Today’s Daily MLB Selections feature huge platoon splits.
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There are a host of ways to mix and match today’s picks, and a wide variety of games available to do so with at DraftDay. Wrap up the work week in style by joining me in the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, some low stakes Double-Up games, or my new favorite, the FSL “Five Guys” game. The best part about the last game is that not only can you win money tonight, but you can earn a spot in Saturday’s Freeroll!
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily MLB Selections –Pitchers
My Pick: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals, $19,750
At a Glance: 2014: 28.8% K, 5.1% BB, 47.4% GB. Braves vs RHP: 85 wRC+, 22.3% K.
The Nationals ace ranks third among qualified pitchers in strikeout rate, and he’s facing a Braves team that strikes out a bunch against right-handed pitchers, and ranks tied for 25th in wRC+. Only poor luck on batted balls in play (.349 BABIP compared to .299 for his career) has kept his ERA a smidge above 3.00. With the Nationals facing a lefty in Mike Minor, they should be able to provide him run support since they rank fifth versus southpaws with an impressive 110 wRC+.
Value Pick: Dan Haren, Los Angeles Dodgers, $13,650
At a Glance: 2014: 15.4% K, 3.9% BB, 47.0% GB. Padres vs RHP: 74 wRC+, 22.6% K.
Haren has reinvented himself this year, inducing groundballs at a higher rate and striking fewer batters out while issuing very few walks. The lack of strikeouts is a bummer, and his swinging strike percentage doesn’t portend well for a turnaround. For tonight though he might punch out a few more hitters than usual since the Padres offense is so pitiful against right-handed pitchers. His first start of the year was against the Padres, and he punched out six in six innings while allowing zero earned runs on four hits and zero walks. The 33-year old starter has pitched no fewer than 5.1 innings in any of his 14 starts this year, and his season high in earned runs allowed is four.
Daily MLB Selections – Catchers
My Pick: Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies, $7,500
At a Glance: Vs RHP at home career (since 2011): 405 PA, .261/.301/.420, 82 wRC+.
Usually I reserve making Rosario one of my Daily MLB Selections for when he is facing a southpaw, but right-handed pitcher Marco Estrada has a minor reverse split in his career (.316 wOBA vs LHB and .319 vs RHP), and a major one this year (.305 wOBA vs LHB and .394 vs RHB). Estrada’s problems extend beyond his reverse splits though, as he’s also allowed a staggering 23 homers (most in the league) in just 14 starts. His homer problems will be exacerbated at Coors Field where right-handed batters have a homer park factor of 114.
Value Pick: Chris Iannetta, Los Angeles Angels, $6,650
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 74 PA, 166 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 401 PA, .252/.388/.478, 141 wRC+.
Iannetta might literally be my favorite of my Daily MLB Selections today when factoring in his upside and cost. Twenty-three catchers have totaled 300 or more plate appearances against left-handed pitchers since 2011, and Iannetta ranks eighth in wRC+. The ranking isn’t super impressive, but the fact he’s been 41 percent better than the average hitter during that time when facing lefties is. The best part is he’s facing Joe Saunders. The Rangers lefty has faced 2,000 right-handed batters since the start of the 2011 season, and allowed a .376 wOBA. That’s only one point lower than the worst mark among pitchers who have totaled over 200 innings in that time frame.
Daily MLB Selections – First Basemen
My Pick: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, $12,450
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 266 PA, 153 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,152 PA, .285/.369/.503, 134 wRC+.
It’s almost never difficult to make a case for using Goldschmidt as one of your Daily MLB Selections based on his hitting prowess against all pitchers. With that in mind, I feel a little less dirty stating that I’m using Goldschmidt on 100 percent of my rosters due to his dominance against Tim Lincecum. Batter versus pitcher matchups rarely have enough plate appearances to make definitive declarations, but in just 28 plate appearances against Lincecum one can declare that Goldschmidt owns him. That’s what happens when a player hits a round-tripper in one-quarter of his plate appearances against a pitcher as Goldschmidt has, belting seven taters. He’s even added a double for fun, and his .542 batting average against Lincecum would be impressive if it were compiled at the high school level. Don’t be a knucklehead, use Goldschmidt.
Value Pick: Juan Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays, $7,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 141 PA, 160 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 740 PA, .249/.311/.488, 116 wRC+.
I had to pick a player who holds another position of eligibility (third base for Francisco) because I literally wouldn’t advocate venturing away from Goldschmidt on any rosters tonight. Since I’ve expounded upon the virtues of Francisco’s raw power plenty of times, I’ll instead focus on the pitcher he is facing, Mat Latos. The Reds starter made his first start of the year last Saturday, and while his surface stats look good, they don’t show the missing ticks on his heater. Brooks Baseball had both his fourseam fastball and sinker velocity down more than 2.5 mph from last year. It’s highly unlikely a cold gun is to blame according to Miller Park’s PITCHf/x gun data available at Brooks Baseball. Attacking a pitcher missing oomph on his fastball with a homer hitter in a friendly ballpark is never a bad idea.
Daily MLB Selections – Second Basemen
My Pick: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, $8,700
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 130 PA, 114 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,103 PA, .275/.357/.439, 123 wRC+.
Kipnis has a nice blend of power and speed that has allowed him to reach the teens in homers and steal 30 or more bases each of the last two years. The left-handed hitter has fared much better against right-handed pitchers in his career than southpaws.Despite a wOBA that suggests Rick Porcello has closed a sizable platoon split against lefties (.363 wOBA since 2011 and .322 this year), his Brooks Baseball PITCHf/x profile hasn’t sold me. His changeup is getting more groundballs against lefties than last season, but his whiff percentages have gone backwards on most of his pitches and his pitch mix hasn’t changed drastically. Color me unconvinced.
Value Pick: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels, $7,700
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 96 PA, 114 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 604 PA, .297/.349/.470, 128 wRC+.
Kendrick is a lefty masher facing a southpaw who I’ve already established is hilariously bad against right-handed batters (more on this later). His wRC+ since 2011 versus lefties is the fourth highest among qualified second basemen, and to provide further perspective, a 128 wRC+ would rank tied for third among second basemen this when sorting by overall wRC+ (i.e. versus lefties and righties combined).
Daily MLB Selections –Third Basemen
My Pick: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics, $9,100
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 80 PA, 185 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 373 PA, .297/.375/.581, 165 wRC+.
Since 2011 Miguel Cabrera tops qualified third basemen in wRC+ at 167, but immediately behind him is Donaldson with a 165 wRC+. The highest wRC+ among qualified third basemen when not breaking it down by handedness is 137. In other words, Donaldson is at steal without even accounting for the lefty he’s facing. He becomes a must-start when factoring in that Felix Doubront has allowed a .361 wOBA to right-handed batters this year (.373 wOBA to lefties, too, so he’s been a punching bag), and .343 wOBA in his career that spans back to 2010.
Value Pick: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, $8,900
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 68 PA, 164 wRC+. Since 2013 vs LHP: 185 PA, .313/.373/.503, 141 wRC+.
In the infancy stages of his major league career, Rendon has been the hammer and left-handed pitchers have been the nail. The lefty he’s facing tonight, Mike Minor, hasn’t been himself after opening the year on the disabled list. The 187 right-handed batters he has faced have a .372 wOBA against him, and they’ve crushed nine homers and 19 extra base hits overall.
Daily MLB Selections – Shortstops
My Pick: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians, $8,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 192 PA, 122 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,436 PA, .259/.327/.436, 113 wRC+.
Since I’m unconvinced Porcello has really put his struggles with left-handed batters in the rear view mirror, grabbing Cabrera (a switch-hitter who will bat left-handed against him) makes sense. He’s also an above average hitter against right-handed pitchers this year, and since 2011. In a left-handed heavy lineup that ranks tied for first in wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers this year (115 wRC+), he could be in store for a night of piling up fantasy points from the two-hole.
Value Pick: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox, $7,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 89 PA, 145 wRC+. Since 2011 in the minors vs LHP: 367 PA, .269/.362/.472.
I noted yesterday that an assignment against lefty Scott Kazmir would be challenging, and the A’s lefty got the better of Bogaerts. The lefty he’s facing today isn’t even close to Kazmir’s class of pitcher. The Athletics sent the Brewers $1 for the rights to lefty Brad Mills. Mills hasn’t pitched in the majors since making a start for the Angels in 2012, and in 15 games pitched (53.1 innings) the 29-year old has a 7.76 ERA. Brooks Baseball’s last PITCHf/x data for him comes from 2012, and it credits him for throwing a fouseam fastball, changeup, curveball and cutter, none of which topped 88 mph on average. Bogaerts should have little trouble tormenting Mills and his repertoire of soft, softer, and softest.
Daily MLB Selections – Outfielders
My Pick: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, $14,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 95 PA, 204 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 512 PA, .288/.400/.526, 159 wRC+.
Just take a look at his wRC+ this year against lefties. Unreal. Saunders is pathetic against right-handed batters, and Trout appears to be superhuman by more than doubling the average player’s production when facing lefties this year. The young phenom outfielder has crushed four homers in his last five games, and is in the midst of a 13 game hitting streak in which he has 14 extra base hits (eight doubles, one triple, and five homers). You need to budget for Trout as one of your Daily MLB Selections on at least a handful of your teams because it’s entirely possible he has a night for the ages.
Middle of the Pack: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals, $9,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 62 PA, 151 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 410 PA, .310/.407/.500, 150 wRC+.
Werth is a nice consolation prize in the non-Mike Trout tax bracket of outfielders. He’ll face the struggling Minor tonight, and he’s ripped the cover off of the ball against lefties this year and since 2011. Among batters who have totaled 400 plate appearances against southpaws since 2011 he ranks tied for 19th in wRC+. Let Werth headline outfields in which you pass up Trout.
Value Pick: Jonny Gomes, Boston Red Sox, $6,800
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 90 PA, 156 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 584 PA, .283/.394/.493, 145 wRC+.
Gomes is a specialist, and a damn good one. He’s carved out a valuable role in the bigs on the short side of a platoon, and he abuses left-handed pitchers as evidenced by his wRC+ against them this year and since 2011. He ranks 24th in wRC+ since 2011 against lefties, and that includes plenty of plate appearances (actually, almost all of his plate appearances).
Wild Card: Drew Stubbs, Colorado Rockies, $6,950
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 96 PA, 67 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,351 PA, .214/.279/.332, 67 wRC+.
This is a very strange suggestion given Stubbs struggles against right-handed pitchers, and I wouldn’t go overboard rostering him if he’s starting tonight (something that needs to be checked before starting him). It is a stealthy pick that could pay dividends for a few reasons, though. As I noted when writing about Estrada above, he has a reverse platoon split for his career, and right-handed batters are annihilating him this year. He has homer problems, and Stubbs has enough punch to reach the seats. Furthermore, Estrada’s non-fastball offerings are a curveball and changeup. Dan Rozenson showed in a piece at Baseball Prospectus that curveballs had the biggest increase in batting average against when thrown at Coors Field as compared to other MLB Parks (61 points), and changeups featured the biggest jump in ISO (78 points). Pitchers aren’t dummies, and Rozenson’s data concluded that they are throwing their curveball 1.9 percent of the time less at Coors Field due to the monstrous park effect. Make a homer prone pitcher a bit more predictable, and fireworks are a very real possibility. Stubbs offers those who want a piece of Estrada on the cheap an option.
* 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.
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.