August 1, 2014
Daily League Strategy
Splurging on Bats
With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
1. Doug Fister ($7,800 WAS v. PHI)
Fister has lower strikeout numbers than Sonny Gray ($9,500), and his groundball rate isn’t quite as good, yet his ERA and WHIP are right there with Gray’s (albeit in fewer innings because Fister was hurt for a bit). DraftKings accounts for his modest strikeout rate in their pricing, making him a strong value, especially if you’re looking for consistency and a high floor of production. You won’t always get that top-three SP score, but he’ll rarely be outside of the top 10, even on a 30-pitcher night.
2. Justin Verlander ($6,500 DET v. COL)
Okay, stick with me for a second. I realize the 4.79 ERA isn’t something you’re exactly dying to invest in, but I think this price point is too good to pass up. Granted, he’s down here because of his own poor work. I just think the upside of a 20-point outing is too good to pass up at this low, low cost. The Rockies have been wretched on the road (what’s new?) and they come in hobbled (again, what’s new?) with Troy Tulowitzki on the shelf. It’s a gamble, but if I had told you at the beginning of the season that you could get Verlander paired up with Adam Wainwright without having to sacrifice your offense, you’d have jumped at the chance. This is obviously a lesser version of Verlander, but I still believe in his stuff.
3. Matt Shoemaker ($6,800 LAA at TB)
His 4 IP/8 ER destruction in Kansas City has his ERA at 4.13, but he has a 3.36 ERA in his other 72 1/3 innings of work, spanning 10 starts and six relief appearances. He’s already handled the Rays once, back in his second start of the season when he went 6 IP/1 ER against them with six strikeouts. That debacle in KC plus the fact that he’s not really an established name have Shoemaker’s price depressed. He’s averaging 19 points per start over his last seven, which is right near Collin McHugh’s 19.3 PPG, and yet Shoemaker costs $6,800 compared to McHugh’s $8,200.
1. Jose Abreu ($5,400 CWS v. MIN)
Sometimes you just want to splurge on a huge bat, and they don’t get much bigger than Abreu’s lately. He’s averaging a ridiculous 10 points per game and he hasn’t gone scoreless in any of his last 10, including 17 yesterday. He quite literally has no platoon split with a .993 OPS against lefties and .992 against righties. He gets a rookie lefty in Logan Darnell today. He’s decimated Twins pitching in 11 games with a 1.013 OPS, a pair of homers and 14 RBI.
2. Rajai Davis ($4,300 DET v. COL)
There are plenty of viable Tigers choices today against Franklin Morales, but I’m rolling with Davis. He has long been known for his ownership of southpaws and this year has been no different with a .982 OPS in 102 at-bats, including three homers and 14 RBI. He’s the newly minted centerfielder for the Tigers, though Ezequiel Carrera was called up and will likely take some of his time away against righties. Davis’ stolen bases were way down in July with just three (22 in the first three months), but that game-changing speed can turn a 1-for-4 night into a star-level effort with a couple of stolen bases (5 pts each).
3. Stephen Vogt ($3,800 OAK v. KC)
The A’s newest utility toy has been raking this year, especially against righties with a .919 OPS in 134 PA. He’s facing Jeremy Guthrie, who’s been shelled for a 200-points-higher OPS against lefties at .859 with 16 homers allowed. At $3,800, he’s the cheapest of Oakland’s three excellent backstops (Jaso $4,400 and Norris $4,000) despite having the best numbers of the bunch, albeit in many fewer PA. If you love someone else at catcher, you can still use Vogt in the outfield, but I love him as the 19th-most expensive catcher.
4. Josh Reddick ($4,200 OAK v. KC)
You can choose from the bevy of Oakland lefties yourself, but I’m going with a Vogt/Reddick combo. Reddick is on fire since returning from the DL (for a second time) with a .978 OPS in his 33 PA with a couple of homers, four RBIs, and seven runs scored. Each of his last five scoring days have been double-digit totals, though there are some zeroes mixed in: 0, 21, 0, 11, 14, 0, 14, and 16.
5. Andrew McCutchen ($5,100 PIT at ARI)
I’m doing it. I’m going for a pair of $5,000+ bats today. Vidal Nuno has a near-200 point split against righties at .834 OPS compared to his .685 against lefties. Cutch had an 1.135 OPS against lefties in 2012-2013 and while he’s down to .868 this year, I’m still running him out there. First off, there’s nothing *wrong* with an .868, but I also suspect he’s due for some improvement against southpaws. In addition to those two huge seasons before this year, he’s been over .900 in other three years, too, giving him a total of .988 in 807 career PA v. lefties.
If you go with Fister/Verlander on the mound and all five of these hitters, you still have $4,300 per spot for your 2B, 3B, and SS, which is plenty of money to avoid any major dead spots in your lineup.
Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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