The Nationals are going to have the highest overall ownership tonight. The Blue Jays and Cubs will be second and third, but I’m not sure what order.

Do I know that for a fact? No. I’m guessing. But I’d probably lay even money on those three teams having the highest overall usage in tournaments.

The late slate of games isn’t enormous, but 10 is enough that we’re likely going to see somewhat suppressed ownership on some quality stacks, and I think that’s especially the case with Washington, Toronto, and Chicago taking up maybe like 50 or 60 percent of spots.

So what does all this mean to me? STACK THE ASTROS!

I’m just kidding. I tell you to stack the Astros pretty much every day. It almost never works. Maybe you shouldn’t listen to what I say anymore. But I will stack Houston again tonight, so there’s that.

But what does all this mean for real? I think it means you can be contrarian without being really contrarian. There’s little incentive to stack the Giants against Garcia, for example, when you can jump on an offense with a higher projection with more upside and probably not see much higher ownership. If this were a five-game slate without a game at Coors, I think there’d be much more incentive to really act in a contrarian way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is just always stack the Astros. But also this: just really think about a slate in detail before doing anything else. Don’t start doing projections. Don’t look into advanced stats and pitcher splits and all that. Just look at the slate and think about how you feel. Which teams do you naturally like? Which players seem like obvious values?

Chances are you aren’t unique. I used to think I was unique. I’m not. Everyone thinks the same way, pretty much. At least their natural thoughts are the same. We all know the Nationals are a quality stack if you’re trying to maximize your point total. It’s hard to get away from that.

But you have to do it. Not that you can’t stack Washington—just that you have to really think about a slate of games, consider how the crowd is going to react to it, and then do your best to be one step ahead. And that’s unnatural. It’s an odd feeling to do something you know isn’t “optimal” in the traditional sense, but the largest payoffs come when you think differently.

I was talking with DraftKings Pro dinkpiece recently and he told me an awesome line he used in the financial world: What do you win when you win? That’s a contrarian style of tournament play in a nutshell. It isn’t enough to be right. You need to be right and then reap as many benefits from being right as possible.

What are the chances of being right, but then what are the payoffs if you are?

NOTE: Today’s plays are for the 7pm ET slate of games.

 

The Teams

Detroit Tigers (vs Jon Lester)

I feel like the Tigers are a pretty typical contrarian choice tonight. I do think they’ll be low-owned given the matchup against Lester. I also think Lester is a good value who, despite the winds at Wrigley, will be a popular choice. I love stacking against a high-ownership pitcher because you get double the benefits if you’re right. What you win when you win is maximized, so to speak.

Vegas currently has the Cubs at 5.4 implied runs and the Tigers at just 3.6. This is just a matter of whether or not the Tigers can put the ball in the air against Lester with likely 17mph winds blowing out to center.

Will they be able to? I have no clue. But that’s sort of the point with an “antifragile” GPP strategy; I’m admitting I don’t know shit and then just trying to maximize what I can control, which is the benefit to me if things play out fortuitously. I think Detroit maximizes that benefit tonight.

 

Houston Astros (vs Nate Karns)

Do it.

 

The Players

3B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis (vs Matt Cain) – $4200

Third base is probably the best spot to be contrarian tonight given that you have four potential players from the Coors game eligible at the position (Arenado, LeMahieu, Zimmerman, and Espinosa), plus Dong-aldson facing a lefty. I think Donaldson is the top play in a vacuum, by far, but he’s also $5900.

I think Adrian Beltre is an interesting against-the-grain choice tonight, too, but matt Carpenter should see reduced ownership as well because of the aforementioned names, and the matchup against Cain should reduce his usage more. He has a .177 ISO split versus righties, though, and I think he’s definitely underpriced—a chance to grab value and low ownership.

 

OF Chris Colabello, Toronto (vs Adam Morgan) – $3600

The Blue Jays are clearly very stackable tonight, but either way I’m going to get exposure to Colabello. Like a lot of his teammates, he crushes southpaws, posting a .391 wOBA and .215 ISO. He’s also doubled his salary-based expected points in 22 percent of games this year, which is roughly 33 percent more than the league-average.

 

OF Yoenis Cespedes, NY Mets (vs Ubaldo Jimenez) – $4600

This is another situation to potentially pick on a pitcher who is good, but not great, yet is probably underpriced enough to be in a decent number of lineups. Cespedes has a .384 wOBA and .211 ISO over the past 12 months against righty pitchers. The fact that he’s facing the same handedness of pitcher could draw down his ownership, as could the fact that I don’t think he’s necessarily a bargain in terms of pure value.

 

P J.A. Happ, Pittsburgh (vs Arizona) – $5400

If you’re going big on bats and okay with punting one of the pitcher spots, I think Happ is the guy. He could easily blow up, which is a risk you’re taking, but his K potential is decent enough against Arizona. The D-Backs do have a couple bats who just smash lefties, so Happ needs to work his way past those guys. Vegas seems to think he’ll be fine, though, projecting Arizona at only 3.4 implied runs. The Pirates are also (-152) to win, so while there’s risk surrounding Happ at all times, I think it’s lower than normal tonight—and worth the cost.