Getting the other column together took six or seven times longer than I expected it to this evening, so we’re a bit behind schedule. Apologies to the night owls who like to read this one around 3 a.m. EST; you’ll have to catch it after sunrise this time around. But what better way to start the day off than by getting your MLB DFS fix over coffee?
Thursday’s slate had some wild action yet again with home runs flying out all over and one of the chalky value pitchers completely imploding. Friday has a juicy 12-game slate in the evening and should continue to deliver some power across the league.
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: Kole Calhoun – 9.39
Atlanta Braves: Dansby Swanson – 12.19
Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle – 7.00
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez – 8.65
Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber – 6.07
Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu – 9.03
Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez – 12.07
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Santana – 20.79
Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado – 13.00
Detroit Tigers: Jeimer Candelario – 4.25
Houston Astros: Alex Bregman – 8.58
Kansas City Royals: Hunter Dozier – 7.95
Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani – 5.31
Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger – 19.71
Miami Marlins: n/a
Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich – 11.40
Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson – 10.20
New York Mets: Pete Alonso – 14.58
New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres – 9.69
Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson – 6.95
Philadelphia Phillies: n/a
Pittsburgh Pirates: n/a
San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. – 7.51
San Francisco Giants: Alex Dickerson – 3.08
Seattle Mariners: J.P. Crawford – 8.14
St. Louis Cardinals: n/a
Tampa Bay Rays: Ji-Man Choi – 7.70
Texas Rangers: Rougned Odor – 9.19
Toronto Blue Jays: n/a
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.
New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox – Yankees – 2-4-6-7-8 – Judge – Stanton – Voit – Frazier – Torres
I know I said we weren’t going to pick on Martin Perez anymore, but the Yankees have a gigantic 6.5-run implied total, higher by a run than every other team on the board, so blame Vegas, not me. The Bombers have been destroying baseballs over their recent winning streak. The return to full health for the team has brought all the power back, and tomorrow we’re likely to see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both in the lineup for the first time in a long time.
Perez is a journeyman lefty starter who has a 5.48 xFIP so far this season. Perez is striking out just 16.7% of hitters and walking 11.8%. That’s far too much free opportunity for a team that hits the ball so frequently out of the park. The Yankees should be able to capitalize. The active roster has a .207 ISO this year against left-handed pitching. If we push the sample to the start of 2018, the active roster has a league-leading .236 ISO and a WRC+ 24% above average in the split, and they’re second in home runs with 160.
The past few days we’ve seen the bottom of the Yankees order pay off with late lineup stacks and wraparound constructions hitting big swaths of the home runs and scoring. The Yankees projected lineup has Gary Sanchez in the nine spot tomorrow, which makes for an interesting decision. Sanchez’s on base and hit tools simply don’t support utilizing him as a traditional wraparound play, he doesn’t function as a leadoff hitter. But as the end cap to a mid-lineup stack Sanchez is interesting. At his $4,200 price tag as a catcher on DraftKings he’s in play regardless, but that would be the ideal construction. Sanchez has nine home runs and a .145/.253/.374 slash so far in 2020.
The three stars hitting immediately ahead of Sanchez in the lineup would make for an excellent stack to run into the catcher. Luke Voit leads all of baseball with his 20 home runs, a mark that people were questioning if anyone would reach in our 60-game sprint. Gleyber Torres will be an All-Star for the next decade and a half. He’s rounding into form and had a nice game on Thursday at a cheap price that absurdly went down on DraftKings. At just $3,900 he’s an incredible bargain. Clint Frazier slots into the outfield for $4,500 and brings a strong bat with him. In his 126 plate appearances Frazier has finally seemingly seized a job in the Show with a .291/.413/.573 slash, a .282 ISO and a WRC+ 66% above average.
That would be the top of many other lineups in baseball, but it was the bottom half of this one. The Yankees start things off up top with D.J. LeMahieu, who is having another excellent season. The second baseman is expensive but worth it at $5,600. His .373/.426/.641 slash and 10 home runs to go with a .268 ISO and WRC+ 87% above average make him the best leadoff man in baseball.
Judge gets a big boost from having LeMahieu on base so frequently in front of him. The gigantic slugger has only seen 75 plate appearances so far this season, but he has nine home runs and a .420 ISO. The outfielder hits everything incredibly hard. Following Judge in the lineup is switch-hitting Aaron Hicks. Hicks has been slumping for most of the season and costs just $3,600 on DraftKings, $3,200 on FanDuel. Ultimately, the Yankees may hit someone else in this spot tomorrow. It would make sense for Voit or Frazier to slide into the three spot. When he’s right, Hicks is dangerous. He’s better as a right-handed hitter against a lefty over his career, with a .247/.328/.423 slash and a WRC+ 4% above average, so we could see upside from him.
Stanton and Gio Urshela are two ballplayers who no one would have put in the same sentence just 18 months ago, but Urshela has dramatically changed the trajectory of his career with his performance in the Bronx over the past season and a half. The third baseman is at .282/.363/.513 with six home runs for the season. He’s played so well that the Yankees once again dispatched Miguel Andujar to the alternate site, regardless of the potential fallout with the younger, arguably more talented, player. Stanton has made 201 plate appearances against lefties since the start of 2018. The outfielder has 15 home runs and a .318/.403/.659 slash with a WRC+ 81% above average and a .341 ISO.
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
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets – Braves – 6-7-9-1-2 – Duvall – Riley – Albies – Acuna – Freeman
The Braves are in Queens to take on roller coaster starter Steven Matz. The lefty is making his first start since mid-August after dealing with shoulder issues. The Braves are drawing some ludicrous power marks in my home run model, and I expect to see them near the top of the stacks board when we check in a few hours from now.
Matz was once a highly regarded prospect, and he’s shown flashes but never truly put it together over an extended stretch. The southpaw has a 4.01 career xFIP and a 22.1% strikeout rate, both of which are respectable, but he has a tendency to yield the home run ball, carrying an ugly 1.43 HR/9 for his career. In just 24 innings this season, Matz has given up eight home runs to right-handed hitters. One thing we know: This Braves team has in vast supply.
The Braves start things off with one of the best right handed bats in baseball with Ronald Acuna Jr. going off the top. The outfielder has 11 home runs so far this season, and he’s stolen six bases. He’s carrying a .317 ISO and a WRC+ 53% above average so far this year. Last year he hit 41 home runs and stole 37 bases. I can’t think of a good reason to leave him out of lineups.
Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman hit second and third in this lineup while filling out the left side of the infield at third base and shortstop. The duo has combined for 18 home runs this season, and they both get on base and set up their teammates well. Freeman’s 46 RBIs are second in baseball and his WRC+ is 89% above average.
Teammate Marcell Ozuna gets things going from the right side of the plate as well. He’s hit 14 home runs, sits fourth in baseball with 44 RBIs and has a .314/.400/.592 slash this season to go with his .277 ISO and WRC+ 59% above average. Somehow Ozuna has slipped below $5,000 on DraftKings, so take advantage. On FanDuel he costs just $3,900 and fits into stacks quite well.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been delivering all season. The right-handed backstop is at .324/.380/.522 with a .199 ISO and a WRC+ 40% above average. He costs just $4,700 on DraftKings, but I expect him to be popular where we need to play a catcher. He might be more sharply deployed at $3,100 on FanDuel.
Nick Markakis is fine against fellow southpaws. Since the start of 2018 his WRC+ is just 5% below average, though we could see d’Arnaud DH and Tyler Flowers catch. Flowers would be in play at just $4,100. However, the real story at the bottom of the lineup is in Austin Riley and Adam Duvall. In his 111 plate appearances against lefties in his career, Riley has a .303 ISO and a WRC+ 8% above average. His counterpart, Duvall,, has a .233 ISO in the split since the start of 2018. Over his career Duvall has hit 29 home runs in his 566 plate appearances against lefties and has a .235 ISO and a WRC+ 5% above average.
Having a player of Ozzie Albies‘ caliber hitting ninth is an embarrassment of riches. Since the start of last season Albies has a .263 ISO and a WRC+ 58% above average against left-handed pitching. He’s hit 11 home runs over the sample, second-most on the team, and has a .359/.386/.623 slash in his 176 plate appearances. Get some Albies in your Braves stacks.
HR Call: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves)
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