Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank OF versus LHP

Scary to think Stanton is slugging .713 vs. LHP & at 24 is just entering his peak power years
It is scary to think Stanton is slugging .713 vs. LHP and at 24 is just entering his peak power years

While working on the Script Splits articles, sometimes perception does meet reality. However, this is an imperfect process. One of the hardest things when playing daily matchups is not only recognizing what hitter has the optimal opportunity, but also maximizing that decision. Even when you play the splits correctly, it can go wrong. Once again I have tried to compile a list of the outfielders who have the best split advantages. Because of the high number of players, I have divided this over two columns with this article highlighting the best against left-handed pitching. There are some obvious choices, but as always there are some surprises. At the end I will try to tier them by the aggregate averages and will include three bonus plays. Here are the categories in which I investigated with:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

Since many of the daily sites refer to wOBA and wRC+, I thought these were two great target starts to dive into. First I will list the top 20 outfielders in each of the five categories above and then show the top 20 on average with their 2014 statistics versus left-handed pitching included at the end.

Outfielders versus left-handed Pitching (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Giancarlo Stanton .505
2. Jose Bautista .483
3. Adam Jones .477
4. Scott Van Slyke .461
5. Emilio Bonifacio .448
6. Drew Stubbs .447
7. Justin Upton .434
8. Alex Rios .434
9. Nelson Cruz .424
10. Rajai Davis .422
11. Mike Trout .422
12. Khris Davis .414
13. Jayson Werth .412
14. Dexter Fowler .400
15. JD Martinez .394
16. Josh Willingham .390
17. Josh Hamilton .390
18. Desmond Jennings .382
19. Brandon Guyer .382
20. Andrew McCutchen .379

ISO:
1. Scott Van Slyke .400
2. Giancarlo Stanton .325
3. JD Martinez .320
4. Jose Bautista .313
5. Adam Jones .303
6. Mike Trout .294
7. Justin Upton .286
8. Khris Davis .286
9. Mike Morse .261
10. Jay Bruce .259
11. Alex Rios .258
12. Drew Stubbs .247
13. Desmond Jennings .242
14. Nelson Cruz .234
15. Marlon Byrd .233
16. Andrew McCutchen .227
17. Marcell Ozuna .222
18. Yoenis Cespedes .222
19. Ryan Braun .218
20. Josh Willingham .217

OPS:
1. Giancarlo Stanton 1.202
2. Jose Bautista 1.139
3. Adam Jones 1.112
4. Scott Van Slyke 1.085
5. Drew Stubbs 1.036
6. Alex Rios 1.033
7. Emilio Bonifacio 1.025
8. Justin Upton 1.009
9. Nelson Cruz .997
10. Rajai Davis .974
11. Mike Trout .970
12. Khris Davis .962
13. Jayson Werth .930
14. JD Martinez .920
15. Dexter Fowler .907
16. Josh Willingham .905
17. Josh Hamilton .903
18. Desmond Jennings .879
19. Andrew McCutchen .860
20. Brandon Guyer .850

AB/HR:
1. Scott Van Slyke 10
2. Jose Bautista 10.4
3. J.D. Martinez 12.5
4. Justin Upton 12.8
5. Giancarlo Stanton 13.3
6. Jay Bruce 13.5
7. Mike Trout 13.6
8. Marlon Byrd 14.7
9. Khris Davis 15.2
10. Adam Jones 15.6
11. Marcell Ozuna 16.2
12. Mike Morse 16.4
13. Yoenis Cespedes 16.5
14. Curtis Granderson 17.2
15. George Springer 18
16. Drew Stubbs 18.6
17. Andrew McCutchen 18.8
18. Torii Hunter 20.6
19. Carlos Gomez 22.3
20. Desmond Jennings 23.8

wRC+:
1. Giancarlo Stanton 229
2. Jose Bautista 211
3. Adam Jones 209
4. Scott Van Slyke 204
5. Emilio Bonifacio 189
6. Justin Upton 182
7. Mike Trout 177
8. Drew Stubbs 175
9. Alex Rios 174
10. Nelson Cruz 172
11. Rajai Davis 170
12. Jayson Werth 166
13. Khris Davis 165
14. Dexter Fowler 157
15. Josh Hamilton 155
16. Desmond Jennings 150
17. Josh Willingham 150
18. J.D. Martinez 150
19. Brandon Guyer 150
20. Andrew McCutchen 146

There were some surprises on all of the lists but I was really shocked at players like Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Pence not being higher on the lists. It shows how the daily game is changing the landscape of fantasy baseball as a player like Brandon Guyer who is priced appreciably lower than a former MVP provides value. Again, which pitchers the batters are facing are of the utmost importance and maximizing those matchups is the key. With that in mind, here is the top 20 overall based on the five categories.

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above:
1. Giancarlo Stanton – 15 R, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, 388/490/713
2. Jose Bautista – 17 R, 8 HR, 14 RBI, 361/465/675
3. Scott Van Slyke – 16 R, 7 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 271/414/671
4. Adam Jones – 23 R, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 376/433/679
5. Justin Upton – 17 R, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 312/411/597
6. Mike Trout – 25 R, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 275/402/569
7. Drew Stubbs – 16 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 7 SB, 366/423/613
8. Alex Rios – 14 R, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 371/404/629
9. Khris Davis – 18 R, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB, 319/357/604
10. J.D. Martinez – 10 R, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 256/322/564
11. Emilio Bonifacio – 19 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB, 403/442/583
12. Nelson Cruz – 10 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 370/400/574
13. Rajai Davis – 16 R, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 8 SB, 370/400/574
14. Jayson Werth – 16 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 351/430/500
15. Mike Morse – 14 R, 7 HR, 13 RBI, 235/302/496
16. Marlon Byrd – 17 R, 7 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 282/321/515
17. Desmond Jennings – 16 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 274/364/516
18. Dexter Fowler – 16 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 333/426/481
19. Andrew McCutchen – 15 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 253/380/480
20. Marcell Ozuna – 12 R, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 272/314/494

Three Bonus Plays:
1. Jonny Gomes – 12 R, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 303/359/429
2. Brandon Guyer – 11 R, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 348/411/439
3. Hunter Pence – 22 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 4 SB, 312/368/456

Stubbs power/speed combo with 5 HR & 7 SB vs. LHP makes him a great daily play
Stubbs’ power/speed combo with 5 HR and 7 SB vs. LHP makes him a great daily option

I used the underlined players to create tiers above. In tier one they are all fantastic against left-handed pitching but I would use Scott Van Slyke more in GPP contests rather than cash games like 50/50 or head-to-head. His supporting numbers are strong, but his boom or bust ability makes him a risky play. Tier-two has options, as you can go with power like Nelson Cruz, Justin Upton and Khris Davis, or opt for a speed guy with pop like Rajai Davis, Emilio Bonifacio and Drew Stubbs. With the trade of Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis should hit leadoff against all lefties increasing his stock in the weeks ahead. One has to think that the Braves would give Bonifacio a look at the top of their lineup over B.J. Upton, but Fredi Gonzalez’s batting orders leave much to be desired. The third tier consists of solid players who you can target when they are hot. Jayson Werth is a prime example, right now he is a middling daily player, but his price jumps when he goes on a homer binge, the key is pouncing on him at the right time. Drew Stubbs is a player I like to use against southpaws, especially at home. His ability to not only hit home runs, but steal bases provides a nice baseline of points when building an optimal lineup. All of the bonus plays are great fillers to a lineup and names to keep in mind when they face a left-handed pitcher and can provide salary relief depending on the site. Not only can Major League teams exploit split advantages, daily fantasy and leagues with daily lineups can as well. Baseball is unpredictable, but advanced metrics help identify who to target.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/avjaLT (Stanton), http://goo.gl/nnY9xw (Stubbs)

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