July 2, 2014
Daily League Strategy
A Bargain First Baseman
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.
1. Tyler Skaggs ($12,501 LAA at CWS)
Skaggs got off to a strong start in April with a 3.34 ERA that was mostly supported by his component numbers, but then he spent May and June (one start before getting hurt) going guardrail-to-guardrail: 6, 2, 5, 1, 2, 4, and 4 were his ER counts, yielding a 5.18 ERA in 41 2/3 innings despite strong skills befitting something lower. The White Sox have been brutal against lefties this year creating a nice buying opportunity for Skaggs at a point when he is likely to be underused as many fantasy players like to avoid pitchers in their first start off the disabled list.
2. Charlie Morton ($14,588 PIT vs. ARI)
A beatdown in Wrigley kept Morton from having a huge June, but it was still pretty good. He had a 3.66 ERA (2.42 ERA in the non-Wrigley games), 1.09 WHIP, and 4.3 K:BB ratio buoyed by a surprising 39 strikeouts in the 32 innings of work. He had 45 strikeouts in his first 11 starts before the 39 in five June starts. With that, we have to be cautious about fully accepting the strikeouts as a new level, but he’s similar to Fister in that he has a heavy ground-ball approach that can succeed without strikeouts. The Diamondbacks are hitting better of late with their best runs per game mark in June at 4.2, but they still aren’t an offense to consistently avoid.
3. Ryan Vogelsong ($12,888 SF vs. STL)
I am surprised by Vogelsong’s price here. This feels like a nice bargain. His 3.96 ERA is a touch high, but his 3.45 FIP says he has been a bit better than that. His strikeout rate not only returned to his 2011-2012 levels, but it’s actually bypassed it with a career-high 7.7 K/9. He’s been volatile this year with seven starts of four-plus earned runs and eight of 0-1 runs, but volatility can be desirable in these lower-end picks. When you invest this kind of price tag in an arm, you can get by with lesser results, but you still want to have a chance to score big. Vogelsong offers that chance. It’s much better to have someone who mixes in 7 IP/0 ER-type outings with 3 IP/5 ER-types, as opposed to the guy who just goes with the baseline quality start (6 IP/3 ER) every time out.
1. Mike Napoli ($6,435 BOS vs. CHC)
Napoli has gotten on base in each of his last nine games with a 1.220 OPS that includes three homers, three RBIs, six runs, and seven walks. He gets a look at Travis Wood, who has a massive platoon split this year with an .811 OPS against righties (.451 against lefties) including eight of his nine home runs allowed.
2. Adrian Beltre ($8,224 TEX at BAL)
Beltre is having a fantastic season in Arlington, especially considering the carnage surrounding him. The power is down a bit with a pace of just 18 homers and the RBIs are down, too, both because of the power outage and the aforementioned carnage, but his .332/.378/.506 leaves no questions about whether or not he’s producing. He has no discernible platoon split to worry about, either. He has a .907 OPS against lefties and an .877 against righties. Chris Tillman is better against righties, but he’s still giving up home runs, and this year has seen his strikeout, walk, and hit rates all go the wrong way. His recent four-start run of 1.61 ERA came with a 7-to-8 K:BB ratio in 28 innings.
3. Nick Markakis ($6,683 BAL vs. TEX)
Markakis has had a bit of a renaissance this year, pushing his OPS back up from .685 to .761 thanks to improved performance against both right- and left-handed pitchers. He’s also gotten better by month so far this season going from .720 in April to .773 and then .784. He should easily out-pace last year’s 10 home run count and he’s well within striking distance of setting a five-year high (15 in 2011). In short, he’s been solid this year. He gets someone named Miles Mikolas, who is set to make his first MLB start (though not his debut). Lefties were tearing Mikolas apart at Triple-A Round Rock with a .812 OPS, compared to .585 for righties.
4. C.J. Cron ($5,748 LAA at CWS)
They seem to have pounced on the Chris Iannetta-vs.-lefties boost with his pricing at $6,780. He was priced at $5,141 yesterday. Cron doesn’t get the same treatment despite his prowess against lefties, because he’s been great against righties (a big improvement in 2014 as he posted a .696 OPS against them last year in Double-A), too, so the difference isn’t that stark. Additionally, the depth of his position will often keep his price in check. Maybe you prefer to go big at first base today, but you can still utilize Cron at your utility spot, especially if you’ve spent extravagantly elsewhere.
5. Tommy La Stella ($6,319 ATL vs. NYM)
La Stella has been a punchless hitter in his short major league time (31 games), but that hasn’t stopped him from being rather productive for daily gamers. He has hit .282 with a .360 OBP thanks to 14 walks (against just 11 strikeouts). He has made up for the lack of power with 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, and a couple of stolen bases. He’s unlikely to give you that huge night-changing game because he doesn’t hit homers, but he seems to get on base at least once a game (and in fact has in 26 of his 30 starts) so you’re betting on the high-floor.
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Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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