Identifying and leveraging easy-to-manage platoons can be a fantasy boon. It typically is not a good idea to plan a draft around such platoons, but knowing they are available can help if you find yourself with a hole in the late rounds of your draft.
Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson, Braves third base
Effective third base platoons are somewhat rare, so this tandem will really help savvy owners who run into trouble at the hot corner.
Francisco will see the strong side of the platoon. In 2012, he had the second highest swinging strike rate (16.9 perecent) among hitters with at least 200 plate appearances. That led to the fourth highest strikeout rate (34.1 percent). On the positive side, he has excellent raw power and will hit his share of long balls. He’s best matched up against contact-oriented pitchers.
Johnson will see the lefties and his performance is a bit more predictable than Francisco’s. The offensive skill set is fairly similar, but with less power and fewer whiffs. Like with Francisco, he matches up best against contact-oriented or low-quality pitchers.
Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz, Cubs outfield
Hairston is the prize here, but since his predictable starts will come against left-handed pitchers, his fantasy value suffers. The only true shortcoming in his game (at least against LHP) is a low walk rate. Still, he’ll hit for power, post a usable average, and provide some counting stats.
Scheirholtz is less exciting. He’s a typical grinder who will put the ball in play and occasionally surprise you with a home run or a stolen base. He’s useful as a fantasy spot starter, but probably won’t be a frequent target like Hairston.
Brandon Moss and Seth Smith, Athletics first base and designated hitter
Moss and Smith won’t be forming a platoon together, but they will likely be platooned. Both are valuable assets against right-handed pitching.
Smith tends to post predictably average production against RHP. He’ll bash a few home runs, reach base at an acceptable rate, and post a tolerable average. He’s provided some stolen bases in the past but shouldn’t be counted on in that regard.
Moss is harder to predict after breaking out in 2012. He posted career bests in isolated power and balls in play average while showing strikeout problems similar to Francisco (above). It’s possible the power could hold up in a platoon role, which should mean similar production to Smith but with more home runs and a lower on-base percentage.
Will Venable and Chris Denorfia, Padres outfield
Venable is a consistently above-average hitter against right-handed pitching. While most of the names on this list are here for power numbers, Venable’s contribution is to reach base at an average rate, swipe a couple dozen bags, and chip in with the occasional home run. It feels like he’s been a deep sleeper forever, but now that he’s entering his age 30 season, it may be time to stop imagining upside.
Denorfia is the kind of fourth outfielder most teams wish they had. For fantasy purposes, he has enough power and speed to be interesting at the plate and on the bases. He can also take his share of walks without posting a high strikeout rate. The result is a kind of “anything-can-happen” player. His stat line won’t be sexy at the end of the season, but if you’re looking for a guy who might hit a home run or steal a base on a given day, he’s not a bad pick.
Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry, Rangers center field
In leagues that count center field as a separate position (two-thirds of mine do), this tandem could prove helpful.
As the only prospect on this list, Martin has some upside appeal that the others lack. He has good raw power and useful speed, but reports on his game emphasize the rawness of his baseball skills. He’s also credited as being a baseball rat, which is a scout’s way of saying that he thinks Martin’s skills will eventually play up. In 2012, he’s more likely to steal you a base than hit a home run. Use him against right-handed pitching.
Gentry isn’t anything to get excited about. His best contribution is a solid batting average and he’ll also steal the occasional base. He shouldn’t be your first pick if you need a spot starter, but there will be plenty of thin Monday and Thursdays where you may have need of his services.
Tune in next time when I cover potential breakouts.