Sunday’s MLB DFS slate brings 12 loaded games in the early afternoon, with everything getting started in the 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. ET windows. The slate is crammed with premium arms and high-end hitting opportunities, giving gamers plenty from which to choose. The top-end arms are once again priced well, making the quest to find that winning lineup combination far more challenging. As always, the Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tool will be invaluable for tackling a slate like this.
MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options
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 in that spot every day.
Be sure to catch the MLB DFS Deeper Dive & Live Before Lock, where we will review all of the games, emphasizing finding the best stacks and top picks for DraftKings and FanDuel fantasy baseball lineups.
Home Run Ratings
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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman — 8.60
Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays — 11.74
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez — 11.80
Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn — 7.34
Cincinnati Reds: Nick Castellanos — 12.22
Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez — 12.42
Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon — 11.36
Detroit Tigers: Nomar Mazara — 10.92
Houston Astros: Carlos Correa — 16.23
Kansas City Royals: Ryan O’Hearn — 11.01
Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 12.38
Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar — 9.03
Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich — 9.85
Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 10.22
New York Mets: Francisco Lindor — 4.15
New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 14.40
Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew McCutchen — 6.05
Pittsburgh Pirates: Gregory Polanco — 6.58
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager — 4.54
St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 14.45
Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows — 13.05
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo — 7.28
Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — 15.22
Washington Nationals: Trea Turner — 4.56
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This is intended to capture the full range of home runs-upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup (pitcher bats not included in non-DH games), and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.
MLB DFS Pitchers, Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays
This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Ensure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
On the Hill
The Sunday pitching slate has several reliable names and premium stars. The list of options at the top of the slate includes Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler, who are all in matchups of varying quality. Adding to that talented trio will be the likes of Brady Singer, Sandy Alcantara, Tyler Mahle and Marcus Stroman, after which the slate takes a major nosedive in talent or performance.
Scherzer is in the easiest on-paper matchup of the premium arms, drawing the lowly Miami Marlins. Miami ranks sixth worst in baseball with a 25.3% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this year. The Marlins add just a .135 team ISO and a 2.85% home run rate, and they create runs 9% below average in the split. This is not a good lineup and Scherzer is one of the best pitchers of his generation, sometimes the math is easy on this side of lock. Scherzer has a 36.2% strikeout rate across his 82.1 innings in 14 starts this season. He has dominated hitters, inducing a 16.5% swinging strike rate and compiling a 32.1% CSW. The depth has been reliable in most starts and the pitcher has been excellent, with a 5.8% walk rate and a 3.17 xFIP with a microscopic 0.83 WHIP. Scherzer is an excellent option despite the hefty $11,200 on FanDuel and $10,700 on DraftKings, though he will be crushingly popular on both sites.
Wheeler is facing a mending Mets team that returned Jeff McNeill and Michael Conforto to the lineup recently. The Mets are in the middle of the league, carrying a 23.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, though they have just a .140 team ISO and a 2.91% home run rate in the split. The team has created runs 7% worse than average this season, and Wheeler excels at taking the bats out of opposing hitters’ hands. He is expensive at $11,000 on FanDuel and $10,300 on DraftKings and the public seems unprepared or unwilling to pay that freight, Wheeler is under-owned across the industry. For the season, he has a 31.3% strikeout rate and a 2.83 xFIP with a 0.83 WHIP across 99.1 innings in 15 starts, providing the league’s most reliable depth. Wheeler sits among the league leaders in quality starts and innings pitched. Carrying those numbers across that size of a sample screams MLB DFS production.
Cole will be facing the Red Sox in a Sunday afternoon affair at Fenway. He will be looking to rescue the team from a sweep at the hands of their division rivals, and Vegas is seeing this contest as a far closer one than what Cole normally books. He has a 33.8% strikeout rate on the season, covering 96.2 innings in his 15 starts. He has a 2.72 xFIP and a sparkling 4.1% walk rate, inducing 14.5% swinging strikes and compiling a 32.7% CSW. Cole is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he is going right, but he draws a challenging matchup in the Red Sox. Boston’s active roster is in the middle of the league with a 24.8% strikeout rate against righties, but they have a .186 team ISO and create runs better than average, adding a 3.79% home run rate that is in the top third in baseball. Cole is not safe, but he does carry significant upside.
For far less money than the trio above, Singer is in a high-end matchup against the Rangers and is projecting well. He has struck out just 23.3% of hitters this season, completing 71.2 innings in 15 starts. He has a 4.09 xFIP and an ugly 1.49 WHIP for the year, inducing 9.9% swinging strikes and a 29.7% CSW. These are not premium numbers, but Singer costs just $7,100 on FanDuel and $6,000 on DraftKings. Singer has been solid with contact metrics and gets strikeout upside against the Rangers, putting him in play. This season he is in the 77th percentile in hard hit rate allowed and the 75th in average exit velocity, as well as the 85th in barrel rate allowed. Meanwhile, Texas strikes out at a 25.1% clip against righties, eighth-worst in baseball this season. The Rangers have just a few standout power hitters, as a team they have a below average .150 ISO and are just around the middle of the league with a 3.50% home run rate in the split, while creating runs 9%worse than average. This is a targetable offense with a pitcher who will not get completely blown to smithereens.
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Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are one of the top ranked teams on the board by probability of success, taking on the Orioles in the minor league park in Buffalo that Toronto is calling home this season. The game has easily the slate’s highest total at 11.0 and the Blue Jays implied for 6.7 runs. Both sides of this contest appear ripe for offense, it could be a true slugfest with Jorge Lopez going for the Orioles and Ross Stripling getting the start for the Blue Jays. Lopez has thrown 71.1 innings over his 15 starts this season, putting together a respectable 4.18 xFIP but an ugly 1.46 WHIP with a 9.2% walk rate and just a 22.5% strikeout rate. He induces just 8.8% swinging strikes and has only a 28.1% CSW. Lopez is in the 28th percentile in hard hit rate allowed, the 39th in average exit velocity allowed and the 26th in expected slugging percentage, as well as the 22nd in barrel rate. This is an extremely targetable pitcher against a talented and loaded lineup.
Marcus Semien has been the ideal acquisition for this team. Semien is slashing .276/.343/.515 with 18 home runs in his 335 plate appearances this season, an excellent bounce back after struggling in 2020. He has been raking his way to a .239 ISO and creating runs 32.0% better than average for the season. Semien is expensive and popular on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but both the price and the public love are justifiable at second base and shortstop on both sites.
Bo Bichette slots in as a shortstop only and comes at a higher price but discounted ownership on both sites. Bichette is slashing .276/.328/.470 and has a .194 ISO while creating runs 17.0% better than average for the season. He has hit 14 home runs and stolen 12 bases, providing major MLB DFS scoring quality and justifying his heavy price tag across the industry. When the ownership dips, Bichette is a very appealing part of this stack, particularly given who he is immediately in front of in the batting order.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might be everyone’s favorite player at this point. A breakout to this degree this early was potentially a bit surprising. Guerrero is slashing .340/.440/.675 with 25 home runs and a .336 ISO. He creates runs a ridiculous 97.0% better than league average. With first and third base eligibility on FanDuel and a price under $5,000, Guerrero is a no-brainer addition to Blue Jays stacks. On DraftKings he is just a $6,200 first baseman and still makes plenty of sense.
Slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernandez provides a discounted price across the industry and helps to offset some of the public popularity of his peers. Hernandez has hit 10 home runs this season and is slashing .295/.339/.482 with a .186 ISO over his 236 plate appearances. There is significant upside on any given slate, but he costs a mere $3,500 on FanDuel and $4,800 on DraftKings. Hernandez is creating runs 22.0% better than average.
[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/27/2021″ team=”blue jays”]
With George Springer back, this lineup is unfairly loaded. Springer has struggled to stay in the lineup this season. He has just 30 plate appearances on the year, but Springer is a star-caliber player when healthy. In 556 plate appearances in 2019 with Houston, Springer hit 39 home runs and slashed .292/.359/.540 with a .299 ISO and creating runs 57.0% better than average. He is underpriced and will be owned at a reasonable level.
Cavan Biggio costs only $4,400 on DraftKings where he has third base and outfield eligibility. On the blue site, Biggio slides in as a second or third baseman, and he has only a $3,300 price tag. Biggio is slashing .221/.335/.372, disappointing to this point in the season, but showing a bit of pop with six home runs. His ISO is lower, however, coming in at only .151 and the run creation has been 4% below average. Biggio has upside, so rostering him in the hopes that the public stays away despite the fair price is a reasonable approach.
Randal Grichuk may not have the star power of some of his young teammates, but he is loaded with home run power, which is our primary focus. Grichuk has blasted 13 long balls this season and has a .261/.290/.458 slash with a .197 ISO. He has not been good at getting on base, but he is paid to clear the bags of runners. He is inexpensive and unpopular across the industry.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is another underpriced player who has performed below expectations. He is slashing just .263/.281/.414 on the season and has a .151 ISO while creating runs 14.0% worse than average. Gurriel has hit only eight home runs and stolen a single base, but he has talent. Gurriel has dynamic upside on any slate and is always rosterable when cheap and not owned by the public.
Loading up catcher Reese McGuire is a DraftKings play that makes sense for $3,400 when stacking this lineup. McGuire has hit one home run in his 84 plate appearances and is slashing .321/.361/.449 with a .128 ISO, though he has never flashed significant upside through his minor league career.
HR Call: Kyle Tucker — Houston Astros
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