Today’s expert fantasy baseball strategy involves loading up on Athletics.
Top Pick: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers, $22,050
2014: 27.7% K, 6.7% BB, 36.9% GB, 2.86 FIP
Twins vs RHP: 21.0% K, 103 wRC+
Expert fantasy baseball strategy that involves a bargain hurler as the value pick will allow you to spend heavily on today’s priciest arm in Scherzer. The Tigers starter is turning in a nearly identical campaign to the one that netted him the 2013 AL Cy Young award. He’s tied for fourth among qualified pitchers in K% and ranks 11th in FIP. Even a Twins offense that is a few ticks above average against RHP should pose little problem for Scherzer, and they are a strikeout happy bunch as FanGraphs has them credited with the ninth highest K% versus RHP this year.
Value Pick: Yusmeiro Petit, San Francisco Giants, $10,700
2014 (As a Starter): 26.1% K, 4.0% BB, 36.0% GB, 3.41 FIP
Padres vs RHP: 21.9% K, 84 wRC+
Petit spent the season split between the bullpen and starting, but his K% as a starter has been rather impressive. Among starting pitchers with a minimum of 60 IP, Petit has the 12th highest K%. His FIP is more than adequate, and he’s got a juicy matchup with the Padres in his run suppressing home ballpark. Any expert fantasy baseball strategy that doesn’t involve taking in some savings while taking advantage of the Padres ranking 24th in wRC+ versus RHP while tallying the sixth highest K% is one I don’t subscribe to tonight.
Top Pick: Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers, $6,800
2014 vs RHP: 328 PA, 109 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 950 PA, 113 wRC+, .169 ISO, .339 wOBA
Avila has dropped back down to seventh in the order for the Tigers, but at his cost, that’s okay. The important thing is that he’s a matchup nightmare for an erratic pitcher with spotty at best control like Trevor May. Avila has a 13.9% BB rate versus RHP since 2012 and a jaw dropping 15.5% BB rate this year against them. He packs a little punch to offset his swing-and-miss as well.
Value Pick: Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics, $6,600
2014 vs RHP: 237 PA, 124 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 392 PA, 101 wRC+, .138 ISO, .312 wOBA
The reason for an A’s heavy expert fantasy baseball strategy tonight is rather simple, Colby Lewis is putrid against LHB. Lewis is allowing a .379 wOBA to LHB this year, and the .361 wOBA he’s ceded since 2012 is the ninth highest among qualified pitchers. Vogt’s breakout season has been built on feasting on RHP, and Lewis should make for an easy meal for him.
Top Pick: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, $10,550
2014 vs RHP: 407 PA, 131 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,036 PA, 162 wRC+
Ortiz wasn’t in the lineup for Wednesday’s game, but it appears to be a routine day off and nothing more. He should hit from his standard third spot in the order tonight, and as a LHB at Fenway Park, he’ll enjoy a silly 152 park factor for 2B/3B. He should have little trouble lifting the ball against Jeremy Hellickson since the Rays starter has allowed a 47.1% FB rate to LHB this season.
Value Pick: Adam Dunn, Oakland Athletics, $7,550
2014 vs RHP: 426 PA, 123 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,325 PA, 118 wRC+, .235 ISO, .348 wOBA
Sticking to the theme of today’s expert fantasy baseball strategy, we’ve got another LHB in Dunn to exploit Lewis’ massive struggles with them. The Big Donkey’s power is further reason to like him since he’ll be hitting with a LHB park factor of 108 for HR tonight.
Top Pick: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays, $8,900
2014 vs RHP: 464 PA, 109 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,406 PA, 125 wRC+, .160 ISO, .347 wOBA
Another September night of the Red Sox trotting out a bad or inexperienced pitcher against the Rays, and another tout of Zobrist. The Rays leadoff hitter will be taking aim at Allen Webster and his ugly 4.59 FIP in 10 starts. The RHP has been lost against LHB allowing a .349 wOBA.
Value Pick: Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Rays, $6,000
2014 vs RHP: 59 PA, 74 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 336 PA, 99 wRC+, .178 ISO, .312 wOBA
Like Zobrist, Franklin gets another tout as part of today’s expert fantasy baseball strategy due in large part to the pitcher he’ll be facing. The former Mariners prospect slotted fifth in yesterday’s Rays lineup versus a RHP, and a repeat slotting would make his modest price tag sweeter than it already is.
Top Pick: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics, $9,550
2014 vs RHP: 500 PA, 108 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,169 PA, 113 wRC+, .150 ISO, .332 wOBA
Ah, this is where the expert fantasy baseball strategy of stacking A’s takes a slight turn featuring RHB Donaldson. The struggles of Lewis versus LHB have been presented already, but he’s been awful against RHB too. Lewis has allowed a .354 wOBA to RHB this year and his cumulative struggles against all hitters have helped contribute to his 4.51 FIP. Keep picking on him with some Donaldson usage.
Value Pick: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates, $8,200
2014 vs RHP: 434 PA, 131 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,283 PA, 128 wRC+, .197 ISO, .355 wOBA
Walker, actually a second baseman, remains third base eligible and a good play on the value end of the spectrum. He received a day off on Wednesday as he was mired in a recent slump, but eventually a talented player like Walker reverts back to his norms and a short slump isn’t reason enough to fade him. Comparing him to the qualified players at the hot corner, since 2012 his 128 wRC+ versus RHP would rank tied for sixth, and his .197 ISO would be fourth highest.
Top Pick: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics, $6,900
2014 vs RHP: 389 PA, 100 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,107 PA, 114 wRC+, .165 ISO, .336 wOBA
More stack action, this time at shortstop, where the pickings are slim. Despite not being the best of the A’s hitters featured as part of the expert fantasy baseball strategy to pick on Lewis, he was the easiest selection given the lack of non-gag worthy options at shortstop tonight. A league average hitter with slightly above average power facing a dreadful pitcher is an easy pick.
Value Pick: Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,100
2014 vs RHP: 409 PA, 80 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 741 PA, 80 wRC+, .122 ISO, .284 wOBA
Mercer is usually best deployed only against LHP, but he’s cheap, and even hitting down order can be fruitful in a Pirates lineup that is tied for the top wRC+ versus RHP this season. The RHP he is facing tonight is David Hale, and Hale spent much of the year in the Braves bullpen as a long man. In other words, he isn’t the type of arm that needs to be faded. His low K% means balls in play, and balls in play mean the potential for hits.
Top Pick: Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics, $9,450
2014 vs RHP: 467 PA, 119 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,118 PA, 142 WRC+, .270 ISO, .373 wOBA
Moss puts the finishing touches on today’s expert fantasy baseball strategy of ganging up on Lewis. It hasn’t been a banner year or second half for Moss, but he still has plenty of thump and a FB swing that is conducive to hitting dingers. Moss owns a 50.2% FB rate against RHP this year, and Lewis is inducing a low 34.0% GB rate. Toss those tendencies into a ballpark that enhances HR to LHB, and you’ve got yourself my favorite for dinger of the day.
Middle of the Pack: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, $8,500
2014 vs RHP: 273 PA, 108 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,007 PA, 137 wRC+, .214 ISO, .372 wOBA
Harper unfairly catches more grief than any non-Yasiel Puig player in recent memory for me. He’s a talented outfielder with well above average power that has raked against RHP. The young outfielder regularly hits sixth, which isn’t ideal, but he is facing Zack Wheeler and his notable platoon split. Wheeler has allowed a .338 wOBA to LHB this year and his career mark that includes coming up as a rookie last year is also .338.
Value Pick: Travis Snider, Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,000
2014 vs RHP: 293 PA, 103 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 704 PA, 86 wRC+, .128 ISO, .294 wOBA
The once highly touted prospect has really blossomed in the second half of this year. In 167 PA in the second half he’s earned a 141 wRC+ and flashed serious power with a .225 ISO. He’s at his best against RHP, and he regularly hits second for the Pirates. There’s plenty here to like at his low price point.
Wild Card: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox, $6,300
2014 vs RHP: 133 PA, 120 wRC+, .157 ISO, .347 wOBA
Today’s wild card outfielder is another cheapy in Betts. The rookie commands the strike zone like a savvy veteran tallying an 11.3% BB rate and just a 12.0% K rate versus RHP. He has a bit of pop, and while he hasn’t been a very efficient base stealer in the majors this year, he’s totaled 39 stolen bases between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors combined. Toss in the fact he hits leadoff for the Red Sox, and he looks like a steal at his cost.