MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – April 25th, 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.
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Posey is our second ranked hitter this evening and he belongs in all formats, particularly cash games. The Giants face the biggest park shift out of any team in action tonight (from AT&T Park to Coors Field) and they also get to face a mediocre southpaw. Posey has accrued a .429 wOBA, 182 wRC+ (despite playing half of his games at AT&T Park, an extreme pitching environment) and a .252 ISO against LHP since 2012. Those skills makes him a can’t miss DFS option at a position that usually lacks reliable options and that’s compounded by playing at Coors Field. Jorge De La Rosa has allowed a .347 wOBA, 1.11 home runs per nine and has struck out 15 percent of RHBs in the last few seasons. Posey has all the contextual factors and a remarkable matchup against a LHP that allows plenty of contact. I’m prioritizing him in cash games tonight.
Additional catcher notes: The lack of high priced starting pitching and a core minimum priced value (Jimmy Paredes) gives you enough salary to include Buster Posey in all formats. I would only fade Posey in multi-entry formats. If you’re looking for another solid value, Nick Hundley (COL) is a viable secondary option tonight. He’s hit fifth in the lineup lately and his price tag is cheap around the industry (particularly on DraftKings). He won’t have the platoon advantage and Tim Hudson is a solid pitcher but he does allow plenty of contact and that’s not a recipe for success at Coors Field. If you don’t pay up for Posey in cash games, punting with Hundley is likely the best alternative. A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) will have the platoon advantage against the below average David Buchanan. Pierzynski and the Braves offense get a favorable park shift (Citizens Bank Park is a bit more friendlier for hitters than Turner Field) and Buchanan allows plenty of contact to LHBs (13 percent K rate in his last 56 IP). Pierzynski also benefits from having a good lineup position (usually fifth), making him a solid value play. Posey is ranked second in our hitter’s model while Pierzynski and Hundley are ranked outside our top 100 hitters. Fading him in cash games is not a +EV decision tonight.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – (Good tournament option and gets the benefit of playing at Chase Field but A.J. Burnett is a solid pitcher, especially against RHBs)
Next in line:
Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis is ranked among the top 10 hitters tonight and he has an elite matchup against Justin Masterson. Masterson has allowed a .353 wOBA to LHBs since 2012 and he doesn’t miss bats (16 percent K rate and a 11 percent BB rate). Davis is more of a boom or bust option (.384 wOBA, .284 ISO and a 31 percent K rate against RHP since 2012) but when he faces mediocre pitchers that can’t miss bats, he becomes less of a bust option. He benefits from playing in an elite hitting environment (Camden Yards) and I specifically like him on DraftKings, where he has third base eligibility on a site that rewards power hiters (a solo home run is worth 14 Fantasy points on that site). He’s a value play on FanDuel due to his cheap price tag and even though that site prioritizes OBP, his boost from facing a RHP that struggles against LHBs quells any concerns. Davis belongs in all formats this evening.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) – Freeman is a next in line option to Davis and is ranked only a few spots behind him (ranked among our top ten hitters). Like Davis, Freeman has a matchup against a RHP that can’t miss bats (David Buchanan has struck out 13 percent of LHBs in his last 50 plus innings) and that complements Freeman’s good skills (.388 wOBA and .206 ISO since 2012). Freeman gets a favorable park shift and even though he’s not a must play at first base tonight, he’s in play in all formats due to his skills and the contextual factors that surround him.
Justin Morneau (COL) – Morneau usually hits cleanup for a potent Rockies offense and his cheap price tag on DraftKings makes him an elite value play. Any hitter that’s hitting cleanup at Coors Field with the platoon edge against a contact pitcher will likely be ranked among the top 20 hitters in our model and that’s the case with Morneau (ranked 18th in our model). Morneau has accumulated a .377 wOBA and .206 ISO since 2012 but most of his at bats come from his time in Minnesota (awful hitting environment). Last season (his first season as a member of the Rockies), he posted a .416 wOBA and .219 ISO in 192 at bats against RHP at Coors Field. Morneau is my favorite DraftKings value as long as he hits cleanup today.
Additional first base notes: Albert Pujols (LAA) and Mike Napoli (BOS) are also very good value plays and they’re in play in all formats tonight. Pujols won’t have the platoon advantage and the hitting environment isn’t favorable but facing the underwhelming Colby Lewis (allows a ton of hard hit contact) helps his DFS value. Napoli will play in a friendly hitting environment and gets the benefit of having the platoon edge against Wei-Yin Chen. Chen has fly ball tendencies (42 percent fly ball rate against RHBs since 2012) and it’s no surprise that he allows plenty of home runs (1.30 home runs per nine, playing in a terrible pitching environment). Pujols and Napoli are ranked among the top 25 hitters tonight and FanDuel has priced them as average hitters. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) and Ryan Howard (PHI) are boom or bust options but their power skills are worth pursuing in tournaments. Both will have the platoon advantage tonight in friendly hitting environments and while they don’t get the benefit of a good lineup position, one swing of the bat is all it takes for them to exceed value.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – I’m not forcing Cano in my cash game lineups but he’s ranked among our top 15 hitters tonight and he gets the platoon advantage against an underwhelming pitcher. Trevor May has a projected ERA of 5.08 this season and he’s allowed a .370 wOBA to LHBs in his last 28 IP. Cano is an elite hitter when he has the platoon edge (.419 wOBA and .245 ISO since 2012) and even though he accumulated most of those skills at Yankee Stadium, he also accrued a 169 wRC+ (park and league adjusted). Cano’s price tag on FanDuel doesn’t account for any of the factors mentioned above.
Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker has better contextual factors than Robinson Cano this evening, as he gets a massive park shift (from PNC Park to Chase Field) and gets to hit from his better side (switch hitter but hits better from the left side) against the below average Rubby De La Rosa. De La Rosa has allowed a .374 wOBA, 25 percent line drive rate and a 37 percent fly ball rate to LHBs in his last 60 plus IP. Walker has a cool .201 ISO against RHP since 2012 and the contextual factors couldn’t get any better for the switch hitting second baseman. He’s blessed with an elite hitting position in the Pirates lineup (cleanup) and his price point on FanDuel doesn’t account for any of these factors. He’s an elite value around the industry but he’s especially valuable on sites that have him priced below the average cost of a hitter (FanDuel).
Dustin Pedroia (BOS) – Pedroia has similar contextual factors to Neil Walker this evening. He gets a favorable park shift going into Camden Yards and even though he has solid skills against LHP (.369 wOBA and a.156 ISO since 2012), Walker has better power skills. Pedroia is ranked among our top 50 hitters while Walker is ranked among our top 20 hitters. Pedroia is a good secondary value, especially on sites that have priced him as an average hitter.
Additional second base notes: Kolten Wong (STL) has solid skills against RHP and gets a massive park shift in his favor. Wily Peralta is susceptible to LHBs and even though Wong doesn’t provide the same value as Dustin Pedroia and Neil Walker (usually hits towards the bottom of the lineup, which drags his value), the matchup and park shift plays to his strengths. He’s a good tournament option this evening. Jimmy Paredes (BAL) is only second base eligible on FanDuel and even though he’s a core value on DraftKings, he lags behind Neil Walker in our model (similar price point to Walker on FanDuel).
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – I’ve ran out of things to say about Tulowitzki so here it is: Death, Taxes and Troy Tulowitzki at Coors Field. Tim Hudson is certainly not a bad pitcher, especially against RHBs (.293 wOBA and 58 percent ground ball rate allowed to RHBs since 2012) but his lack of strikeout ability (career 16 percent K rate) won’t play well at Coors Field. Tulowitzki is an elite hitter against all types of pitching (have we said that before?), accruing a monstrous .402 wOBA and a .224 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons. The shortstop position is barren tonight (we say that frequently as well) and paying up for Tulowitzki is an optimal decision. On DraftKings, Hanley Ramirez (BOS) is shortstop eligible and has awesome contextual factors this evening, including facing a below average southpaw in a favorable hitting environment. He’s the only option I would use on DraftKings if I’m not paying for Tulowitzki.
Additional shortstop notes: Erick Aybar (LAA) is a viable secondary value this evening but he lags behind Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez by a wide margin. Aybar always has the platoon advantage (switch hitter) and he gets an awesome matchup against Colby Lewis. (awful pitcher who allows a ton of hard contact). A good lineup position would increase Aybar’s value tonight. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) is a good hitter when he has the platoon advantage and he gets awesome contextual factors tonight (playing in an elite hitting environment against a below average LHP who has fly ball tendencies). His position in the Red Sox lineup drags his value (hits towards the very bottom of the lineup) but his good skills at a manageable price tag is enough to consider him as a tournament value.
Josh Harrison (PIT) – Harrison has been close to a league average hitter in his last three seasons against RHP. However, he was outstanding last season as a member of the Pirates (.315/.347/.490 triple slash line) and he’s our 20th ranked hitter tonight. He won’t have the platoon advantage against Rubby De La Rosa but he’s an awful pitcher and the massive park shift for this Pirates offense combined with an awesome lineup position (leadoff) makes Harrison a great play, especially on a site like FanDuel where he’s priced below the average price of a hitter. If you want exposure to an offense with a 4.5 team total, Harrison gives you that exposure at a nice price point around the industry.
Next in line: Kyle Seager (SEA) and Adrian Beltre (TEX) – (Both hitters will play in unfavorable hitting environments but they will have the platoon advantage against below average pitchers; the hitting environment drags their value in our model but they’re still ranked among our top 35 hitters)
Jimmy Paredes (BAL) – Paredes is a core value play on DraftKings, where he remains minimum priced. Paredes isn’t a good hitter (even with the platoon advantage) but does it matter? I don’t think so, especially when he’s blessed with an elite lineup position (hit third in the Orioles lineup last night). He gets the platoon advantage again tonight against a below average pitcher at Camden Yards. He has third base eligibility as well as outfield eligibility on DraftKings (second base on FanDuel) and the elite contextual factors makes him a core value on that specific site. Continue to start Paredes and benefit from making a great +EV decision.
Additional third base notes: Chris Davis (BAL) and Neil Walker (PIT) have third base eligibility on DraftKings and they’re awesome value plays tonight at their respective positions. If Choosing between the two, I prefer Davis who has the edge in power skills. Casey McGehee (SF) will likely fly under the radar tonight but he usually gets a solid lineup position (fifth or sixth) for a Giants offense that we love tonight. McGehee isn’t a great hitter but his hitting profile (contact hitter) receives a boost at Coors Field and he gets the platoon edge against a below average southpaw. He’s a good value play tonight as long as he doesn’t drop down in the Giants lineup.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is usually the top overall play unless Giancarlo Stanton, Troy Tulowitzki or David Ortiz have the platoon advantage. Even though Trout won’t have the platoon edge tonight, the matchup is exquisite. Colby Lewis is like the worst starter on this slate and he’s allowed 1.44 home runs per nine to RHBs since 2012. Trout doesn’t benefit from the poor hitting environment but he’s also Mike Trout (.417 wOBA and a .257 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons). He’s in play in all formats and his price tag on DraftKings is depressed.
Corey Dickerson (COL) – We’re going to assume that Dickerson isn’t really bothered by a recent foot injury (three home runs in his last three games). Dickerson is ranked among our top five hitters this evening and the contextual factors are excellent. Dickerson gets the platoon edge at Coors Field against a pitcher who doesn’t miss bats (Hudson has a 13 percent K rate vs LHBs since 2012). His price tag on DraftKings is depressed for some reason and it creates a unique opportunity to make a +EV decision. He’s been hitting second in the Rockies lineup and as long as that continues, he belongs in cash game formats tonight.
Angel Pagan/Justin Maxwell (SF) – I don’t mean to sound repetitive but it’s crucial to point out that the Giants offense faces the biggest park shift out of all the offenses in action tonight (from AT&T Park to Coors Field). Pagan is the third hitter in the Giants lineup, which gives him awesome run scoring opportunities and since he’s a switch hitter he will always have the platoon advantage. Pagan is a better hitter from the left side of the plate but that doesn’t matter much tonight. Jorge De La Rosa is a contact pitcher and it fits Pagan’s hitting profile well (contact hitter). The Giants will have the highest team total on this slate (should settle around 5-5.5 runs) and Pagan is a great way to obtain exposure to this offense. Justin Maxwell might represent an even stronger value. He’s posted a career .336 wOBA and .180 ISO against LHP and has been hitting sixth of late. He comes with a very reasonable price point all over the industry and his power should play well against de la Rosa.
Kole Calhoun and Matt Joyce (LAA) – Calhoun and Joyce won’t have the benefit of playing in an elite hitting environment but the matchup neutralizes those concerns. Colby Lewis allows plenty of hard contact to all batters (specifically LHBs) and the Rangers have zero way to neutralize LHBs (bullpen is full of RHPs). Since pinch hitting is out of the equation, Joyce and Calhoun are the next in line value plays to Angel Pagan. Calhoun (.342 wOBA, .184 ISO) and Joyce (.343 wOBA, .173 ISO) are good hitters against RHP and their lineup position (Calhoun hits leadoff while Joyce usually hits cleanup against RHP) boosts their value. They’re awesome cash game plays and they complement the Coors Field hitters very well this evening.
Additional outfield notes: Andrew McCutchen (PIT) is a next in line option to Mike Trout and Corey Dickerson. The massive park shift that the Pirates offense faces isn’t being accounted for on most sites. McCutchen is a viable cash game option on FanDuel. Carlos Gonzalez (COL) is an outstanding option on FanDuel as well. For some unknown reason (likely because of his slow start), FanDuel has priced Gonzalez as an average hitter. They’re not taking into account a few things: Gonzalez is an elite hitter and he will have the platoon advantage against a contact pitcher at Coors Field. Gonzalez doesn’t get the benefit of a good lineup position (has been hitting sixth lately) but that’s already factored into his price point. He’s a great play across all formats on FanDuel and any site that has priced him as an average hitter with average contextual factors. Mookie Betts (BOS) is ranked among our top 25 hitters this evening and FanDuel has priced him as if he was an average hitter. Take advantage of this situation on that site in all formats (particularly cash games) as Betts will have the platoon edge against a fly ball pitcher at Camden Yards. Teammate Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has an elite skill set against southpaws and he gets the benefit of a favorable hitting environment and a great offense. Ramirez represents good value as an outfielder but he’s an even better value on sites where he has shortstop eligibility. Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte (PIT) are preferred targets for tournament formats tonight. Polanco will have the platoon advantage against the underwhelming Rubby De La Rosa and Marte only needs one swing of the bat to exceed value. The extreme park shift serves as an important contextual factor for this offense and they will be featured in our tournament stacks below. Alejandro De Aza (BAL) has seen his price point come down quite a bit recently and he’s usually the leadoff hitter for the Orioles. A matchup against Justin Masterson (struggles against LHBs and doesn’t miss bats) at Camden Yards combined with a depressed price point is enough for me to consider him in all formats. However, he’s always a threat to being pinch hit for and that’s the only reason why he’s more of a secondary value tonight. Jason Heyward (STL) is a viable primary value in a good hitting environment facing a pitcher that’s susceptible to LHBs. Heyward’s best price point is on FanDuel (close to the average price of an average hitter).
1) Brandon McCarthy (LAD)
2) Adam Wainwright (STL)
3) Ian Kennedy (SD)
4) J. Burnett (PIT)
5) James Paxton (SEA)
6) C.J. Wilson (LAA)
7) Shelby Miller (ATL)
Brandon McCarthy (LAD) – McCarthy has been a complicated case in his first three starts as a member of the Dodgers. When looking at the negatives, there’s no way he’s the top play today (4.50 ERA, 5.11 FIP and three home runs per nine innings this season). However, we must dig deeper. McCarthy has a 35 percent K rate, 4.2 percent BB rate and a 2.04 xFIP. Here’s why you subscribe to the Daily Fantasy Rundown. DFSers will likely look at the fact that McCarthy has a poor ERA this season and look elsewhere for pitching. However, the xFIP tells us an important story. xFIP is a measure derived from FIP but it attempts to estimate how many home runs a pitcher should’ve allowed given the number of fly balls they surrendered while assuming a league average home run to fly ball ratio (usually around 10 percent). That’s key in McCarthy’s evaluation today, as his home run to fly ball rate is incredibly high (35.3 percent HR/FB ratio this season, 11 percent in more than 1,000 IP) and it’s due for major regression. He will also have a favorable matchup against a Padres offense that projects as a below average offense against RHP with a 24 percent K rate. Vegas agrees with us, giving the Padres the lowest team total on this slate (three runs). The skill set, matchup and ballpark (PETCO Park is an elite pitching environment) add up to make McCarthy the top play.
Next in line:
Adam Wainwright (STL) – Wainwright has a depressed K rate in three starts this season (16 percent K rate) but that should regress towards his career norm (around 19-20 percent). He’s not a big strikeout pitcher but he barely walks hitters (three percent BB rate), keeps the ball in the ground (career 49 percent ground ball rate) and prevents runs at an elite rate (1.71 ERA this season and has a career ERA of 2.99 in 1,562 IP). The main concern for Wainwright tonight is an extreme park shift (going from Busch Stadium, an elite pitcher’s park to Miller Park, an extreme hitter’s park) but a heavy right-handed Brewers lineup that’s missing a key hitter (Jonathan Lucroy) should help alleviate the ballpark concerns. Wainwright and the Cardinals are the biggest favorites on this slate (-160) and that makes Wainwright a better play on a site that weighs a pitcher’s win heavily (FanDuel).
Ian Kennedy (SD) – Like McCarthy, Kennedy will benefit from the elite pitching environment (PETCO Park). He doesn’t have the benefit of a good matchup but his strikeout skills (22 percent K rate) and fair price tag keeps him in the conversation as a value play. Even though Kennedy will be the only value play that’s written up, McCarthy is the top play on this slate and has a similar price tag on most sites (which makes him the top value play as well). I’m not forcing Kennedy in my cash game lineups since McCarthy and Wainwright are the clear top plays but the Dodgers have a team total of 3.5 and Kennedy has strikeout upside. He’s a solid option across all formats this evening but the matchup pushes him towards tournament consideration on sites that only require one starting pitcher (cash game option on multiple starting pitcher sites).
Additional starting pitcher notes: A.J. Burnett (PIT) and James Paxton (SEA) are ranked fourth and fifth respectively in our model. Paxton has a favorable matchup and will pitch in a superior pitching environment while Burnett will pitch in a favorable environment for hitters but has a matchup against a Diamondbacks offense that projects as below average against RHP. Burnett has been very good in three starts this season (above average K rate and BB rates with a 2.00 ERA) and Paxton is coming off a disaster start. Burnett is the superior tournament play as he’s been pitching much better than Paxton this season and there’s data that shows that a pitcher coming off a disaster start won’t turn things around quickly.
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) Colorado Rockies
2) San Francisco Giants
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
5) Boston Red Sox
6) St. Louis Cardinals
7) Atlanta Braves
Colorado and San Francisco highlight our tournament section. They will get the best hitting environment and Vegas has set the game total at 10. Colorado is ahead of San Francisco in our rankings because their offense is superior and two of their main hitters (Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson) will have the platoon edge. San Francisco (particularly Angel Pagan, Buster Posey and Justin Maxwell) gets an extreme park shift going into Coors Field. I’m looking to get as much exposure to this game as possible in all formats.
Pittsburgh also faces an extreme park shift (going from PNC Park to Chase Field) and their offense is power driven (Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez have awesome power skills). They also benefit from facing a below average RHP. If you’re fading Coors Field in multi-entry tournaments, make sure to have exposure to the Pirates (our third ranked offense).
While they’re under our contrarian section, Boston and St. Louis can be utilized as stack fillers for both cash games and tournaments. Both offenses get the benefit of a favorable park shift (especially St. Louis) and their matchups against We-Yin Chen (susceptible to RHBs) and Wily Peralta (susceptible to LHBs) is great for hitters with the platoon advantage. We’ve detailed extensively in our analysis that there are certain hitters (like Mookie Betts and Jason Heyward) that have price points resembling that of an average hitter on some sites.
If you’re looking for an off the radar stack to use in a multi-entry tournament, Eric Young Jr, Nick Markakis, Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski are good contrarian plays. They will have the platoon advantage and they get a great matchup against an underwhelming contact pitcher (David Buchanan) in a fine hitting environment.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
BOS at BLT 7:05: Occasional light rain. I think the rain will be light enough that they should play this game (20% chance of a cancellation) but the chance of a delay looks higher in a headier and steadier batch of rain that develops later in the game (40% chance of that). Temps in the mid to upper 40s to start falling into the low to mid 40s. Air density is a 2 or 3. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
Chance of rain:
Hour 1: 40%
Hour 2: 50%
Hour 3: 60%
Hour 4: 70%
ATL at PHL 7:05: A 10% chance of showers. Temps near 50 falling into the mid to upper 40s. Air density is a 3. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
STL at MIL 7:10: Retractable roof. Temps very chilly outside so the roof will likely be closed.
SF at COL 8:10: A 20% chance of a shower or thunderstorm. A 10-20% chance of a brief delay but they will play this game. Temps in the mid to upper 50s falling into the upper 40s. Air density is a 8. Wind north 7-14 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
PIT at AZ 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Looks like the roof should be open. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest at 10-20 mph with gusts to 25 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 7 or 8.
LAD at SD 8:40: A 20% chance of a shower. Should not cause a delay. Temps in the mid 60s falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest at 8-16 mph with gusts past 20 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TEX at LAA 9:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s to start falling to near 60. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest at 12-25 mph with gusts near 30 lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 8.
MIN at KC 9:10: A 10-20% of a shower. Should not be any issues with delays. Temps low to mid 50s falling to near 50. Air density is a 4 becoming a 3. Wind north 8-16 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 3.