The Best and Worst Starters Against LHB and RHB

We all know how important the platoon advantage is to daily fantasy. It can be important for those who platoon slots on their roto rosters as well, but it’s a part of almost all decisions made in daily fantasy. We almost always want our hitters to have it with the exception of the elite hitters who can handle pitchers of either handedness and a weirdo here and there with reverse splits like Adam Jones. There are also some pitchers who have reverse splits, and there are some pitchers who follow the traditional split to an exaggerated degree. Below is a chart showing the best and worst pitchers against batters of each handedness from 2012 to May 31. After the chart and the jump I’ll discuss some of the names.

Screenshot 2014-06-01 at 1.30.06 AM

Let’s start in the upper left corner with the guys who struggle the most against RHB. Saunders and Stults are surely guys we’ve all tried to pick on with righty-heavy stacks, and we should continue to do so. But Dallas Keuchel is a different story. It’s been well-documented here that Keuchel has added a slider and ditched his curve, which has led to his turnaround. Picking on him is no longer an option.

We also see a couple of right-handers show up on this list, and I Imagine including right-handed batters in your stacks against Dan Haren and Tim Lincecum hasn’t been a common practice unless they happen to be elite right-handers. This was not a problem for Haren and Lincecum prior to 2012. Haren’s wOBA allowed against RHB prior to 2012 was .244, and Lincecum’s was .168. Not that the point needs to be illustrated further, but right-handed hitters posted an amazing -7 wRC+ against Lincecum prior to 2012. Figuring out what changed is not difficult at all. Just check out the velocity charts below (crude red lines inserted by me).

Haren veloLincecum Velo

If I was going to use right-handed hitters against Haren and Lincecum, I’d still prefer they be able to handle right-handed pitching. And when an elite right-handed hitter who does not much have a platoon split faces Haren and Lincecum, they may be undervalued if the pricing model accounts for the lack of the platoon advantage.

Moving to the bottom left corner of the initial chart, we find mostly stud right-handed starters who shut down right-handed hitters. But Hyun-Jin Ryu sticks out like a sore thumb as the only left-hander on the list. Thanks to a devastating change-up, he’s able to neutralize right-handed hitters. Since the start of 2013, Ryu’s change-up ranks third best in change-up runs above average per 100 pitches (wCH/C) among qualified starters. Don’t go paying top dollar for Tulo when he faces Ryu on Friday.

The top right corner is the least interesting quadrant. It’s full of guys we know aren’t very good. The only name on the list I’d hesitate to pick on is Rick Porcello. Porcello has been marginally better against left-handers so far this year, still below average but not awful. He’s using his four-seamer more against left-handers this year at the expense of his sinker, which is a good decision because his four-seamer has generated more whiffs and more groundballs against left-handers in his career.

In the bottom right corner we once again find a bunch of elite starters no one would ever think to pick on with stacks. But I’ve highlighted the names of a couple right-handers that do not appear to belong on the list, Tim Hudson and Jarred Cosart. They both have success against left-handers because they are able to keep the ball on the ground against them. Cosart ranks second among starters over this year and last in GB% against LHB. All four of his pitches have a GB% of 50% or higher this year against lefties, his most frequent pitch, his cutter, gets them to put the ball on the ground at a 57.58% clip, and his curveball and change are getting grounders over 70% of the time. Hudson, always the groundball specialist, has induced groundballs from lefties at a 56.7% clip in his career.

We hoped you liked reading The Best and Worst Starters Against LHB and RHB by Brett Talley!

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You can find more of Brett's work on TheFantasyFix.com or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.

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chri521
Member

Nice piece Brett! So is this an instance where a decent BvP sample might break a tie. If a hitter is murdering opposite handed pitching, but the pitcher is limiting opposite handed batting then what breaks the tie here?

thalooch
Member
thalooch

there is no such thing as a “decent BvP sample”. The largest BvP samples are around 60-70 PA’s, and they typically span anywhere from 5-10 years. Not very useful imho.

Not sure what “tie” you are talking about, but daily picks should never revolve between 2 players, there are always other options. I think in general if a righty kills lefties, but that lefty is especially tough on righties, then it’s probably better to stay away from that hitter and find one where the matchup appears to fit better.

ttk1149
Member
Member
ttk1149

I’m not so sure it’s wise to discount BvP numbers. Personally, I don’t see them as statistical sample sizes, as much as I do familiarity and being comfortable with how they see the ball against that specific guy. Hitters have approaches, and pitchers can be deceptive to some hitters, and very hittable to others.

I could obviously pull out a laundry list of hitters that mash certain pitchers, but that’s not the root of the debate here. My point is that a guy like Paul Goldschmidt who slashes .542/.536/1.458 with 7 homers in 28PA against Tim Lincecum clearly sees the ball well enough to be able to predict future success. Could the pitcher make an adjustment and get Goldy out a couple times that game? Sure. But I’d surely buy Goldy in a daily lineup.