Normally in Fantasy Baseball we look at matchups and schedules one or two weeks in advance, but this season is anything but normal. While it might seem minimal, paying attention to venues and matchups in your draft will give you an advantage over your competition. Even if it’s just a slight advantage, every edge helps.
Let’s take the Padres, for example. Last season they played 10 games in Coors Field. That accounts for just 6% of a normal 162-game season. In 2020, however, the Padres will play seven of their 60 games in Coors Field. That accounts for nearly 12% of their total games, or, double what it normally does. Again, it might seem minimal, but consider what we know about Coors Field. According to FantasyPros Park Factors, Coors Field was far and away the best hitters park in terms of runs scored. Coors also ranked as the second-best hitters park for home runs. See, I’ve been trying to tell you for four months now to draft Manny Machado.
I also took a look at the inverse regarding the best pitchers parks and early-season matchups. Before we get into that, let’s get back to Coors.
The Coors Field Effect
Many studies have been done on Coors Field and, even with a humidor, offense cannot be stifled there. Because of the altitude and spacious outfield, Coors is a haven for extra-bases hits and home runs. When looking at how all 30 teams performed at home last season, the Rockies ranked first in batting average (.300), slugging percentage (.522), and BABIP (.348). It’s no secret they have an advantage. Below, you’ll find the other teams that will have that advantage this season.
- SD — 7 games
- SF — 6 games
- LAD — 4 games
- ARI — 3 games
- TEX — 3 games
- LAA — 3 games
- HOU — 2 games
- OAK — 2 games
I already mentioned the Padres as the biggest beneficiaries. It’s especially useful for the Padres considering their home venue, Petco Park, is so pitcher friendly. All seven of those games will also be played in the first month of the season. I’d consider a slight uptick for all their hitters, most notably Fernando Tatis Jr. and the aforementioned Machado. The Giants and Dodgers are the only other teams that play at least four games in Coors this season. While there aren’t many Giants to be excited about for Fantasy, this should influence you to grab Mike Yastrzemski more frequently as your OF5 in Roto leagues. At the least, you should consider streaming him when they play there in shallower leagues.
It’s also worth mentioning that Buster Posey opted out of the season. While it’s pure speculation on my part, Joey Bart is on their 60-man player pool and could be an option early in the season (once the Giants gain the extra year of service time). Bart is the team’s top prospect who hit .278 with 16 home runs and an .824 OPS across two levels in the minors last season. With a near everyday role plus 10% of his games in Coors Field, Bart would be quite the intriguing Fantasy option.
Teams that play multiple games in hitter-friendly parks
Outside of Coors Field, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards and Great American Ballpark were the three best for home runs in 2019. Here are the teams that play multiple series in these venues this season.
Citizens Bank Park
- ATL — 7 games
- NYM — 6 games
- TB — 7 games
- NYY — 6 games
Great American Ballpark
- CHC — 7 games
- PIT — 7 games
The two teams to focus on most from this group are the Rays and Yankees. Not only do they get to bat in the hitter-friendly confines of Camden Yards, they get to faces the Orioles pitching staff while doing so. The Orioles owned a league-worst 5.67 ERA last season and they didn’t do much to improve in the offseason. There were already enough reasons to love Austin Meadows, but here’s another one. Last season he hit .352 with an 1.110 OPS and five homers against the Orioles. Speaking of homers against the Orioles, you know Gleyber Torres is licking his lips after seeing this schedule. In case you somehow missed it, Torres hit .394 with a 1.512 OPS and 13 home runs against the Orioles in 2019. I don’t typically target the Yankees’ early-round hitters because of their price, but I’m pretty excited about Luke Voit and Gio Urshela in deeper leagues. Not to mention, the Rays and Yankees also have Fenway and Rogers Center to hit in. The arrow is pointing up for these hitters.
Teams that play multiple series in pitcher-friendly parks
With the good, comes the bad. According to park factors, Oracle Park, Marlins Park and Kauffman Stadium were the three worst for home runs last season. Here are the teams that play multiple series in those parks.
- ARI — 7 games
- SD — 6 games
- PHI — 7 games
- WAS — 6 games
- CWS — 7 games
- MIN — 6 games
Remember when we were excited about the Padres playing all those games in Coors Field? I’m still excited. Yes, this isn’t ideal but I think the good that comes with Coors outweighs the bad from Oracle. The team to focus on here is the Diamondbacks. Not only do they have the seven games in Oracle, but they have seven in Petco Park, three in Dodger Stadium, three in Angel Stadium and two in RingCentral Stadium (formerly Oakland Coliseum), all of which are more geared towards pitching. I’m not going to avoid Ketel Marte and Starling Marte, but I would use this as a deciding factor when choosing between one of them and another closely ranked hitter. As for the Phillies, Nationals, White Sox and Twins, I think their lineups are too good to be downgrading hitters because of this.
Pitching information you need to know
Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I think pitching matchups are more important this season than ever before. You know how everybody is talking about the weird stats we’re going to see this season? Matchups are part of the reason why. By season’s end, it wouldn’t shock me if we see somebody random like Reynaldo Lopez, Alex Wood or Marcus Stroman rank top 20 in ERA if they consistently face teams the Tigers, Giants and Marlins. Those were three of the worst offenses in baseball last season and there are many reasons to believe they will be subpar again here in 2020. Here are the teams that have multiple series against the Tigers, Giants and Marlins in the first month of the season:
- Tigers — CIN, CWS, CLE
- Giants — LAD, ARI
- Marlins — PHI, NYM, WAS
If you’re looking for streamers early, names that stand-out to me from these teams include the aforementioned Lopez, Wood and Stroman, but also Anthony DeSclafani, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, Aaron Civale, Ross Stripling, Luke Weaver, Steven Matz and Anibal Sanchez. I’ve talked a lot about Civale both here and on the podcast, but he was stellar against the Tigers last season. In three starts, he owned a 1.31 ERA with a .176 batting average against. Wood and Stripling are also fast risers in ADP and rightfully so. Wood was reportedly hitting 92-93 MPH with his fastball back in Spring Training 1.0. The last time he was throwing that hard was 2017 when he maintained a 2.72 ERA and 1.06 WHIP across 152.1 innings pitched. With David Price opting out, Ross Stripling seems to be the favorite for the rotation. In his career as a starter, Stripling owns a 3.71 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP across 52 starts, very serviceable for the back-end of your Fantasy rotation.