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April 7, 2015

Fantasy Rounders

Run for Cover

by Doug Thorburn

Opening Day was jam-packed with excitement, not to mention monster point totals in DFS from jump-starters Hanley Ramirez (36 points), Nolan Arenado (34), and Dustin Pedroia (31). On the mound, there were feats of dominance from all over the pricing scale (David Price, Sonny Gray, Clay Buchholz). Folks who stacked the lineup with heavy-hitting Brewers against theoretical punching bag Kyle Kendrick were sorely disappointed, as Kendrick blanked the Brew Crew for seven frames while the expensive trio of Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, and Jonathan Lucroy went a combined 0-for-10 with five strikeouts. The Rockies bats went nuts on the road, Tanaka got shelled, up was down, day was night, and in his first plate appearance of the season Mike Trout took King Felix yard. What more could a Baseballholic ask for?

Tuesday is just a half-slate, with eight games on the menu and all of them starting after 7:00pm EST. Mother Nature relented for a gorgeous Opening Day, but weather could play a much bigger role in today's games.

Splits

There is little money to be spent on pitchers today, and several of the biggest bats in the game are in play, so expect there to be a lot of stacked lineups with plenty of overlap with the top players. Platoons take center stage today, as we examine a handful of players whose stock swings violently based on the handedness of the opposing pitcher.

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  • Roster Format: 2 P, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS, 3 OF, 1 C​


Giancarlo Stanton, OF ($5000)
LHP: .290/.385/.591 in 623 PA
RHP: .265/.357/.524 in 2017 PA

Not that you needed any additional reasons to roster Giancarlo Stanton, but his matchup today with Alex Wood is a dream scenario. Big G has favored lefties to the tune of 95 points of OPS over his career, and he is not to be fazed by Wood's funky delivery (17 previous PA head-to-head) or his 90-mph fastball. The stuff matchup is the nail in the coffin, because Wood's three-pitch repertoire (fastball-curveball-change at a ratio of 60/20/20) falls right into Stanton's wheelhouse.

Stanton vs pitch types, (AVG/SLG)
Fastballs (all types): .293/.567 in 1231 AB
Slider: .210/.422 in 467 AB
Curve: .230/.519 in 287 AB
Change: .346/.697 in 211 AB

Wood typically doubles his change-up frequency versus right-handed batters (compared to lefties), but he might want to re-think that strategy with Stanton at the dish. Sample size caveats aside, slugging nearly .700 (with a .351 ISO) for 211 at bats is ridiculous no matter how you slice up the data.

Kyle Seager, 3B ($3600)
LHP: .238/.288/.378 in 768 PA
RHP: .276/.349/.458 in 1433 PA

The price is seemingly a bargain for the slugging third baseman, whose raw skills are worthy of a price tag north of $4000, but his ineptitude against southpaws has been well documented. Seager will be facing LHP C.J. Wilson today and Seager gave up 200 points of OPS to southpaws last season, so the best option might be to pass and hope that the sticker price holds for another day.

Ike Davis, 1B ($3600)
LHP: .196/.261/.316 in 475 PA
RHP: .254/.357/.456 in 1663 PA

Davis only plays versus righties as the A's continue to emphasize platoons in their roster construction. His OPS split is a ridiculous +236 points for his career, and his modest price will allow gamers to splurge on other positions. Facing the homer-philic Colby Lewis today, Davis has a very soft matchup that plays well into his strengths, as the right-handed Lewis has a career line of .286/.357/.472 vs. opposing lefties.

Derek Norris, C ($3200)
LHP: .292/.374/.486 in 439 PA
RHP: .208/.305/.314 in 543 PA

Whereas left-handed bats that come up empty against southpaws are relatively common, it's more rare to find such an egregious example of right-on-right futility. Norris is facing the right-handed Zack Greinke today, so there's a halfway decent chance that he rides the pine, but the splits indicate that it is best to avoid D-No even if he's in the lineup. There are several layers of enticement with Norris, from his bargain basement price tag to his potential spot in the order (two-spot yesterday) and his solid performance against Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day. Beware, it's a trap.

Opponents
Opening Day was saturated with top-flight arms, but the aftermath left us with merely remnants of yesterday's quality. It doesn't help that there is only a half-slate of ballgames from which to choose, but there is still plenty of intrigue with the group that is taking the hill today.

Zack Greinke vs. SD ($8800)
A lot of folks will be rostering Greinke, given that he is the most trustworthy of the SP class for the day (yet is $200 cheaper than Jake Arrieta vs the Cardinals). He is the 50/50 gem of Tuesday's options, so avoid him at your own peril in those tournies, but in the GPP setup (thousands of entrants) it is a good idea to try to roll the dice elsewhere if you want to differentiate your roster and go for the big bucks.

Nate Karns vs. BAL ($5000)
Karns is trying to spare a beleaguered rotation that has been rocked by injuries to Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly. With just five starts of experience under his belt, Karns will be facing a thirsty Oriole lineup that feasts on right-handed pitching. Chris Davis ($4400) adds 125 points of OPS versus right-handers in his career, Adam Jones ($4400) has a reverse split (though it re-reversed itself last season), and Manny Machado ($3900) has also hit fellow righties a tad better in his brief tenure (albeit the 17-point difference is essentially negligible). There could be some crooked numbers on the scoreboard vs. Karns, but at the cheapest price among today's starters, he will have some investors.

Tyson Ross @ LAD ($7900)
The combination of Ross and Derek Norris (who only caught 12 of 72 steal attempts in 2014) presents a nearly ideal scenario for base thieves, though there's a chance that Norris will be riding pine with the right-handed Greinke on the mound for the Dodgers. Tyson gave up 31 steals last year (third most in baseball), and LA burners such as Jimmy Rollins ($3600), Yasiel Puig ($4400), and Joc Pederson ($3500) could take advantage.

Lance Lynn @ CHC ($8300)
Lynn is the anti-Ross. Opposing baserunners managed just a single steal against Lynn last season in four attempts, and that was with the rifle-armed Yadier Molina on the shelf for a good chunk of the year. For his career, base runners have been successful on just 17 of 35 steal attempts (48.6 percent) against Lynn through 616 innings. With Yadier back in tow, the red light should be on for the Cubs on the bases.

Recent Trends

Joc Pederson ($3500)
Pederson had a nice introduction to the 2015 season, knocking a double, taking a walk, stealing a bag, scoring a run and making a “circus catch” (Vin's words) on Opening Day. He also mashed up the Grapefruit League, hitting .338/.377/.692 with 11 extra-base hits and a pair of steals, following a 2014 campaign in which he led the Pacific Coast League with 33 homers, 106 runs scored, 100 walks, a .403 OBP and 1017 OPS; his 30 steals were tied for seventh. The PCL is a hitter's paradise and he was playing his home games in the ultimate haven of Albuquerque, so the raw numbers are skewed by context, but the fact that he led the league in so many categories is perhaps more indicative of his relative skill level. Joc hit seventh in the order on Opening Day, so his RuBI (R+RBI) opportunities will be limited in the short term, but his skill set will fit anywhere in the lineup and Pederson could start climbing in short order. He stole a bag in game one and the odds of a repeat performance are strong given the aforementioned shortcomings of Tyson Ross and Derek Norris.

Injuries/Playing Time

  • Chris Davis ($4400) will be back in the lineup today after serving his single game of suspension. Roster accordingly.

  • Mike Napoli was the odd man out with Boston playing in an NL park, bowing to David Ortiz despite the presence of lefty Cole Hamels on the mound, and that trend will likely continue through the series (no game today).

  • Ryan Braun ($4900) suffered a strain in his right side that took him out of yesterday's game. The price tag is too rich for my blood even if he plays, given the dampening effect on power that often comes packaged with injuries to a hitter's side/oblique.

  • John Jaso ($3200) sprained his wrist and will be out for at least a couple of days.

  • Jake Peavy was scratched from today's start due to back soreness, and he will be replaced by Ryan Vogelsong ($5800) against the Diamondbacks.


																																																									
Weather

It's a great day to cling to the indoor stadia, as five of the eight ball games today are being played in weather-proof environs. All three of the outdoor games are under various threats of rain, an issue which can spell doom for a starting pitcher in particular, as a long enough delay will end his night prematurely.

  • SD vs. LAD – Los Angeles is currently reporting a 70% chance of rain through the day and night – click for updates
  • TEX vs. OAK - Oakland is currently reporting that there will be scattered thunderstorms with a 60% chance of rain. - click for updates
  • STL vs. CHC - Chicago has incoming rain that is currently on track to hit right around game time (7:05 CT) – click for updates

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

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