Last week, we examined the most prominent platoon splits among baseball's backstops, and this week we turn our attention to the cold corner and focus our microscopes on first basemen.

The catcher position was dominated by right-handed-hitting players, which makes sense for a position that emphasizes defense and which is populated exclusively by right-handed throwers, but the profile of the first-base position is just the opposite. We have identified 37 players that will likely qualify at first base this season and who have faced pitchers of either side of the rubber at least 250 times apiece, and 19 of those players are left-handed batters, 12 bat right-handed, and six are switch-hitters. The tendency to lean to the left is likely due to the higher frequency of left-handed throwers at first base in addition to the offensive demands of the position, as defense takes a backseat and these bat-first players are more likely to have adopted hitting left-handed in order to maximize their offensive value.

Before we get started, I wanted to drop a couple of reminders about platoon splits. First of all, they can be full of statistical noise, and the small-sample data can zig-zag over the course of a couple of seasons. Anything can happen on a day-to-day basis, but since the goal of a DFS rounder is to stack the odds in his/her favor, we will emphasize players with longer performance histories (and thus larger samples of plate appearances). Of course, this strategy of emphasizing career splits can also have its flaws, particularly with veterans who have long careers but a different skillset today than they had when most of the numbers were generated.

As a quick refresher, here are the league-wide platoon splits for 2015:




















The trend of first basemen follows those of the league at large, with far more disparity among the platoon splits for left-handed batters than with their right-handed brethren.

Following the same course as we took last week, let's start with the top slugging batters against left-handed pitchers over the course of their careers.

Power vs. LHP, First Base (min. 250 PA)



A. Pujols



P. Goldschmidt



M. Cabrera



M. Napoli



M. Teixeira



H. Ramirez



R. Zimmerman



M. Trumbo



J. Votto



J. Abreu



Albert Pujols tops the list of players whose skills have eroded from the numbers seen on the table, as he hasn't slugged over .500 against pitchers from either side since 2012. His power actually showed a reverse-split last season, and his placement atop the list of southpaw-mashers is purely a function of his dominance earlier in Pujols' career. Paul Goldschmidt suffers from no such fate, coming off his best season in terms of batting average and slugging, and tying his career-best in ISO last season with a .249 mark. Goldy also crushed lefties last season, with a .620 SLG and .256 ISO, so it is worth the steep price to fit Goldschmidt onto your roster when he's facing a lefty.

The same goes for Miguel Cabrera, whose .562 slugging percentage against southpaws is identical to his career mark against right-handers. He does walk more often when he has the platoon advantage, but otherwise Cabrera is the same destructive force no matter who is on the mound (the guy even crushes some of the top arms). He's always worth the price of admission.

Mike Napoli went to Cleveland over the off-season, a club that leans heavily on platoon splits and is likely to optimize his usage by maximizing exposure to lefties. His career slugging percentage is well shy of the figure posted by the three men ahead of Napoli on the list, but he will come at a cheaper price and is worth rostering whenever a lefty is on the mound. Mark Teixeira is the only switch-hitter on the list, but his inclusion comes via all-around dominance rather than a specific taste for southpaws—his slugging percentage against right-handers (while batting left) is .517 for his career.

I took some liberties by listing Hanley Ramirez under the assumption that he moves to first base in 2016, and given how his shoulder woes last season sapped his power, Hanley might just be a bargain in DFS to start the season, with many managers fading his services due to the loss of shortstop eligibility. Zimmerman and Trumbo are not the power hitters that they once were, but they both continued to rake left-handers last season—Trumbo slugged .526 against left-handers in 2015 while Zimmerman demolished them to the tune of a .681 SLG in 101 plate appearances.

Joey Votto is the only left-handed hitter on the list, as his all-around skills are immune to platoons and he hits for a better than .500 slugging percentage against pitchers of both persuasions. The same can be said for Jose Abreu, and like Votto, Abreu has hit better against right-handed pitching thus far in his career; the difference is that Abreu has done so despite hitting right-handed, as well.

Power vs. RHP, First Base (min. 250 PA)



D. Ortiz



A. Pujols



R. Howard



M. Cabrera



P. Fielder



J. Abreu



J. Votto



C. Davis



A. Gonzalez



We have already discussed the cases of Pujols, Cabrera, Votto, and Abreu, four hitters who will cost a pretty penny when constructing a DFS lineup but can mash regardless of the pitcher's handedness. Abreu's reverse split is interesting, as is Cabrera's non-split, so the typical rules governing platoons should be scrapped with those two players.

Big Papi just keeps on mashing despite his being well past the age where we expect 30-plus home runs (which he's done in each of the last three seasons). He carries a massive platoon split that obviously favors his facing right-handed pitchers, but his career numbers are the best in the game when a righty is on the mound and the 19-year veteran shows no signs of slowing down. The same can't be said of Ryan Howard, the hulking slugger who is a shell of his former self in the power department. He has suffered a precipitous fall from the perch that produced most of the numbers that put him so high on the list, but if he is to be deployed, it is absolutely vital that he be facing a right-handed starting pitcher.

Prince Fielder slugs 103 points higher with the platoon advantage than he does against a southpaw, but at .448 his slugging percentage against left-handers is one of the better marks for a lefty bat. It's tempting to say that Fielder's best days are behind him, but his prognosis has been clouded by the fusion procedure on his neck and he could return to form as he distances himself from going under the knife.

The list is rounded out by Chris Davis and Adrian Gonzalez, a pair of lefty swingers with very different skill sets. Gonzo is the more complete hitter whereas Crush sells out for power, and though the career slugs are nearly identical these batters have very different outlooks as we head into the 2016 campaign. Davis has a long way to go before he can catch Joey Votto, but Crush feels like the one player who could make such a leap in a single season (he would have to slug .630 over 450 at-bats against right-handers in 2016 to make that high of a jump).

Now let's take a look at the power splits:

SLG Splits, First Base (min. 250 PA vs. each)



LHP Split

P. Goldschmidt




B. Butler




M. Trumbo




M. Napoli




R. Zimmerman




J. Morneau




M. Moreland




F. Freeman




L. Duda




R. Howard




A. Lind




Goldschmidt has the greatest discrepancy among right-handed batters / lefty-mashers. As mentioned earlier, he is useful against pitchers of all types but takes on an elite persona when a southpaw is on the mound. Billy Butler is a new addition, as Country Breakfast might lack the power that is promised by his size but he can wreck left-handers with the best of 'em. Players like Butler and Trumbo are only worth rostering when they have the platoon advantage, and though Napoli and Zimmerman fare a bit better against same-side pitchers, the fact that both players had exaggerated splits last season ensures that each player is best used when a lefty is on the mound for the opposition.

We are treated to a bevy of new names when we flip over to the left-handed bats, and the magnitude of the split doubles on that side of the plate. In fact, 13 different batters who hit lefty had slugging splits that exceeded the magnitude of Goldschmidt, who carried the top disparity among right-handed batters. Morneau is a shell of his former self who is very difficult to trust if he lands outside of Colorado, but Moreland has started to gain steam and has been an effective DFS weapon when employed with the platoon spread in his favor.

Freeman is another player whose utility fades against same-sided arms, and the fact that Atlanta has stripped the offense down the blocks means that his context-dependent stats such as runs and RBI are likely to suffer. Duda is another player whose star is rising in the eyes of fantasy managers, but there is some caution stemming from the fact that he reversed his platoon split in 2015. Duda's slug was 79 points higher against left-handers last year than versus righties, and though it may have been a one-year blip, it might cause this DFS player some pause before clicking his name in the early phases of the season.

There is a huge jump to the top two players. The Howard situation has been covered. But the biggest slugging split among the first-base cohort belongs to Adam Lind. The new Mariner is utterly lost against southpaws but thoroughly mashes when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. In some cases, an extreme platoon split tells us more about when to avoid a player in DFS than when to start him, but the splits of Lind are so extreme that the cut of his recommendation is just as sharp in either direction. Lind is to be targeted when he is facing right-handers yet completely avoided against southpaws.

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Teixeira is an interesting case. Lately it seems managers treat him like a lefty, despite having platoon splits for his career saying that he's better against lefties.

In 2014, he hit 220/333/358 against lefties and 215/305/413 against righties.

In 2015 he hit 223/373/413 against lefties and 269/349/609 against righties.

Small sample size, to be sure, but his power vL seems to be fading even though his eye has remained good.