Tonight’s daily expert baseball plays include the cheapest collection of outfielders I’ve ever touted.
By saving bucks in the outfield, it will be easy to budget for the top pitcher on the night when you build your winning DraftDay lineups in games such as the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, the $15 Knuckleball, or the $109 Field of Dreams.
Top Pick: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox, $21,150
2014: 30.5% K, 5.3% BB, 41.2% GB, 2.52 FIP
Indians vs LHP: 18.6% K, 91 wRC+
You have to make room in your budget for Sale, it’s not an option. He has been brilliant this year ranking second in K%, and second in FIP. The Indians struggle with LHP, and pitching opposite T.J. House puts their offense in a good position to award him the run production necessary to pick up the ever important win.
Value Pick: Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers, $12,700
2014: 29.7% K, 5.8% BB, 35.0% GB, 2.51 FIP
Cardinals vs RHP: 17.8% K, 94 wRC+
Fiers K% exceeds what one would expect from a swinging strike percentage that is slightly below the league average, but we’ve seen him do this before (2012). I’m willing to buy into him being an above average strikeout pitcher, even if regression is without question coming. Beyond the strikeouts, Fiers has had success by avoiding free passes. He’s pitched deep into games since joining the rotation in early August, pitching no fewer than six innings in any of his five starts, going seven in three and eight in the other. The Cardinals aren’t a pushover against RHP, but they’re no world beaters either. Fiers gets the nod because his upside exceeds his price tag, and he’s a great complement to help offset the big sticker price on the White Sox ace.
Top Pick: Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics, $6,900
2014 vs LHP: 145 PA, 159 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 411 PA, 147 wRC+, .207 ISO, .381 wOBA
I refuse to pay for a top catcher tonight when Norris can be had for under $7,000. The A’s catcher creams LHP, and he often hits in a favorable lineup slot for run production when one toes the rubber. The LHP he’s facing, Brett Oberholtzer has allowed a .335 wOBA to RHB. Don’t over think things and overspend at catcher.
Value Pick: Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets, $6,350
2014 vs RHP: 275 PA, 91 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 359 PA, 89 wRC+, .135 ISO, .294 wOBA
If I do pass on Norris, it will be to chase a dinger. I can’t think of a better park to go tater chasing than Great American Ballpark where the RHB park factor for HR is 135. Hitting fifth for the Mets awards d’Arnaud some run production upside, and in the second half he’s shined posting a 118 wRC+.
Top Pick: Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals, $8,800
2014 vs RHP: 367 PA, 150 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,274 PA, 131 wRC+, .215 ISO, .365 wOBA
Don’t be fooled by Jerome Williams smoke and mirrors act, the other shoe will eventually drop. Since joining the Phillies he has made four starts and posted a 2.03 ERA, but his 3.73 FIP and 4.46 xFIP paint the picture of a guy who is pitching above his skills. Getting after him with a LHB like LaRoche is a must. Williams is allowing a .362 wOBA to LHB this year, and since 2012 LHB have posted a .346 wOBA against him.
Value Pick: Kennys Vargas, Minnesota Twins, $7,500
2014 vs RHP: 84 PA, 167 wRC+, .244 ISO, .412 wOBA
Shocking, I know. Another day, another Vargas shout out. The switch-hitting designated hitter/first baseman can’t possibly stay this hot, but as a cleanup hitter priced as he is, tonight isn’t the night to go overboard worrying about eventual regression. Trust his raw power until he’s priced out.
Top Pick: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners, $10,050
2014 vs RHP: 357 PA, 156 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,205 PA, 171 wRC+, .248 ISO, .423 wOBA
Cano dominates RHP at a clip that none of his peers are even close to matching. Among qualified second basemen, Cano’s 171 wRC+ is 34 points better than the second best mark of 137 posted by Matt Carpenter. As if he needs any help terrorizing RHP, Colby Lewis should provide it by continuing to throw batting practice to LHB. Lewis has allowed a .367 wOBA to LHB since 2012, the eighth highest mark among qualified pitchers.
Value Pick: Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $6,800
2014 vs RHP: 367 PA, 128 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 556 PA, 140 wRC+, .177 ISO, .378 wOBA
Gennett isn’t a qualified second baseman thanks to a promotion midseason last year, but if you loosen the threshold to 550 PA against RHP since 2012, it is he, not Carpenter, who sits behind Cano in wRC+. He’s hitting leadoff, and that coupled with his hitting prowess against RHP makes him worth considerably more than the $6,800 he costs to roster.
Top Pick: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, $8,850
2014 vs LHP: 118 PA, 149 wRC+
Since 2013 vs LHP: 265 PA, 132 wRC+, .224 ISO, .387 wOBA
On a day where Evan Longoria and Josh Donaldson face a LHP, they were never a consideration. That’s because Arenado gets a bad LHP at home. In his young career he’s totaled 127 PA at home versus LHP, and all he’s done is record a 179 wRC+ and .339 ISO while sporting a 9.0% BB rate and 4.9% K rate.
Value Pick: Yangervis Solarte, San Diego Padres, $6,800
2014 vs LHP: 156 PA, 101 wRC+, .116 ISO, .318 wOBA
I will be veering from Arenado on exactly zero teams, so instead of faking it and featuring a third base only eligible player, I’ll point out a guy who is second base eligible as well. Solarte will be hitting with Coors Field park factors of 113 2B/3B, 115 HR, and 130 for runs as a RHB facing a LHP tonight. It won’t hurt taking cuts against Tyler Matzek either since the rookie is allowing a .383 wOBA to RHB.
Top Pick: Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers, $9,400
2014 vs LHP: 101 PA, 148 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 390 PA, 147 wRC+, .244 ISO, .383 wOBA
Ramirez has battled injuries at times this year, but his matchup and lineup slot (cleanup in his last game) are too hard to ignore. Vidal Nuno has allowed a .332 wOBA to RHB this year, and his FB tendencies play into Ramirez’s thump.
Value Pick: Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies, $7,450
2014 vs LHP: 64 PA, 136 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 263 PA, 74 wRC+, .182 ISO, .307 wOBA
Rutledge tormented the Giants in his last three games played, and that wouldn’t be noteworthy other than the fact he hit second in the Rockies’ lineup in his last start. That came against a RHP, so it remains to be seen if he’ll hit there against a LHP tonight, but if he does that would be a great bump in value. Regardless, Rutledge has above average power against LHP, which is rare from a middle infielder, and Eric Stults is terrible against RHB. Stults is allowing a .349 wOBA against RHB this year, and the .338 wOBA he’s allowed to them since 2012 is the 12th highest mark among qualified pitchers.
Top Pick: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers, $10,150
2014 vs LHP: 139 PA, 107 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 360 PA, 148 wRC+, .220 ISO, .383 wOBA
Han-Ram isn’t the only exposure to Nuno worth getting, as Kemp looks like superb exposure too. His high GB rate against LHP this year has taken a bite out of his HR power, but he’s ripping LD at a 23.5% rate (23.2% LD rate for his career, so very legitimate), while avoiding IFFB (he has hit zero this season, but that’s not unusual as he owns a 2.5% IFFB rate in his career against LHP). That combination should have resulted in a better BABIP than his .293 mark on the year, so consider his 107 wRC+ against LHP this year to be slightly depressed by bad luck.
Middle of the Pack: Lucas Duda, New York Mets, $7,300
2014 vs RHP: 404 PA, 156 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 989 PA, 136 wRC+, .226 ISO, .364 wOBA
Duda’s FB rate against RHP at Great American Ballpark is the thing dreams are made of. The Mets slugger has a 50.2% FB rate against RHP this year and a 48.9% FB rate since 2012 versus them. Since GAB offers a staggering 157 HR park factor for LHB, Duda has to be the leader in the clubhouse for tater of the day.
Value Pick: Tommy Medica, San Diego Padres, $5,500
2014 vs LHP: 82 PA, 108 wRC+
Since 2013 vs LHP: 96 PA, 102 wRC+, .202 ISO, .313 wOBA
Medica is best used in tournaments, but he makes a compelling case for usage in those games. I’ve already mentioned Matzek’s struggles against RHB and the RHB park factors at Coors Field, but Medica looks sneaky good due to his 44.4% FB rate against LHP playing well in the ballpark he’s in, and facing the starter he’s hacking against.
Wild Card: Scott Van Slyke, Los Angeles Dodgers, $7,200
2014 vs LHP: 110 PA, 193 wRC+, .360 ISO, .447 wOBA
Since 2012 vs LHP: 212 PA, 147 wRC+, .279 ISO, .381 wOBA
A FB prone LHP facing Van Slyke? Sign me up for that matchup. The slugging corner outfielder/occasional first baseman has a swing built to lift and drive the ball, and that’s supported by his 46.2% FB rate (and 47.0% since reaching the majors in 2012) and .360 ISO this season. As long as Don Mattingly doesn’t do something foolish and sit Van Slyke, he needs to be in DraftDay lineups.
Batted ball data and splits information comes from that which is provided at FanGraphs unless otherwise stated, and ballpark factors are those found at StatCorner and are for a three-year rolling average.
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