I'm guessing I haven't been the only one trying to figure out what's wrong with the Milwaukee Brewers this season, but obviously one major problem for this disappointing team is its awful play at Miller Park. No team in baseball enters Wednesday with fewer than the Brewers' 11 home wins. While you might wonder what this possibly has to do with fantasy baseball, check out stud outfielder Ryan Braun. Has anyone in a weekly head-to-head league noticed this top-10 player is the team's poster boy for home struggles, and how it can affect fantasy baseball? Blame the bratwurst, I guess.
We jest, but while nobody would ever sit Braun even if a long homestand was coming, the fact is Braun is hitting a paltry .216 at Miller Park, which not only makes little sense, but definitely affects fantasy leagues. Lesser players with extreme home/road splits can be used advantageously by fantasy owners, and similarly, certain players can be avoided. While I don't see why Braun's splits would continue, since he's never had a problem hitting at home in the past, let's take a look at some of the more interesting home/road splits so far this season, and what fantasy owners can do with the information, courtesy ESPN Research.
Where's the power?: Joe Mauer and Todd Helton are two of the more noteworthy players who have yet to hit a home run in a home game this season. With Helton, I don't think there's any conspiracy theory at play. He's obviously hurt, or nearing his Chipper Jones/Ken Griffey, Jr. goodbye stage in his career. Helton did hit 10 of his 15 home runs last season at Coors Field, but his OPS was just about the same on the road. Frankly, those in daily leagues who use Helton only in home games are wasting their time. If he can't hit in Denver, he's just not ownable.
Mauer, however, slugged 101 points higher at the Metrodome last season, and hit 16 home runs there. We're seeing that the new Target Field is much more pitcher friendly, but for Mauer to be slugging a mere .396 there is a bit shocking. Omar Vizquel is nearly slugging that at home. Houston Astros relief pitcher Gustavo Chacin has hit a home run in a home game. Daniel Nava of the Boston Red Sox did it on the first-ever pitch he saw in the major leagues. Mauer has not.
Blame Mauer's home ballpark all you want, but like the New York Mets' David Wright last season, Mauer isn't hitting home runs on the road, either, as he's managed two of them. It's not solely the home ballpark. What this stat tells me is that I would not trade for Mauer. His home troubles only tell part of the story.
Spanning the Twins: Then again, Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span is having little trouble hitting at home, but on the road it's a big problem. Span is hitting .378 at home and .172 elsewhere, the largest discrepancy of anyone in baseball. While those in roto leagues need not worry about this, those in daily head-to-head leagues should use this information and sit Span on the road. He's not hitting! Maybe it changes, but luck doesn't always even out. For the record, Span hit .298 on the road last season, so I'd expect that this discrepancy is short-lived.
And the home of the Braves: I recall how good Chipper Jones was in 2008, when he won his first, and I presume last batting title, but I absolutely noticed how good he was in home games. He hit .364 that season, but .399 at home. Of course, he wasn't bad on the road, not Span-bad. This season another Brave is threatening Jones' mark, which wasn't topped last season. Martin Prado is batting .391 at home. I'd call him mixed league-worthy no matter the venue, but it's still interesting.
Here are some other oddities: Speaking of Coors Field, how is power hitting infielder Ian Stewart homerless there, but he's got seven dingers on the road? That doesn't add up. I'd still buy low here. ... Meanwhile, the Mets' Wright hasn't exactly solved Citi Field, but at least, unlike 2009, he's hitting for power on the road. Wright has already topped last season's home run total, but 10 of his 12 home runs have come on the road. ... I'm embarrassed to have ever believed that Seattle Mariners first baseman Casey Kotchman would threaten to be mixed league worthy, but c'mon, a .175 batting average in home games? That would be the fifth-worst among qualifying players over the past 50 years! ... Atlanta Braves rookie Jason Heyward has five home runs at home, five on the road. What I can't explain is how many fewer balls he puts in play on the road. At home, he's drawn 11 walks and struck out 18 times. On the road, albeit in six more starts, he's walked 28 times and fanned 39 times. If anything, he seems more jumpy and anxious at home, and the deep counts come on the road. Buy low, still. It will get better. ... New York Yankees with power obviously enjoy life at home, but Brett Gardner is the one hitting .385 at Yankee Stadium. All three of his home runs have come at home, but this proves players sans power can enjoy the house that Ruth technically didn't build as well.