Today’s Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks are all about Coors Field.
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Get your Rockies and Twins in plenty of games such as the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, the $15 Knuckleball or wager a bigger chunk of change in the $109 Field of Dreams game. I’d also encourage you to join me in the “Five Guys” FSL League game, I love playing against you all.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing
My Pick: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians, $17,150
2014: 26.6% K, 5.8% BB, 48.4% GB, 2.65 FIP.
White Sox vs RHP: 99 wRC+, 22.7% K.
Kluber is one of the best pitchers in baseball, ranking fourth in FIP and ninth in K% among qualified starters. He’s bumped his GB rate up this year, and is stingy with his BB. The White Sox have roughly a league average offense against RHP, but they have a lot of swing-and-miss totaling the third highest K% against RHP this year. Factor in the fact that the Indians are the largest betting favorites, and Kluber is the easiest of the Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks I made for tonight.
Value Pick: Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh Pirates, $13,400
2014: 15.7% K, 3.1% BB, 52.0% GB, 3.11 FIP.
Reds vs LHP: 85 wRC+, 22.2% K.
Last year the writing was on the wall for Locke to suffer a second half collapse since he was besting his peripheral stats, but this year his ERA is nearly identical to his FIP. He doesn’t miss many bats, but the rest of his profile is sterling. The reason I love Locke, who is a surprising underdog, is that he’s facing a Reds team ranked 26th in wRC+ versus LHP when healthy. They’re now the walking wounded without Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and possibly Billy Hamilton depending on how his tweaked hamstring feels.
My Pick: Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies, $8,050
2014 vs LHP: 63 PA, 165 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 335 PA, 163 wRC+, .331 ISO, .432 wOBA.
Rosario against a LHP is always a strong play, and against one at Coors Field is the second of my no-brainers in today’s Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks. In 187 PA at home against LHP in his career he has a 196 wRC+ and a .423 ISO. The LHP he’s facing is 29-year old Kris Johnson, owner of 14.2 IP in the majors and a triple slash allowed to RHB of .264/.340/.416 in the minors since 2011. I’m lining up Rockies with my Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks tonight, and Rosario headlines them.
Value Pick: Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota Twins, $6,600
2014 vs LHP: 81 PA, 125 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 400 PA, 84 wRC+, .098 ISO, .294 wOBA.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a case of me overreacting to his small sample of success this year. If I’m not using Rosario I better save a chunk of change though. Suzuki provides that, in a ballpark with RHB park factors of 112 2B/3B, 115 HR, and 125 R. He’ll also get a substantial boost facing Jorge de la Rosa since the LHP has allowed a .361 wOBA to 316 RHB this year and a .345 wOBA to 1,141 RHB faced since 2011.
My Pick: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals, $8,800
2014 vs RHP: 231 PA, 172 wRC+.
Since 2012 vs RHP: 568 PA, 152 wRC+, .211 ISO, .388 wOBA.
It’s been a love fest of late for Adams in my Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks, but why shouldn’t it be? The guy hammers RHP and he’s hitting third or fourth in the Cardinals lineup on a nightly basis all while being priced under $9,000. The outlook for him is even brighter tonight at Miller Park where the LHB park factor for HR is 117.
Value Pick: Chris Colabello, Minnesota Twins, $8,000
2014 vs LHP: 52 PA, 101 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP (Minors): 288 PA, .297/.361/.551, .254 ISO.
The clock struck midnight on Colabello’s Cinderella story start to the season in May, but an injury to Joe Mauer has opened the door to him getting another shot in the majors. Since being recalled on July 4 he has swatted a pair of HR and reached base in all but one contest. I’m not chasing a hot streak, though, as he’s a guy that has pummeled minor league pitching and has above average power. More importantly, he gets to hit in the thin air of Coors Field as a RHB versus de la Rosa.
My Pick: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, $9,300
2014 vs LHP: 103 PA, 140 wRC+.
Since 2012 vs LHP: 331 PA, 146 wRC+, .247 ISO, .385 wOBA.
Coors Field will be home to a huge score tonight, and the Twins leadoff hitter, Dozier, will have a hand in it. Among second basemen that have 300 PA against LHP since Dozier reached the majors in 2012, not a single one ranks higher than him in wRC+. Toss-in the Coors Field park factors and de la Rosa’s futility versus RHB and Dozier will be easy to justify spending on.
Value Pick: Sean Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Rays, $7,550
2014 vs LHP: 86 PA, 125 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 556 PA, 120 wRC+, .166 ISO, .341 wOBA.
I was tempted to use Neil Walker as my value pick (his price is still low), but the reality is that if I’m veering from using Dozier I’ll need a steeper discount at the keystone position. Rodriguez offers that. He won’t hit in a great lineup slot for run production upside, but he’s a well above average hitter versus LHP, has solid power for a middle infielder, and while Mark Buehrle is respectable against RHB, his .322 wOBA allowed to them since 2011 doesn’t scream “avoid.”
My Pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, $9,550
2014 vs LHP: 112 PA, 164 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 540 PA, 162 wRC+, .272 ISO, .403 wOBA.
Longoria owns the 10th highest wRC+ against LHP among qualified hitters since the start of the 2011 season. That kind of hitting prowess gets my attention, and with him serving as the cleanup hitter in a Rays offense that has the seventh highest wRC+ against LHP this year (109), there is further reason to like using him at the hot corner.
Value Pick: Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins, $7,900
2014 vs LHP: 82 PA, 89 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 432 PA, 124 wRC+, .207 ISO, .353 wOBA.
Plouffe hit down order on Thursday, but he’s recently slotted third for the Twins so stay tuned for today’s lineup card. Regardless of where he slots, playing at Coors Field against de la Rosa already gives him a hearty bump in value tonight. It’s not all about those variables, though, as he’s been very good against LHP since 2011.
My Pick: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, $14,250
2014 vs LHP: 93 PA, 240 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 455 PA, 158 wRC+, .265 ISO, .424 wOBA.
Tulowitzki’s gigantic price tag necessitates some roster juggling to budget for, but he’s well worth it with a bad LHP tossing to him at Coors Field. His wRC+ against LHP this year isn’t a typo, and his production since 2011 is staggering. When he’s healthy, which he is, he’s one of the best hitters in baseball against LHP. It will be difficult to afford him on every one of your rosters, but find room for him on a few.
Value Pick: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians, $7,250
2014 vs RHP: 252 PA, 102 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,496 PA, 110 wRC+, .171 ISO, .329 wOBA.
Joining Adams in my Fantasy Baseball Experts Picks love fest is Cabrera. That’s what happens when you’re an above average hitter who slots second in the fifth best offense against RHP as measured by wRC+ (109). Also helping Cabrera’s cause is facing Hector Noesi. The RHP has a 4.44 FIP this year, and a 4.79 FIP in his career. Since reaching the majors in 2011, Noesi has faced 625 LHB and allowed a .346 wOBA.
My Pick: Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians, $10,200
2014 vs RHP: 252 PA, 173 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,416 PA, 124 wRC+, .152 ISO, .350 wOBA.
Another bite from the Noesi apple sounds mighty tasty. Brantley’s power increase this year has made him a monster against RHP, and while I don’t fully buy into it, there is definitely some legitimacy. What I do buy into is that hitting third in the Indians lineup will provide him tons of run production upside against Noesi and the White Sox tonight. I’m in love with Brantley’s high contact approach that has yielded just an 8.7% K rate since 2011. His speed is a nice attribute as well, and he’s been perfect on the bases this year stealing 10 in 10 chances.
Middle of the Pack: Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins, $8,250
2014 vs LHP: 50 PA, 127 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 538 PA, 122 wRC+, .254 ISO, .350 wOBA.
Willingham is another means of exposure to de la Rosa in Colorado. His power is of the top shelf variety, and he really knows how to maximize it with a 49.5% FB rate since 2011. Hitting FB at Coors Field often has a favorable outcome, and I’m banking on that with him as one of my Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks in the outfield.
Value Pick: Brandon Guyer, Tampa Bay Rays, $6,500
2014 vs LHP: 61 PA, 116 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP (Minors): 252 PA, .323/.402/.486, .163 ISO.
Guyer isn’t a masher against LHP, but part of the beauty of Joe Maddon’s willingness to shuffle his lineup to exploit platoon splits is that you end up with a $6,500 number three hitter. Guyer has done well this year in his increased role with the club, and he did a solid job of causing headaches for LHP in the minors so I’m buying into the production. I don’t expect a huge game from Guyer, but there is value to be had saving on him in the outfield to spend heavily elsewhere.
Wild Card: Drew Stubbs, Colorado Rockies, $7,900
2014 vs LHP: 86 PA, 159 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs LHP: 537 PA, 127 wRC+, .155 ISO, .361 wOBA.
Stubbs has been everything the Rockies could ask for from their offseason acquisition and more after being pressed into extra duty due to injuries ravaging their outfield. The center fielder is best used against LHP, though, and he gets a bad one tonight. Carlos Gonzalez is slated to return tonight, but that shouldn’t result in Stubbs riding the pine in this contest since both Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson are better against RHP. Gonzalez’s return does make it a bit murkier in projecting where Stubbs will hit in the lineup, but I’d guess Walt Weiss will slot his power/speed combination near the top, perhaps even leading off. Speaking of speed, Stubbs is an outstanding base stealer with 11 in 13 chances this year, and 98 in 119 attempts since 2011.
* 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. xFIP is a variation of FIP that goes further by neutralizing HR/FB to the league average.
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.
LHB: Left-handed batter(s)
RHP: Right-handed batter(s)
LHP: Left-handed pitcher(s)
RHP: Right-handed pitcher(s)
IP: Inning(s) pitched
LoB: Left on-base
PA: Plate appearance(s)
LD: Line drive
IFFB: Infield Flyball
HR: Home run(s)
SB: Stolen base(s)