Value hitters are the way to go with tonight’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.
Use these picks in DraftDay contests like the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, a $5.50 Qualifier to the $109 Field of Dreams, or my personal favorite, the Fantasy Sports Live League!
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Pitchers
My Pick: Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves, $19,300
At a Glance: 2014: 22.2% K, 5.0% BB, 38.1% GB, 3.22 FIP. Mets vs RHP: 89 wRC+, 20.7% K.
Teheran’s FIP indicates he might have been a little lucky up to this point, but only his .244 BABIP (.288 in his first full season in 2013) stands out to me in that regard. If the BABIP regression gods rear their ugly heads, hopefully he’ll get the uptick in strikeouts his 11.6 percent swinging strike rate (9.6 percent is the league average according to FanGraphs). suggests he should be in store for. Teheran and the Braves are the biggest betting favorites in the evening slate of games, and it isn’t very close either. Wins are fickle, but Teheran is excellent, he pitches deep into games, and I like having Vegas on my side better than I like betting against them.
Value Pick: Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox, $12,250
At a Glance: 2014 as a starter: 18.2% K, 9.1% BB, 39.0% GB, 4.30 FIP. Cubs vs RHP: 75 wRC+, 22.2% K.
For the sake of transparency, let me say that this looks like a nice night to double-up on pricey pitchers and skimp on hitting. The combination I like best is Teheran and Cole Hamels, however, Workman is the cheap arm that stands out as the best bet to me. His numbers as a starter are ho-hum, but the same, or worse, can be said about the other cheap arms. So in short, do I love Workman? No. Do I love a matchup with the Cubs? Damn skippy. The Cubs are awful against right-handed pitching, and they should make Workman’s life much easier.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Catchers
My Pick: Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks, $8,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 246 PA, 142 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,423 PA, 127 wRC+, .174 ISO, .365 wOBA.
Montero has made a substantial mechanical change to his setup, closing his stance and taking a deeper crouch (Michael Barr of RotoGraphs covered that very early in the year with pictures). With that in mind, his since 2011 stats might need to be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless, he’s been a well above average hitter this year and since 2011, and that’s the real point. He is a patient hitter (11.8 percent walk rate against right-handed pitchers this year and a nearly identical 11.9 percent mark since 2011), and is facing a pitcher who struggles with walks to left-handed batters. Pirates starter Charlie Morton has walked 9.4 percent of left-handed batters this year, and 11.2 percent of the one’s he’s faced since the start of the 2011 season. In addition to walking lefties, Morton has flat out been bad against them allowing a .364 wOBA since 2011.
Value Pick: Chris Iannetta, Los Angeles Angels, $6,150
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 80 PA, 160 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 407 PA, 140 wRC+.
Montero is nice, but the apple of my eye for my Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks at catcher is Iannetta. He hammers lefties, and gets one, John Danks, who isn’t very good against right-handed batters. The White Sox lefty has faced 330 right-handed batters this year, allowing a .344 wOBA and 46.7 percent flyball rate to them. Since 2011 he’s faced 1,416 righties, and allowed a .338 wOBA with a 21.6 percent line drive rate and 38.7 percent flyball rate. Danks’ struggles with inducing grounders is a big deal since Iannetta can lift the ball (43.9 percent flyball rate against lefties this year and 50.4 percent since 2011), and U.S. Cellular Field has a right-handed batter homer park factor of 119.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – First Basemen
My Pick: Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox, $10,100
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 74 PA, 153 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 519 PA, 138 wRC+, .237 ISO, .382 wOBA.
Napoli is a really well rounded hitter against left-handed pitchers, walking in 14.8 percent of his plate appearances against them since 2011 while also hitting for pop. He’s facing Travis Wood tonight, and the southpaw is having problems against right-handed batters this year, allowing a .361 wOBA and walking 10.9 percent of the ones he faces. He’s fared better against right-handed batters when looking at his work since the start of the 2011 season, but a .327 wOBA allowed is certainly nothing to write home about. Toss in the fact that Fenway Park has favorable right-handed batter park factors of 112 for doubles/triples, 104 for homers, and 105 for runs, and Napoli makes for a better play than some of the more heralded first basemen available.
Value Pick: C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels, $8,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 60 PA, 137 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP (minors): 331 PA, .317/.360/.552, .235.
Since entering professional baseball in his draft year, 2011, the right-handed hitting Cron has been a nightmare for southpaws. He has thunderous power, and that’s resulted in four homers against lefties in the majors already. I’ve already chronicled Danks’ problems with keeping the ball on the ground and the home run inflating nature of U.S. Cellular Field. What’s there not to like about using Cron and his 44.4 percent flyball rate against lefties this year as one of your Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks?
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Second Basemen
My Pick: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, $8,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 104 PA, 123 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 726 PA, 150 wRC+, .170 ISO, .398 wOBA.
Pedroia’s overall numbers this year are lackluster, but he’s still hitting very well against left-handed pitchers, even if not by his own standards. He gets the boost of facing Wood, and whether he bats second or third tonight, he’ll be in a favorable spot for run production stats.
Value Pick: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels, $7,700
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 103 PA, 112 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 611 PA, 127 wRC+, .172 ISO, .353 wOBA.
Kendrick doesn’t share the same favorable lineup slot as my the other one of my Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks at second base, but he shares a knack for hitting lefties hard. Also, Kendrick gets to do so in a ballpark more favorable for homers and run scoring for right-handed hitters, while facing a pitcher with bigger struggles with right-handed batters. It’s a coin flip for me as to who is the better option at the keystone, but both are a cut above the rest of their peers at the position.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Third Basemen
My Pick: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, $10,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 218 PA, 138 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,616, 137 wRC+, .223 ISO, .382 wOBA.
It would obviously be sweeter if Beltre was facing a left-handed pitcher, but when the best offensive third baseman playing tonight is facing a right-handed starter, Chris Tillman, who has stumbled to a 4.59 FIP you’re not complaining. The middle tier’s lower prices aren’t substantially lower than Beltre, and the savings don’t close the talent gap.
Value Pick: David Freese, Los Angeles Angels, $6,950
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 64 PA, 112 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 421 PA, 135 wRC+, .164 ISO, .366 wOBA.
The only way I’m straying from Beltre at the hot corner tonight is if I’m saving a load of cash, and Freese is the only cheap option that looks good if you squint hard enough. I’m not sure where Freese’s power has gone, but June was his best month of the season. His stellar walk skills have made him an above average hitter against lefties this year. It’s unusual to stack the bottom of an order, but none of the Angels options I’ve suggested hit in the top four in the order, and they can all help one another out.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Shortstops
My Pick: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs, $8,300
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 277 PA, 122 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,878 PA, 95 wRC+, .136 ISO, .317 wOBA.
Castro’s numbers since 2011 are dragged down by a miserable 2013 season in which he posted a 72 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. He’s bounced back nicely, and since the end of April, he’s been slotting in the cleanup slot for the Cubs. I don’t often often like to pick against one of my highlighted Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks at pitcher, but as I stated above, many of my teams will feature a pairing of two of the three aces pitching tonight. On those squads Castro will get run at shortstop.
Value Pick: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox, $5,000
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP (minors): 125 PA, .415/.496/.585. Since 2011 vs LHP (minors): 348 PA, .327/.410/.455, .128 ISO.
Though Betts was a second baseman and outfielder in the minors, and has played only the outfield in the majors, he’s shortstop eligible in DraftDay games. He hasn’t kicked the door down in his first three games in the majors, but his plate discipline is exquisite and his bat forced its way into the majors in a hurry. Betts rarely strikes out, 9.2 percent this season, walks a ton, 14.2 percent this year, has a bit of punch, and is a great base stealer (28 stolen bases in 33 chances this year and 39 in 43 attempts last season). The rookie has a ton of talent that he has yet to showcase in his first few games, and a soft matchup with Wood could provide him with his first memorable fantasy baseball game in the Show.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Outfielders
My Pick: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, $13,000
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 106 PA, 204 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 523 PA, 160 wRC+, .241 ISO, .401 wOBA.
When Trout was snubbed for American League MVP the last two years even the most ardent Trout supporter would admit that the best hitter, Miguel Cabrera, got the award that should have been given to the best player. Apparently Trout has had enough of finishing runner-up because he’s gone ahead and become the best hitter in baseball, and leads the league in wRC+ with a mark of 185. As you can see above, he’s even better when he faces southpaws. With me treating the Marlins, Giants, and Mets hitters like poison tonight, and ponying up for Trout is a worthwhile expenditure.
Middle of the Pack: Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers, $9,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 230 PA, 110 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,404 PA, 151 wRC+, .194 ISO, .392 wOBA.
Choo’s play alone this year isn’t worth a sticker price of over $9,000, but he’s still been an above average hitter with right-handed pitchers on the hill, and he’s been one of the best since 2011 ranking 10th in wRC+ among qualified hitters. Tillman has been bad this year, and he’s beaten his FIP the last couple seasons before so it’s not entirely a surprise. Choo also gets a boost at Globe Life Park, where the left-handed batter park factors for homers and runs are 113 and 111 respectively. He’s back to the leadoff spot in the Rangers order, and in prime position to score runs if Tillman throws a clunker.
Value Pick: Jonny Gomes, Boston Red Sox, $6,650
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 103 PA, 143 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 597 PA, 143 wRC+, .204 ISO, .383 wOBA.
The possibility of a platoon outfielder like Gomes getting lifted for a pinch hitter late in the game becomes easier to overlook on a short slate of games where there are three aces and few top hitters. Gomes’ cost doesn’t hurt either. Since 2011 he ranks 26th among qualified hitters in wRC+ against left-handed pitchers.
Wild Card: Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP (minors): 187 PA, .374 wOBA, .195 ISO. Since 2011 vs RHP (minors): 918 PA, .348/.402/.578, .230 ISO.
Taveras didn’t make me look like a genius when I pounded the table for using him earlier in the year, but a bumpy first taste of the majors isn’t going to sour my outlook for one of the best hitting prospects in the game. He’s proven all he needs to in the minors, and manager Mike Matheny thinks enough of his bat that he inserted him second in the order last night in his first game back in the bigs. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong has been torched by left-handed batters this year facing 170 and allowing a .348 wOBA, and since 2011 he’s faced 1,113 allowing a .322 wOBA. Vogelsong’s wOBA allowed to lefties since 2011 isn’t anything to get overly excited about, but it’s nothing to be concerned about either. Especially if you believe in Taveras’ bat like I do.
* 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.