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August 5, 2015

Fantasy Rounders

Magic Maikel

by Doug Thorburn

Platoons

Temper: RHB's Maikel Franco 3B ($4300, +219 OPS and +.064 ISO career vs. LHP), Jeff Francoeur OF ($2600, +87 OPS and +.026 ISO vs. LHP), and switch-hitter Cesar Hernandez 2B/SS ($3000, +95 OPS and -.007 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Brett Anderson ($6700, +50 OPS and -.026 ISO career vs. RHB)

Anderson has a reverse OPS split for his career, a rare trait for a southpaw, though the power follows convention by favoring right-handed bats. Franco has massive splits but sample-size caveats abound for the rookie. Franco had cooled after his massive start to the campaign, a trend that is common for young players as opposing pitchers learn their strengths and weaknesses, but the rook may have made some adjustments in response given his .314/.375/.629 line with seven extra-base hits over the last nine games. Power isn't Hernandez's game so the near-equal ISO is not an issue, but his batting average is 64 points higher against left-handers in his brief career. Nobody wants to be forced to roster Francoeur, but the guy typically hits cleanup against lefties and has mashed southpaws throughout his career. He has a legit .467 slugging percentage this season but most of that has actually been accomplished against right-handers, with only two of his nine homers and a .368 slug against lefties in 2015. Francoeur is a confusing play for all of these reasons, but for the low price tag of just $2600 and the likelihood that he will have low ownership rate, he makes for a sneaky play in GPP tournaments tonight.

Avoid: RHB's Justin Upton OF ($4400, -86 OPS and -.045 ISO vs. RHP), Matt Kemp OF ($4200, -138 OPS and -.030 ISO vs. RHP) and Derek Norris C ($3600, -192 OPS and -.049 ISO career vs. RHP) against RHP Taylor Jungmann ($8300, -81 OPS and -.000 ISO vs. RHB)

The Padres' offense has been a massive disappointment this season, and though they have rebounded recently with 6.3 runs per game over their last seven contests, that performance pales in comparison to a full season with just 3.9 tallies per contest. Upton has been notoriously streaky throughout his career, and though he had a recent mini-streak of hotness, the last 37 games have featured an empty .175 batting average and four strikeouts for every walk, while his career-long struggles against same-side pitchers would overwhelm any recency bias. Throw in a career-worst OPS of 751 this season and a busted thumb that has him currently listed as day-to-day, and Upton poses a meager threat to the Milwaukee starter. Kemp has been a mess for much of the 2015 campaign, and though he went on a bit of a power binge in mid-July (five homers and five doubles in 11 games), since his last bomb the outfielder has gone without an extra-base hit (a span of 10 games). Norris was a force at the top of the order for the first two months of the season, but he hasn't hit a lick in since May and he's mustered just three extra-base hits since the start of June. Many of San Diego's off-season acquisitions were sluggers that specialized in southpaw mashing, so the platoon issues against right-handers aren't entirely surprising. The young man Jungmann has pitched very well in the first ten starts of his career, with a 2.23 ERA and 1.098 WHIP, and though his ISO against opposing batters is the exact same regardless of handedness he does get a nice advantage in the batting average and on-base categories.

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Steals

Avoid: Rajai Davis OF ($3000, 15-of-20 SB this season), Anthony Gose OF ($3100, 16-of-22 SB), Jose Iglesias 3B/SS ($2900, 10-of-16 SB) and Ian Kinsler 2B ($3800, 8-of-13 SB) against RHP Johnny Cueto ($10100, opponents 2-of-3 SB this season)

The new Royal has long been a tough man to steal against, having given up more than three successful steals in just two of his eight career seasons – and those two were last season's 6-for-12 pace of thievery and the 7-for-13 from his rookie year. With the exception of Kinsler, each of the players listed above has a bargain-basement price that might be attractive on the surface, but all three batters are also speed-first players whose fantasy value is largely tied to their ability to steal bags.

Recency Bias

Target: RHB Randal Grichuk OF ($4400) facing LHP David Holmberg ($4400)

Last 20 games (20 starts): .364/.430/.688 in 86 plate appearances

Grichuk carries the typical small-sample caveats of a 23-year old and the Cards have slotted him all over the lineup this season (eight or more games started as the second, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth hitter), but he has crushed no matter where he hits, with a .571 slugging percentage and 37 extra-base hits in 74 games this season (including seven triples). Grichuk has actually hit right-handers better thus far in his career, but his .503 slug against southpaws is nothing to sneeze at; the issue is control of the strike zone, where the young outfielder has struck out 42 times against just four walks in 153 career plate appearances against lefties. He has slugged over .525 in every month this season and batted over .280 in each month of more than 10 plate appearances (he was called up at the end of April). He has started 20 of the last 22 games for St. Louis, a stretch that has produced the above line with 13 runs scored, 15 RBI, and 13 extra-base hits. The fact that Grichuk and Holmberg carry the same $4400 price tag is merely a coincidence, but the possibility for a pitcher to cost the same as a position player is a reflection of their relative strength in the player pool.

Price

Target: Carlos Martinez SP ($8600) against the Cincinnati Reds

Car-Mart has been playing a bit over his head this season, as his 1.263 WHIP and 9.3-percent walk rate aren't in agreement with his 2.61 ERA (his FIP is 3.45 this year), but the price is much lower than even his adjusted performance would suggest. He had a rough go of things in his last turn, surrendering five runs and 10 hits against the road Rox, but the price tag suggests a longer run of futility. Martinez has been excellent outside of the lone hiccup, with a 12-start run of three or fewer earned runs allowed (it was two or fewer in 11 of those starts) and a hit rate that has stayed low throughout the season. The K's are legit, thanks to a fastball that averages 96 mph and spikes in the upper 90's, in addition to a wipeout slider that has finished 64 of his 127 strikeouts this season. He might have been thrown off in his last start given that he was coming off of an extra-inning relief appearance, or perhaps he was just off his game that day, but the cost of rostering Martinez creates a value bubble.

***

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:  Daily Fantasy,  Dfs

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