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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 4/10/21

Terry McBride

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Daily fantasy baseball advice. MLB DFS Picks on Deeper Dive & Live Before Lock. DraftKings and FanDuel picks for 9/8 w/ Wil Myers.

Here’s hoping you also had a good night of MLB DFS. We had more than a handful of Awesemo logos at the top of standings across FanDuel and DraftKings contests last night, riding the outstanding performance of Joe Musgrove and some of our top stacks to the winning positions in tournaments across the industry. Tonight’s slate looks like a great opportunity for more of the same, with a six-game set lined up. The main slate kicks off at 7:05 p.m. ET on both sites. The Awesemo team will be here for all of it, providing updates to tools and data throughout, including the Strategy Show which you can find on YouTube. Speaking of tools, if you aren’t visiting the Top Stacks Tool regularly, you’re just making your MLB DFS picks incorrectly. The Top Starters Tool is every bit as important in deciding who takes the hill for your daily fantasy baseball lineup.

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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options

Home Run Ratings

Home runs are the 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 will give one of the top choices from each team. However, it won’t always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star who would be in that spot every day.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Kole Calhoun – 6.27

Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman – 8.25

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander – 8.05

Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez – 19.03

Cincinnati Reds: Nicholas Castellanos – 3.67

Los Angeles Angels: Justin Upton – 25.53

Los Angeles Dodgers: Corey Seager – 17.56

Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins – 2.16

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers – 10.10

Texas Rangers: David Dahl – 10.25

Toronto Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – 5.46

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto – 7.30

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MLB DFS Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays

(Quick note: if it says 1-5, it means hitters 1-2-3-4-5. Otherwise, I will specify spots)

This section will feature 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.

LAA: 1-3-4-5-6 – Fletcher – Trout – Rendon – Pujols – Upton

The Angels are in another prime spot for offensive firepower. Playing the Blue Jays in TD Park, a Spring Training stadium, there should be ample opportunities for the power bats to go off in this one once again. The park measurements are relatively short for major league hitters, and the environment seems to benefit offense, though we have only a small sample size with which to work. The Angels are also gaining from their matchup with Blue Jays lefty Steven Matz. The former Mets hurler put up a 4.09 xFIP and a 25.4% strikeout rate in his 30 innings last season but was at a 4.60 xFIP and a 22.1% strikeout rate in a full season’s 160 inning sample the year before. Matz’s primary issue has been controlling the long ball; in his 30.2 innings last year, he somehow allowed 14 home runs. The year before, he gave up 27 in 160.1 innings and 25 in 154.0 the year before. Teams that can elevate the ball have a strong chance of hitting one out against Matz in a neutral field. In this park, the ball could literally hit a school across the street. Still, as of the mid-afternoon, the Angels are projected to be under-owned tonight.

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David Fletcher was featured as a get-different option for Angels stacks yesterday and could play a similar role today. Fletcher gets left out of stacks with his lack of overall power despite hitting leadoff ahead of the big bats in this lineup and doing a spectacular job of it. Fletcher has reasonable speed and gets on base at a clip between .350 and .376 over the past two seasons. He is a solid contributor for runs and someone who correlates well with the more popular bats in this stack.

Shohei Ohtani had a big game for the Angels in this spot last night, homering and driving in four runs. Against a fellow southpaw, Ohtani will be on the weaker side of his splits. Over the course of his short career, Ohtani has posted a .240/.325/.388 slash with a .148 ISO and a WRC+ 5% below average. Against righties, those numbers spike to .281/.346/.557 with a .275 ISO and a WRC+ 39% above average. Ohtani is still capable, but the splits are not a great indicator for his upside tonight.

If you’re reading this, you don’t need me to sell you on the idea of rostering Mike Trout. The greatest player of his generation, and in the conversation for the all-time spot, Trout has had a massive career already and is somehow still only 29 years old. Trout has maintained his excellence as he gets through his late 20s, though the batting average has slipped over the past two years for those who value that statistic. Trout dropped from being a .300 hitter to a .291 mark in 2019 and a career-low .281 last season, and worrying about it is for only the most fastidious of nitpickers. The superstar belted 17 home runs in his 241 plate appearances last year, posting a .322 ISO and creating runs 64% better than average. There is nothing at all to worry about, other than his overall MLB DFS popularity, which is staggering on tonight’s slate. Figuring out ways to work Trout into stacks without sacrificing too much leverage is a key to playing this team tonight.

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Anthony Rendon is a star in his own right. The third baseman had a strong year in his first season in an Angels uniform, putting up a .286/.418/.497 slash while hitting nine home runs in his 232 plate appearances. The year before, Rendon mashed his way to 34 home runs in 646 opportunities, putting up a .279 ISO along the way. He is an excellent follow-up option and a killer back-to-back combo with Trout.

Veteran former holder of the “best player of this generation” championship belt until ceding it to his current teammate, Albert Pujols, is still capable of surprising us every now and then. The slugger went just .224/.270/.395 last season, hitting six home runs along the way. The year before was better in his triple slash, and for a full season’s power, he managed 23 homers across his 545 plate appearances that year. Pujols is inexpensive on both sites and is in a lineup position that correlates well with the other players we want from this lineup. If he is not popular in the public, he is a good way to differentiate without sacrifice.

Justin Upton is another player who is likely not the hitter he once was. Still, Upton can flash power on occasion, and he stands out with a monster home run mark in today’s home run model. The slugging outfielder posted nine home runs in an otherwise miserable 2020 at the plate. He went just .204/.289/.422 for the year, though he did have a .218 ISO, suggesting the power is still there and still real. There are good reasons to roster Upton tonight. He is underpriced on FanDuel and should have enough leverage on DraftKings to make the play work well.


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The bottom of the Angels confirmed lineup leaves something to be desired, though shortstop Jose Iglesias can be a sneaky contributor, as evidenced by his .373/.400/.556 slash in 150 plate appearances last year. He hit three home runs and posted a .183 ISO, and crated runs at a pace 60% better than average for the year. In 2019 he saw 530 plate appearances and hit 11 home runs, stealing six bases along the way. His slash was not quite as strong, coming in at a .288/.318/.407 mark with a .119 ISO, which is more like the hitter Iglesias really is. Still, if there’s lightning to be caught in today’s stacking bottle, this could be the hitter.

Veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki is in the Angels lineup, hitting eighth today. Suzuki has respectable talent and a little pop for a catcher. His 2019 was a solid season. The backstop put up 17 home runs in 309 plate appearances that year, hitting .264/.324/.486 with a .221 ISO, creating runs five percent better than the average. Suzuki could surprise from the bottom of the lineup, there are worse catchers to land on for this slate, and he is another differentiation option for Angels stacks.

Outfielder Juan Lagares is primarily known for his defensive acumen. He did not see a plate appearance last season, but in 2019 he went just .213/.279/.326 at the plate in 285 opportunities, hitting only three home runs. As the meager .112 ISO tells us, he does not have much power, and he was not successful in creating runs, causing a 40% deficit from the league average in the category. Lagares does have a little speed, but the on-base acumen is not enough to justify him as a wraparound stacking option.

One-Off Island

There should be a good amount of scoring available in the Orioles vs. Red Sox game, with Garrett Richards going for the Sox and Bruce Zimmermann on the hill for the Orioles. The Red Sox grade out as a strong option on the slate for both stacking and one-offs, but they will be fairly popular given the obvious power upside. The Orioles are getting far less attention and offer some interesting options. The standout among them is the highest owned, with Anthony Santander coming in with strong marks across the board and getting around 10% public attention. Santander hits from both sides of the plate and was excellent before succumbing to injury last season. In his 165 plate appearances, the switch hitter blasted 11 home runs, going .261/.315/.575 along the way, with a monster .314 ISO. If Santander gets into one against Richards, it could travel, and he is relatively matchup-proof against a less than impressive Red Sox bullpen for later in the game.

Getting to Santander on his own is a very viable option for this slate. He makes an affordable quality one-off in constructions that require it, though his teammates at the top of the lineup do present quality stacking options. Building Orioles stacks with Santander, Trey ManciniRyan Mountcastle, and Maikel Franco would be the approach.

HR Call: Justin Upton – Los Angeles Angels


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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 Awesemo.com. 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.

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