It doesn’t take Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis to know you should use right-handed Tigers bats versus Joe Saunders.
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It might come as a bit of a surprise which Tigers hitters I’m highlighting to use in tonight’s games. Join me in taking a shot at winning some cash in the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, or the “Five Guys” FSL league game where you’ll also have a shot at winning a seat to Saturday’s Freeroll.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis - Pitchers
My Pick: Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers, $16,000
At a Glance: 2014: 21.9% K, 7.4% BB, 2.44 FIP. Rangers in 2014 vs RHP: 85 wRC+, 19.4% K.
Sanchez will be facing off against Joe Saunders, which in itself is great news for his fantasy value since he should get plenty of run support. He’s facing a Rangers offense that is ravaged by injuries, and while they don’t strike out much, they don’t do damage when they do make contact either. Sanchez’s stuff isn’t as overpowering last year, but he still has a strong strikeout rate and a good walk rate that has helped validate his sub-2.50 ERA. He has had some good fortune limiting homers, but overall his profile is strong. He should pitch deep into the game, limit base runners, snag a few strikeouts, and earn a win.
Value Pick: Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves, $12,000
At a Glance: 2014 as a starter: 24.3% K, 5.0% BB, 45.5% GB. Astros in 2014 vs LHP: 108 wRC+, 22.9% K.
Wood rejoins the Braves rotation due to an unfortunate injury to Gavin Floyd. He has really belonged there all along. The lefty posted nearly a five-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio working as a starter earlier this season, and is extremely tough on both left-handed and right-handed batters. That should ease some concerns about the Astros stellar wRC+ against southpaws this year. For those concerned that Wood only made two starts in the minors to get stretched out after a brief stint in the Braves bullpen, you’ll be happy to know he threw 73 pitches in his last start in Triple-A. If he is on a pitch limit, it shouldn’t be too restrictive. Wood’s strikeout stuff paired with the Astros high strikeout rate against southpaws makes him a higher upside play than his cost would suggest.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Catchers
My Pick: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals, $8,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 211 PA, 131 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 932 PA, .289/.318/.422, 101 wRC+.
Perez has a platoon split in his career that favors facing southpaws, so it might come as a shocker to see him suggested against right-handed pitcher Dan Haren. Fortunately for Perez, as Haren has changed as a pitcher over recent years, he’s turned into one that struggles a great deal with right-handed hitters. No longer able to average over 90 mph on any of his pitches, he’s been drummed, allowing the fifth highest wOBA, .349, to right-handed batters among qualified starters since 2012.
Value Pick: John Jaso, Oakland Athletics, $7,450
At a Glance: At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 183 PA, 142 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 946 PA, .275/.375/.442, 133 wRC+.
Jaso wasn’t in the A’s starting lineup last night, but he relieved Stephen Vogt as part of a double-switch. He should be back in the lineup tonight, and while Zack Wheeler has a high octane pitch repertoire capable of carving up lineups (see his shutout in his last turn as proof), he has had some problems with left-handed batters in his young big league career. His biggest problem is a 13.9 percent walk rate to left-handed batters since reaching the Show last season. The A’s are a patient bunch of hitters, and no club has a higher walk rate than their 10.8 percent mark against right-handed pitchers this year. Jaso is an above average hitter who will have many avenues to point scoring tonight.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – First Basemen
My Pick: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, $10,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 172 PA, 134 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,509 PA, .319/.452/.518, 165 wRC+.
Votto doesn’t grab headlines with huge power, but his line drive swing and incredibly discerning eye make him one of the best hitters in the game, especially when facing a right-handed pitcher. Cubs starter Edwin Jackson has a way of making all left-handed batters look good, and since 2011 among pitchers that have thrown 200 innings or more against left-handed batters, he has the ninth highest wOBA allowed at .349.
Value Pick: Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals, $7,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 230 PA, 91 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1719 PA, .293/.355/.430, 115 wRC+.
Butler crawled out of the gates this year, his wRC+ has gone up from 47 in April, to 91 in May, and sits at 142 for this month. He still displays a high contact rate, and the designated hitter is still roping line drives. The 28-year old is better against left-handed pitchers than righties, but he’s still been 15 percent better than the league average hitter against right-handed pitchers since 2011. He also gets the benefit of Haren’s reverse platoon like his aforementioned teammate Salvador Perez.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Second Basemen
My Pick: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers, $10,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 76 PA, 81 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 624 PA, .302/.376/.488, 134 wRC+.
Kinser took right-handed pitcher Colby Lewis deep to leadoff the game against his former club in his first trip back to Texas. Expecting him to match the 42 points he totaled in last night’s game might be too optimistic, but writing the possibility off would be foolish given his dominance against southpaws since 2011, and considering Saunders’ struggles against right-handed batters.
Value Pick: Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins, $7,000
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 140 PA, 132 wRC+. Since 2013 vs RHP: 317 PA, .227/.310/.411, 101 wRC+.
Dietrich was sent to the minors earlier this month, but since being recalled a few games ago he has been re-installed as the number two hitter for the Marlins on the heavy side of a second base platoon. The left-handed hitter has been much better this year against right-handed pitchers than he was in his rookie season, and A.J. Burnett is getting lit up against lefties to the tune of a .371 wOBA this season. Since 2011, Burnett has shown a weakness against lefties allowing a .332 wOBA. The Phillies starter does a top notch job of inducing groundballs, but if Dietrich does lift the ball against him he’ll be doing so in a ballpark with a left-handed batter home park factor of 127.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Third Basemen
My Pick: David Wright, New York Mets, $9,800
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 76 PA, 178 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 537 PA, .326/.434/.517, 163 wRC+.
Wright is a nightmare for southpaws, and Brad Mills is a below average lefty who stumbled through four innings in his A’s debut, hitting one batter, allowing four hits, four walks, and three runs (two earned). The Mets third baseman should have little trouble punishing Mills from the three spot in the order.
Value Pick: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers, $6,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 76 PA, 136 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP (minors): 394 PA, .311/.384/.455.
Castellanos is showing a quick learning curve translating his production in the minors against southpaws to the majors in his rookie season. Because Saunders is so terrible against right-handed batters, and the Tigers have good ones littered throughout their lineup, even a down order hitter like Castellanos makes for a value with plenty of upside to exceed his tiny cost.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Shortstops
My Pick: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds, $10,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 198 PA, 109 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP (minors): 1,246 PA, .282/.366/.369.
Hamilton is faring much better in the majors in his rookie season than I expected, and the switch-hitting speedster has been at his best against right-handed pitchers. If the Reds leadoff hitter reaches first base, and he should against Jackson (who I’ve already mentioned struggles with left-handed batters), watch him pile up the points. He’s slotted in front of Votto, who is more than capable of driving him in, and the Reds would be foolish not to give him the green light against catcher Welington Castillo. The Cubs catcher has allowed 33 stolen bases in 39 attempts over 44 games played this year, and in his career he has allowed 137 in 186 chances over 213 games played. Hamilton has already stolen 31 bases in 40 attempts this season, and he’s the fastest runner in the majors and likely all of baseball given his glowing scouting reports.
Value Pick: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics, $7,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 226 PA, 94 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,168 PA, .254/.327/.413, 104 wRC+.
The switch-hitting Lowrie has some wonky platoon splits that have bounced around in his big league career. It appears as if he’s becoming most comfortable as a left-handed batter. Since 2012 versus right-handed pitchers he has 944 plate appearances in which he’s hit .264/.339/.439 with 116 wRC+ and a 9.7 percent walk rate. His patience will help him exploit Wheeler’s struggles with walks to lefties. The A’s are great about exploiting splits, and they’ll almost certainly stack the lineup with lefties against Wheeler which give Lowrie run production potential.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Outfielders
My Pick: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds, $9,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 178 PA, 105 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,561 PA, .263/.346/.488, 122 wRC+.
Bruce completes a semi-stack against Jackson making it the Reds one, three, and five hitters getting my endorsement. The young right fielder has some struggles with strikeouts, but he has plenty of power that has resulted in a .225 ISO since 2011 against right-handed pitchers. Wrigley Field has left-handed batter park factors of 108 for doubles/triples, 94 for homers, and 103 for runs, so he won’t get the same home run amplifying boost he would at home. He and the other Reds hitters that I’ve suggested using will get a lift overall offensively when compared to a neutral ballpark though.
Middle of the Pack: Rajai Davis, Detroit Tigers, $7,850
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 72 PA, 132 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 455 PA, .298/.360/.462, 125 wRC+.
When lefties have started against the Tigers this year, Davis has been the man sitting atop the batting order, directly in front of Kinsler and just a few spots in front of the club’s best hitters, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez (both of whom should be rostered on a few DraftDay teams). He’s in a dream spot for scoring runs, and his bat, which is already plenty good against southpaws, will enjoy the Saunders effect. One thing Saunders does well is control the running game, but if Davis reaches against a reliever he might put his wheels to good use. The speedy outfielder has stolen 20 bases in 25 chances this year and reached or exceeded 45 stolen bases each of the last two years.
Value Pick: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers, $7,400
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 72 PA, 138 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 1,532 PA, .273/.334/.415, 104 wRC+.
Jackson has been a tick above the league average hitter when facing a lefty, but the Saunders effect makes all right-handed batters look like stellar options. He and Castellanos have frequently hit back-to-back in the six and seven spots in the order, and they make for a nice and cheap pairing for thrifty DraftDay gamers.
Wild Card: Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels, $9,100
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 80 PA, 96 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,350 PA, .285/.356/.521, 133 wRC+.
Wild Card is in many ways the perfect category for Hamilton. He’s a streaky hitter capable of going on torrid runs. At the end of all of his streakiness, he has been a well above average hitter against right-handed pitchers since 2011. The Angels right fielder has mammoth raw power, and he hits mistakes a long way. Right-handed journeyman pitcher Yohan Pino has a below average fastball that averages under 90 mph, and he has little room for error. I’ll gamble on Pino, owner of a 4.30 ERA in over 400 innings at the Triple-A level, serving Hamilton a cookie or two.
* Batted ball data and splits information comes from that which is provided at FanGraphs unless otherwise stated, and ballpark factors are those found at StatCorner and are for a three-year rolling average.
Glossary of important terms: Full definitions can be found by clicking on the stat. You’ll be directed to FanGraphs’ glossary. For the purpose of easy understanding, I’ve simplified FanGraphs’ definitions while retaining the integrity of the full explanation of the stat.
wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus)- This is a statistic that attempts to roll a player’s offensive value into one number to determine how many runs they’ve created. A 100 wRC+ represents league average, and every point above that is one percent above league average, and every point below represents a percentage point below league average. FanGraphs notes that the stat is park and league adjusted, thus, putting all players on an even playing field regardless of their offensive environment.
wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average)- This is another offensive stat that attempts to roll offensive performance into one number. It assigns a different weight to different types of hits and different means of reaching base since they are not all created equal. Unlike with wRC+, the league-average varies year-by-year so FanGraphs has a rough approximation of how to value various wOBA scores, for instance 0.400 is deemed excellent, and .290 is awful. The full chart can be seen here.
ISO (Isolated Power)- This statistic measures power by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. Therefore it strips singles from slugging percentage leaving a number that represents extra bases divided by at-bats.