Aledmys Díaz playing shortstop in 2016We are just over a week away from opening day, and many of us still have more drafts and auctions ahead of us. So why on earth am I already looking ahead to who to start and sit in Week 1?

In leagues where I have yet to draft, knowing my streaming options for Week 1 is useful information when I get to the late or reserve rounds. I may be better off using those picks for high upside stash candidates, but depending on the available options, I might be better off positioning myself for the short term. For those leagues in which I already have a roster, I might as well get a head start on optimizing my lineup or rotation for the first scoring period.

I do have another motive for getting my homework done early. I am getting ready to unveil a new report: The Weekly Matchup Analysis. Each week, I will flag the hitter and starting pitchers who will benefit the most from their matchups and park factors.  The report will also include detailed analysis of why you need to start, sit or pick up certain players. The analysis will go beyond an assessment of the overall quality of pitchers and hitters, platoon splits and BvP stats to a comprehensive look at batted ball tendencies, performance trends on particular types of pitches and the efficiency of base stealers and the batteries that will attempt to stop them.

Sometimes, even the players who you really liked on draft day need to be sat. In running the report for Week 1, I discovered that this will be the case for Aledmys Diaz. I like the Cardinals’ shortstop so much that I made him my top draft target at the position. Yet as much as I like Diaz’s power and contact skills, he has a lot going against him in the season’s first week.

The first strike against Diaz is that the Cardinals will play all six games at Busch Stadium, which has been one of the more punishing environments for right-handed power hitters over the last three seasons. Park factors appeared to impact Diaz at home in his rookie season, as his home run-to-flyball ratio (HR/FB) at Busch was just 8.9 percent, as compared to 17.9 percent on the road. He was able to hit seven of his 17 homers at home by hitting flyballs at a 42.0 percent rate there. He may nor may not continue to be as fly-heavy at home in 2017, and even if he is, he could pay a price with a lower batting average.

Now I wouldn’t have targeted Diaz if I thought he was totally untrustworthy at home. This is just shaping up to be a particularly bad week to be at home, and not just because it’s not balanced out with at least a couple of road games. The first three games are against the Cubs, so it’s pretty much a given that Diaz will have some tough competition.  The week winds up with a three-game set against the Reds, which you would think would bode well, since they don’t have a healthy pitcher who looks remotely like an ace.  However, Diaz did most of his 2016 damage (.979 OPS) against finesse pitchers (as categorized by Baseball-Reference).  Of the Reds’ projected starters, only Scott Feldman fits that profile.

There is one more reason that it will likely pay to bench Diaz. Asdrubal Cabrera has a schedule loaded with highly favorable matchups, and he is likely to be available in most 10- and 12-team mixed leagues. He should be a clear upgrade over Diaz, so if he is available, there is little reason to leave him out on waivers.

More detail on Diaz’s and Cabrera’s matchups, along with information on several other start and sit candidates, is available in the first edition of the Weekly Matchup Analysis.   Check it out.

(Photo credit: By Johnmaxmena2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)