Before we get into today's recommendations, it is important to remind everyone to understand your scoring format and the pricing of the individual players on the site you're playing. These vary from site to site and all daily sites price their players differently, which could make someone a must start on one site but not another. It is also important to double check starting lineups as news often breaks after this column is written. In the space below I will break down the best plays by position and make notes as to which type of formats to utilize players. If you are new to the daily fantasy baseball scene, there are daily fantasy websites which offer one day contests. These contests are mostly salary cap games where you can take any players you want as long as you stay under the cap and meet the positional requirements and all are points-based (not roto). Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Looking Shaky - Braves at Reds
Keep an Eye On - Marlins at Padres, Diamondbacks at Dodgers
Twitter: If you can, it is a good idea to follow both me (https://twitter.com/leonem4444) and Drew (https://twitter.com/DrewDinkmeyer) on Twitter. We often post updated thoughts as lineup and weather information becomes known.
Buster Posey (SF) - Posey has a difficult matchup against Cliff Lee, but he is just so dominant against LHP that I can't avoid making him the top C play, price aside. He has quite literally been the best hitter in the league against LHP since 2011 with marks that lead MLB in that timeframe in OPS (1.139) and wOBA (.474) among hitters with at least 150 PA's. He is fourth in ISO over that time span as well (.315).
Best Value Play
Joe Mauer (MIN) - Mauer is criminally underpriced on a lot of sites making him a near must play today. Opposing pitcher Clay Buchholz has been on fire to start off 2012 but a lot of that is luck related (unsustainable .248 BABIP, 91.4 LOB% and 3.1 HR/FB%). Plus, Buchholz isn't nearly as dominant against LHB, and Mauer has a .379 wOBA against RHP since 2011.
Cheap Value Plays
John Jaso (OAK) - Jaso and his .363 OBP against RHP make him a safe play at a cheap price taking on Ubaldo Jimenez who has allowed a .344 wOBA to LHB since the beginning of 2011.
Devin Mesoraco (CIN) - Mesoraco, in a limited sample (67 PA's), has a .384 wOBA against LHP. A lot of that is BABIP related, but Mesoraco does see LHP well (.71 EYE). Even if you expect that wOBA number to drop, he's a decent cheap play against Paul Maholm (.332 wOBA allowed to RHB) in Cincinnati.
Another potential value play if he is in your player pool is Brian McCann who is expected to return to the Braves' lineup tonight. He is hitting in a HR Park (Cincinnati) against Bronson Arroyo who struggles against LHB.
The top hitters on the day are flooded with 1B, so price and roster structure are going to be a big determining factor.
Mike Napoli (BOS) - Napoli shows no drop in production against same handed pitchers, and in fact has actually been better against RHP the last few years (.943 OPS, .284 ISO). He faces Vance Worley whose .342 wOBA allowed to RHB since 2010 is the second worst mark against RHB of starting pitchers today.
Brandon Moss (OAK) - Moss is always a big splits play as he dominates RHP, hitting for massive power (.312 ISO, .599 SLG) against them since the beginning of last year. He has one of the highest probabilities of homering today against Ubaldo Jimenez who has yielded 1.29 HR/9 to LHB from 2011-present.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) - I should point out that on DraftStreet, Arizona hitters are priced as if facing a RHP, making their RHB extremely discounted. You should check to see if this is the case on any other sites that price for splits. Goldschmidt has a .404 wOBA and .282 ISO against LHP and opposing pitcher Chris Capuano is a bit HR prone (1.27 HR/9 allowed to RHB since 2010).
David Ortiz (BOS) - Boston looks like one of the most likely teams to put up a handful of runs tonight. Look for Ortiz (1.012 OPS against RHP since 2011) to be a part of that offense. He also has hit very well at home the past couple of years (1.100 OPS).
Lance Berkman (TEX) - Berkman should be hitting in the third spot in the lineup today against Scott Feldman who has allowed a .323 wOBA to LHB. Meanwhile, Berkman has been an absolute stud from the left side of the plate the last few years, posting a .973 OPS.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) - Freeman is hitting in one of the friendliest parks for HR (in Cincinnati). Coincide that with opposing pitcher Bronson Arroyo's absurd 1.83 HR/9 to LHB, and Freeman might be the best bang for your buck at 1B today.
Ben Zobrist (TB) - Zobrist hitting third for a Rays team that is much, much better against LHP is today's top play at 2B. Zobrist himself hits LHP better, posting a .380 wOBA and impressive .202 ISO against southpaws since 2011. Blue Jays' starter Mark Buehrle has struggled all around this year, and since 2010 he has allowed RHB to post a .328 wOBA and .94 HR/9. UPDATE: Zobrist is out, concentrate on Pedroia and Roberts at 2B.
Dustin Pedroia facing off against Vance Worley is another elite 2B option. Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips also have favorable matchups.
Cheap Splits Special
Ryan Roberts (TB) - Joe Maddon is a gift to experienced Daily Fantasy Players as he often takes advantage of splits specialists such as Ryan Roberts. There's always some risk here of getting pinch hit for later in the game, but Roberts is real cheap on a lot of sites and has a very respectable .340 wOBA and .178 ISO against LHP.
Dan Uggla (ATL) - Arroyo is way better against RHB than LHB, but he is still HR prone (1.11 HR/9). That makes Dan Uggla, who has reverse splits and is a bit of a boom or bust guy anyways, a compelling high risk-high reward play in Cincinnati.
Jed Lowrie (OAK) - Once again the SS position makes me literally want to cry. As a result, I am going with Jed Lowrie as my top play, even though he is better against LHP. He is facing a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez who has not regained any sharpness this year (5.22 FIP). I don't feel real strongly about this matchup, though, so I will probably go with a Tampa Bay splits specialist.
Cheap Splits Special
Sean Rodriguez (TB) - Given my distaste for the SS position, I will likely play a cheap Sean Rodriguez on the sites I play at tonight. He sees LHP really well (.86 EYE) and overall has a solid .351 wOBA against it since 2011.
Evan Longoria (TB) - Longo has a .286 ISO against LHP. As we've already discussed, Mark Buehrle has his struggles against RHB and the Rays hit LHP better as a team. Combine that with Longoria's skills against LHP and he should have plenty of opportunities to accumulate fantasy points tonight.
Best Value Play
Juan Francisco (ATL) - Francisco has been a decent overall batter against RHP (.343 wOBA), but he has shown a lot of plus power against RHP (.228 ISO, 16 HR in 307 PA's). That should play very well today in Cincinnati for a matchup against Bronson Arroyo who I already mentioned is terrible against LHB (.364 wOBA, 1.83 HR/9).
Adrian Beltre (TEX) - Beltre is still mildly underpriced on a lot of sites, and he is facing Scott Feldman who has shown some reverse splits the last few years. In particular, Feldman has allowed 1.47 HR/9 to RHB since 2010 and a .353 wOBA. Beltre has no problems hitting for power against same handed pitchers, posting a .248 ISO against them since 2011 - a mark that leads the Rangers.
Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) - Ellsbury is the top OF play today. He is hitting leadoff for a Red Sox team that I think beats up on Vance Worley at home. Ellsbury, since 2011, has a very impressive .382 wOBA and .202 ISO against RHP and is also one of the premiere SB threats in the league.
Best Value Play
Cody Ross (ARZ) - Ross has a .374 wOBA and .241 ISO against LHP since 2011 and his career numbers against southpaws are even better. He gets Chris Capuano tonight who allows a .457 SLG to RHB.
Carlos Quentin/Chris Denorfia (SD) - Wade Leblanc is one of the worst starting pitchers throwing today. The big ballpark in SD should help him a bit, but Carlos Quentin (.401 wOBA against LHP) and Chris Denorfia (.388 wOBA against LHP) should still provide plenty of value against Leblanc (.331 wOBA, 1.06 HR/9 allowed to RHB).
Seth Smith (OAK) - Smith is yet another one of those Oakland platoon guys who is really strong against RHP (.361 wOBA, .206 ISO). Look for him to take advantage of Ubaldo Jimenez today who has struggled against all batters the last two seasons and change.
Nate Schierholtz (CHC) - This is a very price dependent play as Schierholtz's hot start to the year (.302/.355/.535) has him overpriced on some sites. He has really excelled as a platoon option so far this year, and since 2011 Schierholtz has a very solid .357 wOBA with a .188 ISO against RHP. In a small sample size Rangers' rookie SP Nick Tepesch has allowed a high slugging percentage to LHB (.492).
Andre Ethier (LAD) - Andre Ethier is a solid value play on sites where his slow start (.320 wOBA, .135 ISO) has him priced cheaply. Ethier, since 2011, has a .385 wOBA and .177 ISO against RHP. Opposing pitcher Trevor Cahill is pretty neutral against LHB, so this recommendation is a result of Ethier's skills and price.
David Murphy (TEX) - Murphy's price is real low on some sites making him a strong value play today against Scott Feldman who has allowed a .323 wOBA to LHB. Murphy does most of his damage against RHP, posting a very solid .284/.352/.462 batting line since 2011. Make sure he is in the lineup as he has missed a couple of games due to an illness.
Nelson Cruz (TEX) - Cruz is much worse as an all-around hitter versus RHP, which is why I don't have him listed as a value play. However, he has still managed to homer once every 23.6 PA's against RHP, which is respectable. Combine that with opposing pitcher Scott Feldman's HR problem against RHB (1.47 HR/9), and Cruz makes for a good GPP play as a result of his chances to homer.
Additional Notes: I have a lot of Tampa Bay guys listed due to their respective prices and ability to hit LHP, but I think you want to pick and choose your spots there as a Tampa Bay stack in their pitching friendly ballpark a day after travelling back from Colorado is probably not the best idea. Also, keep in mind Wade Leblanc's reverse splits and consider taking a guy like Yonder Alonso if you need the cap room. I didn't mention him because there were so many top tier 1B plays, but Alonso should be cheaper than those.
Madison Bumgarner (SF) - With a bunch of guys that hit LHP way worse than RHP (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Domonic Brown), it's not surprising that the Phillies struggle against LHP. In fact, so far this season they are dead last in MLB with a .268 wOBA against LHP, striking out at the third highest rate (24.5%). That along with Bumgarner being at home (3.03 career ERA at home) makes him the top SP choice of the day.
Cliff Lee (PHI) - Lee is the second best SP choice of the day pitching in spacious AT&T Park in San Francisco. He's second to Bumgarner because the Giants have a couple guys, like Buster Posey, who can hit LHP well. Although, they too are at the bottom of the league against southpaws so far this year (.272 wOBA). This should be a pitcher's duel and on a short slate night, I will try to work both starters in on multi-SP sites. On sites where you start just one SP, I lean Bumgarner because he is a -137 favorite.
Best Value Play
Andrew Cashner (SD) - Cashner is the best value play today. He's at home in Petco Park where he owns a career 3.93 ERA (much lower than his road ERA of 4.61). Plus, he is facing a lackluster Marlins team that ranks dead last in MLB with a .272 wOBA against RHP. I think Cashner has a high floor in terms of fantasy points tonight and is a good guy to mix in on multi-SP sites.