The Contrarian Corner will provide a list of players that can separate your MLB lineups from the rest of the pack. We’ll take a look at those players that will likely be low-owned, who have high-upside for the day. Here is the list of today’s daily fantasy baseball picks in the Contrarian Corner at DraftKings.
Gerrit Cole ($8,200) – Pittsburgh Pirates – Cole is one of the best young pitchers in the game. He brings a blazing, upper-90s heater to the table and backs it with a changeup, slider and curveball. He’s rarely throwing the curve this year, and has swapped it for more sliders. Good choice. His slider generated a 21.0% whiff rate in 2014, and is missing bats 25.0% of the time this year, according to Brooks Basebal. His changeup gives him another bat-missing weapon (15.45% whiff rate in 2014 and 17.65% this year). The right-hander kept the ball on the ground on 49.2% of ball in play last year, according to FanGraphs, and is doing so 65.1% of the time this year, meaning Chase Field’s homer amplifying ways aren’t terribly concerning. With such a glowing statistical profile one would expect Cole to be owned heavily, but pitching on the same slate as King Felix and Zack Greinke, among others, means his ownership shouldn’t be through the roof.
Danny Salazar ($7,700) – Cleveland Indians- Salazar is a far dicier pick than Cole, namely due to a matchup with the loaded Detroit Tigers. The tough matchup assures him of a low ownership percentage despite his juicy price tag. The appeal of Salazar is simple. He misses bats in bunches. In his first start of the year, he struck out 10 batters in six innings. Last year, he struck out 25.3% of the batters he faced, and in his his career he owns a 27.5% strikeout rate. Don’t worry, though, he’s not a wild pitcher. He has a 7.3% walk rate in his career. A proclivity for giving up flyballs makes him homer prone on occasion, but if he can avoid the gopher ball, he’ll be in line for a strong effort tonight.
Others to Consider – Carlos Martinez ($7,200), Jose Quintana ($7,000)
Salvador Perez ($3,700) – Kansas City Royals – Perez will probably have the highest ownership percentage of any of the players touted in this article, but it should lag behind that of Buster Posey and Carlos Santana. Perez’s lineup spot hurts his value a bit, but with a lefty on the hill, he could move up. More importantly, he’s excellent against southpaws. Since 2012, Perez has totaled a .188 ISO, .345 wOBA and 119 wRC+ in 404 plate appearances against lefties, per FanGraphs. He’ll get a nice ballpark boost playing at U.S. Cellular Field this evening, too. According to StatCorner, right-handed batters hit with park factors of 116 for homers and 110 for runs.
Joey Votto ($4,500) – Cincinnati Reds – With Votto facing a lefty, he’ll immediately be dismissed by many gamers due to his lack of a platoon advantage. Let gamers ignore him at their own peril. In addition to raking against righties, Votto is excellent against lefties. Since 2012, he’s tallied a .211 ISO, .382 wOBA and 142 wRC+. Furthermore, according to the batted ball data at FanGraphs, he’s ripped a line drive on 24.7% of his balls in play and hit zero infield flyballs. No, that’s not a typo. He hasn’t popped out against a lefty in more than three years. The Reds are at home tonight, and that means Votto will be hitting with a silly park factor for homers of 148.
Daniel Murphy ($4,000) – New York Mets – A slow start for Murphy will sour folks from using him, but he’s the number-five hitter for the Mets. A top-five lineup spot is of the utmost importance. More plate appearances means more scoring chances. Murphy doesn’t have a ton of pop (.137 ISO against righties since 2012), but his pop will get a boost at Yankee Stadium where the left-handed batter park factor for homers is 133. He’s also a sneaky good base stealer despite a lack of wheels. Murphy has stolen 46 bases in 56 chances over the last three-plus seasons.
Todd Frazier ($4,100) – Cincinnati Reds – Frazier’s price point, right-handed batter park factor and lineup spot should make him a popular pick today. That said, he’ll probably be under owned due to another third baseman facing a lefty. Josh Donaldson is on fire, priced similarly and has been better against lefties since 2012 than Frazier. Frazier gets the edge in park factors, though, and Jon Lester has been getting lit early. Lester should eventually turn it around, but his low groundball percentage plays into the hands of Frazier. Since 2012, the Toms River product and former Little League World Series hero owns a 40.3% flyball rate and .210 ISO. And as a right-handed batter, he’ll hit with a homer park factor of 125.
Marcus Semien ($3,900) – Oakland Athletics – I cited the importance of lineup spot above, and that’s part of the reason it’s difficult to suggest using Semien. He’s hit eighth or ninth in the A’s lineup every game this year. Fortunately, he offsets his lineup spot with an intriguing mix of power and speed. Semien has hit two homers and stolen two bases this season, and in 366 plate appearances at the Triple-A level last year, he ripped 15 homers with seven stolen bases. Strikeouts have held him back in his young big league career, but he’s only striking out in 18.8% of his plate appearances in 2015. As a major leaguer, he owns a .152 ISO, .331 wOBA and 108 wRC+ against southpaws. He also thrived against them in the minors. Since 2011, he’s slashed .306/.407/.536 in the minors against lefties, according to Minor League Central.
Michael Brantley ($4,700) – Cleveland Indians – Brantley is back again in the Contrarian Corner this Friday. A back injury can probably be used to excuse his slow start. He’s only played in eight games, but his high contact approach remains on display with only a 6.1% strikeout rate. The Indians travel to Detroit tonight, and Comerica Park provides Brantley a slightly better than neutral run scoring environment with a left-handed batter park factor of 102 for runs. The lefty-heavy Indians face a right-handed pitcher, Shane Greene, who owns a sizable platoon split. Greene faced 181 lefties in his rookie season an allowed a .345 wOBA and 24.0% line drive rate. Such a small sample size should normally be taken with a grain of salt, but his minor league track record paints a similar picture. The 844 plate appearances lefties have totaled against him since 2011 resulted in a .777 OPS allowed. Unless he’s figured out a way to retire lefties with more success, Brantley — the Indians number three hitter — will be in the middle of some run scoring.
Others to Consider – David Freese ($3,500), Albert Pujols ($4,300), Brandon Moss ($4,500)