Update On The Splits Experiment
Before the season, I posted a couple of newsletters on my attempts to utilize splits this season to maximize player value. As of this morning, I’m in second place in the Ottoneu Experts League, two points behind the current leader. I’m content considering Matt Kemp, Jason Heyward, Buster Posey and Gio Gonzalez have been terrible. At present, my team batting average is last in a 5×5 format at .2466. It could be worse.
Jason Heyward has played against right-handed starters for me and posted a .643 OPS. He rides the pine against left-handed starters, so his .345 OPS hasn’t been soul crushing.
Pedro Alvarez is also off to a slow start. Similar to Heyward, I’m living with his .652 OPS against right-handers and avoiding him like the plague versus lefties where his .269 OPS is comedic.
Of course it’s not all fun and games as Sal Perez CRUSHED lefties prior to this season and has a .325 OPS against them in the early going. Meanwhile, I sit his .756 OPS against right-handers for the aforementioned Posey who’s supposed to be hitting everybody.
Even with the occasional miss, I do feel the use of splits is keeping the bad from being worse. Once my core players begin hitting, moving back up the batting average ladder should come faster considering I’ve avoided bunches of worthless at bats.
In the first month, using this strategy has forced me to make a couple of tweaks. First, my lower power, speed players like Angel Pagan need to be adjusted. For example, if it’s down to Pagan-versus-Alfonso Soriano for my last outfield spot, a .750 OPS with speed is favorable to a .820 OPS without. Stolen bases is a counting stat, so I can’t ignore their importance.
Also, my keeping eight-to-10 prospects may not be feasible considering I need a larger bench to cycle through match ups. As of today, I’m on pace for just 136 games out of my SS, MI and UT slots.
Right now, you are reading this with one of two reactions. The first being, they are hot, of course they should be signed. Or, they are about to fall off a cliff, you are too late. Either reaction is fair, but my purpose for signing them has nothing to do with hot or cold starts.
Against right-handed pitching, Seth Smith is a career .865 OPS hitter. He’s not nearly as good against lefties, but I don’t care. Smith will be benched against them anyway. Even during a poor 2012 in a less friendly home park, the left-handed hitter posted a .805 OPS against righties in 363 plate appearances.
I’m paying $1 for Smith’s partial production, while other owners are paying much more for an extra 200 plate appearances.
Chris Johnson is leading the N.L. in hitting and this will never, ever last. This isn’t an issue considering he’s a career .780 OPS third baseman against right-handed pitching and even better than that in 2012. Johnson was a sub-.700 OPS player against lefties last year, but he’ll be benched anyway. No harm, no foul.
In the Ottoneu Experts League, industry types are avoiding both players like the plague. When Chris Johnson and/or Seth Smith face right-handers, I’m golden — Especially if Heyward and/or Alvarez happen to be facing lefties that day. Remember, the goal is not to play the same lineup everyday, but to maximize value.
25 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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