Tuesday, May 27, 2008

C'mon Baby, Let's Do the Splits

By: Ben Distler

For many fantasy baseball owners, splits are something best left to ballerinas or, perhaps, Patrick Swayze. However, by digging deeper inside your player’s numbers, you can find that they excel in certain situation, while falling flat in others. Using this information, you can either maximize their potential for your own team, or use them to trade them away for full value. Here are some of the more glaring split stats in fantasy baseball:

Erik Bedard LHP SEA – 2008 stats: 3-3, 4.70 ERA 1.30 WHIP

At first glance, Bedard’s debut season in Seattle seems to be a dud. There’s a key phrase in the previous sentence: "in Seattle." While pitching at home, Bedard happens to have a stellar 1.69 ERA and miniscule 0.98 WHIP in four starts. His road stats were already awful, even before a 9 run shelling at Yankee Stadium on May 23rd. He currently sports an 8.84 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in his four road starts. Bedard must have one of those fancy memory foam mattresses at home, and spends all night twisting and turning during road trips. Also, he sports a 2.14 WHIP against left handed hitters. So, if you see Bedard starting at home, put him in your lineup with no fear. If you see him starting on the road against a lineup with a lot of lefties, be sure to bench him for that outing.

Mark Reynolds 3B ARI – 2008 stats: .225 BA, 33 R, 8 HR, 29 RBI

Reynolds is making a great case for winning the statuette for the “Adam Dunn award for most frustrating fantasy line.” His power numbers are enticing, and he plays in Arizona, which is underrated as a launching pad for homers. However his 61 strikeouts in just 169 at bats this season puts him in the rarified air of Dunn and Ryan Howard (well, at least in terms of strikeouts…) But all is not lost for Reynolds. Turns out that he bats a healthy .289 at home, while shattering the Mendoza line at .151 on the road. Due to his .369 OBP at home, he’s scored 21 of his 33 runs in Arizona, and 18 of his RBI have come there as well. The HRs are split evenly, but if you have a second option at 3B, it may be worth starting Reynolds at home and subbing in the backup when he is away.

Brian Bannister RHP KCR – 2008 stats: 4-6 4.94 ERA 1.27 WHIP

Bannister has gone through great lengths to embrace sabermetric stats this past off season in order to improve his game. His basic conclusion was to issue less walks. I could have told him that one. Either way, I’m sure Bannister himself is staring at his split stats with just as much confusion as I am. Despite issuing only 6 walks on the road, Bannister is sporting a ridiculous 8.44 ERA and ugly 1.61 WHIP, en route to a 1-4 record. Back home in Kansas City, he has issued 9 walks but has just a 2.29 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Perhaps Bannister should consider issuing more walks? Another interesting tidbit, Bannister has almost the exact same ERA and WHIP splits in day and night games. While Bannister is on the cusp of completely unownable with his overall numbers, if you see him sitting there in the player pool, and he has a home, day game start coming up, you want to grab him.

Dan Uggla 2B FLA – 2008 stats: .318 AVG, 39 R, 16 HR, 37 RBI

As many owners in fantasy baseball have noticed, Uggla started out the season slow, batting .255 in April with just four homers. Thanks to a power surge, Uggla has crushed 12 homers so far in May to the tune of a .403 batting average. So, should you lucky Uggla owners hold onto him, thinking he’ll continue to play this way? Absolutely not. Sell Uggla right now for his top value. As it turns out, May just so happens to be Uggla's hottest month. He batted .307 in May last year and didn’t bat above .248 in any other month. For his career, he’s a .350 hitter in May, and doesn’t crack .267 in any other month (excluding 3 measly October at bats). The inevitable slide that brings Uggla back to the .260 range is coming, and when it does, don’t be the owner left holding the bag.

San Diego pitching in general

I’ve gone on and on about how spacious Petco Park is. Petco is bigger than Jim Belushi at the all you can eat buffet. Petco is bigger than Miley Cyrus’ ticket sales. I’m hoping these split stats will nail down the point once and for all. San Diego pitching as an entire unit has a 3.35 ERA at home, with a paltry 5.42 away ERA. Greg Maddux is pitching so well in Petco (1.84 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) that it makes him look like, well, Greg Maddux. (circa 1995). Jake Peavy, though currently on the DL, was putting up a 1.46 ERA and 0.86 WHIP at home versus 5.40 and 1.66, respectively, on away starts. Chris Young (at least before becoming a baseball magnet) is an ace at home, and a train wreck grease fire away. Even Randy Wolf, yes that Randy Wolf, has a 3.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP at home. His ERA nearly doubles on away games. If only San Diego could score any runs to support these pitchers, they’d be better than 11-14 at home. Then again, this overly spacious park hurt offense just as much as helps pitching. Adrian Gonzalez bats a superb .324 and has hit 9 of his 14 home runs away from this black hole death trap for offense. He plods along at just .237 inside it. If the stats you need to improve are ERA and WHIP though, make sure to dial up some San Diego pitching. Just don’t expect much in terms of wins.

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