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The Best and Worst Teams to Stream Pitchers Against

With the season winding down, everybody gets into pitcher streaming more so I thought it was a great time to look at who the best and worst teams to stream against are. I looked at this before the season and now we can see how things have changed since then. I also look at pitcher handedness rankings, so check it out.

Mike Fiers rewarded fantasy owners that streamed him against the Dodgers with a no hitter. Who should you stream against?
Mike Fiers rewarded fantasy owners that streamed him against the Dodgers with a no hitter. Who should you stream against?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As the calendar nears September and fantasy teams are rolling toward head-to-head playoffs and roto finishes, pitcher streaming becomes more and more popular. For one thing, everyone's favorite rookie pitchers or guys returning from injuries start to hit their innings limits, forcing you to replace them. Also, teams in roto leagues that are well below their innings cap can start to play catch up. Finally, many teams are no longer in the race and aren't picking up pitchers off the waiver wire as often, leaving more guys for the competitive teams to use as streamers.

Because of all these factors, in lieu of my usual 2 to Watch post, I thought I would dedicate a post to which teams are the best and worst to stream against. I did this before the season, but lots has changed since then. I'm going to break this down in a number of ways so that it can be most useful. I will provide multiple offensive stats for each team and show the top 10 best and the top 10 worst. You will also see the best teams against lefties and the best against northpaws. As a bonus, I will round up the best and worst in the past 30 days for those who like to play the streaks.

Some disclaimers:

1. Streaming pitchers is a risky strategy that often results in an inflated ERA and WHIP because you are dealing with more volatile pitchers (that's why they are available to stream)

2. I believe the pitcher himself and his stats are much more important than the team he is playing against.

3. Park factors are important too, but teams' offensive output will show those park effects to some degree. I will present both park adjusted (wRC+) and unadjusted (wOBA) offensive values.

Before we dive into the numbers, I just want to say that wRC+ is weighted runs created and is a park- and league-adjusted value scaled to 100 (league average) that measures total offensive output (it combines all hitting outcomes into one nice number). wOBA is a similar number (it combines hitting production into one value), except it is not adjusted for ballpark or league. Ok, sorry for that detour, let's get into the tables!

The 10 Worst Offenses for All of 2015 (Best to Stream Against)

Rank Team wRC+
21 Mets 94
22 Reds 92
23 Twins 91
24 Padres 91
25 White Sox 88
26 Phillies 88
27 Rockies 87
28 Marlins 86
29 Brewers 85
30 Braves 85

The Top 10 Best Offenses in All of 2015 (Avoid Streaming Against These Guys)

Rank Team wRC+
1 Blue Jays 113
2 Dodgers 109
3 Tigers 109
4 Giants 107
5 Yankees 104
6 Royals 100
7 Astros 100
8 Pirates 100
9 Red Sox 99
10 Indians 99

Now that you've had a chance to look at those tables, what do you think? You will notice that two red hot offenses in the Mets and Phillies (ok, maybe not red hot but they did destroy Mets pitching this week) are on that first list. That shows the need for the "last 30 days" versions of these tables you will see later. In general, there aren't many surprises on these lists. The Braves, Marlins, Brewers, and White Sox have been bad all year. You might be surprised to see the Rockies on here, but remember, these are park-adjusted stats, so they actually have been bad. All that money the Padres spent to improve their hitting hasn't really worked out I guess. Most of these teams are still very exploitable for streaming.

On the second list, I think the Indians and Giants are the most surprising. The rest are the teams you would expect to be there. The giants don't have much power but they get a lot of hits. The Indians have Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and...? I'm not sure how they are 10th.

Now, the same lists using wOBA (not park adjusted)

The Worst Offenses for All of 2015

Rank Team wOBA
21 Athletics 0.305
22 Twins 0.304
23 Angels 0.304
24 Brewers 0.303
25 Mets 0.303
26 Phillies 0.300
27 White Sox 0.300
28 Marlins 0.298
29 Padres 0.298
30 Braves 0.296

The Best Offenses for All of 2015

Rank Team wOBA
1 Blue Jays 0.337
2 Tigers 0.330
3 Dodgers 0.326
4 Rockies 0.324
5 Yankees 0.324
6 Red Sox 0.321
7 Diamondbacks 0.318
8 Giants 0.318
9 Royals 0.317
10 Rangers 0.316

You will notice that park adjustments are kind of a big deal. The Rockies move from one of the worst offenses to one of the best. The DBacks and Rangers also move up in this list of best offenses. The more I think about it, these are the best two lists to start with when looking at teams to stream against or avoid, since park factors don't do anything for your fantasy team.

The A's and Angels join the worst offenses list this time, but the others are basically the same lousy teams, with the Braves finishing last in both lists. The Mets are there again, but I'm not streaming against them right now...

The Top 10 Best Offenses in the Last 30 Days

Rank Team wOBA
1 Red Sox 0.359
2 Cubs 0.356
3 Mets 0.349
4 Blue Jays 0.345
5 Rays 0.344
6 Pirates 0.343
7 White Sox 0.338
8 Mariners 0.335
9 Diamondbacks 0.332
10 Indians 0.329

The 10 Worst Offenses in the Last 30 Days

Rank Team wOBA
21 Rockies 0.308
22 Cardinals 0.307
23 Giants 0.305
24 Twins 0.305
25 Athletics 0.301
26 Reds 0.300
27 Marlins 0.298
28 Brewers 0.297
29 Braves 0.295
30 Angels 0.277

Now we can see just how much can change late in the year and in small samples. The Mets were a terrible offense for most of the year, but with the additions of Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, a guy with a bionic arm (Yoenis Cespedes), a healthy captain (David Wright), and Michael Conforto, this offense is completely different than it used to be. Similarly, the Cubs and Red Sox have been red hot lately thanks to lineup changes (dumping Starlin Castro and adding Kyle Schwarber for the Cubs, adding Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr, subtracting Mike Napoli from the Sox).

I'm not buying the sudden offensive surges of the Mariners, White Sox, and Rays and would still stream against them without much hesitation.

On the other side of the ledger, we see the usual suspects again in the Brewers, Braves, Marlins, etc. but we also see two top offenses buried down here: the Cards and Giants. The Giants have been without Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, and Nori Aoki for weeks (that's their entire outfield!), so maybe that is to blame. The Cardinals are missing Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta has been slumping, but that's about it. I would stream against those two with caution, but I still prefer them to teams higher on the list.

Finally, it can be useful to look at how offenses perform against different pitcher handedness, since this can have a surprisingly huge impact on offense. Take a look...

"It's in a book, a Reading Rainbow!" (sorry, I couldn't resist)

The 10 Worst Offenses Against LHP

Rank Team wOBA
21 Mets 0.304
22 Nationals 0.302
23 Athletics 0.301
24 Cardinals 0.301
25 Angels 0.292
26 Braves 0.291
27 Padres 0.291
28 Rockies 0.289
29 Brewers 0.284
30 White Sox 0.279

The Top 10 Best Offenses Against LHP

Rank Team wOBA
1 Blue Jays 0.358
2 Tigers 0.346
3 Yankees 0.333
4 Rays 0.328
5 Red Sox 0.328
6 Dodgers 0.327
7 Reds 0.324
8 Marlins 0.323
9 Diamondbacks 0.318
10 Astros 0.314

These numbers are for the entire season. Some of the worst offenses overall show up as worst against lefties, too (Braves, Padres, Brewers, White Sox, Athletics). However, there are a few notable exceptions. The Nationals, Cardinals, and Rockies are the three that jump out at me as good offenses that really struggle against southpaws.

On the other list, we see that the Blue Jays are even better against lefties than righties. Do not throw lefties against them. Ever. Seriously. Don't. Do. It. The Rays, Reds, and Marlins are surprise entries. They are pretty bad overall offenses, but against lefties, they have been pretty good, so watch out.

I should point out here that because these lefty/righty team splits show a much greater variation between the best and worst teams, this is a very important consideration in picking streaming pitchers. Just look at the worst offense overall (wOBA of 0.296) and the worst offense against LHP (wOBA of 0.279). That is a very big difference, trust me. Because these splits are more extreme, I recommend weighting these heavily in your streaming decisions.

Finally, the righties.

The Top 10 Best Offenses Against RHP

Rank Team wOBA
1 Rockies 0.334
2 Blue Jays 0.330
3 Dodgers 0.326
4 Tigers 0.324
5 Royals 0.322
6 Giants 0.321
7 Yankees 0.319
8 Rangers 0.319
9 Orioles 0.318
10 Diamondbacks 0.318

The 10 Worst Offenses Against RHP

Rank Team wOBA
21 White Sox 0.307
22 Athletics 0.306
23 Reds 0.305
24 Mets 0.302
25 Twins 0.301
26 Padres 0.300
27 Phillies 0.298
28 Rays 0.298
29 Braves 0.298
30 Marlins 0.291

The biggest things that jump out to me here are that the Rays and Rockies are completely different teams when facing RHP versus LHP. The Rays go from 4th against lefties to 28th against righties, while the Rockies go from 28th against lefties to #1 against righties. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde! They both go from terrible to top of the league by switching the handedness of the pitchers. Keep that in mind when dealing with these two teams.

There isn't much else to say about these two, since they otherwise match the very first two tables I showed you.

So there you have it. A complete list of the best and worst teams to stream against. Whether you prefer to just look at the hottest teams in recent weeks, pitcher handedness splits, or the entire year's production, you're covered here. I hope you all find this useful when planning your streamers in the coming weeks and best luck to all of you in your stretch runs! As always, I will see you next week. Tschus!