I had all the right Yankees, but somehow not all together. If the story of my night sounds familiar to you, you’re definitely an MLB DFS player. While I caught enough of them to have an OK night, my pitching didn’t do enough to cooperate, and the right combinations of bats didn’t exactly come together. The ups and downs can be a frustrating ride, but always remember that solid process over time will yield good results. There’s simply no accounting for things like Jacob deGrom leaving his start early due to some muscle spasm issues. Sometimes the baseball gods simply conspire against you and you have to eat the variance. Or just come into Slack chat and shout your frustrations into the void like all the other lovable loonies.
I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t at least mention somewhere in this column about MLB DFS stacks that the ridiculously good Dodgers lineup is in a favorable matchup at Coors field tomorrow. I expect them to be wildly popular regardless of pricing, and it might not be easy to win without them in your lineups.
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: Josh VanMeter – 10.80
Atlanta Braves: n/a
Baltimore Orioles: n/a
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers – 12.40
Chicago Cubs: n/a
Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez – 5.78
Cincinnati Reds: n/a
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Santana – 12.15
Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon – 6.32
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera – 3.95
Houston Astros: Alex Bregman – 10.70
Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez – 18.38
Los Angeles Angels: Anthony Rendon – 15.49
Los Angeles Dodgers: Mookie Betts – 7.86
Miami Marlins: Corey Dickerson – 9.52
Milwaukee Brewers: n/a
Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz – 16.14
New York Mets: Michael Conforto – 11.88
New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton – 12.37
Oakland Athletics: n/a
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper – 6.22
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell – 8.09
San Diego Padres: n/a
San Francisco Giants: Mike Yastrzemski – 6.82
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager – 5.23
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul DeJong – 11.39
Tampa Bay Rays: n/a
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo – 4.23
Toronto Blue Jays: Travis Shaw – 7.42
Washington Nationals: n/a
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.
St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates – Cardinals – 8-9-1-2-3 – O’Neill – Bader – Edman – DeJong – Goldschmidt
The Cardinals are in Pittsburgh to take on Josh Bell and his Pirates. The home team will be throwing lefty starter Steven Brault to the wolves here, with the Cardinals fielding a solid lineup against southpaws. The Cards active roster is fifth in baseball with a .218 ISO and sixth with a WRC+ 25% above average against lefties in 2020.
Brault hasn’t gotten through the fifth since mid August. For his career, the lefty has just an 18.9% strikeout rate, which is up to 19.7% so far in 2020. The increase in his walk rate would be concerning if the sample size were larger. Brault is at an ugly 13.9% so far in 2020, which explains some of his issues both with length in games and with his 5.25 xFIP in 26.2 innings. This is a pitcher we can get after with some bats.
The Cardinals will likely have Tommy Edman leading off. Since the start of last year, the switch-hitter has six home runs with a .287 ISO and a WRC+ 60% above average in his 116 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. He’s at .262/.335/.396 with two stolen bases on the year and costs just $4,200 on DraftKings and $2,900 on FanDuel, making Edman an ideal starting point for stacks.
Paul and Paul Inc. is in business in the two and three spots in the projected order (Paul DeJong and Paul Goldschmidt), and that business is creating runs at a combined clip 45% above average. The duo would be excellent as a standalone two-man if that’s your thing, each is a well-proven bat, and they are comparatively inexpensive for the quality they provide at their positions. I like working with both but dangling over a tank of piranha by my ankles with only a home run from one of them to save me, I have to choose Goldschmidt every time. The first baseman has a .322 ISO and a WRC+ 64% above average over his 148 plate appearances since the start of 2019.
Rangel Ravelo hasn’t gotten much better since we talked about this team the other day, but he could find himself in the cleanup spot again tomorrow. He costs just $3,300 and occupies first base or outfield on DraftKings. On FanDuel he’s a $2,500 option if you need an inexpensive first baseman. Ravelo’s primary asset on the slate will be his price and his place in the batting order here. The upside is limited on the 28-year-old career minor-leaguer. Ravelo did manage to hit 25 home runs in AAA if you combine 2018 and 2019 for a total of 780 plate appearances.
Brad Miller is a $4,300 player in a relevant lineup. 2020 is a weird year. The second baseman, shortstop or first baseman, depending on your site of choice, is having a solid year for the Cardinals. In his 131 plate appearances, Miller has a .262/.389/.495 slash with six home runs and a WRC+ 40% above average.
The back end of the lineup has two veteran hitters we can always hope to squeeze a few last MLB DFS points. Matt Carpenter hasn’t been the hitter he once was for quite a while now. The third baseman is priced down to $3,900 on DraftKings and an easy-to-afford $2,800 on FanDuel. Over the best stretch of his career, from 2015 to 2018, Carpenter had a .188 ISO with a WRC+ 11% above average and hit 24 home runs in 718 plate appearances against fellow southpaws.
Catcher Yadier Molina is an asset behind the plate for the Cardinals but less so in your MLB DFS lineups. Once one of the better offensive catchers in the game, Molina’s skills at the plate have deteriorated over time. He’s still plenty capable for a catcher in baseball terms but not for fantasy production. Molina has a .252/.283/.346 slash with a WRC+ 29% below average on the year.
Winding down the lineup we have Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader. The latter is tied with Edman for second on the team with six home runs against lefties since the start of 2019. The outfielder has a .333/.293/.478 slash with a .261 ISO and a WRC+ just 1% below average in the split. O’Neill has hit two home runs in his 83 plate appearances against lefties in the majors. The big right-handed slugger has just a .095 ISO and a WRC+ 14% below average in the split for his career. O’Neill is a true power hitter. In his long trek through the minors he hit 32 home runs and 24 home runs in the two seasons in which he saw at least 400 plate appearances. In AAA in 2018, O’Neill hit 26 home runs in just 273 plate appearances. I can always grab some shares of the outfielder in Cardinals stacks. At just $2,800 O’Neill is at a discount, while Bader is an absolute steal at just $2,400 on both sites.
Related MLB DFS Content
- Learn MLB DFS: DraftKings + FanDuel Primer
- MLB DFS Quick Hits: HRs, Stacks & Ownership Plays
- Top Stack Tool (PREMIUM)
- Awesemo’s Top Pitcher Tool (PREMIUM)
- The MLB Strategy Show Live Before Lock
Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers – Indians
Rookie Casey Mize is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, let alone the Tigers organization. The right-handed starter was taken with the first pick of the draft in 2018 and has rocketed through the organization. In his 20 innings so far in the Show, Mize has a 4.94 xFIP and a 22.8% strikeout rate. We can expect him to improve over time. He projects as a high-end talent with at least mid-20s strikeout stuff, if not better. Mize throws what is immediately one of baseball’s better splitters. He just needs to work on command and the overall pitch mix, and he’ll be dominant. In his last start, Mize held the mighty White Sox in check, allowing just one hit while striking out five in 5.1 innings.
The Indians seem up to the challenge against the rookie. On a slate with a wide swath of low implied team totals in any game not taking place in Coors field or Yankee Stadium, the Indians have one of the higher marks on the board. Cleveland has struggled more than we expected through much of 2020. The team hast just a .140 ISO and a WRC+ 14% below average against right-handed pitching this year, while striking out at a 23.5% rate.
Still, while the overall team numbers are of some concern, the individuals within the stacks that we want to get to are truly not. Leadoff man and superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor has a .287/.346/.469 slash with eight home runs and a WRC+ 14% above average this season. Against right-handed pitching, Lindor has a .215 ISO and a WRC+ 13% above average. If we date the split to the start of 2018, he improves to a .247 ISO and a WRC+ 18% above average, while striking out just 16% of the time. Lindor is a no-brainer even at a pricey $5,700 on DraftKings. His $3,500 on FanDuel is so inexpensive it makes me wonder if you’re not buying a knockoff Molex Watch version of the superstar on the blue site.
Cesar Hernandez is a capable bat with decent speed and a little pop. Like all of the first four hitters in the lineup, he hits from both sides of the plate, though he has been slightly below average with just a 94 WRC+ so far in 2020. Hernandez has gotten on base at a .361 clip against right-handed pitching this year and maintains a WRC+ 7% above average in the split, putting him firmly in play for MLB DFS purposes.
Three sluggers follow Hernandez in the lineup, adding value to his on-base skills. Jose Ramirez is a true power-speed threat. He has 11 home runs and 10 stolen bases so far in 2020, following two seasons in which he went 23-24 preceded by 39-34 season in 2018. Ramirez’ talent is undeniable. He costs $5,500, but we can make it work with some of the discounts in this lineup. Ramirez has struck out just 14.9% of the time against right-handed pitching since the start of 2018.
Carlos Santana is one of those mispriced players on tomorrow’s slate. The first baseman costs just $3,600 on DraftKings and $2,900 on FanDuel. He has just a .206 average on the back of his baseball card, so the low price makes some sense from a public perspective, but this is a hitter with too much upside. Despite his struggles so far this season, Santana has maintained a .362 on-base percentage and is just 6% below average in creating runs for the season. Since the start of 2018, against right-handed pitching Santana has a .190 ISO and a WRC+ 10% above average while striking out just 15.8% of the time and walking 17.5%.
Outfielder Franmil Reyes is having a great season for the Indians. He’s at .285/.349/.477 for the year with eight home runs, a .192 ISO and a WRC+ 19% above average hitting fifth after we make it around the horn in the infield. Since the start of 2018, Reyes has a .245 ISO and a WRC+ 7% above average against same-handed pitching, though he strikes out at a 28.8% clip.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin is one of several options who could hit sixth. The lefty has four home runs and a .220 ISO in his 106 plate appearances in 2020 and costs just $2,600 on DraftKings, putting him on the board as a mix-and-match option. Catcher Roberto Perez is cheap and typically less than popular given his Gary Sanchez-ian .159/.256/.217 slash. Perez lacks the power upside of the Yankees backstop, though he does have home run pop and has hit four so far this season. As a lightly utilized low-owned catcher play on DraftKings, I can get behind some Perez here.
Josh Naylor was another piece that came from the Padres organization. The lefty outfielder has significant power upside and could be a sneaky home run threat from late in the lineup, if he’s in the lineup at all. In 574 plate appearances in AA for the Padres in 2018, Naylor hit 17 home runs. He’s long carried a 70-grade raw power rating in traditional scouting, though the 22-year-old has yet to turn it into true game production. If he figures it out in Cleveland, where they know how to groom power hitters, look out. Fellow outfielder Delino DeShields is best deployed as a low-owned speed option, though I’m fine just skipping over him at the bottom of this lineup.
HR Call: Francisco Lindor (Indians)
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