Today’s Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis features a pair of cheap pitchers who look great.
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Looking at the hitter side, our Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis identifies homer friendly venues such as Coors Field, Miller Park, the Rogers Centre, and Citizens Bank Park as great venues for using a wide variety of players tonight. Mix and match these players together and join me in some fun games such as the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff and the “Five Guys” game with the FSL crew.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –Pitchers
My Pick: John Lackey, Boston Red Sox, $15,800
At a Glance: 2014: 21.4% K, 4.5% BB, 45.6% GB. Mariners vs RHP: 90 wRC+, 21.5% K.
With Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, and Zack Greinke starting tonight, it’s easy to understand how Lackey could be off the radar. He’s on mine though, and the difference in price between Lackey and the other star pitchers is substantial. The difference in talent isn’t. His excellent start to this year is an extension, and a slight improvement even, over a great bounce back 2013 campaign. He ranks 14th in walk rate among qualified pitchers this year, and his strikeout rate bests what FanGraphs has as the league average this year of 20.3 percent. The 35-year old gets a Mariners lineup that is heavy on left-handed batters, but poor against right-handed pitchers. Lackey has had little trouble with lefties the last two years, allowing a .290 wOBA against them last year and a .287 wOBA this year.
Value Pick: Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays, $14,250
At a Glance: 2014: 22.8% K, 7.6% BB, 53.6% GB. Pirates vs RHP: 103 wRC+, 20.4% K.
Matt Cain nearly got the nod with a much easier assignment facing the Padres, but Cobb’s strikeout upside exceeds that of Cain and ended up being the difference maker. Cobb is strong in the three pitching categories I care about most, strikeout rate, walk rate, and groundball rate. He bests the league average in both strikeout rate and walk rate, and his groundball rate is 19th highest among starting pitchers that have thrown 50 or more innings this year. The Pirates have been a slightly above average offense against right-handed pitchers, and they’ll get to add a designated hitter to the lineup playing at Tropicana Field, but according to my Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis, Cobb’s price and skill-set is too much to pass up.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –Catchers
My Pick: Brian McCann, New York Yankees, $7,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 187 PA, 59 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,162 PA, .247/.336/.429, 109 wRC+.
Jonathan Lucroy versus a lefty, Gio Gonzalez, could yield a hearty point total. Gonzalez doesn’t really struggle with right-handed batters though, and Lucroy’s cost is too steep to earn my endorsement. The other top catchers also don’t appear to be worth the cost, so McCann gets the nod with his solid flyball rate (43.7 percent since 2011) in the offense (and homer) inflating Rogers Centre. Left-handed batters enjoy park factors of 129 for doubles/triples, 122 for homers, and 103 for runs at the Rogers Centre. Marcus Stroman has stumbled out of the gate against lefties in the bigs, with the 72 left-handed batters he’s faced posting a .419 wOBA against him this year. Stroman’s struggle with lefties doesn’t extend to his brief minor league career, so I don’t expect it to be a long-term issue for him. There is a chance that he’s in the midst of an adjustment period, and the park factors alone are enough to justify McCann’s usage at his cheap cost.
Value Pick: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miami Marlins, $6,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 151 PA, 116 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,139 PA, .254/.321/.487, 117 wRC+.
My favorite catcher today is Saltalamacchia. The switch-hitting catcher is baffled by lefties, but has been a 17 percent better than the league average hitter when facing right-handed pitchers since 2011. He does a really good job of lifting the ball against righties, owning a 42.3 percent flyball rate against them since 2011, and he’s ripped liners at a 24.3 percent rate in that time frame as well. He gets to escape his home run suppressing ballpark for a night and play at Citizens Bank Park, where the left-handed batter homer park factor is 129. Salty also gets to take hacks against Roberto Hernandez, a guy who has been awful against left-handed batters this year and since 2011. This season Hernandez has allowed a .338 wOBA to the 154 lefties he has faced, and since 2011 the 981 left-handed batters he has faced have a .364 wOBA against him.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –First Basemen
My Pick: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox, $11,850
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 63 PA, .237/.286/.542, 117 wRC+, 5 HR.
Abreu has surprisingly been better against right-handed pitchers than lefties in his rookie season. He still has demonstrated well above average power against southpaws, though, reaching the seats five times in only 63 plate appearances. Abreu gets the nod in a hotly contested competition for top pick honors at first base over Justin Morneau. That’s due to Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen’s struggles keeping the ball on the ground against right-handed batters (38.3 percent groundball rate this year and 35.7 percent in his career in the majors that dates back to 2012), and Abreu’s edge in home run upside.
Value Pick: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals, $8,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 186 PA, 163 wRC+. Since 2012 vs RHP: 523 PA, .317/.356/.528, 147 wRC+.
The value pick at first base does come from Coors Field, though, and he was an easy selection. The burly left-handed hitter crushes right-handed pitching, and Coors Field has left-handed batter park factors of 109 for doubles/triples, 120 for homers, and 136 for runs. This weekend served as a great reminder for what type of monstrous numbers can be hung there, and getting a piece of the action is essentially a must.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –Second Basemen
My Pick: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies, $9,150
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 214 PA, 133 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,125 PA, .295/.370/.480, 131 wRC+.
Utley is one of the best offensive second baseman in the history of the game, and he’s remained well above average against right-handed pitchers even in the twilight of his career. Tonight Utley is facing Nathan Eovaldi, and the Marlins hurler is awful against left-handed batters. Eovaldi has faced 228 left-handed batters this year and allowed a .362 wOBA to them. Since 2011 the 798 lefties he has faced have a .346 wOBA versus him.
Value Pick: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers, $5,450
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 72 PA, 105 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 1,241 PA, .237/.319/.416, 101 wRC+.
Weeks has been basically a league average hitter against left-handed pitchers since 2011, and Gonzalez can get right-handed batters out, so this isn’t the juiciest of matchups. That said, Weeks is incredibly cheap and allows for a great deal of DraftDay lineup flexibility. He’ll likely hit leadoff for a Brewers team that has lefty killers Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Aramis Ramirez, and Khris Davis after him. Miller Park also has a right-handed batter homer park factor of 127 and run factor of 107.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –Third Basemen
My Pick: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, $9,050
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 237 PA, 122 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 984 PA, .308/.396/.449, 139 wRC+.
Carpenter’s line drive swing (27.5 percent line drive rate since 2011 versus right-handed pitchers), infield flyball rate (1.3 percent since 2011 versus right-handed pitchers), and willingness to work walks (12.2 percent versus righties since 2011) makes him a point scoring machine. As a left-handed batter at Citizens Bank Park he’ll enjoy outstanding park factors, and he’ll get to beat up on Hernandez.
Value Pick: Cody Asche, Philadelphia Phillies, $7,850
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 115 PA, 88 wRC+. Since 2013 vs RHP: 260 PA, .235/.308/.393, 90 wRC+.
Asche’s work against right-handed pitchers in the majors doesn’t warrant using him. However, in 937 plate appearances against them in the minors since 2011 he has a .297/.356/.471 triple slash line. More importantly, Eovaldi is dreadful against left-handed batters, and the park factors at Citizens Bank Park also help any lefties playing there today.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –Shortstops
My Pick: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies, $8,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 227 PA, 103 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,663 PA, .262/.336/.412, 106 wRC+.
The switch-hitting Rollins will bat left-handed and get a huge boost from facing Eovaldi. Rollins has spent time hitting leadoff and second in the Phillies order, and either spot provides hearty run scoring upside. The cherry on top of all of the other exciting factors playing in his favor is his stolen base upside. He is one of the most efficient base stealers of all-time, ranking 26th in stolen base percentage. Salty is horrific controlling the running game, having allowed 80 or more stolen bases each season from 2011-2013, and 36 in 43 attempts this year.
Value Pick: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 218 PA, 109 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,343 PA, .278/.327/.433, 107 wRC+.
The right-handed hitting Peralta is a slightly above average hitter against right-handed pitchers. Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin has been very good against right-handed hitters in his career, but for whatever reason has been no great shakes this year allowing a .354 wOBA to them. Peralta’s usage today is more about what he can do than any deficiencies in Chacin’s game. Oh, and the whole playing at Coors Field thing too.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis –Outfielders
My Pick: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies, $11,200
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 216 PA, 126 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 577 PA, .290/.332/.439, 98 wRC+.
More Coors Field love, but also some exploiting of splits. Blackmon had a 114 wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers last year, and it’s up to 126 this year. His wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers since 2011 was dragged down some by his sporadic playing time in 2011 and 2012, but he really seems to be settling in and flourishing with regular playing time. His splits aren’t the only important ones. Lance Lynn is doing a respectable job against left-handed batters this year allowing a .320 wOBA, but he’s still walking 12.0 percent of the lefties he has faced this year. Since reaching the majors in 2011, Lynn has faced 988 lefties, and they’ve hit .355/.364/.416 against him with a .345 wOBA.
Middle of the Pack: Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees, $8,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 120 PA, 96 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,445 PA, .289/.365/.491, 136 wRC+.
The switch-hitting Beltran will get the same park factor boost as a lefty that I addressed with McCann, but he’s a much better hitter. Since 2011 Beltran ranks tied for 20th in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers among qualified hitters. After Sunday’s action there are only 12 qualified outfielders with a wRC+ north of 136, Beltran’s mark against right-handed pitchers since 2011. Add in that facing a lefty reliever wouldn’t faze Beltran (129 wRC+ in his career against southpaws), and he’s a guy who should be rostered heavily.
Value Pick: Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox, $7,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 67 PA, 108 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 353 PA, .310/.357/.520, 135 wRC+.
Viciedo has never quite cashed in on the hype that his above-average raw power generated, but he’s still a really good hitter against lefties. As I mentioned in Abreu’s write-up, Chen struggles to keep the ball on the ground against right-handed batters. That should allow Viciedo to tap into his ample power. The lefty also has been only okay in his career against right-handed batters allowing a .328 wOBA.
Wild Card: Corey Dickerson, $10,900
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 134 PA, 194 wRC+. Since 2013 vs RHP: 307 PA, .319/.366/.588, 146 wRC+.
Dickerson joins Blackmon as a must play today, and I actually prefer him. On Sunday he made it two games in a row slotting fifth in the Rockies order, and that’s a great spot for run production. Dickerson’s work against right-handed pitchers has been better than Blackmon’s this year, and he gets to pick on Lynn’s struggles with right-handed hitters.
* 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.