Fantasy Baseball

2018 Fantasy Baseball Opening Weekend Hitting Planner: Tango Yankee


Welcome to the first weekly installment of the Hitting Planner! Every week the hitting planner will highlight certain players and teams that owners should target or avoid based on matchups, games played, platoons, and anything else that can affect a player’s weekly output.

The first edition of the hitting planner will go over some standout matchups from this weekend’s opening series’, paying special attention to pitching matchups and park factors.

As the season goes on, platoon issues will shake out, and more targeted streaming strategies will emerge. In case anyone is wondering, no, I could not pick on Coors Field this week because the Rockies are in Arizona with the humidor.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Opening Weekend Hitting Planner

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Offenses To Target

Chicago Cubs (@ Miami Marlins)

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Last season’s fourth-highest scoring offense will start the season with a gimme series against the Marlins. Despite Marlins Park being one of the worst hitters parks in the league, the Cubs will feast on the Marlins awful rotation. During the four-game series the Cubs will face:

  1. Jose Urena (3.82 ERA)
  2. Caleb Smith (7.71 ERA)
  3. Odrisamer Despaigne (4.01 ERA)
  4. Dillon Peters (5.17 ERA)

Unfortunately, the Marlins ace Dan Straily (4.26 ERA) will begin the season on the DL due to a forearm injury. The Marlins have the worst rotation in the Majors (based on WAR) by a large margin. They have no difference makers in the rotation and it will tax their bullpen tremendously as the season moves forward. It’s tough to predict lineup performance before the season starts. However, we know for sure the Marlins rotation will be terrible, and we also know the Cubs will be good. The combination makes for some easy targets this week.

Owners streaming early in the season can take advantage of some expected platoon splits from this series. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward are expected to be platooned against lefties, at least early on. The Marlins do have two lefties scheduled during the series and there’s a good chance Joe Maddon will play Ben Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr. against the lefties. In daily leagues, the latter are good weekend streaming options for owners looking to maximize early production.

New York Yankees (@Toronto Blue Jays)

Now it may seem like an obvious choice to go with the most hyped offense of the Spring, and it is. But with the injury to Greg Bird, other Yankees will get an opportunity to make noise in the opening series.

All Yankee hitters get an immediate boost for playing their opening series in Toronto. Rogers Centre is one of the better hitting environments in the league, and plenty of balls should find the stands over the four-game series.

Players to Target: Neil Walker (7% owned), Aaron Hicks (39% owned)
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Hicks has a good combination of power and speed combo, hitting 10 HR and stealing 10 bases in 301 AB last season. His performance against right-handers (.290/.398/.515) will also work well, as he’ll face three straight RHP (Sanchez, Estrada, Stroman) from Friday-Sunday.

Walker has always been a steady player, but the Yankees lineup is by far the best he’s ever been a part of. His 20 HR power plays very well hitting behind Hicks and Gary Sanchez and they should afford him plenty of opportunities to drive in runs early on.

Offenses to Avoid

Texas Rangers (.vs Houston Astros)

The Rangers have a good lineup that most owners will count on throughout the season. However, owners should be wary of early returns in their opening series against the Astros. The Astros have one of the most ridiculous rotations in baseball and will trot out Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Gerrit Cole in this series.

Players to be wary of: Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara, Robinson Chirinos

The strikeout-prone Rangers above could come out of the gates very slowly this season. While the Rangers do have the advantage of playing at home, they have a very tough task ahead this weekend. Look for the above four to struggle with their batting average even more than normal. Don’t count them out completely, but I wouldn’t bank on anything outside of Joey Gallo’s inevitable 500 ft donger.
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Kansas City Royals (.vs Chicago White Sox)

Don’t fall for it. Yes, they will face tank commander James Shields to open the season, and that was almost enough to put them in the “target” section. However, news just dropped that Salvador Perez will miss 4-6 weeks with a grade 2 MCL strain. Salvy was undoubtedly the heart and soul of the Royals lineup. Without him anchoring the middle of the lineup, you’re left with a top five that will really struggle to consistently generate runs.

  1. Jon Jay
  2. Whit Merrifield
  3. Mike Moustakas
  4. Lucas Duda
  5. Chelsor Cuthbert

The five top hitters in the KC lineup are projected to have a collective OBP below .320 this season. After Jon Jay’s .356 OBP, the next best option is Merrifield and his 5% walk rate. Getting on base at such a low rate is not the best way to generate consistent scoring opportunities.

Perez wasn’t an on-base machine but any stretch, but he did provide that extra power bat in the middle of the lineup that will be sorely missed. To make matters worse, Kauffman Stadium was one of the worst hitters parks in the league last season, ranking fourth worst for depressing home runs vs. other stadiums. If you have Merrifield or Moustakas in your lineup, temper your expectations.

Check out the rest of our great 2018 Fantasy Baseball content.

About Jonathan Chan

Winning fantasy leagues since 2004. Losing them for much longer. Follow Jonathan on twitter @jchan_811 and he'll be ready for all your questions!

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