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Dixon's Picks: A Cheat Sheet for Fantasy Baseball Streaming

Once the season is a couple of weeks old, something you can count on from me every Monday morning a Dixon’s Picks list of 3-5 starting pitcher’s who meet two requirements.

  1. They’re probably on your waiver wire.
  2. They’re probably good streaming pickups for that week.

I know from reader comments and past playing that streaming pitchers is a bit of a controversial issue. It’s not something everyone uses and many who don’t use it don’t have a lot of respect for those who do.

We all use it to somewhat varying degrees. None of us go nuts streaming, as that’s really not something you can do unless it’s the end of a head-to-head matchup and categories like ERA and WHIP are decided.

The risks are obvious. When you’re dealing with pitchers on the waiver wire and the season is more than about a month old, they’re probably there for a reason: they’re not very good.

There ways you can combat that, though, although nothing is flawless. There are two things you want to know.

  1. Who are they facing?
  2. Where are they facing them? 

My goal here was to create something of a cheat sheet for the upcoming season, at least the early part of it. When you’re choosing a pitcher, you want to know how dangerous the lineup he’s facing is.

Nothing is more important than runs allowed. So, courtesy of Baseball-Reference, let’s take a look at how teams scored last year.

Rank Team RPG
1. Texas Rangers 4.99
2. New York Yankees 4.96
3. Milwaukee Brewers 4.79
4. Los Angeles Angels 4.73
5. St. Louis Cardinals 4.72
6. Colorado Rockies 4.68
7. Chicago White Sox 4.62
T8. Arizona Diamondbacks 4.53
T8. Boston Red Sox 4.53
10. Washington Nationals 4.51
11. Detroit Tigers 4.48
12. San Francisco Giants 4.43
13. Toronto Blue Jays 4.42
T14. Baltimore Orioles 4.40
T14. Oakland Athletics 4.40
16. Minnesota Twins 4.33
17. Atlanta Braves 4.32
18. Tampa Bay Rays 4.30
19. Philadelphia Phillies 4.22
20. Kansas City Royals 4.17
21. Cincinnati Reds 4.13
22. Cleveland Indians 4.12
T23. Pittsburgh Pirates 4.02
T23. San Diego Padres 4.02
25. New York Mets 4.01
26. Los Angeles Dodgers 3.93
27. Seattle Mariners 3.82
28. Chicago Cubs 3.78
29. Miami Marlins 3.76
30. Houston Astros 3.60

A few that should change in 2013:

  1. The Marlins are in for a huge regression, which says a lot considering they were second-to-last in runs scored last year. Since last July, they’ve dealt Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, Jose Reyes, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio, and Yunel Escobar. Logan Morrison may well be on the move before Opening Day. That of course leaves Giancarlo Stanton, who will be hitting a lot of very impressive solo home runs in 2013. When you consider the pitchers they’ll have to face in the NL East, this should not only lowest-scoring team in the league next season, but will probably have that by quite some margin.
  2. The Los Angeles Dodgers shouldn’t be that bad at scoring runs again. They still don’t have a lot of lineup depth at Chavez Ravine, but a lineup with Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford should scrape runs across the plate at a decent rate.
  3. It’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays being a middle-of-the-pack team. Of the players named above, Bonifacio, Buck, and Reyes all now call Toronto home. Throw them into the mix with the newly-signed Melky Cabrera, returning masher Edwin Encarnacion, and a healthy Jose Bautista, this team will score runs.

 

Obviously if a team’s scoring runs, they’re not good to stream against. Conversely, if they’re not scoring runs, it’s a pretty good bet. As a general rule, I’d say to avoid teams in the Top-10 in runs scored, and feel pretty good about teams in the Bottom-10. Sure, there are exceptions to make once the season begins, but that’s a general guideline to follow.

But what about those teams ranked 11-20. That’s where you have to know where they’re playing. Baseball-Reference has a way of grading parks which I really don’t want to get into here. If you’re interested, I would encourage you to read their formula.

The only thing we need to go over here is that when giving a stadium a grade for pitching, if it’s under 100, it’s considered pitcher-friendly. If it’s over 100, it’s not so pitcher-friendly. So, let’s see how the 30 parks graded not only in 2012, but over their whole existence

Stadium/Home Team  2012 Grade Multi-Year Grade
AT&T Park/San Francisco Giants 87 88
Safeco Field/Seattle Mariners 88 91
PNC Park/Pittsburgh Pirates 90 94
Angel Stadium of Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 91 92
Petco Park/San Diego Padres 93 92
Progressive Field/Cleveland Indians 93 95
Tropicana Field/Tampa Bay Rays 94 93
Dodger Stadium/Los Angeles Dodgers 94 96
The Coliseum/Oakland Athletics 96 97
Citi Field/New York Mets 96 97
Yankee Stadium/New York Yankees 98 102
Minute Maid Park/Houston Astros 99 101
Busch Stadium/St. Louis Cardinals 100 97
Marlins Park/Miami Marlins 100 100
Kauffman Stadium/Kansas City Royals 100 100
Nationals Park/Washington Nationals 100 100
Citizen’s Bank Park/Philadelphia Phillies 100 101
Target Field/Minnesota Twins 101 99
Wrigley Field/Chicago Cubs 102 99
Miller Park/Milwaukee Brewers 103 104
Turner Field/Atlanta Braves 104 101
Comerica Park/Detroit Tigers 104 103
Rogers Centre/Toronto Blue Jays 104 104
Chase Field/Arizona Diamondbacks 104 105
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington/Texas Rangers 106 111
Fenway Park/Boston Red Sox 107 106
Great American Ballpark/Cincinnati Reds 107 107
Oriole Park at Camden Yards/Baltimore Orioles 109 103
US Cellular Field/Chicago White Sox 113 106
Coors Field/Colorado Rockies 125 121

Again, let’s take a look at a few things.

  1. Don’t ever stream a pitcher pitching in Coors Field. The ball not only carries extremely well there, but the deep gaps also cause the outfielders to play so far back that cheap singles fall in frequently and with fast runners, they turn into doubles. There is no stadium in the league like it. I love the park personally, but I think about benching my aces when they’re pitching in Colorado. I would never consider bringing in a waiver wire guy.
  2. The Giants have won two of the last three World Series’, but their yard is very pitcher-friendly. I might show a little bit of restraint streaming against them, but not a lot. Their 2012 offense was basically middle-of-the road and their park is just geared to the pitcher.
  3. Despite having pretty good reputations as hitter’s parks, neither Yankee Stadium or Minute Maid Park grade that bad. I must admit, this came as a shock to me. Part of Minute Maid’s grade is that the Astros have been a train-wreck for several years, but the Yankees are generally about as potent as any lineup in baseball. A 102 over the years is actually not bad and a 98 in 2012 was downright shocking.

 

So, what does this information do for you?

Today, nothing. As the 2013 season gets going, you’ll be able to track how well teams are scoring runs. Knowing the 2012 runs scored will help you more in the early going.

But if you take anything from this, make it how the parks all grade out. I had perceptions about a few of them that don’t quite match the reality of them.

Tags: Fantasy Baseball Streaming Streaming Pitchers

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