A.L. Fantasy Pitcher vs. Batter Splits
Starting rotation and batting order brought to you by MLBDepthCharts.com as of 2/12/13
As a native of Toledo, Ohio, I’ve come across plenty of billboards advertising Tony Packo’s “M.O.A.D” (Mother of All Dogs). It's a 14-inch hot dog topped with mustard, onions, and chili. When it comes to excel spreadsheets, I’ve created my “M.O.A.D,” but mine is fantasy baseball's "Matchups of All Divisions" …and it’s also one massive mutha.
MLB teams play a total of 76 games within their division (roughly 47 percent of the schedule), so by breaking down every pitcher vs. hitter matchup you can get a decent gauge on half the season for any player in the current projected starting rotation and batting order.
The two purposes of this piece are to learn which hitters posess the top batting average against their division and which pitchers boast the lowest opposing team batting average.
To simplify the overwhelming chart, I split the findings by league (you can read the National League PIT vs. BAT analysis here), pitchers and hitters. You can download and print out the BAT vs. PITCH matrix findings by clicking the links on the right.
Up first, the American League ...
1. Miguel Gonzalez, BAL (.172)
The best part about creating models like this is the surprises you find along the way. Who would have thought that Baltimore’s fourth pitcher would have produced the lowest batting average against his division out of the entire MLB? In 128 at-bats the AL East has had against Gonzalez, he’s only allowed 22 hits. Even more impressive, he pitches the best when facing the Yankees (.121). Granted, he hasn’t spent a lot of time in the bigs yet (last year was his rookie season), but he was still able to qualify (at least 100 at-bats) for this analysis feature. In 15 starts with the Orioles, Gonzalez won nine games and posted a 3.25 ERA.
2. Jarrod Parker, OAK (.182)
Like Gonzalez, Parker’s rookie year took place in 2012. In 29 starts, he was able to win 13 games and finish with a 3.47 ERA. Parker faced current AL West hitters 170 times and only 31 recorded a hit. His best performances came when facing Texas. In 48 ABs, only seven hits were tallied, with the worst average coming from Nelson Cruz, who went hitless in nine attempts. Parker was also the beneficiary of offseason moves. Only three players in his division were able to hit a home run off of him: John Jaso (now his teammate), Mike Napoli (now with Boston), and Michael Young (now with Philadelphia).
3. Hector Noesi, SEA (.200)
Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. Another sophomore pitcher on this list, another feather in the cap of the American League. Overall, Noesi’s numbers weren’t all that impressive: 18 starts, two wins, 5.82 ERA. Oakland was the team that helped lower his opposing batting average the most. In 25 career at-bats, the A's only managed two hits (.080).
4. Ryan Dempster, BOS (.201)
Finally, a veteran pitcher makes the list. Dempster made the move to the AL after 14 years in the National League when he joined the Texas Rangers at the end of last season. Now, he’s got a two-year deal with Boston worth $26.5 million. Though he hasn’t pitched a full season in the AL, he has faced current AL West hitters 224 times and only allowed 45 hits. He has J.J. Hardy to thank for lowering his batting average the most (2-27, .074).
5. Wade Davis, KC (.202)
Last year, Davis was used exclusively for bullpen work as a member of the Rays. In 54 games, he totaled just over 70 innings and a career-best 2.43 ERA. When it comes to AL Central opponents, he can thank the White Sox for a low OBA. In 56 ABs, he served up nine hits (.161) with the biggest boost coming from Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham who were a combined 0-25. Kansas City made a great effort to improve their rotation, acquiring James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, and Ervin Santana. Davis has the potential to be the biggest surprise of the bunch.
1. Melky Cabrera, TOR (.377)
Cabrera was on pace for career-high numbers and a batting title until he was busted for performance enhancing drugs last season. Toronto made several offseason moves to compete in the AL East and they signed the best interdivisional hitter in the league. In 122 AL East at-bats, the Melkman delivered 46 times. Out of all the starting pitchers Cabrera has faced in his new division, only Clay Buchholz has had success against him (1-7) the rest allow an average of at least .333.
2. Mike Trout, LAA (.355)
Add this category to the many list Trout sits atop after his amazing 2012 season. Felix Hernandez is the biggest culprit in aiding and abetting. Trout has hit King Felix 10 times in 24 attempts, with one double, a triple, and a home run. Even in Daniel Straily’s short stint, Trout was able to reach base four times in seven ABs. He makes the most out of any situation he is in and when it comes to divisional play, Trout is great to have in either a big league lineup or a fantasy squad.
3. Joe Mauer, MIN (.354)
While Kansas City fans are grateful for their team making strides in the pitching department, Mauer’s is just as pleased with the Royals choices for their rotation. In 69 ABs against the four new pitchers in KC, Mauer has 32 hits (.467), two HRs, and 14 RBI. Even though his home run production has struggled at Target Field, his batting average has not. Last year, he hit .342 in 75 home games and .295 on the road. So, when there is a home game against a divisional foe, he’s a ringer.
4. Lorenzo Cain, KC (.339)
The Royals are getting a lot of mentions in this piece, but it’s all well-deserved. Though Cain only has 59 ABs against current AL Central starting rotations, he’s successfully reached base 20 times. The majority of Cain’s triumph comes from the Twins' Scott Diamond. In seven at-bats, Cain has five hits and four RBI. Obviously 59 total attempts against 20 pitchers isn’t a lot, but there is a decent sample size for what Cain can bring to the table.
5. Victor Martinez, DET (.337)
The last name on this list is also the third player from the AL Central. This spreadsheet confirms the assumption that the division with the worst pitching provides the best hitters. V-Mart’s fortunes were plenty when facing his former team. No, not Boston, but Cleveland. Martinez averages .429 against the current Tribe rotation and records his best numbers against Justin Masterson (6-15, .400) and Ubaldo Jimenez (6-16, two home runs, .375).