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Bryan LaHair: Fantasy All-Star?

Bryan LaHair is an All-Star. At a time where his fantasy value has taken a hit, LaHair has made the NL All-Star team. LaHair got off to a great start, but he’s tailored off in the month of June. And with Anthony Rizzo now up, LaHair has been moved off his original position. His slash line of .284/.364/.526 is solid, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. Even though he’s losing value in fantasy leagues, LaHair still has value.

LaHair may have lost his spot to a Rizzo, but he’s still received consistent playing time. Since Rizzo has been up, LaHair has played outfield for the Chicago Cubs. He’s already played seven games out there, and should continue playing the outfield. If he hasn’t received eligibility in your league yet, he will soon.

And he should be more valuable once he is outfield-eligible. There are a ton of great options at first base in fantasy leagues. Outside of your normal first basemen like Joey Votto, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder; there are also guys that sporadically play the position, but are eligible there, like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey. Moving to the outfield doesn’t increase LaHair’s value a ton, since it’s also relatively easy to grab effective players there, but it’s a slight upgrade over first base. Plus, his flexibility will give you options when your players have off days or injuries strike.

The other thing killed LaHair’s value is the fact that he’s useless against lefties. And while that seems like somewhat of a death sentence in fantasy leagues, it’s not that big a deal. Matt Joyce is another player who crushes righties, but has struggled against lefties throughout his career. Before Joyce was injured, he was one of the better fantasy outfielders this season. Having extreme splits is a concern, but these types of players can have value if they hit well enough against opposite-handed pitchers.

Thankfully, LaHair fits the bill.

Bryan LaHair AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Against Lefties .079 .186 .159 .169 -8
Against Righties .329 .403 .607 .414 166

LaHair’s .329/.403/.607 line against righties is definitely all-star worthy. He absolutely crushes right-handed pitching. He’s even been better than Joyce, who has hit .287/.394/.559 against righties this year. If Joyce was on pace to be a useful fantasy option, LaHair should be able to provide similar value.

LaHair should never be used against a lefty, however. You’re better off picking up a player off the waiver wire than you would be starting LaHair. The Cubs realize that, and will likely sit him when they face left-handed pitchers. Thankfully, there are far fewer left-handed starters than right-handers. So, LaHair should still get pretty consistent playing time. In leagues where rosters can be changed daily, you’ll never have to worry about LaHair going up against a lefty. While his playing time is a bit more of a concern in weekly leagues, a little planning should give you an idea of how many games you’ll get out of LaHair in a given week.

The nice thing about players that show large splits is that they typically aren’t valued highly in fantasy leagues. Owners are leery of players with big weaknesses, and often ignore the value in these types of guys. Because of that, LaHair still has value in fantasy leagues. If you can pair him with another cheap player who has a big split, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to mix-and-match your roster when one of those guys has a less-than-optimal matchup. Even though his situation isn’t perfect, you shouldn’t give up on Bryan LaHair just yet.