A week into the season is a good time to check in on the states of platoons around the league. A strict platoon makes for easy lineup setting and under-rated value in deep leagues with deep benches, but for the mixed leaguers among us, we’re probably looking for a player to transcend their platoon splits and play every day. With that in mind, let’s check in on some situations that might be in flux.
A team full of lefties went out and tried to find righties, and the thought was that the team would platoon to make it work. Well, so far Lucas Duda has played all six games, Collin Cowgill five, and Marlon Byrd five. That doesn’t look like a platoon situation. Preseason sleeper Jordany Valdespin has played in five games, but has only started one. He’s been used mostly as a pinch-hitter, but it is worth noting that the two times he saw some innings on the field, it was in center field. It’s not a huge sample — only 132 plate appearances against righties so far — but Cowgill might have the worst platoon splits on the field, and Valdespin could still push his way into 2/3 of the plate appearances. If he’s legitimately improved his patience, and can actually play center well, he could be an asset to the team on the field and give his owners some speed. But he needs to push himself into a platoon situation at first, at the very least. He’s not even there yet.
One of the surprises of the offseason — and not a pleasant one for Mike Podhorzer, I have proof in the form of an obscenity-laced text message — was when former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan pushed his way into the large side of a center field platoon in Miami. That didn’t last long, it seems. Coghlan — the lefty of the two, and therefore ostensibly the guy with the larger slice of the pie — started game one and hasn’t seen the starting lineup since. Could it be that he’s hitless? That would be as silly as promoting him as a sleeper based on his BABIP-inflated batting average in his rookie season. Well, no matter. Justin Ruggiano the righty has hits and walks, and already has a homer and two stolen bases on his ledger. He’ll strike out more as the season progresses, most likely, but with his power and speed, he might really be able to survive the BABIP regression and give value with a .270ish batting average.
This one wasn’t supposed to be a platoon, but when Ryan Ludwick went down, the playing time for one outfield spot went up in the air. Shin-Soo Choo is still making errors in center field, and Billy Hamilton is still learning center field down on the farm, but since Chris Heisey‘s offensive profile is so flawed, I’ll just say that Billy Hamilton Day, and the #FreeBilly movement, is already gathering steam. Hamiltons’ D gets slagged, but he made some great plays in the Arizona Fall League and has tools that Shin-Soo Choo cannot dream of. The Super-Two deadline (mid-June) is the latest I think we’ll see Hamilton make his debut. For now, Heisey has most of the playing time, even though he’s a righty. Maybe we’ll get to see if his reverse platoon split (111 wRC+ versus righties in 668 PAs) is real. He’s pretty much all built on power since he doesn’t walk and strikes out more than average. His defensive numbers in center have been decent so far, but it’s telling that the team has continued trotting out Choo in center despite the injury to Ludwick. Xavier Paul just got his first start, despite being a lefty — perhaps it’s because his ‘good’ platoon split is three percent worse than league average. This is a work in progress.