Today’s Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks include one right-handed ace over his southpaw contemporary.
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The Brewers, Indians, and Pirates feature multiple hitters from their squads highlighted below as part of the Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks. Join me in using these selections tonight in games like the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff, the $15 Knuckleball or really pony up for the $109 Field of Dreams.
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing
My Pick: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, $20,950
At a Glance: 29.8% K, 8.7% BB, 34.2% GB, 2.74 FIP.
Astros vs RHP: 87 wRC+, 24.1% K.
No team has a higher K% against RHP than the Astros with a mark of 24.1%. They should be putty in the hands of Darvish since he leads the league in K% among qualified starting pitchers. This matchup has all the makings of a 50-plus point effort from Darvish.
Value Pick: Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers, $15,250
At a Glance: 17.8% K, 4.7% BB, 42.5% GB, 3.56 FIP.
Phillies vs RHP: 79 wRC+, 20.8% K.
The Phillies punished me for suggesting a RHP against them last night, but they remain one of the worst offenses in the league against them (28th in wRC+), so I’m going back to the well. Lohse doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but his GB% is good enough to prevent too much damage, his K% is passable, and his BB% is very strong. His strike throwing skills have helped him pile up innings, and he’s gone at least five in all 18 starts this year. When he makes it 19 in a row tonight, he should be in position to pick up a win backed by an offense that makes him the heaviest betting favorite tonight.
My Pick: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, $9,800
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 262 PA, 150 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,340 PA, 111 wRC+, .146 ISO, .336 wOBA.
Lucroy is at his best against LHP, but he’s not a guy to snooze on with a RHP on the hill either. He’s facing a terrible RHP tonight in Roberto Hernandez, and doing so at Miller Park where the RHB park factors are 97 for 2B/3B, 124 for HR, and 106 for R. Back to Hernandez, this year he’s faced 240 RHB and allowed a .352 wOBA. Since 2011 he’s faced 951 and allowed a .324 wOBA. Lucroy will be in the middle of the offensive onslaught hitting third in a Brewers lineup that ranks tied for ninth in wRC+ against RHP (102 wRC+) this year.
Value Pick: John Jaso, Oakland Athletics, $7,250
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 217 PA, 135 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 980 PA, 132 wRC+, .164 ISO, .359 wOBA.
Jaso doesn’t pack massive thump, but he more than makes up for it with a high contact approach (15.2% K rate since 2011). He’s willing to work walks (12.9% BB rate since 2011), and he has a hearty 23.0% LD rate since 2011. His high LD, high OBP approach fits well in the two-hole of the A’s lineup, and a showdown with Matt Cain isn’t the nightmare it used to be for hitters. Cain has long beat his FIP, but this year his FIP stands at 4.53 and even beating it (4.27 ERA), hasn’t been enough to make him an above average pitcher.
My Pick: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles, $8,500
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 210 PA, 97 wRC+.
Since joining the Orioles in 2011 vs RHP: 1,193 PA, 142 wRC+, .276 ISO, .384 wOBA.
Davis is having a dreadful follow up to his monstrous 2013 campaign, but the underlying numbers suggest things should turn around. Since joining the Orioles in 2011 he has 25.4% LD rate, 41.3% FB rate, and 27.1% HR/FB rates while tallying an 11.0% BB rate and 30.0% K rate. This year has rates against RHP of 28.7% for LD, 41.7% for FB, 22.2% for HR/FB, 16.7% for BB, and 30.0% for K. The biggest difference between now and then is a .232 BABIP this year and .337 BABIP in 2013. He’s eventually going to snap out of his funk, and with Doug Fister not doing as good of a job of keeping the ball on the ground against LHB this year, tonight is as good of night as any for him to start.
Value Pick: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals, $8,400
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 223 PA, 170 wRC+.
Since 2012 vs RHP: 560 PA, 151 wRC+, .212 ISO, .386 wOBA.
The Cardinals number three hitter rakes with RHP on the hill, and he gets one who is being summoned from Triple-A for a start. Brandon Cumpton has faced 99 LHB in the majors this year, and has allowed a .337 wOBA against them. Since 2011 in the minors he’s faced 873, allowing a triple slash line of .267/.340/.413 with a .146 ISO. The Cardinals are no great shakes against RHP, but leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter and number two hitter Matt Holliday get on base at high rates. They should provide ducks in the pond for Adams.
My Pick: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, $8,200
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 155 PA, 110 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,148 PA, 122 wRC+, .165 ISO, .346 wOBA.
One night after struggling against Shane Greene, the Indians hung 10 hits and five earned runs on Masahiro Tanaka. Baseball is a weird game. The Indians offense ranks tied for fourth in wRC+ with a mark of 110 this year, and Kipnis has recently ascended to the top spot in the order. Kipnis’ already strong numbers against RHP get a boost tonight facing Brandon McCarthy, as the new Yankees starter struggles with LHB. McCarthy has faced 238 LHB this year and allowed a .365 wOBA. Since 2011 he’s faced 1,146 allowing a .321 wOBA.
Value Pick: Neil Walker Pittsburgh Pirates, $7,950
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 257 PA, 125 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,594 PA, 122 wRC+, .176 ISO, .347 wOBA.
Walker remains under $8,000, and as a result, he remains one of my favorite Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks. He’s an above average hitter against RHP who hits in a favorable spot in his club’s lineup. The 28-year old will be taking his hacks against Lance Lynn, and that’s good news because Lynn isn’t good against LHB. This year Lynn has faced 209 LHB and allowed a .321 wOBA, but a low HR rate has really saved him from being even worse.
My Pick: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners, $9,000
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 230 PA, 154 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,246 PA, 126 wRC+, .186 ISO, .353 wOBA.
Seager has improved each year in the bigs against RHP, and he’s crushing them this year. Since 2011 he has the sixth highest wRC+ among third basemen with over 1,000 PA. The starter he’s facing, Kyle Gibson, has allowed a .321 wOBA to LHB this year with a horrific 8.8% K rate. He’ll be flirting with disaster allowing that much contact to a LHB heavy Mariners lineup in which Seager usually hits fourth or fifth in.
Value Pick: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, $8,200
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 192 PA, 104 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,429 PA, 128 wRC+, .190 ISO, .364 wOBA.
Ranked one spot ahead of Seager in wRC+ since 2011 versus RHP is Ramirez. It’s easy to overlook his hitting exploits against RHP with his dominance against LHP, but don’t. This guy can rake regardless of the handedness of the opposing pitcher. As I mentioned above, Hernandez is bad against RHB, and Ramirez slots nicely hitting fifth behind Lucroy and Carlos Gomez. Of all my Fantasy Baseball Expert Picks for tonight, Ramirez is my favorite given his cost and talent level. No one offers more bang for your buck.
My Pick: Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $8,100
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 247 PA, 141 wRC+.
Since 2013 vs RHP: 436 PA, 150 wRC+, .188 ISO, .392 wOBA.
Gennett has been sterling on the strong side of a second base platoon, and his sizzling stick has moved into the leadoff spot. He has surprising power for his diminutive frame, and while he doesn’t induce many BB (5.7% BB rate in his career vs RHP) he doesn’t K much either (14.4% K rate in his career vs RHP). He’s in prime position to jump on Hernandez in what should be a scoring outburst from the Brewers.
Value Pick: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians, $7,300
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 241 PA, 104 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,485 PA, 110 wRC+, .171 ISO, .329 wOBA.
Hitting directly behind Kipnis in an awesome Indians offense against RHP is Cabrera. The switch-hitting shortstop has R and RBI potential from his lineup slot, and he gets the same boost as his double play partner from facing McCarthy. Not noted above is that Progressive Field has park factors of 97 for 2B/3B, 111 for HR, and 101 for R. Shortstop lacks offense, and Cabrera offers significant upside yet he’s only the 13th most expensive option in DraftDay games.
My Pick: Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians, $9,450
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 243 PA, 168 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 1,407 PA, 123 wRC+, .149 ISO, .348 wOBA.
Make it a trio of Indians, with the best (and most expensive) saved for last. Brantley hits third behind the middle infielders highlighted above, and he’s enjoying the best year of his career thanks in large part to a power surge. He’s already set a new season high in HR, but perhaps the most impressive thing is that his power spike has come with a new career low in K rate (8.3%), and continued patience (8.0% BB rate). He’s also a good base stealer with 10 SB in 10 attempts this year, and 52 in 70 chances since 2011.
Middle of the Pack: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates, $8,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 90 PA, 152 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP (Minors): 1,067 PA, .297/.367/.481, .184 ISO.
Polanco is a very talented hitter, and is taking no time getting adjusted to hitting RHP in the bigs. He’s actually walked more times than he’s fanned (13 BB to 12 K) against RHP, and his multi-hit game on Tuesday was his eighth in 27 games played in the Show. Hitting leadoff for the Bucs will award him maximum exposure to Lynn and his struggles with LHB.
Value Pick: Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,350
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 42 PA, 32 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP (Minors): 918 PA, .348/.402/.578, .230 ISO.
Taveras’ big league sample is minuscule, and the fact he hasn’t kicked down the door isn’t enough to dissuade me from his minor league numbers and glowing scouting reports. Cumpton is one of the weaker starters tonight, and he’s not a far cry from the pitchers Taveras assaulted in the upper minors.
Wild Card: Logan Morrison, Seattle Mariners, $6,550
At a Glance: 2014 vs RHP: 94 PA, 79 wRC+.
Since 2011 vs RHP: 968 PA, 109 wRC+, .192 ISO, .334 wOBA.
Morrison doesn’t have a great lineup slot and his ceiling isn’t through the roof, but his price is right if Gibson’s inability to K LHB bites him in the behind. Morrison has been an above average hitter against RHP over his career, and while he’s not been thus far this season, I’m encouraged by his slight uptick in FB%. Hitting the ball in the air is ideal for power production, and Morrison has plenty of raw power to drive the ball to the gaps or clear the fences. He’s been nicked up over the last few years, but in his healthiest season in the majors (2011) he demonstrated his above average power by ranking 37th in HR and FB average distance.
*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
HR: Home run(s)
SB: Stolen base(s)