May 13, 2015
To Defy the Laws of Regression
A total of 64 teams competed in our Baseball Prospectus “Beat the Expert” challenge on Draft Kings (see sidebar), and the winner was Apar17 with 167.55 points. Apar17 steered toward the red-hot Kris Bryant and took a shot on Mike Bolsinger while other managers looked in different directions, all whilst sitting on the cushion of Jake Arrrieta's 39-point day. My team scored 109.3 points, enough to win my money back but that's about it, as my own Arrieta was thwarted by Collin McHugh's worst outing since 2013. Round two of BP's Beat the Expert begins today at 7:05 EST.
Trevor Plouffe, 3B ($4500)
vs. LHP: .275/.348/.468 in 577 PA
vs. RHP: .235/.297/.397 in 1483 PA
On a rate basis, Plouffe is having a better season than his 2012 breakout, and he's added an element of patience to his game, with 16 walks in 127 plate appearances and a slash of .261/.354/.441 this year. Plouffe has historically hit southpaws much better than he does right-handers, making tonight's matchup with Jose Quintana particularly enticing. He's been a great pickup thus far in full-season leagues, but I question his utility in DFS with a price point that is so high that MVP candidate Josh Donaldson can be had for an extra $200. Plouffe is an occasionally sneaky play, but in today's market he is likely a waste of resources.
Starling Marte, OF ($4400)
vs. LHP: .356/.409/.590, with 10-for-17 SB in 264 PA
vs. RHP: .264/.326/.419, with 70-for-103 SB in 1157 PA
Marte hasn't had the pleasure of facing many southpaws yet in his career, with all sorts of sample size caveats in play with the above numbers, but his case is certainly not hurt by the fact the Marte has clobbered lefties thus far in his career. He has what should be a tough matchup with Cole Hamels tonight, but Hamels hasn't been himself this season, and though the southpaw's control issues may not play superficially into Marte's low-walk approach, the associated lack of pitch command could very well factor into Marte's ability to barrel up baseballs. From the department of extremely small samples: the young outfielder is 3-for-7 in his career against Hamels with a double, and is 7-for-14 this season with four of his eight bombs in just 15 plate appearances against left-hander's this season.
Kendrys Morales, 1B ($4000)
vs. LHP: .263/.308/.417 in 830 PA
vs. RHP: .276/.333/.477 in 2135 PA
The switch-hitter is back to being a force at the plate, after enduring a crippling leg injury that sucked the life out of his past few campaigns as he invoked memories of Jermaine Dye. The former Royal Dye was able to stage a comeback in his early 30's hitting .275/.344/.525 over the last five seasons of his career, and Morales can hope that his own comeback is nearly so kind. Morales has hit right-handed pitchers much better than lefties in his career, and though his batting average and walk rate are similar regardless of handedness, his big gains are in the power department, with an ISO that is 47 points higher when batting on the left side of the plate.
Morales vs. pitch types (AVG/SLG)
Breaking: .252/.431 in 627 AB, 200 K and 19 BB
Off-speed: .223/.309 in 521 AB, 98 K and 20 BB
Morales is facing Yovani Gallardo today, whose right-handedness and penchant for the longball already play into Morales' strengths. Gallardo also lacks the weapons to attack Morales' weakness, rarely uncorking his change-up and instead deferring to a repertoire that is heavy on fastballs and breakers.
Today is a good day to go cheap with one your pitchers, as the top-end is very thin but there is a bubble of mid-range hurlers for bargain basement prices, factors that will spread out the ownership of the starters on today's slate.
Jason Hammel, CHC vs. NYM ($7700)
Hammel has excellent peripherals, with 35 strikeouts this season against just five walks in 38.7 innings of work. The problem has been on the scoreboard, where Hammel has given up three or more runs in four of his six starts this season, but he has yet to get saddled with more than four earnies in any one ballgame. He has only gotten under the three-run threshold twice, with the standout start being an April 27 showdown with Pittsburgh, and his head-to-head matchup today with Matt Harvey does not bode well for his chances at a four-point W.
Miguel Gonzalez, BAL vs. TOR ($5700)
Throughout his career, Gonzalez has been surprisingly consistent in the department of preventing runs. His career ERA is 3.46, falling between 3.23 and 3.78 in each of his four big-league seasons, earning an ERA+ above 108 each year. This stands in stark contrast to his FIP metrics, which have consistently fallen between this season's 4.26 and last year's 4.89 mark. With a low K rate yet mediocre walk rate, Gonzalez attempts to defy the laws of regression with a career BABIP of .265 that has fallen below .273 in every season, thanks to a varied arsenal of pitches and a tendency toward weak contact.
Carlos Frias, LAD vs. MIA ($5100)
This guy throws crazy hard, averaging 97 mph on his fastball, and he has retained almost all of his velocity since the Dodgers moved him to the starting rotation. The Superbas are in dire need of innings, and they have been building up Frias' pitch count over his first couple of starts, getting up to 84 throws in his last start. I expect his pitch count to creep above 90 against the Marlins today, and his price is so low that one can essentially stock the lineup with top-end players if rolling the dice on Frias. One of those upper-tier purchases might just be Giancarlo Stanton, who just loves to do his yardwork against upper-echelon velocity.
Thomas Field, 2B/SS ($2200)
With Rougned Odor sent down to the minor leagues, the Rangers purchased the contract of infielder Thomas Field to cover the keystone. Field has started the past two ballgames and hit a home run against Danny Duffy in his debut. The 28-year old was enjoying a career season in the minors, hitting .298/.373/.538 for Round Rock while playing both positions up the middle. His career numbers in the minors are nothing to write home about, and at his age Field lacks much ceiling in the upside department, but you can't beat the price and Field plays thin positions on the roster. His low cost and his hot streak could be short-lived, but there's nothing wrong with riding the cheap hot hand until it cools and becomes expensive. Put that in your back pocket for tomorrow, because there's a chance that tonight's contest will be canceled.
Resources used for this article:
Draft Kings player prices