgames and is day-to-day heading into today's interleague battle with the Reds
There are heavy rains and thunderstorms expected this afternoon in Denver, and DFS players will be hoping that Mother Nature provides a little help for the PHI-COL game – check here for updates
Boston will be dealing with some rain around lunch time, but things are currently on tap to be cleared in time for the TEX-BOS game – check here for updates
Resources used for this article:
Draft Kings player prices