28.4, 12.2, 21.4, 34.1, 24.9, 43.6, 28.7, 31.4. What Power Forward game log is this? You have a 7x day where he puts up 20 points and 15 rebounds, a day where he flopped hard because he got in foul trouble, and then a lot of 4x and 5x scores. Wait, what’s that? It is the last 8 games of Eric Thames? That’s absurd. I’m not even saying he’s a great play simply because of his last 8 games, but Adam Wainwright’s a decent innings muncher, who is losing the ability to get ground balls so Thames is in play again, even at his elevated price. Are we at the point where Thames is always in play because he’s a good hitter who obliterated the KBO and will spend 2017 obliterating major league pitching. I think the previous sentence answers your question. You might be asking where does Eric Thames rank in the greatest hitting seasons ever with a minimum 50 PAs? And I would tell you that it’s not first, it’s actually 2nd. Yes, Eric Thames 281 wRC+ ranks 2nd. That’s because Freddie Freeman this year has a 282. It helps when you decide that outs really aren’t your thing for 3 games. I’m also sure you are wondering who’s 3rd, and I will tell you that this year Bryce Harper is 3rd at 256. We’ve had some insane starts this year, but only one of them is making crotchety old pitching coaches and grumpy veteran pitchers subtly hint “things.”
On to the picks as soon as Freddie Freeman makes an out…wait, that may be a while…I’ll just do the picks now…
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Jacob deGrom, SP, $10,300 – The early returns on deGrom’s fastball velo are good and while not quite back to peak 2015, it’s a tick faster than last year. His K rate is up, his BB rate is down and his groundball rate has spiked. And while he won’t be this good all year, if he can return to just being a shade worse than his 2015, you have a 5 win pitcher who can shut down any lineup at any time. The Nats, outside of Harper and Murphy have very little to hit righties – guys like Ryan Zimmerman have massively struggled the last 3 years vs righties (sub .300 wOBA), and that’s before you get to some truly atrocious batters like Wilmer Difo
Corey Kluber, P: $9,900 – The White Sox are extremely right-handed, and aren’t a very good lineup as a whole. The result is a team with the 2nd lowest wOBA against righties so far this season (.265), while striking out the 5th most (the other teams that strike out a lot against righties are offenses that can actually hit, such as the Brewers and Cubs). Kluber is one of the best pitchers in the bigs (he had a K% of 26.4% last year and BB% of 6.6%), and his velo is matching April of last year and it ticked up every month. We might be seeing some playoff hangover and he’ll improve with every start, but, a very big part of it is simply because 20.4% of his fly balls given up have become home runs, an entirely unsustainable number that will regress too much more reasonable levels. On a non Kershaw (or i’ve decided to stop walking anyone Thor) slate, Kluber’s as good as anyone.
Alex Meyer, P: $6,000: Want a value play to squeeze all the Coors hitters you can (or Cubs hitters)? Alex Meyer may be your man. Alex Meyer likes to throw really hard, strike guys out, walk guys and get ground balls. It’s a fun combination, but more importantly, have you seen the Blue Jays recently? In 2017, they are the worst team against righties and it’s not even remotely close – the aforementioned White Sox have the second lowest wOBA against righties at .265 – the Blue Jays rank dead last at a truly pathetic .247. Apparently taking a good lineup, replacing one of the better hitters (Edwin Encarnacion) with someone not nearly as good (Kendrys Morales), and then watching your best hitter (Josh Donaldson) get hurt will make your overall offense much worse. Just look at the lineup, objectively (and lineup construction makes it even harder on the Jays). Kevin Pillar (career .298 wOBA vs righties) is leading off. Devon Travis is really struggling right now. Troy Tulowitzki has a .311 wOBA vs righties since being traded to the Jays. They’re not very good, and they’re very right-handed. Meyer’s a great value play here – and sure, Troy Tulowitzki could hop into a time machine and revert to his 2014 self, but presuming that there is no Flux Capacitor in their dugout, Meyer’s facing one unimpressive lineup – and in fact, until Donaldson returns, pretty much any righty against the Blue Jays will be a good play.
Brandon Belt, 1B: $3,900 – There’s a saying around baseball that “hitters hit” and Brandon Belt is a hitter. There’s nothing he doesn’t do well, he gets on base (.358 OBP) and hits for power (.460). He hits lefties (.349 wOBA), he hits righties (.356 wOBA) and I’m sure he’d hit Pat Venditte if he threw with both arms at the same time. Brandon Belt just hits, and good hitting guys who bat 2nd shouldn’t be $3900 in Coors.
Denard Span, OF: $3,500 – This is a get right spot for Span. He’s struggled so far (and some of his plate discipline stats are concerning), but he is generally around a league average hitter and I think he will be again going forward. Plus he’s likely going to be leading off in Coors – if Bochy decides to bat him 7th, then I’d rather take whoever Bochy puts at the top. Further, if he can’t hit at Coors, it may be time to get off the Span train (is there such a thing? I hope not)
Tony Wolters, C: $3,000 – Is he good? No, he’s actually truly awful. But he’s in Coors, he’s only $3,000, he has platoon advantage and because of Coors, he hits like Russell Martin vs righties. Plus, it’s not like there are that many good catchers today. Note: If you have a lineup that can afford Posey, don’t go “Hey I should play Tony Wolters because that cinthree guy recommended him!” and then get mad because Posey goes 4 for 4 with 5 RBI. Posey is good. Posey is just much more expensive.
The Rest Of The Guys in Coors – Theoretically I could write up a paragraph on each and every hitter playing in Coors today. They’re all playable. I highlighted three just because they are the ones that are mispriced, but honestly, anyone from either lineup is in play. 16 paragraphs just felt a little excessive, at least on this slate.
Andrew Toles, OF: $2,300 – Fanduel mispricing at it again. Toles shouldn’t be $2,300, he’s a righty masher who should bat leadoff vs Walker in Arizona. Walker’s fly ball tendencies (41% gb rate for his career) and the sweet sweet hitting environment of Arizona makes Andrew a must play. The sheer absurdity of Toles pricing is baffling, which, of course, means he’ll bat 7th.
Corey Seager, SS: $3,500 – So far in his young career, Seager hits lefties decently, but smokes righties to the tune of .336/.397/.560 and he’s in Arizona vs a fly ball pitcher. There’s isn’t that much to say here, other than, he’s really good, but, can you fit him and Coors in the same lineup?
Chase Utley, 2B: $2,100 & Joc Pederson, OF: $2,500 – Chase Utley is cheap, facing a righty (who he can still hit, last year he was 11% better than league average) and if he hits near the top of the order, you have a cheap option to get more Coors bats. Joc hits righties (.358 career wOBA) and is another cheap option to get Coors bats.
Matt Joyce, OF: $2,000 – Another player who is simply too cheap, although at least this one can be explained by simply how the pricing algorithm usually works – he started the year at $2,300 because while he hit well last year (.242/.403/.463), he was in a part-time role so FanDuel didn’t adjust to the fact that he was likely going to be a full-time player batting at the top of the order. Subsequently, because FanDuel adjusts prices, for the most part, on recent performance (think of it like college football polls – it’s an initial guess re-adjusted after each set of games, so if you lose in the first week and drop from #7 to #17, you then have a lot of games ahead of you to climb back up the polls, but lose in the final week of the season and you have no chance to regain the ground you lost), the fact that he’s struggled so far this year his price has stayed near the minimum. A three-game mini slump where he went 0-10 and his price is now $2,000. That’s just wrong. He’s a good hitter (when he faces righties), and he’ll be batting 2nd against Iwakuma. Iwakuma has mostly lost the ability to miss bats (7.8% swinging strike rate) and last year lost the ability to generate ground balls (40.8%) and this year it’s been more of the same (7.6 and 39.6 respectively). So while he still doesn’t walk guys, the combination of no missing bats and fly balls is not so hot for a Major League Pitcher. If you want a value play, he’s as good as it gets.
Josh Reddick, OF: $2,900 – When Josh Reddick isn’t infected by the stink that was the 2016 Dodgers offense (Corey Seager notwithstanding), he’s been a pretty good offensive player. He also has been the king of the 3-3 with 3 singles, a walk, 3 runs and an RBI game that returns pretty solid value. Even including the Dodger stink, he’s run a .365 wOBA vs righties the past 3 years, so he’s pretty good, plus he hates bunting as all people should. Hot take: bunting is boring.
Kris Bryant, 3B: $4,100 – Kris Bryant this year is walking more, striking out less and swinging and missing on less pitches. He’s also hitting more balls in the air and less on the ground. Kris Bryant is really good at baseball. Kris Bryant hits the ball in the air a lot and when he does, it tends to go really far. Kris Bryant is facing Tim Adleman. Tim Adleman has a career 35.1% GB rate. When Kris Bryant faces a fly ball pitcher, his home rate increases 174%. And as if this matchup couldn’t get any better, Great American Ballpark rates as one of the best places for home runs.
David Freese, 3B: $2,500 – The high end 3Bs mostly have bad matchups – Nolan’s RvR and facing Cueto, Machado is facing a solid pitcher in Pomeranz – only the aforementioned Kris Bryant has a legitimately good matchup but he’s $4100, so if you’re looking to get Coors guys into your lineup, that’s just too expensive. So if you’re looking to save at the position, David Freese may be the best option. The price is perfect, and while he certainly is not a candidate for the Silver Slugger, he can hit lefties (.373 wOBA the last 3 years), and while CC Sabathia has learned to pitch with his diminished velocity, he also isn’t the same guy he was in his prime. Unless your lineup has the money for Bryant, it may just be the right play to just get out of 3rd Base as cheap as possible, and David Freese is one of the best ways to do that.
Jonathan Villar, 2B: $2900 – In the introduction, I mentioned that Adam Wainwright is losing the ability to induce ground-balls. He’s also walking guys a lot more. There’s a very good chance that Adam Wainwright is nearing the end of being an effective pitcher, which often happens to guys when they are 35 years old. Villar, on the other hand, is 10 years younger, so his early season struggles are far less concerning, and for DFS purposes, are actually beneficial, as they’ve helped drive down his price (as discussed earlier, DFS pricing = college football rankings – initial guesses followed by re-adjustments after each set of games). Villar takes not-quite Billy Hamilton level base-stealing and combines it with an actual ability to hit (.285/.369/.457 last year, good for a .356 wOBA). And his DFS value gets a massive boost from the fact that that any time he gets on base, he’ll have Eric “I would have set the record for best wRC+ in a season (min 50 pas) if Freddie Freeman wouldn’t refuse to make outs” Thames is batting after him.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
There’s possible rain in Cincinnati, which would be awful since the Cubs are so juicy. Texas may have some late inning showers.
Doing Lines In Vegas
Why are the Tigers are only -132 in Minnesota? Justin Verlander is good. Hector Santiago is not. Plus, the Tigers are the most right-handed lineup in all of baseball (either 8 or 9 out of 9, depending on whether Tyler Collins is playing), so if Hector Santiago was a northpaw, it could be justifiable, but he’s a southpaw, so the Tigers will be sending up 8 or 9 hitters with platoon edge against a not-good pitcher, while they will be throwing a very good pitcher on their side of the ball. And yes, I used the word northpaw.
A friend of mine has been betting on the Brewers over each day for the past week, and it’s paid off each time. They’re 3.5 (but -145 for the over) on certain online sportsbooks, so in the words of my friend “Just Bet The Brewers Over Each Day And Get Paid!”