June 3, 2014
Daily League Strategy
Going Big at First Base
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I’d love to take advantage of Anibal Sanchez at a sharp $17,978, but I can’t go against Toronto right now—especially in Toronto. In lieu of that, I will be looking at James Shields ($16,325) at St. Louis as my top arm while Jordan Zimmermann ($13,944) and Homer Bailey ($13,224) will be my value plays. Both are struggling a bit this year (Bailey more so), but I believe in the skills of both, and they are too good to continue flailing like this. Even Yovani Gallardo ($13,175) looks appealing against a Minnesota team that has been just abysmal on the road of late.
Yan Gomes ($4,826) looks like a nice pick tomorrow against Jake Peavy. He’s done his best week at home and against righties. Meanwhile, Peavy has struggled against righties with an .873 OPS this year. If you’re looking to spend a bit more on the backstop, Wilin Rosario ($5,960) hasn’t really gotten going yet this year, but he’s facing Chase Anderson and it’s at home. Even with his limited time due to an injury, he still has a more than useful 2.5 PPG rate. And finally, I have no idea why Jonathan Lucroy is priced at just $6,630 against Samuel Deduno. I realize Lucroy is more of a lefty-masher, but his work against righties has stabilized over the last three years and been plenty useful: .284 AVG and .789 OPS.
I’m going big at first base on Tuesday. Adrian Gonzalez ($8,346) and Paul Goldschmidt ($8,115) are the third- and fourth-most expensive first basemen on the board, but they also have excellent matchups. Gonzalez gets Hector Noesi who has just been brutal this year with all six of his homers against lefties, while Goldschmidt gets a lefty in Jorge De La Rosa and gets to face him in Coors. If you need to save a little bit there (a very little bit if you’re going from Goldy), Brandon Moss ($7,986) against a righty is always a good bet. If you need to save something more substantial, you can bet on Chris Davis ($6,335) starting to turn his .230 AVG around in his old stomping grounds against Joe Saunders.
Dee Gordon ($6,845) has to be the play here at this price against Noesi. His stolen bases alone keep his value high, as he really doesn’t even need to log any hits to turn in a strong day. At the risk of going to the well repeatedly against the same pitchers, I also like Aaron Hill ($5,418). He does his best work against lefties and again, they’re in Coors. Hill hasn’t really broken through in 2014, but he’s still been solid with five homers and 26 RBI.
The hot corner gives me fits near-daily when I’m trying to make out my lineup. If you don’t spend on one of just a couple of studs, you basically have to go dumpster diving. Anibal Sanchez is definitely awesome, but Juan Francisco ($5,793) has been embarrassing righties regardless of their quality with eight homers, 20 RBI, and a 1.102 OPS in 104 PA. Manny Machado ($5,071) has 2.4 PPG despite hitting just .230 in his limited time back from injury, but he won’t stay down much longer and neither will his price tag. A trip to Texas without Yu Darvish on the slate offers a nice chance to use Machado for a few days straight. I still like a cheap David Wright ($5,622), too.
I’ve been backing Everth Cabrera ($4,298) for a while now, and he’s been delivering, including on Monday night with a 1-for-3 effort that included a double, RBI, run scored, walk, and stolen base before he was lifted early. And I have to jump on de la Rosa one more time here… Chris Owings is the third-cheapest SS at $3,164 and carries an .859 OPS against lefties into the game—202 points higher than his work against righties. Using Owings will really open you up to roster multiple studs elsewhere in your lineup, or to consider using C.J. Wilson ($22,147) against the Astros.
Giancarlo Stanton ($8,853) feels like a bargain as the seventh-most expensive outfielder on the board. Chris Archer has been inconsistent throughout the year and while he’s greatly limited homers, he’s still allowed all three of his to righties. At the very least, Stanton is likely to walk multiple times as Archer might just opt to unintentionally-intentionally walk him. Either Rangers studs against Ubaldo Jimenez makes a good OF2 behind Stanton with Shin-Soo Choo ($7,529) and Alex Rios ($7,522) essentially costing the same.
In the bargain bin, a couple of speedsters are catching my eye: Rajai Davis ($5,977) and Billy Hamilton ($5,621). Neither has a remarkably difficult opponent (Hutchison and Lincecum, respectively), and like Gordon, they really don’t need to collect hits to do legitimate damage with their stolen bases. Speaking of Reds, Jay Bruce ($4,977) essentially has to be ridden daily at this point as he comes out of his funk. Maybe you can skip him against some tougher lefties, but against Lincecum and for under $5,000 is definitely a matchup to pounce upon.
And finally, Alfonso Soriano ($4,235) is in one of his normal troughs, but he’s sure to come out of it soon and have one of his obscene runs, and why not start it against a lefty? It is Scott Kazmir, who has been great this year, but Soriano has an .859 OPS against southpaws.
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Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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