The Tigers ace headlines my Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks today.
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These picks are your secret weapon for bringing home cash in games ranging from the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff to the $15 Knuckleball, or the $109 Field of Dreams. You can also always mix and match these guys and beat me at my own game in the Fantasy Sports Live League.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Pitchers
My Pick: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers, $19,000
At a Glance: 2014: 28.5% K, 6.9% BB, 36.1% GB, 2.95 FIP. Rays vs RHP: 99 wRC+, 17.3% K.
Mashario Tanaka faces the softest lineup that strikes out the most against right-handed pitchers, but is opposing the best pitcher of the three guys I considered (Yu Darvish being the third). Scherzer faces a basically league average Rays offense that doesn’t strikeout a ton, but he’s backed by a great offense against lefties (111 wRC+ this year), and the Tigers are the biggest betting favorites tonight. Even though I highlighted that the Rays are very good at putting the ball in play against righties, I still expect Scherzer (third in strikeout rate among qualified starters) to tally around one per inning pitched. He’s cheaper than both Tanaka and Darvish, and the most likely to earn a win, so any difference in strikeouts should be negated by the savings and the greater likelihood of picking up 10 points via the win.
Value Pick: Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins, $14,700
At a Glance: 2014: 21.0% K, 2.4% BB, 36.9% GB, 2.59 FIP. Yankees vs RHP: 91 wRC+, 18.4% K.
Hughes is flourishing in his first year out of pinstripes. His FIP is the third best among qualified starters, and he’s been better than any other qualified starter at limiting his walks. Opposing pitcher Tanaka will make it tough to earn a win, but even if he doesn’t come out on the favorable side of a pitching duel, he can still easily earn his keep against a below average Yankees offense.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Catchers
My Pick: John Jaso, Oakland Athletics, $7,100
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 203 PA, 135 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 966 PA, 132 wRC+, .164 ISO, .359 wOBA.
Because R.A. Dickey is a pitcher who primarily throws a knuckleball, and splits data for that pitch is sparse, Jaso’s exact numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Dickey isn’t your normal right-handed pitcher. What is important is that Jaso is an above average hitter, and one who slots in the top third of his team’s order at that. Dickey’s 4.82 FIP is also an important number to keep in mind when making your Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks, and it makes spending so little on Jaso seem like stealing.
Value Pick: Chris Iannetta, Los Angeles Angels, $6,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 80 PA, 160 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 407 PA, 140 wRC+.
Iannetta no longer gets to hit at U.S. Cellular Field as he did last night, but he does get another lefty in Brett Oberholtzer. The Astros southpaw was surprisingly good against right-handed batters last year, but it mostly looks like a fluke. He’s faced 194 right-handed batters this year and allowed a .346 wOBA. The 1,344 right-handed batters he’s faced in the minors since 2011 have totaled a triple slash line of .273/.327/.448 against him with a 4.16 FIP.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – First Basemen
My Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, $11,850
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 90 PA, 115 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 630 PA, 167 wRC+, .235 ISO, .420 wOBA.
Cabrera is one of the best hitters in baseball, and that isn’t a secret. Since 2011 he ranks tied for fifth in wRC+ among qualified hitters against lefties. Lefty Erik Bedard isn’t awful against right-handed hitters, so Cabrera won’t get a boost there, but he’s one of the worst pitchers throwing tonight and a guy worth picking on with a star.
Value Pick: Ike Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,900
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 224 PA, 127 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,032 PA, 133 wRC+, .212 ISO, .362 wOBA.
The left-handed hitting Davis has been a little light on power versus right-handed pitchers this year with just a .134 ISO, but his exquisite 16.1 percent walk rate has made him an above average hitter. The best part about making Davis one of your Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks is that he’s facing Brandon McCarthy. The Diamondbacks pitcher has faced 227 lefties this year and allowed a .362 wOBA. Since 2011 he has faced 1,135 allowing a .320 wOBA.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Second Basemen
My Pick: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels, $7,950
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 103 PA, 111 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 611 PA, 127 wRC+, .172 ISO, .353 wOBA.
It came down to Kendrick and Ian Kinsler for top honors at second base. Kinsler has been the better of the two in wRC+ since 2011, but a gap of 9 points isn’t enough to justify spending almost $3,000 more dollars on him. While Kinsler is hitting leadoff for the Tigers, Kendrick’s slot of fifth in an Angels lineup isn’t shabby either. The most important thing is that the Angels two-bagger is facing the softer pitcher.
Value Pick: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates, $7,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 237 PA, 125 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,574 PA, 122 wRC+, .177 ISO, .347 wOBA.
Even better than spending on Kinsler or Kendrick is saving a little more and grabbing Walker. He hit cleanup for the Bucs last night against a right-handed pitcher, and there is little reason to think he won’t do the same tonight. I’ve pointed out McCarthy’s struggles against left-handed batters, and Walker has that going in his favor in addition to his run production upside. Add in the fact that he’s a well above average player against right-handed pitchers, and he’s one of the better bargains among tonight’s Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Third Basemen
My Pick: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, $10,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 67 PA, 141 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 538 PA, 139 wRC+, .223 ISO, .385 wOBA.
Beltre hammers left-handed pitching, and Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen hasn’t been hard for right-handed batters to abuse. Since entering the majors in 2011, Chen has faced 1,330 right-handed batters and allowed a .332 wOBA.
Value Pick: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers, $6,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 88 PA, 142 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP (minors): 394 PA, .311/.384/.455, .144 ISO.
Castellanos has hit sixth or seventh in the Tigers order in every game since June 6, but even lacking the perks of hitting near the top of the order isn’t enough to turn me off his sweet price point. He’s a very good hitter against southpaws, and Bedard isn’t the toughest assignment for right-handed batters. Furthermore, the Tigers rank tied for fourth in wRC+ against lefties this year with a mark of 111. The Tigers hit southpaws hard throughout the lineup, and that makes Castellanos a better play from this lineup slot than most would be.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Shortstops
My Pick: Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays, $9,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 221 PA, 111 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,490 PA, 123 wRC+, .152 ISO, .353 wOBA.
Reyes is the catalyst atop a Blue Jays offense that ranks best in the majors in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers this year. The matchup with Sonny Gray doesn’t excite me, but Reyes is a much better offensive player than many of the similarly priced shortstops around him. Depending on who is behind the dish, Reyes could get a lift in stolen base potential. Both John Jaso and Derek Norris are pathetic at controlling the running game, though Stephen Vogt has been decent.
Value Pick: Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers, $7,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 93 PA, 121 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 644 PA, 94 wRC+, .086 ISO, .319 wOBA.
Andrus has no power to speak of, and he’s been a slightly below average hitter against southpaws in his career, but everything else comes up roses. He’s the number two hitter in the Rangers offense, a stolen base threat when reaching base (18 this year and 118 since 2011), and a showdown with Chen works in his favor. When factoring in cost, he’s my favorite of the options at shortstop.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks – Outfielders
My Pick: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers, $11,900
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 80 PA, 144 wRC+. Since 2013 vs LHP: 197 PA, 165 wRC+, .201 ISO, .405 wOBA.
Puig is my educated guess for highest scoring hitter tonight. He has destroyed southpaws in his brief and electrifying major league career, and he gets a putrid one in Franklin Morales. Morales already played his way out of the rotation once, and the 240 right-handed batters he’s faced this year own a .407 wOBA against him. The game is at Coors Field, where the right-handed batter park factors are 115 for double/triples, 115 for homers, and 127 for runs. This is collection of variables is a perfect storm, and it is what daily fantasy baseball dreams are made of.
Middle of the Pack: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates, $8,700
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 67 PA, 153 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP (minors): 1,067 PA, .297/.367/.481, .184 ISO.
Polanco is where you’re going to get the best bang for your buck with left-handed batter exposure to McCarthy. The rookie outfielder went deep last night, and he’s making a seamless transition to hitting leadoff in the majors. The youngster shows a patient, high contact approach (11.8 percent walk rate and 14.0 percent strikeout rate in the majors) that belies his youth. He’s also a hell raiser on the bases with four steals in four attempts, and 15 in 20 earlier this season while in the minors.
Value Pick: Scott Van Slyke, Los Angeles Dodgers, $7,100
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 71 PA, 228 wRC+. Since 2012 vs LHP: 173 PA, 152 wRC+, .290 ISO, .385 wOBA.
When I mentioned the Dodgers were facing a southpaw at Coors Field (and one that’s hilariously bad against right-handed batter no less), you had to know a Van Slyke tout was coming. The man has been a behemoth against lefties this year, reaching the seats six times in 71 plate appearances. His dominance against southpaws follows him down to the minors, too, where he tallied a video game triple slash line and ISO of .343/.422/.614 and .271 in 353 plate appearances. You’d be crazy to pass on Van Slyke as one of your Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks tonight.
Wild Card: Alex Rios, Texas Rangers, $8,050
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 79 PA, 198 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 533 PA, 128 wRC+, .200 ISO, .365 wOBA.
I couldn’t pass up another crack at Chen’s awful numbers against right-handed batters. Rios has fared very well against southpaws since 2011, and he’s feasting on them this year. He hit directly in front of Beltre when the Rangers faced lefty T.J. McFarland on Monday, and should do the same again tonight. A stack of Andrus, Rios, and Beltre is very compelling and not terribly costly with it breaking down to an average salary of $8,650 for each.
* 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.