MLB Analytical Angles 9/12/16

Monday features a full 15 game slate and yet only four teams are implied to score 5.0 runs or more. Offense comes at a premium on a slate filled with second tier starting pitchers such as Danny Duffy, David Price, Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Hendricks. Although no single Red Sox hitter is mentioned in this article, Vegas lists them as the projected highest scoring offense. However, I prefer other cheaper offenses at their price tags and have no issue fading the Red Sox completely especially in tournaments. The main offenses to focus on are the Rockies and Astros in cash games because their matchups jump off the page and they come at much more affordable costs.

Anyways, without further ado, here are some individual hitters worth rostering tonight:

Note: All prices are based on FantasyDraft salaries unless otherwise specified

Premium:

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $9,600 – Gas can alert: Shelby Miller will be toeing the mound in hitter-friendly Chase Field. If this start goes anything like how his season has gone, he is in deep trouble: 6.89 ERA, 5.28 FIP, 5.08 xFIP, 43.2-percent GB rate, 1.47 HR/9, 3.95 BB/9 and a measly 6.21 K/9. Amazingly, lefties have slashed .337/.420/.564 against him overall but the numbers get even worse at home to the tune of .396/.486/.637 with a .472 wOBA. Lefties have just roasted him in what are supposed to be the friendly confines of home but certainly do not play that way for Miller. Meanwhile, Charlie Blackmon is amidst a borderline MVP type season hitting .312 with 24 HRs, 69 RBIs and 16 SBs in just 123 games. Specifically, his numbers against RHPs are the ones that jump off the page as he has produced a .391 wOBA and .307/.366/.567 slash line against them. This is the perfect storm of numbers colliding and therefore Blackmon should be treated like one of the top two hitters on the entire slate.

Jose Altuve, Astros, $9,200 – Jose Altuve battled through illness yesterday and, low and behold, he still managed to hit a bomb. Since he was able to play and produce yesterday, I’m going to assume he’ll once again be in the lineup tonight…against a left-hander. The team will square off against Martin Perez who has struggled since the All-Star Break. Through 68.0 IP in the second half thus far, Perez has allowed a 4.90 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 3.04 BB/9 and 5.03 K/9 (actually an improved strikeout rate from the first half). Pitching to contact is never a smart idea against Altuve because he currently owns a .408 wOBA, .333/.417/.539 slash line and 26.3-percent line drive rate against LHP. Coming into Monday, Perez has allowed at least four runs in three of his previous four starts (including six runs twice). Expect an Astros offense that ranks ninth in wOBA against LHP to tee off on Perez. Since their kryptonite comes in the form of pitchers who are able to force them to swing-and-miss, Perez is in a world of trouble.

Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $9,000 – Reminder: Shelby Miller is terrible. Only the Red Sox and Blue Jays are implied to score more runs on this slate and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Rockies actually ended up leading the way. Although Miller is clearly more susceptible to opposing lefties, righties have still slashed .287/.344/.463 against him with a healthy .344 wOBA. Virtually any solid hitter is worthy of consideration against Miller because he allows too many baserunners and bombs while struggling to miss bats. Nolan Arenado actually leads the team’s regulars in wOBA against RHP (.396), slightly edging out Blackmon. With elite skills such as those, why wouldn’t you use him against a horrendous opponent in a favorable hitting environment?

George Springer, Astros, $9,600 – All the reasons to like Altuve transfer over to George Springer as well. The two have produced nearly identical wOBA tallies against LHP this year (.406 for Springer) and Springer too favors the platoon split against the handedness. Springer struggles with strikeouts but that certainly isn’t an issue against a pitcher with a sub-5.00 K/9 rate for the year. Quietly, Perez’s ground ball (GB) rate has decreased nearly three full percentage points since the All-Star Break and is nearly three percentage points worse against RHHs. Oh by the way, Perez has allowed 14 HRs to righties (out of 16 total) to go along with a .287/.356/.431 slash line and .341 wOBA. With the short porch in left field, it doesn’t take much for a righty to hit one out in Minute Maid Park, and at least one of the standout righties should be expected to go deep in this matchup.

Justin Turner, Dodgers, $9,200 – The Dodgers’ three hitter is a strange case because he’s one of the few hitters I’ve ever seen with reverse splits so substantial that his wOBA against RHP is actually 100 percentage points higher than against LHP. It’s an outlier case but simply cannot be ignored and neither can the extreme ballpark upgrade to Yankee Stadium. Over the course of opposing starter Bryan Mitchell’s short career, he has allowed pretty even splits in terms of wOBA allowed to each side of the plate (.350 to LHHs, .346 to RHHs). Justin Turner is always in play against RHPs, so when facing an opponent susceptible to his side of the plate, he is an auto-start (especially in an upper-echelon hitting atmosphere).

Freddie Freeman, Braves, $10,200 – Death, taxes and Freddie Freeman never producing a goose egg are the three surest things in life. Despite a streak over the last four games where he has failed to eclipse five fantasy points, he hasn’t sunk below three either. Now, in a matchup against Andrew Cashner, it’s time for the cold streak to end. After allowing a .383 wOBA to LHHs last year, Cashner is once again struggling mightily against the handedness this year (.360 wOBA). Even more appealing is the fact Cashner has been consistently blasted on the road all year en route to a 6.89 road ERA and .389 wOBA allowed. Both those facts are music to Freeman’s ears considering he leads the Braves with a .404 wOBA, .288 ISO, .398 OBP and .585 SLG against RHP. Freeman is a monster and this is the perfect matchup for him to snap out of his recent, minor slump.

Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, $9,300 – Figuring out when to start Jake Odorizzi has been somewhat simple this season: start him at home and sit him on the road. While he has only surrendered a .293 wOBA at home, that number jumps to .328 on the road. Additionally, he has struck out 8.39 batters per nine innings at home compared to just 7.59 on the road. These splits have led to a 3.85 home FIP and 4.83 road FIP. On the other hand, Josh Donaldson is one of the best hitters in the game and has nearly been as effective against right-handers (.399 wOBA) as he has been against left-handers (.417) in 2016. As icing on the cake, Donaldson’s batted ball distance over the past 15 days is a whopping 236 feet so he is clearly feeling it as of late. Odorizzi is one of the most predictable starting pitchers in the game and this is a scenario where he projects to get hit hard.

Value Plays:

Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks, $7,200 – Typically Tyler Anderson isn’t a starting pitcher to target opposing hitters against but the value and skill set of Yasmany Tomas combined are hard to overlook. I always revert back to the Joe Maddon quote about Javier Baez when he referred him to as “two different hitters” against each side of the plate. The same holds true for Tomas (and the aforementioned Justin Turner for that matter) who has slashed .234/.271/.439 with a .300 wOBA against RHP compared to .345/.405/.691 and a .452 wOBA against LHP. By comparison, Altuve has managed a .407 wOBA against LHP and is priced exactly $2,000 more. While Tomas’ matchup is more difficult against a ground ball pitcher, he is the much superior value.

Paulo Orlando, Royals, $6,800 – Assuming Paulo Orlando draws the start in the leadoff spot, what is there to lose by rostering him at a $6,800 price tag? Answer: nothing. Not only is Orlando slashing .314/.336/.475 against the handedness but he has also posted a respectable .343 wOBA. Batting atop the lineup assures he will at least tie for the team lead in plate appearances so his floor should be reasonably safe in theory…especially against Ross Detwiler and his .342 wOBA allowed to RHHs. While he is best reserved for cash games, it’s hard to overlook a reasonably talented leadoff hitter at a sub-$7,000 cost in cash games.

Seth Smith, Mariners, $6,600 – Probable starter Ricky Nolasco is sporting some reverse splits so Dae-Ho Lee would be worth a look if he made the lineup. Since I’m not confident he will, Seth Smith rates as a fine fallback option even though he is left-handed. Why? He is both cheap and more talented against RHP than the $6,600 price tag would suggest (.351 wOBA). Also, he bats near the top of the lineup and the two teams are virtually listed as a “pick’em” in a game with a projected 9.0 run over/under. The ballpark isn’t overly hitter-friendly but it is still an upgrade from Smith’s home park. He is a fine alternative to some of the stud bats assuming he creates room to roster one of the aces on the slate.

Yuli Gurriel, Astros, $5,400 – Last but not least, Yuli Gurriel completes the trio of Astros bats mentioned in this article. With the Astros listed as -125 favorites with Doug Fister on the mound, it’s clear their bats are expected to make some noise against a struggling lefty. In a limited sample size, the Cuban defector hasn’t walked at all against lefties but he has produced a .356 wOBA and .316/.316/.526 slash line…and you can get him for just $5,400. Remember, this was a perennial MVP candidate in the Cuban Leagues and showed he was a world class hitter in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. His skills far exceed this ridiculous price tag so lock and load him without thinking twice.