MLB IN 90 SECONDS: YONDER ALONSO
Today’s main slate features 10 games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a date-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Freedman.
FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tools and real-time analytics platform that enables players to test theories, create and backtest models and construct customized lineups. In this piece, I leverage the same tools used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) for each slate.
7.8 K Prediction – Jacob deGrom
deGrom is at the top of the list, and it’s not even close. At $10,800, he’s easily the slate’s most expensive pitcher, but he’s arguably worth much more than the $1,000 separating him from the next pitcher, Carlos Martinez. With a slate-high 7.8 K Prediction and slate-low opponent implied total of 3.3 runs, deGrom looks like daBomb. It doesn’t hurt that the Mets are favored over the Giants by a slate-high 0.9 runs and that deGrom leads the slate with a pitch count of 112 over his last two starts. At FantasyLabs we have a proprietary Plus/Minus metric that measures actual vs. expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. Per our industry-leading Trends tool, favored pitchers comparable to deGrom in salary, strikeout prediction, opponent implied run total and pitch count have historically crushed with 23.78 DraftKings points per game, a +6.12 Plus/Minus, and 66.7 percent Consistency Rating. Of course, they’ve also been outrageously popular with a 32.0 percent ownership rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
As good as deGrom looks according to some metrics, his ownership could be a real issue, especially since he has perhaps the slate’s worst recent Statcast data: Over his last two starts, he’s allowed a slate-high batted ball distance of 243 feet and line drive rate of 38 percent — and his 95 mph exit velocity and 48 percent hard hit rate are the slate’s second-highest marks. His saving grace in recent starts has been his slate-high 95.9 mph velocity on his fastball. Even though the Braves and Nationals tagged him for eight earned runs over 12 innings in his two recent starts, he still averaged 20.5 DraftKings points and 8.5 strikeouts per game.
He’s not without flaws, but deGrom’s rightfully one of the top pitchers in our Player Models.
6.1 Opponent Implied Run Total – Antonio Senzatela
This is what leverage looks like. With a total of 6.1 runs, the Cubs are implied to score a full run more than any other team in the slate (the Rockies are second with 5.1 runs). It makes sense for the Cubs to have a high total: They have a good offense and are playing at Coors Field. With the relative lack of high-end pitching options in this slate, the Cubs could have high ownership in both cash games and GPPs. As a result, it might make sense to have some slight and strategic contrarian exposure to Senzatela in tournaments, thereby leveraging the field’s GPP Cubs ownership. To be clear: You don’t want tons of Senzatela exposure. He’s risky. (And I haven’t talked about the weather yet.)
At the same time, he definitely warrants consideration. At only $6,000, Senzatela is one of the slate’s cheapest pitchers, but he’s been impressive to date. A 22-year-old rookie making just his seventh MLB start, Senzatela isn’t a strikeout pitcher — he has only a 4.1 K Prediction — but he’s 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA and slate-low 1.026 WHIP. He’s hit his salary-based expectations in five of his six starts, and in two of them, he even hit his Upside mark (one-half of a standard deviation above his expectation). Along with Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta, he has a slate-worst Park Factor of eight, so Senzatela’s definitely disadvantaged: past pitchers with comparable salaries, opponent implied totals, K Predictions, and Park Factors have had a horrid -5.81 Plus/Minus and 31.1 percent Consistency Rating — but they’ve also been owned at just 1.8 percent in GPPs.
I’m fully aware that Senzatela is likely to be on the receiving end of a good ol’-fashioned shellackin’ — but if the Cubs struggle, the Rockies give Senzatela some run support, and he finishes with a win and seven strikeouts over seven innings, he’ll be a potential difference maker.
10 Pro Trends – Brett Gardner
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value and Gardner leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends. He’s the leadoff hitter for the non-Coors team with the slate’s highest implied total (5.0 runs), and he’s smashed five home runs in his last eight games. With better ISO (0.129) and wOBA (.341) marks against righties than lefties, Gardner’s on the beneficial side of his splits against 24-year-old Reds’ starter Rookie Davis, a literal rookie making only his fifth MLB start. With a 7.36 ERA, 2.254 WHIP, 6.972 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.901 home runs allowed per nine innings and 3.6 innings per start, Davis is one of the slate’s three worst pitchers. If the Yankees can knock Davis out of the game early — and he’s made it to 90 pitches only once — they’ll have the opportunity to leverage their slate-high 99 Opponent Bullpen Rating by facing the overworked Reds’ relievers.
In comparison to what he normally does, Gardner has crushed the ball lately. His 15-day batted ball distance, exit velocity, and hard-hit rate are 49 feet, six mph, and 26 percentage points better than his 12-month averages. His short-term combination of 242-foot batted ball distance and 50 percent hard hit rate is strong. Historically, batters with comparable lineup spots, implied team totals, Opponent Bullpen Rating, and recent Statcast data have crushed with 11.67 DraftKings points, a +3.04 Plus/Minus and 58.3 percent Consistency Rating. They’ve also been accompanied by a 16.1 percent ownership rate in large-field GPPs.
For a non-Coors player, he might have relatively high ownership, but he’s in a prime position.
100 Park Factor – Cubs & Rockies
Today’s slate is fascinating. For the most part, today is forecast to be about as perfect as a May day can get. Only one game looks like it will have weather issues — and that game is the slate’s marquee Cubs-Rockies contest at Coors Field, and the Colorado weather seems to be worsening as I write. Right now there’s a 68 percent chance of precipitation at game time, so there’s a legitimate chance that this game could be delayed or even postponed. Still, this game has a slate-high total of 11 runs. It will likely have its fair share of speculative ownership, as Coors games are hard to ignore. Park Factor is a FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. At Coors Field, all batters have a 100 Park Factor regardless of handedness. Unsurprisingly, Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB with league-high marks in average DraftKings points per game (9.10), Plus/Minus (+1.34), Consistency Rating (47.4 percent) and Upside Rating (19 percent). In cash games, Coors tends to be king.
While the possibility of rain makes this game risky for cash contests, the fact is that precipitation may not be as horrible as it seems for the Cubs and Rockies batters. This game actually leads the slate with a Weather Rating of 71, as the slate-high 0.78 humidity and mile-high elevation should enable balls to fly. Additionally, starting pitchers could be pulled early if it rains, which would be good for both lineups: The Rockies would have limited exposure to Arrieta, and the Cubs could take advantage of their slate-high 99 Opponent Bullpen Rating by facing the tired Rockies’ relievers. In general, Coors batters have 11.2 percent ownership in GPPs. When they have similar Weather Ratings and odds of precipitation, their ownership drops to 6.6 percent — and their Plus/Minus jumps to +2.14.
It’s possible this Coors game could be just as potent as ever with lower ownership than usual.
h3. 80 Team Value Rating – Athletics
Team Value Rating is a 0 to 100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Amazingly, the A’s lead the slate in the metric even though they are implied for only 4.2 runs and playing at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, where right and left-handed batters have subpar Park Factors of 23 and eight. I guess this is what happens when the average salary for a team’s projected top-six hitters is only $3,100. Given that the A’s are 18th in the league with 418 total bases and tied for ninth with 39 home runs, they offer some value.
Anchoring the lineup is righty Khris Davis, who at $3,800 is one of the cheaper No. 4 batters in the slate even though he’s tied for second in the American League with 10 home runs. Additionally, the lefties and switch-hitters for the A’s have some hidden upside. Matthew Joyce, Jed Lowrie, Yonder Alonso and Stephen Vogt — all of whom are no more than $3,100 — all have agnostic to beneficial splits against righties. Going against Angels’ righty Ricky Nolasco, who could be hampered by reported cramping in his leg, the A’s lefties have some hidden upside, especially with the wind blowing out to right field at nine mph.
The A’s aren’t great, but they might be good and cheap enough to warrant limited GPP exposure.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mefreedman) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.