MLB Analytical Angles 9/15/16

Thursday’s slate is loaded with subpar pitchers with Archie Bradley, Daniel Wright and Daniel Mengden headlining those to target against. On this slate, the Dodgers stand out above all offenses because of the positive ballpark shift, hittable opposing starter and huge implied total. Focusing on rostering a bunch of them in cash games and sprinkling in one-offs facing the other scrubs feels like the way to go.

As for additional offenses to target, Jimmy Nelson is in play so don’t overlook the Cubs speedsters because Nelson has allowed the second most stolen bases this year. Don’t be shy targeting left-handers against Jerad Eickhoff as per usual and do not overlook the powerful Rays against HR-prone Yovani Gallardo in Camden Yards either. Follow those simple rules and this slate should be a profitable one.

Without further ado, here are some individual hitters worth rostering tonight:

Note: All prices are based on FantasyDraft salaries unless otherwise specified

Premium:

Corey Seager, Dodgers, $10,500 – One offense stands out above all others on Thursday: the Dodgers. Not only will they be experiencing an extreme positive ballpark shift in a move to Chase Field but they’ll be squaring off against Archie Bradley and his 23.1-percent line drive rate and 37.1-percent hard hit rate allowed overall. Although Bradley has pitched respectably on the road (3.96 ERA, .323 wOBA allowed), opponents have teed off on him at home to the tune of a 6.29 ERA, .283/.358/.517 slash line and .368 wOBA allowed in Chase Field. Additionally, LHHs are the ones to target against Bradley as they’ve slashed .309/.404/.522 against him and produced a .393 wOBA. Corey Seager stands out above the pack on the Dodgers due to a team-leading .411 wOBA against RHP this year. Bradley has struggled with hard contact, especially to lefties (38.6-percent), so the fact that Seager owns a 39.6-percent hard hit rate and 26.0-percent hard hit rate versus the handedness is noteworthy. If spending up for one player, Seager is the no-brainer of all no-brainers.

Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays, $9,300 – In 83.2 IP at Triple-A this season, probable starter Daniel Wright allowed a 6.13 ERA and 4.21 FIP while only striking out 6.99 batters per nine innings. Those numbers have translated to some subpar statistics in a limited sample size in the MLB this year: 18.0 IP, 7.50 ERA, 5.97 FIP, 5.80 xFIP, 38.4-percent GB rate, 2.00 HR/9 and 4.00 K/9. If Wright doesn’t miss bats and fails to induce ground balls at a high rate, this Blue Jays offense is going to take advantage. On the surface, Edwin Encarnacion’s numbers are down slightly against RHP this year but he still sports a .381 wOBA against RHP (down from .399 last year), a team-leading .280 ISO and a respectable 38.0-percent hard hit rate. Since the All-Star Break, Encarnacion leads the Blue Jays with 16 HRs and 35 RBIs, so he’ll make a pitcher pay if they fail to force him to swing-and-miss. Wright doesn’t possess that ability in his skill set so it should be bombs away for the Blue Jays usuals on Thursday.

Justin Turner, Dodgers, $9,600 – One Dodgers hitter is simply not enough on this slate, and although Archie Bradley sports some substantial splits, Turner’s skill set against RHP cannot be overlooked. In six ABs against Bradley, Turner has managed two hits, including a HR, and has produced an average exit velocity of 89.6mph in five batted ball events. Really the sample size is too small to read into but Turner’s numbers against RHP this season are extensive and impressive: .385 wOBA, .270 wOBA, .298/.350/.568 slash line, 38.5-percent hard hit rate and 26.0-percent line drive rate. Unsurprisingly, Turner has fared much better on the road because Dodgers Stadium is a below-average hitters’ park. Despite just a .312 wOBA at home this year, that number jumps all the way up to .392 on the road. Facing a pitcher with a 5.63 ERA, 1.75 WHIP and .359 wOBA allowed since the All-Star Break, there really is no need to overthink Turner’s viability. Start him with confidence.

Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, $8,400 – Reverting back to the Seager tidbit, lefties are the best plays against Bradley and Gonzalez is typically a safe bet for cash games. Since Jul. 31, Gonzalez has produced a goose egg just once. No team is implied to score more runs than the Dodgers’ 5.4 and they are listed as -198 favorites. Pick any lefty, including Yasmani Grandal, and they are worth using. If prioritizing, Seager is the top dog then Turner second and then Gonzalez and the others. Gonzalez is a reliable option as evident by his .306/.372/.493 slash line against the handedness and he comes at a fair discount to the stud infield duo. You almost cannot roster enough Dodgers in cash games as it’s hard to imagine they do not lay the smack down on Bradley and the Diamondbacks.

Brad Miller, Rays, $8,700 – Heading into Wednesday, Brad Miller had homered in two of his three previous games to bring his total up to 28 for the year. Of the 28 bombs he has launched into orbit, 25 have been hit out against RHPs. Overall, he has produced a .263 ISO and .344 wOBA against right-handers and the team will face a righty who has struggled with a career-worst HR rate all season: Yovani Gallardo. In 102.2 IP, Gallardo has only managed a 43.3-percent GB rate which would be his lowest since 2010. This explains why his HR/9 ratio has spiked to 1.31 when pitching in an extremely hitter-friendly ballpark half the time (Camden Yards). Lefties have had their way with him this season: seven HRs (out of 15 total), .277/.385/.454 slash line, .360 wOBA and a 21.3-percent line drive rate. Essentially, Miller is a prime candidate to hit one a long way in a fantastic matchup.

Eric Hosmer, Royals, $9,000 – It would feel wrong for Daniel Mengden to toe the mound and not recommend a hitter against him so Eric Hosmer gets the nod. Mengden has allowed a hefty 25.7-percent line drive rate this season which has partially led to a 6.39 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 4.72 xFIP, 1.69 WHIP and 1.12 HR/9. Like Gallardo, Mengden rarely forces opponents to pound the ball on the ground (39.2-percent GB rate). However, if taking a closer look at the splits, his numbers are even uglier against lefties because his GB rate sinks to 34.9-percent and the line drive rate increases to a ridiculous 30.1-percent. Both Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales hit the ball hard more than 37-percent of the time against RHPs so expect lasers to leave their bats at some point. Since Hosmer leads all Royals regulars in wOBA against RHP, he’s the preferred play of the bunch.

Devon Travis, Blue Jays, $8,400 – The status of Devon Travis as an elite play hinges on whether or not Josh Donaldson plays because Travis would likely move down toe eight spot in the lineup in that scenario. If Donaldson continues to sit and Travis continues to lead off then this price tag should peak your interest. In 85 games since returning from injury, Travis is slashing .305/.333/.465 with 10 HRs, 46 RBIs and three stolen bases. Since this is nearly exactly half a season, it’s pretty easy to see what kind of season he may have produced had he remained healthy. There is very little sample size on Daniel Wright but both his minor league numbers and the Vegas implied total of 5.1 Blue Jays runs suggest there isn’t much to like about him. Even in pitcher-friendly Angels Stadium, the Blue Jays top of the order should have a field day against a well below-average pitcher, and Travis should be leading the charge atop the order.

Value Plays:

Adam Frazier, Pirates, $6,400 – Strangely, it took the entire season for Manager Clint Hurdle to play Adam Frazier in an everyday role but it finally appears to be happening. Frazier is a free-swing and opposing starter Jerad Eickhoff rarely walks hitter (2.07) so Frazier should see pitches to hit in this matchup. Notably, lefties have managed a wOBA 65 percentage points higher than righties against Eickhoff and the splits tell a similar story. With a 1.36 WHIP, 1.39 HR/9 and just 6.35 K/9 against LHHs, Eickhoff presents a favorable matchup to all lefties, especially the one presumably hitting first in the order. Since Frazier is guaranteed to at least tie for the most plate appearances against an enticing opponent, there should be no hesitation to fill a spot with him.

Denard Span, Giants, $6,400 – Adam Wainwright is the daily fantasy baseball equivalent of Dr. Jeklly and Mr. Hyde. Over the course of his last seven starts, Wainwright has allowed six-plus runs three times and fewer than three runs three times. He’s either really good or really bad and a majority of the “bad” has come on the road (6.13 ERA away from Busch Stadium). On the road, opponents are slashing .293/.351/.511 against him with a .364 wOBA and lefties own a .344 wOBA against him overall this season. If taking a shot on a cheap hitter, Denard Span possesses some upside when taking those splits into account and he won’t cost you much. Hell, he sports a career .291/.351/.407 slash line against righties and the odds-makers have listed the Giants as -155 favorites. While I wouldn’t target a stack against Wainwright, Span makes complete sense as a cheap one-off.

Andres Blanco, Phillies, $6,300 – Assuming Andres Blanco makes the lineup against Chad Kuhl, he actually ranks second on the team with a .345 wOBA against RHP this season. He hasn’t played the past few days but he offers a ton of bang for his buck if he plays.

Josh Bell, Pirates, $5,400 – Josh Bell is like the powerful version of Frazier. Every part of his tidbit applies except Bell has a much greater chance of taking advantage of the 1.39 HR/9 to lefties. Since lefties have hit 14 of the 22 HRs Eickhoff has allowed and slugged .487 against him, Bell’s .390 wOBA against RHP is jumping off the screen in concurrence with those numbers. For just $5,400, you may never find a better bargain than this.