So it’s MLB Players Weekend, which I will admit is a legitimately great idea (of course the Cardinals have the least nicknames, because it’s a serious game played by serious people). Some players flat out nailed it – Travis Shaw with “Mayor of DDC” (that’s Ding Dong City for the uneducated), and Alex Avila with “Parkman” – google it, you’ll see the resemblance were two players that absolutely crushed the choice of what to put on the back of the jersey. That said, a few players missed out on truly great choices for the back of the jersey. First, Justin Turner – I know your twitter handle is @RedTurn2, but come on – how can you not have a nickname that references your twin brother, Tormund Giantsbane? That’s just horrible. And I understand “Chuck Nazty” is your nickname, Mr. Blackmon, but how can you not put something on the back of the jersey that references your truly amazing beard (it’s the #1 beard in baseball right now, and probably the 2nd best in all of sports, behind only this glorious mane . Finally, while it’s great that Kyle’s referencing his brother, it could have been so much better. What if someone like Justin Upton put “The Good One” on his jersey (although Melvin might not like that)? So thinking about some of the missed opportunities got me to thinking about possible nicknames for retired players – here’s a few I came up with:
Randy Johnson – “R.I.P. Bird”
Edgar Renteria – “Lefty-Mashing Patriarch”
Rickey Henderson – “I Am The Greatest”
Bucky Dent – “#%*@$*&”
Barry Bonds – “Ne Plus Ultra”
Anyway, you didn’t come here for nicknames (as awesome a discussion that could be), so onto the picks…
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Zack Greinke, SP: $9,600 – After taking a year to adjust to Arizona, Greinke this year is back to his normal dominant ways. Greinke has actually pitched better at home this year, and has no split to attack. He strikes out 28.1% of batters and only walks 5.8%. He does give up the odd home run, but to his (and our) advantage, we present the Giants offense, who unfortunately don’t strike out (5th best), but they are the worst offense in the league with a 84 wRC+ on the season vs righties.
Jake deGrom (Jake), SP: $10,200 – deGrom’s skills are just as good as Greinke with a 28.3% K rate and 7.2% BB rate. While normally you don’t want to target the Nats, they are without one of the best hitters in the game right now and are actually batting Wilmer Difo 2nd. And, over the last 30 days, the Nats have also been an absolutely awful offense (82 wRC+) and striking out more than they did the first few months.
Justin Verlander (JV), SP: $9,900 – In the last 30 days, the White Sox still strike out a bunch (23.6%), don’t walk (6.8%) and are generally awful (92 wRC+). Those numbers are very similar to season stats vs righties. The last few weeks have seen Justin Verlander strikeout 27.7% and walk 7% of batters, but his season long numbers are decidedly mediocre (23.4% K rate and 9.4% BB rate). Given the season long rates, I wouldn’t play Verlander in cash, but as a GPP play, there aren’t many with the upside Verlander possesses in a matchup with the White Sox.
New York Yankees – Ariel Miranda is about an extreme fly ball pitcher as you can get with a career 31.7% ground ball rate and because of that and the fact that he doesn’t get enough strikeouts (20.1%), Miranda gives up bombs all the time. And while Miranda actually gets a little less than average grounders against lefties (43.8%), that tanks vs righties (all the way to 28.9%). Unfortunately for Miranda, this game isn’t in Yellowstone National Park, it’s in Yankee Stadium, so he should give up some home runs. Kraken is pretty much an auto-include as a good play at this point as he’s the best hitting catcher in baseball right now and it’s not particularly close. All Rise has monster power and might hit a ball 800 feet at any point and he’ll have plenty of opportunities vs Miranda (he does have a .397 wOBA vs lefties this year). A-A Ron has .364 wOBA and Austin (seriously, Tyler Austin just went with his last name on his jersey for Players Weekend…that’s absolutely, unequivocally lame) has Minor League numbers that show someone with some pop, which is good vs a guy who’s prone to give up homers.
Paul Goldschmidt (Goldy), 1B: $4,300 – Ty Blach is someone to target in the DFS world. When you have a 6.4% career swing and miss rate and it’s not combined with a legendarily good walk rate, it spells trouble. And when you take him away from San Francisco, it gets even uglier where his K-rate actually drops, his walk rate gets worse and he gives up a lot more bombs. This is just an ideal spot for Paul Goldschmidt to crush. Over his career, Goldschmidt has a .431 wOBA vs lefties and 47.4% hard hit rate. He’s just a little bit good.
JD Martinez (Flaco), OF: $4,100 – Since JD Martinez got good, he is almost as good as Goldschmidt, with a .417 wOBA (but his ISO is .310 compared to Goldschmidt’s .265) and a 46% hard hit rate.
All other Diamondback right handed bats batting in the top 6 – They will all be appealing in their own way – Iannetta, Rosales and Drury, if they’re in the top 6, will offer value plays at relatively weak positions, and while they’re nowhere near the quality of bats that the aforementioned Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez are, you’re not asking them to be at their discounted prices. Instead, you’re asking them to be relatively competent major league hitters (which they are) who are facing a fairly atrocious major league pitcher, with platoon advantage, and in a lineup that should be doing a great job putting runners on base so that they will have multiple opportunities to put up big DFS numbers. Pollock is more expensive, but offers you extra upside with his ability to steal bases (even off a lefty), and also is a far superior hitter to the non-Goldschmidt and non-J.D. Martinez group.
Chicago Cubs – Jerad Eickhoff has a below average strikeout rate (20.2%), below average walk rate (9.1%) and a below average ground ball rate (39%). He’s particularly susceptible to lefties where he doesn’t have an out pitch and walks more than he does vs righties. Schwarber and Rizzo are obviously the top plays. Schwarber, while struggling a bit this year results wise, still has a 38.4% hard hit percentage and a .258 ISO. Rizzo has been more conventionally good with a .375 wOBA vs righties. Kris Bryant is always a good play, with a .387 wOBA vs righties. Jon Jay is an average hitter, cheap at $2,700 and should bat leadoff making him a good play if lineup construction gets you there. Alex Avila has a .394 wOBA vs righties and 54.5% hard contact, so he’s definitely playable in all formats.
Justin Smoak (Moakey), 1B: $3,800 – Bartolo Colon doesn’t strike anyone out and allows lots of loud contact to lefties (41.9% hard hit rate). Justin Smoak has a .366 wOBA with a .280 iso vs righties and a 39.8% hard contact rate. He’s likely not a cash game 1B because his price is at a weird point, considering Goldschmidt is in a better matchup and is only $500 more expensive, but he’s a solid pivot.
Miguel Montero (Monty), C: $2,300 – Like the nickname he chose (seriously – Monty?), Miguel Montero is a fairly generic, average (career 100 wRC+) hitter. But he does have platoon advantage (.339 wOBA vs righties in his career) vs Bartolo Colon, is projected to bat relatively high for a catcher this cheap and has a high total. Sometimes, average is what you need.
Giancarlo Stanton (Cruz), OF: $5,100 & Marcell Ozuna (The Big Bear), OF: $4,000 – Vs. righties, Travis Wood doesn’t strike guys out (19.4%), walks guys (8.3%) and is an extreme fly ball pitcher (31.2%). So you want to target righties with power vs him and the Marlins just happen to have 2 of the best. Giancarlo Stanton has a .430 wOBA vs lefties, .389 ISO and 40.8% hard contact rate. Marcell Ozuna over his career has a .360 wOBA and a .41% hard contact rate. If you can pay up for Stanton, I’d pay up for him with Ozuna being more of a GPP pivot due to his price being a touch high.
Jose Ramirez, 2B: $2,700 – Jose Ramirez has been awful recently, but I’m buying him with his .345 wOBA vs lefties this year, for $2,700 and batting at the top of the order at home vs Jason Vargas. That’s just way too good a value.
Rafael Devers (Carlita), 3B: $3,300 – Rafael Devers has started out his MLB career on fire, hitting .368/.594. So far, he also has a .385 wOBA and a 38.5% hard contact rate vs righties. Jeremy Hellickson’s strikeouts have dropped to a dangerously low 14.6%, his ground ball rate currently sits at 34.1% and his home run rate has predictably spiked to 1.87 per 9 innings. Hellickson is giving up home runs to both lefties and righties, but against lefties, his walke rate spikes to 8.2%. On a day where 3B isn’t that deep and barring any value opening up, Devers is a good spot and rostering him (as opposed to the expensive 3Bs) won’t cost you the ability to roster expensive bats elsewhere.
Francisco Lindor (Mr. Smile), SS: $3,700 – Francisco Lindor has crushed lefties this year – he’s hit them to the tune of a .365 wOBA, which goes with a .351 wOBA for his career. Vargas in his career struggles to strike out righties (16.4%) and struggles to keep them in the park (1.21 HR/9)
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Totally clear, which makes me happy.
Doing Lines In Vegas
The D-Backs as of this writing have an implied total of 5.6, which is low considering they are in Arizona and vs a terrible pitcher. I’d say they are going to score more than 5 runs since their top 5 are really good at offense and vs lefties the bottom becomes less awful.