MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 13th, 2015
Welcome to Wednesday’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: KC-TEX is a game we’re keeping an eye on today. 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) – After a few days with little separation among the catcher recommendations, we get a clear cut top play on Wednesday. Buster Posey is getting a nice park shift in his favor (Houston inflates RH power 3-4 percent above league average while San Francisco deflates RH power 8-12 percent below the league average) and he’s facing a LHP. Posey has destroyed LHP throughout his career. Since 2012, he’s compiled a .422 wOBA and .249 ISO against lefties despite playing the majority of his games in one of the toughest hitting parks in baseball. He’ll face Brett Oberholtzer who has held RHBs to a .313 wOBA and 0.72 HR/9 but has really benefited from a puny 5.2 percent HR/FB Rate. He’s allowing a FB Rate of nearly 46 percent to RHBs. Eventually we believe that unusually low HR/FB Rate will regress closer to a league average and Oberholtzer’s split against RHBs will represent something closer to the typical FB prone LHP (.325-.330 wOBA allowed, 1.2 HR/9). In case you might question his ability to “control” the low HR/FB Rate, Oberholtzer has allowed 1.35 HR/9 across AA and AAA since 2012. Posey ranks within our Top 10 hitters overall and is an elite buy at the catcher position.
Wilin Rosario (COL) – Rosario, like Posey, has mashed LHP throughout much of his career. He’s posted a .427 wOBA and .311 ISO against LHP since 2012. Unlike Posey, he’s done most of this damage in the most favorable hitting environment in baseball. You can see the gaps in their production when you use a park adjusted statistic like wRC+ (177 vs. 158 in favor of Posey). While Posey gets a park upgrade, Rosario gets a steep downgrade. He is facing a fly ball (and homer prone) LHP in Hector Santiago (1.39 HR/9 and 50.1 percent FB Rate allowed since 2012) but the Angels home park deflates RH power seven percent below the league average. In addition, Rosario likely won’t earn a strong lineup spot (sixth last night). Rosario is priced down around the industry and a solid value for his skill set, but all of the differences in contextual factors between him and Posey create a wide gap in our model’s rankings. Rosario ranks inside our Top 90 hitters.
Additional catcher notes: On sites that Victor Martinez (DET) has catcher eligibility he serves as an alternative top option to Posey. Martinez ranks inside our Top 20 hitters and draws a favorable matchup with Ricky Nolasco who has allowed a .351 wOBA and 1.01 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Martinez’s platoon splits aren’t as strong as Posey (.356 wOBA, .151 ISO against RHP since 2012) but he benefits from a stronger lineup and holds his value better when the game gets into a weak Twins bullpen. Devin Mesoraco (CIN) is the other catcher that ranks extremely well in our model. He gets a below average LHP in a great hitting environment. The problem with Mesoraco is he hasn’t been able to catch much and has largely played as a DH and pinch hitter. The price tag on DraftKings is elevated while on FanDuel it’s near the minimum. I’m not expecting him to start, but if he does that price tag on FanDuel is compelling. Mesoraco ranks inside our Top 30 overall hitters.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – Ricky Nolasco has been in decline for a few years, but the start to the 2015 season is particularly alarming. His K Rate is down substantially (11.3 percent, career 18.9 percent) and his walk rate is up substantially (9.7 percent, career 5.5 percent) while he’s posting a career worst GB Rate (33.3 percent, career 41.7 percent). Nolasco didn’t have much margin for error in recent years and the skills deterioration supports an early season implosion (9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP). The Tigers are an elite offense and while they won’t have the platoon advantage much against Nolasco, they project as one of the top offenses to target on Wednesday. Cabrera has always hit RHP and LHP practically evenly and he ranks as the second overall hitter in our model.
Next in line: Chris Davis (BAL), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), Freddie Freeman (ATL), Jose Abreu (CHW), and Joey Votto (CIN) rank as the next best first base options. All rank inside our Top 15 overall hitters and I’ve listed them in my personal order of preference. With prices varying substantially across different sites, I think this is a group you can target if one piece is priced differently than the others. Davis, Abreu, and Votto seem to fit this profile most consistently. Davis is my favorite of the bunch because he has the platoon advantage and rates highest in our model (eighth) but Votto and Abreu have fine splits against same handed pitching and are in excellent hitting environments as well.
Adam LaRoche (CHW) – I’ll keep this short and simple because he’s unlikely to find his way into the lineup. If LaRoche does play at first base over Abreu, he’s severely discounted around the industry. Jimmy Nelson has been homer prone to LHBs in his career (1.16 HR/9) and allowed a .342 wOBA overall. LaRoche hits for great power against RHP (.364 wOBA, .211 ISO since 2012) and would likely hit third if playing over Abreu. He’s too cheap for a Top 35 hitter in our model.
Justin Smoak (TOR) – Smoak doesn’t play every day but when he does find his way into the lineup, it’s usually in a great spot (fifth). Smoak’s playing time has been cut of late with Jose Bautista DH-ing and it’s another big risk today. If Smoak does play, Miguel Gonzalez is fly ball prone to LHBs (35.4 percent GB Rate) and Smoak derives most of his value via power.
Additional first base notes: I think first base is a position to spend at on Wednesday. Ideally you want to target someone from the group of names in the “next in line” category that has seen their price point fall a bit compared to the others.
Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier has posted a .368 wOBA and .219 ISO against LHP since 2012. He’ll face Kyle Lobstein who has allowed just a .306 wOBA to RHBs despite atrocious peripherals (10.5 K Rate, 8.4 BB Rate, 5.05 xFIP). We’ll bet on the peripherals rather than the production in most cases. The Twins project well against LHP, especially the top of the order, which produces premium plate appearances for Dozier. He’s out standout option at the position and a Top 25 hitter in our model.
Additional second base notes: Robinson Cano (SEA), Ian Kinsler (DET), and Dee Gordon (MIA) all rank outside our Top 50 overall hitters. They each have some things that may draw you into considering them alongside Dozier (Cano’s BvP, Kinsler as part of the Tigers great offense, and Gordon’s recent play), but we think there is a substantial gap between Dozier and that group. We’d consider them appropriate tournament options. The list of “value plays” at the position is very site specific and lineups will heavily influence our opinions. Devon Travis (TOR) remains very cheap on DraftKings which is a great entry point to a very good offense in a good park. Alex Guerrero (LAD) is also priced as a punt play and if he keeps hitting fifth, he’s an elite value. Luis Valbuena (HOU) is also very cheap on DraftKings and hits third in a good ballpark against a contact oriented pitcher. He’s a fine alternative to those two on DraftKings. Matt Duffy (SF) will likely hit second against LHP Brett Oberholtzer. Duffy doesn’t profile as much (.288 wOBA, .121 ISO according to ZiPS projections) but a great lineup spot in a good park is worthy of consideration at a thin position.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Tulowitzki is in the same situation as yesterday although facing arguably a weaker opposing starter. Tulowitzki is out of Coors Field, but up against a LHP. In his career, Tulowitzki has hit .280/.366/.510 against LHP on the road (.373 wOBA, .230 ISO). Hector Santiago has allowed a .328 wOBA and 1.39 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012, providing an excellent matchup for Tulowitzki’s power. I think this is a friendlier matchup than last night because Santiago is more homer prone than C.J. Wilson. With a lack of elite shortstop options and Tulowitzki’s price down, I think he’s in the conversation for cash game consideration. He ranks within our Top 10 overall hitters.
Additional shortstop notes: Like second base, if you’re not paying up the options are more clustered and lineup spots will help separate some of them. Jean Segura (MIL) has been hitting leadoff against LHP. He’s not a great hitter against lefties (career .304 wOBA, .127 ISO) but an elite lineup spot in a great hitting environment puts him as our next highest rated shortstop option (Top 70 in our model). Erick Aybar (LAA) comes with the most consistently affordable price around the industry and has been hitting fifth for a putrid Angels lineup against RHP. Jordan Lyles is vulnerable to LHBs (.359 wOBA, 22 percent LD Rate) but those numbers are heavily influenced by Coors Field so Aybar ranks outside our Top 100. Matt Duffy (SF) is a punt option we mentioned at second base and those same reasons apply to the shortstop position. The Pirates shortstop eligible duo: Jung Ho Kang (PIT) and Jordy Mercer (PIT) could emerge as viable options with good lineup spots. Cole Hamels is a very good starter but Kang and Mercer have some pop against LHP. Alcides Escobar (KC) remains very cheap on FanDuel for a leadoff hitter in a very good offense. I’d continue to plug away at that price point if not paying up for Tulowitzki.
Toddy Frazier (CIN) – Frazier has compiled a .349 wOBA and .222 ISO against LHP since 2012. He holds his value against RHP a bit better than his third base counterparts which is why he ranks higher in our model. He faces Eric Stults who has allowed a .338 wOBA and 1.03 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012 despite pitching in largely favorable environments. Great American Ballpark inflates RH power eight percent above the league average and home runs by 14 percent. He’s a Top 20 hitter in our model.
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) – Plouffe has hit LHP well in his career (.359 wOBA, .205 ISO) and gets a below average LHP in Kyle Lobstein. With Brian Dozier and Torii Hunter ahead of Plouffe in the lineup, he has a good chance to see premium plate appearances with runners on base. He ranks as a Top 25 hitter in our model and comes at a slight discount to Frazier on most sites.
Additional third base notes: Raisel Iglesias was struggling with LH power in the minor leagues, allowing a .468 slugging percentage to LHBs in 51 plate appearances. It’s a small sample but we don’t have a ton to go on with Iglesias’ limited track record. Kelly Johnson (ATL) has posted just a .311 wOBA against RHP since 2012 but his .176 ISO is intriguing at low price points, especially in Great American Ballpark which inflates LH home runs 12 percent above the league average. Mike Moustakas (KC) remains cheap on FanDuel but is priced closely enough to Plouffe that we’d prefer getting exposure to Plouffe who ranks significantly higher in our model. Moustakas’ breakout season creates some challenges in finding a new baseline for him in our projection model but he currently ranks outside our Top 70 hitters. Josh Harrison (PIT) has typically hit leadoff against LHP and is dirt cheap around the industry. Cole Hamels isn’t someone to load up against but if you’re looking for a salary relief option I think Harrison is viable. Luis Valbuena (HOU) is an extreme fly ball hitter against RHP (46.6 percent since 2012) and that typically profiles well against extreme ground ball pitchers. Tim Hudson has allowed just 0.72 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012 but he’s getting a park downgrade and he yields a hefty pull percentage (43.3 percent). I think Valbuena is pretty boom-or-bust but the best batted ball splits matchups to attack are fly ball hitters vs. ground ball pitchers and this matchup fits the bill. The gap between Frazier/Plouffe and the rest of the options is pretty large in our model, so I’d prefer to try to stay within Frazier and Plouffe.
In general, I don’t see a reason to spend on the top outfield plays in cash games. The emphasis on premium pitching and a wider gap between top plays and value plays at positions like first base and the middle infield make it more difficult to spend up in the outfield. Mike Trout (LAA), Jose Bautista (TOR), Ryan Braun (MIL), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), and Carlos Gomez (MIL) all rank within our Top 10 hitters. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) ranks within our Top 15.
Marlon Byrd (CIN) – Byrd has hit LHP very well in recent years (.369 wOBA, .215 ISO since 2012) and he gets to face Eric Stults in an elite hitting environment in Cincinnati. Byrd cracks our Top 20 overall hitters and ranks inside our Top Five hitters in our home run model. He’s a bit overpriced on DraftKings but at $2,900 on FanDuel, he’s a very strong value play.
Tigers Outfielders (DET) – Yoenis Cespedes (21st), J.D. Martinez (28th), and Anthony Gose (40th) are all solid value plays against Ricky Nolasco and a very weak Twins bullpen behind him. Cespedes is the most consistent value among the group and he’s been promoted to the fifth spot of late. Gose is a particularly strong value on DraftKings where he’s just $3,400. He’s a staple of my cash game lineup building on DraftKings. None of the trio are elite hitters against RHP but the Tigers have the highest team total of the evening (4.5) and are one of the premier offenses to target.
Additional outfield notes: Those two groups stand above the next set of value plays so I’ve decided to attack the remaining value plays in the notes section. Khris Davis (MIL), Kole Calhoun (LAA), Billy Hamilton (CIN), Angel Pagan (SF), and Torii Hunter (MIN) all rank within our Top 50 hitters. They get premier lineup spots in good hitting environments and they all have the platoon advantage. Davis has the highest power upside and Hamilton the best speed upside (more important on FanDuel with no penalty for caught stealing) while Calhoun, Hunter, and Pagan are the safest bets for some level of production. Justin Maxwell (SF) stands out as an extreme salary relief option on DraftKings where he’s just $2,900. Maxwell derives most of his value from power (.175 career ISO against LHP) and Oberholtzer’s fly ball issues with RHBs give Maxwell a good chance to realize that power potential.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Matt Harvey (NYM)
2) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
3) James Shields (SD)
4) Cole Hamels (PHI)
5) Jason Hammel (CHC)
6) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)
7) Taijuan Walker (SEA)
8) Carlos Frias (LAD)
9) Jose Quintana (CHW)
10) Nate Karns (TB)
Matt Harvey (NYM) – This matchup has the chance to produce one of the more dominant lines from Harvey all season. The Cubs rank 21st in wRC+ against RHP and have struck out in 25.6 percent of their plate appearances against righties all season. In addition, if you read Mark Paquette’s forecast (below) you’ll notice the pitching conditions are extremely favorable. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 40s with winds blowing in from center at 5-10 mph. The Cubs biggest threat as an offense is their ability to work counts via the walk and their power. With the atmospheric conditions likely limiting power and Harvey’s elite control (3.2 percent BB Rate this season and career 5.7 percent) likely limiting walks, the emphasis shifts to the Cubs weakness: contact. Harvey ranks as our top starter on the board and a staple of cash game lineup construction.
Next in line:
Francisco Liriano (PIT) – As you might notice in the tiered rankings, starting pitcher is an unusual position on Wednesday. Harvey is alone in his tier and Liriano is alone in the second tier before the tiers widen out as we drop down the rankings. Liriano faces a Phillies offense that ranks 17th in wRC+ against RHP and has struck out in just 16.4 percent of their plate appearances against lefties. On the surface, it’s not a particularly compelling matchup for Liriano who also experiences a negative park shift. However, our projections for the Phillies lineup against LHP are far more pessimistic than their production to date. Our projections rate the Phillies lineup among the worst against LHP with a slightly better than league average K Rate. The park shift hurts Liriano modestly, but the lack of power in this lineup against LHP should mitigate most of those concerns. Our lone concern for Liriano is an unfavorable umpire. Toby Basner rates inside our bottom quartile in umpire rankings for starting pitchers. Fortunately the Phillies are one of the least patient offenses in all of baseball (27th in BB Rate and last in pitches per plate appearance).
Jason Hammel (CHC) – Hammel gets to pitch in the same great conditions that Harvey will benefit from and he faces a weaker offense. The Mets rank 26th in wRC+ against RHP but don’t strikeout as much as the Cubs (19 percent). The other reason for a gap in ranking between Hammel and Harvey is skill, but the gap may not be as wide as you would think. Hammel has posted a 3.29 xFIP this season thanks to a strong 22.9 percent K Rate and 3.3 percent BB Rate. Hammel doesn’t keep the ball on the ground a ton (41.8 percent GB Rate) but that shouldn’t impact him significantly given these weather conditions. Hammel is a viable secondary play on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) – Nelson gets the benefit of facing the White Sox without one of their better hitters (either LaRoche or Abreu) which significantly thins out their lineup against RHP. Using ZiPS projections as a base, the Brewers lineup drops from four percent above the league average in wRC+ to one percent below the league average against RHP with the removal of LaRoche. The matchup is still neutral overall. Nelson’s price point, however, remains discounted. His strikeout rate has blossomed with the help of his new curveball and it’s really driving his DFS value. He’s had one atrocious start that has helped hold his price down, but in four of his six starts he’s struck out at least five batters. The strong K Rate creates a nice floor for Nelson and his discounted price tag makes him a viable option on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Carlos Frias (LAD) – Frias reminds me a little bit of Nate Eovaldi. He has tremendous stuff (average FB velocity is 95.9 mph) but he’s struggled to miss bats even at the minor league level (career 7.4 K/9 in minors, 6.9 K/9 at AAA). Frias has been able to generate ground balls with his velocity (62.2 percent GB Rate this season) and his BB Rates have improved dramatically in recent years. The quality of the stuff will make you dream about the strikeout potential but the command and ground balls are the foundation of his production. His price point remains modest and Vegas has the Dodgers as a substantial favorite (-156) in a game with a total of just 7.5. I think he’s an acceptable source of salary relief, albeit with an inferior upside to the options in the tier above.
Taijuan Walker (SEA) – Walker comes with a ton of variance but the price point around the industry and the matchup against a heavily right-handed Padres unit makes for a compelling upside. For his brief major league career, Walker has excelled against RHBs (.293 wOBA, 19.9 K Rate, and 7.4 BB Rate) and at home (27.7 K Rate, 3.63 ERA). The Padres lineup is RH dominant but filled with pretty good RHBs. They rank 13th in wRC+ against RHP and they’re accustomed to playing in poor offensive environments. Even when Walker has been at his most successful, he’s had command issues which makes him very volatile. The umpire in this matchup is neutral but Vegas has the Mariners as solid favorites (-124) with a game total of just seven. I’m reluctant to trust Walker in cash games, but I think there is ample tournament upside in his current price point.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Raisel Iglesias (CIN) is minimum priced on FanDuel and allows you to play pretty much any hitters you want. I think that is a viable approach in tournaments given he has a hint of strikeout upside. James Shields (SD) and Cole Hamels (PHI) are priced out of cash game consideration but are acceptable targets in tournaments. Shields has the benefit of a strong pitching environment and Hamels will go very low owned given Liriano’s expected usage rate. I prefer Shields of the two if targeting in tournaments.
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Detroit Tigers
2) Baltimore Orioles
3) Toronto Blue Jays
4) Minnesota Twins
The Tigers and Orioles are the two teams with the highest team totals (4.5). I believe the Tigers are the best cash game mini-stack and overall tournament stack. The Orioles are more tournament than cash game worthy. Their lineup doesn’t hold the platoon advantage much early and is getting pricey around the industry. Sanchez is explosive and the bullpen behind him isn’t great. The Blue Jays are in a very similar situation as the Orioles. The lineup lacks some depth and the premium options are very pricey, but I think they’re an excellent tournament stack against Miguel Gonzalez‘s fly ball tendencies. A mini-stack of Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion is expensive but has the ability to capture multiple home runs. The Twins are a nice combination of cost effective and power upside against Kyle Lobstein. Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe are cash game viable. Torii Hunter is a bit overpriced but fits in well with a mini-stack and then you can add in some cost effective options from the bottom half of the lineup to fill it out.
Top Contrarian Tournament Stacks:
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) Cincinnati Reds
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) Kansas City Royals
The Dodgers are in another world against RHP right now. They own a 135 wRC+, .369 wOBA, and .231 ISO as a team. Jarred Cosart is tough to pick on because of his extreme ground ball tendencies but in tournaments, the Dodgers depth in their lineup makes them a strong stack option. The one concern here is the unusual start time. The majority of the game may get played in shadows which can present some challenges for the hitters.
The Reds get an elite ballpark and Joey Votto‘s skills against LHP make them a strong tournament stack. I wouldn’t be afraid to include Jay Bruce in a full stack. A bad lineup spot actually makes him more likely to face RH relievers in a higher percentage of his plate appearances.
The Pirates were an elite offense against LHP last season but have fallen off dramatically early this year. They’re very right handed and the bullpen behind Hamels is below average. With a big park shift for right handed power, I think they’re worthy of consideration in tournaments.
The Royals get a huge park shift in their favor and they’re a Top Five offense against RHP early in the season. Yovani Gallardo isn’t a terrible starter so this isn’t as attractive as Colby Lewis or Nick Martinez, but the park shift earns consideration.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
On the scales used below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 should not impact the game at all.
TOR at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind east becoming north-northwest 7-14 mph becoming 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
PIT at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.
MIN at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the upper 50s falling to near 50. The air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind north-northeast 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
ATL at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling to near 60. The air density is a 6. Wind north-northeast 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
NYY at TB 7:10: Dome.
MIA at LAD 7:50: Dry. Temps in the near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
NYM at CHC 8:00: Dry. Temps in the upper 40s falling into the low 40s. Air density is a 4 becoming a 3. Wind northeast 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.
KC at TEX 8:05: This the problem game on the schedule tonight. Rain and thunder at times near the beginning of game lifts northeast. It will rain rather heavily and steadily leading up to the game so that increases the chances of a cancellation. Everything I see saws the rain should north and east as the game goes on so they should be able to play but the risk is that if the rain is slower moving away then there are problems. Estimates: 30% of a cancellation. 40-60% chance of a delay to begin the game if they do not cancel. Once they begin the game, they should be in the clear. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southeast 10-20 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 3.
CHW at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry but very chilly. Because of the temps, I would assume the roof will be closed
SF at HOU: Retractable roof. There will be some showers and thunderstorms around so I will assume the roof will be closed.
COL at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 5 or 6. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
SD at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Rain at times. The roof will be closed.