I advocate paying for pitching with today’s expert daily baseball plays.
Top Pick: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners, $20,100
2014: 21.2% K, 2.2% BB, 50.2% GB, 3.15 FIP
Astros vs RHP: 23.3% K, 91 wRC+
Iwakuma isn’t exactly a slam dunk pick over Jeff Samardzija, but he faces a lesser lineup that strikes out more, and is in a better ballpark. That’s enough to make him worth paying extra for. It’s not as if he’s some humdrum pitcher either. He cracks the top 20 in FIP ranking 19th, he has the second lowest BB%, and his K% bests what FanGraphs has as the league average of 20.3% this year. Don’t be deterred by a few messy turns, Iwakuma is still a very good pitcher.
Value Pick: Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels, $15,350
2014 (As a starter): 23.9% K, 4.9% BB, 41.6% GB, 2.96 FIP
Rangers vs RHP: 19.2% K, 81 wRC+
Shoemaker has quietly closed a nasty platoon split, and now he looks like a very strong play in most of his starts. When looking at just his work as a starter, and dropping the IP threshold to 100, Shoemaker ranks 18th in FIP and 23rd in K%. As if his skills weren’t a strong enough sales pitch, he’s facing the worst offense in baseball against RHP as measured by wRC+. You want to own shares of Shoemaker in DraftDay games tonight.
Top Pick: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miami Marlins, $7,450
2014 vs RHP: 306 PA, 110 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,031 PA, 117 wRC+, .220 ISO, .347 wOBA
Saltalmacchia is a flawed hitter, his biggest flaw being a propensity to pile up punchouts. That said, his power makes the strikeouts quite forgivable, and he’s willing to earn free passes with a jaw dropping 16.0% BB rate against RHP this season. The free passes are nice, but it’s his power in Miller Park that really catches my eye since the LHB ballpark factor for HR is 123.
Value Pick: Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets, $7,000
2014 vs LHP: 92 PA, 117 wRC+
Since 2013 vs LHP: 120 PA, 89 wRC+, .147 ISO, .293 wOBA
The Mets young catcher, d’Arnaud, is starting to realize his potential since a midseason demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas. He’s been an above average hitter against LHP this year, and he’s settled into the fifth spot in the Mets order. The pitcher he’s facing, Tyler Matzek, threw a shutout in his last start and allowed zero earned runs in a seven IP gem in the start before that. I’m not ready to forget his previously dreadful work though, including a still sky high .365 wOBA allowed to RHB this year.
Top Pick: Adam Dunn, Oakland Athletics, $8,550
2014 vs RHP: 392 PA, 125 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,291 PA, 119 wRC+, .241 ISO, .350 wOBA
Dunn has been a fixture in the cleanup spot for the Athletics since they acquired him, and he looks good returning to U.S. Cellular Field tonight. He’s a Three-True-Outcome machine, and a guy who can punish mistakes. The White Sox are trotting out Chris Bassitt tonight, owner of less than 100 IP in the upper minors, walk issues, and a .791 OPS allowed to LHB in the minors since 2011. His control struggles could result in a cookie for Dunn, and he’ll get a boost to his pop with a LHB park factor of 108 for HR at his old stomping grounds.
Value Pick: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,850
2014 vs RHP: 388 PA, 137 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 725 PA, 137 wRC+, .201 ISO, .369 wOBA
Adams is actually my preferred play at first base tonight, since he’s a little cheaper, gets to hit with better ballpark factors, and doesn’t have the same swing-and-miss issues that Dunn has. Great American Ballpark has a silly park factor for HR to LHB of 156 too. Adams also has a favorable pitching matchup with Alfredo Simon. The Reds starter, and former reliever, was bound to regress after an unsustainable first half, but he may also be wearing down since he’s reached what is by far a new career high in IP. In the second half Simon has tallied a 4.69 FIP.
Top Pick: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates, $9,350
2014 vs RHP: 390 PA, 135 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,239 PA, 129 wRC+, .196 ISO, .357 wOBA
Walker, the Pirates cleanup hitter, has a soft pitching matchup in a HR friendly ballpark. Jerome Williams has served up a piping hot .375 wOBA to LHB, and Citizens Bank Park has a LHB park factor for HR of 123. He’s no longer grossly under priced, but he’s still a nifty bargain when considering today’s favorable factors and his own hitting skills versus RHP.
Value Pick: Sean Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Rays, $5,800
2014 vs LHP: 126 PA, 105 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 429 PA, 105 wRC+, .148 ISO, .317 wOBA
Rodriguez is little more than a cash-saving pick that will help free up cash for the top arms while not hurting DraftDay squads. Rodriguez is a few ticks above average versus LHP, has a smidge above average pop, and will be the beneficiary of Yankee Stadium’s RHB park factor for HR of 126.
Top Pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, $9,650
2014 vs LHP: 161 PA, 139 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 440 PA, 156 wRC+, .253 ISO, .391 wOBA
Longoria will hit with the same RHB park factor for HR as teammate Rodriguez, but unlike Rodrgiuez he’s a well above average hitter against LHP. Since 2012 among qualified third basemen he ranks fourth in wRC+ and second in ISO against LHP.
Value Pick: Conor Gillaspie, Chicago White Sox, $6,900
2014 vs RHP: 355 PA, 136 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 756 PA, 114 wRC+, .153 ISO, .342 wOBA
I don’t love the pitching matchup, let me get that out of the way, but at under $7,000 there are enough things to like about Gillaspie to make him one of today’s expert daily baseball plays. For starters, he’s thrived against RHP in regular playing time this season. Secondly, and perhaps most important, he’s moved up to the cleanup spot in the White Sox order. Hitting directly behind Jose Abreu is great place to rack up RBIs.
Top Pick: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, $9,550
2014 vs LHP: 180 PA, 111 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 408 PA, 131 wRC+, .219 ISO, .363 wOBA
Dozier’s ability to pummel LHP meshes fantastically with T.J. House’s inability to figure out RHB. House has been rocked by RHB this year allowing a .373 wOBA. Whether he hits leadoff or second, he’s in prime position to hop all over House and further wreck his platoon split. Dozier’s power stock is also up playing at Progressive Field since the RHB park factor for HR is 105.
Value Pick: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics, $7,600
2014 vs RHP: 356 PA, 100 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,074 PA, 115 wRC+, .168 ISO, .337 wOBA
Is Scooter Gennett the more prudent and safer play? Probably. Lowrie is a nice option for chasing dingers though, and tournament gamers should take note. Lowrie has a 47.6% FB rate against RHP since 2012, and a still stellar 46.8% FB rate against RHP this year. FB at U.S. Cellular Field, where the LHB park factor for HR is 108, have a tendency to become souvenirs.
Top Pick: Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins, $9,400
2014 vs RHP: 434 PA, 123 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 605 PA, 135 wRC+, .133 ISO, .369 wOBA
I already touched on Miller Park’s launching pad nature for LHB in Salty’s write-up, but I neglected to point out opposing starting pitcher Wily Peralta’s huge platoon split. Peralta has allowed a .369 wOBA to LHB this year, and while the sinker-oriented hurler does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, when hitters lift his offerings they leave the yard at a high rate (16.9% HR/FB to LHB this year). Interestingly, Yelich has a GB and LD batted ball profile, but when he does lift the ball, he puts a charge into it and leaves the yard at a high rate. In other words, the Marlins’ leadoff hitter doesn’t need a HR to have value, but if Peralta makes a mistake Yelich is capable of exiting the park with it.
Middle of the Pack: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals, $8,600
2014 vs RHP: 397 PA, 126 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,326 PA, 120 wRC+, .162 ISO, .347 wOBA
The pitcher Gordon is facing tonight, Rick Porcello, has closed a sizable platoon split this season. That said, he still doesn’t miss LHB bats often, and they’re still ripping ropes with a 21.6% LD rate. At $8,600 Gordon is a fairly priced above average hitter who slots third in his club’s lineup. His ceiling isn’t sky high since he’s not a top shelf power hitter, but sometimes being a very good offensive player is good enough if the price is right. The price is right for the outfielder with the 21st highest wRC+ against RHP this year.
Value Pick: Travis Snider, Pittsburgh Pirates, $5,000
2014 vs RHP: 256 PA, 100 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 667 PA, 84 wRC+, .125 ISO, .291 wOBA
I won’t yank your chain, Snider’s inclusion as one of today’s expert daily baseball plays is all about a guy being better than the bare minimum price, and Snider is. As a prospect, his raw power was lauded, and it’s been on display in the form of lengthy FB this year as he ranks 15th in average HR and FB distance per Baseball Heat Maps. Snider could sit in favor of Gregory Polanco tonight, so check the Pirates lineup before setting your DraftDay lineup, but if he’s playing I can think of worse uses of $5,000 in DraftDay lineups than getting exposure to Williams’ huge platoon split while also indulging in a sweet LHB park factor for HR.
Wild Card: Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels, $9,550
2014 vs RHP: 376 PA, 133 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 564 PA, 126 wRC+, .180 ISO, .346 wOBA
Calhoun delivered a tater as my Wild Card selection yesterday, but this isn’t a sentimental pick. He’s facing another bad pitcher. Nick Tepesch has allowed a .322 wOBA to LHB this year and a .342 wOBA to them since reaching the majors last year. The Rangers starter is also the owner of a 4.95 FIP this year. Give Calhoun another whirl in one of your outfield slots tonight.