In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we are going to analyze the best and worst hitting teams so far in 2017. We will use team OPS as the barometer for a team’s hitting prowess. A team OPS encapsulates all of the relevant characteristics of a good hitting team: the ability to hit for both average and power along with the ability to take a walk.
The most useful aspect of understanding the team OPS of the opponent has to do with your starting pitcher decisions. Whether you are deciding on a streaming candidate or dealing with a start/sit decision for your already rostered pitcher, knowing the opponent is important. This works great in conjunction with the Pitching Planner and the Rest-Of-Season Rankings.
We will dig into a few splits of the team OPS rankings along with the overall rankings. Certain teams may hit drastically different at home or on the road. Park factors can definitely play a role in this. They also may hit differently if they are facing a right-handed pitcher or a lefty. A team’s lineup construction, specifically the handedness of the batting order, will undoubtedly have an impact with this split.
We will include a few charts that contain the Top 5 and Bottom 5 teams in terms of team OPS for overall, at home, on the road, versus right-handed pitchers, and versus left-handed pitchers.
First, we will discuss both the top and worst hitting teams with respect to overall team OPS. Then we will touch on teams that place within both the Top 10 at home and the Bottom 10 on the road and vice versa. Finally, we will look at the teams that place within the Top 10 against righties and the Bottom 10 against lefties, and vice versa.
The Fantasy Lookout: Team OPS
|Home OPS||Road OPS|
|NY Yankees||.890||NY Mets||.843|
|Kansan City||.694||San Diego||.675|
|NY Mets||.682||LA Angels||.667|
|RHP OPS||LHP OPS|
|NY Yankees||.845||Chicago White Sox||.812|
|San Diego||.696||Tampa Bay||.683|
|LA Angels||.696||St. Louis||.673|
|Chicago White Sox||.694||Texas||.656|
|Kansas City||.690||San Francisco||.643|
|San Francisco||.663||San Diego||.633|
Top Hitting Teams
The New York Yankees are crushing the ball in the early going. Led by super sophomore, Aaron Judge, the Bronx Bombers are turning back the clock and rekindling memories of the good ole days. In addition to being at the top in terms of overall team OPS, they also lead all of baseball in team OPS at both home (even ahead of the Rockies) and against righties. They are no slouches on the road where they place sixth or against southpaws where they rank 12th. They are a balanced hitting team and lead everyone in both home runs and runs per game.
The Washington Nationals, who rank second in overall team OPS, are also in Top 5 in all of the splits except when facing left-handed pitchers, where they are a mere eighth. Ryan Zimmerman’s career best start, along with the bounceback of Bryce Harper have been the keys so far.
The Houston Astros rank third in overall team OPS and are also in the Top 5 in all of the splits except when playing at the friendly confines of Minute Maid, where they come in at number 12. You know you are a good hitting team when one of your part-time players, Marwin Gonzalez, already has 12 long balls and a .313 batting average.
The Arizona Diamondbacks come in at number four in the overall team OPS rankings, but they have large split differentials that we will touch on later on. For now, just know that they rake at home and against righties, but are mere mortals on the road and against lefties.
The Cincinnati Reds rank fifth in overall team OPS and are an extremely balanced hitting team. As proof, they rank within the Top 10 in all of the relevant splits.
Worst Hitting Teams
The Philadelphia Phillies rank 26th in terms of overall team OPS, but they really struggle in a couple of areas. They own the lowest team OPS on the road and they rank 25th against right-handed pitchers.
The Los Angeles Angels own the 27th ranked overall team OPS and things will not get much better over the next month or so with super-stud Mike Trout still on the disabled list. Of note, they are in the Bottom 5 on both the road and versus righties, while ranking 24th at home.
The Kansas City Royals come in at number 28 in terms of overall team OPS, and they have struggled across the board as they place within the Bottom 10 in all of the splits. Outside of Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez, their lineup has been full of holes.
The San Diego Padres, to no surprise, are struggling the hit the ball so far in 2017. They rank second to last in overall team OPS and also place within the Bottom 5 in all of the splits. Stream away, early and often and everywhere!
The San Francisco Giants are the worst hitting team and by a decent amount. The only reason that they are not within the Bottom 5 in all of the splits is that they only have the sixth worst team OPS on the road. The Giants have been a great target for opposing pitchers so far in 2017.
Home versus Road
The Arizona Diamondbacks own the second best home OPS and the third worst road OPS. The majority of this can be explained by the fact that Chase Field ranks number one in terms of Park Factors (ESPN) with respect to runs.
The Detroit Tigers have hit materially better at home, where they have the fourth best OPS, than they have on the road (22nd best OPS). Comerica Park ranks as the 12th most hitter-friendly park so that only explains part of it. Given the fact that the Tigers rank in the upper half in overall team OPS, I would attribute it to small sample size issues and understand that they are not a high end streaming target when they are on the road.
The Oakland Athletics have the seventh best home OPS and the 26th ranked road OPS. Oakland Coliseum has been the eighth most hitter friendly park in the early going. For now, Oakland seems like a solid streaming candidate when they are on the road.
The New York Mets hitters love it when they are living out of a suitcase. The own the second worst home OPS and the number one road OPS. The fact the Citi Field has been the fourth most pitcher friendly park has obviously played a large role.
The Atlanta Braves hitters have so far not been too fond of their new Sun Trust Park. Despite placing in the middle of the pack in terms of Park Factors, the Braves own the 25th ranked home OPS and the fifth-ranked road OPS. Since they rank within the middle of the pack in terms of overall team OPS, I would not read too much into the home/road splits going forward.
Right-Handed Pitchers versus Left-Handed Pitchers
The Arizona Diamondbacks sure have a few weaknesses for being such a good hitting team. They have the third best OPS against righties, but just the 22nd best OPS versus lefties. Three of their regular starters: Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, and Yasmany Thomas have really been challenged when facing southpaws and they lack quality platoon bats. If you have to start a pitcher against the Snakes, make sure he is a lefty.
The Tampa Bay Rays have the fifth best OPS against righties and the 26th best against lefties. Aside from Corey Dickerson, their top hitters, who play nearly every day, are all hitting at least 35 points worse against lefties. They appear to be a great streaming target for left-handed starters.
The Minnesota Twins own the sixth-best OPS against right-handers and the 25th best OPS against left-handers. A couple of left-handed hitters have really struggled this year against southpaws, Max Kepler and Joe Mauer. In addition, as a team, the Twins total of 10 home runs against lefties, which is the second lowest in baseball. If you own a left-handed starter, you could do worse things than starting them versus the Twinkies.
The Cleveland Indians just make the Top 10/Bottom 10 threshold as they have posted the ninth best OPS against righties and the 10th worst OPS against lefties. Given that the Indians place near the middle of the pack in overall team OPS and they just barely make our list here, I do not think that they are an obvious streaming target.
The Chicago White Sox have looked like a Triple-A team when facing right-handed pitching, but have feasted on southpaws. They own the third worst OPS against right-handers and the top OPS against left-handers. Since their top nine hitters in terms of at-bats are all either right-handed or can switch hit, this makes a lot of sense. Stream and start all right-handed starters against the Pale Hose.
What is in the water in the Windy City that makes them allergic to right-handed pitchers? The Northside’s Cubbies have just the 24th best OPS against righties, but the second best OPS against lefties. The Cubs have a deep bench and their platoon bats have thrived against lefties so far this year. Their overall lineup is also very deep and I would not strongly recommend targeting them with right-handed pitchers either.
When it comes to pitching decisions in Fantasy Baseball, understanding the opponent and the environment is critical. Breaking down a team’s ability to hit in a variety of splits is key to coming to the correct conclusion. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!
Data courtesy of www.espn.com
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