It’s a huge night of MLB action on DraftKings for all levels of players. There’s a Mega Perfect Game with $50k to first place, a huge Payoff Pitch with $20k to first place on just a $27 buy-in, and someone will win $10k on just a $3 entry fee in the Moonshot. It’s a good time to play daily fantasy baseball.

I’ve been discussing the importance player ownership in a lot of my articles this year. One of the things that I think we’re seeing happen this season is that more users are understanding the importance of player usage and are taking what they consider to be a contrarian approach to tournaments. It’s really valuable to remember that being “contrarian” doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing value; it just means doing something different from the crowd in order to gain an edge.

Well, if more and more people are being contrarian, it means that player ownership is flatter than ever; there’s higher ownership on the low and medium-usage players and lower ownership on the chalk. I don’t think we’re at the point where it means you should always be playing the chalk because the ownership is too low relative to their chances of producing, but it’s something to monitor.

There’s nothing inherently bad about picking the favorites—it just comes down to what other people are doing—and if ownership on the Rockies at home dips too low (and the players remain semi-affordable), the “new” contrarian tournament strategy might be to not be contrarian at all.

 

The Teams

Toronto Blue Jays (vs Drew Smyly)

The Blue Jays could legitimately send nothing but right-handed batters up to the plate tonight against the left-handed Smyly. With their potential power and overall upside, they’re always in the GPP discussion.

One thing that’s interesting is that Vegas currently has the Jays projected to score only 3.6 runs and lose this game. Even with R.A. Dickey on the mound, Toronto is currently at +107 to win, meaning they’re a slight dog. That’s really interesting information and will probably affect exactly how much exposure I get to the Jays. However, I think that line is still more relevant in cash games, where you might want to fade Toronto—or at least a stack—and less useful in tournaments given their offensive firepower.

 

Los Angeles Angels (vs Wandy Rodriguez)

My two stacks tonight aren’t particularly contrarian in that I don’t think we’re going to see really low usage on either one, but I don’t think you need to be as contrarian in a full slate like tonight’s. The Angels are a top-projected team against Rodriguez and have a bunch of right-handed bats that can crush southpaws. Outside of Mike Trout, the total cost of the stack isn’t prohibitive when it comes to fitting top bats or pitchers into you lineup.

 

The Players

OF Corey Dickerson, Colorado (vs Chris Heston) – $5300

Even at this price, I think Dickerson is actually a value in this situation. He’s facing a weak right-hander at Coors and he’s now hitting near the top of the order. Over the past 12 months, Dickerson has scored twice what you’d expect given his salary in 28 percent of his contests, which is one of the highest rates in baseball. He’s a huge upside play, regardless of cost.

 

1B/3B Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh (vs Josh Collmenter) – $4300

Alvarez is in a really nice spot tonight in hitter-friendly Arizona. He struggled badly against lefties but has a 12-month running wOBA of .353 and ISO of .210 against righties, i.e. all of his power is off of right-handed pitching. With a favorable Vegas projection for Pittsburgh, I like Alvarez’s upside and odds of going deep in this game.

 

3B Josh Donaldson, Toronto (vs Drew Smyly) – $4200

Donaldson is too cheap and I can almost guarantee his ownership will be high, but I’m not fading him because he is dominant versus southpaws. Over the past 12 months, Donaldson has a .435 wOBA and .352 ISO versus lefties, and those are just insane numbers. He’s so good of a batter versus lefties that I’d consider starting him even against someone like Chris Sale, so his matchup versus a decent southpaw here is a no-brainer play for me.

 

P Danny Salazar, Cleveland (vs Detroit) – $7700

I wouldn’t recommend Salazar in cash games versus the Detroit offense, but he has high strikeout potential tonight versus the Tigers. Salazar’s 12-month K/9 is 9.72, which is higher than that of Felix Hernandez. I think you could make a strong argument for paying $500 more for Gerrit Cole, too, facing a much weaker offense in the Diamondbacks.