With apologies to the eyes of the sporting world firmly fixed elsewhere, this is going to be the shortest version of this column of the season. Included below are the power index and home run picks in their usual form — including only the games that appear on both DraftKings and FanDuel — as well as a few brief recommendations for stacks and pitchers. The column will be back tomorrow with the full version as contests return to their standard September size and shape.
MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options
Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one, or better two, out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model of my own design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I will give each team one of the top choices. However, it will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.
Home Run Ratings
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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Atlanta Braves: Joc Pederson — 12.41
Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini — 14.15
Boston Red Sox: Kyle Schwarber — 11.41
Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ — 4.49
Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez — 12.79
Cincinnati Reds: Nick Castellanos — 12.83
Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez — 11.07
Colorado Rockies: Colton Welker — 5.65
Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 7.68
Kansas City Royals: Adalberto Mondesi — 10.71
Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh — 6.00
Miami Marlins: Jesus Sanchez — 4.32
Milwaukee Brewers: Dan Vogelbach — 8.81
Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 13.04
Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew McCutchen — 10.71
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes — 7.32
San Francisco Giants: Evan Longoria — 8.39
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt — 6.83
Toronto Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez — 13.46
Washington Nationals: Lane Thomas — 8.12
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This is intended to capture the full range of home run upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup (pitcher bats not included in non-DH games), and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.
MLB DFS Picks: Pitchers, Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays
This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Ensure to check out the Awesemo Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
On the Hill
Sunday presents a handful of quality options for those choosing to play MLB DFS. The slate includes premium arms in good spots, most notably Aaron Nola, who will be taking on a Rockies lineup that is one of the worst in baseball for run creation against right-handed pitching. Nola ranks highly on the pitching board and is just $8,800 on the FanDuel slate and $9,300 on DraftKings. Sonny Gray is a talented right-hander with strikeout upside who will be facing a stingy but largely powerless Cardinals lineup. Atlanta’s Max Fried draws the Marlins and thereby vaults toward the very top of pitching rankings for this slate. Fried is good at limiting opposing run creation and has a 24.1% strikeout rate on the season. He will be pitted against one of baseball’s least talented offenses and costs only $8,000 on DraftKings where he is an absolute lock for cash games and should be exploited in tournament play. Lance McCullers Jr. is highly playable but remains expensive in a matchup against the Angels; Logan Webb will look to continue his season-long excellence in an easy start against the Cubs and could go under-owned on both sites; and Lance Lynn will be challenged by the tough Red Sox bats. On the extreme low end of salary, Patrick Corbin will be facing the Pirates, and something has to give. Corbin has had a miserable season, but he costs just $6,400 on DraftKings and will be facing another of the dregs of the league.
Drawing from the power index above, which is a summary only of home run potential, there is upside in getting to some of the more obviously good teams on the slate. The Blue Jays are one of baseball’s best teams against both hands, and they will be facing lowly Zac Lowther, who has just a 19.4% strikeout rate in his small sample at the major league level. Go-to Blue Jays will all be popular and difficult to differentiate, but they include George Springer, Marcus Semien, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez. The lineup features excellent value bats in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk and Alejandro Kirk. The Orioles project well for power on the other side of the game, facing lefty Steven Matz. Baltimore is likely to be under-owned in the spot and could be a sneaky play for power, though they may play better for individual home run upside in one-offs.
The powerful Braves lineup will be backing up Fried in a spot against Edward Cabrera that has their power potential near the top of the board. The Braves look like a strong spot for run creation and sequential hitting as well, and they could produce a bonanza of MLB DFS points on this slate. Atlanta has been covered in this space frequently, but go-to options include Ozzie Albies, Jorge Soler, Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley and Joc Pederson, while Travis d’Arnaud, Dansby Swanson and Eddie Rosario fill in around the edges to make the confirmed lineup playable from one through eight.
The Reds are also primed for power in their matchup against J.A. Happ. Happ has struck out just 17.5% of hitters this season while walking 7.1%, allowing a whopping 12% barrel rate and 42.1% hard-hit rate. Reds bats of note include Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino through the middle of the lineup, while Jonathan India adds a quality leadoff bat and Tyler Stephenson is an early-lineup option at the catcher position. Jose Barrero and Delino DeShields are afterthoughts at the back of the batting order today.
HR Call: Bryce Harper — Philadelphia Phillies
To get even more action down on tonight’s MLB slate, check out the betting markets and Awesemo’s expert MLB betting picks for today.
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