Value can be found all over the diamond with today’s expert daily baseball plays.
Top Pick: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets, $18,800
2014: 23.1% K, 8.0% BB, 45.4% GB, 3.01 FIP
Rockies vs RHP: 20.6% K, 95 wRC+
With a handful of aces throwing, it might come as a bit of a surprise to see deGrom headline the arms. He’s a talented pitcher, but it’s the fact he’s getting the Rockies away from Coors Field that I find to be tantalizing. The Rockies have posted a 76 wRC+ and 24.2% K rate on the road this year according to FanGraphs. To put that in perspective, the Rangers have the worst wRC+ against RHP and their mark is 81, a full five percent better than the Rockies on the road.
Value Pick: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs, $14,400
2014: 25.9% K, 7.1% BB, 48.9% GB, 2.43 FIP
Blue Jays vs RHP: 18.0% K, 111 wRC+
The elephant in the room is the Blue Jays offense against RHP. They are the best as measured by wRC+. It won’t be easy for Arrieta, but he’s an ace at a discount and he’ll likely be faded by many DraftDay gamers. And when I say he’s an ace, the numbers back it up. Among starting pitchers with 130 IP he ranks ninth in K% and second in FIP.
Top Pick: Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics, $6,850
2014 vs LHP: 151 PA, 152 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 417 PA, 144 wRC+, .203 ISO, .377 wOBA
I see little reason to spend on catching tonight. Buster Posey, as good as he is, is too expensive even facing an LHP to warrant rostering. Norris, on the other hand, is very cheap and he also hammers LHP. Also, John Danks is dreadful against RHB allowing a .370 wOBA to them this year and a .354 wOBA to RHB since 2012.
Value Pick: Welington Castillo, Chicago Cubs, $6,300
2014 vs LHP: 92 PA, 122 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 240 PA, 132 wRC+, .175 ISO, .369 wOBA
Castillo isn’t Norris level good against LHP, but he’s still very good and hitting in a favorable environment tonight. The Rogers Centre has RHB park factors of 119 for 2B/3B, 123 for HR, and 105 for runs. The wheels have come off the bus for Mark Buehrle, and he’s allowing a .365 wOBA to all hitters in the second half. His 3.68 FIP in the second half points to bad luck, but when you’re not missing bats and working at as low of a velocity as Buehrle does, it’s more likely he’s getting hit hard due to a lack of stuff.
Top Pick: Chris Carter, Houston Astros, $9,600
2014 vs LHP: 145 PA, 147 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 429 PA, 135 wRC+, .253 ISO, .366 wOBA
When you invest in Carter, you’re chasing taters. However, he’s been more than an all-or-nothing hitter in the second half reducing his K% to 29.2% while bumping his BB% up to a sky high 10.3%, and even boosting his already silly power to unreal levels (.341 ISO). The result is a 171 wRC+ in the second half. He’s at his best against LHP, and he gets one in Roenis Elias tonight.
Value Pick: Kennys Vargas, Minnesota Twins, $7,450
2014 vs RHP: 95 PA, 156 wRC+, .250 ISO, .396 wOBA
You know the drill. Vargas is still hitting cleanup, and still wrecking RHP. He has mammoth strength that will play up at Progressive Field where the LHB park factor for HR is 109, and Trevor Bauer and his .325 wOBA allowed to LHB should be a friendly sight for Vargas to see too.
Top Pick: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, $9,550
2014 vs RHP: 448 PA, 120 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,178 PA, 136 wRC+, .137 ISO, .368 wOBA
A few players received consideration for top honors at the keystone, but Carpenter against Mike Leake is too juicy to pass up. Leake has allowed a .352 wOBA to LHB this year and he’s ceded a .336 wOBA to them since 2012. His biggest problem is that he has a LD% allowed to LHB of 22.5% since 2012. Carpenter does an amazing job of barreling the ball up with a 26.2% LD rate versus RHP in that same time frame.
Value Pick: Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,300
2014 vs RHP: 292 PA, 91 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 369 PA, 79 wRC+, .125 ISO, .284 wOBA
Wong, like Carpenter, looks super appealing due to facing Leake. The rookie second baseman slots down order, which doesn’t do him any favors in terms of run production upside. His power gets a nod in the right direction with a LHB park factor for HR of 158 at Great American Ballpark.
Top Pick: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics, $9,150
2014 vs LHP: 157 PA, 199 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 450 PA, 173 wRC+, .309 ISO, .418 wOBA
Donaldson was arguably the easiest decision of today’s expert daily baseball plays. He’s among the best hitters in baseball when facing a LHP, ranking seventh in wRC+ against them since 2012. Couple that hitting prowess with Danks’ struggles against RHB, and throw in U.S. Cellular Field’s RHB park factors of 116 for HR and 110 for runs and I don’t see a case to veer away from Donaldson.
Value Pick: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, $7,650
2014 vs RHP: 361 PA, 95 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,110 PA, 117 wRC+, .162 ISO, .348 wOBA
Ramirez hits cleanup and is around an average hitter versus RHP this year. That alone would make him worth his cost. He’s been better than that against RHP since 2012 though, and Miller Park offers him RHB park factors of 122 for HR and 106 for runs. The final factor working in his favor is that Tom Koehler has exhibited a reverse platoon in his big league career giving up just a .301 wOBA to LHB in his career but a .335 wOBA to RHB.
Top Pick: Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels, $7,800
2014 vs RHP: 423 PA, 111 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,242 PA, 97 wRC+, .103 ISO, .306 wOBA
Hitting sixth is a little low for most top pick hitters, but shortstop by and large stinks offensively. Aybar is a better offensive player than the vast majority of his peers, too. More importantly, he has a great pitching matchup facing Colby Lewis. Lewis has allowed a .392 wOBA to LHB this year and the .367 wOBA he’s given up to LHB since 2012 is the eighth highest mark since 2012 among qualified pitchers.
Value Pick: Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $7,300
2014 vs RHP: 379 PA, 128 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 568 PA, 139 wRC+, .177 ISO, 139 wRC+
Gennett isn’t a shortstop, but he’s eligible there, and that’s where he looks best utilized tonight. Koehler, as noted in Ramirez’s write-up, is actually stronger against LHB than RHB, but Gennett is so good against RHP that I’m willing to overlook that. Furthermore, Gennett’s spot hitting leadoff further cements his case for being one of today’s expert daily baseball plays.
Top Pick: Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians, $9,950
2014 vs RHP: 392 PA, 162 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,218 PA, 128 wRC+, .153 ISO, .355 wOBA
Trevor May turned in his best start as a big leaguer in his first turn, as he allowed three earned runs in five innings while allowing seven base runners. He has an electric arm, but in short, he’s not exactly making a seamless transition to pitching in the majors. In six games pitched he has a 5.12 FIP, and even while succeeding in Triple-A this year his control was sub-par, yielding a 9.8% BB rate. Brantley hits in the middle of the Indians lineup, third to be exact, and he’ll be in prime position to take advantage if May is messy tonight.
Middle of the Pack: Lucas Duda, New York Mets, $8,200
2014 vs RHP: 416 PA, 157 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,001 PA, 137 wRC+, .228 ISO, .365 wOBA
Touting Duda once again as one of today’s expert daily baseball plays is more than chasing a tater. I mean, he’s certainly capable of depositing one in the seats, but he’s also the cleanup hitter for the Mets and a well above average hitter against RHP who is also underpriced. And continuing with today’s theme, and really, an everyday theme, he meets the criteria of picking on a bad pitcher. Christian Bergman has a 4.96 FIP in six starts in the majors, and a 4.60 FIP at the Triple-A level this year.
Value Pick: Nick Markakis Baltimore Orioles, $7,250
2014 vs RHP: 456 PA, 107 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,237 PA, 105 wRC+, .130 ISO, .328 wOBA
Chris Davis got brief consideration at first base due to Anthony Ranaudo starting for the Red Sox, but Markakis looks like the best exposure to the rookie starting pitcher. Markakis is very cheap, he hits leadoff, and he’s an above average hitter, albeit one with only modest power against RHP. About Ranaudo though, through four starts in the majors he has an ugly 6.51 FIP and has allowed more walks, 10, than batters he’s struck out, eight.
Wild Card: Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels, $8,750
2014 vs RHP: 372 PA, 127 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 560 PA, 122 wRC+, .175 ISO, .340 wOBA
Calhoun was in his regular leadoff role on Monday with the Angels facing a RHP, and he should be there again tonight against Lewis. The Rangers starter, as I’ve already stated previously, is awful against LHP. Calhoun’s price point is fair. He has upside and he won’t break the bank.