First off, Happy Easter! I hope you will find time to be with family even though I am sure you will be frequently checking scores on your phone later today if you are reading this article. If you have young ones, enjoy the day and try to put the phone away for a little while (I will try to do the same!).
Secondly, I am happy to get back to writing about daily fantasy sports (DFS) and this time it will be for baseball. I was quite consistent with my NFL DFS articles and was hoping to do the same for NBA but it is awfully hard to produce written pieces for the NBA when I have my other job that keeps me busy in the mornings and NBA DFS data flow for Advanced Sports Analytics (ASA). I am currently on spring break so I have more free time. Plus roster changes are not as frequent with MLB as they can be for the NBA.
Now, who do I like for tomorrow? Let's do this by position and the focus will be on FanDuel but you can probably build a similar lineup for DraftKings.
Pitcher: Brady Singer
Singer comes with a lot of fanfare. He had a strong finish to his rookie campaign last season with 3 quality starts in his last 4 outings. During his time in college and the minors, he consistently averaged 1 K per inning pitched. At the University of Florida, we won a national title during his sophomore year and won the Dick Howser award (given to the national college baseball player of the year) during his junior year. In the minors, he worked his way through A and AA ball quite quickly in 2019. With no minor league baseball last year thanks to the pandemic, Singer was called up to the big leagues right away. While he had some struggles, he was able to come into form quite nicely in September. After all, he was drafted in the 1st round in 2018 so there are high expectations for him.
What I like about Singer today is that he is not super expensive on FanDuel and will probably have low ownership since he is not a big name. Furthermore, Texas has been striking out a lot to start the season: 16 Ks for Opening Day and 10 Ks yesterday. You won't find any pitchers over 10K so we will want to hit the bargain bin and we won't need to worry about fading a stud pitcher which sometimes can bite us in the ass. I feel very good about Singer.
Catcher/First Base: Paul Goldschmidt
I love this guy. He is a future Hall of Famer and all he does is rake. For those who followed my successful MLB DFS run during last October, the one stat I used often to build my lineups was barrel rate which you can find on the ASA site (see link below).
You will need to be a subscriber to access our Statcast Database but it is so worth it. Yes, you can locate barrel rate for free on the MLB site but you won't see it broken down by handedness which is what we do at ASA. If you don't know what barrels are, you should read up on it today. Here is a helpful link.
Think of a barrel as a batted ball with just the right exit velocity and launch angle. They don't occur too often but when you have a player with a "high" barrel rate facing a pitcher who tends to allow a "high" number of barrels and the handedness works in favor of the batter, you are putting yourself in a position to win big in DFS. Yes, there is a lot of losing in DFS but every once in a while you get those big days where all of the stars are lining up for you. Bottomline: the greater the likelihood that your batters can knock it out of the park or at least get some extra base hits, the better your chances of reaching the cash line. Barrel rate is the metric to help you realize this goal.
Goldschmidt is a barrel king and faces a pitcher who gives up a fair number of barrels. Jeff Hoffman is definitely a pitcher we will want to attack. He was awful for Colorado and the Reds play in a hitter's park. There is a good reason why Hoffman is one of the cheapest pitchers on FanDuel. He stinks! Stack the Cardinals with Goldschmidt as the centerpiece of that stack.
Second Base: DJ LeMahieu
Before I delve deeper with my Cardinals stack, we need to take full advantage of our savings with pitcher. That means we get the best pure hitter in the game who is no other than LeMahieu. He is the reigning batting average champion and also won it 5 years ago while in Colorado. If we had a full season last year, LeMahieu would have scored at least 120 runs and rack up at least 200 hits. It sure helps that he bats near the top of a very potent Yankees lineup. You can count on LeMahieu getting you 10 - 15 fantasy points a night which is not something you can say for even the best power hitters.
Third Base: Nolan Arenado
If we are going to stack the Cardinals, we need to get the best power hitter on this team. Yes, Goldschmidt is great but Arenado was brought to St. Louis to provide some much needed power. Arenado's ISO is typically 0.270 whereas Goldschmidt's ISO is barely over 0.200 (you get Goldschmidt because of his OBP and barrels). If Goldschmidt is getting on base and forcing pitchers to pitch around him, just imagine the damage Arenado can do. We have already seen the Cardinals bust out during the first two games of this early season. Expect more fireworks on Easter Sunday in Cincinnati.
Shortstop: Paul DeJong
Let's just keep it rolling with the Cardinals! While DeJong did not show off all that much power last year, we will consider that a one off. Keep in mind that he hit 30 HRs in 2019 and he is a shortstop! He is also getting closer to the age of 28 which is when most baseball players hit their peak. With two awesome hitters batting ahead of him, there will be plenty of scoring opportunities when DeJong is at the plate. He is bound for a big year and I look forward to playing him often this season.
Outfield: Tyler O'Neill, JD Martinez, and Hunter Renfroe
As you can tell, I am fond of another stack but before I talk about Boston, let's finish off our Cardinals stack. Like Goldschmidt, O'Neill has a high barrel rate. He may not be as feared of a hitter as the other three Cardinals in my stack but he is cheap and will probably have low ownership. He is kind of a sneaky play since O'Neill bats 5th meaning that he should benefit if the Cardinals offense pops off again. He is also fairly young and hasn't quite hit his peak.
Now onto Boston! I love to attack the Orioles pitchers. They simply don't have any good arms starting at rookie ball all the way to the major league level. So what if the Orioles call up some guy from the minors? Generally, most big league pitchers make it to "The Show" because they did well in the minors. The Orioles just call up any starting pitcher who can throw close to 90 mph and last 5 - 6 innngs since they don't have much of a choice. Zimmermann is a lefty with a terrible barrel rate against righties. I can see the heart of the Boston lineup teeing off on Zimmermann which is why I have both Martinez and Renfroe in my DFS roster. Both of them feast off left-handed pitching.
Utility: Xander Bogaerts
If we are going to stack right-handed power against a weak lefty, then you need to get Bogaerts in there. He and Martinez have had great success at Fenway Park since 2018 and I expect both of them to continue their high level of play this season. I love the correlation between Martinez and him and both are great choices when attacking the lowest priced pitcher on this slate.
Here you have it! Singer, STL and BOS stacks, and LeMahieu. This makes for a very strong lineup and we have the data to back up our choices. Again, Happy Easter and let's get that money!