A pair of veteran right-handers on a discount look like strong MLB fantasy baseball plays today.
A total of four players that are playing at Coors Field get the nod. Bargain hunters will be a fan of the fact I have four players featured that cost $7,200 or less.
All salaries listed are for DraftDay player pricing.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Pitchers
My Pick: Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants, $15,600
I’ve chosen Hudson as my top pick a few times before this season, and full disclosure, I’m a Giants fan, but today he’s a great option. In his first year with the Giants he’s leading qualified starting pitchers in walk rate with a minuscule 1.8 percent. The veteran starter isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, as his 16.7 percent strikeout rate is almost four percent below the league average. He’ll get a boost in the punch out department against a strikeout happy Marlins squad. No team has struck out more against right-handed pitching than the Marlins, fanning in a staggering 24.8 percent of their plate appearances entering play on Thursday.
Value Pick: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels, $12,850
Weaver’s velocity continues to slip, but the guy keeps on keeping on as they say. It’s been much of the same from him this year. The soft tossing right-handed pitcher continues to best advanced measures of performance such as FIP and SIERA, in part by beating the league average in BABIP by a wide margin. It’s not a new phenomenon, so it’s quite easy for me to buy it as legit. Like the aforementioned Hudson, he’s not a big strikeout pitcher, but Weaver is a bit better in that category and also makes up for his low-ish rate by limiting walks. The 31-year old starter is facing a Rays team that is without one of their best offensive players, Ben Zobrist.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Catchers
My Pick: Brian McCann, New York Yankees, $7,900
For one reason or another, whether it be pitching matchup or ballpark, I don’t like the top options at the catcher position. For that reason, I’m turning to a guy with a favorable matchup in a favorable run scoring environment. The wheels have fallen off the bus for Pirates reclamation project Edinson Volquez. In his last three starts he has allowed 15 earned runs in 15.1 innings with 18 hits, four homers, eight walks, and just nine strikeouts. He’ll struggle at Yankee Stadium, and while McCann hasn’t done much this year, he has swatted five homers.
Value Pick: Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres, $7,550
I actually like my value pick a little better than my top pick. Coincidentally, he was involved in a trade with the previously mentioned Volquez. That oddity aside, he’ll enjoy hitting away from PETCO Park. The switch-hitting catcher will benefit from a right-handed home run park factor of 118 playing at Coors Field against southpaw Jorge de la Rosa. Speaking of de la Rosa, he’s awful against right-handed hitters in his career. He’s faced 3,424, allowing them to slash .269/.358/.447 with a .351 wOBA.
MLB Fantasy Baseball First Basemen
My Pick: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, $10,450
As good as Freeman is, his inclusion is as much about him as it is about Cardinals starter Lance Lynn’s shortcomings against left-handed hitters. The right-handed pitcher has faced 1,048 left-handed batters in his big league career, and allowed them to hit .260/.369/.429 with a .351 wOBA. As for Freeman, he is basically duplicating his monstrous 2013, posting a 151 wRC+ after a 150 last year.
Value Pick: Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox, $7,200
I picked on Collin McHugh before his first big league start this year, and I ended up with egg on my face. I’m not afraid of going after him again though, this time with Dunn. The Big Donkey is hitting .243/.383/.439 this year, and showcasing his prowess for earning free passes. His slugging is down, but he has reached the seats five times. Four of Dunn’s five homers this year have come off right-handed pitchers, and the left-handed hitter has a huge split that favors him when facing righties. Today he won’t get to hit at U.S. Cellular Field, but Minute Maid Park offers a slightly above average left-handed home run park factor of 103.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen
My Pick: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers, $9,900
I was torn between Kinsler and Jose Altuve. Both beat up lefties, and while Altuve has the softer pitching matchup, Kinsler makes up the difference with a better lineup and a more dominant career line against southpaws. Jon Lester is almost equally effective against left-handed and right-handed batters, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have his hands full with the right-handed hitting Kinsler. The former Ranger has 1,289 career plate appearances against lefties, and has hit .312/.385/.524 with a 139 wRC+. He’s hitting very well in his Motor City debut slashing .303/.337/.441 with four homers, five stolen bases, and a 113 wOBA.
Value Pick: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, $6,550
I continue to beat the Rendon drum, and some days he makes me look bad. The thing is, at $6,550 there is so much room for a huge return on investment. The former Rice Owl is bouncing between second and third in the order, which is great for his run production potential. His 115 wRC+ also ranks seventh among qualified second basemen. He’s a great low price tag partner for my top pick at shortstop.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen
My Pick: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, $9,650
The first Rockie shows himself, and I do love Arenado today. The young third baseman feasts on left-handed pitching. In 196 plate appearances against southpaws in the majors he has hit .305/.354/.508 with six homers and a 122 wRC+. His dominance extends back to the minors where he hit .368/.414/.607 in 261 plate appearances from 2011 to present according to Minor League Splits. It gets better, though. The lefty he’s facing, Eric Stults, is bad both away from PETCO Park and against right-handed hitters. Coors Field has been a house of horrors for Stults, as he has pitched in 11 games (five starts) and owns a horrific 5.34 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in 32.0 innings.
Value Pick: Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres, $8,100
Gyorko is hitting below the Mendoza-line this year, but he hasn’t been completely worthless from a fantasy standpoint. Five homers and two stolen bases have made him at least tolerable. The 25-year old infielder will enjoy the same benefits of being a right-handed hitter at Coors Field, as he is facing a southpaw who is bad against right-handed hitters. Those factors are enough for me to look beyond the blemishes in Gyorko’s game if I’m looking for a bargain at third base.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Shortstops
My Pick: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, $14,150
The price is through the roof for Tulowitzki, and it takes some careful budgeting to use him. Given the cheap options I’ve provided in today’s article it can be done though. Tulo is hands down the best offensive option at shortstop, and if wRC+ is your preferred measure of offensive success, he’s been the best offensive player this year by a wide margin, regardless of position. The veteran shortstop has been a superb at home against left-handed pitchers in his career totaling 566 plate appearances and hitting .341/.428/.577 with a 156 wRC+. Also, as I mentioned above, Stults is bad against right-handed batters. The 1,642 righties he has faced have hit .282/.340/.444 with a .340 wOBA against him.
Value Pick: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles, $6,600
I wouldn’t advise saving money and turning away from Tulowitzki, but those hell bent on doing so had better save big bucks. With that in mind, Hardy is the pick for me. He hasn’t hit a homer yet this season, but he has above average power at a position where not many players can make that claim. His strikeout rate is in line with his career norm, and he’s facing one of the worst pitchers starting today. Jeremy Guthrie’s advanced stats portray his 4.80 ERA as being very much earned.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Outfielders
My Pick: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves, $9,000
Heyward continues to madden his fantasy owners in yearly leagues by failing to make his expected leap in production. He has, however, hit three homers and swiped six bases this year, and that’s a nice power/speed combination. He’s also continuing to walk at a high rate while slotting atop the Braves order. The real reason I like Heward today was highlighted above though, and that’s a matchup with a pitcher, Lynn, who is awful against left-handed batters.
Value Pick: Tyler Moore, Washington Nationals, $7,200
I don’t dislike Jon Niese as a pitcher, so it’s weird having a couple of hitters that he’s facing in today’s piece. That said, Moore is super cheap, and the way he’s demolished southpaws’ offerings in his minor league career is too much for me to pass up. Since 2011, Minor League Central credits Moore with 233 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. He’s hit .317/.382/.639 in those opportunities. The right-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder has well above average power that is coupled with well above average ability to swing-and-miss. He’s a flawed player, but the thump in his bat makes it easy to turn a blind eye to those flaws.
Enter tonight’s Field of Dreams tournament at DraftDay now! It’s $10,000 guaranteed!