Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster 5/7/15
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John Lackey - FD 7600 DK 7700 DFSTR 7000
Not a lot to get excited about on the early slate mounds, so might be a good day to go cheap. If you do, Lackey is a good contrarian choice going against Arietta. The win probability is diminished somewhat, but for all their upgrades, the Cubs are still striking out more than any team in the league right now. Lackey’s kinda been all over the place through one month but his overall numbers remain respectable and he’ll have a good chance to improve on them at home today.
Corey Kluber - FD 9500 DK 9800 DFSTR 9200
Ugh. The system doesn’t love him, the Royals don’t strike out, and he’s in the middle of an ugly three-start stretch. That’s the bad stuff. The good is that his xFIP is still under 3.00, he’s still striking out a guy per inning, and he’s getting loads of ground balls. That makes him a strong candidate for positive regression real soon. Don’t love the matchup, but I’m not the least bit scared of the 0-4 record.
Chris Archer - FD 8900 DK 9400 DFSTR 8000
Among the two clear choices in the late games, Archer gets the edge based on matchup and ballpark. The Rangers have been pretty awful offensively (.290 team wOBA) with a league average strikeout rate. Meanwhile, Archer has been ace-like. He got a little loose with his command in Camden Yard last time out, but he’s striking out more than a batter per inning and he’ll be backed up by the power-killing confines of Tropicana Field.
Collin McHugh - FD 8400 DK 8100 DFSTR 7600
The only drawback to going with Archer is that you’re likely to be among multitudes. For differentiation with similar upside, consider McHugh. And don’t let the star power at the top of the Angels’ lineup distract you from the fact that the offense simply hasn’t produced much of anything this year. They’re 27th in MLB in team wOBA and 20th in runs scored. Also noteworthy: Angel Stadium is nearly identical to Tropicana Field in terms of overall park factors and actually more pitcher-friendly when it comes to limiting home runs.
Victor Martinez - FD 3100 DK 4400 DFSTR 6900
This pick has nothing to do with the fact that VMart has a dinger and three RBIs in the game I’m watching as I write this. But the fact that he’s on his way to a very nice DFS night is illustrative of why our projection system just can’t quit him. It’s been a rough go for Martinez so far this year coming back from an offseason knee injury. He’s hovering around the Mendoza line and last night’s homer was his first of the season. He’s also 36, so there is a non-zero chance that his skills will drop like Wile E. Coyote with an anvil strapped to his back. More likely: He’s rounding into something resembling the guy we’ve known for the last 10 years or so. He’s not striking out, and his BABIP is due for some positive regression. It’s baseball. Take the longview and seize the value when you can get it.
Buster Posey - FD 3500 DK 4200 DFSTR 6700
Pretty ugly slate for catchers, made worse by the fact that the cheap guys are all awful and/or in bad matchups. At least Posey’s trustworthy, even on the bad side of the split. He’s got the low-K and high walk rates we like to see from our cash-game guys, and while he’s not the maniac vs. righties that he is against lefties, an .815 career OPS is just fine.
Derek Norris - FD 3000 DK 3900 DFSTR 5800
Norris will save you a few bucks in comparison to Posey, but you’re giving up some safety with that cash. Norris doesn’t walk and is due for some negative BABIP regression any time now. The career splits against righties are also pretty ugly, but at 26 years old, it’s totally possible we haven’t established his true baseline splits yet. Also, with Norris you get the tantalizing combo of Rubby de la Rosa and Chase Field. de la Rosa probably isn’t as bad as his 5.40 ERA suggests, but the dude gives up the long ball, and in Arizona, that’s problem.
Jose Abreu - FD 3600 DK 5200 DFSTR 7300
In a little more than a season in MLB, Abreu is tuning up lefty pitching to a .624 slugging percentage. That blur that just whizzed through your field of vision was Kyle Lobstein running for cover. At mid-tier prices, this one’s nearing must-play territory for me. U.S. Cellular Field boosts righty power numbers better than nearly any park in the league, and while Lobstein’s minor league track record shows a guy who isn’t likely to give up a ton of bombs, he’s a low-K guy who doesn’t have great command. Not a combo that typically suggests long-haul success.
James Loney - FD 2600 DK 3700 DFSTR 5100
You know the system has no belief in a pitcher when it’s spitting James Loney at us. Such is our algorithm’s continued loathing of Nick Martinez. Loney's BABIP is about .50 points off his career average, so some positive correction is likely imminent. Mostly, though, this is about price and Martinez, who has a sub-1.00 ERA, but a strikeout rate that's just a rumor and an xFIP cruising along in territory usually occupied by quad-A guys. A bet on Loney is a bet against Martinez. I’m ok with that.
Consider Chris Carter
Brian Dozier - FD 3300 DK 4900 DFSTR 7000
Our system really wants you to stack up against Drew Pomeranz if your early slate contests. More on that later. Dozier is sliding off the 20/20 pace we got from him last year, but a dormant skill is still a skill. His price is starting to creep back up to reflect a strong run over the last couple of weeks or so, but when he’s matched up against a lefty (.500-plus career slugging), you’re still getting a bargain.
Consider Scooter Gennett
Neil Walker - FD 2700 DK 4300 DFSTR
Walker’s been pretty unexciting thus far. What stands out is the precipitous drop in power, going from a .467 slugging percentage last year to .387 this year. And what’s weird about that is that his batted ball profile is largely in line with his career numbers, only he’s popping up much less. Which is, ya know, good. The problem is he’s just not getting the ball out of the park right now. Soon enough he will. In the meantime, if you want to overpay on Altuve, go for it. Otherwise, this looks like your best bet for production from the keystone.
Consider Logan Forsythe
Jimmy Rollins - FD 2700 DK 3700 DFSTR 5500
Least of the available evils. Not that Rollins is a bad pick. Of course he’s nowhere near the stud he was in his late 20s, but his underlying numbers suggest he’s still much better than the surface stats would lead you to believe. Plus he’s holding down a premium spot in one of the league’s best lineups and playing in a hitter’s haven. Still, though. The fact that our projection system has him as the highest scorer is partly an indictment of the state of the position on the early slate.
Consider Eduardo Escobar
Asdrubal Cabrera - FD 2400 DK 3600 DFSTR 4800
This one’s only about the price now that Cabrera has dropped in the order recently, which is probably where he belongs, but also dings his value for our purposes. But man. There’s just nothing fun happening at shortstop tonight, so why not double down on that Loney bet? As luck would have it, Cabrera will also be batting against the aforementioned Nick Martinez tonight, so, home runs for everybody.
Trevor Plouffe - FD 2800 DK 4400 DFSTR 5800
Plouffe vs. a lefty. You know the drill. He’s nobody’s idea of Mike Schmidt, and while his splits against southpaws are solid (.816 OPS, .354 wOBA), they’re not the kind of numbers that light your hair on fire. But at these prices they don’t have to be. He’s a steady producer in this split, sitting smack in the middle of the order, in a matchup that our system sees tilting strongly toward the Twins. You’re not likely to do much better than that in the early games.
Evan Longoria - FD 3100 DK 4300 DFSTR 5900
We’re not done with Nick Martinez yet. Longoria is always a popular pick against lefties, but we’re going with him tonight regardless of the split (and the unappetizing park factors). Longoria’s power numbers have dipped over the last two seasons, but he’s compensating this year with a drastic improvement in walk rate, which raises his floor significantly on a game-to-game basis. Also, he’s still got a little pop left as demonstrated by the two home runs he hit since I started writing this column.
Alex Rodriguez - FD 3200 DK 3900 DFSTR 6100
If you get tired of picking on Nick Martinez tonight, take some shot at Chris Tillman. Everybody else is. The Baltimore righty has never been great about keeping the ball in the yard, but he’s getting abused this year. Meanwhile, A-Rod’s hitting better than he has in five years. His high batting average days are done, but he’s getting on base plenty and slugging nearly .500, making him a nice option when he gets the right matchup. This would be one of those times.
Ryan Braun - FD 3400 DK 4900 DFSTR 6600
After a slow start Braun has been trending slowly upward after taking some time off last weekend to work on mechanics. He’s likely to keep it up, as the BABIP is about .100 points off his career average. I understand he’s lost some speed since the days when he was putting up .350-type BABIP numbers, and a spate of injuries have taken some shine off the former top-shelfer. All true. But this isn’t a .660 OPS guy, either. And today he’ll get a favorable matchup in Carlos Frias who hasn’t shown much K stuff in his brief MLB tenure.
Torii Hunter - FD 2900 DK 4300 DFSTR 5700
Torii’s been on a bit of a heater lately, with hits in seven straight games and and least one run and RBI in four of his last five. Here we could talk justifiably about small samples and arbitrary endpoints, but when you toss in Hunter’s track record as a lefty-killer, I’m buying in. A lot of people like Drew Pomeranz, and his peripherals aren’t terrible. But I don’t know. He’s susceptible to the long ball and has trouble working deep into games anyway. I’m not letting him push me off a good value play.
Melky Cabrera - FD 2500 DK 4200 DFSTR 6500
I’ve probably played Melky in more cash games than all other outfielders combined. I don’t understand why more people don’t. He’s about as steady as it gets, with a miniscule strikeout rate and a respectable walk rate raising his floor to the level of guys that could cost you twice as much. Of course, he’s not a power and/or speed guy, so he doesn’t have the elite upside of those expensive guys and that depresses his price. But it still doesn’t explain why he’s priced like a part-time utility guy. Whatever. Just take the bargain and hope it lasts.
Matt Kemp - FD 3500 DK 4900 DFSTR 6700
Wil Myers - FD 3400 DK 4400 DFSTR 6200
On the very real possibility that Rubby de la Rosa gets blown up, it’s probably advisable to find a way to get some exposure to Chase Field tonight, and these two outfielders make good options. Kemp is running a little hot on BABIP at the moment, but his power numbers are due to come up and hitting in Arizona will feel like a softball park after playing the last two weeks in PetCo and San Fran. With Myers, what you see is what you get: a solid hitter with some power upside and enough speed to snag a few extra points on occasion. Nice mini-stack option.
Kevin Kiermaier - FD 2200 DK 3900 DFSTR 5900
Ok. At this point it’s just personal. I don’t know what went down between Nick Martinez and our projection system, but it must’ve been ugly. I do like Kiermaier, though. He’s been batting at the top of the order, rocking a smooth .500 career slugging percentage against righties, and grossly underpriced at near minimums. I’ll be playing him everywhere.