If there is one thing that fantasy owners like, it is consistency. One of the most consistent players in recent seasons is Adam LaRoche, who just signed a free agent deal with the Diamondbacks. Now that we know where LaRoche will play this season, let’s look at what he is likely to produce. Here are his fantasy stats for the past three seasons:
Of course, fantasy owners know LaRoche for something else, too. He is one of the players who has consistently performed better in the second half of the season compared to the first half. LaRoche has been in the league for six seasons and in five of those he has posted a higher OPS after the All-Star break, including four years where the difference was over 200 points. Here are his lifetime splits by halves:
First Half: .252/.326/.447 in 1785 PA
Second H: .300/.363/.546 in 1445 PA
Over at The Book Blog, MGL and TangoTiger have done a bunch of work on splits, specifically on halves. MGL said, “Using the ‘same weight’ method, I got an ‘r’ of -.004 (again, 6427 player seasons).
Using the second method, weighting by PA, I got an ‘r’ of .001.
Sorry guys, I see no evidence of these splits having any meaning whatsoever. None.”
MGL went on to offer a $100 donation to charity if anyone could find a predictive value to splits (aside from a few with previously documented small predictive values). Nearly 15 months later, nobody has posted any research looking for a reward.
But, what works for the aggregate does not necessarily work for the individual, as we see here in the extreme case of LaRoche. The question becomes, should we weight LaRoche differently given his track record?
Perhaps more importantly, are fantasy owners valuing LaRoche correctly, given his overall performance the past three years? Currently, he has an ADP of 255, making him on average a pick early in the 22nd round.
If LaRoche can duplicate what he has done recently, he will be a steal at that pick. And now he gets to call Chase Field home. After spending most of his career in Atlanta, where Turner Field has a multi-year park factor of 98, LaRoche will play half of his games in a good hitter’s park. Baseball-Reference.com gives Chase Field a multi-year park factor of 109. In his brief playing time so far in Arizona, LaRoche has a .661 OPS in 43 PA.
Perhaps those at-bats came early in the season.