Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank Catchers

Did you know this guy is the best daily catcher vs. LHP?
Did you know Norris is the best daily catcher vs. LHP?

As the daily fantasy game continues to evolve and gain popularity, the research and advantages to using advanced statistics have made year-long gamers better as well. It is hard to ignore the impact that the daily game has had within the fantasy sports industry. With that in mind I wanted to follow up my second half rankings series with a look at how players are stack by applying splits to the equation. Oakland has been a lead on the value of splits and platoons and their catchers this year are a prime example. Instead of using just one catcher they use John Jaso, Derek Norris and even Stephen Vogt (a catcher by trade because of his bat) which has been a very useful group in fantasy baseball. For example, in a league with daily transactions here is the Oakland platoon versus the highest drafted catcher Buster Posey:

Buster Posey 2014 Stats: 38 R, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB .278/.339/.427

Oakland catchers 2014: 54 R, 13 HR, 59 RBI, 4 SB .302/.380/.479

To be fair to Posey, it is hard for an individual to beat a team but the stats I am using are to prove a point. The Oakland stats are only from when their players are at catcher and not DH so it does not skew the overall counting numbers. But as more and more teams see this it will involve more clubs exploiting platoons and more importantly splits. So if you are a daily “degenerate” as many of the daily fantasy players refer to themselves as, here is what their knowledge of splits using advanced statistics can teach us. First here is a glossary of the stats I will be using:

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.

Below I will list the top ten catchers for each split, versus left-handed and right-handed pitching. These lists are important when formulating what players to target on a daily basis moving forward. After listing each top ten in the five categories above, I will average out their finishes for the top ten list against each split.

Catchers versus Left-Handed Pitchers (minimum of 50 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Derek Norris .447
2. Carlos Ruiz .427
3. Chris Iannetta .420
4. Brian McCann .400
5. Jonathan Lucroy .399
6. Yan Gomes .397
7. Wilin Rosario .396
8. Devin Mesoraco .377
9. Buster Posey .369
10. Rene Rivera.363

ISO:
1. Wilin Rosario .338
2. Rene Rivera .304
3. David Ross .288
4. Chris Iannetta .253
5. Derek Norris .233
6. Brian McCann .213
7. Mike Zunino .208
8. Jonathan Lucroy .202
9. Devin Mesoraco .196
10. Yan Gomes .194

OPS:
1. Derek Norris 1.039
2. Chris Iannetta .968
3. Carlos Ruiz .964
4. Wilin Rosario .931
5. Jonathan Lucroy .928
6. Yan Gomes .924
7. Brian McCann .914
8. Devin Mesoraco .884
9. Rene Rivera .842
10. Buster Posey .840

AB/HR:
1. Wilin Rosario 11.8
2. David Ross 13
3. Rene Rivera 14
4. Chris Iannetta 16.6
5. Derek Norris 17.2
6. Robinson Chirinos 19
7. Brian McCann 22.3
8. Tyler Flowers 24
9. Mike Zunino 24
10. Yan Gomes 24.5

wRC+: (100 is league average)
1. Derek Norris 193
2. Carlos Ruiz 176
3. Chris Iannetta 176
4. Yan Gomes 158
5. Jonathan Lucroy 155
6. Brian McCann 154
7. Buster Posey 143
8. Wilin Rosario 139
9. Devin Mesoraco 138
10. Rene Rivera 137

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above:
1. Derek Norris – 86 AB, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 360/446/593
2. Chris Iannetta – 83 AB, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 313/402/566
3. Wilin Rosario – 71 AB, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 282/311/620
4. Carlos Ruiz – 48 AB, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 313/484/479
5. Brian McCann – 89 AB, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 326/375/539
6. Jonathan Lucroy – 94 AB, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 330/396/532
7. Rene Rivera – 56 AB, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 250/288/554
8. Yan Gomes – 98 AB, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 347/383/541
9. David Ross – 52 AB, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 231/317/519
10. Devin Mesoraco – 51 AB, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 294/393/490

The top three players in the rankings make great targets against left-handed starters in daily play. While their prices vary, each is solid across the board. I am shocked by how well Brian McCann is doing against lefties. Is there less of a shift or does he stay in longer? Definitely a shock but his numbers suggest it is not a fluke this year. Yan Gomes has been hot and will see his price rise but he is worth the gamble. In the lower price range, David Ross is a boom or bust proposition and I only suggest using him against a weak lefty, but Rene Rivera is an interesting and inexpensive option in San Diego. With another home run today off Mike Minor he is worth a look when in the lineup against southpaws.

Catchers versus Right Handed Pitchers (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Stephen Vogt .411
2. Devin Mesoraco .409
3. Russell Martin .393
4. Jonathan Lucroy .384
5. John Jaso .379
6. Carlos Santana .359
7. Evan Gattis .358
8. Miguel Montero .355
9. Salvador Perez .355
10. Derek Norris .346

ISO:
1. Devin Mesoraco .310
2. Carlos Santana .235
3. Evan Gattis .231
4. Yasmani Grandal .210
5. John Jaso .201
6. Mike Zunino .199
7. Jonathan Lucroy .192
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia .188
9. Yan Gomes .176
10. Robinson Chirinos .175

OPS:
1. Devin Mesoraco .948
2. Stephen Vogt .942
3. Jonathan Lucroy .879
4. Russell Martin .875
5. John Jaso .868
6. Evan Gattis .829
7. Miguel Montero .817
8. Salvador Perez .809
9. Carlos Santana .802
10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia .774

AB/HR:
1. Carlos Santana 15.8
2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia 22.6
3. Yan Gomes 24.6
4. Jonathan Lucroy 25.1
5. Miguel Montero 25.2
6. Robinson Chirinos 25.7
7. Salvador Perez 27.6
8. Jason Castro 27.8
9. John Jaso 28.6
10. Alex Avila 30

wRC+:
1. Stephen Vogt 168
2. Devin Mesoraco 162
3. Russell Martin 155
4. John Jaso 146
5. Jonathan Lucroy 144
6. Carlos Santana 132
7. Evan Gattis 129
8. Salvador Perez 126
9. Miguel Montero 123
10. Derek Norris 123

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above:
1. Devin Mesoraco
2. Jonathan Lucroy
3. Carlos Santana
4. Stephen Vogt
5. John Jaso
6. Russell Martin
7. Evan Gattis
8. Miguel Montero
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
10. Salvador Perez

Carlos is not number 1 against righties yet, but he is closing fast after a huge weekend in KC
Carlos is not #1 against right-handers yet, but he is closing in fast after a huge weekend in Kansas City

It is apparent that the Oakland theme is not a mistake. With Derek Norris placing first overall in regards to facing left-handed pitching and both Stephen Vogt and John Jaso in the top five versus righties, they are on to something here. It is imperative to see who the A’s are facing and to use one of their catchers in both DFS leagues and year-long ones. The values of Jaso and Vogt are on the rise as Coco Crisp is likely headed for another DL stint as they batted in the top two spots of the lineup today. Carlos Santana had a weekend for the ages but no longer has catcher eligibility on Fan Duel. He does maintain it on other sites, however. He is on a meteoric tear right now and his prices will be adjusted. I had him as a target last week in my second half preview and if you got him this week, great job. Jonathan Lucroy is a model of consistency but his being ranked higher against right-handed pitching than left-handed surprised me. Speaking of Lucroy, only he and Devin Mesoraco made both lists pointing to their values going forward. This is only a piece of the puzzle but if you play daily or have been interested, I hope these lists help you identify players to target in that landscape.

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

Statistical credits: BrooksBaseball.net, Fangraphs.com, Yahoo.com, MiLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/Ql5pGi (Norris), http://goo.gl/bygAKS (Santana)

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Post Break Preview: Catcher

Cool Hand Luke tops Fantasy Catchers going foward
Cool-hand Luke tops fantasy catchers moving forward

It used to be a catcher preview started with Buster Posey and ending with Joe Mauer. However, entering 2014 there were enough intriguing options emerging that the “depth” word started to surface. I have never been a proponent of drafting a Buster Posey type at the point in drafts that it would take to get him. So far so good this year, but with the injuries to Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters the margin for error is closing quickly. In order to rank the catchers for the second half I will look at how this season is going while taking into account what the catchers have done over the last statistical year (last 365). Not only that, I will also list how ZiPS feels about the second half by projecting how the catchers are projected to finish the year. But first, some fun with numbers:

• Player A – 148 G, 63 R, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 1 SB 288/331/450
• Player B – 145 G, 60 R, 12 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB 267/335/382
• Player C – 104 G, 60 R, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB 256/332/415

One of my favorite parts of Matthew Berry’s fantasy baseball work was his blind test for players. If you take the names out of the equation you cannot make a decision about a player based on perceptions (or name value). Of course all of us would want player A in this scenario and it is a player I was very high on entering the season. He was on the All-Star team for the American League and on his way to being an elite fantasy baseball catcher. Players B and C are both in the National League but were drafted nowhere near each other. The aforementioned Buster Posey’s last 365 days are represented above but Player C is Wellington Castillo. Yes, of the Cubs. Even though our mind says that player A is Buster Posey, it doesn’t always happen that way. As the season enters the second half, here is how the catchers stack up via ESPN’s player rater:

1. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Devin Mesoraco
3. Evan Gattis
4. Salvador Perez
5. Buster Posey
6. Miguel Montero
7. Yan Gomes
8. Derek Norris
9. Yadier Molina (DL)
10. Kurt Suzuki
11. John Jaso
12. Carlos Santana
13. Joe Mauer (DL)
14. Russell Martin
15. Brian McCann

I feel like I am bashing Buster a bit and he is still in the top five on the first half player rater. That is not a slight on him but at his pre-season ADP, it is a disappointment. After his All-Star game performance, Jonathan Lucroy may finally get some attention for being the top fantasy catcher not only in the first half, but moving forward. If people do not rank players the way they are accustomed it is frowned upon but I promised myself a year ago to trust my gut. I hyped Salvador Perez, Devin Mesoraco and saw Evan Gattis as a bargain compared to Brian McCann. If you had Kurt Suzuki on your radar entering 2014, my hat is off and I tip it to you. So how did this happen? Are there predictors? Not always, but as much as I was right about Perez and Gattis, I have been way off on Carlos Santana. Although, Santana can definitely salvage his season in the 2nd half. Are you listening Wilson Ramos? Please fantasy gods, allow him to stay healthy and not hit eighth in the second half for about ¾ of my teams, thanks. Using WAR (wins above replacement) to rank the Catchers over the last 365 days here is how they stack up, with statistics included (I excluded Yadier Molina who was fourth on this list):

1. Jonathan Lucroy – 78 R, 15 HR, 76 RBI, 10 SB 304/376/474
2. Salvador Perez – 63 R, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 1 SB 288/331/450
3. Yan Gomes – 62 R, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 0 SB 280/333/449
4. Russell Martin – 43 R, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 6 SB 244/357/375
5. Devin Mesoraco – 47 R, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 1 SB 279/331/511
6. Chris Iannetta – 40 R, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB 262/376/419
7. Carlos Santana – 74 R, 23 HR, 69 RBI, 4 SB 235/363/416
8. Jason Castro – 50 R, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 0 SB 254/334/427
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 56 R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 4 SB 246/326/430
10. Wellington Castillo – 33 R, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB 256/332/415
11. Buster Posey – 60 R, 12 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB 267/335/382
12. Carlos Ruiz – 47 R, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 3 SB 261/344/382
13. Miguel Montero – 47 R, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 0 SB 262/346/417
14. Evan Gattis – 49 R, 23 HR, 67 RBI, 0 SB 265/308/484
15. Wilson Ramos – 37 R, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 0 SB 269/307/429

Using a ranking system like this is far from perfect, but being able to see the numbers from the last year does provide some clarity. To sort this list out I also had 350 at bats as the minimum so there may be a couple of emerging players who were omitted from this list but it is a nice start to try and rank the catcher going forward. Of the players in the player rater top 15 not listed above, Brian McCann was 18th, Joe Mauer 19th, Matt Wieters 20th and Kurt Suzuki 21st as you go down the list provided above. These are a nice baseline, so now here are ZiPS projected leaders for standard categories for the rest of the season (ROS):

ZiPS Runs leaders:
1. Carlos Santana: 31
2. Joe Mauer: 29 (DL)
3. Buster Posey: 27
4. Mike Zunino: 26
5. Jonathan Lucroy: 24
6. Salvador Perez: 23

ZiPS HR leaders:
1. Carlos Santana: 9
2. Evan Gattis: 9
3. Brian McCann: 9
4. Wilin Rosario: 8
5. Posey, Mesoraco and Zunino: tied at 7

ZiPS RBI leaders:
1. Buster Posey: 33
2. Carlos Santana: 32
3. Jonathan Lucroy: 30
4. Miguel Montero: 30
5. Brian McCann 29

ZiPS batting average leaders:
1. Jonathan Lucroy: .291
2. Buster Posey: .287
3. Salvador Perez: .286
4. Joe Mauer: .285
5. Kurt Suzuki: .272
6. Wilson Ramos: .271

Being projections, these are not completely going to fit the script. But, it does give a glimpse into what the computer projects for the remaining games of the season. While his average is not great, it does suggest a bounce back is in the offing for Carlos Santana and Jason Castro, two disappointments thus far. Evan Gattis in on rehab assignment now and if he gets back soon, should not see a huge drop in his first half numbers. The wild cards are players like Devin Mesoraco and Wilson Ramos. One is emerging and the other just needs to stay on the field. Below are my rankings for catchers for the second half of the season. I will be wrong, Wilin Rosario will not be hitting 30 home runs this year or ever, but I think there are emerging players who are worth a shot. As always these are up for debate.

My top 20 post-ASB catcher:
1. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee – I believe as should you
2. Salvador Perez – Kansas City – Any uptick in power is a plus
3. Devin Mesoraco – Cincinnati – No Dusty to screw him up, watch him emerge
4. Carlos Santana – Cleveland – Still think he is a buy low, real low
5. Buster Posey – San Francisco – Solid, but not number one anymore
6. Wilson Ramos – Washington – Hit 16 HR in 287 AB in 2013, health risk though
7. Evan Gattis – Atlanta – Power is legit, hope back holds up
8. Yan Gomes – Cleveland – Very underrated but helps across the board
9. Miguel Montero – Arizona – Could be a trade target for St. Louis
10. Wilin Rosario – Colorado – Better days should be ahead, but not elite
11. Russell Martin – Pittsburgh – A poor man’s Lucroy as he adds steals but an average risk
12. Brian McCann – New York Yankees – Still has power but the shift is killing him
13. Jason Castro – Houston – Bounce back candidate in second half
14. Stephen Vogt – Oakland – Has hit his way into the lineup a 2H sleeper
15. Travis d’Arnaud – New York Mets – Has mashed since his demotion/promotion, sleeper
16. Mike Zunino – Seattle – Power is real but his batting average weighs it down
17. Kurt Suzuki – Minnesota – Just the opposite, has the average but little power
18. Derek Norris – Oakland – Great first half but wrong side of platoon and back worries
19. John Jaso – Oakland – Solid but Vogt is pushing his way ahead of Jaso
20. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Miami – Solid #2 catcher but that is his upside

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com (including the ZiPS Projections), Baseball-reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/z8UxPA

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/25

Who is excited baseball is back????? I know I am which also means that Daily Fantasy Baseball is back as well. I really enjoy DFS Baseball as it keeps you even more involved and keeps you up to date with guys you normally wouldn’t care about.

Had some great success in the early games and decided to get a little greedy and try the night-cap too and burnt me.

Well everything I am going to bring you my lineup in which I am playing over at FanDuel.com –RIGHT NOW IF YOU JOIN Fan Duel and make your 1st deposit using the Promo Code – SCRIPT – You will get 100% bonus match on it!!!!!!!! Just do it folks.
Which if you haven’t joined just click this link here: http://partners.fanduel.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_3360b_2

I am going to bring you the lineup I feel is the best for you to bring home some $$$ for the day. Early on we are fighting the guessing game but riding some of the guys hot bats to start the season.

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/25
lineup

Here is a few reasons I like these guys tonight.

Miguel Cabrera vs. Kevin Correia – hitting .393 (11/28) with 2 2Bs, a HR, 8 RBIs & 2 BBs
Early in the week Miggy owners were in panic mode and selling him, today you couldn’t get him if you tried. 6 hits in the last 3 games and he has a matchup against Correia who is struggling against RHP this season. They are hitting .360 against him and this is the easy no brainer pick of the day.

Pedro Alvarez vs. Shelby Miller – hitting .231 (3/13) with 3 HRs, 3 RBIs & a BB
This is just a gut play today. Miller has struggled against lefties and Alvarez has struggled against RHP. I think Alvarez takes Miller deep tonight.

Don’t forget to tune into the Fantasy Forecaster each and every Wednesday at 9 PM EST here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/foryourconsideration or download the show on iTunes by clicking the link here. https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-sports-script/id850876078?mt=2