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I want you to listen very closely to what I'm about to tell you: Most of the information you'll find here is completely irrelevant to you.
I mean it.
That's not to say it's irrelevant to everyone. All of it is relevant to someone, I should hope. But chances are it won't impact the way you construct your lineup because lineup decisions, particularly this early in the season, are fairly straightforward.
You paid a premium for most of your hitters, right? You did it because you liked their production. And while production in baseball tends to normalize over the course of 162 games, exactly how it's distributed across those 162 games is mostly random. Bad hitters have good days against good pitchers, and good pitchers have bad days against bad hitters. All of it -- the predictable and unpredictable -- goes into a final stat line that your Draft Day behavior has already indicated you like.
So why risk missing out on the best that your best has to offer? Bad matchups or not, this week could be the best he offers all year, and then you've cost yourself a huge chunk of the production you paid for and had every claim to. And for what? My little hunch? I don't even trust my hunches that much.
But I still want you to read them, of course, because there's still a chance you could do better than those one or two hitters that you didn't pay a premium for. That's what we're mining for here: fringy plays and injury replacements. We're not trying to determine whether or not sitting Freddie Freeman is a viable option.
Now then, let's get right to it.
Best hitting matchups for Week 1
- It's those three games at Colorado that put the Padres' matchups over the top even though they're playing just six games while eight other teams -- including Nos. 2 and 3 on this list -- are playing seven. The most obvious player to try to squeeze into your lineup is Wil Myers, who's eligible at two positions and has the power to take advantage of the thin air, but Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg are contact-hitting options for deeper leagues and Jon Jay, who's coming off a monster spring, for NL-only.
- Denard Span averaged more Head-to-Head points per game last year than Charlie Blackmon and J.D. Martinez, among others, and is healthy coming into the season, so at least in that format, starting him should be a priority against the best the Brewers and the worst the Dodgers have to offer. Hunter Pence, who has hit six home runs this spring, should be a no-brainer. You might want to be a little more judicious with Brandon Belt, perhaps sitting him for someone like Myers or Byung Ho Park, with three left-handers on the schedule.
- Yes, Park should start off his career right against pitchers like Chris Tillman, Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Young and is especially viable in Rotisserie leagues with their deeper lineups and higher demand for power. It doesn't mean you have to start him, but you don't need to sit him for his debut out of principle. Byron Buxton probably isn't worth the gamble outside of AL-only leagues, though. He has hit .239 with a .593 OPS this spring, striking out 16 times in 46 at-bats.
- Of course, Randal Grichuk should be an obvious choice if you need power this week, but his starting percentage says he isn't. He's batting cleanup in a deep lineup and might have hit 30 homers last year if not for an elbow injury late. Matt Holliday deserves to start, particularly in points leagues, for as long as he's healthy, and I'd even take him over the White Sox's Avisail Garcia despite the latter's big spring. The disparity in track record between the two is just too great.
Worst hitting matchups for Week 1
- The Braves and Marlins are two of six teams playing only five games this week, so of course they have an inherent disadvantage there, and then with the way Nationals' off days line up this week, they're likely to face one ace after another. It shouldn't impact your lineup choices too much, at least not in standard mixed leagues, since you're obviously not sitting Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon or Freddie Freeman. You might want to steer clear of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Ender Inciarte if you can, though.
- Not only do the Tigers play just five games and face pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in those five games, but they're going to play the first two of the five in Miami, which means no DH. Victor Martinez's hamstring strain midway through spring training put to rest the idea of him playing first base in those games, so he's a sit in mixed leagues. Maybe in a shallow league if you drafted Joe Panik as a backup, you could justify sitting Ian Kinsler for him.
- There's a chance the Red Sox face nothing but right-handers this week, so even though the matchups aren't the most favorable, you shouldn't give a second thought to sitting David Ortiz. Travis Shaw and Brock Holt should start most every game as well, but against pitchers like Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and (most likely) Marcus Stroman, they're better left for AL-only leagues for now.
- Um ... yeah, you're starting Maikel Franco. His eight home runs led all hitters this spring and likely pushed him into the top five rounds of your draft, so no need to get cute with him. If you play in a deep enough league to start any of the other Phillies hitters, you probably don't have too many options for replacing them, so instead, I'd like to use this space to advise against playing Kole Calhoun, Josh Reddick and Adam Lind, whose matchups aren't so terrible but are lefty-heavy (potentially four each). Their splits last year say that's a bad thing.