The Nationals face another bad southpaw, and make up many of my 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.
There are some other soft pitching matchups, though, so I’ll be loading up on players from a few squads. Use the nuggets found in today’s Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks to win some dough in my favorite contests like the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff or the “Five Guys” game with me and the rest of the FSL gang.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Pitchers
My Pick: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals, $18,000
At a Glance: 2014: 27.7% K, 5.2% BB, 46.2% GB, 2.77 FIP. Rockies vs RHP: 104 wRC+, 19.2% K.
Let others overreact to Strasburg “underachieving.” His FIP, which is the seventh best among qualified starters, tells the real story here. His strikeout rate is the fifth highest mark among qualified starters, he has a great walk rate, and his biggest problem is the timing of his hits allowed (poor left on-base percentage) and the number of batted balls finding openings (.356 BABIP this year versus .302 in his career). He’s still the fire breathing monster hitters fear, and he’s a monstrous betting favorite.
Value Pick: Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins, $13,450
At a Glance: 2014: 15.3% K, 4.8% BB, 53.8% GB, 3.06 FIP. Phillies vs RHP: 80 wRC+, 20.8% K.
If you like the Mariners starter tonight, Hisashi Iwakuma, you should like the lite-version in Alvarez. They aren’t the same pitcher, as Iwakuma does a better job of striking batters out (19.0 percent strikeout rate this year), but both have had a great deal of success by limiting free passes and inducing groundballs at a high rate. Alvarez won’t pile up a bunch of strikeouts tonight, but he should pitch deep into the game against a bad Phillies offense, and as a betting favorite at home, I like his odds of being in line for the win when he exits.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Catchers
My Pick: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals, $6,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 19 PA, 115 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 206 PA, 110 wRC+, .114 ISO, .332 wOBA.
Ramos only tallied eight points in DraftDay games last night against a southpaw, but he gets an even worse lefty tonight. Christian Friedrich has been pummeled in two starts this year with the Rockies, and in his big league career he’s faced 343 right-handed batters that have produced a .387 wOBA against him. All right-handed hitting Nationals get the green light tonight, and that includes their backstop.
Value Pick: A.J. Pierzynski, Boston Red Sox, $6,200
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 165 PA, 92 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,330 PA, 101 wRC+, .169 ISO, .327 wOBA.
Pierzynski’s line since 2011 is inflated a bunch by the 131 wRC+ outburst against right-handed pitchers in 2012, and it was the only season since 2006 in which he was a better than league average hitter against right-handed pitchers. He’s once again a few ticks below league average against righties this year, but he is facing Edwin Jackson tonight. The Cubs starter might have better luck with quantum physics than shutting left-handed batters down. Since 2011 he has faced 1,376 left-handed batters and has allowed a .349 wOBA, tied for the eighth highest mark among starters that have tossed at least 200 innings in that time frame.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – First Basemen
My Pick: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, $10,200
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 229 PA, 117 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,262 PA, 159 wRC+, .275 ISO, .411 wOBA.
Big Papi is having a down year by his standards, but he’s still an above average hitter with big power (.232 ISO versus right-handed pitchers) and a discerning eye (13.5 percent walk rate versus right-handed pitchers). He’ll get the same boost Pierzynski gets from facing Jackson, and he just might give the Green Monster a peppering since Fenway Park has a left-handed batter double/triple park factor of 152.
Value Pick: Gaby Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates, $5,400
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 60 PA, 154 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 455 PA, 146 wRC+, .193 ISO, .384 wOBA.
Sanchez is a secret weapon with a lefty on the rubber. Just compare his wRC+ and wOBA against lefties to those of Ortiz against right-handed pitchers since 2011. Ortiz has literally been one of the best hitters in the league over that time frame, and Sanchez doesn’t embarrass himself in the comparison. The southpaw he’s facing tonight, Wade Miley, has been bad against right-handed batters. The 362 righties Miley has faced this year have a .341 wOBA against him, and the 1,837 he’s faced since joining the majors in 2011 have a .328 wOBA.
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, 145 wRC+, .197 ISO, .382 wOBA.
It takes quite a while for line drive rate to stabilize for a hitter, as Derek Carty showcased in a piece for Baseball Prospectus about three years ago, but Rendon’s 28.8 percent line drive rate against southpaws through his first 195 big league plate appearances is mighty promising. He’s been a stud against lefties, and while I pointed out Friedrich’s struggles against right-handed batters in the majors, I failed to mention those struggles extend to the minors, too. Since 2011, Friedrich has faced 818 right-handed minor league hitters, allowing a slash line of .297/.353/.464 with a .167 ISO according to Minor League Central.
Value Pick: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels, $7,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 239 PA, 100 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,421 PA, 105 wRC+, .123 ISO, .321 wOBA.
Kendrick is better against lefties than right-handed pitchers, but he’s still been a slightly above average hitter against his same-handed counterparts. More importantly, he offers cheap exposure to one of the worst starters throwing today, Scott Carroll. The White Sox hurler rarely misses bats with a 10.3 percent strikeout rate in his rookie season, and his 4.85 FIP does his poor underlying stats justice. Toss-in the fact that today’s game is at U.S. Cellular Field, where the right-handed batter park factors are 118 for homers and 108 for runs. The one thing that needs to be cautioned, though, is that the White Sox and Angels are playing in a double-header so attempt to confirm he’ll be playing in the night game.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Third Basemen
My Pick: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, $10,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 65 PA, 149 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 536 PA, 140 wRC+, .224 ISO, .386 wOBA.
Major League Baseball’s website still has “TBA” for the Orioles probable starter, but it’s been reported elsewhere that reliever T.J. McFarland is getting the spot start. The Orioles pitcher has one big league start and 51 relief appearances since joining the bigs last year, and in 101.1 innings he has a 3.78 FIP. Not a terrible mark, but considering it has come in relief, where he hasn’t had to face a lineup multiple times, it’s less impressive. Furthermore, he’s not lighting up the radar guns in bursts out of the bullpen, where Brooks Baseball has his fourseam fastball averaging 91.36 mph this season. That number is almost certain to go down as a starter. All of this is to say McFarland should be no match for Beltre.
Value Pick: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, $8,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 30 PA, 88 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 451 PA, 133 wRC+, .184 ISO, .367 wOBA.
Zimmerman had a hell of a game with the stick last night, in a contest in which he returned to the hot corner with the activation of Bryce Harper from the disabled list. When you add up Zimmerman’s prowess against lefties, Friedrich being a bad pitcher, and a Nationals lineup capable of generating runs from top-to-bottom with Zimmerman likely hitting fifth again, it equals a player that makes for one of the better Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks at either third base or in the outfield.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Shortstops
My Pick: Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels, $8,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 228 PA, 126 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,452 PA, 105 wRC+, .129 ISO, .320 wOBA.
Like with Kendrick, it will be imperative to try to find out if Aybar will be in the lineup for the night game of the double-header against the White Sox. If Aybar is, he gets a boost from the Carroll effect. The Angels shortstop is a little bit above average hitter whose value tonight will mostly be derived from my expectation of the Angels scoring often against a below average starting pitcher.
Value Pick: Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals, $7,450
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 78 PA, 88 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 491 PA, 105 wRC+, .182 ISO, .326 wOBA.
Desmond showed off his multi-faceted skill-set last night ripping a pair of doubles while adding a stolen base. He also illustrated that even a down order hitter can tally run production stats (one run and three RBIs) against a crappy pitcher. All of the factors that made me like him last night are once again in play tonight, and the Nationals should once again beat up a bad Rockies pitcher.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Outfielders
My Pick: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, $11,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 58 PA, 208 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 497 PA, 192 wRC+, .288 ISO, .450 wOBA.
McCutchen crushes all left-handed pitching, and a lefty who struggles with right-handed hitters like Miley will be a pushover for the star center fielder. Since 2011 there hasn’t been a better qualified hitter against lefties than McCutchen, and he’s pushed the gap between he and Ryan Braun to eight points of wRC+. Put another way, he’s been eight percent better against left-handed pitchers than the second best hitter against them since 2011. Remarkable. In addition to his hitting exploits, McCutchen is also a great base stealer and is perfect this year with 12 steals in 12 attempts. He’s reached or exceeded 20 stolen bases every season he’s been in the majors (he reached the bigs in 2009).
Middle of the Pack: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals, $8,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 72 PA, 137 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 420 PA, 148 wRC+, .185 ISO, .388 wOBA.
Werth has missed too much time since the 2011 season started to be a qualified hitter, but among batters with at least 400 plate appearances against southpaws, he ranks tied for 25th in wRC+. He left those that drafted him as one of their Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks last night wanting more than the seven points he finished with, and he has a golden opportunity to blow that out of the water tonight.
Value Pick: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers, $6,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 82 PA, 131 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP (minors): 394 PA, .311/.384/.455, .144 ISO.
Castellanos is at his best with a southpaw on the hill, and he gets one tonight. Lefty Brad Mills has made two starts and has a 4.26 FIP that lines up nicely with his 4.35 ERA. There isn’t anything glowing in Mills’ limited statistical profile, and his PITCHf/x profile is equally yawn inducing. The Tigers rookie third baseman had the best month of his first season in June, tallying a 138 wRC+ in 100 plate appearances. Whether he’s settling in or it was just a hot stretch isn’t terribly relevant, as it is clear that there isn’t a book of easily exploitable deficiencies in Castellanos’ offensive game.
Wild Card: Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels, $9,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 143 PA, 144 wRC+. Since 2012 vs RHP: 331 PA, 125 wRC+, .188 ISO, .349 wOBA.
This spot came down to Calhoun and teammate Josh Hamilton. A few factors swung the pendulum Calhoun’s way. The first is that he’s hitting leadoff, one spot in front of all-world stud Mike Trout. Another factor is that Calhoun is hitting more flyballs than Hamilton since the start of last year, and at homer friendly U.S. Cellular Field, that’s nothing to sneeze at. The final factor is that I’m not 100 percent sure Hamilton is fully recovered from a thumb injury that required surgery and sidelined him from April 9 until June 3. The former Ranger has hit just one homer since being activated from the disabled list. Taking cracks at Carroll is a must, and Calhoun is my favorite of the Angels I’ve highlighted in today’s Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks.
* 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.