Welcome to Luke’s Leadoff! I have been a part of the DFS Karma community for some time and I am excited to bring in-depth looks and further stat nerdery to the stacked MLB team we have here. I learn from all the staff and from our community every day; I just hope to provide additional approaches/opinions to hopefully make you a better player. I am available most days in our thinktank slack chat for any questions or suggestions, so join up and/or speak up!
On larger slates (8+), I will look to provide my spreadsheet shortlisted favorites for each position in no particular order, along with a few picks on who I think could go under-owned or could give us a quality hedge. My goal in these large slates are to give an educated guess on where the analysis is taking us and go hunting for homers. The players that I will focus on the most are the ones that profile the best in wOBA, ISO, Hard Hit% while diving into the pitch types of their opposing pitcher and try to gain an edge on contact rates and whiffs against those pitches.
Let’s start off with the most boring, top-heavy positions in MLB DFS. You really want to try and maximize power and/or walk potential. The chalk usually rests with the higher priced guys, but if you can get value at this position at a lower price, you can use that money to pay up elsewhere.
- Yasmani Grandal – I think he will be pretty popular tonight at the pay up spot for C. He’s facing Big Sexy and everyone likes to target him. Grandal has better power numbers from the left side of the plate and is hitting for .359 wOBA/.255 ISO vs RHP. He’s a great sinker hitter and profiles well at home, although I prefer him hitting higher in the order.
- Yadier Molina – I think he’s still too cheap to not consider in cash facing a lefty. His numbers are a little muted but is hitting the ball at a high hard rate (57%). He’s facing a pitcher in Strahm that allows 5.91 xFIP and 46% flyball rate to RHB. This is a lower salary range catcher that present almost as much upside as Yasmani.
- Salvador Perez – I like targeting hitters against Sal Romano with his top 5 contact rate, especially as he doesn’t strike out many batters. Facing a KC offense that prides itself on contact anyways, there is a lot to like on this side of the game. Perez struggles with the slider but I think I want a piece of the KC stack tonight in GPPs.
- Wilson Ramos – Historically a great hitter against LHP but has been cold over the last couple of weeks. Jaime Garcia is giving up a lot of flyballs this year (42%) to righties. Power is muted in Tampa, but if Garcia leaves pitches on the outside of the plate Ramos can capitalize.
I think the best way to start selecting 1st Basemen is look for a high floor is to rely on a combination of walk rate and wOBA. This way, you can somewhat count on this position contributing in different ways, not just through power. With what you have to usually spend at this position usually, its very important to get this right. In GPPs, you must think creatively and look for pivots off what would be relative chalk above depending on Vegas, lineup construction, and the amount of risk you are willing to pay for. Sometimes it’s okay to eat the chalk and differentiate elsewhere, but on a large slate there is always room for a hedge.
- Max Muncy – Targeting Colon here as well. Muncy is hitting .405 wOBA/.327 ISO against RHP and should have no trouble getting the ball in play. He does strikeout at a high rate, but that is nullified by Colon’s lacking 14% K rate (5.8% swinging strike). Dodgers should see some ownership tonight, but it might gravitate towards bigger names leaving Muncy a good option.
- Mitch Moreland – Vegas loves BOS tonight and I think they will quite the chalky play against a contact master David Hess. Hitting .430 wOBA/.333 ISO against RHP and involved with a high run total is a recipe for a cash play. Pair that with .239 ISO against right-handed sliders and it presents the upside of RBI chances batting behind the stacked BOS outfield.
- Jose Abreu – This is a good hedge against a high owned pitcher tonight in Adam Plutko. He allows a 5.82 xFIP this year, giving up 71% flyball rate to righties. Abreu is still good against RHP at .359 wOBA/.212 ISO/37% hard hit and Vegas is showing some love towards this offense. If Abreu and co. can get to Plutko, they start in on that CLE bullpen.
- Miguel Cabrera – I think that Miggy still has some left in the tank and as an underowned option, he’s starting to hit the ball hard again. Hitting .380 wOBA/.172 ISO/46% hard hit against LHP and I’m not scared of Blaine Hardy. Vegas is liking this spot too and Cabera/Castellanos should go to work here.
You typically don’t get a lot of power from middle infielders, outside of a few exceptions. My decisions here usually depend on the wOBA and batting order. For example, I play certain players often because he is leading off and/or has stolen base upside.
- Scooter Gennett – Facing a flyball pitcher in Kennedy, Gennett has been swinging a hot bat as of late. With .394 wOBA/.207 ISO/41% hard hit, he is facing a pitcher that gives up .377 wOBA/.252 ISO/43% hard hit to LHB and could get in trouble quick against Schebler/Votto/Gennett/Winker.
- Brian Dozier – Dozier against a lefty in the leadoff spot is a good floor option with his walk rate at 11%. He’s been a little unlucky this year (.237 BABIP) and isn’t hitting the ball very hard, but his career numbers against lefties are good (last year was .429 wOBA/.300 ISO vs LHP) and he can get hot at any moment (e.g. Paul Goldschmidt).
- Yoan Moncada – Same with Abreu above, I think that CWS can get to Plutko early and often. Moncada does strike out a lot (33.5%) but is hitting the ball hard vs RHP. With his K rate, I can see where people will avoid but he’s still hitting .359 wOBA/.223 ISO even with that K rate…so I think his ceiling can be high.
- Matt Carpenter – Raise your hand if you feel ‘burned’ by Matt Carpenter last night. You know what…so does the public. I think its too easy to have blinders put in place from an 0 for 4 night after 90% ownership in cash. He’s still too cheap for the hitter he is. He’s not in must play territory but I’m not scared of Strahm at all. He shouldn’t be as low-owned as he will be under 4K in salary.
With shortstops, there are usually limited players that have giant upside. As with 2nd base, I look at batting order and stolen base upside when considering these players. If you can get a shortstop with power (like Lindor, Machado, Correa, etc…), that’s a plus.
- Francisco Lindor – I still love CLE tonight. If anything, as stated with Carp above, people will feel burned by the CLE offense last night. Here’s the thing, CWS still presents a fantastic matchup for CLE hitters. Lindor has a solid floor (.352 wOBA/.266 ISO/41% hard hit) and has the steal upside to add on top of that against these White Sox catchers.
- Eduardo Escobar – He’s having one of the best seasons of his career and no one pays attention to him other than on mega chalk nights. He can mash from either side of the plate and against LHP hits for .333 wOBA/.169 ISO/39% hard hit rate. His walk rate can give him some further upside as well.
- Johan Camargo – Speaking of walk rate, Camargo walks 21% against RHP. He’s playing at home in the lefty-friendly park (I like all the ATL LHB in this game) against an average NYM arm. His contact rate has been the saving grace of their offense at times lower in the order (.371 wOBA/.205 ISO/48% HH rate). He has decent pop and could use the humidity and short porch in right to his advantage.
- Alemdys Diaz – A pretty good prospect formerly with the Cardinals system, Diaz presents some upside against my least favorite of the TB reliever experiments with .366 wOBA/.255 ISO/40% HH against RHP. He should see only Pruitt (40% flyball rate) in this game after Stanek starts.
The other power position always has priced-up hitters that can leave the ballpark no matter the matchup. The key is to pick the right guy on the right day, and to dig deeper into the types of pitches they like, along with how they will be pitched to. There is a lot to like here.
- JosBAE Ramirez – Same with Lindor, Ramirez is still in a good spot tonight and should not go overlooked because of last night…even though he did do well to swipe a base. Shields gives up almost 40% flyballs to lefties and Ramirez record this year (.444 wOBA/.356 ISO) should more than assure you that he returns to elite play status tonight.
- Travis Shaw –I always like Shaw facing a lefty, especially at suppressed ownership. With his walk rate at 14% as well he profiles well against Chatwood who is literally walking more than he is striking out. If he pitches into a jam and has to provide strikes to Shaw (.399 wOBA/.327 ISO/40% HH vs RHP), then Shaw can be a sneaky play for $1000 less than Ramirez.
- Mike Moustakas – I like that Moose is going to pick where he hits Romano’s pitches (85% contact rate, 5 xFIP) hitting .371 wOBA/.266 ISO/48% HH against RHP. KC ballpark can suppress power, but if you are giving Moose pitches to hit he can crush at an elite level.
- Jake Lamb – A great fastball hitter against RHP with .324 wOBA/.190 ISO/49% HH to the handedness. As with Dozier, he’s had a slow start but has a big sample of success against RHP. He is back to hitting homers and should go overlooked with some of the top-heavy talent on this slate.
With Outfield, I will more outline 2 cash/2 GPP stacks that I like as those stats are extensive and would lag this whole page with the amount of individual talent. So, let’s start with…
- BOS – All healthy and facing a contact pitcher in Camden Yards. They are back and have the hottest offense in the MLB against RHP. Plug and play.
- CLE – As with yesterday, Brantley profiles well and the speed of the corner outfielders can get you steals too against these CWS catchers.
- STL – Not afraid of the bullpen day of the Padres here in STL. Ozuna has been swinging a hot bat and Pham drives this offense with his hitting and baserunning.
- CIN – With Kennedy flyballs and the struggle of the KC bullpen, I like these hard-hitting outfielders. If they can get hot at the same time in this game, we could get multiple homers from this group.
As always, I defer to Ben and his Building Blocks article for his expert pitching analysis, but for the time being I’ll leave you with my stats and ranking for tonight’s pitchers based on peripherals, opponent matchups, and recent performance.