Offenses to Target when Choosing Starting Pitchers
As we near the midpoint of the season, we've received a large enough sample size in order to take a look at teams as a whole and see their overall production on the offensive end. Teams are able to be labeled as strong, average, or weak offensively. Identities can definitely change in the next month with the trade deadline and midsummer call-ups, but the book has mostly been written for each team. Night in and night out we choose pitchers to trust in our lineups, and we want the best matchups possible. Therefore, I'll be taking a look at the worst offenses in the league so far this year and when would be the best occasion to put your faith in a starter against them.
The Braves are off to a terrible start offensively. The only remotely good offensive player they have on their roster right now is Freddie Freeman. Besides Freeman, no one on the Braves is batting over .270, and Adonis Garcia and Tyler Flowers are tied for second in home runs with five. In 77 games this year, the Braves have hit 39 home runs as a team, 25 behind the second-worst Giants, and nearly 90 behind the first place Orioles. The Braves have scored the fewest runs in the league this year, and are 83 runs below the National League average. They are batting .237 as a team and have the lowest slugging percentage and OPS of any team in the majors. Their OPS is .638, which happens to be exactly .100 points lower than the major league average. The Braves have been flat out atrocious all season in nearly every offensive category, hardly hitting for any power outside of Freeman's production, and struggling to put runs on the board each and every night.
Philadelphia hasn't performed well offensively all season, but are surprisingly much worse at home in Citizens Bank Park. Overall, the Phillies are hitting a league second worst .235, but that number drops all the way to .213 at home. Philadelphia has struggled with their power at home as well, only hitting 27 of their 71 home runs while slugging .336, .80 points below their slugging percentage on the road. As a whole, the Phillies haven't done well reaching base as they have a league worst .289 on-base percentage and have drawn the second fewest walks in the majors. This has contributed to their lack of scoring, which is second worst in the league in front of only the Braves. Another major part of the Phillies' problem is Ryan Howard. Howard has 204 plate appearances, good for sixth on the team, and has hit a team worst .151 in those at bats. Howard has also struck out in 65 of those plate appearances, which is the most on the team. The Phillies have struggled mightily so far this year, so if you have a chance to start a pitcher against them when they're at home, take that chance.
Even though no team can be as bad as the two above, the Twins don't have anything to brag about. They've scored the fourth fewest runs in the majors (still 50 ahead of the Braves) and have really struggled away from Target Field this year. Their overall average as a team is .245, which is only .010 points below the league average, but that number drops to .230 when the Twins are on the road. That average makes the Twins the worst road hitting team in the majors. Minnesota has also had a difficult time hitting with runners in scoring position. They sit at the second worst in the league in this category, hitting only .227 in these circumstances. Another aspect to this number that explains why the Twins have struggled to score is they've only hit nine home runs when someone is in scoring position, meaning their other 76 home runs have either come with a man on first or no one on base. That doesn't sound like a recipe for posting crooked numbers to me. Also, as a team the Twins are sixth-worst in the majors in strikeouts, coming in with 661 in 76 games. The numbers show that even with playing in spacious Target Field, it's better to target the Twins offense when they are on the road.
When choosing a starting pitcher in DFS, it's important to evaluate their matchup and make sure you're putting yourself in the best position to succeed. A few other teams worth mentioning that have struggled offensively are the Mets, Reds, and Athletics, but the three above have really stood out and offered numbers and splits that separate them from the pack. I could've expanded on the Mets, but two NL East teams seemed like enough to bash on for one week.
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