Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 6/21/13
If that pesky “Util” spot on your roster is being clogged with the likes of an underperforming B.J. Upton or a guy that you are hoping was going to have a comeback season but just hasn’t performed — case in point, Justin Morneau — I’m here to help. As much as I would like to rail against Morneau (I really had high hopes for him), this article is not about him; instead, it’s about utilizing a righty/lefty platoon split to fill your “Util” slot, or maybe even an OF slot, to maximize your output where you otherwise don’t have a legitimate, startable player.We will take a look at a pair of guys that mash from one side of the plate who are owned in less than 50% of leagues. Then we will add these two guys together to get an idea of what kind of stats you can expect if you went with the platoon for the full year. There are a few caveats to the strategy, but we will get to that later. First let’s take a look at the weak side of the platoon: the guys that hit lefties well.Batters Stats in Games Started by Left-Handed PitchersBelow are stats acquired when the starting pitcher is a lefty, so they include stats collected when the batter stays in the game and faces a right-handed reliever.Cody Ross | OF | ARI | Yahoo!: 11% | ESPN: 5%Ross has perennially killed left handed pitching. Over his career he has a .934 OPS against southpaws.  While the power is a bit down this year with only a .488 SLG it’s bound to increase in the Arizona summer heat.  Even if the power stays depressed can you go wrong with a .325 BA from a guy off the waiver wire?Cody Ransom | 3B/SS | CHC | Yahoo!: 2%  | ESPN: 2%Either those 2% are employing my platoon strategy, or they are in a damn deep NL-only league. Either way, as you can see Ransom has killed lefties. His average is depressed a bit here because remember, these stats include times where Ransom is facing a lefty starter and also righty relievers. Even with that in mind, 6 HR and 12 RBI are nothing to sneeze at. Take that production over 500 AB and you are talking about 47 HR and 95 RBI.Batters Stats in Games Started by Right-Handed PitchersBelow are stats acquired when the starting pitcher is a righty, so they include stats collected when the batter stays in the game and faces a left-handed reliever.Lucas Duda | 1B/OF | NYM | Yahoo!: 7% | ESPN: 5%Looking at these numbers we can see that Duda plainly cannot hit lefties because his numbers against rights are pretty damn good. Again, lets extrapolate these numbers over a 500 AB season and we get 28 HR, 60 R, 60 RBI and a decent .270 BA. While the runs and especially the RBI are down, that’s not really Duda’s fault. While I can help you with fantasy strategy, there’s not much I can do to help the Mets get on base when Duda is at the dish.Nate Schierholtz | OF | CHC | Yahoo!: 15% | ESPN: 27%This one is easily my favorite. Schierholtz is murdering right handed pitching. The average is great, and he even has 9 HR and 4 SB to boot.Combining These Split Stats to Create a Better, More-Productive HitterLet’s take a look at what kind of numbers we get when you combine two of these guys. I’m going to use Schierholtz for the strong side of the platoon (against righties) and Ransom for the weak side of the platoon (against lefties).Now, two quick notes before we get to the stats.First, let’s discuss how you actually employ the platoon. It’s pretty simple actually, but consider this flow chart of sorts to help you out.When Ransom faces a lefty, you start Ransom regardless of who Schierholtz is facing.When Ransom faces a righty and Schierholtz faces a righty, you play Schierholtz.When Ransom faces a righty and Schierholtz faces a lefty, you gamble on whomever you think has the best matchup.Secondly, for the sake of ease of calculation/comprehension, I’m simply combining the numbers between Schierholtz and Ransom so there is some double counting. It does not exclude the days where Ransom faces a lefty and Schierholtz faces a righty (meaning Schierholtz does not play), nor does it exclude the days when Ransom faces a righty and Schierholtz faces a lefty (meaning one of the two will sit). I simply could not find a way to account for this with the stats available, so the long and the short of it is that the numbers below aren’t exactly what you would have gotten, but they’re pretty close.Combined stats for a Ransom-plus-Schierholtz platoon in 2013.Those aren’t bad numbers at all for a couple guys you have picked up off the waiver wire who have combined ownership percentages of 17% on Yahoo! and 29% on ESPN.By way of comparison, these numbers are not really that different from Jose Bautista‘s 45 R, 15 HR, 37 RBI, 5 SB, .257 BA, and Bautista ranks 53rd overall on Yahoo!. J.J. Hardy has a fantasy line of 29 R, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 1 SB, .270 BA, which is worth about the same as this Ransom-plus-Schierholtz platoon this year. Hardy is ranked 93rd on Yahoo!. That means with this platoon you’re getting top 100 production from combining the strengths of two players who aren’t even in the top 150 — Schierholtz ranks 166th, Ransom ranks 773rd.There are two difficulties in this strategy. The first is the time involved in employing it. You have to look at each day’s starters and find out who is facing a righty or lefty and switch your lineup accordingly. The second is finding the hot lefty and righty platoon player. Who would have guessed that would be Ransom and Schierholtz at the beginning of the year? (Perhaps Cubs fans, but I doubt it.)Now that the season is a well underway it’s much easier to pick out those hot platoon hitters. If you have the time on your hands — frankly, if you read this entire article you absolutely have the time — and you are throwing crap out there at your “Util” slot, maybe you should go with a platoon.
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