Tonight, you can win $60,000 in the Jumbo Perfect Game. That’s second place. First place wins $100,000, but I think I pretty much have that locked down. Still, $60,000 is a really nice consolation prize and you guys should definitely shoot for that. What’s really awesome about this GPP is the flat payouts, with the top 10 spots all taking home five figures and the top five at $20,000 or higher. So sick.

My strategy tonight is going to be what it is every night: win the tournament. You might think I’m crazy, but I think a pretty large percentage of users structure lineups in a way that says “I’m trying to score as many points as possible,” which as I’ve explained in the past is different than “I’m trying to win this league.”

Remember, you need to be concerned not only about the likelihood of your players scoring X points, but also the benefit it provides you. If you rostered a player that was theoretically in every single lineup, the benefit to you if he scored 50 points would be nothing. If you were the only person to roster him, it would be massively beneficial.

It follows that there’s a balance to be struck between value and ownership; you want high-value players, but sometimes it’s okay to forgo some value if it means dramatically reduced ownership that will help distinguish your lineup from the pack and allow for the greatest possible advantages when your players do well. How that balance should look is up for debate, but certainly public opinion is a big part of winning large GPPs; if you don’t consider where the crowd might go, you can’t properly assess the usable value your players will provide if they perform as you expect.

 

The Teams

Chicago Cubs (vs Josh Collmenter)

One of my favorite “chalk” plays is the Cubs in Arizona against Josh Collmenter. I think there’s less reason to worry about high ownership on Chicago given the game in Coors tonight, along with a number of other attractive offenses among the 15 games. The Cubs are projected decently at 4.2 implied runs and have a ton of home run upside with a hitter-friendly park and weather conditions tonight.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks (vs Jon Lester)

If you want to be contrarian, I like the Cubbies’ opponent as well. Facing Lester, Arizona is unlikely to be highly owned. I specifically like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock—two of the top lefty mashers in baseball. The prices on Arizona are also very attractive, meaning they come with the added benefit of using two stud pitchers if you prefer.

 

The Players

OF A.J. Pollock, Arizona (vs Jon Lester) – $3900

Pollock. So hot right now. Pollock.

I love Pollock versus Lester tonight for tournaments. Pollock actually comes out as a top five player for me, regardless of ownership. Because of the matchup, I think Pollock will have moderate usage at best, yet he’s in a great park and crushes southpaws; over the past 12 months, Pollock has a .495 wOBA and .265 ISO against lefties, which is insane. You’re getting potentially a top five hitter versus lefties at $3900 and in a potentially reduced ownership situation.

 

OF Joc Pederson, LA Dodgers (vs Andrew Cashner) – $3700

This is a situation very comparable to Pollock; Pederson mashes righties and comes at a discount against a very capable pitcher. Pederson has struggled over his last 10 games, but he’s still provided 1.78 points per game above what you’d expect based on his salaries this year. He’s also doubled his expected points in 21 percent of games, with the league average for batters being only 16 percent.

I guess you could say I have that Joc itch tonight.

 

C/1B Carlos Santana, Cleveland (vs Mike Leake) – $4100

One of the ways to find reduced ownership on plays is to identify “obvious” plays at particular positions, and I think Buster Posey is going to be that tonight. Even against a right-hander, Posey is going to be highly owned against Kendrick in Coors Field. Santana might also be popular, but I think it will be lower than what we’d normally expect due to Posey’s upside in Colorado. Santana has a .220 running 12-month ISO versus righties.

 

P Max Scherzer, Washington (vs Philadelphia) – $12700

Everyone knows Scherzer is in a great spot—the Nats are almost (-300) to win tonight—but he costs a buttload. Scherzer is priced $1900 more than Felix Hernandez and $2300 more than Zack Greinke. Because of the cost, I see Scherzer ownership being down a bit—not too low, but certainly not in a range where it’s prohibitive to roster him. You’re going to have to find a cheap stack to place around him, but I like the idea of “overpaying” for Scherzer in GPPs.