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American League DFS Preview

American League DFS Preview
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American League DFS Preview

For the second time in as many weeks, Logan and I have combined our talents and thrown them into the DailyRoto atmosphere. This is going to be a theme that is seen throughout the entire MLB season, so maybe it’s about time we start thinking about coining a cool nickname like “Thunder and Lightning.” For now, we’ll leave it up to our readers though. Hit up the DailyRoto forum and get the discussion going!

Until then, we’ll be bland about what we call ourselves. What isn’t bland are our thoughts on the American League. In the first part of a brief two-part series, we are talking one thing Fantasy related per AL team. Whether it be about a single player, a rotation, or a stacked lineup, we’ll dive into each and every MLB team by the end of next week. First out of the gates, the American League:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

Chris – There might not be one starter on the Orioles who has the strikeout potential to be a good play consistently. Tillman, Chen and Norris are the top starters for this team and not one has a K/9 of over eight. Bud Norris sits at the top of all returning Orioles starters with a 7.57 K/9 in 2014. As we all know, you have to have strikeout potential to be a force in DFS MLB. I don’t see that at all in Baltimore.

Logan – Do we even care about the pitchers in Baltimore? The only Orioles’ pitcher that matters to me is a former one, Jake Arrieta (Go Cubs Go!). I’m not looking to capitalize on the arms at Camden Yards, but boy, I could have some fun with the bats. One bat in particular is where I want you to have your focus in the early going; it’s the big bat being swung by Chris Davis. Crush is a huge source of power and power is a magical attribute that DFSers crave.

Boston Red Sox

Chris – The Red Sox are going to be a great team to stack against this season. Their starting rotation is very up and down and obviously Fenway Park is a great place to hit. Porcello, Miley, Masterson, Buchholz and Kelly had 34 starts of five earned runs or more in 138 starts. That means that 25% of those guys’ starts resulted in a great offensive day for the other team.

Logan – Chris had to talk badly on the Sox because of the sadness he feels that his Tigers parted ways with Porcello. He is right though, the focus on this team might not be in arms, but in bats. It’s a familiar trend in the AL East, but I like some of the Sox bats, particularly some of their younger ones. We saw some great spurts of action from Xander Bogaerts last season, and the Aruba native (yes, he is from Aruba, so cool!) is going to be a fun bat to follow. Monitor his price in the early parts of the season, as he definitely finds himself in play against southpaws.

New York Yankees

Chris – CC Sabathia comes into this season’s camp weighing in the 300’s again, but that doesn’t mean he’ll regain the velocity on his fastball. His fastball averaged just 88.8mph in 2014 and that’s probably why he got hit around so much. He posted a ridiculous 23.3% HR/FB ratio last season, which probably has something to do with that fastball velocity. You don’t typically pitch your best when you hit 34 years old, so I expect Sabathia to get hit around quite a bit.

Logan – Third team, third time Chris mentions pitchers. Dude, this guy is so boring. I guess I’ll talk about the offense and namely, Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury was an enigma for much of last season in the Daily Fantasy realm but don’t lose sight of him. He’s an excellent source of power in a fantastic hitter’s park, and oh yeah, he also steals bases. He has the potential to win you GPPs all by his lonesome. Dream up some scenario where he drops a couple bombs, swipes a couple bags and swoon over the amount of money you’ll be rolling in when he does so.

Tampa Bay Rays

Chris – Evan Longoria is trending downwards and he’ll be 30 by the end of the 2015 season. I can’t see myself paying up for him compared to all other third basemen with how he has been playing. He has played 160-plus games in each of the last two seasons, but only 74 three years ago. Looking at those three seasons, his BB%, ISO, BABIP, AVG, OBP, and wOBA are all getting worse. And now, he’s going to hit in what should be a very low scoring offense.

Logan – Ha. Chris finally gets around to talking about some offense and he does so by starting with a Dirtbag (guys, this isn’t a punch at Chris or Longo. Longo played baseball in college for the Long Beach State Dirtbags, do your research). I don’t care to talk Rays offense, though. I’m only concerned with the Cubs and former Cubs. An important player for DFS falls into that category: Chris Archer. Archer has swag man, and he’s good. He posted an 8.0 K/9 last year and put together a respectable 3.39 FIP. He was sort of victimized by a .296 BABIP against him (career mark is .280), but that sort of stuff should regress a tad. Watch out for him.

Toronto Blue Jays  

Chris – When it comes to DFS purposes, Russell Martin could see a huge boost from his change in teams. Toronto is a much nicer park to hit at than PNC Park where he hit .290 with a .336 BABIP. Those numbers are both higher than his career averages, but early on in his MLB career he had multiple seasons in the .305-.320 BABIP range, so luck might not be that prevalent here. With an OBP that could again be around .400, he’s going to be a run scoring machine in front of the likes of Bautista, Encarnacion and Donaldson.

Logan– Chris failed to mention that Russell is also a Canadian, so there is a narrative to put into play early and often. This offense is big time and is an oft used resource in MLB DFS. You’ll be familiar with the whole lineup after about a week of baseball and eventually you’ll get sick of us touting them. Here is a name you maybe weren’t aware of: Daniel Norris. Norris lives in a van. Yes, a van. It is yet to be seen if it’s located down by the river, adjacent to Matt Foley’s (RIP Chris Farley, gone too soon), but it’s cool enough, and perhaps you read about it here. It’s yet to be seen what is going to shake out in the Blue Jays rotation given the injury to Marcus Stroman, but Norris is in the conversation. Know this: the dude can rack up the K’s.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Chris – Jose Abreu is some sort of special hitter, but you want the first half Abreu rather than the second half Abreu. While both versions are impactful in MLB, the first half Abreu is where DFS players made their money. Sure, the .350 average with seven home runs was nice in the second half, but the 29 home runs and .292 average is what will make his salary worth it. Power is the name of the game and for $4,800 on Draftkings that’s what you better get out of him.

Logan – Now Chris is on the offensive (see what I did there?). I’ll mention another interesting rookie that could make an impact in the DFS space. Carlos Rodon was the third pick in last year’s MLB Draft but could already be busting out in the White Sox rotation. He’s a lefty with good strikeout stuff that could fit in well with a rotation bolstered by Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija. He might not start with the team out of camp, but before long, he’ll be available at a minimal price in DFS. That is, until he starts dominating big league bats.

Cleveland Indians

Chris – I’m not touching the Indians rotation because of Logan’s love for guys like Kluber and Salazar, so let’s talk some hitting. This lineup could be a great stack option against the typical average four and five starter in MLB. They added right handed hitting specialist, Brandon Moss and we’ve seen the emergence of Michael Brantley as a great hitter. Add in guys like Jason Kipnis, a great bounce back candidate, and Nick Swisher and you have yourself a good group of hitters in Cleveland. Beware though, these Cleveland switch hitters have a tendency to frustrate.

Logan– Chris graciously let me talk about the arms in Cleveland, but I’m not going to groan on too long about them. The Indians arms are good. Not quite, LeBron-esque, but, you know what I mean. That is quick, and undeniably awful analysis, but do some digging on your own, and immerse yourself in the strikeouts and nastiness. Kluber, Carrasco and Salazar leave me salivating at their strikeout rates. Use them.

Detroit Tigers

Chris – I’ve tweeted about Justin Verlander this month, but I want to reiterate my feelings on him in 2015. We’ll never see #MustSeeJV consistently again, but I don’t see why he can’t bounce back from his worst season ever. While his velocity is trending the wrong way, he was coming off core surgery last season. With a full year of health under his belt and a strong Spring Training under as well, I’m a big fan of his likely cheap price tag at the beginning of the season. And if he is in fact starting against the Twins on Opening Day, there will be at least one DailyRoto writer rostering him.

Logan – I’ll let Chris have the glory of this section, it’s the Tigers. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t read more homer comments in what was above. He talked about Justin Verlander (without mentioning Kate Upton, why not?) and what he could bring to the table in DFS this season. Instead of recommending a player to keep an eye on, I want to leave you with a piece of DFS advice. Get past the personal biases in DFS. Everyone struggles with them, myself with the Cubbies, and of course Christian Yelich, but they get in the way. If a guy isn’t performing, and isn’t a value in the Daily Fantasy world, then don’t use him. I’ll leave it up to Verlander to decide his fate.

Kansas City Royals

Chris – As much as I’d like to bring up Verlander being single, it’s just not true at this point. My insider sources leaked me the wrong information a week or so when I was Tweeting about it. As for the Royals in 2015? Well, although they got rid of one of the oddest sized singles hitter, Billy Butler, and added Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios, they aren’t likely to hit a lot of home runs for us. This is a common theme for them as they only hit 95 home runs in 2014. The next closest was the Texas Rangers with 111. Don’t expect the Dong Report Twitter account to focus too much on these hitters this season.

Logan – Can I talk about their bullpen? Oh wait, that has no DFS relevance (Insert sad emoji here). The Royals present us with some intriguing offensive options that Chris mentioned, but once again, it’s about the arm(s). Yes, I’m sort of singling out Yordano Ventura and the excitement that comes every time he’s on the mound, but also, keep your eye on Danny Duffy. Duffy was a big prospect for a long time and finally strung together some really nice outings last year. If he can bring his K/9 up to where it was in his Minor League days, he could be a really valuable asset at a cheap price in DFS.

Minnesota Twins

Chris – Ervin Santana is a guy definitely worth jumping on in 2015. He’s coming off the second best K/9 in his career (8.22), and he’ll be at an extreme pitcher friendly home park, Target Field. Considering his best K/9 season was back in 2008, there aren’t many similarities between 2014 and then. Something to look at for Santana was how high his BABIP against was compared to previous seasons. In 2014, his BABIP  was .319 while in the last three seasons he posted BABIPs of .267, .241, and .272. It’ll be interesting to see how the new scenery affects Santana, but I think he’ll be better this season.

Logan – Dozier. Dozier. Dozier. I guess that doesn’t exactly have the same feel as Bueller, but I tried. The Bull Dozier didn’t take many days off last season, as opposed to his near fictional counterpart. That is a good thing for us as Dozier is one of the best DFS options at second base. He put together a solid .174 ISO last year (.203 against lefties) and also swiped 21 bags. The 20/20 club won’t send you hollering for the HOF, but it’s better than a lot of his compadres at second base.

AL West

Houston Astros

Chris – George Springer is a young guy who I think we’ll all be rostering a bunch in 2015. Logan has talked about it time and time again (and with good reason), but the combination of power and speed is what makes the top Fantasy hitters. Mike Trout is the perfect example of that. Well, Springer stole 45 bases in 2013. He stole 33 in 2012. In 78 games last season though, he only stole five bases. This number should pick up to around 20 with what should be 30-plus home runs in 2015. It also would help us DFS players out if his .294 BABIP became closer to the .379 BABIP he posted in 1,270 minor league at bats.

Logan – Yeah, sure, George Springer is cool, but I want to talk about the Astros rotation. Remember how weird it was last year when you stacked against Colin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel and it didn’t work? Yeah, it got me a few times too. This is something to keep your eye on. Both guys could continue to put it together and baffle some bats this season. Don’t automatically stack against them.

LA Angels

Chris – I haven’t dug into the topic a ton, but Matt Joyce might be the worst four or five hitter in the MLB this season. He’s not really a platoon guy anymore with his average against righties being just .263 last season and he could never really touch southpaws. As a left handed hitter, it’s not surprising he struggles against lefties with a career average of .189 against them. His career average against right handed pitching is just .261. I’m sorry, but to me Joyce is a platoon by default type guy.

Logan – Does anyone care about Matt Joyce anyway? We only care about Mike Trout. Trout is the best all-around player in baseball and thus, becomes a top DFS play by default. The question when choosing to roster him will be the value he possesses at a given price. Too high of a price and you’ll need more production to make him a viable selection. Keep yourself in check and don’t just play him because of his name.

Oakland A’s

Chris – Sonny Gray‘s 2013 strikeout numbers were great and as we found out in 2014, not repeatable yet. He hasn’t shown the ability to consistently strike batters out and as we saw throughout the entire 2014 season, it wasn’t necessarily due to having a tired arm. His 7.46 K/9 in September was better than the 6.27 K/9 he had in May. Overall, his second half K/9 was only .50 worse than his first half K/9. In AAA he struck out almost one per inning, but in 30 more innings in AA he struck out just 5.9 per 9 innings.  Don’t expect a big bounce back in K/9 numbers in 2015 and use him for strikeouts on a start-to-start basis.

Logan – Should we play Billy Beane’s players more often due to “Moneyball?” Does playing “Moneyball” players, make you more money? A clever theory, right? Most of last year’s offense is no longer a part of this team, but it’s a new acquisition that has me intrigued. He’s not an international man of mystery, but Brett Lawrie has switched teams, and countries. He’ll be playing in a much more spacious park with some less vicious protection around him, and I’m curious to see what he is capable of producing. Is he now the focal point of this offense? Is it Sam Fuld? I don’t know. Too many questions are surrounding the A’s, and our answers are a few weeks away.

Seattle Mariners

Chris – The Mariners are going to be a team we don’t try to pick on much in 2015. Led by guys like Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, they are going to be considered one of the top rotations in baseball. While those two have tons of experience, James Paxton and Tijuan Walker have tons of talent with few innings under their MLB belt. What is not to love about this rotation? They get rid of Chris Young, their worst starter last season, and return a team ERA of 3.17 (2nd in MLB). Their K/9 of 8.16 ranked fifth and they pitch in a tremendous pitcher’s park.

Logan – King Felix and Prince Robbie? No? Robinson Cano‘s offensive numbers took a hit last year, especially in the power department, as was expected with his shift from Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field. It didn’t exactly rid him of all his value, but it did alter his Fantasy status. He’s one of the best hitters in baseball and will continue to contend for a batting title, but maybe we should be using less of him as DFS players, particularly in cash games. A large price tag, with a little chance at homering seems like a bad recipe.

Texas Rangers

Chris – I won’t harp on Prince Fielder too much here, but I think Logan had a great point in our last article. Yes, he’s coming off a tough injury. Yes, he’s a 275lb vegan who posed basically nude in ESPN the Magazine. But, I do feel he’s worth taking a chance on early in the season. To start 2015, he’s coming in at $4,300 on Draftkings, which places him outside the top 10 for first basemen. He hit 55 home runs, drove in 214 RBI, and walked 160 times in his two seasons in Detroit. With guys like Beltre and Choo hitting in the same lineup, there are more than enough reasons to take a flier on him.

Logan – I’m glad Chris mentions Prince and even more excited that he mentioned the ESPN photo. He might be a vegan, but he will be feasting on some meatballs this year hitting behind Adrian Beltre. Beltre is such a stud and is such an underrated hitter. Although his ISO took a hit last year, he posted a .380 wOBA. Yes, that is very good. He becomes a hitter that I’ll use often, especially in cash games due to his consistency.