3 Players With Huge Platoon Splits to Target in Fantasy Baseball
It's very likely that there’s a player with a .359 career on-base percentage and .457 slugging percentage readily available on your fantasy league’s waiver wire. This player has logged 1,713 plate appearances, with 67 home runs (25.4 homers per 650 plate appearances) and 231 RBI (87.7 RBI/650 PA).
This year, he is slashing .333/.333/.667 (177 wRC+), yet is still available in 95% of all Yahoo leagues.
This player is Ike Davis when he faces right-handed pitching (so yes, I was a bit misleading; we’re technically talking about a player in a particular split).
Against both lefties and righties, Davis has slashed .243/.338/.425, good for a 112 wRC+, which jumps to 127 when the lefty has the platoon advantage.
An inability to hit righties (.197/.262/.319, 62 wRC+) has hurt his career numbers, but for fantasy purposes, owners have no need to use him against northpaws (the A’s probably won’t either, but that’s besides the point).
That is the beauty of selectively using players like Davis. You can start them in spots where they can hit like the league’s best sluggers, and leave them on the bench in situations where they’d hit more like a backup catcher.
Some of these players may be in real world platoons (like Davis), while others may unfortunately have to face same-sided pitching. For fantasy purposes, this won’t matter, since you’re only playing these guys when they have the platoon advantage anyway.
Here are three players available in more than half of all Yahoo leagues who have a sizable career platoon advantage.
Ike Davis, Oakland A’s
Available in 95% of Yahoo leagues
Career 127 wRC+ vs. LHP
Davis is especially valuable to anyone playing in an OBP league, as his average with the platoon advantage (.257) is not much better than his .243 overall batting average.
A huge spike in walk rate, though, drives the 21% increase in his on-base percentage against righties relative to his overall OBP. Against righties, Davis has walked on 14.0% of his plate appearances, which is almost twice as high as his walk rate against lefties.
Even if you are not in an OBP league though, Davis can still be an attractive option for owners in need of power.
The 28-year-old has a .457 slugging percentage against righties (a .032 increase from his overall career total), .200 isolated power, and, as mentioned, 67 home runs (3.9% of his plate appearances) in the split.
If you do pick up Davis, be sure to get him out of your lineup against lefties if you can, as he sits versus lefties in the real world (not like he would hit well against them anyway).
Adam Lind, Milwaukee Brewers
Available in 57% of Yahoo leagues
Career 128 wRC+ against righties
As a fellow lefty-hitting first baseman who owns righties and often sits against southpaws, Lind is essentially an older version of Davis, albeit one with a higher average, slightly lower walk rate, and somehow an even more drastic platoon split.
The 31-year-old Lind has a .292/.349/.509 slash line and 126 home runs in 2,883 career plate appearances against righties. In 902 plate appearances against lefties, these numbers drop to .214/.259/.332, while the home run rate drops from 4.4% to 2.3%.
Since Lind entered the league in 2006, no one in baseball has a bigger difference between his batting average against righties and overall batting average than Lind’s 0.19 (among players with at least 2,000 PAs). Lind is also tied for the fifth-largest gap in both overall OBP and OBP vs. righties and has the fifth largest gap between overall slugging and slugging against righties during this time.
In 2015, Lind has actually posted a reverse platoon split (139 wRC+ against lefties and 116 WRC+ vs. righties), but has just 10 plate appearances against same-sided pitching, and a .375 BABIP against lefties despite just a 12.5% line drive rate.
And even if there wasn’t BABIP luck involved, it’s probably not a good idea to trust a 10 plate appearance sample when there are almost 900 plate appearances saying the opposite thing.
Available in 59% of Yahoo league
Career 120 wRC+ against lefties
Like Ike Davis and Lind, Rajai Davis will get on-base against opposite-handed pitching.
The righty Tigers outfielder, though, stands out as a guy who can also pad your stolen base numbers, as I’ve written before.
Davis has a lifetime slash line of .304/.359/.448 in 1,057 plate appearances against lefties, while he has hit just .254/.297/.348 against righties.
Unlike Ike, Rajai’s walk rate does not rise to a particularly special level with the platoon advantage (jumping from 4.7% against righties to 7.5% against lefties), but he does hit the ball harder.
His line drive rate against lefties is 22.6% (a 5.0% increase from his percentage against righties), while his ISO jumps from .094 to .144, according to FanGraphs.
As an added bonus, the .062 increase in OBP means Davis will be on base more (duh!), and will have more opportunities to steal bases.
This is especially big for a player with a 79.3% stolen base success rate (307 steals on 387 attempts), which is the 23rd-best rate among players with at least 300 steals (since at least 1951, the earliest year Baseball-Reference has complete caught stealing totals).
We have Davis, who is in a real-world platoon with Anthony Gose, projected to steal 27 bases for the rest of this season, which is tied for ninth-most in the Majors.