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May 9, 2014

Daily League Strategy

Weekend Lineup Advice

by Paul Sporer

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DraftStreet offers one of the best lineup constructions in the industry allowing for three pitchers, two starters and a starter/reliever. Additionally, they don’t overvalue the win as it is worth just two points. The rest of the scoring and roster setup can be viewed here if you aren’t already familiar with it.

CATCHER
Jonathan Lucroy ($4,754) has just the one homer, but he’s hitting .293 with a .364 OBP so he rarely puts up a goose egg. Yes, this is verbatim what I wrote on Tuesday except with updated totals and a lowered price. I know the power has been absent, but I’m confident it’s on the way. Even against Tanaka, I wouldn’t mind using him given the scant cost, but he’ll definitely be in the lineup against Sabathia and Phelps in the other two games of this weekend series.

Sunday Backup Special: David Ross ($2,691) and the Red Sox face Robbie Ross on Sunday and Ross does his best work against lefties. We usually see backup catchers on Sundays, but obviously check the lineups to make sure Ross or your favorite backup backstop is actually getting the nod.

FIRST BASE
I hope you got in Miguel Cabrera ($9,966) while he was cheap. And more importantly, I hope you got one of the frequent great efforts the day(s) that you picked him. Even at his lofty cost, he’s still worth targeting. Edwin Encarnacion ($7,225) is heating up big time with four homers in the Philly four-game series, including two on Thursday night. His price is still really nice compared to the star group that Encarnacion will be in by year’s end (if not sooner).

The Superstar Punt: Usually punting a position means you’re getting a lesser talent to save the money, but Joey Votto ($6,669) is almost a punt at that price, especially since you rarely want to skimp entirely on first base. His being sandwiched by Eric Hosmer ($6,722) and Ryan Howard ($6,652) shows just how underpriced Votto is right now.

SECOND BASE
With 21 stolen bases and a .338 AVG, Dee Gordon ($6,956) has been excellent this year. He has just one zero in his last 10 games at DraftStreet and he’s had at least three points in seven of the 10. I’m surprised he’s still so cheap relatively speaking. I know he doesn’t do it with power, but those multi-hit, multi-steal efforts get the job done just fine.

Power Play: Brandon Hicks ($5,400) has 17 hits… and six of them are home runs.

THIRD BASE
Do you want to ride Nolan Arenado’s ($6,195) hitting streak? He extended it to 28 games on Thursday and there isn’t a huge tax on him right now despite the surge. They’re headed to Cincinnati and I think the streak will be broken there, but at least if you want to jump in on the hot streak, you can do so at a fair price. Nick Castellanos ($5,067) hasn’t really seen his price balloon at all this year despite some impressive runs. He’s still hitting just .237, but he’s pacing to 22 HR and 103 RBI and the average will come up.

Platoon Option: The Jays are using Juan Francisco ($5,474) brilliantly, with 79 percent of his appearances coming against righties (1.250 OPS against them this year). The power is definitely there, and he’s being protected from lefties, so he is a viable option at the hot corner.

SHORTSTOP
From Tuesday: “From Friday: ‘Troy Tulowitzki ($9,853) is the most expensive hitter at DraftStreet right now and yet he’s been so good that he’s almost worth it on a daily basis.’ He’s over $1,000 more now at $10,956 and he still feels absolutely worth it.“ He’s actually down to $10,149 right now which totally makes him worth it. Joking aside, I’ll stop using this copy-n-paste device once Tulo cools down. He’ll have his hands full with the Reds rotation, but I feel like he could see a marble at 96 MPH right now.

Elsewhere at the Position: Literally everyone else is at least $3,199 cheaper so the downside with Tulo is that you’re about dead if he doesn’t rake for you. Truth be told, he’s probably cost-prohibitive at this point, but would anyone be surprised if he continued rolling?

OUTFIELD
The right picks in the outfield can really make your night. I mean, obviously the right picks anywhere will help, but with so much potential for big value in the outfield, it becomes especially key. Mike Trout ($10,442) and Shin-Soo Choo ($9,380) are the only options north of $8,500. There are only nine more north of $8000. That leaves a lot of talent that in the $5,500-8,000 range. Rajai Davis ($6,706) shares in Gordon’s SB bias as the speedster is easily the cheapest hitter in the 4.00 PPG range. Justin Upton ($6932) is delivering 3.62 PPG at a great price, especially heading into a series against the Cubs.

Carlos Gomez ($7054) feels like a steal at his price with the 13th-highest PPG output in the outfield (3.69) as the 19th-most expensive at the position. Austin Jackson ($6,611) is quietly having a great season, too, with 3.29 PPG.

PITCHING
There are tons of big arms going on Friday and you’ll definitely need at least one in your lineup to compete and perhaps two as we could see some special games. Of course that means you have to scrape the bargain bin for that third pitcher if you’re going to get three starters. Jason Vargas ($11,758) headed back to Safeco where he has a 3.33 ERA in 376 innings is definitely a good third option contender.

Tommy Milone ($10,855) excels at home over his career with a 3.25 ERA in 182 2/3 innings, but the Nats have punished left-handers this year. Meanwhile Milone hasn’t been great regardless of venue. He’s definitely a gamble, but the price is right for it. And finally, Dustin McGowan ($9,001) is fighting for his rotation and gets a tough Angels lineup in a hitter-friendly ballpark, but the last two starts have been solid and bought him a stay of execution. As the cheapest pitcher on the board, he might be a fun gamble so you can afford a pair of aces up top.

NOTES

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Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Eyewitness Accounts: E... (05/08)
<< Previous Column
Daily League Strategy:... (05/06)
Next Column >>
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