Using MLB Depth Charts For Fantasy Baseball
Like any other sport, we want to see who is projected to be the starter for most games. Baseball doesn’t change a ton throughout the season, so we look at this more during draft prep. It gives us an idea of how to project plate appearances, and how utility players will be used as well. Depth chart for pitching is extremely important in fantasy. For starting pitchers, your number one pitcher might see more two start weeks, but generally is going to pitch more innings because he will see more opportunity.
Bullpen depth charts is where we really need to pay attention for fantasy baseball. As teams are become less fantasy friendly in how they use bullpens, which means they do not have designated closers and use them to also start days, it can frustrate fantasy owners. The teams that do use traditional roles, identifying who the closer is on a depth chart is key for picking up saves. If a closer is struggling or gets injured, we also want to see who is going to get some save opportunities. These roles can move around throughout the year, so it is best to stay on top of them.
What Are Platoons In Baseball?
This has been a popular strategy in building an MLB roster of late, especially for clubs that don’t have a lot of money to splash around. A platoon is what a position has two starters, but when they start is determined by the opposing starting pitcher. Say you have two right fielders, and one of them is a left-handed hitter and the other is a right-hander. Hitters usually will see the opposite handedness better when hitting. Which means a lefty is going to see right-handed pitching better, and a right-hander is going to see left-handed pitching better. Their stats will showcase if this is the case over a longer sample size.
Teams will use them now depending on the handedness of the starting pitcher. That left-handed right fielder is going to see more at-bats because right-handed pitchers are the majority. But when left-handed starters occur, that right-handed bat will get the start. He may play the whole game depending on the situation, but if it is a close game and there are pitching changes, the left-handed hitter will come in if there is a pitching change. If you see the words reverse platoon split, it means that the right-handed hitter actually hits right-handed pitching better. This can refer to pitching, because right-handed pitching usually does better against right-handed hitters, and the same for left-handed pitchers. That is why teams will carry a strong left-handed pitcher in their bullpen to use in moments where they need to face a left-handed hitters.
If you are looking at starting lineups on a daily basis, you will find who is used exclusively against left-handed pitching, and vice versa. Teams will look to load their right-handed bats into the lineup when a lefty is pitching against them. We will also see switch hitters and more left-handers against right-handed pitching. If a team doesn’t have the luxury that day to make those changes, it will give an upgrade to that opposing pitcher.
Key Positions To Have Depth In
Unlike other sports, you are not going to have an exact depth player for each position. Instead you will find some names who play multiple positions and can give you some flexibility. Remember, teams only have 4-5 bench spots to use for position players. The rest they tend to designate to their bullpen. Having depth at pitching is where most teams will look to go, and it is a smart move. Injuries occur more to pitchers, and you also want to have options within a game. More to play with throughout a season is a big plus for teams, because hitters are generally steady producers in terms of durability and games played. Having depth at bullpen is important. It helps managers give rest to arms that need it, and they can balance out their workload.
You do not see a team go through an entire 162 game season without losing a starting pitcher or two for a period of time due to injury. Having a sixth or even seventh starter that can come in and give you quality innings is a major plus for a team that is looking to contend. Otherwise you will have two out of five games that you will be at a disadvantage because of the pitching quality. As far as positions go, teams will always have a backup catcher. Some may even carry three, but that is rare. Catchers require off days more than anyone else because it is a demanding position to play. Pitchers also might pitch better or prefer one catcher over the other. One example is Jon Lester preferred having David Ross behind the plate. Because players can usually play multiple infield and outfield positions, a team will only carry a few names there.
A team’s depth isn’t solely what they carry night in and night out with games. A good farm system and having depth within your Minor League teams are going to be very important. If you do not have good options to call up when needed or when those September call-ups come around, then you might be in some trouble. Teams that balance out their farm system with their MLB lineups can be successful for a very long time. Failing to address either is going to put you in the bottom of the league.
How Is Salary Divided On MLB Teams?
There are two ways of looking at how salaries are divided between a baseball team. You can look at the total combined salaries for a position, or the average salaries. Because there are so many pitchers on a roster, combined salaries are going to be way higher. Let’s take a look at average salaries first. The current state of the MLB tells us a few things about where a lot of the talent is per position, but also where teams rather spend in comparison to others. Catchers are not seeing a ton of salary come their way. Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, and Yasmani Grandal are the higher paid catchers. It pays to have some veteran leadership, because young catchers are not getting paid top dollar with the life span they have.
Being a designated hitter is a pretty good life. You get 3-4 at-bats a game, maybe play a few games of defense a year, but your average salary is the highest in the Majors right now. With names like J.D. Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton, they are inflating it at a high rate. However, only two listed designated hitters make under $10 million dollars on average, so life is still pretty good. The corner infield spots also have quite a bit of capital tied to their names. Both are just a shade under $7.5 million for average salaries. Some of the top names at third base are Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Anthony Rendon. For first base, Albert Pujols is still collecting in on that Angels deal from a while back. Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto are a few others making big money.
Looking at the middle infield spots, Shortstop averages more money than second baseman, and this number is going to be on the rise with the crop of young shortstop talent still in need of cashing in on their big Major League deal. Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are two of the top paid second basemen in the game. They are the only two making over $20 million per year at this point. As for shortstops, Francisco Lindor and Xander Bogaerts are the highest paid players there. However, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Trevor Stroy, Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Tim Anderson, Gleyber Torres, and Fernando Tatis Jr are all expecting bigger contracts next time around. I would expect this position to really shoot up in average salaries paid.
Between the individual outfield spots, there is not much difference in average salary. Left fielders at the moment earn a higher average salary, but not by much. Outfield as a whole is higher than middle infielders, but less than corner infielders. There is a wide range of salaries at the position, which is why it is not weighted as highly as other positions like third base. A few of the top paid outfielders are of course Mike Trout is making the most money. Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper, and Mookie Betts are all names that are in the top eight for salaries per year.
Starting pitcher salaries are on par with corner infielders, less than DH, but also slightly less than closing pitchers on average. We have seen pitchers get some big deals over the years, and more recently Gerrit Cole joining the Yankees. He is currently the highest paid pitcher, but Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, and Justin Verlander are just behind him. Not a lot of team difference there either. Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen, and Aroldis Chapman are three of the higher paid closers in baseball. Wade Davis is up there as well, which is very bad value for the Rockies with how he is pitching.
When looking at things in terms of total combined salaries, it is no surprise to see pitching dominate it here. Starting pitchers have the highest combined salaries, and then it goes to infielders, and then outfielders. Of course a lot of this points to overall numbers to fill on a roster. Individual positions, third base is one of the higher numbers in terms of combined salaries. These numbers certainly change from year to year as salaries change. As mentioned above, shortstops will have a high pay day again soon and become one of the higher average salaries.
Bullpen Positions Explained
Reading a bullpen depth chart is not as straight forward as the other areas of the depth chart. This is because their jobs are broken up into roles. You are going to have a few pitchers that are more designated for long relief roles. Their job is to eat innings in the long run, where if a pitcher gets knocked around early or there is an injury, they will be the ones coming in so that the rest of the bullpen doesn’t have to having a taxing game.
Getting into the middle relief roles, this is where you find your sixth and seventh inning bullpen arms mostly. They are a mix of guys with different strengths and weaknesses. You will find a lefty specialist who will exclusively come in against left-handed hitters because his strength is getting them out. Teams might have a sinker ball arm who is great at coming in and getting ground balls which could help in a jam.
Moving up to your setup and closer roles, this is where you find your stronger arms. Setup guys usually will pitch in the seventh and eighth innings as teams will build a bridge to get to their closer. Teams will want to rely on stronger backends of the bullpen, otherwise they are going to be in trouble. A closer will generally pitch the last inning of a game to try and get the win. This tends to be your best pitcher, although there might be a setup guy or two who can rival his type of numbers. Having more than one strong bullpen arm is a big plus.
MLB Depth Chart Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Depth Chart In Baseball?
A depth chart is a position chart that dictates who the starter and replacement players are behind them. It will break down the defensive positions, as well as bullpens and starting rotations. Bullpens are listed by position, and rotations are listed one-to-five.
Who Is The Best Team In Baseball Right Now?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the best team in baseball with a loaded offense featuring Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. They also have deep starting rotation which features names like Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. They are covered from top to bottom.
How Many MLB Starters Are There?
A MLB game requires nine total starers. You have your five infielders, three outfielders, and starting pitcher. The bullpen is not considered a starter, although they will enter the game at given points. Starters are announced before each game.
When Do MLB Depth Charts Come Out?
Like other depth charts in sports, they are available to view year round. However during the offseason and over Spring Training they will be edited and more finalized before the new season starts. Depth charts can also be changed throughout the year.
How Do I Read A MLB Depth Chart?
An MLB Depth Chart is going to be broken down by position. After that it will be listed out who the number one starter is at each position, and then the backup will be behind them. Starting rotations and bullpens are also broken out by role.
How Often Do MLB Depth Charts Change?
Baseball is a fairly consistent sport, and given it is non-contact, injuries are not at the rate of other sports. They will stay relatively the same throughout the year, but you may see a few changes along the way due to performance, trades, and injuries.
How Many Players Are On A MLB Depth Chart?
You will find 25 players on a MLB depth chart. Pitchers will take up 11-12 spots or so, while hitting and defensive players will take over the rest. There are eight defensive positions that have at least one player listed, and then backups behind them.
Why Is One Player At Multiple Positions?
A lot of players have the ability to play at multiple position. A backup infielder might be able to play third base, shortstop, and second base. Therefor they are listed. A catcher also might be the backup first baseman. Versatility is big with bench players because there are only a few.