The Nationals, Orioles, Rangers, and Braves are well represented in today’s Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks.
Listen the Fantasy Sports Live Podcast to start your research. Then tune in to Fantasy Sports Live for real-time analysis up until lineups lock.
I’ll be stacking from a few of the aforementioned squads. You should be doing the same in games such as the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, any of our qualifiers such as the $12 buy-in $116 Qualifier, or join me in the “Five Guys” game with the FSL crew.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - Pitchers
My Pick: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs, $16,250
At a Glance: 2014: 27.8% K, 6.5% BB, 51.0% GB. Red Sox vs RHP: 87 wRC+, 21.2% K.
The knock on Arrieta is an obvious one, he’s backed by a bad offense. Beyond that, there is a ton to like. His strikeout rate is the eighth highest among starting pitchers that have thrown at least 50 innings. He limits his walks, he keeps the ball on the ground at a very high rate, and the result is the third best FIP (2.10) among starters who’ve thrown a minimum of 50 innings. Arrieta is pitching like one of the best starters in baseball this year, and he has the type of power arsenal that makes it easy to believe it’s more than smoke and mirrors.
Value Pick: Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves, $12,700
At a Glance: 2014 as a starter: 23.3% K, 4.9% BB, 46.1% GB. Mets vs LHP: 100 wRC+, 24.5% K.
Wood twirled a gem in his first start since being re-inserted in the Braves rotation last week, and he should pick up where he left off tonight. He’s sporting a strong 3.14 FIP as a starter this year, and he faces a Mets squad that strikes out a ton against lefties and has been exactly league average against them. Those numbers were compiled by the Mets with their best hitter, and lefty killer, David Wright in the lineup. A shoulder injury has sidelined him through the weekend and might send him to the disabled list, but even if he’s in the lineup, he’ll clearly be less than 100 percent. Wood is a must start, and while there are some other cheap pitchers that will make up my Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks tonight (namely Danny Duffy and Mat Latos), it won’t be at the Braves hurler’s expense.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - Catchers
My Pick: Brian McCann, New York Yankees, $7,900
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 198 PA, 52 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,173 PA, .245/.333/.425, 107 wRC+.
McCann has been bad against right-handed pitching this year, but his problems have been exacerbated by a .208 BABIP and low HR/FB rate. His batted profile is fine save for a few extra infield flyballs, and he’s still striking out in less than 15 percent of his plate appearances against righties. Correction is on the way for him, and for the pitcher he’s facing, Chris Archer. Archer has allowed a .255 wOBA to left-handed batters, but his 11.4 percent walk rate to them is bad, and allowing zero homers along with a .258 BABIP has aided him greatly and won’t continue.
Value Pick: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals, $6,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 19 PA, 115 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 206 PA, .286/.354/.400, 110 wRC+.
It took Ramos no time to shake the rust off of a disabled list stint, and he has now recorded at least one hit in all three games he’s played since being activated on June 26, including a home run. The right-handed hitting catcher is an above average hitter against southpaws, and Rockies southpaw Yohan Flande is a non-prospect that made his big league debut last week. The rookie pitcher doesn’t throw hard, barely averaging over 90 mph on his fastball according to Brooks Baseball. He’s allowed the 1,486 minor league right-handed batters he’s faced since 2011 hit .275/.333/.405. Ramos is one of my favorite Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks and I think he’ll be the highest scoring catcher tonight in DraftDay games.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - First Basemen
My Pick: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, $11,300
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 258 PA, 143 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,485 PA, .301/.380/.500, 143 wRC+.
Freeman is a line drive hitting machine, and Joey Votto is the only qualified hitter with a higher line drive percentage than Freeman’s 26.7 percent mark since 2011. In addition to ripping ropes, Freeman rarely gives away outs, sporting an infield flyball rate of just 2.9 percent since 2011. The Braves first baseman is an elite hitter, and he gets a boost facing Zack Wheeler tonight. Wheeler has really struggled with the 376 left-handed batters he’s faced since reaching the majors last year, allowing a .348 wOBA and walking 14.1 percent of them.
Value Pick: Carlos Pena, Texas Rangers, $5,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 15 PA, 87 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,159 PA, .224/.353/.408, 112 wRC+.
The 36-year old first baseman is one prolonged cold streak from being out of the majors and in the MLB Network studio as an analyst, but in typical Ron Washington fashion, he’s inexplicably batting Pena third in the Rangers order. He showed he still has some thunder in his stick hitting a moonshot homer off of Anibal Sanchez last week, and Ubaldo Jimenez is a much lesser pitcher than Sanchez. Jimenez has been dreadful against left-handed hitters this season, allowing the 211 he’s faced to post a .365 wOBA while walking more batters, 37, than he’s struck out, 35. Last season Jimenez held lefties in check with a .293 wOBA, but his control was passable, and that hasn’t been the case this season. His control problems were also on full display in 2012 when he allowed a .371 wOBA to lefties and walked 13.2 percent of the ones he faced. When Jimenez isn’t right, as is clearly the case this year, he’s an easy target and a dream matchup for a patient hitter like Pena (15.6 percent walk rate versus right-handed pitchers since 2011).
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - Second Basemen
My Pick: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, $9,300
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 78 PA, 172 wRC+. Since 2013 vs LHP: 195 PA, .318/.374/.514, 145 wRC+.
Rendon has shaken off a cold May, with June being his best offensive month of the year. He has a sizable platoon split in his young big league career, and while he’s an average offensive option against right-handed pitching, he’s a beast against lefties. As I noted above, Flande isn’t very good, and that makes all talented Nationals right-handed batters viable options tonight, with Rendon being an especially exciting choice.
Value Pick: Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers, $5,150
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 94 PA, 117 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP (minors): 1,053 PA, .286/.339/.436.
Hitting ninth in the Rangers order caps Odor’s upside to a certain extent, but he’s a nearly bare minimum salary player who hits right-handed pitchers better than his same handed ones. Rostering Odor will provide cheap exposure to Jimenez, and a ton of flexibility to spend away from the keystone position on DraftDay squads.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - Third Basemen
My Pick: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, $8,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 30 PA, 88 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 451 PA, .288/.381/.472, 133 wRC+.
More exposure to Flande. Whether you choose to use Zimmerman at third base (where I like his price better) or in the outfield, his prowess hitting lefties and lineup slot (likely fifth) gives him immense upside. Among third basemen that have tallied 400 or more plate appearances against southpaws since 2011, Zimmerman ranks seventh in wRC+, and sixth in wOBA.
Value Pick: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles, $7,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 68 PA, 48 wRC+. Since 2012 vs LHP: 345 PA, .273/.306/.423, 96 wRC+.
Machado has stumbled against lefties this year, but we’re talking about a tiny sample size. Prior to this year he owned a 108 wRC+ in his first 277 plate appearances against lefties in the majors. The primary reason for using the young third baseman, though, is to get a piece of Joe Saunders. Since 2011 Saunders has the second highest wOBA allowed (.379) to right-handed batters among qualified pitchers.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - Shortstops
My Pick: Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals, $7,450
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 78 PA, 87 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 491 PA, .259/.311/.441, 105 wRC+.
None of the top offensive shortstops look to be worth their price, though Brian Dozier is close. With that in mind, Desmond is a sweet option who has power. His .182 ISO against lefties since 2011 is the second highest mark among qualified shortstops (Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez fell short of qualifying). He also has 75 stolen bases in 99 attempts since 2011.
Value Pick: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles, $6,400
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 81 PA, 69 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 588 PA, .267/.319/.438, 102 wRC+.
Ranking just behind Desmond in ISO against lefties among qualified shortstops since 2011 is Hardy, with a .171 mark. He’s only hit one tater this year, but he has no fewer than 22 homers in any of the last three seasons. Hardy has only been a couple ticks above average against lefties since 2011, but he’ll get a monstrous boost facing Saunders, who as I’ve stated above, is horrific against right-handed batters.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks - Outfielders
My Pick: Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles, $10,800
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 88 PA, 216 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 475 PA, .325/.402/.589, 183 wRC+.
This is the key cog in a stack against Saunders. Cruz has the eighth highest wRC+ among qualified batters facing lefties since 2011. He routinely hits cleanup or fifth in the Orioles order, and that’s a great spot for run production. Even at nearly $11,000, Cruz is one of the easier Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks this evening.
Middle of the Pack: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves, $8,650
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 267 PA, 132 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,318 PA, .269/.360/.463, 128 wRC+.
Heyward isn’t as talented a hitter as his already highlighted teammate, Freeman, but he’s a well above average hitter against right-handed pitchers. He’s extremely patient, and has walked in 11.7 percent of his plate appearances against right-handed pitchers since 2011. That plays well with Wheeler’s high walk rate against left-handed batters. One year after stealing just two bases, Heyward is once against active on the base paths stealing nine in 12 attempts this season. Battery mates Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud do a good job of controlling the running game, but Heyward having base stealing skills in his well rounded offensive repertoire is a good thing since he figures to reach base tonight.
Value Pick: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals, $8,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 72 PA, 137 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 420 PA, .306/.405/.492, 148 wRC+.
Werth is the best Nationals option in today’s stack. He’s cheaper than both Rendon and Zimmerman, and he’s got a lengthy track record of annihilating lefties. The 35-year old outfielder hits third for the Nationals, and that places him somewhere between Rendon (usually hits second) and Zimmerman, Ramos, and Desmond. His lineup slot gives him run scoring and RBI upside.
Wild Card: Steve Pearce, Baltimore Orioles, $8,700
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 51 PA, 186 wRC+. Since joining the Orioles in 2012 vs LHP: 177 PA, .292/.379/.526, 146 wRC+.
Pearce rarely received consistent playing time before joining the Orioles, and he’s really only recently carved out a role for himself. He has been outstanding this year, and ascended to the number two spot in the Orioles order. His 160 wRC+ against all pitchers this year is tied for the 11th best mark among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances, and the guy he’s tied with, Victor Martinez, is pretty darn good. There isn’t much of a threat of Pearce being lifted for a pinch hitter after Saunders gets chased from tonight’s game early, so the pitfall that platoon hitters like Jonny Gomes faces doesn’t pertain to Pearce.
* 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.
Glossary of important terms: Full definitions can be found by clicking on the stat. You’ll be directed to FanGraphs’ glossary. For the purpose of easy understanding, I’ve simplified FanGraphs’ definitions while retaining the integrity of the full explanation of the stat.
FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching)- This stat attempts to measure what a pitcher’s ERA should have been based on the things they have the most control over, walks, strikeouts, hit by pitches, and homers. Its goal is to credit the pitcher for what they’ve done and not what their fielders have or haven’t done on batted balls. It is a much better tool for predicting future performance than ERA.
wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus)- This is a statistic that attempts to roll a player’s offensive value into one number to determine how many runs they’ve created. A 100 wRC+ represents league average, and every point above that is one percent above league average, and every point below represents a percentage point below league average. FanGraphs notes that the stat is park and league adjusted, thus, putting all players on an even playing field regardless of their offensive environment.
wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average)- This is another offensive stat that attempts to roll offensive performance into one number. It assigns a different weight to different types of hits and different means of reaching base since they are not all created equal. Unlike with wRC+, the league-average varies year-by-year so FanGraphs has a rough approximation of how to value various wOBA scores, for instance 0.400 is deemed excellent, and .290 is awful. The full chart can be seen here.
ISO (Isolated Power)- This statistic measures power by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. Therefore it strips singles from slugging percentage leaving a number that represents extra bases divided by at-bats.