Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 2nd MLB DFS
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.
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Derek Norris (SD) – Norris is our top catcher this evening and our model loves him any time he faces a southpaw. Norris has an awesome .375 wOBA and .194 ISO against LHP since 2012. In a small sample size this season (18 ABs), he has continued his dominance against LHP, posting a .278 ISO. It’s also important to note that Norris is hitting a ton of fly balls this season (42 percent), which should generate homeruns. The hitting environment isn’t good (Petco Park) but the matchup should help. Jorge De La Rosa has allowed a .348 wOBA and he’s only struck out 15 percent of RHBs (since 2012). Norris is ranked among our top 50 hitters and the only catcher that’s close is Stephen Vogt. He’s an option in all formats, particularly cash games (accessible price point around the industry).
Next in line:
Stephen Vogt (OAK) – Vogt worked out for us last night against an awful RHP at Globe Life Park in Arlington and we’re going to pick on another below average RHP this evening. I could make the case that Nick Martinez (today’s starter) is worse than Colby Lewis (last night’s starter). Martinez has faced 381 LHBs in his career and he’s allowed a .352 wOBA, 23 percent LD rate, 49 percent FB rate and owns a K rate of 12 percent (11 percent BB rate). Think that’s bad? Martinez has a 3.81 K per 9 this season and even though he’s posted a 0.35 ERA, his 5.19 SIERA tells us what we should know (he’s awful). I’m not going to overcomplicate this recommendation. Vogt is blessed with a great lineup position (third) and the park shift is massive for this Athletics’ offense (from Oakland Coliseum, an extreme pitcher’s park, to Globe Life Park in Arlington, a park that increases LH power by ~ nine percent above the league average). Oakland’s team total should settle around 4.5 runs, which is better than the Padres (team total should settle around 3 to 3.5 runs) but Norris is a better hitter (especially against LHP). Vogt is a good value around the industry and I will likely hedge with both of these top catchers depending on the site I’m playing.
Additional catcher notes: A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) ranks poorly in our model and that’s disappointing. He has an unbelievable matchup against Jason Marquis (5.48 ERA, one of the worst starting pitchers in action tonight) but he’s just not a very good hitter (105 wRC+ against RHP since 2012). Pierzynski does have some pop (.181 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons) and a great lineup position (will hit cleanup) improves his DFS stock. Pierzynski is as good value play tonight (despite what our model says since it’s not taking into account the awesome lineup spot) and he’s a fine pivot from Norris and Vogt in all formats. Wilson Ramos (WSH) will have the platoon advantage and should hit sixth against Jon Niese. Niese isn’t someone I usually pick on since he’s not that bad of a pitcher but he doesn’t miss many bats (17 percent K rate against RHP since 2012) and has allowed a .320 wOBA to RHBs in the last few seasons. Ramos is the best tournament option tonight at the catcher position. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) rates well in our model and he will have the platoon advantage against Jeremy Hellickson (allows a good amount of aerial contact) but his lineup position really hurts his value (used to hit cleanup or fifth and now hits seventh). He’s a secondary tournament option this evening. If you’re looking to punt away the catcher position, Alex Avila (DET) can be considered. I’m not going to complicate things; Avila is a decent hitter when he has the platoon advantage and opposing pitcher Edison Volquez has a history of struggling against LHBs. Avila won’t have a great lineup spot (usually hits towards the bottom of the lineup) but his price point on DraftKings is nearing the bare minimum, which is what we’re looking for when searching for punt options.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt is our top overall hitter this evening. Despite not having the platoon advantage (which doesn’t really matter for Goldschmidt since he’s an elite hitter against both RHP and LHP) and facing a negative park shift, he has an unbelievable matchup against Scott Baker. Baker is a very bad pitcher and he lives to serve up homeruns. His last 212 right-handed batters should tell us the story. He’s allowed a 24 percent LD rate, 1.34 homeruns per 9 and only struck out 14 percent of those RHBs. In other words, he misses bats and when hitters make contact its usually hard contact. That type of skill set won’t translate well against Goldschmidt (.373 wOBA and .215 ISO against RHP since 2012). This season, Goldschmidt is hitting more line drives (28 percent LD rate, highest of his career) and his fly ball rate (36 percent) is in line with his career rate (34 percent). We’re not paying up for starting pitchers tonight (since Chris Archer and Collin McHugh aren’t expensive around the industry) and I found it fairly easy to roster Goldschmidt in cash games. Any time Goldschmidt is our top overall hitter and I can have access to him in cash games I usually roster him without hesitation.
Next in line:
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – (Awesome pivot to Paul Goldschmidt and he’s an unbelievable hitter with and without the platoon advantage but Edison Volquez is fairly good against RHP and he benefits from pitching in a spacious park as well as having an elite defense playing behind him; Cabrera is a good option for tournaments)
Freddie Freeman (ATL) – I question whether we need to roster any value first basemen tonight since we have enough salary to play the top overall hitter (Paul Goldschmidt) but if you’d like to pay up for another hitter at a different position, Freeman is our best value tonight (regardless of position). Freeman has an awesome matchup against Jason Marquis, who has allowed 1.89 homeruns per 9 and has struck out 13 percent of LHBs (12 percent walk rate) since 2012. Freeman has accumulated a .388 wOBA and .206 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons and he’s hitting more fly balls this season (47 percent FB rate), which is awesome for his DFS value (homeruns are coming). So we have one of the worst starting pitchers tonight going against a very good hitter who has a middle of the pack price tag on most sites despite being ranked third in our model. Freeman is a phenomenal value tonight and he’s in play in all formats.
Ike Davis (OAK) – Like I said in the Freeman blurb, I’m not sure value options are necessary at first base tonight since the starting pitching options aren’t expensive and high-priced middle infield options aren’t in play tonight. Regardless, Davis is a next in line option to Freeman in terms of value. Davis is ranked among our top 10 hitters this evening and he’s close to the bare minimum in terms of pricing around the industry. Okay, so he didn’t exactly work out in a great matchup last night (was a victim to what the game situation called for at the time and was lifted for a pinch runner) and it was even more annoying because the Rangers don’t have a single LHP in their bullpen. If you play MLB DFS (or just DFS in general), the ability to have a short memory pays huge dividends. We have to ignore what happened last night for the most part and look at today as another unbelievable investment opportunity. Davis will have the platoon advantage against arguably the worst starting pitcher in action tonight, Nick Martinez, I mentioned earlier that Martinez struggles with hard contact and misses bats (recipe for disaster), especially against LHBs. Davis has accumulated a cool .198 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons and he gets a massive positive park shift (Globe Life Park in Arlington, increases left-handed power by ~9 above the league average). If you want to spend on high priced outfield options, Freeman and Davis are excellent cash game options. I will likely hedge between Goldschmidt, Freeman and Davis in cash games and tournaments to make sure that I have exposure to these top 10 hitters in all formats.
Additional first base notes: Ryan Zimmerman (WSH) is another viable cash game option that I’m likely going to use in tournaments. He’s among our top 25 hitters in our model but the above written options have better matchups. Zimmerman will have the platoon advantage against Jon Niese and he’s usually blessed with a good lineup spot, which is enough to consider him in all formats (better for tournaments). Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) is another value play that should be considered for tournaments. Gonzalez is hitting the ball very hard (26 percent LD rate) and he’s hitting more fly balls (40 percent FB rate) than ground balls (34 percent GB rate) this season. That’s a recipe for success in DFS and he gets a good matchup against Jeremy Hellickson (1.17 homeruns per 9 and 17 percent K rate against LHBs since 2012). Gonzalez is ranked among our top 20 hitters tonight.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – (Cano is the top play at second base due to his skill set against RHP but Collin McHugh is a good pitcher and I usually avoid picking on him in cash games; Cano is a better option for tournaments tonight)
Additional second base notes: I don’t love covering a position in the additional section notes but unfortunately this will be the case for most middle infield positions today. There’s little to no opportunity cost at the second base position and honestly I’m just trying to find viable punt options. Those options include teammates Howie Kendrick and Justin Turner (LAD) as well as Brandon Phillips (CIN) and Jedd Gyorko (SD). Kendrick and Turner are usually granted a good lineup position in the middle of the Dodgers lineup and even though they won’t have the platoon advantage, they’re both ranked among our top 50 hitters tonight. The next available option after these two are Gyorko (among top 90) and Phillips (top 110). Gyorko and Phillips will have the platoon edge and their price points are close to the bare minimum on FanDuel. Let price points guide you at second base (unnecessary to spend on a high option like Robinson Cano or Jose Altuve in cash games).
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – (Tulowitzki is yet again the top play at a barren shortstop position but he’s not worth his price tag in cash games; he will have a same handed matchup against a solid pitcher at Petco Park so he’s only in consideration for tournaments tonight)
Additional shortstop notes: The shortstop position is just sad tonight. Troy Tulowitzki can’t be considered for cash games but our next in line option is certainly intriguing. Ian Desmond (WSH) is a good hitter against LHP (.349 wOBA, .193 ISO) but for some reason he has been hitting at the bottom of the Nationals lineup. He has hit for a ton of ground balls this season which is likely hampering his value. However, if Desmond is able to garner a good lineup spot, I’ll happily invest in his DFS stock in all formats. His price point is very low around the industry and even if he doesn’t get a good lineup position he will have to be in play (a reflection of how bad the shortstop position truly is tonight). Jimmy Rollins (LAD) is a fine alternative to Ian Desmond. Rollins is blessed with a good lineup spot (second) and he will carry the platoon advantage against Jeremy Hellickson. Additionally, Rollins is a switch hitter, which means he will have the platoon edge in all situations (good for his DFS value). Despite not being the hitter he once was, Rollins has solid pop and he can still run (has 15 HR/30 SB upside in a full season). Marcus Semien (OAK) can’t be considered on DraftKings due to his high price tag but on FanDuel he’s in play. Semien won’t have the platoon edge but Nick Martinez is an awful pitcher and Oakland will have a team total of around 4.5 runs. If more punt options emerge as lineups come out I’ll make sure to point those out but for now Desmond (better value if he’s blessed with a good lineup spot), Rollins (on FanDuel and DraftKings) and Semien (only on FanDuel) are your best values at the shortstop position.
Adrian Beltre (OAK) – Beltre’s price tag on FanDuel doesn’t take into account a few important factors that are driving his DFS value tonight. He will have the platoon edge against a pitcher that struggles against RHBs and the hitting environment is phenomenal (Globe Life Park in Arlington). Back to Beltre’s matchup, opposing pitcher has faced 704 RHBs and he’s allowed a .348 wOBA, 36 percent FB rate and 1.43 homeruns per 9 to those batters. Beltre has been a good hitter against LHP in the last few seasons (.378 wOBA, .188 ISO) and even though he’s hitting for a healthy amount of ground balls early this season (48 percent GB rate, highest of his career), his FB rate (38 percent) is in line with his career rate (39 percent). It’ll be interesting to see if Beltre changes his hitting approach as his career winds down (trade his power for more contact) but at his current price tag on FanDuel he should be rostered in all formats.
Additional notes: Remember when I said most middle infield positions would be covered in the additional notes section? I lied. All the middle infield positions have been covered in the additional notes section (a reflection of the available options). Third base is a bit better since Adrian Beltre is a good hitter (regardless of handedness) and his price point is depressed around the industry. He can be easily rostered in all formats tonight but if you’re looking for secondary values, Kelly Johnson (ATL) and Will Middlebrooks (SD) are viable values tonight. Both of these hitters will have the platoon advantage against below average pitchers but Johnson has the superior matchup (Jason Marquis). Johnson and Middlebrooks aren’t great hitters but they do have solid pop (around .170 ISO against the opposite hand in the last few seasons) and their price tags are fair for the most part around the industry. Evan Longoria (TB) is a next in line option to Adrian Beltre. Miguel Gonzalez has shown some reverse splits (particularly in the power department, allowing 1.59 homeruns per 9 to RHBs since 2012) and even though Longoria is a better hitter when he has the platoon edge, he still has some pop against RHP (.182 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons). Longoria is in play across all formats. If Yasmany Tomas (ARI) gets a good lineup spot he becomes a good value play (nice power potential against the underwhelming Scott Baker).
Arizona Diamondbacks- The only thing missing for the Diamondbacks’ offense tonight is a good hitting environment. Regardless, I’ve mentioned at length just how bad Scott Baker is (allows plenty of hard hit contact, especially homeruns). Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock are ranked among our top 10 hitters this evening and Ender Inciarte and David Peralta are ranked among our top 25 hitters. Pollock and Inciarte won’t be starting together (will have to monitor in alerts) but they’re both in an excellent matchup (especially Inciarte since he would have the platoon edge). Trumbo has the highest home run score in our model and his power still holds even when he doesn’t have the platoon edge (.190 ISO against RHP since 2012). Peralta usually hits fifth and he has been very good against RHP (.369 wOBA, .194 ISO in 267 PAs). The Diamondbacks’ outfield benefits from having good lineup spots and they get a great matchup against the underwhelming Scott Baker. That pushes them in our model quite a bit, enough to make them the top overall outfield options.
Joc Pederson (LAD) – Pederson continues to be underpriced around the industry. He’s now blessed with an awesome lineup spot (leadoff) and that’s all he needed to become a top play. He usually rated as a top option in our model but we had to bump him down to tournament consideration since he used to hit towards the bottom of the lineup. I know it’s a small sample but Pederson has been able to translate his awesome skill set at the major league level. Here’s what he did at triple A last season: .303/.435/.582 triple slash line with 33 homeruns in 553 PAs (18 percent K rate, 27 percent BB rate). This season (major league level) he’s accumulated a .300/.463/.663 triple slash line with 5 homeruns in 81 PAs (22 percent K rate, 28 percent BB rate). It’s awfully difficult for a rookie hitter to translate his skill set at the major league level right away but Pederson is an exception, not the norm. He will have the platoon advantage against Jeremy Hellickson (fly ball tendencies and he has only struck out 17 percent of LHBs since 2012)) and this matchup bodes well for his skill set. Pederson is ranked among our top 10 hitters despite having top 25-30 price points around the industry (good value).
Additional outfield notes: It’s a weird MLB DFS slate. Usually we will list a few outfield options under our value section but since we have so much salary cap available to us tonight (no need to spend at starting pitcher and any of the high priced middle infield options except Adrian Beltre) there’s not a huge need for “value” plays. The Diamondbacks are listed as the “top” plays but they’re also great values (price points are nice around the industry). Other intriguing outfield options in cash games are teammates Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers (SD). They will have the platoon advantage against Jorge De La Rosa and even though Petco Park isn’t an attractive hitting destination, the matchup should quell some concerns here. De La Rosa doesn’t miss any bats and that’s what we’re looking for in DFS (hitters that can put the ball in play and hit for power against pitchers who can’t miss bats and allow power). Matt Kemp is my favorite of the three (ranked among our top 12 hitters) but they’re all in play for cash games and tournaments. Josh Reddick (OAK) usually hits towards the bottom of the Oakland lineup but that’s not enough to take him away from tournament consideration. Reddick will have the platoon advantage against Nick Martinez and we’ve touched on how bad Martinez is against LHBs (allows a ton of aerial contact opportunities and doesn’t miss any bats). Reddick can be included on tournament stacks that feature Oakland or Diamondback hitters (top offenses this evening). Billy Hamilton (CIN) is one of my favorite tournament options tonight. A.J. Pierzynski is awful at throwing out runners and this was seen last night (Reds stole five bases last night). Hamilton has awesome SB upside tonight and he’s cash game viable on a site like FanDuel (no points taken away for caught stealing). Sam Fuld (OAK) and Athony Gose (DET) are good values tonight depending on the site you’re playing. On FanDuel, Fuld is close to the bare minimum and he will be face Nick Martinez. He’s an awesome value on that particular site. On DraftKings, Gose is very cheap and he has a matchup against a pitcher that struggles against LHBs. Both of these hitters can run and their matchups should help them get on base and utilize their speed.
1) Chris Archer (TB)
2) Collin McHugh (HOU)
3) David Price (DET)
4) Gio Gonzalez (WSH)
5) Drew Pomeranz (OAK)
6) Brandon Morrow (SD)
7) Taijuan Walker (SEA)
Chris Archer (TB) – Let’s start with the bad. Archer will be facing a good Orioles offense (ranked second in wOBA against RHP this season) and he’s been susceptible to LHBs in the past (23 percent line drive rate allowed to LHBs since 2012). Now we will quickly move on to tell you why he’s the top play this evening. Archer has a 31 percent K rate, five percent BB rate, 59 percent GB rate and a 2.25 SIERA. It’s important that I tell you why I chose SIERA instead of ERA (0.84 ERA this season, which is beyond elite). SIERA is considered an ERA estimator (like FIP and xFIP) but instead of telling us where a pitcher is headed, it attempts to tell us where a pitcher should have been. In other words, it goes backwards in its evaluation not forward. I consider SIERA to be the best ERA estimator because it doesn’t ignore balls in play and it weighs strikeouts even more than its predecessors. SIERA is telling us that strikeout pitchers generate weaker contact, which means their BABIPs and homerun rates are lower. Back to how this makes Archer our top play: he has the second best SIERA in MLB. For perspective, only Clayton Kershaw has a better SIERA. Archer is ahead of names like Felix Hernandez and Gerrit Cole. We no longer believe Archer will be a great pitcher; we have evidence that says he has become a remarkable pitcher and even though it’s been a bit of a small sample (five starts this season), we shouldn’t ignore the incredible skill set he’s displayed. His price point around the industry doesn’t accurately reflect any of the analysis that I just provided. On a night where no other starting pitcher stands out, Archer’s skill set, ballpark (Orioles will have a home game at Tropicana Field, which is considered a strong pitcher’s park) and Vegas information (Orioles team total will likely settle at around 3 to 3.5 runs and Archer is a -150 favorite tonight, highest favorite on this slate) is telling us who the top play is.
Collin McHugh (HOU) – There are limited options at the starting pitcher position tonight but those options are pretty straightforward in cash games. Chris Archer is the top play due to his awesome skills and Vegas agrees. After Archer, McHugh is the value play that most makes sense in cash games. David Price is in a weird situation where his price tag is too high to consider him a value yet he’s also not a top play due to his matchup (Royals put a ton of balls in play and don’t strike out much). McHugh does offer an okay matchup (Seattle is ranked 23rd in wOBA against RHP, although that likely improves) and he’s been pretty good early this season. The core rates have been outstanding (23 percent K rate, four percent BB rate and 55 percent GB rate) and he owns a healthy 62 percent F-Strike percentage and 11 percent SwStr percentage. McHugh has posted a 2.86 SIERA this season and his 2.92 ERA and 2.79 xFIP are all relatively close to one another (has pitched well and there’s no surprises when it comes to his peripherals so we know what we’re getting). Like Archer, McHugh is backed by Vegas (-150 favorite this evening, tied with Archer for the biggest favorite on this slate and Seattle’s team total will likely settle around 3.5 runs). McHugh is a great complement to Archer on two starting pitcher sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: This is likely not the norm but outside of the two written options, I don’t feel great about any other starting pitcher in cash games. The other starting pitcher that I see as a good “value” is Drew Pomeranz (OAK). Look, I know he kind of disappointed us last time out but let’s analyze some things a bit more before we decide what to do. Pomeranz has been unlucky when it comes to matchups (two matchups against the Astros this season and while they do offer awesome K potential, they have some power bats that can do damage against LHP and he also faced the Angels, a team that features Mike Trout and Albert Pujols) and the only “favorable” matchup he had, he did very well (first start of the season against Seattle; went seven innings and allowed zero runs to go along with six Ks and no BBs). Two of the three core rates are healthy measures (23 percent K rate, five percent BB rate) and even though he’s more of a fly ball pitcher (and he will be pitching in a hitter friendly park), I like his skill set against this Rangers offense (don’t project to be an above average offense against RHP or LHP). His price tag is super cheap on DraftKings ($5,400) and he gets the benefit of a nice matchup. No, he’s not a core value tonight but at that price tag there’s value (based on some of the things a pitcher can control, like strikeouts and walks). He’s a solid secondary option on two starting pitcher sites. David Price (DET) doesn’t have a good matchup against a Royals team that loves to put the ball in play but his overall skill set (good strikeout pitcher and has the ability of going deep into games) is enough to make him a cash game option tonight (limited amount of options at the position). I still view Archer and McHugh as better values but Price does offer some safety due to his skills. He’s a better option on a site like DrafKings (almost $3,000 more than Archer and McHugh on FanDuel). Brandon Morrow (SD) will benefit from his home park (Petco Park, an elite pitching environment) but the matchup isn’t great (Colorado projects to be an above average offense). Colorado does face a very extreme negative park shift and Vegas supports this (team total around 3.5 runs). Morrow is a better value on two starting pitcher sites. Taijuan Walker (SEA) has nice K potential due to his matchup (Astros have struck out 25 percent of the time against RHP this season) but his peripherals are a bit concerning (allowing a ton of hard hit contact and he’s allowing more FBs than GBs and walking everyone). He’s a good tournament option tonight but as of right now, the skill set won’t translate well to cash game formats.
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) Oakland Athletics
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) San Diego Padres
4) Los Angeles Dodgers
5) Houston Astros
The first two stacks are obvious. If you read today’s Daily Fantasy Rundown, the Athletics and Diamondbacks where a big part of our content. The Athletics have an awesome matchup against Nick Martinez (doesn’t miss bats and his SIERA tells us just how bad he’s actually pitched) and the park shift for this offense is extreme (in a positive way). Vegas agrees as they’ve given the Athletics a team total of 4.5 runs. The Diamondbacks will have a team total of around 4.5 runs as well and they have a matchup against an awful pitcher (Scott Baker doesn’t miss bats and allows a ton of hard hit contact in the way of homeruns). The Diamondbacks are facing a negative park shift but the matchup boosts their power potential.
After the top two offenses, the Padres, Dodgers and Astros make sense as contrarian stacks. The Padres will have a right-handed heavy offense (as usual) against the underwhelming Jorge De La Rosa. Petco Park is not a good hitting environment but the matchup should allow power hitters like Justin Upton and Matt Kemp to thrive. I also don’t mind using some value hitters (like Derek Norris, who’s the top play at the catcher position) from this offense in cash games.
The Dodgers will have a matchup against a fly ball oriented pitcher (Jeremy Hellickson) and their lineup has some power potential (especially Joc Pederson and Adrian Gonzalez). I see value in using a Dodgers’ mini stack in tournaments. The Astros strike out a bunch but their matchup against Taijuan Walker at home gives them enough contextual factors to be considered in tournaments. Walker has allowed a ton of hard hit contact this season and he’s also allowing that hard contact through the air. Power hitters like George Springer, Evan Gattis and Chris Carter are in a good spot despite not having the platoon advantage (good power potential but the risk is their inability to put the ball in play consistently due to their high K rates).
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