Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster 5/16/15

Full disclaimer - this is a massive slate, and there's no way I could ever possibly list every decent play today. So, I'll do my best in highlighting whom I believe to be the elite plays. If you want the rest? Go ahead and get access to the exclusive projection system that produces these picks. Sign up now and get a free 3 day trial to our lineup construction tool for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster.

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Alert! There are early and late slates tomorrow. This write up will focus on the late slate, because the early slate is really small. If you want all of our early slate projections, grab a free three day trial of our projection system, listed above.


Max Scherzer - FD 11000 DK 12200
The man with the ridiculous 55 Ks against 6 BBs in 49 innings pitched doubles down on the absurdity by heading to the world's best pitcher's park. This has all the makings of a pitcher's duel, and Andrew Cashner makes a fine play in his own right, but that's the only thing that makes me think that Scherzer isn't also the highest upside play of the day. For safety, though? This is one of the easier picks I've ever had to make.

Danny Salazar - FD 8700 DK 9300
The 48 Ks in 32 innings pitcher this year for Salazar are simply absurd. And with only 5 walks! It'd be fairly impossible for him to continue with this all season, but I'm starting to doubt myself a little on that one. The guy put up 11+ K/9 in AA and AAA, AND his first 50 innings in the majors. We could be witnessing the emergence of a super-duper-star pitcher, only we don't have to pay superduperstar prices just yet. And then there's Texas. They just aren't the team that has struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers this year. They're 25th in the majors in wOBA against right handed pitchers, which is pretty bad. Throw in a Colby Lewis resurgence that I don't buy, and I think Salazar could rack up huge K totals and a W once again.

Matt Garza - FD 7300 DK 7700
If you're looking for a nice GPP play, take a hard look at Garza. First of all, the price allows you to spend up on a day where there are a lot of high priced hitters you may have your eye on. Next, there's the Mets of New York. They've managed just the league's 3rd worst wOBA against right handed pitching this season, and it's generally a sad state of affairs for the Mets' lineup when it comes to facing righties. Garza has struggled this season to be sure, but he flashed his elite K upside in his last outing, and there's some chance that he'll wind up as the highest points per dollar play on the board when it's all said and done.

Also considered: Our projection system actually likes DeGrom here as well. I'd say he's more of a safety play than Garza just due to the recent track record, but I'm not convinced that he presents elite upside compared to some other plays.

Early slate special: Jon Lester. The Pirates have a staggering 29% K rate against left handed pitching this season to go with the leagues 3rd lowest wOBA, and this match-up smacks of the Cole Hamels play we gave you a few days ago. Head and shoulders above the competition for the slate, even if Gerrit Cole is a fine pitcher on the other end.

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Salvador Perez - FD 2400 DK 3300
Perez is a 25 year old catcher that has posted an .846 OPS against left handed pitching for his career, and you can get him for basically nothing. In this game he'll match-up against what's left of CC Sabathia. Sabathia hasn't posted an ERA below 4.78 since 2012, and while his xFIP has been considerably better, it certainly looks like something weird is going on there. Either way, Perez is a great bet against any lefty, and CC isn't the scary kind these days.

Buster Posey - FD 3700 DK 4100
Posey's a huge platoon split guy historically, which obviously doesn't help him against the right hander Mike Leake. But there are other factors working in his favor here. The first in the park - Cincinnati is a great place to hit. The next is Posey himself. He's shown a much more refined approach against right handers this season - walking 13 times against just 9 Ks, and actually posting a higher wOBA against right handers than against left handers. The last is Mike Leake. For his impressive ERA so far this season, his already tiny K rate has dipped below 6 Ks/9, his walks are up, and his xFIP is up half a run from last season. I think Posey murders him here.

Early slate special: Victor Martinez, in a nice match-up with Tyler Lyons. Price is looking great there.



First base

Joey Votto - FD 3900 DK 4400
Full disclosure: Joey Votto is one of my very favorite players ever. And he's back, baby! Votto's put up a 1k+ OPS against right handed pitching this season, and he'll be facing a pitcher who really shouldn't even be allowed to pitch in places like Cinci: Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong never struck guys out in his "good years," and while he's striking out more guys this season, it's come at the cost of his HR rate. He's leaving balls up in the zone, and allowing a ton of long balls. Here's to hoping one of those comes off of Votto's bat on Saturday.

Ryan Howard - FD 2900 DK 3900
Here's a name I've literally never written in a daily fantasy analysis column. But here we are! Ryan Howard is my guy today. Why? Well, transcendent price per dollar upside. Howard's put up an eye-popping .293 ISO against right handed pitching this season, he's hitting in a fantastic hitter's park, and then there's Archie Bradley. He's been dinged up, and his K rate was already suffering quite a bit. If you can't strike guys out, Ryan Howard is not the guy you want to be seeing. Could he go 0-4 here? Duh. But I just need to put him here for his GPP upside. Also - fun fact - Ryan Howard has not hit an infield fly ball this season!

Jose Abreu - FD 3500 DK 4600
Abreu remains priced very reasonably, even as his production has ticked upward as of rate. The reason people are sleeping on him is simple - he hasn't produced one of those eye-popping 10 fantasy point games in some time. But he's been steady, averaging nearly 3 fantasy points per game since May 5th. And really, he's a very similar guy this season to who he was last year, minus .50 points of BABIP. Now that's pretty significant. If he's a .930 OPS guy and not a .980 OPS guy, that's a material difference. But it doesn't make him a $3,500 player. That's what our projection system sees here - straight price value. Jesse Chavez is a decent pitcher, and Oakland is a tough place to hit. The price is just wrong here.

Also considered: Lucas Duda.

Early slate special: Mr. Freddie Freeman against a righty.

Second base

Robinson Cano - FD 3300 DK 4200
Things are definitely trending in the wrong direction for Cano. The Ks are up, the walks are down, and his ISO is down as well. The question is, though: is this the end? For a guy who had nearly an identical batting average for the last 3 years? Now, to be fair, our projection system is building in a decent decline for Cano as well - a wOBA dip of about .20 points. But this .63 cliff dive? Nah. And especially not against right handed pitching. Like a lot of older players, Cano's platoon splits are widening as he gets older, but that just means he's a better points per dollar play against righties. Against pitch-to-contact Porcello, he should put a lot of hard balls in play.

Howie Kendrick - FD 3300 DK 4000
Kendrick is an interesting guy, because he's basically the opposite of Cano. His move across town to Dodgers' stadium has left him as the same player, except his ISO has risen. Dodgers' stadium has a reputation of being a bad hitters' park, but it's a better place to hit than Anaheim, and has even allowed a larger amount of home runs than league average (a 10% better rate than Anaheim, for instance). Kendrick's batting in the middle of a very tough lineup, and is hitting fantastically. Throw in the fact that De La Rosa is left handed, and Kendrick's had a .50 points OPS bump against left handed pitching over the course of his career (including a much bigger bump this season), and I'd say this is a safe play with upside.

Chase Utley - FD 2500 DK 3300
Our projection system can't quit you, Chase Utley. The .110 BABIP is just a total joke, and it's going to at least double at some point in the near future. When it does, the counting stats and the rest will follow. Against Archie Bradley at home? It could be today. Right? It could be. It could be. *talking myself into it* I believe!

Early slate special: Ian Kinsler.



Brad Miller - FD 2500 DK 3400
Three of Miller's last six games were the kind that could have been on big tournament winnings teams. What keeps Miller down are his laughably absurd splits. He's got a pitcher-esque .279 OPS against left handed pitching this season, and a more than decent .864 OPS against righties. I've written up my feelings about Porcello already, so needless to say, I like Miller quite a bit at this price in a game where the lefty-heavy Mariners should have the opportunity to put lots of balls in play.

Jimmy Rollins - FD 2600 DK 3400
I've written about Rollins possibly every single time I've done the baseball picks this year, but here I am, beating the drum again. De La Rosa is a below league average pitcher, and Rollins' BABIP is a full .100 points below his career norms. The admittedly ancient Rollins is still batting 2nd amidst some very serious bats, and until that changes, he'll be a play in our projection system regardless of the handedness of the opposing pitcher until his price rises by 20%.

Brandon Crawford - FD 2300 DK 3500
Brandon Crawford has just been awesome this year, and frankly, it doesn't totally look that lucky to me. Basically everything about this season's line is identical to last year, except for a big jump in ISO. And that could be some luck, sure - but he did have some nice ISO seasons in the minors before falling off a cliff as he broke into the big leagues. His power has been trending up the last few years, and this breakout could be as much steak as it is sizzle. And even if it isn't - facing Mike Leake in the Great American Ballpark probably makes up for whatever roll luck is playing in this.

A big upside, potentially risky play: Marcus Semien. He's been tearing the cover off the ball recently, and it's a great righty/lefty match-up with the bones of John Danks.

Early slate special: Asdrubal Cabrera.

Third base

Kyle Seager - FD 3100 DK 4200
If Seager's BABIP was what it was last season (and also his career norms), he'd be having a better season than he did last year from an OPS perspective. And last year, Seager was a great value on these prices. With 25 homers and 7 steals (and much of that coming at home against right handed pitching - which is what he'll have in this game), Seager's actually got sneaky upside for a relatively no name guy. He hits behind some fine hitters, and could certainly put up some great numbers here. Porcello, as previously noted, has never been much of a strike out guy, and while he's improving upon that this season, I think he could have a tough time against an Ms team that can hit right handed pitching.

Josh Donaldson - FD 3700 DK 4600
Josh Donaldson against a righty, you say? Well, yes. This isn't any average righty, though. This is Scott Feldman. His already dismal K rate is almost under 5 per 9 innings, which is basically unheard of. And Donaldson? Ks against righties are really the only thing that hold him back from being as effective against them. If you take Ks off the table (or at least partially off the table), he can be quite the formidable play, and a very high upside play in a position that's lacking it today.

Lonnie Chisenhall - FD 2600 DK 3900
Chisenhall's OPS is .70 points higher against right handed pitching for his career, and while he is having a tough go of things so far this season, he's priced very affordably against the run-hot Colby Lewis, whose ERA outstrips his xFIP by more than 2 runs. It could all come crashing down for Lewis here, especially in his tough pitcher's park at home.

Also considered: A bunch of cheap dudes, but Adrian Beltre is enticing as the price keeps sliding downward, even against Salazar.

Early slate special: Evan Longoria.



Scott Van Slyke - FD 3000 DK 3600
Alex Guerrero - FD 3200 DK 3100
Van Slyke is building upon last year's impressive campaign by one-upping himself. There are some red flags for sure - he won't BABIP .397 for his career. But the rest of the underlying stats are legit. The .211 ISO is actually down from last year's campaign. What's really driving Van Slyke's ranking here is the renewed K rate. If he can strike out less than 20% of the time, he should be priced 10% higher. He's also been .100 OPS points better against lefties during his career, making De La Rosa a sitting duck for him here. As for Guerrero? It's the same story. He's been tearing it up, and has shown real light tower power against left handers.

Billy Hamilton - FD 3300 DK 4200
I just love Hamilton today. I'm ecstatic. He fastest man in the league is in a situation that's literally perfect for him. Vogelsong's lack of Ks means Hamilton's largest weakness is gone. Furthermore, Hamilton's priced fantastically well here. His BABIP is .60 points below his career norms, and a man this fast just can't sustain a .238 BABIP. A huge steal game is definitely in play here.

George Springer - FD 3800 DK 4900
Springer has shown a lot of growth this year that's been masked by his bad luck. Hi's finally delivering on his 40+ steal upside, and he's still showing the 30+ homer potential as well. But! His low BABIP has him priced just a tier below the ultra-elite. Springer is there - he's taking the turn. Just get him before the price catches up to the performance. At this point, I'd guess Estrada's basically a league average pitcher. Throw in a great hitter's park, and I think Springer makes a fine play today.

Brandon Moss - FD 3500 DK 4300
Moss has been .60 OPS points better against righties over the course of his career, and as I mentioned earlier, our projection system isn't buying Colby Lewis' age 35 resurgence. Throw in a great hitters' park, and Moss has some nice upside on a reasonable price here.

Curtis Granderson - FD 2900 DK 3600
Like a lot of guys listed here, Granderson is insanely bad against lefties, but plenty serviceable against right handers. He's a solid upside play against Garza, even if I do like Garza quite a bit today.

Also considered: Jose Bautista, if you're fixing to drop an anti-Scott Feldman stack on somebody.

Early slate special:Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton. The cheap guys: Our projection system likes any of the following cheap guys as good value plays today - Jay Bruce, Matt Joyce, Angel Pagan, Yoenis Cespedes, Melky Cabrera.


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