Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Corner Infield

Miggy's health will go a long way to determining his value in 2015.
Miggy’s health will go a long way in determining his 2015 value

Early average draft position results are not the bible, but in the midst of preseason rankings it helps to see where players are being selected. There is controversy every year, whether it be concerns over “fat” Mike Trout, where Kershaw will go or Miguel Cabrera’s health. Things have been quiet in Detroit and if the Tigers are indeed going for it this year, Cabrera will play. He proved that by playing hurt throughout September while putting up an epic stat line for the month:

Miguel Cabrera September 2014: 19 R, 8 HR, 18 RBI, .379/.409/.709, 1.118 OPS, 214 wRC+

The concern with Cabrera has gone from whether he should be the top pick to how far he falls in mocks. Early indications seem to suggest it is not as far as I would like, but I have seen him go in mocks as far back as number 8. Is there risk involved? Of course, but if he is on the field for the whole season he’ll be more than fine. Outside of Cabrera, a healthy Paul Goldschmidt and the return of old favorites Prince Fielder and Joey Votto make the position deep once again. In fact, it looks like power at the position can be had throughout. Anthony Rizzo seems primed to take another step forward and is climbing up rankings and draft lists. First base is making a comeback as a position of elite fantasy production.

On the other end of the spectrum is third base. With the loss of Miguel Cabrera and the lack of production top to bottom along with the volatility of the players at the position, it will be a tough sea to navigate this year. In looking at early data, it seems like you’ll have to take a third baseman in the top-100. Otherwise, just fill the position late and hope it pans out. In dealing with corner infielders, it appears most teams will be grabbing from the first base pool but there could be an advantage gained by grabbing two strong third baseman early and thinning the pool for your competitors if you can grab a Josh Donaldson and a Kyle Seager. This means another guy in your league may be forced to roster a Mike Moustakas at third, yuck. Have a plan and if you can force a run, it opens opportunity for you to get what you want. For starters, here are the first baseman taken in the top 200 in money NFBC drafts thus far:

1B NFBC ADP

There has never been a time to get such value on players like Prince Fielder and Joey Votto, but do you want to? If you could see their credentials without the names attached, would that change your mind? With credit to Matthew Berry of ESPN, I love his use of blind analysis to take the name value out of the equation and simply focus on the numbers. I will use Steamer projections as a guide for this exercise:

Player A: 79 R, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 4 SB, .280/.409/.473
Player B: 77 R, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 6 SB, .270/.349/.464

Sure, you are giving up some OBP and a pittance in slugging percentage but are the numbers really that different? Drafters say yes since player A is being drafted on average at pick number 79.85 while player B is outside of the top 200. One more:

Player C: 73 R, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, .295/.353/.484
Player D: 81 R, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 1 SB, .282/.380/.483

Player D is going at pick number 69 and player C is being selected on average at pick 166.69, I cannot make this up. I sort of played my hand in the intro to this exercise but here are the players:

Player A: Joey Votto
Player B: Steve Pearce
Player C: Justin Morneau
Player D: Prince Fielder

See what I am saying? If I put those names in front of you without the numbers are you changing how you look at them? Something to think about. Just like with Miguel Cabrera, until he comes out and says he is hampered by the injury and may miss time, I am taking him. If he is there at pick 8, I will be ecstatic. I do like Freddie Freeman and he had an impressive 2014 but have you looked at the lineup surrounding him? There are several other players I like more than most, too. Carlos Santana is one of them. If left alone to play first base after the failed move to third should bounce back this year. He’ll be third base eligible in 2015 too! Adam LaRoche is a forgotten entity as well. He’s in Chicago now, hitting after Jose Abreu and will hit 30 home runs this year. I’ll pass on Joey Votto and Prince Fielder. Let them be someone else’s problem, I just can’t trust either slugger. Here are the top 20 first baseman taken in the first 200 with their Steamer projections included. I highlighted the leaders in the four counting statistical categories as well:

1B Steamer Projections

While first base is getting deeper, third base is as murky as the situation in New York. With the pending return of Alex Rodriguez and his albatross of a contract, the Yankees signed Chase Headley to a four-year pact. If you want to take a chance on A-Rod being a fantasy asset in 2015, be my guest, but I will be watching from afar. Anthony Rendon was a favorite target of mine in 2014 due to his value in drafts but the gig is up. Rendon is going at pick number 14 in the drafts used for this article and that may be too steep a price. Like Carlos Santana, Rendon does have dual eligibility along with Todd Frazier but people may be pushing them up too far. Don’t get me wrong, Rendon has the talent and lineup to be successful but there are warning signs about taking him too soon. He hit 21 home runs in 2014 but 12 of them are rated “just enough” and of those 12, 3 more had “lucky” attached as well. I am not saying he will regress but to plan on more than 18 home runs may be aggressive.

Donaldson and his fantasy value head north with his trade to Toronto.
Donaldson and his fantasy value head north with his trade to Toronto

I think Josh Donaldson’s move to Toronto should allow him to thrive and finish as fantasy’s top third baseman in 2015. However, he is being taken at the end of the second or beginning of the third in NFBC money drafts. This number may climb but if it does not, pounce. Here are what the ADP’s for third baseman look like so far:

3B NFBC ADP

It seems that Evan Longoria is finally being valued correctly, but look at the precipitous drop for David Wright. He is teetering at the edge of the top 100 which means he is finally a value pick. But is this name value again? He is an injury risk but the Mets should have a chance to at least compete for a wild card spot with the pitching depth they have. How about another blind comparison?

Player A: 69 R, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 6 SB, .257/.343/.413
Player B: 67 R, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 9 SB, .275/.347/.432

Not too far apart on value but player B is on the outside of the top 200 even after Martin Prado while player A is David Wright. Player B is his New York counterpart. Yes, Chase Headley. Here are the Steamer projections for the third baseman drafted in the top 200:
3B Steamer Projections

Navigating third base will be interesting but while some values exist, people will be reaching for name value like Evan Longoria and Chris Carpenter. One surprise is Kris Bryant going at pick number 105 without yet being named the starting third baseman for the Cubs. Could he return a profit at this spot? Yes, but that is a fine line to walk. I like Nolan Arenado to take a step forward this year but so does everyone else. Kyle Seager should thrive in the improved Seattle lineup and he was already profiled here. If healthy, Manny Machado is a steal at 148.69. Players outside of the top 200 that I like include Nick Castellanos, Aramis Ramirez and Jake Lamb.

Corner infield is setting itself up for a bounce back in 2015 but there are as many questions as there are locks. Good luck avoiding the land mines. Throw name value out the window and try to see a player for who he really is using the numbers.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, NFBC.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/VEC1jj (Cabrera), http://goo.gl/IBmCX9 (Donaldson)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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Transaction Scripts: Cespedes to Detroit; Porcello to Boston

Yoenis Cespedes takes his power to Detroit, but will his fantasy value rise as a result?
Yoenis Cespedes takes his power to Detroit, but will his fantasy value climb as a result?

Winston Churchill once said that Russia is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. Since Cuba was one of Russia’s main allies I will use that as a segue to try and figure out which team won the Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello trade. It feels like every year fantasy players expect more of each of these players but walk away disappointed. After Cespedes’ rookie season in which he hit 23 home runs in less than 500 at bats, more pop in the future seemed likely. His home run derby win seemed to punctuate Cespedes as a feared slugger. Although he hit three more homers the next season, his batting average plummeted to .234 as opposing pitchers took advantage of his poor plate discipline. In 2014 he finally hit the 600 at bat plateau but had the lowest home run total of his career (22). His batting average and RBI total salvaged his fantasy value though. Can the presence of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez propel Cespedes to the fantasy season that we have hoped for or has he peaked already?

Speaking of peaked, it feels like the last three years have been the year that Rick Porcello is going to break out in the strikeout department. After being drafted in the first round in 2007, Porcello was put into the rotation as a 20 year old in 2009 and won 14 games. In fact, Porcello has won double-digit games every season of his career. In real life, that’s great. However, wins are hard to predict for fantasy purposes, making strikeouts the stat that fake gamers covet. Porcello has had great success keeping the ball on the ground and in 2013 struck out a career-high 142 hitters. The thought was that in 2014 he would continue to build on that number. On a positive note, Porcello won a career-high 15 games but his strikeouts dropped back to 129 for the season, leaving him with a pedestrian K/9 of 5.7. Now a member of the Boston Red Sox, is the breakout ever coming? Can John Farrell help Porcello reach his peak or was 2013 it?

Yoenis Cespedes moves to Motown

At first glance the move to Detroit seems like a great opportunity for Yoenis Cespedes as he will hit in the deepest lineup he has ever been a part of. Teaming up with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez should provide Cespedes not only tutelage, but the opportunity to drive in and score more runs. But Cespedes’ supporting metrics suggest that the ballpark and his downward trends may counteract his new opportunity. In 2014 drafts he was the 21st outfielder taken according to FantasyPros.com at pick number 66. While Cespedes finished 24th among outfielders via ESPN’s Player Rater, it has to be a disappointment to his owners that he finished lower than two of his new Tiger teammates J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis.

Much has been made about Matt Kemp’s move to San Diego and how it mat have an adverse affect upon Matt Kemp’s fantasy value but Cespedes seems to be getting a pass due to the improved lineup. Digging deeper however, there appear to be some warning signs. Small sample size alert, but in eight games in Detroit Cespedes has a .686 OPS. Over the last three years his power numbers according to ESPN’s home run tracker have been in freefall:

Cespedes 2012: Avg.. True Distance – 409.1, Avg. Std. Distance – 407.1, Avg. Speed off Bat – 106.4 MPH
Cespedes 2013: Avg. True Distance – 403, Avg. Std. Distance – 403.1, Avg. Speed off Bat – 104.7 MPH
Cespedes 2014: Avg. True Distance – 387.5, Avg. Std. Distance – 387, Avg. Speed off Bat – 101.7 MPH

Not only is Cespedes hitting the ball for less distance, but the speed off the bat has dropped 5 MPH over the last three years. It is unfair to just judge his overlays in regards to lost home runs but if he were hitting in Comerica over the last two seasons, the charts suggest he could have lost up to 13 home runs:

Cespedes Comerica Overlay
Cespedes Comerica Overlay 2013
Even if I take half of those 13 homers off the table and round down, he loses 6 long balls. Unless Cespedes can get his swing speed back to 2013 levels, his power numbers are due for a dip, especially since his HR/FB% has been in decline. However, I also felt like Ian Kinsler would suffer a bit in Detroit after leaving the comfortable confines of Texas, but he was able to maintain his value. This is where the Cespedes peripherals come into play. Using Fangraphs’ weighted statistics in runs created plus (wRC+) and weighted on base average (wOBA), Cespedes has been in decline since his debut.

Cespedes 2012: wRC+ 136, wOBA .368
Cespedes 2013: wRC+ 102, wOBA .318
Cespedes 2014: wRC+ 109, wOBA .326

Once is a mistake, but twice is a trend. Since the weighted numbers do not rely solely upon ballpark effects, they are a truer measure of what a player has done. Over the last two years Cespedes is getting on base less, creating fewer runs and hitting for less power. A look at his zone profile may provide a glimpse. Note the amount of pitches that Cespedes saw in the lower four quadrants representing low and away:
Cespedes zone profile pitches seen 2014
This number has grown over the last three years as well. In 2012, Cespedes only saw 522 pitches in those quadrants, but in 2013 it jumped to 602 and in 2014 it reached 665. One of the reasons that Cespedes chases the pitches low and away is that he hits the bottom third of the strike zone well for power. It is a fine line to walk as a pitcher when you see Cespedes’ zone profile for slugging, noting that he hits the low and away in the strike zone for his second highest slugging percentage at .794.

Cespedes zone profile slugging 2014
But if he drives these pitches to center field, how many fewer home runs will he hit? Steamer projects the following season, which is almost a direct reflection of his last three years averaged together:

Yoenis Cespedes Steamer Projection: 138 G, 75 R, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 7 SB, .268/.319/.467

Since I usually use the last three years to try and project players, I came to almost those same numbers. Due to the ballpark, I will take the under on 24 home runs (I say 18) but the over on runs and RBI due to the support of the Tigers lineup. Cespedes has stolen seven bases each of the last two years so that is tough to dispute. I will also take the under on his slugging percentage unless he has a career year. Let others buy into the Tiger hype while you remember that he is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Rick Porcello comes home to New England

Rick Porcello comes home to Boston, but is the best yet to come?
Rick Porcello comes home to New England, but has he already reached his peak?

After being spurned by Jon Lester (Editor’s note: spurned, Greg? Only you), the Red Sox took their return in that deal and replaced him with Rick Porcello. Porcello is coming off of a 15-win season for Detroit and is a consistent but unspectacular pitcher. He features five pitches including a sinker, change, slider and curve to go along with his fastball. For Porcello to thrive, he needs to pitch to contact, primarily inducing ground balls. He’s similar to Cespedes in that he likely already reached his peak. Here are his last three years averaged out:

Rick Porcello 3-year average: 13 W, 186 IP, 126/42 K/BB, 4.08 ERA, 1.34 WHIP

While his wins were valuable to fantasy owners, his lack of strikeouts limit his ceiling. After reaching a 7.2 K/9 in 2013, he dropped back to 5.7 in 2014 which is in line with his career number of 5.5. Even though he is viewed as a ground ball pitcher he only had a 1.69 GB/FB ratio in 2014. His career number is 1.89 and in 2013 it was 2.34. Porcello threw fewer sinkers (42% 2013, 33% 2014), struck out fewer batters but set a career-high in wins and career low in ERA (3.45) last season. He is a good pitcher who has seemed to reach his ceiling but he is still young. Porcello will turn just 26 this season, but the breakout may not be coming. He will still have value in deep and AL-only formats, but I would be hesitant to use him in more shallow leagues. While John Farrell has helped to turn around pitchers before, Porcello’s career swinging strike percentage of 8.6 and K/9 of 7.2 really mitigate his fantasy ceiling.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/KHoVUy (Cespedes),  http://goo.gl/sXy15A (Porcello)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Top DFS Plays for 08/16/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Miguel Cabrera vs. Felix Hernandez – hitting .417 (10/24) with 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs & 3 BBs
One of the best hitters in baseball vs. One of the best pitchers….. This is going to be a fun matchup.

Alex Gordon vs. Phil Hughes – hitting .333 (8/24) with 2 2Bs, 4 RBIs & 2 BBs

Josh Donaldson vs. Julio Teheran – no previous history
Donaldson is hitting .417 (10/24) with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs over the last week. DONALDSON IS GOING YARD TONIGHT FOLKS!!!!!

Starlin Castro vs. Jonathon Niese – hitting .313 (5/16) with a 3B, a HR & 5 RBIs

Adrian Gonzalez vs. Yovani Gallardo – hitting .286 (4/14) with a 3B, a HR, 4 RBIs & a BB
Matchup might not look enticing but Gonzo is the hottest hitter in baseball, he is hitting .500 with 2 HRs & 9 RBIs this week.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Josh Donaldson

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Clayton Kershaw vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Do I really need to explain this one?

Sonny Gray vs. Atlanta Braves – Gray is 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA on the road this season and the Braves aren’t playing good baseball right now.

Movie of the day: One Hour Photo – One of Robin Williams weirdest performances. It was such a dark movie and he just was so good in this film.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Top DFS Plays for 08/06/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Alex Rodriguez vs. Justin Verlander – hitting .357 (10/28) with a 2B, 4 HRs, 9 RBIs & 4 BBs

Derek Jeter vs. Justin Verlander – hitting .361 (13/36) with a HR, 2 RBIs & 4 BBs

Miguel Cabrera vs. Chris Capuano – hitting .391 (9/23) with a 2B, 4 HRs & 8 RBIs

David Peralta vs. Yordano Ventura – no previous matchup history
Peralta is hitting .331 against RHP this season.

Todd Frazier vs. Danny Salazar – no previous history
15 of Frazier’s bomb’s have come at home. Salazar struggles against RHH as they are hitting .320 with 6 HRs & 16 RBIs against him this season. Lets do the math together folks, Frazier = $$$ today.

Gerardo Parra vs. Ryan Vogelsong – hitting .333 (7/21) with a 2B, 2 RBIs & 2 BBs

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Miguel Cabrera & David Peralta

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Odrisamer Despaigne vs. Minnesota Twins – Say that name 10 times fast, whew! Despaigne has struggled over his last two starts but has been very solid this season. He is 1-2 with a 2.04 ERA on the road this season. He isn’t the flashiest pitcher going today but for his price he will go 7 strong and get the W, which means you can load up on hitters today.

Music of the Day – The Resistance: Rise of The Runaways by Crown the Empire – I am not a huge fan of the genre but these guys are awesome. I have seen them in concert several times and this album is worth a listen for sure.

Top DFS Plays for 08/02/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Asdrubal Cabrera vs. A.J. Burnett – hitting .375 (6/16) with a 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 walks
Burnett is an awful 3-6 with a 5.26 ERA on the road this year including his last outing at National Park where he got shelled for 8 runs over 6 innings.

Adam LaRoche vs. A.J. Burnett – hitting .387 (12/31) with 5 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI and 6 walks

Domonic Brown vs. Jordan Zimmerman – hitting .500 (7/14) with 3 2B and 3 RBI
I think I just threw up suggest to use him in any lineups today. (Editors Note: me too)

Adrian Beltre vs. T.J. House – hitting .500 (1/2) with an RBI (Love me some Alex Rios today too)
Beltre is hitting .346 against LHP this season and House is allowing a .328 BA to right-handed hitters. Simple math, folks.

Miguel Cabrera vs. Tyler Matzek – no previous history
Miggy is hitting a cool .321 with 7 dingers at home this season. Matzek really hasn’t wowed anyone in his first 9 starts this season and right-handers are hitting .297 against him.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Adam LaRoche

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Jon Lester vs. Kansas City Royals – Lester dominated the Royals in his last start going 8 strong with 5 hits, 0 ER, 7 K and no walks. No-brainer here, gamers.

Movie of the Day: Guardians of the Galaxy – What a fun movie. Marvel really knows what they are doing when producing films. This is a must see folks!

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank 1B

Rizzo's 15.1 AB/HR ranks third for all 1B and his improvement against LHP warrants more attention
Rizzo’s 15.1 AB/HR ranks third for all 1B and his improvement against LHP warrants more attention

After finding some very interesting information while researching what catcher splits can tell us about players, I will continue by focusing on first base today. Not only will the advanced stats and split information tell us what players to target for daily gaming, but it will also help to show what players may be ready for a breakout or better ranking in 2015. In case you missed it here are the five categories the article will explore:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

Allowing the numbers to sort out who is excelling in these categories will allow us to see past the counting stats that fantasy gamers rely upon. It is this knowledge that will not only help in daily contests, but evaluating players in future rankings. Following the five lists of statistical rankings, I will compile them into a top twelve list with their yearly stats against each pitching split thus far. Each group has some surprises:

Catchers versus Left-Handed Pitchers (minimum of 50 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Paul Goldschmidt .481
2. Steve Pearce .478
3. Anthony Rizzo .432
4. Mike Napoli .410
5. Edwin Encarnacion .400
6. Jonathan Singleton .391
7. Jose Abreu .379
8. Freddie Freeman .379
9. Brandon Moss .371
10. Miguel Cabrera .364
11. Eric Campbell .360
12. Tommy Medica .353

ISO:
1. Steve Pearce .369
2. Edwin Encarnacion .300
3. Jose Abreu .292
4. Jonathan Singleton .283
5. Anthony Rizzo .276
6. Miguel Cabrera .255
7. Mike Morse .250
8. C.J. Cron .229
9. Ryan Howard .221
10. Freddie Freeman .218
11. Paul Goldschmidt .217
12. Albert Pujols .207

OPS:
1. Paul Goldschmidt 1.146
2. Steve Pearce 1.119
3. Anthony Rizzo .997
4. Edwin Encarnacion .938
5. Mike Napoli .924
6. Jose Abreu .916
7. Jonathan Singleton .911
8. Freddie Freeman .865
9. Miguel Cabrera .856
10. Brandon Moss .841
11. Albert Pujols .822
12. Eric Campbell .819

AB/HR:
1. Anthony Rizzo 12.3
2. Jose Abreu 12.7
3. Edwin Encarnacion 14
4. Jonathan Singleton 15.3
5. Ryan Howard 15.8
6. Brandon Moss 17
7. Albert Pujols 19.3
8. Chris Davis 21
9. Freddie Freeman 22
10. Paul Goldschmidt 23
11. Matt Adams 25.3
12. Miguel Cabrera 25.5

wRC+:
1. Paul Goldschmidt 210
2. Steve Pearce 209
3. Anthony Rizzo 177
4. Mike Napoli 161
5. Edwin Encarnacion 154
6. Jonathan Singleton 152
7. Freddie Freeman 143
8. Brandon Moss 141
9. Jose Abreu 140
10. Eric Campbell 134
11. Miguel Cabrera 131
12. Tommy Medica 130

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Totals Above:
1. Anthony Rizzo – 98 AB, 20 R, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 306/415/532
2. Edwin Encarnacion – 70 AB, 12 R, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 257/381/557
3. Steve Pearce – 65 AB, 11 R, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 338/411/708
4. Paul Goldschmidt – 69 AB, 13 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 391/538/609
5. Jose Abreu – 89 AB, 9 R, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 281/343/573
6. Jonathan Singleton – 46 AB, 7 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 283/346/565
7. Mike Napoli – 84 AB, 13 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 310/448/476
8. Freddie Freeman – 110 AB, 17 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 282/365/500
9. Brandon Moss – 68 AB, 9 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 279/355/455
10. Miguel Cabrera – 102 AB, 16 R, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 265/336/520
11. Ryan Howard – 95 AB, 13 R, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 232/299/453
12. Albert Pujols – 116 AB, 16 R, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 284/331/491

While I was under the presumption that Edwin Encarnacion and Paul Goldschmidt would be dominant in this particular split, I was shocked that Anthony Rizzo averaged out the best across the five categories above. His hitting this year has been a bit under-appreciated and if he can maintain this growth against left-handed pitching, he may be a steal next year. Another surprise is that Brandon Moss, also a lefty, has as many home runs against southpaws as Miguel Cabrera, in 34 fewer at bats no less. Something is off with Miggy this year. Look at Paul Goldschmidt’s huge OBP and SLG against lefties and know that even though his home run numbers are down, he produces and gets on base against lefties. My last takeaway here is how many left-handed batters appear on this list (5), almost half. It goes against the notion of a true split advantage as seen with the catchers.

First Base versus Right-Handed Pitchers (minimum of 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Jose Abreu .415
2. Edwin Encarnacion .414
3. Lucas Duda .404
4. Matt Adams .397
5. Miguel Cabrera .391
6. Justin Morneau .390
7. Paul Goldschmidt .389
8. Anthony Rizzo .384
9. Freddie Freeman .373
10. Adrian Gonzalez .373
11. Brandon Moss .369
12. Adam Dunn .368

ISO:
1. Jose Abreu .336
2. Edwin Encarnacion .318
3. Lucas Duda .279
4. Brandon Moss .262
5. Brandon Belt .255
6. Paul Goldschmidt .250
7. Mark Teixeira .245
8. Anthony Rizzo .233
9. Adrian Gonzalez .227
10. Mark Reynolds .225
11. Adam Dunn .218
12. Adam LaRoche .211

OPS:
1. Jose Abreu .978
2. Edwin Encarancion .965
3. Lucas Duda .942
4. Matt Adams .924
5. Miguel Cabrera .911
6. Paul Goldschmidt .902
7. Justin Morneau .902
8. Anthony Rizzo .888
9. Adam LaRoche .887
10. Adrian Gonzalez .877
11. Brandon Moss .861
12. Freddie Freeman .852

AB/HR:
1. Jose Abreu 11.8
2. Edwin Encarnacion 12.3
3. Mark Teixeira 13.3
4. Brandon Belt 13.8
5. Mark Reynolds 14.9
6. Lucas Duda 15.2
7. Anthony Rizzo 16.4
8. Chris Davis 17.7
9. Adam LaRoche 18.2
10. Adrian Gonzalez 20.1
11. Albert Pujols 21.1
12. Paul Goldschmidt 21.3

wRC+:
1. Jose Abreu 165
2. Lucas Duda 164
3. Edwin Encarnacion 164
4. Matt Adams 157
5. Miguel Cabrera 149
6. Paul Goldschmidt 146
7. Adam LaRoche 146
8. Anthony Rizzo 144
9. Adrian Gonzalez 143
10. Freddie Freeman 140
11. Brandon Moss 139
12. Justin Morneau 135

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Totals Above:
1. Jose Abreu – 271 AB, 45 R, 23 HR, 63 RBI, 299/344/635
2. Edwin Encarnacion – 258 AB, 45 R, 21 HR, 61 RBI, 283/364/601
3. Lucas Duda – 258 AB, 41 R, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 283/380/562
4. Paul Goldschmidt – 320 AB, 60 R, 15 HR, 57 RBI, 288/365/538
5. Matt Adams – 259 AB, 28 R, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 351/369/560
6. Anthony Rizzo – 279 AB, 51 R, 17 HR, 38 RBI, 276/379/509
7. Miguel Cabrera – 286 AB, 47 R, 12 HR, 64 RBI, 325/375/535
8. Adrian Gonzalez – 282 AB, 44 R, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 294/355/521
9. Brandon Moss – 290 AB, 41 R, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 259/340/521
10. Adam LaRoche – 218 AB, 35 R, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 284/392/495
11. Justin Morneau – 241 AB, 31 R, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 332/367/535
12. Mark Teixeira – 200 AB, 26 R, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 240/317/485

Emerging from the shadows in NY is Lucas Duda with 17 HR's & 51 RBI vs. RHP in only 258 AB's
Emerging from the shadows in NY is Lucas Duda with 17 HR and 51 RBI vs. RHP in only 258 AB

In overall dominance, Jose Abreu leads all first baseman in each of the categories above (though Adam Lind is ahead in a couple of them) for a clean sweep. But to savvy owners looking for a player on the cheap that is producing big stats, how about Lucas Duda? In the same amount of at bats as Edwin Encarnacion (presently on the DL), Duda has only four fewer home runs, ten less RBI and a better OBP for the season against right handed pitching. Paul Goldschmidt just shows his overall fantasy value as he appears in both splits lists at #4 just underscoring how he is number one going forward. Anthony Rizzo also is on both lists coming in seventh against right handed pitching. If the Cubs slot in more talent around them, a huge 2015 may be looming in Chicago with Rizzo and Abreu leading the way. It is unfortunate that injuries have really wreaked havoc at the position all year with six of the top twelve on this list spending time on the disabled list already. Whether it is the stretch run in rotisserie, the playoffs in head to head or the daily fantasy grind, this information will serve you well when deciding on roster spots and who to play. Splits may not seem like a big deal, but they provide valuable information and definite surprises.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/C63xjE (Rizzo), http://goo.gl/fcZr7u (Duda)

Post Break Preview: 3B

Not only a fantasy ADP All Star, the Toddfather has broken through in 2014
Not only a fantasy ADP All Star, the Toddfather has broken through in 2014

Third base is a position in serious transition. Entering drafts this year it was almost necessary to reach on a third baseman in order to secure stable statistics for the season. Not only that, of the ten third baseman drafted on average in the top 100, two of them (Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion) will not have eligibility in 2015. Further, two of the top three third baseman according to ESPN’s Player Rater were drafted after round 20: Todd Frazier (ADP of 248) and Anthony Rendon (ADP of 283). Although Rendon will have 3B eligibility in 2014 he is more appealing at second base in most formats, but his dual eligibility will only enhance his value in 2015. Drafters were hesitant to trust in Josh Donaldson and though he is streaky he still resides in the top five with a solid statistical year stat line. Before I get to my ranks, here is the present third baseman ranks according to the player rater with their last 365 day stats entering the All Star Break:

1. Todd Frazier – 158 G, 85 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI, 15 SB 264/327/464
2. Adrian Beltre – 151 G, 86 R, 23 HR, 90 RBI, 2 SB 328/386/503
3. Josh Donaldson – 159 G, 101 R, 29 HR, 100 RBI, 6 SB 258/347/459
4. Kyle Seager – 161 G, 65 R, 22 HR, 88 RBI, 10 SB 253/336/427
5. Lonnie Chisenhall – 127 G, 56 R, 15 HR, 56 RBI, 2 SB 290/350/481
6. David Wright – 112 G, 55 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 7 SB 288/344/438
7. Evan Longoria – 166 G, 88 R, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 4 SB 256/330/426
8. Pedro Alvarez – 162 G, 72 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 7 SB 227/306/400
9. Aramis Ramirez – 108 G, 53 R, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 3 SB 292/353/482
10. Matt Carpenter – 165 G, 115 R, 6 HR, 69 RBI, 5 SB 297/383/414
11. Brock Holt – 80 G, 43 R, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB 303/350/429
12. Pablo Sandoval – 159 G, 65 R, 16 HR, 78 RBI, 0 SB 283/345/438
13. Conor Gillaspie – 127 G, 56 R, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB 289/345/447
14. Chris Johnson – 158 G, 53 R, 12 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB, 292/319/403
15. Juan Francisco – 129 G, 45 R, 21 HR, 51 RBI, 0 SB 221/294/461
16. Nolan Arenado – 120 G, 55 R, 10 HR, 56 RBI, 3 SB 292/314/446
17. Mark Reynolds – 126 G, 50 R, 20 HR, 53 RBI, 5 SB 211/298/393
18. Brett Lawrie – 139 G, 57 R, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB 262/320/413
19. Trevor Plouffe – 142 G, 57 R, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 1 SB 246/310/388
UR – Chase Headley – 135 G, 52 R, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 6 SB 248/333/395
UR – Manny Machado – 121 G, 58 R, 16 HR, 46 RBI, 2 SB 256/299/399

Omitted from this list with their rank in parentheses: Miguel Cabrera (2), Anthony Rendon (3), Casey McGehee (9), Josh Harrison (14), Martin Prado (18) and Carlos Santana (24) because they have more value at their other positions. (Rendon, Prado, Santana) and Miguel Cabrera will only have a first base designation in most leagues next year. To say the fantasy landscape at third base is dire is an understatement. Even with the breakthrough season by Todd Frazier, there has not been an infusion of talent at the hot corner for fantasy players to capitalize on. This is underscored by the list above. As pedestrian as David Wright’s stats have been over the last 365 days, he maintains a high ADP because of a combination of name value and lack of top options at his position. This further underscores how bad of a pick it was to take him in the first round in the FSTA by a “fantasy expert.” But we all make mistakes. A key to avoiding mistakes in the future is to use the projections and get the right breaks when a player not only achieves a projection, but more importantly exceeds it. Speaking of projections, here are the leaders using the ZiPS ROS projections via Fangraphs.com:

ZiPS ROS Projected Leaders:

Runs:
1. Matt Carpenter 33
2. Josh Donaldson 33
3. Evan Longoria 30
4. Kyle Seager 30
5. Adrian Beltre 29
6. Todd Frazier 28
7. Chase Headley 28
8. Manny Machado 28
9. David Wright 27
10. Pedro Alvarez 27

Home Runs:
1. Pedro Alvarez 11
2. Adrian Beltre 10
3. Evan Longoria 9
4. Todd Frazier 9
5. Josh Donaldson 9
6. Kyle Seager 8
7. Aramis Ramirez, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas 7 each

RBI:
1. Josh Donaldson 34
2. Pedro Alvarez 34
3. Adrian Beltre 33
4. Kyle Seager 32
5. Evan Longoria 31
6. Todd Frazier 31
7. David Wright 29
8. Pablo Sandoval 29
9. Chase Headley 29
10. Aramis Ramirez, Chris Johnson 26

Stolen Bases:
1. Gerin Cecchini 6
2. David Wright 5
3. Todd Frazier 5
4. Klye Seager 4
5. Chase Headley 4
6. Brock Holt 4
7. Manny Machado 3
8. *Brett Lawrie 3

Batting Average:
1. Adrian Beltre .306
2. Nolan Arenado .284
3. Pablo Sandoval .279
4. Lonnie Chisenhall .278
5. Aramis Ramirez .278
6. David Wright .277
7. Chris Johnson .276
8. Brock Holt .276
9. Matt Carpenter .274
10. Nick Castellanos .274

Round mound of pound may be in store for a big second half
Round mound of pound may be in store for a big second half

While I like the safety that Beltre provides, the upside plays on this list could be the most important additions as the fantasy season winds down. It will go a long way towards developing ranks for third base in 2015 and beyond. It will be fun to try and navigate. I was fortunate to get Todd Frazier off the waiver wire in two different leagues and with the added stolen bases, I think he can maintain his value the rest of 2014. Here are my top 20 3B going forward:

1. Todd Frazier – Crazy? Maybe but why can’t he finish the year number one for present 3B? Projected for 9 HR, 31 RBI and 5 SB the rest of the way, I’ll take that.
2. Adrian Beltre – The Rangers offense is down but they still score at home and he is as solid as it gets, but a first round option? Not anymore.
3. Josh Donaldson – He is streaky but mashes lefties and Oakland’s offense will score runs down the stretch.
4. Kyle Seager – If the Mariners make a run at the playoffs Seager has to be a big part of it. Only he and Frazier have double digit home runs and steals over the last 365 days.
5. Pablo Sandoval – Somewhere Tim King is smiling. While his health is always in question, I see a big second half coming. Over his last 28 days he has hit 3 HR slashing .320/.378/.480.
6. Manny Machado – I do not have to love a guy to understand his value. It is time for him to bring his career arc forward and a big second half with the Orioles in a pennant race is just the way to do that. His last 28 games: 6 HR, 11 RBI and hitting .373/.420/.729, wow.
7. Aramis Ramirez – Hear me out, he is not flashy but the power is for real, he already had a DL stint so his power numbers will keep him relevant.
8. David Wright – I still respect Wright and he is a good fantasy option but he has been overvalued for too long. Casey McGehee is one spot behind him on the Player Rater.
9. Evan Longoria – Like Wright, he gets a pass for providing power at a weak position, but with only 25 over his 365 days, his price tag suggests it should be 30+.
10. Nolan Arenado – Great home ballpark. He has struggled to find his mojo post injury but it is coming soon.
11. Chase Headley – He is not a fantasy savior moving to New York, but it will not hurt his value. If he improves his average and a couple of fly balls clear the fence in right field, he justifies this spot.
12. Matt Carpenter – It is hard to maintain value at 3B with runs scored and batting average. That is a middle infielder, the league has adjusted to him.
13. Pedro Alvarez – Power is for real, his approach is not for the faint of heart. Third base’s version of Chris Davis or Adam Dunn.
14. Brett Lawrie – His rehab is nearing soon and his talent is so tantalizing, but I may be divorcing him after this year. Lawrie has 18 HR and 7 SB in only 139 games over the last 365 days, fantasy tease.
15. Lonnie Chisenhall – After his three home run performance in Texas he has hit, wait for it, two in his last 34 games. He is growing but is not a top ten option going forward.
16. Mike Moustakas – In fact, given the choice I would gamble on Moose, especially if I needed power for a team. His last 28 games: 4 HR and 255/311/491
17. Conor Gillaspie – Is this a run on the AL Central? Looks that way but Gillaspie deserves more attention than he is getting, slashing a respectable .315/.370/.462 for the season. Lacks power but helps in other areas.
18. Chris Johnson – Speaking of lacks power but helps, Johnson is nothing spectacular but if you got him late and he replaced an injured player you can tolerate his streaks but he just had a hot one.
19. Nick Castellanos – Solid rookie campaign and his star is on the rise.
20. Ryan Zimmerman – Would have had him much higher and he was just hitting his stride, until he popped his hammy. Out probably at least a month and makes him an upside play for the last 6 weeks.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on the Twitter machine @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN.com, FantasyPros.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/gKJ46E (Frazier), http://goo.gl/SwBeFQ (Sandoval)

Post Break Preview: 1B

Jose Abreu is #1 on the Player Rate at the break and a top tier option going forward
Jose Abreu is #1 on the Player Rate rat the break and a top-tier option going forward

Entering 2014 first base was a position that had a myriad of question marks. However, as we enter the season’s second half, some of those questions have been answered. It calls to mind one of my Dad’s favorite movies, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” For the good, Paul Goldschmidt has not disappointed as one of the top fantasy options not only at first, but overall. Even with some injury concerns Edwin Encarnacion has stamped his claim as a top flight fantasy producer with one of the all-time best fantasy months every recorded. Another year has passed and people still doubt what Brandon Moss can do but his return compared to his ADP (131 overall) has provided big time profit. Anthony Rizzo and Jose Abreu are breaking out before our eyes and their ADP’s (100 for Rizzo, 102 for Abreu) will not be in the triple digits next year. The bad can be reflected in the number of injuries that have ravaged the position. Prince Fielder was lost for the season, Joey Votto will be out five more weeks and maybe the rest of the season, Mark Trumbo just returned from another foot injury and the aforementioned Encarnacion is working his way back from the infirmary. Chris Davis has created a chasm for the owners who drafted him in the first round and even a big second half may not save his season. Here is how the position rankings on the ESPN Player Rater stacked up at the break:

1. Jose Abreu
2. Paul Goldschmidt
3. Edwin Encarnacion
4. Victor Martinez
5. Albert Pujols
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. Anthony Rizzo
8. Brandon Moss
9. Freddie Freeman
10. Justin Morneau
11. Matt Adams
12. Adrian Gonzalez
13. Casey McGehee
14. Adam LaRoche
15. Lucas Duda

Before I take a look at the position’s last statistical year, here are a couple of blind profiles based on what each player has done over the last 365 days from July 13, 2013 to July 13, 2014:

Player A: 143 G, 54 R, 24 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB 229/349/421
Player B: 145 G, 74 R, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 6 SB 223/325/461

One of the players above was taken as high as the first round in drafts for 2014. Here is one more for fun:

Player C: 129 G, 62 R, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB 265/389/478
Player D: 120 G, 49 R, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 2 SB 241/351/450

I think the first one is pretty clear in regards to Player B (Chris Davis) but a player that is widely avoided in fantasy circles because of the drain he creates on batting average is an interesting comparison, Player A is Adam Dunn. Player C was a world champion last year and gained notoriety for walking around with his shirt off, Mike Napoli. His blind double is the first baseman forNew York; not Teixeira, but Lucas Duda. Using WAR offense as my guide, here are the top 15 first baseman from the past year:

1. Paul Goldschmidt: 163 G, 109 R, 31 HR, 109 RBI, 14 SB 299/402/543
2. Edwin Encarnacion: 141 G, 89 R, 38 HR, 105 RBI, 6 SB 280/380/573
3. Freddie Freeman: 162 G, 104 R, 27 HR, 100 RBI, 1 SB 309/391/511
4. Brandon Moss: 149 G, 78 R, 35 HR, 109 RBI, 3 SB 277/357/558
5. Miguel Cabrera: 147 G, 88 R, 28 HR, 117 RBI 309/383/542
6. Joey Votto: 131 G, 69 R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 4 SB 270/417/440
7. Mike Napoli: 129 G, 62 R, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB 265/389/478
8. Jose Abreu: 82 G, 49 R, 29 HR, 73 RBI, 1 SB 292/342/630
9. Brandon Belt: 107 G, 56 R, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 4 SB 294/357/504
10. Matt Adams: 136 G, 61 R, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 3 SB 306/335/508
11. Adam Lind: 127 G, 61 R, 16 HR, 58 RBI 292/370/483
12. Anthony Rizzo: 163 G, 88 R, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 3 SB 250/353/447
13. Lucas Duda: 120 G, 49 R, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 2 SB 241/351/450
14. Albert Pujols: 102 G, 61 R, 22 HR, 71 RBI, 4 SB 282/327/489
15. Chris Davis: 145 G, 74 R, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 6 SB 223/325/461

There are a couple of surprises here. One is how amazing Jose Abreu’s first half has been that he places eighth on this list with only 82 games played. Another is how underrated Brandon Belt is and if he could ever stay healthy. If that ever happens. it would be a lot easier to guage what his ceiling is. Anthony Rizzo is weighed down by his low batting average last year but he may be a top five first baseman going forward. Another player I am going to rate higher than most is Matt Adams, with the complete collapse of teammate Allen Craig, first base is his moving forward and his power is legit. It is hard to ignore what Chris Davis has done over the last year, I can buy that his power numbers will probably improve in the second half, but that average drain may be here to stay. This also illustrates that WAR is only one measure of a player as solid professionals like Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer and Justin Morneau missed on this list but all is not lost. Here is how ZiPS sees the top 10 by fantasy category using its ROS stats:

Runs:
1. Paul Goldschmidt 39
2. Freddie Freeman 38
3. Anthony Rizzo 36
4. Edwin Encarnacion 33
5. Eric Hosmer 33
6. Jose Abreu 32
7. Chris Davis 32
8. Albert Pujols 32
9. Adrian Gonzalez 30
10. Brandon Moss 29

Home Runs:
1. Chris Davis 15
2. Edwin Encarnacion 14
3. Jose Abreu 13
4. Paul Goldschmidt 12
5. Anthony Rizzo 12
6. Brandon Moss 12
7. Chris Carter 12
8. Mark Trumbo 11
9. Albert Pujols 11
10. Adam Dunn 11

RBI:
1. Paul Goldschmidt 44
2. Chris Davis 41
3. Freddie Freeman 40
4. Edwin Encarnacion 39
5. Anthony Rizzo 39
6. Adrian Gonzalez 39
7. Albert Pujols 37
8. Brandon Moss 36
9. Mark Trumbo 35
10. Jose Abreu/Justin Morneau 33

Batting Average:
1. Justin Morneau .292
2. Eric Hosmer .289
3. Matt Adams .288
4. Freddie Freeman .288
5. Joe Mauer .285
6. Paul Goldschmidt .283
7. Jose Abreu .279
8. Albert Pujols .277
9. Edwin Encarnacion .277
10. Casey McGehee .275

Need power in the 2H? Adams will be a catalyst going forward
Need power in the 2nd half? Big City may be the place to visit

There are interesting names above with Freddie Freeman who just missed on home runs with 10 projected and is that a Casey McGeee sighting? Joey Votto was on more than one list but with the chance he misses extended time it may be wise to move on from him for this year. Here are my top 20 options for the remainder of the season:

1. Paul Goldschmidt – Diamondbacks – Rock solid and safest 1B for the 2nd half
2. Jose Abreu – White Sox – Crazy to put him ahead of Miggy? Maybe. Even with regression coming he’s real and he’s spectacular
3. Miguel Cabrera – Tigers – Not sure if there is an injury but he got our attention back in the All-Star game with that line drive dinger
4. Edwin Encarnacion – Blue Jays – His presently being on the DL limits his upside but a chance at the AL East title should keep him motivated when he returns
5. Anthony Rizzo – Cubs – I believe. The power is for real and with more support around him he could be elite
6. Freddie Freeman – Braves – Hits in the heart of the order and is insanely consistent
7. Brandon Moss – A’s – Not a household name and may never be but he provides power, is improving against left-handed pitching and is vastly under appreciated
8. Matt Adams – Cardinals – I say at least 10 more home runs in the second half for this Slippery Rock alum
9. Victor Martinez – Tigers – If he is eligible in your format at 1B he has been an absolute steal this year
10. Adrian Gonzalez – Dodgers – Another player who is not beloved by fantasy players but like Freeman is consistent and drives in runs
11. Justin Morneau – Rockies – After leaving Minnesota for a hitter’s haven in Colorado, he has experienced a rebirth
12. Adam LaRoche – Nationals – Usually a second half monster but he has hit well all year. Has been hitting cleanup and loves the 2H, go get him
13. Chris Davis – Orioles – I own zero shares of him this year and I think he can hit the 15 home runs that ZiPS projects, but it will have an effect on your team’s batting average
14. Eric Hosmer – Royals – He has not been worth his price tag thus far but over the last month he has slashed 345/415/488. May be a good buy low
15. Lucas Duda – Mets – Has been atop of Mark Simon of ESPN’s hardest hit ball lists for the last month. We may not have seen the best of him yet
16. Mike Napoli – Red Sox – I have flipped them from the blind numbers above and for good reason, Duda may be better
17. Brandon Belt – Giants – It pains me to put him this low but this may be a jinxed year with a broken thumb and now the concussion. I still believe but he is making it hard
18. Ryan Howard – Phillies – Nothing flashy and I think he is empty home runs, but with all the injuries he still makes the list
19. Mark Teixeira – Yankees – Like Howard, Teix is streaky but the wrist still concerns me. If the Yankees fall out of the race he could be shut down
20. Steve Pearce – Orioles – He has been hitting second for the Orioles, a prime place to bat, and regression screams his name but what is to say he cannot produce for the 2H? Buck has a way of finding these guys

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/U4LkWA

Top DFS Plays for 07/21/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Carlos Gomez vs. Mat Latos – hitting .400 (8/20) with a 2B, a 3B, 2 HR and 7 RBI

David Freese vs. Bud Norris – hitting .389 (7/18) with 2 2B, 2 RBI and 2 walks
Freese is hitting pretty well in the month of July, take advantage of this and get a cheaply priced 3B option today.

Paul Goldschmidt vs. Justin Verlander – no previous history
Goldy will take JV deep, book it!

Tigers RH hitters (Kinsler, Miggy, Torii, Ajax & JD) stack against Vidal Nuno
RHH against Nuno – .283 with 14 HR, 42 RBI and 18 walks

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Chris Sale vs. Kansas City Royals – Sale went 8 innings while giving up no runs and only 4 hits in his last start against Kansas City

Movie of the day: The Departed – One of/if not the greatest movie I have ever seen. I love the cast and storyline. If you have not yet seen it, you have really missed out.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!