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
Hitters vs. LHP
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!