I’ve had a few swings at this MLB DFS slate at this point and I’m really liking the looks of how some of it is coming together. Catch up with past me on the Early Bird Pod, the Strategy Show or Quick Hits from last night for some broader takes on the slate. For this space, as always, I’m hunting for some under-valued stacking opportunities.
I can’t stress enough how important the Top Stacks Tool is to the daily process. Getting a 30,000-foot view of the slate from Alex’s (Awesemo) perspective is so valuable, and I don’t feel like enough people take advantage of it. The tool lays out each team’s probability of success, their salary-based value and their team ownership. Those are the three fundamental things we care about.
Remember in Rounders when Mike McD reads the judge’s game after seeing half the hand? That’s basically the superpower that the Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tools can unlock on an MLB DFS slate. To paraphrase Mike McD, with those three metrics in-hand for pitching and hitting, I’ll play the slate blind. To a point, I don’t care who the individual hitters in the lineups are after that. Get into those tools.
MLB DFS Stack Slants | DraftKings + FanDuel | Sept. 8
Chicago White Sox – 1-5 – Anderson – Moncada – Grandal – Abreu – Jimenez
7-9-1-2-4 – Robert – Madrigal – Anderson – Moncada – Abreu
The White Sox are the top team on the board on both sites, and they’re going under-owned again. The pricing is challenging on DraftKings, which is a good thing for ownership. When the public can’t build with the players they want, they tend to look in other directions. This is a team I want to get over the field on by a decent margin, and I think there are plenty of building blocks to make that happen tonight. I want this team in the two combinations above and most others that I can imagine. On FanDuel they’re relatively easy to put together, and there are some very easy options for pitching value to work with, so you can utilize whatever bats you’d like.
The matchup against Joe Musgrove should provide a good spot for these bats. They look great basically from top to bottom in both my home run model and in Awesemo’s projections. With the first four hitters in the lineup priced over $5,000 and fifth hitter Eloy Jimenez at $4,900, it’s tough to get to the very best bats, but it’s not impossible with some of the value stacks on the board.
If you wanted to use Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu and Jimenez all in a stack, the Rangers — who are bad and probably not going to do well — snap together with them and some of the interesting spend-down pitchers, just as an example of one approach. You’d be taking a big bite out of the field if the Rangers happen to go off against Andrew Heaney in that spot as well, so it has a bit of additional appeal from that perspective.
It’s probably in your best interests to make some decisions with the White Sox stack instead. Skipping Grandal is painful from an upside perspective, but with 25% ownership on DraftKings, we can probably justify it and get to a much lower-owned catcher play. A simple pivot at first base from Abreu to Edwin Encarnacion saves you an additional $900, and we’re off and running without destroying our overall projection.
If you do make those changes, I would consider Luis Robert in the outfield to fill the gap created by taking Grandal out. Not only does he hit late enough that he’s loosely correlated with at least Anderson up top, he brings a ton of pop to the middle of the lineup, costs just $4,600 and is trending for under 2% ownership. Robert has cooled from his hot start but is still carrying a .266/.333/.552 slash with 11 home runs, a .287 ISO and a WRC+ 37% above average. Against same-handed pitching, Robert has nine of those 11 homers, a .274/.339/.585 slash, a .311 ISO and a WRC+ 46% above average. I’m not entirely sure why the MLB DFS public isn’t getting to him at a discount in a pricey stack that ranks atop the board on both sites.
Nomar Mazara is a lefty who has done nothing for this team so far in 2020. He’s just $3,000 on DraftKings and is trending for more popularity than Robert. Mazara has hit no home runs in his 93 plate appearances and has a .048 ISO and a WRC+ 23% below average. For a lefty who was brought in to provide a little power, the .140 ISO and WRC+ 21% below average against right-handed pitching is abysmal. For his career, Mazara does have a .184 ISO and a WRC+ 2% above average in the split. He’s hit 64 of his 79 career home runs against right-handed pitching in triple the number of opportunities as against southpaws. Ultimately he’s fine, but I plan on getting to much more Robert than Mazara, which is opposite of the field.
Nick Madrigal is a sneaky way to get cheap and different and I prefer popping him into the second base spot at the same $3,000 as Mazara costs. Madrigal wields a strong hit tool but very little power. His ability to hit for average and get on base make him an interesting option at the bottom of the lineup where we knowingly sacrifice a plate appearance to get to a hitter like this who will act as a secondary leadoff man ahead of what is at least a “man-slaughterer’s row” of hitters at the top of the lineup.
As a quick sidebar, the Padres play very similarly on the board today as far as their upside, pricing, positioning and how they fit together with other teams and pitchers. So there’s your reward for actually reading all of these words.
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 – Dealer’s Choice
The Braves are ranked around the middle of the board in their matchup against rookie dynamo Sixto Sanchez. Sanchez is riding a 26.8% strikeout rate over his first three starts with a 2.65 xFIP and a 1.00 WHIP. The kid has been impressive and living up to his billing as a top organizational prospect and one of the top-ranked pitching prospects overall in baseball. Still, with an impressive list of hitters who can handle right-handed pitching on both sides of the plate, the Braves are a difficult lineup to draw. The Braves are a different caliber of lineup than the Blue Jays, Rays and Nationals that Sanchez faced in his first three starts. This is a big test for the kid. He has a good shot of putting up a decent start, don’t take this to mean I dislike him, I just think the Braves bats are firmly in play, and they’re only getting about half the ownership they warrant on both sites.
Ronald Acuna Jr. is back raking at the top of the lineup for Atlanta, and he’s been obliterating right-handed pitchers this season with a .423 ISO and a WRC+ 101% above league average in his 96 plate appearances in the split. Acuna hits everyone well. He hits them for power and he provides a tremendous speed option on the basepaths. The outfielder is one of the league’s true superstars, and he’s priced like it at $5,600 on DraftKings and $4,300 on FanDuel.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson is a player you might be getting sick of me raving about all season. Coming into the year Swanson was an early favorite for some power upside based on his contact profile from last season and the emergence that similarly profiled hitters made the following year. Swanson has mostly delivered on that promise so far in 2020. He’s 44% above average in WRC+ for the year against right-handed pitching and is carrying a strong .216 ISO and six home runs. Swanson is also pricey at $5,100 on DraftKings. The Braves also profile similarly to the White Sox and Padres in positioning and cost here.
Freddie Freeman is the big lefty in this lineup, joined by Nick Markakis on that side of the plate. Freeman is the far more desirable hitter if you can afford his $5,400 on DraftKings and $4,100 on FanDuel, though Markakis is no slouch with a .291/.367/.440 slash and a WRC+ 15% above average for his career in the split. Freeman is third on this team with seven home runs against right-handed pitching this season. He’s carrying a .333/.467/.648 slash in the split with a .315 ISO and a WRC+ 88% above average.
Marcell Ozuna is another right-handed bat who mostly smokes same-handed pitching. The outfielder is having a great year and has put up a .292/.377/.533 slash with a .242 ISO and a WRC+ 39% above average and seven home runs in the split. Austin Riley and Adam Duvall are additional power options late in this lineup. The duo are going typically under-owned on the back end of the lineup, and they deserve some attention. At $4,500 Riley makes a solid play at third base. In his 107 plate appearances against same-handed pitching this season, Riley has six of his home runs and a .232 ISO along with a WRC+ 7% above average. He’s trending under 1% ownership. Duvall slots into the outfield for the Braves. The veteran has a .321 ISO and a WRC+ 26% above average with eight home runs against right-handed pitchers this season. This team is flat-out excellent in the split, and half of the lineup is getting ignored.
Johan Camargo likes to hit home runs when I say mean things about him. Instead I’ll just say that he’s also on this team and costs just $2,900 at the bottom of the lineup. The last big bat that we have to discuss is catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who bounces all over the place in ownership on DraftKings. Today he’s trending under the 5% mark and I’m happy to get to him as part of Braves stacks or even as a catcher one-off. D’Arnaud has six home runs, a .367/.432/.658 slash, a .291 ISO and a WRC+ 88% above average in the split this season. He costs just $4,900, and to repeat, he plays catcher at minimal ownership.
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