May 14, 2014
Daily League Strategy
Paul's Picks for Wednesday
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The backstops have been rather uninspiring this year, with Kurt Suzuki ($4659) leading the pack with 3.26 PPG. With that, you might be better off just living in the $4000-5000 range and plucking Chris Iannetta ($4625) or Dioner Navarro ($4328) against a lefty or just riding Wilson Ramos ($5171) as he builds his price back up after an injury.
Stay Aways: Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($4173) and Josmil Pinto ($5354) have both been good this year, but they’ve done their damage against righties and both have to face lefties on Wednesday.
If you aren’t going to invest in the superstuds who carry the premium (with good reason), you might want to jump all the way down to C.J. Cron ($5300), who is batting fifth in a potent lineup. He’s a bona fide power source with a career .501 SLG in 1403 minor-league plate appearances. It’s tough to move away from star power at first base because it’s so potent, so if you’re set on using the Cabreras and Abreus of the world, then you can consider Cron at your U spot.
Don’t Forget: Victor Martinez ($7737) is qualified only at DH at DraftStreet, so he’d have to fill your U spot, but don’t ignore him just because of that. He’s been excellent this year, but you don’t have to pay a premium for him. He’s $1818 cheaper than David Ortiz ($9555), yet he’s out-pacing him in average (.336 to .287) and tied with him homers (9) and RBIs (23), and he sits just three runs behind him with 16. Plus he has a stolen base! Okay, I wouldn’t expect any more of those, but I do expect him to continue to rake.
Daniel Murphy ($6733) is doing it again: he’s having a great season that is being overlooked. This happened a lot at the draft table this past March, but DraftStreet is also offering a nice discount on the Mets second sacker. He’s eighth in price but just behind Brian Dozier ($7482) in points at 4.1 PPG. While his pace has slowed, Emilio Bonifacio ($5198) is still producing. His lack of power makes huge days less likely, but his batting average and stolen base skills give you a great chance to get something almost every day.
Power Play: I wouldn’t use either on Wednesday, as they’re facing superstars, but Jedd Gyorko ($4530) is a worthy punt option because he’s still showing power, and Wilmer Flores ($4457) is one to watch as he looks to get some steady playing time.
It’s difficult to spend much on third base consistently unless you just want to cycle the same three or four guys. If I don't go bargain hunting, I usually just ride Josh Donaldson ($8136), especially against lefties. After hitting .115 with a .264 OPS through his first six games, Donaldson has a .289 average and .915 OPS in the 33 games since then, with just six hitless games. No one paying attention was worried about him after six games, but I point it out to show how that little hiccup to start the season has held down his numbers. He’s been excellent since then, and quite consistent, which is of course huge for DFS.
Platoon Option: I’m simply repeating myself from May 9th, save for the slight increase in his price:
The Jays are using Juan Francisco ($5509) 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.
I know, it’s hard not to continue to use Troy Tulowitzki, but he’s nearly $11,000 now. Hanley Ramirez at $7196 remains a consistent target for me. I also like jumping all the way down to Jhonny Peralta ($5147), because the one thing he is doing really well is hitting for power. Power is scarce, especially at shortstop, and Peralta’s eight homers rank second only to Tulo’s 11.
Like Tulo, Giancarlo Stanton ($10475) is tough to resist because he’s been so damn good, but that’s just too high a price to pay unless there are some cheap pitching options that you really love. Melky Cabrera ($6824) hasn’t slowed down much at all, and he is a steal on a nightly basis at this price. Meanwhile, reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen ($7053) is hitting well enough and has a deep enough track record that I wouldn’t be surprised if his price were at least $1000 higher, yet he’s just the 19th-highest-priced outfielder.
Wednesday’s slate of starters drops off a cliff quickly, talent-wise, so you have to decide if you’re going to go big with two stud arms and several bargain bats or spread the risk with one stud and one possible dud (whom you hope shines!). I’ve actually created a Johnny Cueto ($26,384)/Masahiro Tanaka ($24,815) lineup just to see what I can come up with offensively. On the tier below those two, you’ll find Michael Wacha ($22,006) and Corey Kluber ($18,229), before jumping way down to a host of talented but less-proven arms.
My favorite option in the latter tier is Wily Peralta ($16,815), who faces Pittsburgh for the second time this season. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any outing, and while his strikeouts have lagged on the whole, he has the ability to log six or seven in any given start. In the bargain bin, Dustin McGowan ($9944) is the only one of the five guys under $12,000 whom I would consider. He’s been going deeper into games thanks in part to an insulin pump that he’s now wearing on the mound.
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Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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