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How To: Get Will Venable and Michael Brantley to outproduce Jimmy Rollins

Platoon is often a dirty word in fantasy circles. You despise hearing one of your players are entering one and generally avoid these types on draft day. However, they can be used to your advantage. Sure, it’s not optimal and it takes a little extra work, but the dividends it pays come September will be well worth it.

First, let’s start off with Jimmy Rollins, a mainstay in the Top 30 drafted for the last half decade who has tailed off to the unexciting veteran Top 100 bat. At the age of 33 we cannot use his entire career as a barometer on what to expect, but using the average of his last three years with a 5 percent regression and expecting he plays 145 games we can expect 85 runs, 15 home runs, 65 runs batted in and 27 stolen bases with a .255 average. How do you beat these numbers with two guys readily available on many waiver wires? Use that dirty word, say it with me, platoon them.

Michael Brantley and Will Venable are both atrocious vs. lefties (career .229 average/.294 on base percentage/.290 slugging percentage and .221 average/.296 on base percentage/.269 slugging percentage respectively), but they are both positive contributors vs. righties (Brantley – .276 average/.323 on base percentage/.385 slugging percentage, Venable – .256 average/.327 on base percentage/.441 slugging percentage). Additionally, when each team faces a right handed starter, each team puts each player at the top of the order. Brantley usually leads off and Venable bats second. They’re also both not afraid to test the base paths.

So, how do you use them? Simple non-mathematical formula

Case 1 – If Venable faces a righty and is on the road, start him.

Case 2 – Only exception to the above rule is if Venable is facing a Top 20 right handed arm and Brantley is facing a fifth starter right-handed type.

Case 3 – If Venable is facing a righty at home and Brantley is facing a righty, start Brantley.

Case 4 – Only exception to the above rule is if Brantley is facing a top right-handed arm and Venable draws a scrub.

Case 5 – If both are up against left-handed arms, start Venable. He is most likely to get the call in the late innings and is more likely to net you a stolen base.

Now, what should you expect by deploying this platoon? I won’t go into all of the details. If you would like to do the research on your own
www.baseball-reference.com
is your friend, but here is the briefing:

Venable – he should get about 350 total at-bats against righties given recent years. You can expect to get about 300 of those at-bats since you won’t always start him at home. By extrapolating his career numbers against righties then reducing by 50 at-bats, you can expect 50 runs scored, eight home runs, 35 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases with a .255 average. I did not apply any adjustments for the left-handed bats he will face because they are offset by his better performances against righties on the road than at home.

Brantley – he will get about the same amount of at-bats as Venable, even though Venable gets the nod against lefties. That’s because of how often you will start Brantley when Venable is at home. Therefore, I would expect about the same amount of at-bats. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume 300 at-bats. He had 311 at-bats against righties in 2001, but one month’s worth of those were with a bad wrist (.203 average/.225 on base percentage/.366 slugging percentage after July 25). I don’t think it’d be fair to throw those stats out, but this was considered in coming up with expectations. Anyway, 300 at-bats – 50 runs scored, seven home runs, 30 runs batted in and 12 stolen bases with a .285 average.

Putting Venable and Brantley together, I come up with 100 runs scored, 15 home runs, 65 runs batted in and 32 stolen bases with a .270 average. Not too bad for a Plan B off waivers, is it? If you would like to discuss other platoon bats please post in the Baseball Sharks forums.

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