When picking hitters, the quality and handedness of the opposing pitcher are probably the most important considerations aside from whether the hitter himself is any good and likely to be in the lineup. And it makes sense to be very mindful of the opposing pitcher; the hitter will probably face the starter for most of his plate appearances that day. But starting pitchers are averaging 5.89 innings per start this year, which means that a full third of most games is handled by other pitchers to which we give no consideration. When you consider the fact that most pitchers you choose to start hitters against are below average, the bullpen probably factors into closer to four innings of each game as opposed to just three.
I decided to figure out which bullpens are the most hitter friendly in Draftstreet contests. To do this I had to figure out how many points each reliever has allowed to this point in Draftstreet contests. I pulled all of their batting against statistics, added up all the positive scoring events for hitters and then subtracted all the negative scoring events for hitters. The formula was this: (1B + (2B x 2) + (3B x 3) + (HR x 4) + (HBP x 0.75) + (BB x 0.75) + (R x 1.5) + (RBI x 1.5) + (SB x 2) + (SAC x .75)) – ((K x 0.75) + (GDP x 0.75) + CS).
The next step was to add up all the points allowed by each team’s relievers. But you can’t determine the most hitter-friendly bullpens simply by looking at who has allowed the most fantasy points because a big factor in the number of points allowed is how many innings they have to pitch. That’s more of a reflection of the quality of team’s starting staff. As we’ve discussed, you’re already taking into account the quality of the starter. A list of the bullpens who have allowed the most points is no good to you. As a result, I just divided the number of fantasy points allowed by each bullpen by the number of innings pitched by that bullpen. Below are the best and worst bullpens through Wednesday.
This isn’t to say that the opposing starter isn’t still the #1 concern. But you can use this as a tiebreaker. If you can’t decide between a couple of hitters, use this as a tiebreaker, and pick the hitter facing the team with the weaker bullpen.
The Daily Five
Madison Bumgarner, $13,579
The Braves have a 103 wRC+ on the year, so they don’t appear to be good match up. But they strikeout in 23.8% of their plate appearances, and only have a 94 wRC+ against left-handed pitching like Bumgarner.
Edwin Jackson, $10,904
First of all, Jackson is due for some serious positive regression. He has the biggest gap between his ERA (5.76) and xFIP (3.58). His 8.6% BB% may be a bit alarming given that it’s up about 1.5% from where it was the last two years. But he really only struggled with control in April (10.8% BB%) and has a 6.8% BB% in his last six starts. He also has great match up with the Mets today. Only two teams strikeout more often against right-handers than the Mets, and the Mets have an 88 wRC+ vs. RHP.
Jeff Baker, $7,088
Baker is the best hitter in the league against left-handers. I’m not kidding. Jeff freakin’ Baker has the highest wRC+ vs. LHP among qualified hitters with a ridiculous 286 wRC+. It makes absolutely no sense that Baker is only the 20th most expensive 1B option given that he’s facing a left-hander today. And not just any left-hander. He’s facing Mark Buehrle who has a 5.06 ERA this year.
Jimmy Rollins, $6,178
Rollins has always been a little bit better hitting from the left side of the plate, but in the last few years that has become exaggerated. For his career the gap between his wOBAs against LHP and RHP is 11 points. But since 2011, his wOBA against right-handers is almost 70 points higher than his wOBA against left-handers. Today he’ff face a right-hander and not a good one in Juan Nicasio (4.61 ERA). The game is also in Colorado, which is a nice little cherry on top.
Dayan Viciedo, $4,958
Viciedo has been horrendous this year as evidenced by his pathetic .278 wOBA. But part of the problem has been that the White Sox haven’t seen much left-handed pitching, and Viciedo is much better against them. The White Sox have the second fewest plate appearances against left-handers (509). In 259 career PA against left-handers, Viciedo has a .418 wOBA. Today he’ll face LHP Erik Bedard and is a huge value with a price tag below $5,000.
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