We have a 10-game MLB Tiers fantasy baseball slate for Friday. Something to always remember when playing Tiers is with a player pool so limited, it is likely a large portion of the field is aware of who the “best plays” are. But in a sport such as baseball, where variance reigns supreme, you will need to avoid the chalk in a few spots in order to take down a GPP. Stacking in Tiers where you can is another thing to take advantage of.
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Tier 1OF Christian Yelich, MIL vs. CHC
1B Edwin Encarnacion, NYY at BOS
OF Cody Bellinger, LAD at WAS
C Mitch Garver, MIN at CHW
There aren’t any dominant total games on this slate, and there are 10 teams playing baseball tonight with a run total between five and six runs. That said, the game the most casual fans will be playing is likely the Yankee/Red Sox game. It is the most marquee game on the slate and has the highest total. We should be wary of ownership of players in that game, but it likely does not warrant a full fade. Just keep that in mind as you go through the slate.
In this tier, I would expect ownership to be pretty spread out between the two stud hitters and Encarnacion in a premium spot. Garver is a candidate to sit out of the lineup this evening, as he has played four games in a row. Garver only has an appearance streak over four twice this season.
There are compelling reasons to play any of the three hitters. Yelich is the absolute best hitter in baseball right now. He leads the league in homers, wOBA and ISO, ranks second in batting average (min. 200 plate appearances) and is third in steals. The matchup and park conditions almost can be thrown entirely out the window, especially if Yelich isn’t going to have dominant ownership. A matchup with Kyle Hendricks isn’t ideal, but Hendricks has worse splits against lefties than righties and throws his fastball 30% more frequently to them. Yelich has a .475 wOBA and .379 ISO against fastballs this season.
Encarnacion faces everyone’s favorite punching bag in Andrew Cashner, who has a 4.93 xFIP this season. Even better for Encarnacion, Cashner has allowed a .363 wOBA and .237 ISO to right-handed batters. Encarnacion has a .269 ISO against righties this year and a .308 ISO against righty-fastballs since the start of 2016. Cashner deploys his fastball 45% of the time to right-handed batters.
Bellinger might be the best overall play. Anibal Sanchez has a 5.28 xFIP this season and has yielded a .359 wOBA and .234 ISO to lefties. Those are massive splits versus what he is giving up to righties. Bellinger has an insane .371 ISO against right-handed pitching this year. The Dodger slugger has not had quite the season Yelich is, but he comes pretty close. He is second in wOBA, fourth in ISO and second in homers.
Tier 3SS Didi Gregorius, NYY at BOS
SS Javier Baez, CHC at MIL
1B Freddie Freeman, ATL at PHI
1B Anthony Rizzo, CHC at MIL
2B/OF Ketel Marte, ARI at MIA
OF George Springer, HOU at STL
Gregorius is an example of a Yankee not to roster on this slate. He does not have major platoon splits, but Cashner does. He allows 100 less points of wOBA and 153 less points of ISO to lefties than righties. Springer is in a similar spot against Jack Flaherty, who has given up just two runs in his past three starts and has been excellent against righties this season. Flaherty also throws his slider 33% of the time, and that is a pitch Springer has struggled with, mustering just a .264 wOBA and .114 ISO against it from the right-hand side since 2016.
Baez is in an interesting spot. Gio Gonzalez has been a bad pitcher the past two seasons, with a 4.72 xFIP. However, he does not allow a ton of fly balls, with a ground ball rate of 45.6%. Baez has obliterated lefties in 2019, with a .397 ISO and .490 wOBA. But can he get the ball in the air against Gonzalez? That remains to be seen. Make no mistake though, if you are playing a Cub in this tier, it should be Baez and not Rizzo, who has sizable platoon splits.
Professional hitter Freddie Freeman is having another excellent season. He is second in wOBA at the position and has hit 25 home runs. Now he gets to face Jake Arrieta, who has allowed four or more earned runs in five of his past nine starts. Arrieta also has wide platoon splits. He has allowed 87 more points of wOBA and 85 more points of ISO to lefties than righties. Freeman this year has a .273 ISO and .425 wOBA against righties. Arrieta is a heavy sinker-baller, deploying that pitch more than 50% of the time. Freeman is destroying sinkers this year to the tune of a .508 wOBA and .462 ISO.
Tier 4OF Mookie Betts, BOS vs. NYY
SS Xander Bogaerts, BOS vs. NYY
1B Pete Alonso, NYM vs. PIT
1B/2B Max Muncy, LAD at WAS
OF Yordan Alvarez, HOU at STL
3B Eduardo Escobar, ARI at MIA
2B/OF Lourdes Gurriel, TOR vs. TB
The first question you must ask yourself is do you want to play a Red Sock? If the answer is yes, then I recommend Bogaerts over Betts, who continues to put together a very mediocre season by his standards. Bogaerts has almost 200 points of ISO on Betts this year against left-handed pitching. The Sox will face James Paxton, who is giving up a .349 wOBA and .215 ISO to righties. Those numbers are higher than they are against lefties by 21 and 123 points, respectively. Paxton is throwing his fastball 65% of the time against righties, and Bogaerts has a .427 wOBA and .279 ISO against that pitch since 2016.
Muncy should find himself in the lineup tonight against a righty and makes for an excellent stacking partner with Bellinger. He is also a lefty, which means he gets to take advantage of the same outstanding platoon matchup Bellinger will, and Muncy also has some good numbers against opposing righties. He has a .291 ISO and .399 wOBA against them this season.
Sometimes people ask me, “Anthony, how do I know when the right time is to play Pete Alonso”? The easy answer is all the time. Alonso leads all first basemen in homers, wOBA, ISO and wRC+. He is a machine already in his rookie season. Tonight the Mets face a rookie pitcher in Dario Agrazal, who has a 6.14 xFIP and is striking out just 10% of batters. Alonso should smoke him. Working in his favor, in addition to his awesomeness, is Agrazal deploys a sinker as his top pitch. Alonso has a .300 ISO and .431 wOBA against sinkers.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.