MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – April 18th, 2015
Welcome to Saturday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
Weather: The main game we’re keeping an eye on is OAK-KC. Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
If any weather situations shift drastically, we will keep you updated with lineup alerts so make sure to check your email inbox up until roster lock.
Evan Gattis (HOU) – Our recommendations at catcher are the same two value plays as yesterday but in reverse order today. Gattis has posted a .361 wOBA and .246 ISO against LHP in his brief major league career. He’ll face CJ Wilson who has allowed a .329 wOBA and 10.5 percent BB Rate to RHBs since 2012. Wilson does a good job at keeping righties on the ground (46.5 percent GB Rate) but his elevated BB Rate should present strong RBI opportunities for the middle of the Houston order. Gattis ranks inside our Top 25 hitters for the evening slate and our top catcher option.
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal ranks just a few spots behind Gattis (27th) in our model. He draws a favorable matchup with Jordan Lyles who has allowed a .360 wOBA and 1.15 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Grandal is a solid hitter against RHP (.344 wOBA, .172 ISO) and he generally gets favorable lineup spots (second, fourth, or fifth) in a strong offensive lineup.
Additional catcher notes: Buster Posey (SF) and Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) rank right around Grandal and Gattis in our model. They are far more expensive on most sites which makes them a less compelling option for cash games, but they are an intriguing tournament option. On a site like DraftKings where the price point is in line with Grandal and Gattis, they’re fine cash game plays. Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) ranks a bit behind all these options and is price similarly to our primary value plays. I think less of Latos than a lot of projection systems though, so I’d consider him a viable alternative. Mike Zunino (SEA) is a fine tournament play as a part of a Mariners stack.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez is off to the strongest start of any player in baseball and he gets another great matchup on Saturday night. We’ve detailed Jordan Lyles struggles with LHBs and Gonzalez has posted a .360 wOBA and .191 ISO against RHP since 2012. The price point is aggressive and would likely prevent you from elite starting pitching in cash games, so I’d prefer to use him in tournaments. He’s a top five hitter overall on this slate.
Next in line:
Lucas Duda (NYM)/Albert Pujols (LAA) – Pujols and Duda both rank similarly in our model. Pujols ranks ahead of him, but I prefer Duda. Duda has posted similar numbers against RHP to Adrian Gonzalez the last few years (.367 wOBA, .227 ISO since 2012) but he draws a tougher matchup on paper against Mat Latos. Latos has allowed a .311 wOBA to LHBs since 2012 but I think the velocity dips are reason for optimism when using hitters against him. Even with Latos’ historical success, Duda ranks as a Top 20 hitter for Saturday night’s games. Pujols ranks a few spots ahead of Duda because of park environment and supporting cast plus Keuchel and Latos look similar looking backwards, but projecting forwards I think Latos is the weaker starter. Pujols is a fine option but where priced similarly, I prefer Duda.
Logan Morrison (SEA) – Seattle LHBs rate really well in our model on Saturday. Colby Lewis has been destroyed by lefties in recent years, allowing a .356 wOBA and 1.30 HR/9 since 2012. Morrison has been just an average hitter against RHP in his big league career (.320 wOBA, .162 ISO) but he’s shown strong plate discipline (0.67 EYE) and a low BABIP (.264) has understated his skill set. With first base lacking a deep number of “mid-tier” values, I think Morrison is a viable punt.
Additional first base notes: Chris Carter (HOU) actually ranks as the top 1B eligible value in our model but he isn’t first base eligible everywhere and he ranks just slightly ahead of Duda and Pujols. His lineup spot will ultimately dictate whether he holds that ranking but a .363 wOBA and .247 ISO against LHP make him a viable value. Eric Hosmer (KC) and Brandon Belt (SF) are viable mid-tier values. I prefer Belt if they get the same type of lineup spot as he’s facing the weaker starter, but Belt’s been hitting low in the order of late.
Robinson Cano (SEA)/Jose Altuve (HOU) – These two rank neck-and-neck in our model and both inside the top five options overall on this evening’s slate. I prefer Cano over Altuve because his HR score in our model is higher and some of Altuve’s speed is negated by a LHP. Cano also comes with a cheaper price tag on most sites. Both are elite hitters with the platoon advantage (Cano – .382 wOBA/.166 ISO last year, Altuve – .382 wOBA/.139 ISO since 2012) and garner favorable lineup spots in lineups that feature a lot of hitters with the platoon advantage tonight.
Joe Panik (SF) – If you’re not spending up on Cano or Altuve, I think roster construction preferences will push you towards a pure punt at second base. It’s a bit more difficult choice on Saturday night because the top end second basemen actually rank as some of our top overall hitters. Panik is the best of the punt options. He generally hits second and faces a below average RHP. Rubby de la Rosa has allowed a .372 wOBA and 24.4 percent LD rate to LHBs as a big leaguer. Panik isn’t much of a hitter (.303 wOBA, .067 ISO against RHP) but he’s got a good chance to get on base a time or two against de la Rosa.
Howie Kendrick (LAD) – Kendrick is the best of the mid-tier options at second base tonight. He’s not an adept hitter against RHP (.314 wOBA, .104 ISO) but he somehow gets to hit cleanup for the Dodgers, which is a premier lineup spot surrounded by great talent. He’s a bit overpriced for my taste, but there isn’t much in between the top plays ant the punts on Saturday night.
Additional second base notes: Daniel Murphy (NYM) is another viable mid-tier option. He rates poorly in our model (96th) because of Latos’ history of success and a low overall scoring environment, but I think he’s viable. I’d prefer he hit second instead of fifth, otherwise I’d have considered embracing him with a full recommendation. The drop in expected plate appearances for those two spots for a home hitter is meaningful. Neil Walker (PIT) is an interesting tournament play. He’ll have the platoon advantage in a poor hitting environment but gets to hit cleanup and has the type of power that can separate him in one at bat.
Jimmy Rollins (LAD) – I feel very dirty for even writing that Jimmy Rollins Is a better play than Troy Tulowitzki, but remarkably he ranks a few spots ahead in our model. Rollins gets to hit leadoff against a bad starter with significant splits against LHBs. On most sites he’s priced a bit aggressively, but shortstop is very thin and Rollins is your best bet to generate points on Saturday night.
Brad Miller (SEA) – Miller isn’t a great hitter against RHP (.318 wOBA) and he hits in a terrible lineup spot but he does have some pop (.165 ISO) and he’s minimum priced on most sites. The risk in deploying Miller is more on sites that limit your exposure to one team. The Mariners bats are very valuable in terms of their combination of upside and price point so using a spot on Miller comes with some opportunity cost.
Additional shortstop notes: Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE) is a viable mid-tier value play. He keeps hitting third which is an awesome lineup spot despite holding the skills of a seventh or eighth place hitter. Tanaka isn’t a great matchup and the scoring environment isn’t great, but the opportunity cost at shortstop is very low. Jean Segura (MIL) is a similarly inept hitter (.289 wOBA, .114 ISO vs. LHP since 2012) but will likely hit leadoff. It’s a brutal scoring environment and he’s a bit overpriced, but he’s a viable mid-tier option. I prefer Cabrera if choosing between the two.
Kyle Seager (SEA) – Seager is the only third basemen that ranks inside the Top 35 in our model and he ranks 12th. Seager owns a .358 wOBA and .186 ISO against RHP since 2012 and we’ve repeatedly highlighted Colby Lewis‘ struggles with LHBs. It’s a plus matchup for Seager and he comes largely with a fair or discounted price point across the industry. He’s your top target at the position and someone I’d pursue aggressively in cash games.
Additional third base notes: Josh Harrison (PIT), Evan Lognoria (TB), Chase Headley (NYY), and Aramis Ramirez (MIL) all rank similarly in our model. Headley and Ramirez have the platoon advantage and good lineup spots but play in very difficult hitting environments tonight. Harrison doesn’t have the platoon advantage but has a speed component that boost him in line with the other two. Longoria is priced ahead of the rest of the group on most sites, but on DraftKings is in that tier. Jake Lamb (ARZ) has been great early in the season but his price point has risen accordingly. We don’t project him as a strong play this evening (136th in our model) in a tough hitting environment, but I understand the intrigue based on his recent play. Eric Campbell (NYM) is a viable pure punt at the position. David Freese (LAA) and Alex Rodriguez (NYY) are the best tournament options. Freese is a very good hitter against LHP (.372 wOBA, .175 ISO) but Dallas Kuechel’s extreme ground ball tendencies make him tough to pick on. Rodriguez has been on a recent power binge and Odorizzi has been more susceptible to RHBs than LHBs but Rodriguez has generally hit low in the lineup and doesn’t project as an elite hitter against RHP.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout’s the top overall play in our model but unlike previous days the gap between Trout and the rest of the crowd isn’t as substantial. He’s so expensive that taking him almost precludes you from using Felix Hernandez and that’s not a trade I’m willing to make in cash games. Trout is best used in tournaments on Saturday night.
Next in line:
George Springer (HOU) – Springer showed really strong splits against LHP in a limited sample last season (.342 wOBA, 18.8 percent BB Rate, .194 ISO) but projects for even more growth this season. ZiPS projects him for a .356 wOBA against LHP this season. In a great offensive park for right handed power, Springer ranks as the second best option in our model for the evening slate. He’s not priced like that anywhere else in the industry, which makes him an affordable way to get exposure to an elite hitter in our model.
Seth Smith (SEA) – Smith should be a fixture in cash game lineups. He’s always had severe splits in his career (.362 wOBA, .204 ISO against RHP) and the Rangers bullpen is without a LH reliever that could neutralize him late in the game. He’s a Top 25 hitter in our model that is priced below the average cost of a roster spot on most sites. Of all the Mariners options we like tonight, Smith’s price point makes him the most attractive in my mind.
Chris Carter (HOU) – Carter comes with a ton of volatility, but his price point mitigates some of the risk and a matchup against a LHP is a good time to take a chance on his immense power. Carter has posted an impressive .363 wOBA and .247 ISO against LHP since 2012. I also expect he’ll earn a better lineup spot against LHP that should make him one of the better plays. Our model loves him (ranked inside the Top 15) specifically because of his immense power upside.
Carl Crawford/Andre Ethier (LAD) – This is the same deal as last night. Both Dodgers outfielders are undervalued for their respective skills against RHP (.336 wOBA/.364 wOBA) and in a good matchup against Jordan Lyles who has allowed a .360 wOBA to LHBs since 2012. Lineup positioning will ultimately determine which is a better value and how great of a value they are, but I’m rooting for Ethier to hold the better lineup spot as he’s the better hitter and priced down more significantly. Both rank inside our Top 35 overall hitters.
Additional outfield notes: Curtis Granderson (NYM) is another option at a modest price to take advantage in any potential deterioration in Latos’ skill set. The Mets-Marlins game has a low total (6.5) so I’d try not to go to heavy in cash games on the Mets lineup, but he’s another piece that I don’t mind having exposure to. He ranks inside our Top 50. Ryan Braun‘s (MIL) price tag is down and he’s crushed LHP historically, but we prefer George Springer if spending on that one outfield spot and leaving room for big starting pitching. Gregory Polanco (PIT) is a bit underpriced for his skill set and favorable spot in the lineup. The scoring environment isn’t great, but at discounted price tags he’s a viable play as well. Nelson Cruz (SEA) has been on a tear and we love all the supporting Seattle bats around him. He’s a great tournament play as part of Seattle stacks or mini-stacks.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
2a) Zack Greinke (LAD)
2b) Jacob deGrom (NYM)
4) Jake Odorizzi (TB)
5) Yordano Ventura (KC)
6) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
7) Chris Heston (SF)
8) Mat Latos (MIA)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) – The Rangers rank 18th in wRC+ against RHP this season and we expect them to finish in the middle of the pack. As a lineup, they’re better suited to face RHP with Fielder and Choo having wide splits and Beltre possessing neutral splits, but this isn’t a matchup that should concern Felix Hernandez much. Vegas has instituted Hernandez as the largest favorite on the slate (-210) in a game with the lowest total (6.5). Felix is priced appropriately, but I believe he’s a building block in cash game lineups on Saturday night. He has the rare combination of the highest floor and highest ceiling of any starter throwing.
Next in line:
Zack Greinke (LAD)/Jacob deGrom (NYM) – Greinke and deGrom rank neck-and-neck in our rankings and the cost savings that comes with deGrom on most sites makes him a more attractive play. Since deGrom has made his major league debut there is little separating these two. Greinke has posted a 25.1 percent K Rate, 5.1 percent BB Rate, 48.6 percent GB Rate and 2.71 xFIP. In the same span deGrom has posted a 24.8 percent K Rate, 7.5 percent BB Rate, 44.1 percent GB Rate, and a 3.10 xFIP. Greinke is the better pitcher with the longer track record, but he’s also facing a tougher offense. The Rockies project 10-12 percent above the league average against RHP while the Marlins project as a league average offense. The gap in opponents neutralizes any of the gap in skill between the two pitchers, which makes deGrom’s discounted price tag the tiebreaker.
Jake Odorizzi (TB) – Odorizzi has the strikeout upside of an elite starter but he doesn’t typically pitch deep into games which is what keeps him from the elite echelon. He gets a Yankees offense that has struck out 22.6 percent of the time against RHP early in the season. The Yankees do have a ton of LHBs but Odorizzi has actually posted a higher strikeout rate (26.1 percent) and better xFIP (3.63 vs. 4.46) against LHBs than RHBs in his career. At home, in a great pitching environment, Odorizzi makes for a viable second starter on multiple SP sites.
Yordano Ventura (KC) – Ventura and Odorizzi grade out similarly in our starting pitcher model but I give Odorizzi an edge due to a lack of weather risk and a perceived lower health risk. Admittedly the latter is a bit subjective but Ventura’s issues late last season and his profile (high velocity) and age make him a higher risk of injury, in my opinion. It’s a very small risk when applied on a single game level but its fine to use as a tiebreaker. The Athletics project as a below average offense against RHP and Ventura gets the benefit of pitching in a great home environment as well. The gap in his strikeout rate and Odorizzi’s strikeout rate is what separates the difference in matchups in our model, but Ventura looks like a good bet to limit overall scoring.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Chris Heston (SF) is a fine punt play on multiple SP sites. He’s flashed strong skills early (61 percent GB Rate, 3.43 xFIP through two starts) and gets the benefit of an elite pitching environment. The Diamondbacks project as a below average offense against RHP and are getting a downgrade in scoring environment. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) is still priced on many sites as a star and with the elbow concerns we’re not sure he has that skill set anymore. The strikeout rates have been solid early on but he hasn’t gotten outs with the same efficiency as in the past. I think he’s a viable tournament option against a below average Rays offense in a good pitching environment, but I’d avoid him in cash games.
Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:
This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Houston Astros
2) Seattle Mariners
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
4) New York Mets
5) Los Angeles Angels
I don’t think it’s a great night for full stacking as I think there is more value in mini-stacking combinations from the top three offenses. Houston has the highest upside as a stack because they’re filled with power options with the platoon advantage in a park that inflates right handed power. The Dodgers and Mariners are in tough offensive environments but they face the worst starters on the slate and both offenses have a healthy amount of platoon advantages near the top of the order. The Mariners are the stack I’d feel most comfortable with in cash games. Colby Lewis has extreme splits against LHBs and the Rangers don’t have a single LH reliever to threaten platoon situations. As you’ll see the Mariners are a common theme in our content with a lefty heavy lineup against the worst pitcher of the day. The Dodgers face the next weakest SP on the slate but set up better for mini-stacks with Adrian Gonzaelz’s expensive price point.
The Mets are a good under the radar stack or mini-stack. Latos rebounded a bit last start but his velocity remains down and the Mets lineup is depleted enough with injuries that there are some salary relief plays you can incorporate. The Angels are a great offense featuring a lot of RHBs but Dallas Keuchel does a tremendous job of keeping the ball on the ground and the Angels are really expensive. The combination pushes them down our list of preferences, even if they’re the best offense skill wise in play tonight.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
In these scales, a 10 strongly favors the hitter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher while a 5 means that it should not influence the weather.
MIL at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 70 to start falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 6 to start falling to a 5. Wind north-northeast 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
LAA at HOU 7:10: Retractable roof. Showers and thunderstorms around so the roof will be closed.
MIA at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps near 70 to start falling into the middle 60s. Air density is a 6 to start falling to a 5. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
NYY at TB 7:10: Dome.
OAK at KC 7:10: Steady rain will affect the region during the day but for game-time the region should be in-between areas of steady rain. A 20-30% chance of showers or thunderstorms at anytime. A 20-30% chance of a delay but they should be able to play this game. Temps in the lower 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind southeast 7-14 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
AZ at SF 9:05: Dry. Temps in the lower 60s to start falling into the middle 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind west-northwest at 10-20 mph to start the game but lessening to 6-12 mph late which blows out to center. The wind is a 7 to start becoming a 6.
COL at LAD 9:10: Dry. Temps in the middle 60s to start falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind west 9-18 mph to start the game lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TEX at SEA 9:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the middle 60s to start falling into the middle 50s. They may play this with the roof open. Air density is a 5. If so, the wind will be north-northwest at 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.