Daily Fantasy Baseball: Using “Platoon Splits” To Help You Win
If you look at how most daily fantasy baseball players talk about their reasons for picking one player or another, you will see a lot of “This pitcher is terrible against lefties” or “This guy has crushed righties over his career!” What they are talking about is a phenomenon known as platoon splits, which is the idea that hitters hit opposite handed pitching better than same handed pitching. Platoon splits are a statistically proven phenomenon, and can be incredibly helpful in making great picks in your daily fantasy lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel. But only if you use them correctly, and this post will go through everything you need to know.
Why Do Platoon Splits Exist?
I have never played organized baseball, so I don’t have a great answer for this. What the common logic seems to be is that its easier to see or read the ball from a pitcher who is opposite handed to you. Recognizing where a pitch is going sooner gives a hitter a big leg up on the pitcher.
How Big Is The Difference?
In “The Book” by Tom Tango, one of the best books on baseball statistics ever written and a must read for fantasy baseball players, Tango does a lot of statistical analysis to figure out the best way to estimate platoon splits. The answer depends a lot on the player. To make a good guess at platoon splits, you need to use a mix of that players history versus lefty and righty pitchers, as well as how hitters of his handedness typically hit against a given pitcher hand.
You can find our data on theoretical platoon splits here. The process of coming to a theoretical split involved looking at all data since 2005, as well as using a process called regressing to the mean. For players with a large amount of plate appearances, their theoretical platoon split is quite close to their actual historical platoon split. But for players with only a small amount of plate appearances, their platoon splits tend to be quite close to the mean for players of their same handedness.
Left Pitcher vs Right Batter Matters More Than Right Pitcher vs Left Batter
Judging the impact of platoon splits isn’t as simple as taking guys with large platoon splits when they are playing opposite handed pitching.
Just like there are much more right handed people than left handed in the world, there are many more right handed pitchers than left handed pitchers (although there is a much larger ratio of left handed people who play baseball). A hitters overall statistics will be dominated by how well they do against right handed pitching, assuming they play every day. In other words, when a right handed pitcher is on the mound, you should not expect platoon splits to make that much of a difference, because they are already making a large difference in their overall statistics.
Because a left handed pitching is much more sparse, a matchup platoon split against a left handed starter matters the most, and the left handed pitcher/right handed batter matchup is a quite significant factor in a players projection for that day. Daily fantasy pricing algorithms do not tend to take this sort of information into consideration, so when making a FanDuel or DraftKings lineup keep this in mind.
The Platoon Splits Of Pitchers
We can tell with pitchers who is likely to have bigger platoon splits and who isn’t based on what type of pitches they throw. Most simply, two seams and sliders are have big platoon splits, sinkers have medium platoons, and everything else has very little platoon or slight reverse platoon. Fangraphs has a nice summary here. Also players who throw from the three quarters arm slot position tend to have larger platoon splits than those with more conventional arm slots. Check back later in the season or check the tools tab on the DFW home page for theoretical pitcher platoon splits.
- Hitters do better against opposite handed pitchers probably because of a combination of seeing the ball better and balls being easier to hit as a hard pull when they move towards hitters.
- How large of a platoon a player has depends on his handedness and historical differences between how he hits left handed vs right handed pitching.
- The platoon effect on daily fantasy projections is more important facing left handed pitchers because batters face left handed pitchers much less than right handed pitching.
- Pitchers have larger platoon splits depending on the types of pitches they throw as well as their history. Look for guys who throws a lot of two seam fastballs, sliders, and sinkers.
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