MLB DFS Preview: Stacks, Bounce Backs and Clearance Racks
Welcome DailyRoto members to the first bit of free MLB content on DailyRoto! Baseball is quickly approaching, and Chris and I were eager to get you guys salivating about the thought of warm weather, home runs and ballpark franks. From time to time, we’ll be tackling a few issues pertinent to MLB DFS and sharing some of our own thoughts on the subjects. This is the first piece of that kind, detailing some important topics for the upcoming baseball season!
Best team to stack (excluding Coors Field and the Colorado Rockies)
The Toronto Blue Jays were the first team that came to my mind when looking at teams to stack in 2015, and with good reason. They added another power hitting righty (Josh Donaldson), and replaced Melky Cabrera with a solid hitting catcher (Russell Martin). Now, their lineup could possibly look like this:
1. Jose Reyes
2. Russell Martin
3. Jose Bautista
4. Edwin Encarnacion
5. Josh Donaldson
If that one through five doesn’t scream, “stack against southpaws” then I don’t know what does. Bautista had a 21.3% home run to fly ball ratio against left-handed pitching and ended up with 35 total home runs in 2014. Encarnacion wasn’t as effective against southpaws, but did hit 34 home runs. And finally, Josh Donaldson hit 29 home runs in 2014 and had a 22.2% home run to fly ball ratio against lefties. Amazingly, he averaged just over one home run per ten at bats against those pitchers and this is while playing in Oakland, a bottom-third home run park.
While Jose Reyes and Russell Martin don’t have that same kind of home run pop, they should see a boost in value due to hitting at the top of this order. Reyes posted his worst OBP since 2010 when he was with the Mets, and should see himself perform better. Martin led all catchers with a .402 OBP and had a .423 OBP against left-handers, so not only do you get a quality hitter, but also you get one at the top of the order. Combine this with 81 home games in the Rogers Centre, a top 10 park to hit in last season, and you have yourself an exceptional lineup to stack.
Unfortunately, I let Chris answer this question first, and he decided to climb inside my brain and steal the Blue Jays as his stack team. Oh well, I’ll give you a less obvious answer with a similar upside.
The Miami Marlins, a “to be determined” product of the NL East, provide plenty of boom potential in MLB DFS. When looking to stack and achieve nice rewards, I like to look for home runs, home runs, more home runs, and some stolen bases. Don’t settle for the lineups that will slap a bunch of singles and manufacture runs via small ball, (see also Kansas City Royals) I want a power surge, accompanied by some speedy little guys.
Marlins Park is not a premier hitters park. Let me repeat. Marlins Park is not a hitters park. Yet, the Marlins do get to play in two of the top 10 parks in terms of ESPN’s Park Factors in Atlanta and Philadelphia (ESPN Park Factors). Regardless, this isn’t purely a park play, much like the stacks that accompany each game at Coors Field. The Marlins simply have a lineup that could play very effectively into a stacking strategy.
Newly minted Marlin Dee Gordon will add some flair to the top of the Marlins order. Although his ability to get on base consistently remains somewhat suspect, Dee is lightning in a bottle and will be able to set the table really well for the middle of the Marlins order.
The middle is stabilized by Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t have to say anything about Giancarlo Stanton and his ability to punish baseballs and create massive point totals on his own, but he really isn’t a sole contributor.
The Marlins also added a few guys this offseason that will help add some power. Michael Morse, owner of a .262 ISO against left-handed pitching last year and Martin Prado, not typically a powerful hitter possessed .214 ISO accompanied by a .421 wOBA against southpaws.
Don’t forget about what was already in place with Marcell Ozuna and switch-hitter and occasional bopper, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and you’ve got yourself a fairly solid group of guys to stack with.
Don’t You Forget About Me
Most Relevant Player Returning From Injury
Remember Matt Harvey? Yeah, he’s back.
In his first start back this spring, Harvey was hitting in the high 90s while locating all of his pitches. He made Detroit hitters look silly, striking out three in two innings. The biggest worry about pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery is velocity and Harvey showed that he was just fine in his outing.
When we last saw him, he was busy putting together a 2.63 xFIP while racking up a 9.64 K/9. To begin the season, he’s carrying a relatively moderate price tag of ($9,000 FD, $8,400 DK) given his ability. It’ll be worth monitoring his first few starts, but once he is stretched out, I expect him to give us DFS players big strikeout numbers and low hit totals without any real risk.
I’m not smart enough to know where to rank him in terms of season rankings, but I am smart enough to know he’s going to be a very strong play every time he goes out on the mound in 2015.
Yes, Chris is right, last year we were deprived of Matt Harvey and his awesomeness. However, don’t forget, we missed the big guy, Prince Fielder as well.
Prince played in a disappointing 42 games last season, and performed, well, disappointingly. He managed to only club three homers in that time span and was one of the first dominos to fall in the Rangers abysmal spiral towards mediocrity.
Cheer up guys! He’s back!
Yes, his ISO has declined in four straight years. And yes, he is getting old(er). But, I haven’t given up on him yet.
Prince will get to hit clean-up, behind leadoff and OBP-Monster Shin-Soo Choo and directly following Adrian Beltre, perhaps the most underrated hitter in all of baseball. Not to mention, he will have the opportunity to *hopefully* play a full season in a top 10 park for runs according to ESPN’s Park Factors from last year.
Embrace the big guy.
Most Useful Clearance Rack Player to Begin the Season
It pains me to select a player in the AL Central that isn’t a Tiger, but Danny Santana, the Twins shortstop, is a product of promotional pricing. Santana spent a large majority of the second half of the baseball season tearing up basepaths and terrorizing American League pitchers. A switch-hitter, Santana swiped 20 bags and partially due to an absurd BABIP, put together a .319 average, and .362 wOBA. To start the year, he’s the 8th and 13th ($3,300 and $3,600) most expensive shortstop on FanDuel and DraftKings respectively, a healthy difference from the average salary per roster spot.
I’m also selecting a player that isn’t particularly one that tugs on my heartstrings, but Adam Laroche is shelved conveniently in the clearance section. Laroche was good last year, in case you weren’t aware. In 140 games with the Nationals last year, Laroche slugged 26 homers paired with a .196 ISO. That was in Nationals Park, second to last in HR rating via ESPN’s Park Factors. He’ll be transitioning to the American League Central, where he’ll play half of his games in U.S. Cellular, a top 15 park in the aforementioned category. The park switch should benefit him greatly, and I think before long, you’ll see him jump up from the twenties (in terms of first basemen pricing) to begin the season, into the low teens. Take advantage of his price ($3,300 FD, $4,200 DK) while you have the chance!