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MLB DFS Quick Hits: HRs, Stacks and Ownership Plays DraftKings + FanDuel | 9/11

Terry McBride



MLB DFS Picks: Free MLB picks + MLB DFS Stacks, hitters and strategy daily for each slate on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo Fantasy | 9/14/20

With a good MLB DFS slate going, a lot of the fantasy world was focused on the big single-game slate in another sport entirely. That game didn’t deliver much in terms of competitiveness, but it was nice to see it back. The MLB slate went all over the place. With the Baltimore – New York game raining out, the Reds and Cubs teetering in a rain delay but ultimately starting and a lot of the chalky pitching getting hit, scoring has been interesting to say the least.

Tomorrow’s slate looks very interesting. With a nine-game main slate and some very pricey bats in not the best spots, it will be interesting to see where ownership goes. There isn’t a ton of offense on the board so far with some low implied team totals. I see a few potentially sneaky spots to get into with Stack Slants tomorrow afternoon, so be sure to check back for that and tune in for Live Before Lock, which should kick off around 7:00 p.m. EST for the rare 8:05 lock.

As someone who can see Manhattan from just outside my house, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the significance of the date tomorrow. As much fun as we have with MLB DFS, even in a year like this, take a moment to remember to never forget.

MLB DFS Quick Hits: Top HR Options, Stacks and Pitchers

Home Run Ratings

Home runs are our 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’m going to give one of the top choices from each team.

Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great

Arizona Diamondbacks: Christian Walker – 3.89

Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. – 10.15

Baltimore Orioles: n/a

Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts – 10.55

Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant – 5.28

Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez – 13.01

Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez – 5.80

Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes – 6.60

Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon – 12.45

Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop – 4.53

Houston Astros: George Springer – 8.86

Kansas City Royals: Maikel Franco – 8.70

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani – 7.32

Los Angeles Dodgers: A.J. Pollock – 16.05

Miami Marlins: n/a

Milwaukee Brewers: Keston Hiura – 12.01

Minnesota Twins: Eddie Rosario – 4.94

New York Mets: Michael Conforto – 9.01

New York Yankees: n/a

Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson – 13.26

Philadelphia Phillies: n/a

Pittsburgh Pirates: Gregory Polanco – 7.16

San Diego Padres: Manny Machado – 9.55

San Francisco Giants: Mike Yastrzemski – 6.77

Seattle Mariners: Kyle Lewis – 10.38

St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt – 4.62

Tampa Bay Rays: Hunter Renfroe – 11.63

Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo – 13.82

Toronto Blue Jays: Randal Grichuk – 4.28

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto – 11.34

MLB DFS Stacks & Ownership Plays

(Quick note: if it says 1-5 it means hitters 1-2-3-4-5, otherwise I’ll specify spots)

We’re picking a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays here. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers – Brewers – 1-5 – Garcia – Hiura – Yelich – Gyorko – Braun

Despite a robust nine-game main slate, there aren’t a ton of amazing looking spots for offense on the board tomorrow. The Brewers are at home to take on the Cubs and veteran lefty Jon Lester. We’ve spent a fair amount of time recently talking about the Brewers being disappointing for the most part and not the offense that we truly expected them to be. That doesn’t really apply against lefties.

In the split this season, the Brewers are fourth in baseball with a .230 ISO and tied in fifth with a WRC+ 27% above average. The team has hit only 17 home runs in their 383 plate appearances, but their ability to create runs has them in play here, and they’re carrying one of the slate’s stronger implied team totals.

Lester’s better years are behind him at this point. The veteran southpaw is carrying a 5.47 xFIP over his 40.1 innings so far this season, and he’s striking out just 15.9% of hitters. Lester’s HR/9 has increased over the last few seasons; this year he’s allowed nine home runs in his minimal innings pitched.

The beating heart of the Brewers lineup is in the two and three spot with Keston Hiura and Christian Yelich. The sophomore second baseman Hiura is carrying just a .229 average that belies his high-end hit tool so far this season. The rest of his line is right around expectation. He’s hit 11 home runs and has a .236 ISO over his 179 plate appearances. If anything he would be a strong candidate to trend upward over a longer season. Yelich is a former MVP who hit 44 home runs and stole 30 bases last year. I don’t think I have to sell you on him for MLB DFS purposes. The stellar pair costs $5,300 each, but the rest of this lineup is incredibly affordable. The Brewers are likely going to be one of the highest-owned teams on the board tomorrow.

Avisail Garcia should be leading off for this team as he usually does against lefties. The outfielder seems like he’s been around longer than his five full seasons before this year, a stretch over which he’s steadily increased his power output regardless of the amount of plate appearances he’s received. In 2015, Garcia hit 13 home runs in 601 plate appearances. He lost one the following season in 150 fewer opportunities, then went 18, 19 and 20 over the next three years. For his career, Garcia has a .298/.358/.461 slash with a .163 ISO and a WRC+ 21% above average against lefties. At a very friendly $2,700, he’s going to be in a lot of lineups hitting atop this batting order.

The Brewers roll on with a series of right-handed hitters of varying quality following up Yelich in the lineup. Jedd Gyorko and Ryan Braun are the two most likely to be in the RBI spots in the middle. Both are priced under $4,000 on DraftKings. Gyorko provides some position flexibility at first and third base, while Braun occupies an outfield role for just $3,500. Braun is largely washed but has brought his numbers to a modest .231/.286/.436 and has been driving the ball at a .205 ISO, though his WRC+ sits 12% below average over his 85 plate appearances. Gyorko is having the better year, he’s hit seven home runs already in 2020. The utility-man is getting on base at a solid clip and has the team’s highest WRC+ in his limited 66-plate appearance sample.

Orlando Arcia is a very inexpensive shortstop at just $2,900 on DraftKings. The former highly regarded prospect is just an average major league player. He’s carrying a .257/.328/.381 slash with a .124 ISO and three home runs over his 125 opportunities this year. In his 258 plate appearances against lefties since the start of 2018, the shortstop has hit five home runs, gotten on base at just a .291 clip and is carrying a WRC+ 31% below average. He’s most likely a liability to slot in at shortstop tomorrow, if he’s drawing popularity, it could be an easy move to go another way at such a deep position.

The rest of the projected lineup fills out with inexpensive mix-and-match options, including Luis Urias, Tyrone Taylor and Jacob Nottingham, although the Brewers could easily deploy any of Daniel Vogelbach,Eric Sogard, Jace Peterson or Omar Narvaez in lefty-lefty spots. Nottingham offers a significant amount of power upside and has two home runs already against lefties. The catcher would be a sneaky play on DraftKings if he weren’t priced at just $2,600. That could put him in play for the public. Taylor is an inexpensive mix-and-match option in the outfield, and Urias serves a similar purpose in the infield. This stack is mostly about the top five hitters, but it pays to grab at least one from the back end if the rest are chalky. There should be enough to work with.

Related MLB DFS Content

Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox – 9-1-2-3-4 – Madrigal – Anderson – Moncada – Grandal – Abreu

The Tigers are in Chicago to face the White Sox tomorrow, and they’ll have rookie Casey Mize facing one of the league’s best offenses. The kid is a very high-end prospect with some electric stuff that already plays at the major league level. He’s yet to repeat his performance from his debut start when he struck out seven of these same White Sox over 4.1 innings, throwing 3.1, 3.0 and 4.0 in his three subsequent starts while striking out nine and walking six total. Overall, he carries a 5.31 xFIP over his 14.2 innings. Even if he pitches well, the starter isn’t likely to work deep into the game. That’s where the terrible Detroit bullpen comes into play. The Tigers pen ranks 27th in baseball with just a 20.2% strikeout rate and have a 4.72 xFIP.

The White Sox are a team that we know can get to better pitching than this. The issue with this team is going to be how to put them together. As we’ve seen all month long, the White Sox are prohibitively expensive, which is a good thing for their overall team ownership. I’m hoping it keeps them well under-owned, and we’ll find ways to make stacks work. With six of the first seven hitters priced over $5,000 on DraftKings, this should be a fun challenge. On FanDuel, click who you like and move on; they’re all affordable.

Tim Anderson is one of the best shortstops in baseball, though he’s yet to become a household name. He’s seen 151 plate appearances so far in 2020 and has a .350/.391/.586 slash with seven home runs and five stolen bases. Anderson’s .236 ISO and WRC+ 65% above league average are amazing tools for a leadoff hitter. Since the start of 2019, Anderson has hit 14 home runs in his 474 plate appearances against same-handed pitching, while also stealing 18 bases. At $5,700 he’s a pricey but worthwhile start to stacks.

The first basemen and catcher that we can mix and match or play two of three of are great in essentially any combination. Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion flip in and out of my White Sox constructions based on salary needs and ownership. With a $700 salary difference between the two, a simple pivot can work wonders. Encarnacion is still struggling in 2020. He’s hit eight home runs in his 125 opportunities, though he’s at just .176/.274/.435 this season. Still, this is one of the best home run hitters of his generation. In 881 plate appearances against same-handed pitching dating back to the start of 2018, Encarnacion has hit 54 home runs and has a WRC+ 16% above average. Abreu is 10% above average with 51 home runs.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal has first base eligibility on DraftKings and is possibly the best hitter of the three at the moment, which is a fantastic asset as a backstop. Grandal hits from both sides of the plate and costs $5,300 on DraftKings but just $3,100 on FanDuel. In his 937 plate appearances since the start of 2018, Grandal has hit 41 home runs and has a WRC+ 21% above average.

While we can’t work in all three of those bats, we lose nothing by including Eloy Jimenez or Luis Robert in one or both of our outfield spots. Both are now over $5,000 on DraftKings just like most of their teammates. The slugging outfielders make a fantastic duo hitting in the back half of the White Sox lineup where they still see plenty of RBI opportunities and create some of their own. Each has hit 11 home runs so far this season, and Robert has been slightly better driving the ball with a .272 ISO and creating runs with a WRC+ 32% above average.

Nomar Mazara and Nick Madrigal are the last two pieces in the lineup. Mazara is a player we’ve mentioned several times in covering this team recently and he’s still yet to hit a home run. The outfielder is struggling with a .242/.317/.286 slash with a .044 ISO and a WRC+ 27% below average. Mazara is one of the few discounts in this lineup at $3,300. His popularity will dictate how much I get to him, but he does have upside in this spot.

Madrigal is another player who has made this space a few times. The high-pedigree rookie second baseman is known for his hit tool. He doesn’t drive the ball well and should never be expected to hit home runs, but he’s very good at putting the ball in play and can create points on the basepaths as well. Madrigal was called up early but then got hurt. He’s seen 52 plate appearances over the season and is at .380/.404/.420 with a WRC+ 32% above average. At just $3,200 he’s very much in play as a wraparound option and a great way to make this stack work.

HR Call: Jedd Gyorko (Brewers)

(Pick added 12:40p Friday. Thanks to Travis – @TSPDX38 for pointing out to me that I’d deleted this by accident. Yesterday’s pick was Max Muncy for anyone keeping score at home)

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Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.