Even modest Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis indicates you shouldn’t skimp on pitching tonight.
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With a terrible lefty on the hill facing the Brewers, they are an obvious source for great plays. There are some excellent picks from other squads to mix in to rosters, too. I’ll be mixing and matching some of my favorite plays in the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff and the “Five Guys” game with the FSL crew. I’d advise you to join me.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Pitchers
My Pick: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, $18,200
At a Glance: 2014: 25.1% K, 8.7% BB, 47.9% GB. Marlins vs LHP: 96 wRC+, 19.8% K.
The Marlins don’t strike out a ton against left-handed pitchers, but they are a below average offense and Hamels is one of the best pitchers in the game. He ranks 11th in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) among qualified starters this year. The one landmine in the Marlins lineup he’ll navigate is Giancarlo Stanton, but Hamels has the goods necessary to do so.
Value Pick: Doug Fister, Washington Nationals, $17,200
At a Glance: 2014: 15.4% K, 2.6% BB, 48.4% GB. Cubs vs RHP: 75 wRC+, 22.5% K.
Fister isn’t generating many swinging strikes with a 5.0 percent swinging strike rate (league average this year according to FanGraphs is 9. 2 percent). The rest of his profile is glowing, though, with a stingy walk rate and a stellar groundball rate. His ability to efficiently attack hitters has allowed him to pitch seven or more innings in five of nine starts this year, and he’s facing a Cubs team that ranks dead last in wRC+ versus right-handed pitching this season.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Catchers
My Pick: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, $10,750
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 80 PA, 158 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 396 PA, .329/.380/.566, 157 wRC+.
Lucroy kills left-handed pitching. He’s at home where Miller Park’s right-handed batter park factor for homers is 125, and lefty Christian Friedrich is awful. Friedrich totaled a 7.89 ERA in 13 Triple-A starts, and his 5.33 FIP didn’t paint a favorable picture of his performance. In his lone start for the Rockies which came against these Brewers less than a week ago, he pitched six innings allowing seven hits, three walks, and nine runs (four earned) while hitting a batter. The Rockies starter last appeared in the majors in 2012 before his start this year, and the 322 right-handed batters he has faced in the bigs have posted a .376 wOBA against him. Since 2011 in the minors, Friedrich has faced 818 right-handed batters and allowed them to hit .297/.353/.464.
Value Pick: Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers, $6,900
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 160 PA, 117 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,185 PA, .271/.375/.458, 128 wRC+.
Avila has walked or struck out in 50 percent of his plate appearances against right-handed pitchers this season, which is remarkable. His odd approach has still resulted in him being 17 percent better than the league average hitter when he is facing a righty though. He usually hits seventh or eighth for the Tigers, which limits his run production potential, but he’ll be facing Nick Martinez. The Rangers pitcher has struggled in the majors, facing 153 left-handed batters who have a .414 wOBA against him.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – First Basemen
My Pick: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers, $11,050
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 233 PA, 147 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,084 PA, .321/.377/.480, 132 wRC+.
Unlike Avila, Martinez is slotted in a prime spot for run production as the team’s cleanup hitter. V-Mart is a switch-hitter who is better against lefties than right-handed pitchers, but he’s a well above average hitter against both and in the midst of a career year. In addition to his favorable matchup with a rookie righty getting annihilated by lefties, Globe Life Park has left-handed batter park factors of 109 for homers and 112 for runs.
Value Pick: Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays, $9,000
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 145 PA, 187 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,216 PA, .291/.356/.504, 132 wRC+.
Lind draws a favorable pitching matchup at home, where the left-handed batter ballpark factors are 129 for doubles/triples, 122 for homers, and 104 for runs. White Sox starter Scott Carroll, a 29-year old rookie has made just five starts and six relief appearances for the White Sox. He doesn’t miss bats, striking out only 9.7 percent of the hitters he’s faced in the majors this year. He’s also prone to getting rocked by lefties with the 124 of them he’s faced in the majors posting a .382 wOBA against, and the 630 he’s faced in the minors since 2011 slashing .301/.361/.429.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Second Basemen
My Pick: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, $9,850
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 74 PA, 170 wRC+. Since 2013 vs LHP: 191 PA, .314/.372/.515, 144 wRC+.
Rendon is flourishing in his second season in the majors, and he does his best work against lefties. Cubs southpaw Travis Wood had a career year in 2013 in large part because he limited the damage done by right-handed batters. Wood has been brutal against right-handed batters this year, though, allowing a .355 wOBA. He’s allowed a .326 wOBA since 2011.
Value Pick: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers, $5,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 79 PA, 105 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 476 PA, .244/.359/.392, 110 wRC+.
Weeks has been hitting leadoff against lefties. Toss in the Miller Park park factors, the lefty mashers hitting behind him, and Friedrich’s already covered ineptitude against right-handed batters, and my Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis indicates he’s a hidden gem at his cost.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Third Basemen
My Pick: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, $10,450
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 48 PA, 195 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 418 PA, .318/.361/.587, 155 wRC+.
Ramirez is aging like a fine wine, and his bat hasn’t slowed down even in his age 36 season. The only thing that’s slowed him down is injuries, and he’s healthy at this moment. His price is steep enough that I considered highlighting Ryan Zimmerman instead, but I expect Ramirez to lead third basemen in points tonight.
Value Pick: Juan Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays, $7,400
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 157 PA, 155 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 756 PA, .248/.311/.487, 116 wRC+.
Francisco has the thump to drive the ball a long way, as his 11 homers against right-handed pitchers this year suggests. The knock is that he struggles with contact though. Making contact should be little problem against Carroll, as the White Sox hurler’s inability to garner empty swings makes Francisco an easy choice as a value pick at third base.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Shortstops
My Pick: Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays, $8,650
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 205 PA, 98 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,474 PA, .306/.357/.456, 121 wRC+.
Here’s another left-handed batter (Reyes is actually a switch-hitter, but he’ll bat left-handed against Carroll) from the Blue Jays that needs to be used tonight. Shortstop looks awful today, and that makes Reyes’ already palatable cost all the easier to swallow. Hitting leadoff for the Jays puts him in a great spot to score runs and get as many hacks at Carroll as possible. If Reyes ends up on first base, his speedy wheels that have allowed him to steal 15 bases in 16 chances this year might get the green light to run on the Carroll and Tyler Flowers battery. Flowers has allowed 35 stolen bases in 51 attempts over 64 games this year, and he’s allowed 144 steals in 199 attempts in his career.
Value Pick: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants, $6,850
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 196 PA, 91 wRC+. Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,123 PA, .246/.313/.367, 91 wRC+.
Crawford had earned a reputation entering this year as a wizard with the glove, but little to offer with the bat. Oddly enough, his offensive breakout has been mostly the result of crushing lefties, against whom he’s previously flailed helplessly against. One area that he has improved in this year against right-handed pitchers that isn’t reflected in his wRC+ is that he’s hitting more flyballs. Flyballs have a higher slugging percentage than groundballs, and the Giants shortstop is posting by far the best ISO of his career while also walking at a career high rate against right-handed pitchers as well. The pitcher he’s facing today, Mike Leake, has been a godsend for left-handed batters, allowing the 1,600 of them that he’s faced in his career to tally a .337 wOBA. Crawford is the only sub-$7,000 shortstop I’d consider using in DraftDay lineups.
Expert Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Outfielders
My Pick: Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers, $10,600
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 71 PA, 146 wRC+. Since 2012 vs LHP: 375 PA, .284/.340/.538, 137 wRC+.
Putting too much stock in anecdotes from sports media is almost always a foolish decision, but talk of Gomez asking the Brewers to allow him to try his approach as opposed to being asked to pound the ball into the ground and use his speed to reach base appears legit when digging into the numbers. With that in mind, his numbers against left-handed pitchers highlighted above only goes back to the 2012 season, a year where his groundball rate against left-handed pitchers dropped sharply from previous years. In addition to all the sweet boosts I’ve discussed the right-handed Brewers getting in tonight’s game against Friedrich and the Rockies at home, Gomez is also a great base stealer who has stolen 11 times in 13 chances this year, and 122 times in 142 attempts since joining the Brewers in 2010.
Middle of the Pack: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals, $8,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 68 PA, 138 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 416 PA, .306/.404/.493, 148 wRC+.
Among hitters with over 400 plate appearances against lefties since 2011, Werth ranks tied for 11th in wRC+. He’s doing his usual lefty torturing thing again this year, and he’ll hit third today, likely sandwiched between the aforementioned duo of Rendon and Zimmerman. That trio of hitters will make life very difficult for Wood and a great stack option.
Value Pick: Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox, $7,800
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 70 PA, 117 wRC+. Since 2011 vs LHP: 356 PA, .311/.360/.523, 137 wRC+.
Viciedo’s favorable splits against lefties meshes favorably with J.A. Happ’s struggles against right-handed batters. The Blue Jays starter has faced 1,529 right-handed batters since the start of the 2011 season and he has a .347 wOBA against them. That’s the sixth highest wOBA allowed in that time frame by a pitcher with more than 250 innings pitched. Since 2011 he’s also allowed a 44.6 percent flyball rate to right-handed batters according to FanGraphs, and that plays right into the hands of Viciedo’s big raw power.
Wild Card: Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers, $8,700
At a Glance: 2014 vs LHP: 75 PA, 191 wRC+. Since 2013 vs LHP: 125 PA, .302/.352/.681, 184 wRC+.
Davis is lethal against left-handed pitchers. He’s belted 12 homers and added eight doubles in 125 plate appearances against lefties since reaching the Show last year. That’s one homer per 10.41 plate appearances and one extra base hit per 6.25 plate appearances. Davis has only hit 35.0 percent of his batted balls against lefties in the air, but his 42.9 percent HR/FB rate indicates when he does lift the ball it gets out with regularity. His current rates aren’t sustainable, but that really should go without saying. His ability to pummel lefties is clear and real though. Happ’s struggles getting lefties to hit the ball on the ground is perfect for Davis continuing his homer hitting ways against southpaws.
* 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.