Productive Hitters Hidden by PH Appearances

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find productive Ottoneu hitters is to go to the Ottoneu search and sort by points per game. At the end of the day, that is what we are trying to maximize as Ottoneu managers – we all get the same 1,944 games split over 12 positions and we need to get the most points possible from those games.

However, those numbers can be skewed by pinch hit, pinch run, or defensive replacement appearances. A hitting putting up 1.25 points per plate appearance should score over 5.0 points per game, but if they have a handful of games with one PA, that will pull down the average.

To find players who you might be underrating by viewing points per game, it’s helpful to look at points per game as a starter.

To find players whose P/G might be hiding a player you want to plug into your lineup when they start, I used’s Stathead to pull “as a starter” splits for every hitter who has started an MLB game this year. I created a table that showed games started, games played, points per game as a starter, and points per game overall. I filtered out anyone with fewer than five games started.

I also removed anyone whose points per game started is less than 4.5 (if they aren’t scoring over that as a starter, they aren’t that interesting anyway) and anyone scoring over 4.0 points per game overall (those players are doing enough that you might give them a second look already).

If those 4.5 and 4.0 cutoffs sound low to you, they do to me, too. Historically, I have targeted about 5.0 P/G, however offense is down this year. I play in three points leagues and across those 36 teams, 14/36 teams are scoring over 4.5 P/G while 6/36 are scoring below 4.0. Basically, 4.0 P/G is the level at which a player isn’t doing enough to help even a bad team, while 4.5 P/G is the level at which a player is at least useful for a good team.

That left me with 13 players whose P/G as a starter makes them more interesting than they might appear at first glance.

Pts/G as a Starter vs. P/G
Player GS G Pts/GS Pts/G Diff
Kyle Garlick 7 13 7.74 3.85 3.90
Jordan Luplow 6 12 6.28 3.08 3.20
Austin Slater 8 23 5.94 3.87 2.07
Edward Olivares 8 15 5.78 3.93 1.84
Mauricio Dubón 8 18 5.31 2.22 3.09
Harold Ramirez 14 20 5.21 3.50 1.71
Matt Reynolds 7 11 4.91 3.91 1.01
Luis Guillorme 12 18 4.84 3.06 1.79
Cooper Hummel 14 26 4.67 2.31 2.36
Luis Arraez 17 23 4.67 3.91 0.76
Michael Chavis 17 24 4.58 3.54 1.03
Travis Jankowski 9 20 4.57 2.00 2.57
Will Smith 18 20 4.53 4.00 0.53

A few notes on these names:

  • Kyle Garlick is on the IL with a calf strain, which could keep him out a while. When healthy, Garlick is a lefty-masher, with a career 152 wRC+ vs LHP and a career 37 wRC+ vs. RHP. It’s not a surprise to see him on this list, as he often sits vs. RH starters and then comes in as a pinch hitter. The challenge with Garlick is he is often also pulled for a PH, but he’s producing more than enough to be useful despite that. As a small-side platoon bat, there is no rush to add Garlick – the upside isn’t big enough to use a roster spot on him during his IL stint. But when he gets close to a return, he’s well worth adding to a roster and starting when the Twins face lefties.
  • Jordan Luplow is like Garlick, but he’s healthy and has a less extreme split, which means he tends to stay in games longer. In Garlick’s seven starts, he has 18 PA. In his six starts, Luplow has 24. The challenge for Luplow moving forward might be playing time. The Diamondbacks have used him in all three OF spots, and at DH, but he now has to compete with Alex Thomas, Cooper Hummel, David Peralta, Seth Beer, Pavin Smith, and Christian Walker for time at those spots plus 1B. Once Carson Kelly is back, Daulton Varsho moves back into that mix, as well. He might not even be a full-time short-side platoon bat. So far, his platoon job has been safe, but if you add him, make sure to keep an eye on that. Starting a third of games is enough to be useful, but if he is suddenly only half of that side of the platoon, he’s not worth a spot.
  • Austin Slater has a 130 wRC+ vs. LHP and an 81 vs. RHP, and by now you are probably spotting the pattern among these players. Slater’s usage has been more like Luplow’s, so far, as he is also closer to 4 PA per start (31 PA over eight starts) than the <3 PA per start for Garlick. Of these three, Slater is the one I would target. He’s currently healthy, unlike Garlick, and I think his role is safer moving forward than Luplow’s.
  • Edward Olivares is on the IL with a quad strain, and it seems likely he’ll be out a while – probably until late June. The Royals have jerked him around a bit, and his start/substitution imbalance seems to be more a result of that than a platoon issue, as his last few starts have come against RH starting pitchers. His line so far is inflated by a high BABIP (.433) but hurt by a 0.0% HR/FB rate. While he isn’t a massive power hitter, he has more power than that. Once he is back, he’ll be a nice piece if he gets into a nearly-everyday job.
  • Mauricio Dubon is basically another in the Garlick/Luplow/Slater group, but I trust his bat less than theirs based on track record. That said, he has solid career numbers vs. LH pitchers, so you could do worse than having him as a part time option on your bench.
  • Ah, the Rays. Over their last six games, Harold Ramirez has made four starts. Two against LHP, two against RHP. Three at DH and one in LF. Others on that team have similar patterns and while I am sure the Rays have a method to the madness, I have no idea what it is. That makes Ramirez an interesting but challenging piece. You can’t plug him in against LH starters like you can some of the others on this list. You have to be prepared to check lineups and move him in or out, as needed. If you are up for this, he is hitting well and with a little more elevation off the bat, he could add some power, too.
  • Matt Reynolds is riding a .500 BABIP to solid production. But that will fall off and once the Reds get healthy (if the Reds get healthy), so will his playing time.
  • Luis Guillorme’s 4.84 P/GS is starting to get a little light for a part-time guy. If you have a guy on your bench only starting a couple times a week, you want them to put up big numbers when they play. Guillorme isn’t quite there. On top of that, he has a HR in one of his starts this year and he’s unlikely to hit many (any?) more this year.  Without that, he would be under the 4.5 P/GS cut off I used to create this list, and I suspect he’ll be back under that before too long.
  • Cooper Hummel was the inspiration for this list. I knew his P/G was deflated by PA off the bench, but his overall .281 wOBA is pretty uninspiring. There are some reasons for hope with Hummel. His .175 BABIP should come up. He is hitting the ball hard (.360 xwOBA) but pounding it into the ground (-1.8 launch angle), but his minor league track record suggests he will not continue to run a ground ball rate over 50%, let alone the 57.1% he has at the moment. Given the crowded OF situation in Arizona, and the fact that Hummel has made only one appearance at catcher, it’s a bit unclear how much he will play moving forward. Right now, I see Hummel as more of a prospect than anything else – he isn’t doing enough to help your team much, between limited playing time and mediocre scoring (even as a starter), but there is potential for a lot more. Whether you want to roster that or not will vary team-to-team and league-to-league.
  • I am surprised Arraez is this low on this list. He’s walking more than he strikes out, putting the ball in play a ton, and even has a HR already, which is impressive given he only his two in 2020 and 2021 combined. If he can bring his BABIP back up to the .350-ish level he showed in 2019-2020, he is going to push closer to 5.0 P/GS and be really useful. If he sits closer to .320-.325, he will be an acceptable bench bat who can fill in mutliple positions, but not much more. For the moment, he is on the COVID-IL, so you can stash him without using a roster spot. There’s no need to rush to add Arraez, but he’s not bad MI depth if you need it.
  • Michael Chavis had a 224 wRC+ as of April 22. He has a 28 wRC+ since then. In another couple weeks, April will be a distant memory.
  • Travis Jankowski is running an insane 97.5% contact rate. He has yet to swing through a pitch in the zone. His swinging strike rate is 0.8%. Even Steven Kwan is at 1.7%! He’s also very clearly not a regular starter for the Mets. I think this is probably just a hot streak and I get riding the hot streak, but not for a guy who hasn’t started in four days and might not start more than once a week.
  • Will Smith is a top-tier fantasy catcher. You should roster him if you can.

A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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6 months ago

Yikes! Small print on the player notes. Hard to read.