Buying Generic: Platoon Outfield Bargains

In ottoneu, most owners will implement some form of platoon among their outfield spots. While platooning in fantasy baseball is hardly sage advice, ottoneu is a little bit different in that the format specifically lends itself to platooning more than other fantasy platforms. First, you have 40 roster spots. Second, you have 5 OF spots and a 810 game cap at the position. Third, it’s a point format. Because of the 810 cap, you almost need to start a full slate of OF in nearly every game you can, as scheduled off days can make it very difficult to meet the 162 game cap at each of the 5 outfield spots. On top of that, the roster, because of it’s size, allows you to stash prospects or players you plan to use only in specific situations. However, you want to make sure you don’t depend on them too heavily, as scheduling can easily leave you below the cap.

Granted, if you’ve played ottoneu for any amount of time, you already know this. You know that platooning can be an extremely effective strategy. You probably know that strong side platoons are really what you want to acquire (more plate appearances) and you probably have a good idea of a couple names who fit this bill. You are looking for hitters who are likely to get 400+ plate appearance in their platoon role, so as not to be left missing starts with regularity. Today, I want to look at 3 (it’s a new year and I’m feeling generous) players who fit the bill of effective RHP mashers, but at varying costs.

2016 Stats
Name Ottoneu Avg. PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP wOBA v LHP wOBA v RHP wOBA
Mr. Name Brand $12.72 476 13.20% 27.30% 0.249 0.296 0.246 0.352 0.290 0.386 0.360
Mr. Generic 1 $4.88 464 8.40% 30.40% 0.259 0.261 0.225 0.300 0.222 0.343 0.329
Mr. Generic 2 $4.22 438 11.00% 20.30% 0.167 0.282 0.249 0.342 0.219 0.340 0.331

If there is a hierarchy of platoon hitters, Mr. Name Brand is near the top. Many times, platoon hitters can cost under $10, so for one to have an average price of $12.72 in all Ottoneu leagues probably speaks to some added potential. He is young, I’ll give you that, and a former top prospect. He also has struggled to hit lefties in his brief career. For reference, I have split out the respective wOBAs of all 3 players for 2016 against LHP, RHP, and in total. Both generic options are roster castoffs. They are likely closer to the end of their career than the beginning, and upside, in the typical sense of “youth” is nearly nonexistent. However, many times “youth” is incorrectly used as a proxy for upside, so I would say that both options present value at their current costs.

If you had any doubts on if they should be platooned here is confirmation. For their respective careers all 3 players in question have ranged between a .262 and .313 wOBA against LHP. None has topped more than 680 career plate appearances against LHP.

xStats Difference (vRHP)
Name ISO xISO Diff BABIP xBABIP Diff wOBA xOBA Diff
Mr. Name Brand 0.278 0.252 26 0.322 0.338 -16 0.386 0.365 21
Mr. Generic 1 0.302 0.303 -1 0.236 0.288 -52 0.343 0.351 -8
Mr. Generic 2 0.175 0.223 -48 0.289 0.323 -34 0.340 0.366 -26
SOURCE: xStats.org

However, they mash right handed pitching. Ideally, what you are hoping for from these three is a season of 400-500 PAs where they put up near elite production. Looking a little more in depth, we can see that our name brand option actually over performed his expected ISO against right handers by 26 points. While the .252 ISO is still elite, it’s a decent drop off. By Contrast our first generic option looks to be the good version of Chris Davis against RHP (at least by ISO), the power there is legit. The most undersold of the 3 by his 2016 stats, our second generic option looks to have put up a respectable .175 ISO against RHP in 2016, but xStats suggest his batted ball profile was actually closer to .223, a near 50 point under-performance, suggesting he may currently be undervalued.

While all 3 players in question under-performed their expected BABIPs, both generic options did so by much larger amounts. While BABIP tends to display larger year to year variance than some other statistics, a 30-50 point difference in actual and expected stands out to me. Both players are likely to have a few more outs fall for hits in 2017.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, we can see that the .386 wOBA our name brand option put up in 2016 appears to be near the ceiling of expected outcomes. His xOBA of .365 is still an elite platoon option, but it isn’t the otherworldly total from last season. While he looks like the best option against RHP of the 3, xOBA actually groups the 3 very closely together, pegging each of them between .351-.366. For the $8 price difference across ottoneu leagues, I’ll gladly take the cheaper options.  Any guesses on the players in question?

2017 Steamer Projections
Name G PA 2B HR AVG OBP OPS wOBA wOBA v RHP* wRC+
Joc Pederson 133 513 19 24 0.239 0.353 0.809 0.347 0.366 120
Brandon Moss 105 432 17 21 0.233 0.315 0.765 0.326 0.331 102
Seth Smith 113 489 25 17 0.261 0.349 0.795 0.343 0.357 113
*wOBA v RHP is a ratio of career wOBA v RHP divided by career wOBA, this factor is applied to projected wOBA from Steamer for 2017

Joc Pederson is our name brand, and near the top of the pyramid of traditional strong side platoon options. Brandon Moss is generic option number 1, he has yet to sign, but if he moves to a more favorable park expect an increase in his projection. Our last generic option is Seth Smith, who was just traded from Seattle to Baltimore to serve as their primary right field option against RHP. Moss is a bit of a different situation as much of this is entirely dependent on where he signs, but could see increased value on top of what Steamer is showing, for example, if he signed in Colorado (swoon…) While I wanted to bring up platoon bats because that is a portion of ottoneu that many owners try to exploit, I also wanted to show these 3 because their launch angles and exit velocities against RHP is so similar.

Average EV and Launch Angle
Name Total avg EV vertical horizontal
Joc Pederson 206 93.9 8.8 9.6
Brandon Moss 179 90.2 11.6 14.1
Seth Smith 240 90.8 5.0 12.3
Ground Ball EV and Launch Angle
Name Total avg EV vertical horizontal
Joc Pederson 47 95.8 16.8 8.6
Brandon Moss 40 95.6 17.9 18.5
Seth Smith 63 94.3 17 3.5
Average EV and Launch Angle
Name Total avg EV vertical horizontal
Joc Pederson 47 95.8 16.8 8.6
Brandon Moss 40 95.6 17.9 18.5
Seth Smith 63 94.3 17 3.5
Fly Ball EV and Launch Angle
Name Total avg EV vertical horizontal
Joc Pederson 47 94.6 35.4 4.7
Brandon Moss 71 93.0 34.8 6.8
Seth Smith 44 95.5 34.7 -0.8

While Pederson hits the ball harder on average, their fly ball results are what stand out to me. Moss and Pederson appear similar in nearly every regard, but Moss hits more fly balls.  However, both hit the ball with near elite exit velocity at nearly ideal launch angles, slightly to right field. Smith on the other hand, has hit fly balls harder than either Moss or Pederson, but does not hit nearly as many. While Smith is hardly ground ball heavy, it would be nice to see him hit a few more balls in the air with the move to Camden Yards. Regardless he appears to be a nice platoon option for 2017.

While I like Joc Pederson, I worry that he will only be a platoon player in 2017. While in that role he still has value (I’d pay $14 in new leagues). He isn’t an $8 increase on Smith or Moss – as it currently sits across Ottoneu. In existing leagues, I would target these two a near replacements for Joc, who will likely come at a fraction of the price. Now, if you can get all 3, awesome. They should all be owned. When nearly 90 outfielders are owned out of the draft in a new ottoneu league, each will be a formidable piece in rounding out your outfield depth. What about you? What outfield platoon options are you eyeing as we near draft season? Let’s discuss in the comments.

We hoped you liked reading Buying Generic: Platoon Outfield Bargains by Joe Douglas!

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Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

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Aaron Hartman
Member
Aaron Hartman

Hey Joe, I’m curious…who are the good right handed platoon options? They will be on the weak side, so they’ll still have to face some RHP, but are there guys who are still rosterable because of the damage they do against LHP?

dl80
Member
dl80

Chris Young, though he doesn’t really play enough to be worth rostering. Marcus Semien is .288/.328/.493 in his career against lefties (and mediocre against righties). Jayson Werth continues to kill lefties.