We all know home runs are the best way to have a big fantasy day on the hitting side of things, but they’re really hard to predict. I have a little process I like to go through to try and identify the guys that are in the best situation to hit a home run, and it starts with park factors. Here on the site we have park factors broken down by handedness, which is a good place to start if you’re trying to pick home run hitters. Below is a chart showing which parks are most favorable to home runs for both left and right handed hitters.
|Team||HR as L||Team||HR as R|
|White Sox||109||Blue Jays||106|
I start with the most favorable park and work my way down. The Yankees are off today, and the White Sox, Rockies, Reds and Brewers are on the road. But the Rangers are at home. The park is slightly more home-friendly to left-handed hitters, so the first step is to to see if either of the starters are left-handed. For example, if Derek Holland was starting for Texas (he’s not), you wouldn’t want to consider the Los Angeles left-handers because they wouldn’t have a favorable platoon matchup. But both starters are right-handed, so the next step is to look at the left-handed hitters on each team.
Your left-handed options for the Rangers are Mitch Moreland, Leonys Martin, David Murphy, Engel Beltre, and A.J. Pierzynski. Of that group, Martin is probably the best play. He comes at a very reasonable price of $5,180. And Mitch Moreland is very tempting at only $4,735. But he only has 17 hits and two home runs in 117 PA since returning from injury in late June. It’s not a good idea to be too affected by hot or cold streaks, but I’m only taking Moreland if I’ve got to save some money on a spot. The only left-handed power hitting option for the Angels is Josh Hamilton. At a price of $6,757, that’s entirely reasonable.
One other note on this game, it’s going to be 93 degrees at game time, and the wind is going to be blowing in from right. If you’ve read the daily strategy article here all season, you know that hot weather is good for scoring. And Blake Murphy showed us recently that the wind blowing in is actually good for scoring in Texas.
From there, just keep moving down the list looking for hitters in the most homer-friendly parks with favorable platoon matchups.
The Daily Five
Mike Leake, $12,716 – It’s a tough day to pick pitchers. For starters, there are only eight games today. Beyond that, there aren’t many good matchups, especially among the more expensive pitchers. The most expensive pitcher, Francisco Liriano, gets the Cardinals who have the 10th best wRC+ vs. LHP (although it is lower than league average at 95) and the 2nd lowest K% vs. LHP. The next most expensive guys are Matt Garza and Jered Weaver, and we have already discussed why that game is set up well for hitters. But if you move down the list a bit, you’ll find Leake against the Padres who are 25th in wRC+ vs. RHP and have the 9th highest strikeout rate vs. RHP. And the game is in San Diego. As you can see above, Cincinnati’s park is pretty homer-friendly. But San Diego is the least homer-friendly park in the league for left-handed hitters, which are the hitters who have the platoon advantage against Leake.
Jeremy Hefner, $9,228 – Hefner has struggled in his two starts since the break, but for the season his SIERA and xFIP are just under 4.00 with roughly league average strikeout and walk skills. Anytime a pitcher who doesn’t suck faces the Marlins, he’s worth a look. And on a day with so few options and even fewer decent options, it’s hard to pass up a starter at this price against this team.
Jeff Samardzija, $12,886 – The third starter had to come from this game, but it was tough to choose between Shark and Kyle Lohse. They’re virtually the same price, and the offenses are roughly equal against right -handed pitching. Ultimately, I went with the strikeout upside of Shark.
Alejandro De Aza, $7,511 – It’s not a huge sample size, but in 213.2 career innings Zach McAllister has yielded home runs at an above average rate. Cleveland is an above average homer park for left-handed hitters, so the left-handed Chicago hitters have a good matchup against the right-handed McAllister.
Adam Dunn, $5,627 – I like Dunn for the reason just listed for de Aza as well as Dunn’s below average price today.
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