2019 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner: End of the Long Road

by Jonathan Chan
2019 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner

Welcome to the 2019 Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner! If you didn't follow the Hitting Planner last season, this is the basic outline.

Every week, I will review two teams with good matchups and two teams with bad matchups for the week ahead. These matchups could be because of friendly parks, bad rotations, or good platoon opportunities.

There is also a platoon section for a specific player that should be a target based on the pitchers he will be facing.

The Week 1 edition will focus on games starting Opening Day and the week that follows it.

2019 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner

Offense to Target - Boston Red Sox

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It seems fitting that I start the season by talking about the defending World Series Champions. The Red Sox had one of the most dangerous lineups in the league last season, finishing first in RBI, average, and OBP. Boston also finished third in wRC+. To start their title defense, Alex Cora and company will play a full schedule against below average rotations.

First, Boston will play four games in Seattle against a Mariners team just getting back from Tokyo. Their rotation was average last season, but the loss of ace James Paxton will take a massive toll. Wade LeBlanc is the only starter on the team who had an ERA below 4.00 last season.

The Red Sox will then travel to Oakland, where the Athletics rotation was the 20th ranked staff last season. Like Seattle, Oakland will also be without their 2018 ace, as shoulder surgery has shelved Sean Manaea for the season. The A's pitching staff has not gotten off to the best start, giving up 14 runs to the Mariners in two games.

To end their season-opening 11-game road trip, the Red Sox will travel to Arizona for a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks' rotation was above average last season, but the loss of Patrick Corbin (and his 5.9 WAR) is a massive blow to the overall effectiveness of the rotation.

Notable Players

The Red Sox aren't facing any outright terrible rotations, but they will face enough below average ones that the lesser-owned Red Sox players should pay dividends for their owners.

The Oakland rotation has three left-handers, so Steve Pearce will be a good platoon option in the second week of the season. Against the right-handed starters, Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. are decent streamers.

Offense to Avoid - Minnesota Twins

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The Minnesota offense should be much better in 2019 thanks to the additions of Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop. Unfortunately, opening week is not the time to invest in the Twins' bats. Minnesota has three days off next week, putting owners behind the eight-ball right away.

Their first series is against the Cleveland Indians, who had one of the best rotations in the league last season. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco combined for 49 wins, a 3.16 ERA, and a 10.5 K/9. Mike Clevinger was also a top-20 pitcher for the Indians last season and is just as scary a matchup.

Minnesota gets a brief reprieve in their second series in Kansas City against the Royals. The KC rotation is awful and the Twins bats should be able to take advantage of the matchup but will have to deal with the pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium.

After their third day off, the Twins begin a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, where they should line up against staff ace Aaron Nola. Philadelphia had the fourth best pitching staff in the league last season and is a tough test for any team.

Notable Players

All Twins players should be avoided against Cleveland. The only player I would consider starting is Nelson Cruz.

Against the Royals, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario should be successful against Kansas City's right-handed rotation. If Willians Astudillo plays, he should also be successful against right-handed pitching, as he hit .354 against them in 27 games last season.

Offense to Target - Toronto Blue Jays

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From one team with an awful schedule to another with a great one. The Blue Jays will be playing a full schedule next week, not having their first day off until Monday, April 8. Owners couldn't ask for a better pair of opponents to start the week, as the Jays will be going against the lowly Tigers and Orioles.

The Tigers had one of the worst pitching staffs in the league last year, finishing with an ERA of 4.60 and the seventh worst WAR. Detroit has already lost Michael Fulmer for the year and will be rolling with Matthew Boyd, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore, and Jordan Zimmermann. All Toronto bats should be started in this series.

If the Tigers' rotation is considered bad, the Orioles rotation is on another level, finishing with a league-worst 5.19 ERA and a 29th ranked 9.7 percent K-BB rate.

It's not all sunshine and roses for the Jays, who will face the Indians in their weekend series. Owners with alternative options should consider benching their Jays for the weekend series.

Notable Players

Teoscar Hernandez provides some streaming appeal early in the week, as the Tigers will send left-handers Boyd and Moore to the hill. Hernandez only hit .217 against southpaws last season, but it was a better mark than platoon partner Billy Mckinney (.143) could muster.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is also an option against the Detroit left-handers, as he hit .310 against lefties last season.

Offense to Avoid - Tampa Bay Rays

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Stop me if you've heard this. The Tampa Bay Rays are loading up on promising young prospects and are looking sneaky dangerous behind a left-handed Cy Young winner. This has nothing to do with their Fantasy value this week but it's good to know that time is indeed a circle.

The Rays will have the misfortune of opening their season against the Houston Astros. The Houston rotation was incredible last season, putting up historic numbers before fading a bit down the stretch. They might not be quite as good as last year after losing former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, but a one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole is nothing to scoff at.

Next, the Rays will stay at home for a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado pitching staff is far better away from Coors field, moving from the fourth worst ERA at home to the 12th best ERA on the road. Despite the home-away splits, the staff finished with the seventh highest WAR in the majors last season.

Having both series at home will hurt the offense, as Tropicana field was one of the worst hitters parks (23rd in runs by ESPN park factors) in 2018.

Their final Week 1 series against the Giants is far easier than the first two, as San Fransisco was a below average rotation in 2018.

Notable Players

All Rays batters should be avoided against Verlander and Cole. Tommy Pham, Avisail Garcia, Willy Adames, and Mike Zunino should also be avoided against Colin McHugh. As a reliever, he held right-handers to a .133 average last season.

Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Lowe both hit below the Mendoza line against left-handers last season and should be avoided against the southpaw heavy Rockies and Giants rotations.

Platoon Target

Jose Martinez, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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Despite Martinez's prowess at the dish, he's been put into a platoon situation because of his terrible defense. While his playing time might be sporadic this season, opening week is a good opportunity for him to establish himself.

The 30-year old batted .313 with 14 HR against right-handed batters last season. As luck would have it, the Cardinals will be facing six consecutive right-handers to open the season. If Martinez gets playing time early on, he should pay dividends for his owners.

Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

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