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Playing the splits: home vs. away wOBA

By Al Melchior | Data Analyst

There is still a reason to welcome Dan Uggla to your Fantasy lineup, at least in the right circumstances. (USATSI)
There is still a reason to welcome Dan Uggla to your Fantasy lineup, at least in the right circumstances. (USATSI)

Most of us who play Fantasy have some clear-cut decision-making rules for whether or not to start a player. Some are pretty simple or obvious (though not always effective), such as "bench pitchers at Coors Field" or "play the hot hand." One set of factors to consider is a player's splits. This is the first of several posts in which I will highlight a few players with lopsided splits and how you can take advantage of those in Fantasy.

I'm going to start with looking at players' overall offensive production at home versus on the road, using weighted on-base average (wOBA), an advanced metric that takes every meaningful batting outcome and assigns a weight to it. Looking at wOBA splits from this season and last, we can see that, not surprisingly, Troy Tulowitzki really likes hitting at Coors Field, and more surprisingly, Giancarlo Stanton is much more potent at Marlins Park. On the other hand, Chris Carter and David Freese (both with the Angels and Cardinals) have been better hitters on the road. However, you're probably not sitting Tulowitzki or Stanton or starting Carter or Freese (currently on the DL), regardless of where they are playing.

The following four players present tougher sit/start decisions, but each has a gap between his home and road splits that could make those decisions easier. Along with their home and road wOBAs, I'll dig a little bit into why you may want to consider these splits when setting your weekly lineup. Please note that the wOBA splits cited, courtesy of FanGraphs.com, are for 2013 and 2014 combined.

Billy Butler (.379 home wOBA, .289 road wOBA): His overall stats this season don't look worthy of standard mixed leagues, but he's actually posted a .340/.383/.453 slash line in 15 home games. Over his career, Butler has been a better doubles hitter at Kauffman Stadium, and for whatever reason, he has been a better contact hitter there, too. Butler may not be the doubles threat he was earlier in his career, but if he's going to exploit that part of his game, his home park will be the place he does that.

Todd Frazier (.368 home wOBA, .286 road wOBA): This one is not surprising, given that Frazier's main asset is his home runs, and Great American Ball Park is a great power park. All five of Frazier's dingers this season have come in Cincinnati, and 29 of his career 49 homers have been hit there. In terms of his overall value as measured by wOBA, Frazier produces like Ryan Zimmerman when he plays at home, so he's worth starting during home stands.

Dan Uggla (.255 home wOBA, .326 road wOBA): Uggla may be playing his way out of a job, but as long as he is the Braves' regular second baseman, he's worth starting on road trips. Turner Field leans towards being a homer-squelching park, and that effect has been amplified for Uggla, as only 15 of his 43 home runs since 2012 have been launched in Atlanta. Since last season, Uggla has compiled a respectable .732 OPS on the road, so despite his awful overall numbers, he still has some value in standard mixed leagues...during selected weeks.

Daniel Murphy (.298 home wOBA, .345 road wOBA): Last season, Murphy distinguished himself as a viable second baseman for standard mixed leagues, but he produced a disproportionate amount of his output away from Citi Field. Murphy is a doubles hitter, but he has the misfortune of playing in one of the worst doubles parks in the National League. Going back to last season, he has hit 18 two-baggers at home but 28 on the road. Over that span, Murphy has a .674 OPS at Citi Field, so he's a borderline option at best when he has a cluster of home games on the schedule.

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