MLB Analytical Angles 9/29/16
Thursday’s slate includes 10 games total and is a strange slate where only one team opened with an implied run total over 5.0 runs (Blue Jays). Therefore, it may be wise to lean on the chalk in cash games and differentiate in tournaments because of the heavy ownership the top offense should garner.
Anyways, without further ado, here are some individual hitters worth rostering tonight:
Note: All prices are based on FantasyDraft salaries with “Premium” starting at $8,000 and higher.
Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox, $10,200 – Coming off a start where he shut down the Blue Jays over seven scoreless innings, C.C. Sabathia is in for another tough task against the Red Sox at home. For the season, Sabathia has registered an ERA more than one and a half runs better on the road (3.26) compared to at home (4.87). Additionally, Sabathia has allowed a .327 wOBA overall in the second half after limited opponents to just a .303 tally in the first half. Right-handers specifically have gotten the best of him as they’ve launched 17 HRs (out of 21 total). Amazingly, Hanley Ramirez is slashing .355/.424/.694 against LHP this year to go along with a team-leading .339 ISO and 11 HRs against the handedness. He is above and beyond the best option on the team especially when taking into his consideration his history against Sabathia. While he is only 2-13, he has put nine of those 13 balls in play for an average exit velocity of 96.4mph. Over a larger sample size, the average will even out and Ramirez should start to post numbers more similar to his totals against lefties as a whole.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, $10,000 – Ubaldo Jimenez is on the mound so you know what to do. Ideally the best starts against him are LHHs but Michael Saunders is hitting just .180 in the second half. Consequently, the top play against Jimenez and his 5.71 ERA is none other than Josh Donaldson. Not only does Donaldson lead the team in AVG (.284), OBP (.402) and SLG (.562) against righties but he has even stolen six bases against the handedness (only Kevin Pillar has stolen more). Oh by the way, Jimenez has allowed 25 SBs this year or the equivalent of the fourth most of any pitcher in baseball. Even though Jimenez is tougher on opposing righties, he has still allowed a .346 OBP and .318 wOBA to the side of the plate. Essentially, Donaldson’s elite talent should override any of Jimenez’s positives, and Vegas agrees as they project the Blue Jays to score a slate best 5.2 runs.
Freddie Freeman, Braves, $10,000 – On Wednesday, Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games, further proving this guy simply never flops. He is literally the best cash game player in the game of baseball as evident by the fact he hasn’t produced a goose egg since early August. What more is there to say about this guy? He’s interestingly hitting exactly .307 against both lefties and righties and easily leads the team with a .416 wOBA against RHP. Meanwhile, probable starter Jeremy Hellickson has allowed 11 HRs, a .261/.331/.434 slash line and .330 wOBA to RHHs. As icing on the cake, Hellickson has allowed a wOBA 21 percentage points higher on the road (.318) compared to at home (.297). Start Freeman in cash games as per usual.
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, $9,000 – One Blue Jay simply is not enough and we are still awaiting the status of the much cheaper Devon Travis. Therefore, Edwin Encarnacion and his team-leading 33 HRs against RHP earns the honor as the second player on the squad worth rostering. Active Toronto hitters actually only sport a .232/.322/.393 slash line against Jimenez and Encarnacion’s is pretty similar to the pack: .231/.362/.385 with one HR and eight walks in 39 ABs. Still, Encarnacion has hit for an AVG 33 points higher at home as well as a wOBA 36 percentage points higher. He loves the hitter-friendly aura of Rogers Centre and has excellent numbers against righties so brighter days are ahead against Jimenez. This should be one of him and he comes at a discount from to the elite hitters.
Danny Valencia/Khris Davis, Athletics – The two of these guys are difficult to choose from so writing up both in a single blurb seemed to make the most sense. Both possess similar, upper-echelon skill sets against LHP and will square off against Ariel Miranda in Safeco Park. Sure, Seattle is the most pitcher-friendly park in the league but this is still a battle between a mediocre lefty (4.10 ERA, 1.88 HR/9, 3.08 BB/9 and 6.49 K/9) and two bats that absolutely smoke the handedness. Both guys sport a wOBA greater than .375 against LHP, although Danny Valencia is clearly the better bargain. He is priced $400 cheaper and is slashing a whopping .320/.393/.536 against lefties. Both are absolutely roster-able but Davis for sure is best left for GPPs due to the negative ballpark shift and pure power skill set (.338 OBP but .289 ISO).
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, $8,100 – Last but not least amongst the elite plays is Matt Carpenter fresh off a disappointing night last night. Still, it’s time to go back to the well against Dan Straily who has been one of the luckiest pitchers in the game this season. Although he has allowed a 20.4-percent line drive rate and 32.5-percent hard hit rate (both above career averages), his ERA currently sits at 3.74 (well below his career average of 4.24). He has found a way to avoid regression for much of the second half (3.00 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) but his 4.93 FIP, 5.49 xFIP versus LHHs have to catch up with him at some point. To this point, Straily has walked a brutal 4.89 LHHs per nine innings and they have produced a line drive rate of 20.7-percent. On the other hand, Carpenter has hit the ball hard a ridiculous 47.6-percent of the time against RHP this year and has walked at a 13.9-percent rate against the handedness. Oh by the way, he also owns a .387 wOBA and .541 SLG against righties as well. All-in-all, this matchup is a lot friendlier than it looks by just gazing over Straily’s mainstream numbers and Carpenter is worth deploying in all formats once again.
Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers, $7,600 – On a team full of guys who struggle against LHP, Yasmany Grandal has quietly put together a productive season against the handedness. Grandal handily leads the team in wOBA (.349) against lefties and is slashing .225/.382/.408 against the handedness. Clearly, he’s not a rock solid cash option due to the subpar AVG but opposing starter Christian Friedrich isn’t going to throw a no-hitter. In fact, Vegas implies 4.6 runs from the Dodgers in this game in Petco Park and the options are pretty limited as to who will be the one to deliver the damage…because most of the Dodgers can’t hit southpaws. Friedrich has been solid in the month of September but he has still allowed a 4.81 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in the second half. Furthermore, one of Grandal’s major strengths against LHP is his ability to get on base and Friedrich has walked 4.10 RHHs per nine innings this season to go along with a 1.49 WHIP. While Friedrich is one of the pitchers I’ll be strongly considering on this slate, Grandal is worthy of a one-off play.
Mallex Smith, Braves, $7,600 – After a nearly three month absence, Mallex Smith finally returned earlier this month. While he didn’t draw the start yesterday against the lefty, he did draw the start on Tuesday and steal a base for the second consecutive game. It’s unclear whether the team will deploy him in the leadoff spot against righties moving forward, but if they do, watch out. Smith is literally as fast as anyone in the game and Hellickson’s struggles against LHHs were laid out in the Freeman tidbit. Hellickson is tied for 52nd in the league with 10 SBs against him so swiping a base is certainly possible (especially if Cameron Rupp does not start). At this price tag, and with his speed, it’s worth the risk.
Adam Jones, Orioles, $7,200 – Adam Jones has struggled against left-handers this year but when do you ever see his price tag dip this low against a RHP? Marcus Stroman has allowed 10 HRs to RHHs this year and has understandably struggles in the Rogers Centre (4.55 ERA). In 11 career ABs, Jones has produced six hits off of Stroman with an average exit velocity of 88.4mph. Coming off a three hit game yesterday, and considering he is amidst a vintage Jones season, this is one of the easiest plays on the entire slate.
Eric Hosmer, Royals, $7,200 – Since Eric Hosmer is flat struggling since the All-Star Break to the tune of a .227/.298/.377 slash line, it’s understandable why one would want to just gloss over his name. However, Kyle Gibson is the perfect opponent to spark a hot streak because has allowed a healthy .330/.394/.498 slash line and .382 wOBA to opposing LHHs this season. Hell, he has even failed to strike out 6.00 lefties per nine innings (5.71) and has walked 3.86 of them per nine innings as well. Quite frankly, Gibson is one of the best possible matchups a LHH could ask for. Even amidst a slump, this is the perfect game for Hosmer to wake up.