MLB Analytical Angles 9/06/16
We have a full 15 game slate tonight that includes a game in Coors Field. As expected on a full slate, there’s good value hitting to go along with value pitching. My game plan will be to follow the crowd with cheap pitching in cash games, but take advantage of the underpriced high-upside hitters in GPPs to differentiate in my roster construction.
Note: FanDuel pricing is used unless otherwise noted.
Yasmani Grandal (C)- LAD vs ARZ- $3,200
Grandal faces Shelby Miller tonight in Los Angeles. Miller has really struggled against left-handed bats this season, allowing 39.30 percent hard contact and 1.83 home runs per 9 innings. He has been unable to generate strikeouts against them, striking out only about 12 percent of the lefties he faces. Grandal provides a lot of upside at catcher for a very reasonable price on most sites. He has a hard contact rate of 42.60 percent against righties this season and should have a very nice game against Miller and a very weak Diamondbacks bullpen- especially because he is a switch hitter so the bullpen won’t be able to match up with him once Miller is out of the game.
Buster Posey (C)- SFG at COL- $4,000
The price point on Posey is a little high, but it makes me really like him as a GPP option. I expect most people to use catcher to save some money tonight since there are strong value options, so paying up for Posey against a lefty in Coors Field could possibly be more contrarian than usual. Tyler Anderson has been good, but Posey has a .368 ISO and .186 wOBA against left-handed pitching dating back to the start of last season and gets the most extreme park shift possible going from San Francisco to Colorado.
Hanley Ramirez (1B)- BOS at SDP- $3,600
I really like Hanley as a GPP target tonight. As usual, first base is very deep and Hanley against a righty in San Diego should go overlooked by the field. Paul Clemens is absolutely terrible, however, and the San Diego bullpen behind him isn’t very good either. Ramirez is one of the only hitters on Boston who wouldn’t see a huge decrease in home runs if he played all of his games in San Diego, so I really like him whether it’s part of a Boston stack, or as a standalone play. Clemens is a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and curveball), and Ramirez has a .224 ISO and 93.7 average exit velocity against fastballs in his velocity range to go along with a 94.7 average exit velocity against curveballs from right-handed pitchers.
Anthony Rizzo (1B)- CHC at MIL- $4,200
I don’t care how many good games Wily Peralta has, I will continue to target hitters who are facing him. He gives up the fourth most hard contact on the slate to left-handed hitters and Rizzo crushes right-handed pitching to the tune of a .402 wOBA and .264 ISO. In addition, Rizzo has 28 at-bats against Peralta dating back to the start of last season and has hit 5 home runs, 3 doubles, and has an average exit velocity of 105.7 miles per hour.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B)- TOR at NYY- $4,100
I like Luis Cessa tonight, but not in this matchup with Encarnacion. Cessa does a good job of mixing curveballs and sliders in with his fastballs, and most of the hitters on Toronto struggle greatly with at least one or the other. Encarnacion, however, does not. He has a .252 ISO against right-handed sliders and a .370 ISO against right-handed curveballs since the start of last season. In addition, he has a 51 percent hard contact rate over the last 15 games. He is one of my locks to hit a home run tonight.
Brian Dozier (2B)- MIN vs KCR- $4,300
Dozier has been absolutely on fire lately, and there isn’t a reason to expect his regression to start tonight against Dillon Gee. Gee has allowed 1.82 home runs per 9 innings to righties this season, giving Dozier a good chance to continue his torrid home run streak. At his very expensive price tag, on a 15 game slate, I doubt that Dozier will be too popular against a righty so he makes for a nice GPP play despite being such a popular play recently.
Jason Kipnis (2B)- CLE vs HOU- $3,500
Brad Peacock is starting for the Astros tonight and that is very good news for lefties in the Indians’ lineup. Kipnis has a 39.1 percent hard contact rate against righties this season to go along with only 11.7 percent soft contact. The only issue with Kipnis- and any individual hitter in the Cleveland lineup- is that Peacock tends to walk a lot of people so I prefer Cleveland as a full stack instead of individual one-off plays.
Nolan Arenado (3B)- COL vs SFG- $4,400
As is usually the case, everyone playing in Coors Field is a good play, but if I had to single out one Rockies hitter it would be Arenado. Third base is very deep today and Arenado is the most expensive option so I think he will be relatively low-owned against Samardzija. Samardzija has actually given up more hard contact to righties than lefties this season (35.20 percent) and Arenado can handle the assortment of hard four-seam and two-seam fastballs that Samardzija relies on. Against those pitches in Samardzija’s velocity range, Arenado has a .392 ISO and average exit velocity of 94 miles per hour.
Manny Machado (3B)- BAL at TBR- $4,100
I really like Machado’s matchup with Jake Odorizzi tonight. Throughout his career, Odorizzi has been home run prone to righties and that has continued this season as he has allowed 1.44 home runs per 9 innings to hitters from that side of the plate. Machado has a ton of power against righties and matches up very well with Odorizzi’s profile. Against fastballs in Odorizzi’s velocity range, Machado has a .384 ISO and 97.6 mph average exit velocity. He also has a .357 ISO against splitters and changeups from righties and a .239 ISO against sliders. It is very difficult to see a likely path for Odorizzi to have success against Machado tonight.
Todd Frazier (3B)- CWS vs DET- $3,800
Frazier gets a left-handed pitcher in U.S. Cellular Field tonight and fireworks should ensue. Matt Boyd has allowed 1.6 home runs per 9 innings to righties this season along with 34 percent hard contact. Frazier has a 36.9 percent hard contact rate against lefties and only hits the ball softly 11.7 percent of the time. Boyd is primarily a fastball and changeup pitcher against righties, and Frazier has a .316 ISO against Boyd’s fastball range and .244 ISO against changeups from lefties. Frazier tends to go overlooked when third base is deep and I expect that will be the case tonight despite his great matchup.
Corey Seager (SS)- LAD vs ARZ- $3,700
Seager, like Grandal, is a beneficiary of facing Shelby Miller tonight. Against righties this season, Seager has a 39.2 percent hard contact rate, .407 wOBA and .232 ISO. There is no reason to expect Seager to have trouble in this matchup.
Brad Miller (SS)- TBR vs BAL- $3,200
Miller faces Yovani Gallardo tonight in Tampa Bay. Gallardo usually does a good job limiting damage against him through soft contact, but I still like Miller’s chances to get to Gallardo tonight. Gallardo pitches to contact and, when Miller makes contact, he hits it hard and far. In addition, Gallardo throws sliders to lefties about 27 percent of the time and Miller has a 92.2 average exit velocity against sliders from righties. There is nothing impressive about Gallardo’s fastball at this point in his career, so I expect Miller to have success against him.
Khris Davis (OF)- OAK vs LAA- $3,400
Khris Davis against marginal righties (like Ricky Nolasco) is one of my favorite GPP plays because it almost always goes virtually unowned. Everyone thinks of Davis as a lefty masher- and he is- but he also hits well against righties. In the last 12 months, Davis has a .343 wOBA and .273 ISO against righties. Nolasco has been home run prone against righties this season, allowing 1.89 home runs per nine. Davis has double dong upside in this matchup at a fair price and low ownership.
Trea Turner (OF)- WSH vs ATL- $4,000
Williams Perez is a pitcher who pitches to contact and generally does a good job limiting hard contact. He does not, however, do a a very good job holding runners, and Tyler Flowers behind the plate is horrific at throwing out base stealers. Turner should have no trouble putting the ball in play against Perez, and if he gets on base he should be on third within two pitches of the next at bat.
Mark Trumbo (OF)- BAL at TBR- $3,500
Trumbo, along with Machado, is one of my favorite GPP upside plays tonight. Like Machado, he has a ton of power against right-handed pitching and matches up very well with Jake Odorizzi’s repertoire. I don’t love the idea of a full Orioles stack tonight, but pairing Trumbo with Machado for a mini-stack is a great GPP strategy.
Tyler Flowers (C)- ATL at WSH- $2,100
Gio Gonzalez will probably be fairly popular tonight against the Braves, simply because he always is, and people love to target pitchers against the Braves (I have no idea why, but that’s beside the point). Gio has allowed 1.2 home runs per nine against right-handed hitters this season, and Flowers quietly does nothing but hit the ball hard. Against lefties, he has a 38.2 percent hard contact rate along with only 10.9 percent soft contact. He is a great leverage play where he is cheap that gives you some upside at catcher and allows you to save salary at the same time.
Ryan Howard (1B)- PHI at MIA- $2,800
If Howard is in the lineup tonight, he is in a great spot against Jose Urena. Urena only strikes out about 9 percent of lefties and, if you can’t make Howard swing and miss, he usually makes you pay. Howard consistently hits the ball hard against righties and if he gets to face Urena he has a great shot at a home run tonight at a cheap price and low ownership.
Dee Gordon (2B)- MIA vs PHI- $2,400
This is FanDuel specific where he is only $2,400. At such a low price, you aren’t even rostering Gordon because of what he can do at the plate. Cameron Rupp has really struggled to throw out potential base stealers this season, and Gordon can provide nice value just by reaching base and stealing once or twice.
Jose Peraza (SS)- CIN vs NYM- $2,700
Peraza is in the same boat as Dee Gordon. The Mets will probably have Travis D’Arnaud behind the plate tonight, which means Peraza can steal at will if he reaches base. His matchup with Rafael Montero is not particularly scary, especially because Montero can struggle with his command. If Peraza reaches first base, he should be at third fairly quickly as long as nobody is on base ahead of him.
Tim Anderson (SS)- CWS vs DET- $2,900
Anderson will most likely be hitting second against Matt Boyd today. For some reason, people haven’t really caught on to how good he has been against lefties and he remains cheap across the industry and is usually under owned. He has a .381 wOBA against lefties this season and, although he is decent, Matt Boyd is not a pitcher who scares me too much. Anderson has a great chance to be the best point-per-dollar shortstop play today, especially if Saltalamacchia gets the start at catcher.
Ben Revere (OF)- WSH vs ATL- $2,700
Assuming Tyler Flowers catches, Revere offers a ton of upside tonight at a cheap price. Williams Perez will let him put the ball in play, which increases the chances he reaches base. Similar to Trea Turner, if he reaches base he should be able to steal at will and quickly pay off his cheap salary.
Matt Joyce (OF)- PIT vs STL- $2,000
I don’t know if Joyce will crack the lineup tonight but, if he does, he is a great value play on FanDuel where he is the minimum price. Luke Weaver has given up the 6th most hard contact on the slate to lefties and Joyce has had a ton of success against righties this season when he has gotten the chance to play. He also usually manages to go overlooked because people don’t anticipate him being in the lineup when they do their research. Be sure to keep an eye on the Pirates lineup and take advantage of Joyce’s price if he is starting.