I was watching a fantasy baseball preview television program in the spring of 2011. As you might recall, fantasy nation was enamored with the thought of Adam Dunn playing half of his games at US Cellular Field. His ADP had reached an all-time high. One of the stat heads touting the ‘three true outcomes’ epitome had crunched the numbers using his abacus and was glowing with his praise, but one of the player analysts tempered the optimism with a question, ‘Are you at all concerned with Dunn’s ability to adjust to DH-ing?’ Before the former player could continue his thought, the sabermetrician interjected his riposte full of snark, ‘Not at all. Hitters hit.’
Ah, that they do. I totally agreed. Hitters do hit…..except when they don’t. Last year the White Sox designated hitter did everything but hit, hacking his way to a (.159/.292/.277) line. The former National struggled mightily as a DH (.176/.316/.315). The only thing is that when he played first base he struggled even more (.122/.268/.174). The debate continues.
Retired veterans Gary Sheffield and Frank Thomas both swore up and down throughout their careers that they hit better when they were able to play in the field. They claimed their performance suffered when relegated to sitting around in the dugout for a couple of hours only to occasionally walk up to the dish to take a few cuts. The reader can decide on their own just how significant these and other splits are. I diligently scour numerous split stats looking for any edge I can get.
Jesus Montero is slashing a paltry (.190/.231/.272) as a designated hitter, but as a catcher he’s hitting fairly well (.309/.338/.496). Make of it what you will, but I noticed this split a month into the season and used it to my advantage in daily contests at Draftstreet.com as well as avoiding the backstop in midseason leagues. Three plus months into the season, this ‘sampling error’ has yet to correct itself. Until Montero figures out a way to adjust to his largely sedentary role, I’m going to avoid him unless he’s in line to be the starting catcher.
Moving to the mound, San Francisco Giants hurlers have put up a 2.31 ERA at AT&T Park, but when they travel that number inflates to 4.85. Proving that trend are Madison Bumgarner (1.81 Home/4.43 Away), Ryan Vogelsong (1.43 Home/3.59 Away), Barry Zito (3.09 Home/5.19 Away), and Tim Lincecum (3.43 Home/9.00 Away).
At PNC Park Pittsburgh’s staff has generated an MLB second best 2.39 ERA, but outside of the ‘burgh’ their ERA rises to 4.70. Kevin Correia (3.50 Home/4.68 Away) and Jeff Karstens (0.64 Home/6.50 Away) are still available in some NFBC leagues and should put up serviceable numbers and a handful of wins at home.
Cleveland Indian pitchers at Progressive Field are sporting a 3.78 ERA, but on the road that number is a league worst 5.36. Ubaldo Jimenez (3.66 Home/ 6.49 Away), Justin Masterson (3.54 Home/5.06 Away), and Derek Lowe (2.86/5.81) hold true to that form. I don’t own Jimenez or Masterson, but if I did I’d bench them away from ‘the Jake.’ Lowe becomes an interesting $1 pickup if he gets a two-start week at home and you’re chasing wins.
If you’re streaming two-start pitchers off of the wire and are looking for good matchups, the Colorado Rockies away from Coors are a good play. The San Diego Padres are last in the majors with a mere 320 runs on the season. That comes out to 3.55 per game. The Rockies rank sixth in runs scored with 4.83 per game, but on the road they only score 3.54 per game. Everyone knows that Safeco field is a pitchers park, so it’s not surprising that the Mariners rank last in runs scored at home (2.86 runs per game). What you may not know is that those same Mariners rank third in runs scored on the road (4.78 runs per game). If you think your marginal starter is in for a quality start when Ichiro and company come to town, you might be disappointed. Other noteworthy team splits include: Milwaukee (5.56 Home/3.69 Road), Arizona (5.09 Home/3.50 Road), New York Mets (4.08 Home/5.09 Away), and San Diego (2.98 Home/4.11 Away).