Productive Hitters Hidden by PH Appearances

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find prolific Ottoneu thugs is to go to the Ottoneu search and sort by points per game. Ultimately, as Ottoneu managers, we’re trying to maximize that – we’re all getting the same 1,944 games, spread across 12 positions, and we need to get as many points from those games as we can.

However, these numbers can be skewed by pinch hits, pinch runs, or defensive backup appearances. A hit that scores 1.25 points per plate appearance should score over 5.0 points per game, but if they have a handful of games with a PA it will drag the average down.

To find players you may be underestimating by viewing points per game, it is helpful to look at points per game as a beginner.

To find players whose P/G might be hiding a player you want to start your lineup with, I used Stathead from Baseball-Reference.com to draw “as a starter” splits for each batsman who did this year started an MLB game. I made a table showing games started, games played, points per game as starter and points per game total. I filtered out everyone who started fewer than five games.

I’ve also removed anyone who scores less than 4.5 points per game started (if they don’t score above that as a starter, they’re not that interesting anyway) and anyone who scores more than 4.0 points per game overall (those players do that enough maybe you’re already taking a second look).

If those 4.5 and 4.0 limits sound low to you, they do to me too. In the past I’ve been aiming for around 5.0 P/G, but offense has come down this year. I play in three point leagues and in those 36 teams, 14/36 teams score over 4.5 P/G while 6/36 score under 4.0. Basically, 4.0 P/G is the level at which a player is not doing enough to help even a bad team, while 4.5 P/G is the level at which a player is at least useful to a good team.

That left me with 13 players whose P/G as a starter makes them more interesting than they might first appear.

Pts/G as a starter vs. P/G

A few notes on these names:

  • Kyle Garlick is on the IL with a calf strain that could keep him out for a while. When healthy, Garlick is a lefty with a career 152 wRC+ vs LHP and a career 37 wRC+ vs RHP. It’s no surprise to see him on this list as he often sits against RH starters and then comes in as a pinch hitter. The challenge with Garlick is that he’s often drawn for a PH as well, but he produces more than enough to still be useful. As a small-side platoon bat, there’s no rush to add Garlick – the advantage isn’t big enough to use a roster slot for him during his IL stint. But if he’s on the verge of a return, it’s worth adding him to a squad and starting when the Twins take on left-handers.
  • Jordan Luplow is like Garlick, but he’s healthy and has a less extreme split, meaning he tends to stay in games longer. In Garlick’s seven starts, he has 18 PA. In his six starts, Luplow has 24. The challenge for Luplow to move forward could be game time. The Diamondbacks used him in all three OF spots and DH, but he now has to compete with Alex Thomas, Cooper Hummel, David Peralta, Seth Beer, Pavin Smith and Christian Walker for time in those spots plus 1B. Once Carson Kelly is back, Daulton Varsho joins the mix again. He may not even be a full-time shortside hitter. So far his platoon job has been safe, but when you add him keep that in mind. Starting a third of the games is enough to be useful, but if he’s suddenly only half that side of the turn, he’s not worth a spot.
  • Austin Slater has 130 wRC+ vs LHP and 81 vs RHP, and by now you’re probably seeing the pattern among these players. Slater’s usage so far has been more similar to Luplow’s, as he’s also closer to 4 PA per launch (31 PA over eight launches) than the <3 PA per launch for Garlick. Of those three, Slater is the one I would target. Unlike Garlick, he is currently healthy and I think his role is more secure than Luplow's.
  • Edward Olivares is on the IL with a quad tribe and it seems likely that he will be out for a while – probably until the end of June. The Royals have pushed him around a bit and his starting/substitution imbalance seems to be due to that rather than a draw problem, given his last couple of starts have been against RH starting pitchers. His line is so far inflated by a high BABIP (0.433) but hampered by a 0.0% HR/FB rate. While not a massive power hitter, he has more power than that. When he’s back he’ll be a nice hunk When He gets an almost everyday job.
  • Mauricio Dubon is basically another in the Garlick/Luplow/Slater group, but I trust his racquet less than theirs based on track record. However, he has solid career numbers against LH pitchers so you could do worse than having him on your bench as a part-time option.
  • Ah, the rays. In the last six games, Harold Ramirez has made four starts. Two against LHP, two against RHP. Three on DH and one on LF. Others on this team have similar patterns, and while I’m sure the Rays have a method for insanity, I have no idea what it is. This makes Ramirez an interesting but challenging piece. You can’t hook it up against LH starters like you can with some of the others on this list. You must be willing to review the lineups and move him in or out as needed. If you’re up for it, he hits well and with a little more height from the start he could add some power as well.
  • Matt Reynolds rides a .500 BABIP to a solid production. But that will fall off and once the Reds get healthy (when the Reds get healthy), so will his game time.
  • Luis Guillorme’s 4.84 P/GS is starting to get a little light for a part-time guy. If you have a player on your bench that only starts a couple of times a week, you want them to put up big numbers as they play. Guillome is not quite there. Additionally, he has HR on one of his starts this year and is unlikely to hit many (any?) more this year. Without that he would be under the 4.5 P/GS limit I used to compile this list and I suspect he will be back under shortly.
  • Cooper Hummel was the inspiration for this list. I knew his P/G was drained off the bench by PA, but his overall .281 wOBA is pretty boring. Hummel has some reasons for hope. His .175 BABIP should show up. He hits the ball hard (.360 xwOBA) but hammers it into the ground (-1.8 launch angle), but his track record in the minor leagues suggests he won’t continue to run a groundball rate above 50% , let alone the 57.1%. he has at the moment. Given Arizona’s crowded OF situation and the fact that Hummel has only appeared once as a catcher, it’s a bit unclear how much he’ll play going forward. Right now I see Hummel more than anything – he’s not doing enough to help your team much between limited playing time and mediocre goals (even as a starter), but there’s potential for a lot more. Whether or not you want to list this varies from team to team and league to league.
  • I’m surprised Arraez is so low on this list. He walks more than he hits, puts tons of ball in play and even already has an HR, which is impressive considering he only has his two together in 2020 and 2021. If he can bring his BABIP back to the 0.350 level he showed in 2019-2020, he will be closer to 5.0 P/GS and really useful. When it sits closer to .320-.325, it’s an acceptable bencher that can play multiple positions, but not much more. Right now it’s on the COVID-IL so you can stow it without using a roster slot. There’s no reason to add Arraez, but he doesn’t have bad MI depth if you need him.
  • Michael Chavis had a 224 wRC+ on April 22nd. Since then he has had a 28 wRC+. In a few weeks April will be but a distant memory.
  • Travis Jankowski has an insane 97.5% contact rate. He has yet to swing through a throw in the zone. Its swinging strike rate is 0.8%. Even Steven Kwan is at 1.7%! He’s also clearly not a regular starter for the Mets. I think this is probably just a hot streak and I’ll ride the hot streak, but not for a guy who hasn’t started in four days and maybe doesn’t start more than once a week.
  • Will Smith is a top notch fantasy catcher. If you can, you should list him.

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