Florida Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez is useless against right-handed pitching, but he dominates lefties.
Fantasy managers do not take advantage of platoons nearly enough. In a world in which managers frequently utilize lefty/righty matchups, and relief pitchers are so specifically employed that that they’re only responsible for one inning, the fantasy baseball world should reflect this sort of specialization. Devoted fantasy managers who check their lineups each day should be buying in to the same strategy – if a good hitter doesn’t hit well against a left-handed pitcher, why play him that day? If a subpar hitter crushes left-handed pitching, shouldn’t he see some playing time against southpaws?
Here are four players that are not unanimously owned in fantasy leagues and can be found on the waiver wire, but can be huge assets when platooned:
Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins (58% owned in Yahoo! Leagues): Sanchez is hardly a star; he’s often (justifiably) forgotten in a sea of dominant first basemen. However, he’s a solid player that can put up very good numbers when played against left-handed pitchers. Against them in his career, he’s batted .327 with a .396 OBP and 8 home runs in 171 at bats. Conversely, he’s hit just .259 with just a .330 OBP and only 16 home runs in 522 at bats against righties. With a fantasy manager that checks his team often enough to platoon him, Sanchez can be wildly rewarding with the right match-up.
Jonny Gomes, Cincinnati Reds (57% owned in Yahoo! Leagues): Gomes bats .48 points higher against lefties than righties for his career, and the trend has only been heightened this year. Thus far, although a small sample size (14 at bats), Gomes is hitting an impossible .357 with a blistering .526 OBP against southpaws. However, his season average is only .200 because right-handed pitchers have his number; he’s batting a measly .167 against them. If you have a slot for Gomes, grab him while you can, you’ll definitely want those numbers against lefties.
Brennan Boesch, Detroit Tigers (47% owned in Yahoo! League): The second year outfielder is a most unusual case, as he bats left-handed yet slugs the best against like-armed pitchers. In 130 career at bats, he’s recorded an unreal .346 average and .417 OBP against lefties. His .242 and .305 numbers against righties pale in comparison. He’s gotten off to a sweltering start against southpaws this season, tallying a .385 average and .469 OBP. At just 47% owned, a smart fantasy manager would grab Boesch immediately and reap the benefits of those stats against lefties.
Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins (58% owned in Yahoo! Leagues): The mainstay in the Minnesota outfield quietly puts up star-worthy stats against righties. Over his career, Kubel hits a home run just 1.8% (10/553) of his at bats against southpaws, while that rate jumps to 4.8% (84/1734) against righties. Additionally, his batting average drops to .239 agaisnt lefties, versus .285 against righties. This season is even more telling; his only two home runs have come against right-handed pitching and he’s teed off against righties, clipping an incredible .381 with a .403 OBP.
These players are obviously not super stars; at least a few should be found on the waiver wire. But, when a smart owner platoons them, their numbers become exceptional. Starting Brennan Boesch each time he faces a lefty and starting Jason Kubel every time he’s matched up against a righty will yield incredible stats by the end of the year. Contrary to popular belief, two average players can equal one great player, given a devoted and clever fantasy manager.