MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 6th, 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: 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.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin is our top ranked catcher on Wednesday’s evening slate. He’s compiled a .339 wOBA, 0.88 EYE, and .166 ISO against LHP since 2012. He gets to face CC Sabathia who has allowed a .333 wOBA and 1.25 HR/9 to RHBs during the same span. Both players are experiencing a park shift that benefits Martin. He’s compiled most of his statistics in pitcher friendly PNC Park the last few years and the Rogers Centre is a huge shift, specifically for power. Sabathia gets to pitch in Yankees Stadium which is a tremendous park for LHBs but more average for RHBs. Martin cracks our Top 25 overall hitters and ranks as our top catcher option.
A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) – Pierzynski remains a fine source of salary relief. He continues to hit fourth and has posted a .334 wOBA and .183 ISO against RHP since 2012. Jerome Williams has allowed a .346 wOBA and 1.14 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Projection systems struggle with Pierzynski holding the power into his late thirties so he doesn’t rate particularly well in our model, but catcher is a thin position and he’s got a very strong matchup.
Additional catcher notes: Jason Castro (HOU) would emerge as an elite value play if he garners a premium lineup spot, which could happen with George Springer banged up. Colby Lewis is so bad against LHBs (.357 wOBA, 1.24 HR/9 since 2012) that Castro ranks competitively with Martin in our model. We’d like to see him in the Top Five of the lineup before treating him as an elite value play though. Stephen Vogt (OAK) gets a plus matchup against Kyle Gibson (.333 wOBA allowed to LHBs) but is priced accordingly around the industry. The park isn’t great for power but Vogt gets a matchup against an extreme ground ball pitcher which is good for fly ball oriented hitters. Evan Gattis (HOU) is priced up, but represents an attractive option given Colby Lewis‘ struggles with power (1.37 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012).
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion ranks as a Top Five hitter in our model and the highest ranked overall first baseman. His slow start to the season (.222/.271/.370) has left him with an affordable price point on most sites. He’s historically crushed LHP (.400 wOBA, .277 ISO since 2012) and CC Sabathia has been homer prone to RHBs. There are definitely some concerns around the peripherals with Encarnacion’s slow start. He’s hitting an unusual amount of ground balls (50 percent) and his contact rates are down (76.1 percent, career 82.3 percent contact rate). I think the lower price points mitigate some of the risk with Encarnacion’s slow start, but the weak peripherals make other first basemen ranked behind him in our model, an acceptable pivot.
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz ranks just behind Edwin in our model and once again inside our Top Five hitters. Ortiz has crushed RHP since 2012, posting a .411 wOBA and .279 ISO. Alex Colome has earned good results against LHBs in a limited sample (.269 wOBA allowed) but the peripherals are weaker (17.8 percent K Rate, 13.9 percent BB Rate, 27.9 percent LD Rate allowed). The Red Sox have a strong 4.5 team total and Ortiz is priced affordably on most sites. His $3,200 price point on FanDuel is especially compelling.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – I like Gonzalez more than our model does on Wednesday. The model has Gonzalez as a Top 30 hitter but I think he’s more like a Top 15 option. Wily Peralta‘s velocity drop has left him more contact oriented and against LHBs that makes him more vulnerable to power. Gonzalez is an elite hitter against RHP (.369 wOBA, .204 ISO since 2012) and he’s getting a huge park shift in his favor. The price point makes him a less compelling option but if you have excess funds, he’s another top option I’d strongly consider.
Adam LaRoche (CHW) – LaRoche is really cheap around the industry and is a great way to get exposure to the top offensive environment at a minimal price point. Alfredo Simon has allowed a .321 wOBA to LHBs since 2012 but has held them to 0.96 HR/9 in part due to a 48.5 percent GB Rate. LaRoche is an elite fly ball hitter against RHP (43.3 percent FB Rate, .363 wOBA, and .212 ISO) and generally fly ball hitters perform better against ground ball pitchers. Like Encarnacion, some of the early season indicators are off base for LaRoche (higher K Rate and GB Rate), but the price mitigates some of these concerns. LaRoche ranks inside our Top 25 hitters and is the one first baseman that seems consistently underpriced.
Additional first base notes: First base is just loaded and you could make a case for a handful of other options as well. Freddie Freeman (ATL) and Jose Abreu (CHW) each rank within our Top 10 overall hitters. They have compelling price points on FanDuel which makes them acceptable cash game plays. Prince Fielder (TEX), Miguel Cabrera (DET), and Adam Lind (MIL) all rank within our Top 15. Albert Pujols (LAA) and Mark Teixeira (NYY) rank within our Top 35 hitters. I think the best options are the ones recommended above, but as is typically the case at first base you can make a good argument for a dozen or so options.
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve has disappointed the last two nights against weak LHPs but remains our top second base play against Colby Lewis. Altuve isn’t an elite hitter against RHP (.311 wOBA since 2012) but he’s made strides (.338 wOBA since 2014) recently. I’m more likely to use Altuve in tournaments with the elevated price tag but even with the weak historical numbers against RHP, he cracks our Top 20 overall hitters.
Additional second base notes: The value plays at second base are so site specific that I think it’s better to tackle them in the notes section. Devon Travis (TOR) is exceptionally cheap on DraftKings and hits atop a good Blue Jays lineup against LHP. Luis Valbuena (HOU) is also second base eligible on DraftKings and he’s one of our favorite value plays of the day. We’ll cover him in the third base section but on sites with second base eligibility, he’s a strong value. Howie Kendrick (LAD) isn’t a great hitter against RHP historically (career .326 wOBA, .125 ISO) but he’s posted a .200 ISO early this season and the Dodgers are one of the offenses we’re high on. He’s one of the more consistently affordable options at second base and gets a premier lineup spot with the Dodgers. Neil Walker (PIT) remains cheap on FanDuel and gets a favorable matchup with Mike Leake who has allowed a .336 wOBA and 1.14 HR/9 since 2012. Rickie Weeks (SEA) typically gets a good lineup spot against LHP but C.J. Wilson‘s ability to limit power makes Weeks less compelling for cash games in my opinion. I think the salary relief makes him a viable tournament option.
Jimmy Rollins (LAD) – Rollins is the best option at shortstop on Wednesday’s slate. He’s posted a solid .320 wOBA and .155 ISO against RHP since 2012 and Wily Peralta‘s struggled against LHBs (.346 wOBA, 1.19 HR/9 allowed). Rollins cracks our Top 70 hitters, which isn’t great, but makes him one of the better shortstop options. He gets a premier lineup spot (second) and the Dodgers are one of the premier offenses to attack on Wednesday.
Additional shortstop notes: Erick Aybar (LAA) gets a nice lineup spot atop the Angels offense which can do damage against LHP. Roenis Elias is vulnerable to RHBs (.328 wOBA, 1.0 HR/9 since 2012) so getting Aybar’s good lineup spot ahead of Trout, Pujols, and Freese gives him a good chance to accumulate runs. If not going with Rollins, I think Aybar is the best alternative. Jhonny Peralta (STL) has good power against LHP and the atmospheric conditions are solid in St. Louis for power but Jon Lester is tough on RH power. I’d consider him an adequate tournament play. Andrelton Simmons (ATL) and Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) are acceptable stack fillers given their lineup spots and the favorable offensive environment for their lineups.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson ranks right around Encarnacion, Ortiz, and Abreu inside our Top 10 overall hitters. He’s destroyed LHP the last few years (.412 wOBA, .289 ISO) and unlike the other Blue Jays he’s done most of that work in far worse hitting environments. The reason Donaldson doesn’t rank ahead of Encarnacion or Bautista in our model is because he doesn’t hold the production against RHP when the game gets into the bullpen. He’s clearly the top option at third base, but the opportunity cost is a bit lower at this position due to strong value plays.
Luis Valbuena (HOU) – Valbuena’s skill set matches up really well with Colby Lewis. Valbuena relies heavily on power for his production (.183 ISO, .331 wOBA since 2012) and Colby Lewis struggles limiting LH power. Lewis has allowed a .357 wOBA and 1.24 HR/9 with a 44.7 percent fly ball rate against LHBs since 2012. Valbuena ranks inside our Top 35 hitters but isn’t priced that way around the industry.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre ranks a bit ahead of Valbuena in our model (27th) but his price varies a bit more around the industry. Sam Deduno has struggled with RHBs, allowing a .350 wOBA and 1.16 HR/9 since 2012. Beltre has always hit RHP well (.377 wOBA, .202 ISO since 2012) and Houston is a strong overall hitting environment.
Additional third base notes: Danny Valencia (TOR) is a fine punt option given his history of success against LHP (.377 wOBA, .188 ISO since 2012) and a premier spot in an elite lineup (typically fifth). The price point is generally close enough to Valbuena or Beltre on most sites that I think the pinch hit risk late in the game makes him a better tournament option than in cash games, but that’s admittedly a bit nit-picky. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) is a fine secondary value play given the power bump from Rogers Centre and a platoon advantage against Mark Buehrle. He ranks more like a Top 60 play, so I think he’s better used in tournaments as a part of Yankees stacks or mini-stacks. David Freese (LAA) is similar to A-Rod in that he’s historically hit LHP well and is facing a below average LHP, but the park environment drags his ranking down significantly in our model. Like Rodriguez, I think he’s best used in Angels mini-stacks.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is our top overall ranked hitter in our model. Trout hits all types of pitching. Historically he’s been a bit better against RHP (.412 wOBA vs. .384 wOBA) but much of that difference is BABIP related. We like him more against LHP simply because it elevates the hitters around him. Both Pujols and Freese are significantly better against LHP and the Angels as a whole are a bit more right handed than left handed. This gives Trout more opportunity for runs scored and plate appearances as the lineup turns over more frequently.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista ranks as our second overall hitter but admittedly the injury issues he’s dealing with make it more likely I’d use him in tournaments as opposed to cash games. Statistically, he’s a great play. He’s posted a .390 wOBA and .266 ISO against LHP since 2012 and Sabathia has allowed all sorts of hard contact to RHBs in recent years. When in the lineup, Bautista has been productive of late but it’s come with a very elevated strikeout rate (13 in last 31 AB) that makes me wonder if he’s healthy.
Joc Pederson (LAD) – We’ll continue to harp on Pederson’s slightly discounted price tag, especially in favorable hitting environments and against weak RHP. Pederson ranks as a Top 20 overall hitter in our model and he’s priced more like the 40-50th most expensive hitter on most sites. Pederson continues to lead baseball in average exit velocity on batted balls and its helped drive his absurd .388 ISO against RHP.
Colby Rasmus (HOU) – One of the themes in the content today is Colby Lewis is susceptible to LH power. Colby Rasmus hasn’t turned into the star many hoped as a top prospect, but he’s been effective against RHP in his career (.344 wOBA, .232 ISO) and most of that production has been driven by power. He ranks just below Joc Pederson in our model and comes at a much cheaper price tag on most sites.
Chris Young (NYY) – Young is another strong DFS play against LHP. Since 2012, he’s posted a .202 ISO to go with a solid .336 wOBA. Mark Buehrle has generally held RH power in check (0.97 HR/9 allowed since 2012 despite tough pitching environments) but has yielded a .331 wOBA. Young is a bit of a boom-or-bust pick, but the park is one that should play to his strength; and the price is compelling around the industry. Young ranks inside our Top 35 overall hitters.
Additional outfield notes: Billy Burns (OAK) remains an elite punt play on DraftKings. On other sites where he’s priced more comparably with other lower end hitters, his value is diminished. Shin Soo Choo (TEX) rates well (Top 25) in our model, but I’m struggling with the rapid decline in performance in the last two seasons. I consider him more of a tournament option. Nick Markakis (ATL) and Adam Eaton (CHW) are fine sources of salary relief in plus matchups against below average RHPs. There are a number of other viable outfield plays that make sense as part of tournament stacks. Andre Ethier (LAD) and Scott Van Slyke (LAD) fit this description. Some of the Brewers outfielders are a bit underpriced if you want to pick on Joe Wieland’s shaky MLB history. The challenge with Brewers bats is the strength of the Dodgers pen behind Wieland is deep and elite. I’m open to using a piece as a stack filler like Carlos Gomez (MIL) or Ryan Braun (MIL) where the prices are down. Mookie Betts (BOS) saw a slight price discount and will be on the radar again after two homers last night. I don’t love the individual matchup with Colome but as part of a Red Sox stack he makes a lot of sense.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
2) Chris Sale (CHW)
3) Jacob deGrom (NYM)
4) Lance Lynn
5) Jon Lester (CHC)
6) Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL)
7) Scott Kazmir (OAK)
8) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
9) C.J. Wilson (LAA)
10) Justin Masterson (BOS)
11) Danny Duffy (KC)
12) Mike Leake (CIN)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) – Cole has quietly pitched like Felix Hernandez early in the season. He’s improved his GB Rate (49.2 percent to 63.2 percent) and his K Rate (24.2 percent vs. 28.9 percent) while maintaining his strong BB Rate (7.0 percent vs. 6.6 percent). If you compare him to Felix Hernandez, Cole looks remarkably similar (Cole – 28.9 percent K Rate, 6.6 percent BB Rate, 63.2 percent GB Rate, 1.76 ERA, and 2.32 xFIP vs. Hernandez – 28 percent K Rate, 4.5 percent BB Rate, 62.7 percent GB Rate, 1.73 ERA, and 2.53 xFIP). The difference in DFS is Cole isn’t priced anything like Felix around the industry. He’s priced as a high end secondary starter or a low end ace, instead of a high end ace. The Reds are a favorable matchup for Cole. They rank 22nd in wRC+ against RHP and have struck out 20.4 percent of the time. Cole ranks clearly ahead of all the other starting pitcher options in our model.
Jacob deGrom (NYM) – Chris Sale‘s brilliance keeps him ahead of deGrom in our rankings but it’s by a very slight margin. The difference in matchup and pitching environment is significant. Jacob deGrom gets to face a depleted Orioles lineup experiencing a big park downgrade and losing the DH. If we use the lineup the Orioles rolled out last night as a proxy, they project six percent below the league average offensively with a 22 percent K Rate. This lineup would actually put deGrom above Sale in our rankings and not far behind Cole in our model rankings. In addition, deGrom would have the platoon advantage on all but three hitters. This is important for deGrom because he’s dominated RHBs in his brief career (25.9 percent K Rate, .254 wOBA) compared to LHBs (21.9 percent K Rate, .316 wOBA). The Orioles could improve their lineup by playing Alejandro de Aza above Delmon Young but they’ve been hesitant to do so of late. The game has a total of seven with the Mets slightly favored (-109). Atmospheric conditions and the umpire all look favorable, which makes deGrom a very strong secondary starting option.
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) – Jimenez has been phenomenal early in the season. He’s getting ground balls at an absurd 67.3 percent rate while striking out 26.2 percent of batters faced which earns him a 2.96 xFIP early in the season. He’s getting a huge park shift in his favor and facing one of the weakest offenses he’ll face all season. The Mets offense without Wright and d’Arnaud ranks 24th in wRC+ against RHP this season while striking out in 19 percent of their plate appearances. Jimenez is a volatile asset because his command can come and go, but he’s also meaningfully underpriced for his current skill set. In this matchup, I think he’s a very strong candidate on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes:
I feel strongly that you can stay within those three recommendations on most sites and set yourself up well in cash games. Chris Sale (DET) is the most talented pitcher on the slate but the Tigers against LHP are the toughest matchup in baseball and U.S. Cellular Field is the best hitting environment in play on Wednesday night. I think Sale has some tournament appeal because you’ll rarely get him at these low ownership levels, but I just don’t think he’s viable in cash games. Lance Lynn (STL) is the next best cash game option against a Cubs offense that strikes out an awful lot, but he’s priced appropriately on most sites. With deGrom cheaper and holding the more favorable matchup, Lynn becomes more of a secondary value play. Jon Lester (CHC) is similar to Lynn but perhaps with less upside against a Cardinals offense that ranks 25th in wRC+ against LHP but projects as an above average unit against LHP. Scott Kazmir (OAK) has handled RHBs well but the Twins offense is dangerous against righties and the park shift is a downgrade for him. He’s sort of caught in pricing limbo as well. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) has as much strikeout upside on most days as any starter on the slate, but the Royals are a nightmare (117 wRC+, 16.8 percent K Rate against RHP) matchup. I’d rather only take that risk in tournaments. C.J. Wilson (LAA) has handled LHBs extremely well in his career (.249 wOBA, 0.41 HR/9 allowed since 2012) and he limits power to RHBs well (0.86 HR/9 allowed since 2012) also. The Mariners set up as a good matchup for Wilson as their best hitters from the right side all rely heavily on power and they have some key LHBs that they rarely sit (Cano, Seager). The projected umpire is also favorable which makes Wilson a viable tournament option. Justin Masterson (BOS) and Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) represent low priced options with favorable matchups. I wouldn’t go near them in cash games and frankly I’d only use them in tournaments if stacking high priced hitters required a bargain pitcher to round out the roster, but they fit the mold with strikeout potential in plus matchups.
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) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) Toronto Blue Jays
These two offenses are facing below average starters in strong hitting environments. The Blue Jays are the most volatile stack of the group as CC Sabathia has flashed solid skills at different points this season and their lineup is a bit banged up with Jose Bautista hampered. The Dodgers are the best combination of price point and matchup across the industry. Wily Peralta‘s velocity is down a bit early in the season and as a result he’s not missing as many bats. He’s always struggled with LHBs (.346 wOBA, 1.19 HR/9 allowed since 2012) so I think attacking him with Dodgers LHBs makes sense in cash games and a full stack in tournaments is a strong play. In addition to a favorable matchup with Peralta, the Brewers bullpen behind him has allowed the second most HR/9 (1.33).
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Houston Astros
3) Chicago White Sox
4) New York Yankees
5) Detroit Tigers
6) Atlanta Braves
The Red Sox are facing Alex Colome who has really good stuff but has always struggled to command it. If he’s on, he’s a very tough opponent. However, if he’s missing his spots this game could get into the bullpen quickly. The Red Sox lineup is thinner without Hanley Ramirez which makes them better suited for mini-stacks than full stacks.
The Astros have broken our hearts in consecutive starts against below average LHPs. Tonight, they get a below average RHP and will likely come with lower ownership rates around the industry. The same reasons you like the Astros before are still there. They have an elite combination of speed and power as a lineup and those types of big events can rack up points in a hurry. The likely absence of George Springer does eliminate some upside but also creates some better pricing to potentially use in stacks.
The White Sox and Tigers are facing off in the best hitting environment for the evening slate and both teams have shaky bullpens. The Tigers are an elite offense against LHP and they’ll go a bit under-owned against Chris Sale. The White Sox offense has been horrible but Alfredo Simon allows a lot of contact and the bullpen behind him is really bad. The challenge with stacking the White Sox is LaRoche and Abreu both taking first base eligibility, so they’re better used as mini-stacks.
The Yankees are a fun contrarian stack because all their LHBs come with expensive tags and that will force ownership down. Mark Buehrle isn’t dominant against LHBs (14.7 K Rate, .316 wOBA, 1.09 HR/9 allowed since 2012) and the Yankees actually rank second in wRC+ against LHP early in the season with a league best .191 ISO.
The Braves remain a fine mini-stack option. Jerome Williams is one of the weaker starters going and vulnerable to LHBs. The lack of depth in the Braves lineup makes them less compelling as a full stack but Freeman, Pierzynski, Markakis and Kelly Johnson all make for fine components of a mini-stack.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
In the scales below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 has no impact on the game. 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.
BLT at NYM 7:00: Dry. Temps in the mid-60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
CIN at PIT 7:05: A 10-20% chance of few scattered showers. Not overly concerned about this game. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest becoming northeast 4-8 mph. Wind blows out to right then in from left. The wind is a 5 becoming a 4.
NYY at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid-60s dropping into the mid-50s. Not sure if the roof will be open. Wind will be east 5-10 mph becoming 3-6 mph. This wind blows right to left if the roof is open. The wind is a 5.
TB at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southeast becoming southwest at 6-12 mph which blows out to center then out to left. The wind is a 6.
PHL at ATL 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind east-southeast at 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
DET at CHW 8:10: A 10% chance of a widely scattered shower. Should not be a problem. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind east-southeast at 5-10 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
CLE at KC 8:10: A 30-40% chance of showers/thunderstorms at any time. Not overly concerned about not being able to play the game but there is a 30% chance of a delay. These should not last long which is why I feel they will pay this game. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast at 12-25 mph which blows out to left. The wind is an 8.
LAD at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a scattered shower. Not sure if the roof will be open or closed. Temps in the mid-50s falling into the low 50s. Air density 5 if the roof is open. Wind southeast 4-8 mph which blows in from center if the roof is open. The wind is a 4.
OAK at MIN 8:10: A band of showers will lift through the city right near the start of the game. I see a brief delay being possible (30%) but I am fairly confident that they will pay this game. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 7. Wind southeast 10-20 mph with gusts to 25 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
TEX at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 20% chance of showers so I will assume the roof will be closed.
CHC at STL 8:15: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 10-20 mph becoming 8-16 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
SEA at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind west-southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.