It’s scary how talented my Daily Baseball Selections are at pitcher.
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My value pick at pitcher showed no rust in his first start off the disabled list, and he’ll look to build on it tonight. While I focus on many factors when making my Daily Baseball Selections, I can’t say I’ve ever exploited pitcher splits with the vigor that I am using today. One of the benefits of this attack today is a pair of outfielders who look like great plays at $5,100, and the bare minimum salary of $5,000 respectively. Just imagine the roster flexibility that comes with playing both!
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All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily Baseball Selections – Pitchers
My Pick: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, $21,750
The last time I had to pick between Clayton Kershaw and King Felix, I opted for the Dodgers southpaw and he didn’t disappoint (nor did Hernandez for that matter). Tonight the Mariners ace gets the nod. He’s facing an injury riddled Rangers squad that ranks 24th in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. Hernandez is a beast who ranks sixth among qualified starters in strikeout rate at 27.3 percent, tied for 11th in walk rate at a tiny 4.4 percent, and he puts a bow on things by ranking tied for 17th in groundball rate at 52.7 percent. In terms of the holy trinity of pitching stats, Hernandez has little company. This isn’t a guy who’s going to have much trouble mowing down a MASH unit Rangers squad, and he’ll be well worth every penny it costs to make him one of your Daily Baseball Selections.
Value Pick: Andrew Cashner, San Diego Padres, $14,250
Cashner broke out in his first full season (save for a handful of relief appearances) as a starter in 2013. He was on the disabled list from May 14 until June 7 this year, but that’s the only blemish on his encore bid. The former TCU star has a 2.13 ERA through 10 starts, a stellar 55.9 percent groundball rate, a slightly below league average strikeout rate of 19.8 percent (FanGraphs has a league average of 20.4 percent), and a better than league average walk rate of 6.8 percent (the league average is 8.1 percent). That’s not Hernandez territory in terms of strikeout rate, but as Meat Loaf once sang, two out of three ain’t bad. It will also delight DraftDay gamers to know that the team he’s facing, the Mets, rank 25th in wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers with a mark of 85.
Daily Baseball Selections- Catchers
My Pick: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, $9,350
Posey isn’t torching lefties to the same degree he has the past two seasons, but an 11.1 percent walk rate versus a 3.2 percent strikeout rate and a 127 wRC+ in 63 plate appearances is still really good. The former National League MVP is facing a left-handed pitcher who struggles mightily with right-handed batters. Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa has faced 222 right-handed batters this year, and they’ve hit .231/.330/.453 against him with a .345 wOBA. Since 2011 his slash line against is .266/.343/.433 with a .341 wOBA. The combination of their splits is enough to allow me to look the other way and ignore AT&T Park’s run suppressing ways.
Value Pick: A.J. Pierzynski, Boston Red Sox, $6,950
Pierzynski had a career renaissance in 2012 when he hit .287/.338/.536 with a 131 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. He limped to a .269/.286/.438 line with an 89 wRC+ last year, but he’s rekindled some of his 2012 magic this year hitting .313/.348/.461 with a 121 wRC+ against his right-handed foes. As slick as his line is against right-handed pitchers this year, I’m more interested in starter Justin Masterson’s shortcomings against left-handed batters. The Indians hurler spun a gem against the Red Sox the last time the two teams met, but otherwise he hasn’t been very good. The most important thing to note with him is that he’s reverted back to being the same guy who struggles with lefties that we’ve seen throughout his career, as opposed to the guy that held them to a .316 wOBA. This year he’s faced 195 left-handed batters, and they’ve hit .285/.377/.467 with a .372 wOBA. For his career, lefties own a .346 wOBA against him. Overall you’re looking at a catching option who lacks a massive ceiling (everyone can “go off”), but also one who should tie your DraftDay team together without leaving a huge points hole at the position.
Daily Baseball Selections- First Basemen
My Pick: Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies, $8,600
Morneau hasn’t been the offensive force that he was before dealing with concussions, but he’s maintained his skills hitting right-handed pitching. Since 2011, he has 1,177 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, and has hit .287/.355/.487 with a 128 wRC+against them. In his first year with the Rockies he’s hitting .316/.357/.551 with a 136 wRC+ and eight homers in 171 plate appearances against righties. In addition to still being able to hit right-handers at a high rate, he’s facing a pitcher, Tim Lincecum, who is clearly broken. Lincecum has been able to keep left-handed bats at bay in recent years, even amidst his not so graceful decline. This year he’s been a horrific against lefties though. The Giants former ace has faced 148 left-handed batters, and they’ve tallied an unfathomable triple slash line of .304/.412/.492 with a .397 wOBA. The right-handed pitcher is also walking left-handed batters at what is by far the highest rate of his career, and he’s striking them out at a low clip too. Even on the road, Morneau and the Rockies lineup should have little trouble roughing up Lincecum.
Value Pick: Ike Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,750
Davis still hasn’t tapped into the power he once displayed while hitting 32 homers back in 2012, but he is back to being a useful hitter on the strong side of a platoon at first base with the Pirates. The left-hander has hit .264/.382/.417 with a 128 wRC+ and a robust 16.2 percent walk rate against right-handed pitchers in 173 plate appearances this year. Again, the power leaves something to be desired, but his on-base skills mesh nicely with Marlins right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi’s willingness to put left-handed batters on base. The extremely hard throwing right-handed pitcher allowed a .343 on-base percentage against lefties last year, but because he held those same hitters to a paltry .322 slugging percentage it appeared he might be figuring things out against them. Nope. This year he’s faced 198 left-handed batters and they’ve hit .301/.345/.489 with a .362 wOBA. Davis is the first Pirate with a tiny price tag I’m highlighting for use as one of my Daily Baseball Selections against Eovaldi, but he won’t be my last.
Daily Baseball Selections- Second Basemen
My Pick: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners, $9,200
Seager plays everyday, and part of the beauty is that his overall line is depressed significantly by his struggles against lefties. His modest overall line hides the fact he’s pretty darn good against right-handed pitchers. He has 1,177 plate appearances against righties in his career, and has hit .272/.347/.454 with a 125 wRC+ against them. He’s kicked it up a notch this year hitting .270/.360/.553 with a 153 wRC+ in 161 plate appearances. The Mariners are facing Rangers righty Nick Tepesch, and while he didn’t have monstrous platoon split in the minors, the same can’t be said in the majors. He’s faced 214 right-handed batters in the Show and held them to a .235/.300/.371 line with a .295 wOBA. The 307 lefties he has faced have demolished him though, hitting .298/.362/.502 with a .374 wOBA. It doesn’t take a genius to see this is a match made in heaven from a daily fantasy baseball perspective.
Value Pick: Brandon Hicks, San Francisco Giants, $7,300
Hicks isn’t much cheaper than name brand commodity Brandon Phillips, and he’s the same price as Howie Kendrick. I’m willing to roll the dice with the still relatively little known second baseman though. He’s been a rare Three-True-Outcomes (walk, strikeout or homer) machine, doing one of the three in 47.7 percent of his plate appearances. With a 30.8 percent strikeout rate, it’s easy to see he’s lagging a little bit behind in the other two categories. His 13.1 percent walk rate is strong and his .177 ISO is the third highest at second base, so he packs some punch. The best part is, the right-handed hitting second baseman hits much better against southpaws, hitting .211/.370/.404 in 73 plate appearances against them this year. He saw very limited big league time before this year, but in 324 minor league plate appearances since 2011 he’s hit .292/.364/.564 against lefties according to Minor League Central. I’ve already established in Posey’s write-up that de la Rosa struggles with right-handed batters, so when you couple that with Hicks’ abilities against lefties, you’ve got one of the sneakier Daily Baseball Selections that will allow you to zig while others zag.
Daily Baseball Selections- Third Basemen
My Pick: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates, $9,350
Now that we’re 534 games into Alvarez’s career, we’ve clearly established the left-hander is much better against right-handed pitchers than southpaws. He has top shelf power that has resulted in consecutive years of 30 or more homers. Spinning things back to his splits, 83 of his 97 career homers have come off of right-handed pitchers, and Alvarez can send one of Eovaldi’s upper-90s fastballs a long way if he makes a mistake. His production has slipped against right-handed pitchers this year, but his 113 wRC+ is still above average (a 100 wRC+ is league average). Also lost in his dip in production against right-handed pitchers this year is that he’s shaved over six percent off his strikeout rate entering the season (28.0 percent strikeout rate prior to this year and 21.9 percent this season). Alvarez is a little pricier than I’d like, but I’ll slip him onto a few rosters to take advantage of Evoladi’s struggles with left-handed batters.
Value Pick: Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins, $7,700
The last time I suggested using Plouffe against a lefty, the Twins gave him a day off. It’s hard to imagine they’ll burn me twice since they’d be much better off choosing to schedule his maintenance day against a right-handed pitcher. The late-blooming former first round pick has 350 plate appearances against lefties since 2011, and has belted 15 homers while hitting .279/.349/.500 with a 132 wRC+against them. He has a disappointing 93 wRC+ in 70 plate appearances against lefties this year, but that is in line to rise tonight since he’ll be facing Drew Smyly. The Tigers lefty has no answer for right-handed batters since rejoining the club’s rotation this year. Smyly has faced 169 right-handed batters, and they’ve hit .296/.367/.507 against him. Plouffe isn’t a sure thing, but he’s a good $7,700 investment if you’re looking to skimp at the hot corner.
Daily Baseball Selections- Shortstops
My Pick: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, $11,800
Unlike Plouffe, Dozier is hammering lefties this year. The second baseman is hitting .243/.316/.486 with a 123 wRC+ in 79 plate appearances. He’s cranked out five homers in those plate appearances, and he’s a stolen base threat with 14 in 18 chances. His stellar play against lefties hasn’t come out of nowhere. He has 307 plate appearances against southpaws since reaching the bigs in 2012, and he’s hit .286/.350/.529 with a 142 wRC+ against them. I won’t rehash Smyly’s struggles with right-handed batters, but I will point out that Comerica Park is a great environment for righties. Everything adds up to a player who’s worth spending five figures on.
Value Pick: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds, $7,800
I often focus on power in this column, but Hamilton’s calling card is speed. And not just good or great speed, but the type of speed that has prompted scouts and talent evaluators to call him the fastest player they’ve ever seen in the game of baseball. His game changing speed made him a late summer call-up last year almost entirely for the purpose of pinch running. He stole 13 bases in 13 regular season games played, and he’s snagged 24 in 31 chances this year. The switch-hitter has better hitting left-handed this season, and he’s facing a starter, Matt Garza, who is allowing a .367 on-base percentage to lefties this year. He doesn’t have a history of struggles with left-handed batters, but he’s been his own worst enemy in 2014, walking 11.9 percent of the ones he’s faced. If Hamilton gets on base, which I like his odds of doing, look for him to run. Garza does a good job of controlling the running game, but catcher Jonathan Lucroy does not. The Brewers backstop has surrendered 291 stolen bases in 388 attempts over his career, and he’s allowed 70 or more stolen bases each of the last three years. Since 2011, only two catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Alex Avila, have allowed more stolen bases than Lucroy. Gambling on stolen bases is kind of risky, but with Hamilton hitting leadoff in run enhancing Miller Park, he doesn’t necessarily have to steal one (or more) to justify his cost if the Reds rough up Garza.
Daily Baseball Selections- Outfielders
My Pick: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, $12,050
I get a special twinkle in my eyes when I see that Stanton is facing a lefty. He’s one of the best hitters in baseball, but when he faces a lefty his production is transcendent. Stanton ranks tied for third in wRC+ since 2011 with a 175 mark. Forget recent history, though, and try to wrap your mind around the pounding he’s given left-handed pitching this year. In 57 plate appearances against southpaws this season he’s hitting .354/.456/.646 with a 195 wRC+ and only an 8.8 percent strikeout rate. Does that sound like a guy who Jeff Locke has any chance against? Get your popcorn ready, I’m fully expecting Stanton to put the Marlins homer sculpture in motion.
Middle of the Pack: Seth Smith, San Diego Padres, $7,950
Even with a fully healthy Padres outfield, Smith has proven too valuable against right-handed pitchers to sit. He has 188 appearances against them this year and is hitting .311/.401/.553 with a 169 wRC+. He’s nestled comfortably into the top third of the Padres order as well. Furthermore, while both PETCO Park and Citi Field suppress runs at a nearly identical rate, his potential to reach the seats is up since his home ballpark has a left-handed batter homer park factor of 94, and Citi Field’s park factor is 102. More importantly, since projecting a homer isn’t exactly a needle in the hay stack, but it isn’t as viable as projecting a good game, it should be pointed out that Mets starter Bartolo Colon is back to stinking against left-handed batters. Colon managed to buck his career norms and hold left-handed batters to a .297 wOBA last year, but he’s allowing a .344 wOBA to lefties this season. Enjoy Smith as one of the best Daily Baseball Selections.
Value Pick: Logan Morrison, Seattle Mariners, $5,000
They don’t get any cheaper than Morrison. Last night he was activated from the disabled list and played in his first major league game since April 14. All he did was go 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, one run, and two RBIs. He hit fairly well on a lengthy rehab assignment, and he’ll be facing a pitcher, Nick Tepesch, who’s only a small step up from the Triple-A arms he was seeing. That said, the real reason I like Morrison at the minimum price is due to Tepesch’s already documented horrific line against left-handed batters in the bigs. If you need a reminder, Tepesch has faced 307 left-handed batters in the majors, and they’ve hit .298/.362/.502 with a .374 wOBA. That should be the only sales pitch LoMo needs.
Wild Card: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates $5,100
There isn’t much I can say about Polanco that I haven’t already. He’s an exciting athlete who dominated the Triple-A level before his call-up, showing off his power ripping seven homers in 274 plate appearances, and his speed, stealing 15 bases. He hasn’t hit the ground running, but he hasn’t embarrassed himself either having recorded a hit in all three games he’s played with the Pirates. Manager Clint Hurdle thinks highly enough of him that he hit him second in the order in his first two games, and leadoff last night. Either of those spots in the lineup will give the left-handed batter ample opportunities to take advantage of Eovaldi’s inability to keep left-handed batters in check. I smell a coming out party for the heralded prospect tonight.
* 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.