Platooning is a popular choice among managers when faced with a small budget and an abundance of players for limited positions. Or perhaps, when given a roster lacking talent -- a manager would consider meshing pieces together in order to create a more well rounded player out of two ( a-la A's 2012).
But when can we recognize that a player is a platoon player? Can we look to the stats to accurately quantify the players that would be best suited as platoon players?
First, we will will create a plus-stat for certain metrics that are associated with batting success by splits.
Essentially, we are creating a metric that encases a player's skill against righties and lefties by his splits numbers.
Traditionally, a "plus" stat is adjusted by the league average -- like in ERA+: ((LeagueAverageERA/ERA)*100).
However, today we are going to do something a little different; we will adjust for a player's split numbers: ex. ((BB%(vs.righties)/BB%(left))*100.
Now, we will create an index of stats we usually look at when comparing splits. For the sake of simplicity we will calculate RIGHT -- or a player's skill against right handed pitching as:
And LEFT -- a batter's skill against left handed pitching as:
For starters, Cano is not a platoon player by any means; his 2012 season against left handed pitchers was the worst in his career, after having little trouble with them in previous campaigns. Being that Cano was very ineffective against lefties in 2012, platoon rates him high, regardless of previous campaign performance.
Meanwhile, we see that Morneau may not be any more than a platoon player at this point in his career, along with a declining Ichiro.
Andre Ethier has been thrown around as a platoon quality player the last few seasons because of his inability to hit lefties. Nonetheless, the Dodgers have stuck with him because he has been a top-10 hitter against right handed pitching the last few seasons (155 wRC+, seventh in the league since 2010). The Dodgers are hoping to see some improvement for Ethier when he faces lefties in 2013, because any uptick in his production there will pay big dividends to his overall value.
A guy like Casper Wells is an intriguing outfielder who offers awesome pop from the right side against lefties. Similarly, Jesus Guzman is a name I expected to see here -- along with Justin Ruggiano and Matt Carpenter, who seem to be good platoon players.
Clint Barmes could be an interesting platoon candidate with the Astros, especially given that they have an extra spot in the lineup to accompany him. Wilin Rosario is no surprise here as he absolutely raked lefties last year, but was well below average otherwise.
Onward, to the bottom 25 players.
Note: These are not necessarily the best regulars or ones I would suggest to play everyday, but the way we calculate Platoon simply means that they do not (recently) exhibit a particular advantage against either side.
Kurt Suzuki has the lowest platoon in the league, but the truth is he was not particularly good against either left or right-handed pitching. Meanwhile, we have some well balanced players in Cespedes and Fowler. So if you look down on the list, Miguel Cabrera is there as a guy who was pretty well-rounded, at an MVP level.
The ever reliable Paul Konerko fills up the bottom alongside a similar David Freese.
Ian Desmond enjoyed a breakout 2012 season, and as you can see, he was pretty reliable against any pitcher.
One good sign is seeing Stanton on this list. As we know his power is legit throughout; pure power and distributed production when facing either handed pitcher.
No real surprises here, most of these guys are either pretty good at hitting both arm-sides, or just outright terrible at facing both.
Big thanks to Fangraphs and the BDB for the statistics!