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. In the space below I will break down the best and worst 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). As a result these recommendations often focus on value. By reading the notes below you'll be able to identify not only value options but potential weak pitchers to exploit. If a player is not touched on, it doesn't mean they're not a good play. We have limited space and assessing value across all the sites is a bit subjective. Please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Weather: The White Sox and Royals could be in trouble as the forecast calls for rain most of the day. Kansas City was postponed yesterday and the forecast remains ugly. I've excluded recommendations from this game but Kansas City's LHB's would be considered favorable matchups against Dylan Axelrod if the weather improves dramatically.
Carlos Santana (CLE) - Santana has been the best catcher in the league through the first month of the season and on Friday night he gets an exceptionally favorable matchup with Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez has faced just 54 RHB's in his career but he's allowed a .473 wOBA to them while giving up over 3 HR's/9 innings. The Indians are 4th in baseball in wOBA against LHP through the first month of the season and Carlos Santana historically has been tremendous against lefties. He's hit .289/.400/.480 with a 1.21 EYE and a .191 ISO, good for a .383 wOBA. Santana's performance to date makes him one of the more expensive options at the catcher position, but he's likely worth the price on Friday.
Joe Mauer (MIN) - Mauer's price has come down across sites and Friday presents a nice opportunity to take advantage of it. Justin Masterson has allowed a .345 wOBA over the last three years to LHB's and Joe Mauer has posted a career .399 wOBA against RHP. Masterson doesn't surrender many HR's to lefties but that's not where Mauer derives much of his fantasy value anyways so the matchup should be a strong one for Mauer to exploit. The limited power potential puts a lower ceiling on Mauer but the strong OBP skills against righties should give him one of the higher floors of the day. He's a very safe bet to earn his keep across most sites where he's priced as a slightly above average catching option.
Miguel Montero (ARZ) - Montero has been consistently my biggest disappointment in this space this year. He's had so many favorable matchups he hasn't been able to take advantage of, but we're going to stay disciplined and keep writing him up when the strong matchups present themselves. Montero will face Jason Marquis on Friday night and Marquis has allowed a .387 wOBA to LHB's over the last three years. He walks 10.5% of the left-handed batters he faces and strikes out just 11.1%. When contact is made off Marquis by LHB's it's usually pretty solid as evidenced by the 1.67 HR/9 and 19% LD Rate allowed. Montero has hit .277/.358/.456 in his career against RHP (.351 wOBA) with a 20.5% LD Rate. With Montero's price way down and the matchup exceptionally favorable, Montero deserves a look at catcher as a value play today.
Jose Lobaton/Jose Molina (TB) - Any RHB vs. Jeff Francis in Coors Field is a decent bet. Over the last three years Francis has allowed a .361 wOBA and 1.15 HR/9 to RHB's. Neither catcher is a particularly strong bat but they're priced near the bottom of the barrel, so if you're looking to "punt" the catcher position and get some salary relief getting RHB's in Coors against Jeff Francis isn't a bad idea. Lobaton is the slightly better hitter against LHP (career .692 OPS, Molina - .643 OPS), but both are priced so low that they're somewhat replaceable. Francis has allowed a .425 wOBA to RHB's at home this year and in 2012 he allowed a .426 wOBA to RHB's at Coors Field.
Prince Fielder (DET) - Bud Norris gives up a .354 wOBA, a 22% LD Rate, and 1.27 HR/9 to LHB's over the last three years. As Mike mentioned yesterday Fielder has been a monster the last few years against RHP. Since 2011, Fielder has a .425 wOBA, 1.024 OPS, 1.27 EYE, .279 ISO and only struck out 12.4% of the time against RHP. Fielder is priced exceptionally high on most sites so he's going to be tough to fit in, but he looks like the clear-cut #1 at the 1B position today.
Other Top Options: Mike Napoli (Holland allows 1.43 HR/9 to RHB), Albert Pujols (Gonzalez allows 1.66 HR/9 to RHB)
Mark Reynolds (CLE) - Relative to his typical price Reynolds isn't much of a value at all as his incredible first month of the season has him priced near an elite 1B level. However, if you look at Reynolds career against LHP, the high price today is justified and in some spots he can be considered a value. For his career Reynolds has posted a .242/.366/.494 line against LHP (.371 wOBA) and his opponent on Friday night Pedro Hernandez has been destroyed by RHB's in his brief major league history. Hernandez has allowed a .367/.426/.694 line (.473 wOBA) to RHB's since being promoted to the big leagues. He's walked more RHB's than he's struck out and he's allowed a 22% LD Rate along with a 44% FB Rate. With the wind projected to be blowing out to LF, the Indians right-handed power look like great plays tonight.
Justin Morneau (MIN) - Morneau isn't quite as effective against RHP as his colleague Joe Mauer, but his career .378 wOBA against RHP is nothing to sneeze at. Morneau's performance has slipped in recent years making it a bit difficult to rely on the career data but he did post a .378 wOBA last year against righties which was his first full season since 2009. The opposing SP, Justin Masterson, on Friday night has allowed a .345 wOBA to LHB's in his career and Morneau should benefit from Mauer's strong on-base skills on in front of him, providing Justin with some RBI opportunities.
Adam LaRoche (WSH) - LaRoche has a career .271/.346/.489 line against RHP (.355 wOBA) and his price is incredibly discounted on most sites because of a .136/.216/.261 start to the season. LaRoche is a notorious slow-starter (career .695 OPS in April) and typically gets things going a bit more in May (.761 OPS) before really hitting his stride in the 2nd half (.886 OPS). His opponent on the mound on Friday night, AJ Burnett, has allowed a .338 wOBA to LHB's over the last three years including a 9.9% BB%. LaRoche still hits in the middle of a strong Nats lineup and with his price nearing a trough, he's a fine value option for Friday night.
Ryan Roberts (TB) - Roberts has been an above average hitter against RHP in his career, posting a .265/.343/.445 line (.343 wOBA) with a strong 0.62 EYE. He walks over 10% of the time against lefties and has posted a .180 ISO with a 22.5% LD Rate. In fact his .293 BABIP against LHP suggests his performance could be even stronger with a bit better luck. He'll get Jeff Francis on Friday night who as we've covered really struggles against RHB's (.361 wOBA last three years). Roberts can be had at a below average price compared to the rest of the 2B pool and he has a long history of being an above average hitter against LHP. With the favorable matchup in Coors Field he strikes me as the top value play of the day.
Ryan Raburn (CLE) - This one is very site dependent as sites that are quick to adjust pricing have ramped Raburn way up after his incredible start to the week (11-13 4 HR's, 1 2B). On prices that have been slow to adjust Raburn is a great combination of "hot hitter" with favorable matchup. We've covered Pedro Herandez's struggles against RHB's so let's focus on Raburn's history vs. LHP. Raburn has hit .261/.329/.479 in his career against LHP, showing immense power (.218 ISO), but shaky contact rates (21.6%). Given Hernandez has struck out less than 3% of the RHB's he's faced, Raburn's biggest weakness would appear to be minimized by the matchup. I wouldn't pay up for Raburn on sites he's priced like an elite 2B, but I do consider him an above average option today.
Ben Zobrist (TB) - Zobrist, a switch-hitter, has always been superior against LHP. In his career he's hit .285/.367/.468 against lefties (.363 wOBA). The matchup with Jeff Francis is a great one and on most sites Zobrist is priced meaningfully lower than some of the other elite 2B. I considered writing him up for the value plays section, but I'll just note here that amidst the other high-end 2B he looks like the best value.
Chase Utley (PHI) - Ricky Nolasco allows a lot of hard contact to LHB's. Over the last three years he's given up a 22% LD Rate and 1.03 HR/9 to LHB's while allowing a .347 wOBA. If you strip out some of the advantages of pitching in pitcher's parks in Miami, Nolasco's HR/9 rises to 1.16 on the road. Utley has always hit RHP well (.373 wOBA) and he's been particularly strong against RHP at home (.387 wOBA). Add in an ineffective, and primarily RH, bullpen behind Nolasco and many of the Phillies LHB's are fine plays on Friday night.
As always Robinson Cano is a fine selection as well whenever in Yankee Stadium, I just prefer some of the other options priced similarly while he has to face a RHP with reverse splits. Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler get to face LHP in Texas which is an ideal situation for both players, but on most sites they're priced 10-20% higher than Ben Zobrist so I'll probably pass. I do like both players value more than Cano tonight.
Sean Rodriguez (TB) - Yup, more Rays RHB's against Jeff Francis. The Rays specifically look for players with split advantages and then try to mix and match over the season. It's one of the few undervalued areas of the offensive marketplace in MLB and even that discount is closing quickly. Rodriguez is one of those bats the Rays value because of his versatility and his career track record against LHP. Rodriguez has hit .256/.365/.400 in his career against LHP (.341 wOBA) with an impressive 11.7% BB Rate. On most sites he's priced well below the average SS option and should be one of the top value options of the day at SS.
Mike Aviles (CLE) - I apologize for how redundant this seems to be focusing on CLE and TB hitters but they're two clubs that are facing the worst LHP's going today and they both happen to have rosters built to exploit splits advantages against LHP. Mike Aviles has hit .290/.332/.451 (good for a .338 wOBA) in his career against LHP. He's demonstrated better contact rates, better walk rates, and above average pop against lefties. He's a slightly above average hitter against LHP with a plus matchup in what figures to be a high run-scoring environment. He looks like a fine play if in the lineup for the Tribe tonight.
Jimmy Rollins (PHI) - Rollins is priced pretty much as an average SS option across the different daily sites in the industry. His matchup with Ricky Nolasco (.347 wOBA allowed to LHB's over the last three years) is one that can be considered above average. Rollins has been slightly better against RHP (.332 wOBA) than LHP (.322 wOBA) in his career and has been much better at home. Rollins isn't my favorite value play today but I think there's reason to be optimistic about the Phillies offense on Friday night with all their LHB's.
I also like Asdrubal Cabrera quite a bit but most places his price has surged with his recent streak. If you can get him at the price of an average SS option he's a great play. He typically hits LHP much better than RHP and we've covered my thoughts on Pedro Hernandez.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) - Tulo is actually priced at more reasonable levels across most of the sites I checked today and it comes on a day he faces a LHP at home. For his career he's hit .321/.405/.555 at home against lefties which at first glance make this discounted price extremely attractive. However, the left-hander he's facing isn't an ordinary LHP. Matt Moore has actually been dominant in his career against RHB's, allowing just a .293 wOBA. This year he's been even more dominant (.162 wOBA allowed, 38.5% K%) against RHB's through the first month of the season. As a result, I'll probably opt for the value plays at SS instead of paying a slightly discounted price for Tulo in a difficult matchup.
Evan Longoria (TB) - If you've been reading along you probably anticipated Evan Longoria's name being atop the depth chart at 3B today. Longoria has hit .291/.376/.550 in his career against LHP (.388 wOBA) and he's in Coors Field against Jeff Francis. I'm not elaborating any further.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) - Beltre's performance has been down to start the season but the peripherals have shown little decline. Beltre has been great in his career against LHP (.292/.356/.506) and the opposing SP Felix Doubront has allowed a .339 wOBA to RHB's in his career. Doubront has surrendered a 22.2% LD Rate and he walks over 11% of the RHB's he faces. In Texas the Rangers are typically very tough against LHP and Beltre should be in the middle of it. He's priced as an average 3B on many sites, making him a tremendous value.
Will Middlebrooks (BOS) - Middlebrooks faces homer-prone Derek Holland in Texas on Friday night. Holland has been adequate against RHB's (.330 wOBA) over the last three years but he has allowed 1.43 HR/9 to righties. Middlebrooks has been really good against LHP in his brief career (.375 wOBA) and much of that strong wOBA is ISO driven (.231 ISO). Middlebrooks makes a high risk/high reward play as most of his success comes from power and most of Holland's weakness against RHB's comes from power. Middlebrooks 23.3% K% against LHP and Holland's 20.5% K% against RHB's makes him a boom-or-bust play on Friday night.
David Freese (STL) - Freese has a tough matchup against Kyle Lohse (.297 wOBA allowed to RHB's) but he's simply way too cheap across the daily industry. Freese has posted a solid career .345 wOBA against RHB's and plays in one of the best offenses in baseball. He's about 50% lower than his typical price and if you're looking for some extreme savings at the 3B position Freese is a gamble I don't mind.
Carlos Beltran (STL) - While many other daily content providers will focus almost exclusively on pitcher-vs.-batter data (PvB), it's not particularly a staple of our work at Fantistics. In general we think most of it is small sample noise that can be avoided, but there are some outliers that I specifically think are worthwhile and today Carlos Beltran's career history against Kyle Lohse stands out. Beltran has gone 23-42 with 6 2B's, 4 HR's, 11 BB's, and just 5 K's in his career against Kyle Lohse. In a matchup earlier this year Beltran went 1-3 with a Run against Lohse. The box score notes the other 2 outs were a line out and fly out. I'm a believer that Beltran sees Lohse really well and think he's a strong play on all sites. Lohse has allowed a 24% LD Rate to LHB's over the last three years (.319 wOBA) allowed and Beltran has posted a .369 wOBA in his career against RHP. The matchup on its own is fair, but the individual history for Beltran in a large sample makes it compelling for me.
Jonny Gomes (BOS) - As long as Jonny Gomes is priced as an average or below average OF option against LHP, I'm going to write him up. Gomes has posted a .385 wOBA in his career against LHP which if you're paying attention is basically the same success Evan Longoria has had against lefties. Derek Holland allows a 41% FB Rate to RHB's which is a big part of the reason he also allows 1.43 HR/9 to RHB's over the last three years. Gomes power should play nicely against Holland and the fact that Gomes has been hitting 2nd in the Red Sox lineup against LHP makes his value even more compelling.
Domonic Brown (PHI) - Brown is coming off a big performance on Thursday in which he launched his 4th HR of the season. Brown has been far better at home this season (.888 OPS vs. .642 OPS on the road) and for his career he's been much better against RHP. He's posted a middling .322 wOBA against RHP in his career but this year he's been phenomenal at home against RHP (.406 wOBA). The larger sample probably is more meaningful than the early season success but Brown is a cheap OF option that has a strong matchup against Ricky Nolasco and his .347 wOBA allowed to LHB's.
Other Potential Value Plays: Gerardo Parra (ARZ), Shane Victorino (BOS), Andy Dirks (DET), Desmond Jennings (TB), Nolan Reimold (BAL), Carlos Quentin (SD), Chris Denorfia (SD), Jeff Baker (TEX), Drew Stubbs (CLE)
Under-priced Star OF's to Target: Josh Hamilton (LAA)
Expensive Star OF's to Target: Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Jason Kubel (ARZ), Matt Kemp (LAD), Mike Trout (LAA), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Justin Upton (ATL), Bryce Harper (WSH), Nelson Cruz (TEX)
Doug Fister (DET) - I feel like every start he has I'm writing about Doug Fister. His price is steadily climbing across sites and there appears to be a big gap across sites so make sure you're searching out a good price. If Fister is priced similarly to the 2nd tier of SP's, I think he's a fine value against an impatient Astros offense that is predicated on power. If you recall earlier in the week I wrote Hiroki Kuroda's strong command and ability to make hitters chase while also inducing tons of ground balls was a perfect fit to attack the Astros and I think the same principles apply for Fister. Fister's 59.6% GB Rate coupled with exceptional command should limit the Astros offense from recognizing its biggest strength against RHP which is power. The Astros .159 ISO against RHP is actually top half in the league but the offense overall stalls against pitchers they can't take deep. They continue to strike out at an alarming 27% Rate against RHP and are drawing walks in just 6% of their plate appearances. Fister is also the heaviest favorite on the board so he appears to be the safest option for those playing on sites that heavily reward W's.
Mike Minor (ATL) - The Mets are a below average team against LHP as they've posted just a .305 wOBA with a 21% K Rate against LHP this year. Minor has taken a really nice step forward this year in his command which helps limit the damage of the long-ball when Minor's FB tendencies lead to the occasional HR. He's had a relatively poor history against the Mets but I'm not particularly concerned about given the Mets have lost lefty-masher Scott Hairston and Minor has handled John Buck and David Wright fairly well in his career. In addition the Mets-Braves line is one of the lower totals on the board with the Braves operating as a heavy favorite.
Shelby Miller (STL) - Shelby didn't reward our confidence with his last start on Sunday but I'm going back to the well against a heavily RH Brewers lineup. Miller has held RHB's to a .245 wOBA in his brief major league career while striking out a ridiculous 30.5% of them. The Brewers lineup includes just 1 LHB (Aoki) and doesn't possess options to get more LH. Miller has already faced the Brewers once this year and he threw 7 1-hit innings against them, striking out 8. If Miller's price is still depressed because of his relatively limited experience at the big league level you should continue to take advantage. He's a legit #2 fantasy starter in daily formats that heavily reward strikeouts.
Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez are the clear-cut top 2 SP options for daily fantasy on Friday. Kershaw gets a Giants lineup that is 27th in wOBA against LHP this year and Hernandez faces a Jays lineup that is below average against RHP as well. Kershaw is the stronger option between the two as he pitches in a more favorable environment and is in the game with the lowest total on the board today (6.5). Kershaw has 15 starts against the Giants over the last three years and has posted a 1.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 9.33 K/9. He's the #1 option on the board on Friday.