With a whirlwind of shows, columns and drafts, I haven’t had much of a chance to stop and see what actually went down on tonight’s MLB DFS slate. It looks like we had Kevin Gausman, Max Scherzer and Dinelson Lamet all crack the 30-point mark on DraftKings, and the Blue Jays went off for a big 12-run night. As EMac and I touched on during the Early Bird Pod tonight, Brad Keller got singled to death and ended up giving up five despite still allowing no power. Sometimes that’s just how baseball works on both sides of the game. As the philosopher Crash Davis once said “… just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee Stadium.”
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 – 9.41
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman – 11.73
Baltimore Orioles: Renato Nunez – 11.53
Boston Red Sox: n/a
Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber – 12.69
Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal – 14.18
Cincinnati Reds: Mike Moustakas – 9.44
Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes – 10.20
Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon – 8.62
Detroit Tigers: Jeimer Candelario – 7.34
Houston Astros: n/a
Kansas City Royals: Maikel Franco – 10.68
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout – 10.21
Los Angeles Dodgers: Joc Pederson – 21.24
Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar – 5.89
Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich – 13.20
Minnesota Twins: n/a
New York Mets: Pete Alonso – 27.42
New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres – 7.82
Oakland Athletics: n/a
Philadelphia Phillies: n/a
Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Moran – 6.96
San Diego Padres: Manny Machado – 24.32
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt – 12.99
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Lewis – 6.12
St. Louis Cardinals: n/a
Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows – 13.16
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo – 4.11
Toronto Blue Jays: Randal Grichuk – 20.37
Washington Nationals: Kurt Suzuki – 6.92
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.
Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets – Mets – 1-2-3-4-6 – Nimmo – Conforto – Davis – Smith – Alonso
The Mets are in a fantastic spot against “2019 All-Star” John Means. Don’t let last year’s first half fool you, there’s simply not much in this arm right now. Means has given up eight home runs and struck out just 12 hitters over his 20 innings so far in 2020. His 6.11 xFIP is only good when compared to his 8.10 ERA. Means isn’t generating whiffs, isn’t striking hitters out, and he’s in just the 22nd percentile of hard hit rate, the 38th in exit velocity allowed and the 26th in xwOBA. We can target this pitcher with hitters on both sides of the plate in the Mets lineup. As a team they have a WRC+ 15% above average against left-handed pitchers this season, and this is a below-average lefty.
The Mets lineup is getting huge power marks in my home run model and their projections are pulling up along with it. We’ve hit this team several times recently, but the lineup is worth talking about. Coming into action on Monday, the early trio of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis had an average on-base percentage of .407, and they’ve hit 17 home runs as a group. The average WRC+ for the three-man stack would be 46% above league-average run creation for the season. Since the start of last season, Conforto has 10 home runs and a .255/.336/.429 slash with a .173 ISO and a WRC+ 8% above average against fellow southpaws. Nimmo is at .262/.388/.530 with a .226 ISO and a .138 WRC+, and he is excellent against same-handed pitching. Davis has the best average in the sample at .308 and completes his triple-slash with an excellent .388/.530 to go with a .222 ISO and 10 home runs in just 209 plate appearances.
Pete Alonso has a gargantuan home run mark in my model. The first baseman hit two homers his last time out and has four in his last four games, if small samples are your thing. The matchup is spectacular for power and plays into Alonso’s strengths. The slugger has 18 home runs in 235 plate appearances against lefties going back to the start of 2019, along with a .322 ISO and a WRC+ 31% above average. I can’t imagine much pushing me off of having a ton of Alonso ownership tomorrow, though I think he’ll be popular in this spot.
The other lefties in this lineup are all having excellent seasons as well and should have no problem handling this split for the brief amount of time we’re probably going to be spending with Means before he gets lit up tomorrow. Dominic Smith has been managing left-handed pitching better than Robinson Cano since the start of last year but has seen half as many plate appearances. If we switch the sample to just 2020, Cano improves dramatically. In his 36 at bats he’s carrying a .286 ISO and a WRC+ 16% above average. Again, this is a below-average pitcher.
Jeff McNeil has struggled for power so far this season but he’s doing most other things well. The .367 on-base percentage in the split is plenty to like even hitting late in the lineup, and he’s still carrying a WRC+ 4% above average against lefties. Wilson Ramos should also be in play for us in this spot. In his limited 35 plate appearances in 2020, Ramos has a WRC+ 45% above average. Since the start of 2017, in 337 plate appearances against lefties, Ramos has a .193 ISO and a WRC+ 42% above average. As an inexpensive and hopefully low-owned catcher play, that’s dynamite. Speaking of inexpensive and potentially low-owned, Amed Rosario could be a limited wraparound play from the bottom of the lineup here. The right-handed shortstop gets most of his quality on this side of splits and has a WRC+ 17% above average in 392 opportunities against lefties since the start of 2017.
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
Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks – Dodgers – 1-2-3-4-6 – Betts – Seager – Muncy – Bellinger – Pederson
The Dodgers are in the desert to take on the Diamondbacks and right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver. Overall, Weaver is a pitcher I think has upside in the league and is a decent strikeout pitcher when he’s on his game. He’s gotten his act together over his last few starts, allowing two or fewer runs in three of his last four and limiting opposing offenses to just one home run. Still, the pitcher is vulnerable to the long ball and has a bad habit of issuing too many walks and getting into trouble.
The Dodgers lineup is the best in baseball against right-handed pitching. The team has a .252 ISO on the year over 1,178 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. As a point of comparison, stop and think about how powerful the Padres offense has been this season, then realize that their ISO against right-handed pitchers is “just” .228, second in baseball. The Dodgers are spectacular in this split. They have a WRC+ 28% above average despite, frighteningly, a BABIP of just .275, 26th in baseball. It could be argued that this team has been this spectacular against right-handed pitching despite getting significantly unlucky. They also strike out just 19.9% of the time in the split, the lowest mark in the league.
The Dodgers lefty bats are all getting killer home run marks in my model, which admittedly is not so rare. The heights to which those numbers are reaching, however, are among some of the best we’ve seen this season. Corey Seager, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger make a titanic three-man stack in the middle of the early part of this lineup. The trio had combined for 29 home runs coming into action on Monday and the lowest ISO in the group is Muncy’s at .231. Since the start of 2019, Bellinger has a .318 ISO against right-handed pitching, Seager a .274 and Muncy a .260.
Of course, if you go to that group without including leadoff man Mookie Betts, you’re leaving one of the absolute best players in baseball out of your lineup. Betts is expensive on both sites. Even FanDuel has him priced up to $4,500 tomorrow. Every time the price goes up, the performance goes up with it. Betts is at a fantastic .309 ISO with a WRC+ 71% above average for the season. His 13 home runs are fourth in baseball and first on this team. Against right-handed pitchers since the start of last year, Betts has a .278 ISO and a WRC+ 56% above average, which is the exact same as Bellinger.
Expanding on that expensive foursome, we can include A.J. Pollock and another lefty masher in Joc Pederson. Pederson is carrying just a .184/.286/.398 slash but has a .214 ISO overall and a .278 mark with a WRC+ 29% above average in the split since the start of 2019. Pollock is exactly league average at creating runs against same-handed pitching since the start of last year, but his .203 ISO shows there is upside in the bat even in this split. The opposite is true for showing Chris Taylor‘s quality against right-handed pitching, despite just a .158 ISO, Taylor has a WRC+ 10% above average since the beginning of last season in the split.
Catcher Will Smith and lefty second baseman Gavin Lux could also be in play if they’re hitting late in this lineup. Sacrificing a plate appearance to get to this pair isn’t ideal but Smith makes a reasonable catcher play on DraftKings. We saw the catcher hit 15 home runs in just 196 plate appearances in 2019 and has five so far this year. Lux is cheap and brings some lefty upside but has struggled through his first 113 plate appearances in the majors, with just a .216/.292/.353 slash and a WRC+ 26% below average. Still, the traditional scouting grades on the player have always been strong, with 70-grade power, and Lux hit 26 home runs in 323 plate appearances across AA and AAA in 2019.
HR Call: Pete Alonso (Mets)
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