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 2OF Max Kepler, MIN at KC
OF Hunter Renfroe, SD at PIT
2B/OF Danny Santana, TEX vs. CHW
OF Starling Marte, PIT vs. SD
There is no Coors game this week, but we do have a game with an outrageous total being played in Texas. Arlington actually had a higher park factor than Coors Field in 2018, and a large part of that is the effect of the hot Texas summer. It is in the 90s today in Arlington, and we have two bad pitchers on the bump.
As a result, the game total sits at 11.5, with the Rangers’ run total (6.3) a half run higher than the next closest team. Pair that with Texas being imminently stackable (they have one player in each of the three tiers I’ll talk about today), and you can expect them to likely carry the highest ownership on the slate. As is typical with me, I will recommend at least somewhat fading the Rangers tonight.
Renfroe has been one of the best power hitters in baseball this season. He is tied for fourth in MLB in home runs with 23, and is second in ISO at .380. This matchup with Joe Musgrove isn’t perfect, as he will be giving up the platoon advantage, but there are still reasons he could find success. Primarily, Musgrove’s pitch selection to righties. He deploys his fastball and slider a combined 65% to right-handed batters, and Renfroe has great success against both pitches. Since 2016, he has ISOs of .250 and .268, respectively when facing those pitches from the right-hand side.
Kepler is probably my favorite play in this tier. The Twins have the third-highest team total on the slate, but it still sits at a rather high 5.6. This has been one of the best offenses in baseball this season, and you will likely get them at an ownership discount to the Rangers. Kepler has a .301 ISO this season against righties, and Jake Junis has allowed a .220 ISO and .378 wOBA to opposing lefties. As the (expected) leadoff man in an explosive offense, he offers a lot of upside even if he can’t homer.
Tier 3OF Shin-soo Choo, TEX vs. CHW
SS Trea Turner, WAS vs. ATL
3B Anthony Rendon, WAS vs. ATL
1B/3B Howie Kendrick, WAS vs. ATL
This is one of the more interesting tiers that I’ve seen, as three of the four available players are Nationals, and the lone remaining player is Choo, who plays for the presumed chalk on the slate. This is a spot where it could make sense to play a Ranger, as I’m not sure there will be a true chalk play in this particular tier.
Choo has a .417 wOBA and .261 ISO against right-handed pitching this season. Reynaldo Lopez is an unmitigated disaster when facing lefties, allowing a .377 wOBA and .275 ISO. He loves his fastball, which he throws over 55% of the time. Choo has a .269 ISO and .435 wOBA against righty fastballs since the start of 2016.
Rendon has been one of the best hitters in baseball this year, and is the best overall power hitter in this tier. He is seventh in baseball in ISO at .341, and that number jumps to .382 when facing left-handed pitching. Dallas Keuchel will be making his first start of the year, and it is unclear what kind of form he will be in. Keuchel is an aggressive sinker-baller, who does not give up many fly-balls.
What separates Rendon from his power-hitting counterpart in Kendrick is his success against sinkers. Since the start of 2016, Rendon has a .229 ISO against all sinkers, while Kendrick’s is .094. The gap gets even wider against lefty sinkers (though the sample shrinks considerably), as Rendon jumps to .357 and Kendrick shrinks to .045.
Tier 43B Yoan Moncada, CHW at TEX
3B/OF Scott Kingery, PHI vs. MIA
SS Elvis Andrus, TEX vs. CHW
C Gary Sanchez, NYY vs. HOU
OF Nelson Cruz, MIN at KC
Tier 4 is well-balanced and filled with some good hitting options. This is not a spot where I would be tempted to roll with a Ranger, especially since Andrus does not have the platoon and is not a major power hitter. If people are willing to roll him out due to the inflated team total, let them.
Sanchez is perhaps the best overall hitter in this tier, and I love him in this spot against Brad Peacock. It is easy to look at Peacocks major righty/lefty splits and assume that this is a bad matchup for the power-hitting catcher. He is allowing just a .219 wOBA and .099 ISO this season against righties while generating a ton of ground balls (over 50%). However, this is due to Peacock throwing his sinker (49%) and slider (35%) way more against right-handed batters (he throws them just 16 and 22% of the time against lefties, respectively). Sanchez has hit both pitches well, but he is particularly effective against sinkers. He has a .401 wOBA and .306 ISO against them for his career.
If you are looking to get a mini-stack going with Kepler from Tier 2, Cruz is your man. He doesn’t have the platoon advantage, but still boasts tremendous power against righties. He has a .370 wOBA and .241 ISO against them this season. He should also be able to take advantage of Junis’ sinker whenever it is thrown. Cruz has a .430 wOBA and .292 ISO against righty sinkers since the start of 2016. Junis has given up a .203 ISO to right-handed batters the past two seasons.
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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.