- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
I'm not the type of fantasy owner that moves hitters in and out of daily lineups depending on where the games are played. For example, if I own Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, I'm generally leaving him active all the time and hoping for the best. Then again, by looking at home/road splits, we can sometimes gain an advantage by ascertaining key information about where a player might be more effective. It's a bit early in the season to rely on stat splits as gospel, but I've run across many split differentials that are quite interesting.
Quentin's home/road splits certainly fit that label. Most would assume he'd be raking in his home games at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field; after all, he is the major league leader in extra-base hits. In this case, however, Quentin actually has the largest discrepancy in road versus home OPS in baseball. That's right, he's raking on the road, with a cool 1.168 OPS, while at home he has been well below average (.586 OPS). This doesn't mean Quentin should be benched in home games, of course. On the contrary, I'd argue he will start hitting at home, while leveling off on the road. But ultimately, this suggests to me that his terrific start isn't a fluke. This is a proven slugger with some odd splits, but this information actually makes me trust him a bit more. He's going to hit at home.
Here are the top 10 hitters in road versus home OPS differential (thanks to Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN researcher Keith Hawkins), with a few notes afterward.
Better hitters on the road (2011)
These guys have the highest discrepancy between their road and home splits among qualified hitters.
Some of these numbers do tell us something. For example, New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson is doing plenty of damage away from home; it's only a matter of time before he starts pelting line drives over the short right-field porch in the Bronx (as he did Wednesday night). Granderson entered Wednesday hitting 87 points better on the road, with seven of his 11 home runs. Please don't tell me this is one of those players who can't handle pressure, and that's why he's struggling at Yankee Stadium. Granderson's OPS was 109 points higher at home last season. I'm buying a career best in home runs from him this season.
Then there's Colorado Rockies second baseman Jonathan Herrera. He's not a power hitter by any means, but that's a crazy low OPS for Coors Field. I've suspected for weeks Herrera really isn't a fluke, though his value is tied to stolen bases and runs scored as much as batting average. ... A pair of Los Angeles Angels haven't done much hitting at home, but now that Kendrys Morales is done for the season, Mark Trumbo isn't in any jeopardy of losing playing time, so he'd better start delivering at home. And just look at what Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo -- a cleanup hitter these days! -- is doing at Safeco Field. A .336 OPS is hard to believe. Granted, you don't want this guy in a one-active-catcher mixed league, home or road, but if you have to choose in a daily league or for weekly options when the entire schedule to come is all home or road, at least you know how to evaluate him.
Let's also look at the biggest discrepancy for home versus road splits, and I really can't say I'm surprised about the top guy on this list. Then again, I wouldn't consider sitting him anywhere. Perhaps he hits another 50-plus home runs this season.
Better hitters at home (2011)
These guys have the highest discrepancy between their home and road splits among qualified hitters.