I’m doing this for myself as much as I am anyone else. The daily season feels very sudden at times. Once one slate is over, it’s time to begin digesting another. Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and see what the numbers say about the teams we should be targeting or avoiding.
I kept it simple. I looked at which teams to target and avoid against lefties, and which teams to target and avoid against righties. There were a few surprises in here.
Teams to target with right-handed pitching
8.0% walk rate, 30.4% strikeout rate, .123 ISO. Only eight stolen bases (ranks 14th) too, meaning they don’t manufacture many runs. They strike out more than any other team and have the worst ISO of any other team. I think Brian Anderson is a quality MLB player and that better days are ahead for him, but I can’t say the same for any other Marlin. Jorge Alfaro is an appealing catcher option on sites where you are forced to play one, but only because he’s cheap and because of his batting order slot. Attack this team with regularity.
***Seems like a get-right spot for Stephen Strasburg today, in Miami. Just sayin’.***
8.1% walk rate, 25.4% strikeout rate, .126 ISO. Only nine stolen bases. The only nice thing you can say about the Tigers is that they strike out less than the Marlins...other than that, these teams are nearly identical. And as far as homers against right-handed pitching goes, the Tigers just lost Christin Stewart, who has three jacks already—or 33.3% of the team’s total against right-handed pitchers. Sure, Nicholas Castellanos is cheap and a fine play on sites where he is priced down, but this is still not a good team, whether Castellanos is hitting or not.
7.3% walk rate, 24.2% strikeout rate, .129 ISO. Only five stolen bases against righties, which ranks 24th in the MLB. The six teams with less speed also have tons more power than the Giants. So far this hasn’t been the same tough-to-strikeout Giants team that used to be. Formerly, they weren’t powerful but the strikeout rate hovered around 19.0% or so. This year’s 24.2% rate is a far cry from that. When your preferred lineup has Steven Duggar’s 31.4% strikeout rate leading off, that’s an issue.
Team to avoid with right-handed pitching
The combination of not striking out (17.9%), healthy walk rate (11.0%), and being powerful (.225 ISO) is really daunting. In short, this team is a hellacious draw for any right-handed pitcher, even ace-type starters. Cody Bellinger (8 HR vs. RHP) leads the way, but did you know that Joc Pederson also has eight homers against right-handers? Me either. Better (or worse, if you’re a starter) days are ahead, as Justin Turner is slashing .314/.431/.333 so far. Turner has an eye-popping 51.1% hard contact rate against righties, but a 0.0% HR/FB rate. The homers are comin’. I can’t imagine a scenario where I want to pick on this team.
***The Dodgers get Brandon Woodruff at Miller Park today.***
You thought it would be the Mariners, didn’t you? So did I! However, the Twins are more similar to the Dodgers than the Mariners are, given the very good team strikeout rate of 18.8% (only the Dodgers and Angels have a lower K-rate against RHP). The Twins rank No. 1 in the MLB with a .247 ISO against right-handed pitching, ahead of Seattle (.233) and the Dodgers (.225). The annually unheralded Eddie Rosario has seven homers against righties already, followed by the upstart Mitch Garver, who has five from the weak catcher position. After that it’s a true team effort, with Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Jonathan Schoop, and C.J. Cron all tied with three homers. Byron Buxton is only striking out 21.8% of the time against righties, and doesn’t have a homer despite an average 34.2% hard contact rate and 55.3% fly ball rate. Buxton’s 26.3% line drive rate and corresponding 18.4% ground ball rate against right-handed pitching means that his unlucky 0.0% HR/FB rate is primed for some positive regression. I think I need to play more Twins in DFS, for sure.
***The Twins are at Baltimore and facing off against Dylan Bundy today. Do with that what you will.***
3 Seattle Mariners
They aren’t my third-worst team to target, so don’t get all bent out of shape. They rank second in ISO behind Minnesota and they are dominating on the speed front with 21 swipes against RHP so far. The next-best teams with regard to speed are all the way down at 15 (TAM, CWS). The difference with this Seattle team are the strikeouts, as they are middling so far with a 24.8% strikeout rate. Mitch Haniger (27.4%), Tim Beckham (26.9%), Jay Bruce (31.5%), and Mallex Smith (33.3%) are the worst offenders among Seattle regulars—and all of those guys sans Beckham regularly hit atop the batting order. I’m just sayin’, in the right environment and with the right opposing pitcher, these Mariners could probably be had. If you started Justin Verlander at Texas this past Friday night, you know what I’m talking about.
Team to target with left-handed pitching
Can I just say all of them? Yikes. CLE, DET, PIT, MIA, TOR, LAA, and SFG all have a .114 ISO or worse against southpaws. Just horrible. But let us see who pairs that anemic power with high strikeout rates, eh?
The Indians’ 31.2% ISO against southpaws is second-worst in the MLB, behind only the Yankees. The difference is at least the Yanks have an average .151 ISO, while the Indians’ .085 ISO is the worst mark in the majors. Sure, Francisco Lindor just got activated. But the best scenario for this Cleveland offense is that they turn into what the Rockies have been so far—a team where we only fear two hitters. Difference is that Colorado is getting healthier, while we are still waiting for the Jose Ramirez of old and Lindor will likely be shaking off the rust. For now, this Indians team is a squad to attack with southpaws.
The Buccos are the third-worst team with regard to strikeouts against LHP, at 30.4%. Only the Indians (.085 ISO) and Tigers (.086 ISO) are less powerful (PIT has a .097 ISO). The Pirates have a meager 6.2% walk rate, too, which is the sixth-worst mark in the MLB against lefties. Starling Marte (abdominal) is now on the IL, as is Erik Gonzalez. Laugh if you must, but Gonzalez had a decent 20.0% strikeout rate and a .400 OBP against southpaws. In short, attack the mess out of this Pirates team with lefties right now.
I’m just going by the numbers. There are plenty of candidates to be in this space, but the Blue Jays have worse numbers than a team like the Giants, who probably get attacked more often. A 26.6% strikeout rate (24th), 6.5% walk rate (23rd), and .108 ISO (26th) are the trifecta of damnation. The Tigers (25.6%) and Marlins (17.6%) strike out less and are probably attacked more, so the Jays get the nod. Teoscar Hernandez (16.7% K-rate, .316 ISO) and Justin Smoak (4.2% K-rate, .200 ISO) have actually raked against lefties so far, and look like great one-offs or a mini-stack in the right environment. However, Randal Grichuk (37.5%) just hasn’t figured out lefties, and no one else in this offense is threatening. Freddy Galvis has a shiny 16.0% strikeout rate but a paltry .080 ISO...and he’s one of their better hitters. I didn’t know the Jays were this bad. Yikes.
Teams to avoid with left-handed pitching
I knew these guys raked, but I didn’t know they would check in at the No. 1 spot. The As have a 14.9% strikeout rate (1st) and .231 ISO (3rd) against southpaws, which is just insane. Marcus Semien is leading the way, with a 14.3% walk rate, 8.6% strikeout rate, and a .200 ISO. He has really evolved into a stud MLB player. Matt Chapman’s 17.2% walk rate, meager 10.3% strikeout rate, and insane .417 ISO are also a trifecta of awesomeness. Chad Pinder has a 10.7% strikeout rate a .214 ISO. Jurickson Profar has a 18.5% walk rate and .231 ISO. Mark Canha and Josh Phegley haven’t shown much pop against lefties yet, but that’s a historic skill for each of them. And finally, Stephen Piscotty (.286 ISO) and some guy named Khris Davis (.556 ISO) also reside on this roster. Stack ‘em up against southpaws, and avoid them if it’s your pitcher on the bump.
After the offseason these guys had, this should come as no surprise. Only Oakland, the Angels, and the Marlins strike out less than Philly against lefties. However, the Phillies’ .220 ISO is what sets them apart from LAA (.114) and MIA (.102). For reference, Maikel Franco generally bats eighth in this lineup, and he has a 6.3% strikeout rate and .286 ISO against southpaws. This is a true murderer’s row, with names like Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, and Jean Segura leading the way. Cesar Hernandez (11.1% K-rate, 11.1% walk rate) is no slouch, either. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Or, play them against all lefties.
I bet you thought you’d see a different team, right? Well, you’re wrong! The Braves’ 19.9% strikeout rate (5th) and .231 ISO (3rd) are elite marks. For reference, the Astros are tied with the Braves in ISO, but strike out a little more (21.5%) and walk a little less (10.5% to 10.9%). That’s pretty stellar company. Ronald Acuna Jr. has a .550 ISO and Dansby Swanson has a .533 ISO. Johan Camargo enters the lineup against southpaws and has a .400 ISO. Ozzie Albies only has a .143 ISO against lefties, but his K-rate is stellar at 9.5% and his power will come. Freddie Freeman is his usual awesome self, with a 10.3% K-rate and .240 ISO against lefty pitchers. Josh Donaldson is a noted lefty-masher for his career, but he hasn’t gotten going yet. Neither has Tyler Flowers, who crushed lefties last year. Avoid these guys with regularity.