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July 17, 2015

Fantasy Rounders

Country Breakfast with a Side of Grit

by Doug Thorburn

The second half officially gets underway with today's full slate of ballgames, with batteries recharged and rosters being reassessed as teams head into the trade deadline. The time off gives players the opportunity to hit the reset button both physically and mentally, taking an ounce of the arbitrary out of the analytical tendency to view half-season splits. With this in mind, the astute reader will notice the absence of the Recency category for today's Rounders, as the salt-filled numbers of short-sample trends get an extra shot of sodium from the All-Star Break. We're keeping things positive in order to reflect the optimism of this time of year, emphasizing the players to target when constructing DFS rosters today.

Platoons

Target: Justin Upton OF ($3900, +98 OPS and +.050 ISO in career vs. LHP), Matt Kemp OF, ($4000, +133 OPS and +.038 ISO in career vs. LHP) and Derek Norris C ($3200, +195 OPS and +.054 ISO) facing LHP Jorge De La Rosa ($5900, +153 OPS and +.068 ISO vs. RHB)

The Padres offense has fallen completely off-track, and though the roster is packed to the hilt with right-handed pop, the recent struggles have hit the squad across the board. Perhaps the break will do nothing to stop the freefall, but today's matchup with southpaw De La Rosa gives them an opportunity to start the second half swinging. Upton, in what has become an annual occurrence, has reversed course from a monster start to the season and comes out of the break with a .253/.331/.422 line that would be his lowest season-long OPS if the campaign ended today. Kemp's bat started to come alive prior to the break, but Norris has slipped from what looked like a breakout campaign (795 OPS on June 1st) to a .233/.279/.407 line that contains the same slugging percentage that has earmarked the past two campaigns along with an anemic OBP that has turned his greatest asset into a stark weakness.

RHB's Buster Posey C/1B ($4100, +122 OPS and +.080 ISO in career vs. LHP) and Hunter Pence OF ($4100, +54 OPS and +.039 ISO) facing LHP Robbie Ray ($5900, +24 OPS and -.049 ISO vs. RHB)

Posey's career affinity for portsiders is undeniable, but his short-sample split from 2015 actually shows a reverse trend: .326/.398/.517 in 269 plate appearances versus right-handers this season but just .269/.319/.433 in 72 PA against southpaws. The flukes of small samples aside, I would trust his career numbers in this instance as he faces Robbie Ray and the Diamondbacks. Pence just returned from his second DL stint of the season, and though he is assured to fall short of a third consecutive season of 162 games played, Pence has otherwise picked right up where he left off with an overall line of .283/.320/.457 in 97 plate appearances that shows no ill effects from his time spent on the shelf. Ray has less than 80 innings under his belt at the highest level, so take the youngster's splits with extra large grains of salt, and his theoretical advantage against a Giant lineup that leans heavily to the left-side is mitigated by his vulnerability to San Francisco's most imposing batters.

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Steals

Target: Rajai Davis OF ($4000, 14-of-17 SB) and Anthony Gose OF ($3800, 14-of-20 SB) facing RHP Ubaldo Jimenez ($5700, opponents 14-of-16 SB).

Ubaldo is experiencing a renaissance on the bump this season, but his career-long weakness toward opposing baserunners has carried into 2015. Jimenez has allowed 81 successful steals in 100 attempts over the past four seasons, and though his improvement this year might lead to fewer baserunners overall, the scoreboard stinginess could lead to an increased impetus to take-off when Tigers do reach base. Davis has been used sporadically against right-handers this season, so there's a chance that he starts this game on the bench, though odds are that Gose will be in the lineup either in Davis' stead or on his own merits. Ian Kinsler is just six-for-10 on the year and Jose Iglesias has nine steals in 15 attempts, but each middle infielder's poor success rate could receive a boost if they see a steal opportunity today against Jimenez.

Also be wary of the other side of the diamond, as Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez ($8200, 13-of-16 SB allowed this season) is tied for the sixth-most steals allowed in 2015, potentially opening the door for surprise thief Manny Machado ($3900, 13-of-16 SB this season) to snag a bag.

Avoid: Brad Miller SS ($3300, 9-of-10 SB this season) and Austin Jackson OF ($3500, 8-of-15 SB) facing RHP Masahiro Tanaka ($9500, opponents 1-of-3 SB)

Tanaka was a bit more generous to opposing basestealers last season, allowing six successful swipes in seven attempts, but the relative infrequency of baserunners taking off was a precursor to his shutting down the running game this season. The track record is too short to avoid Tanaka entirely when considering the steal potential of his opponents, but today's matchup with the Mariners pits him against the club with the second-fewest steals (and the lowest success rate) in the league, further strengthening the chain that will keep Seattle players on a station-to-station pattern against Tanaka.

Matchups

Target: RHB Billy Butler 1B ($3200) versus RHP Ervin Santana ($7000)

Head-to-head stats: .258/.410/.774 in 39 plate appearances

Country Breakfast has been running light for the past two seasons, opting for a gluten-free meal that takes the weight off of his OPS, but his career-long tarnishing of Ervin Santana's baseball card could bring about a single-day splurge at the breakfast table. The five career homers are tied for the second-most that Santana has given up to a single batter in his career, and the 31 at bats are at least 20 fewer than the total needed by the other batters atop that list, as more than half of the hits during the tenure of this matchup have left the yard.

Price

Target: RHB's Adam Jones OF ($3800, +39 OPS and +.035 ISO vs. RHP) and Manny Machado 3B ($3900, +30 OPS and +.035 ISO vs. RHP) against RHP Anibal Sanchez ($8200, +21 OPS and +.028 ISO vs. RHB)

The low price on Jones is a bit of a head-scratcher, given that he has the talent to earn first-round consideration in fantasy leagues entering this season, his solid overall batting line of .281/.326/.481 on the year, and his flurry of power just prior to the break with four homers in his last six ballgames. If the Jones price is a head-scratcher, then the fact that Machado comes in under $4k is just teeming with lice. Machado has been one of the ten most productive bats in baseball this season, raking along at a .298/.361/.525 clip, including three bombs in his last eight games prior to All Star festivities. Both of these Baltimore hitters have a slight reverse split in their careers, further cementing their strong-play status today against Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers. The Oriole batters carry salaries that might make sense against David Price, but the potential for a big-scoring day against Sanchez makes them some of the best values on the day.

***

Resources used for this article:

Baseball Prospectus Stats and Player Cards

Draft Kings player prices

Brooks Baseball

Baseball-Reference

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Daily Fantasy

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Call-Up: Frankie M... (07/17)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Rounders: Make... (07/10)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Rounders: Twis... (07/20)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Weekly Wrap: July 17, ... (07/17)

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