It’s the middle of April, which makes today that much rarer because, at least in the late games, there’s currently zero percent chance of rain across the board. Zero percent!
With 11 games from which to choose, we’re going to have a pretty large pool of potential players. Whenever that happens, game play becomes less about predicting public opinion and ownership percentages and more about value. Now, I think value is less important in baseball than other sports—batters in particular are so volatile that you don’t need to be as price-sensitive as in a sport like basketball—but it still matters more when ownership percentages will be down.
Think about it. In the earlier four-game slate, we know there are going to be very high ownership rates on certain players and teams. That’s just a natural outcome of a small player pool. Because of that, there’s more incentive to go against the grain and forgo a little bit of value to field a unique lineup.
Not so in the late slate. With 11 games and the Rockies on the road, we probably won’t see really high usage on any single player, at least not any batters. As usage rates decline, the value of, well, value, improves. And when that happens, we should turn to the Vegas lines. Whereas I often use the Vegas lines as a proxy for ownership and which teams not to use in short slates, it’s just the opposite in an 11-game slate like that running tonight.
And as it stands right now, the top-projected offense in Vegas, by far, is Toronto.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are currently projected 0.3 runs ahead of any other team in baseball. That might not sound like a lot, but it is, especially when you’re comparing them to the field.
So here’s the downside of stacking Toronto: they cost a lot. You might be able to fit one top pitcher into your lineup, but two is pretty much out of the equation. Thus, the Blue Jays become much more legitimate if you really like a cheap arm and/or a couple cheap value bats.
In my opinion, this is not a night to fade the chalk in terms of stacks. The Orioles are also projected well by Vegas and their bats have a ton of upside across the board. Also note that it should be decently warm in Baltimore tonight, which should help the ball carry.
And if you’re looking to get away from the chalk and be contrarian anyway, you know who I’m going to suggest: Houston. I won’t rest until I lose all of my money watching Evan Gattis strike out.
Corey Dickerson, Colorado (vs Tim Lincecum) – $4200
Dickerson has so many angles going for him tonight. He has huge upside and actually doubled his expected production in 26 percent of games last year, which was one of the highest rates in baseball. He’s in the 90th percentile in both wOBA and ISO, has awesome splits versus right-handed pitching, and his salary is down to $4200.
Now the downside: this is one of the times I’m going against Vegas on the individual level, as Colorado is currently the third-worst projected team. They play in pitcher-friendly San Francisco tonight, so I wouldn’t stack the Rockies, but I still think Dickerson is a bargain at this price.
C Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles (vs Taijuan Walker) – $3300
Grandal absolutely crushes right-handed pitching. Last year, his ISO was 201 points higher versus righties over lefties. ISO is a measure of raw power. Playing in Los Angeles in what should be hitter-friendly conditions tonight, I like Grandal as a cheap catching option who could hit in the middle of the order.
OF Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota (vs Edinson Volquez) – $4700
Arcia might be overpriced a bit here, but he also had ridiculous splits in favor of righties last year, including an .848 OPS and .274 ISO. I’m willing to overpay in certain GPP situations if I think a player’s upside is being overlooked. It could also be the case that Arcia isn’t even overpriced given his splits.
1B Lucas Duda, NY Mets (vs Jerome Williams) – $3500
I have no idea why Duda is $3500 but I’ll be all over him against right-handed pitching at this price all day. Duda is one of the more extreme splits players in baseball since he struggles mightily versus lefties. It means he’s often underpriced against righties, but that’s especially the case tonight. Duda had a .386 wOBA and a .258 ISO versus righties in 2014.
Punt of the Night:
Ike Davis, Oakland (vs Collin McHugh) – $2700
Davis’s salary was at $3600 a few nights ago, and now it’s down to $2700 despite ridiculous splits and a quality ballpark. If Davis doesn’t go deep tonight, I quit.