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Streaming Hitters

You've heard of streaming pitchers, but I'm breaking down how to stream hitters in your playoff matchups and your roto league final season push. I also give you a few good names to use.

Chris Young may not be a fantasy star, but he can be a streaming hitter star
Chris Young may not be a fantasy star, but he can be a streaming hitter star
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As the season winds down, streaming pitchers becomes a more popular strategy. There are more pitchers available due to 40-man rosters, other teams in your league being out of it, and other reasons. It is a great way to win your quality starts, wins, or strikeouts categories in a head to head matchup. If done well, you can even win ERA and WHIP if you get lucky. I provided some tips for streaming pitchers in a previous article.

Today, I'm going to discuss a similar strategy for hitters. This involves picking up hitters that are floating out on the waiver wire and are often overlooked due to limited playing time. Why is their playing time limited? Almost universally, it is because they have large platoon splits. They can only hit lefties or righties well, but not both. However, that lack of consistent playing time is not an issue if you are streaming them. You will just use them on the days they are playing.

Without further delay, I'm going to present you with some surprising lists related to platoon splits. The first list is the top hitters against right-handed pitching. I'm using OPS as a way of sorting them, so the hitters with the highest OPS against righties are at the top. The second one is for hitters against left-handed pitching. After the tables, I will pick out a few streaming candidates from these lists that you should pay attention to. Sure, most of the top names are studs against both types of pitchers, but there are a few surprises. Keep in mind that these are only hitters with enough plate appearances to be qualified for the batting title.

Hitters vs. RHP

Rank Name OPS
1 Bryce Harper 1.197
2 Joey Votto 1.022
3 David Ortiz 1.009
4 Carlos Gonzalez 0.997
5 Mike Trout 0.980
6 Miguel Cabrera 0.961
7 Paul Goldschmidt 0.955
8 Nolan Arenado 0.944
9 Yoenis Cespedes 0.935
10 Michael Brantley 0.927
11 Jose Bautista 0.927
12 Edwin Encarnacion 0.927
13 Chris Davis 0.925
14 Jose Abreu 0.923
15 Nelson Cruz 0.911
16 Josh Donaldson 0.911
17 Curtis Granderson 0.909
18 Adam Lind 0.909
19 Jason Kipnis 0.907
20 David Peralta 0.905
21 J.D. Martinez 0.905
22 Eric Hosmer 0.902
23 Anthony Rizzo 0.900
24 Prince Fielder 0.896
25 Andre Ethier 0.894
26 Andrew McCutchen 0.890
27 Shin-Soo Choo 0.888
28 Kendrys Morales 0.881
29 Manny Machado 0.877
30 Justin Upton 0.870
31 Stephen Vogt 0.869
32 Buster Posey 0.868
33 Kris Bryant 0.866
34 Matt Carpenter 0.861
35 Adrian Gonzalez 0.857
36 Chris Coghlan 0.854
37 Brandon Belt 0.853
38 Joe Panik 0.852
39 Jason Heyward 0.850
40 Jung-ho Kang 0.847

Hitters vs. LHP

Rank Name OPS
1 Josh Donaldson 1.119
2 Nelson Cruz 1.117
3 Paul Goldschmidt 1.107
4 Bryce Harper 0.994
5 Ryan Braun 0.992
6 Logan Forsythe 0.992
7 Lorenzo Cain 0.983
8 Chris Young 0.980
9 Ryan Raburn 0.979
10 Andrew McCutchen 0.977
11 Joey Votto 0.976
12 Alex Rodriguez 0.975
13 Jose Altuve 0.962
14 Todd Frazier 0.954
15 Evan Longoria 0.953
16 Mike Trout 0.951
17 Ben Zobrist 0.931
18 Buster Posey 0.921
19 Anthony Rizzo 0.914
20 Xander Bogaerts 0.908
21 Mike Napoli 0.904
22 George Springer 0.892
23 Chris Davis 0.889
24 A.J. Pollock 0.885
25 Mark Trumbo 0.881
26 Kyle Seager 0.870
27 Dexter Fowler 0.862
28 J.D. Martinez 0.860
29 Lucas Duda 0.857
30 Brett Lawrie 0.857
31 Marlon Byrd 0.846
32 Alex Gordon 0.833
33 Francisco Lindor 0.833
34 Marwin Gonzalez 0.830
35 Adrian Gonzalez 0.829
36 Danny Valencia 0.828
37 Ian Kinsler 0.826
38 Dee Gordon 0.824
39 Matt Kemp 0.824
40 Adrian Beltre 0.820

So, here are 80 hitters and most of them are widely owned and unavailable. However, there are a few really good streaming candidates on these lists. From the first table, three names jump out at me. Maybe two of these guys aren't available in your league, but I bet the third guy is. Adam Lind, Curtis Granderson, and Andre Ethier are these guys. Granderson and Either don't really play at all against lefties and Lind probably shouldn't, but often does. These three guys all crush right-handers, with OPS numbers of 0.909, 0.909, and 0.894.

If these guys are facing a righty and are available, snatch them up to replace a utility guy or your last outfielder, especially if the guy being replaced has a bad matchup. You can get a sneaky boost to your hitting stats with these guys. Justin Turner didn't have enough plate appearances to qualify for the list above, but he has a nice 0.907 OPS against righties, but since he is right-handed, this may not last long term. Reverse-platoon splits usually disappear given enough time.

Now, since there are significantly more right-handed pitchers than left-handed, those four guys I mentioned above will be useful on more days than this next group, but that doesn't mean they aren't very valuable on days they are playing. The guys I'm targeting here, in my order of preference are: Chris Young, Ryan Raburn, Mike Napoli, and Mark Trumbo. These guys are completely useless against right-handed pitching and never play in those games anyway, but absolutely dominate lefties.

Young and Raburn have OPSs of 0.980 against southpaws. Look again at the list. That puts them on even ground with A-Rod, Votto, and McCutchen. When they are playing, you can get Votto-like production from a guy off waviers. That's what this strategy is all about. These two are my favorites of all the ones I have mentioned because they have much higher production against lefties than Lind or Granderson do against righties.

Two lefty-smashers that had too few plate appearances to qualify for the above list, but are certainly worthy of your consideration are: Nick Castellanos (OPS of 1.005 against LHP) and Wilmer Flores (0.984). In smaller samples, these two are right up there with Raburn and Young. This should give you an excellent army of guys with OPSs over 0.900 to plug into your lineup on days they are playing and get great value out of that last lineup spot.

The next day, go pick up a different one. Streaming hitters isn't often done, but it can be a very effective and under-utilized strategy in fantasy baseball. This could give you the leg up on your competition. Check back next week for more advice on how to win your league. Tschus!