One more week of the 2014 MLB schedule is in the books leaving us catching our breath after another round of incomparably exciting daily fantasy baseball action on FanDuel. There’s another one coming right around the bend and whether you want to play a $1 head-to-head or go for the big prizes in the $45K Thu MLB Strikeout today or the $25 DFBC Qualifier tomorrow, you’ll want to make sure you’re armed to the teeth with all of the latest information. Join me now as we sharpen the priceless tool that is our hindsight and take stock of the developing trends in the data streaming in from across the league. We’ll look back at the top performers, best values, and biggest busts from the world of hitters and pitchers over the past week of MLB games spanning Thursday May 1st through Wednesday May 7th.
All data covers games played between 5/1/2014 – 5/7/2014. Player prices shown are current as of 5/8/2014.
Top Performing Hitters (Most Fantasy Points Per Game)
Only includes players with at least 3 games played over the last week.
1. Troy Tulowitzki – COL, SS ($5,900) – 7.13 fantasy points per game
2. Colby Rasmus – TOR, OF ($3,900) – 5.79 fantasy points per game
3. Miguel Cabrera – DET, 1B ($4,700) – 5.63 fantasy points per game
4. Carlos Gonzalez – COL, OF ($4,600) – 5.42 fantasy points per game
5. Paul Goldschmidt – ARI, 1B ($4,300) – 5.38 fantasy points per game
6. Drew Stubbs – COL, OF ($3,200) – 5.29 fantasy points per game
7. Nolan Arenado – COL, 3B ($4,000) – 5.29 fantasy points per game
8. Giancarlo Stanton – MIA, OF ($5,200) – 5.21 fantasy points per game
9. Yasiel Puig – LAD, OF ($4,400) – 5.21 fantasy points per game
10. Shin-Soo Choo – TEX, OF ($4,600) – 5.13 fantasy points per game
It was a week full of mile-high fireworks as four Colorado Rockies made the top ten performers list on the back of a six-game homestand against the Mets and Rangers followed by a high-scoring Wednesday evening in Texas. It’s never a surprise to see Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez among the league’s hottest hitters, but Nolan Arenado is looking to become the third man in the Coors Field triumvirate riding an impressive 27-game hitting streak with six homers and 12 doubles already this season. Drew Stubbs is making his own case to be a regular in the league’s most potent offense with eight hits including four doubles and a homer plus two steals in just his last three games. Stubbs is one of those guys whose contributions play better in fantasy than on the real field, but playing in Colorado might be enough to mask some of his shortcomings and keep him a significant part of the lineup that’s scored 215 runs already this season, 20% more than the next best team in MLB and 37% more than the current National League runners up in Miami.
Tulowitzki in particular is playing on another level compared to the rest of the league these days. Now that Miguel Cabrera has proven it’s still possible to attain a triple crown in baseball, maybe Tulo is aiming to seize his own, which would be the first in the National League since Joe Medwick way back in 1937. There’s still a ton of season left, but carrying a .414 batting average (and a .511 OBP) with nine homers and 31 RBI into Thursday’s game against the Rangers, Tulo is more than 50 points ahead of teammate Charlie Blackmon in the race for the batting title and only trails Giancarlo Stanton in HR (by 1) and RBI (by 7). Nothing but an injury or a monster season from Stanton seem likely to derail Tulowitzki’s quest for an MVP and a rare chance at historical greatness.
Top Performing Pitchers (Most Fantasy Points Per Game)
1. Jon Lester – BOS, SP ($9,000) – 27.00 fantasy points per game
2. Ubaldo Jimenez – BAL, SP ($6,000) – 21.33 fantasy points per game
3. Max Scherzer – DET, SP ($11,000) – 21.00 fantasy points per game
4. Corey Kluber – CLE, SP ($7,900) – 20.00 fantasy points per game
5. Johnny Cueto – CIN, SP ($9,700) – 20.00 fantasy points per game
6. Clayton Kershaw – LAD, SP ($10,200) – 20.00 fantasy points per game
7. Jered Weaver – LAA, SP ($7,600) – 18.00 fantasy points per game
8. Justin Masterson – CLE, SP ($7,000) – 17.33 fantasy points per game
9. Brandon McCarthy – ARI, SP ($6,000) – 17.00 fantasy points per game
10. Drew Smyly – DET, SP ($6,900) – 17.00 fantasy points per game
I recall Jon Lester‘s phenomenal May 3rd start with a strange mixture of awe and remnant panic, as it was impossible not to be both impressed and depressed by his 15 strikeout, one-hit performance through eight innings as I sat there watching my Oakland stack run up a string of negative scores on FanDuel. The unstoppable force that had been a red-hot Athletics lineup met the immovable object of Lester’s impeccable command and the Oakland offense hasn’t really been the same since. Lester struck out Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Reddick, and Nick Punto at least two times apiece and all five of those players are now mired in slumps. Other factors may be influencing the correlation, but when a guy like Lester makes you look as bad as he did to the A’s, it’s no surprise to see some of Oakland’s hitters looking uncomfortable at the plate right now.
In other news Clayton Kershaw returned from the disabled list to fire seven shutout innings with nine K’s in just his second start of the year, Max Scherzer kept rolling with eight shutout innings with nine K’s of his own as he continues to prove last year’s magical 21-3 season was no fluke, and some bargain names made a splash with a rare gem from the wild and inconsistent Ubaldo Jimenez and an encouraging third straight helpful outing from the oft-injured but talented veteran Brandon McCarthy. There also seems to be a bit of a pitching clinic going on in Cleveland as Corey Kluber and Justin Masterson made the top ten performers list, but the team also got excellent starts last week from Zach McAllister (14.66 fantasy points) and Josh Tomlin (13.66 fantasy points), and even the hugely disappointing Danny Salazar chipped in a double-digit score of his own.
Best Value Hitters (Most Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players with at least 3 games played over the last week.
1. Drew Butera – LAD, C ($2,400) – 5.00 fantasy points per game
2. Juan Francisco – TOR, 1B ($2,200) – 4.50 fantasy points per game
3. Drew Stubbs – COL, OF ($3,200) – 5.29 fantasy points per game
4. Steve Tolleson – TOR, 2B ($2,400) – 3.63 fantasy points per game
5. Michael Choice – TEX, OF ($2,700) – 4.06 fantasy points per game
6. Colby Rasmus – TOR, OF ($3,900) – 5.79 fantasy points per game
7. Yan Gomes – CLE, C ($2,800) – 3.88 fantasy points per game
8. Scott Van Slyke – LAD, OF ($2,400) – 3.31 fantasy points per game
9. Jonathan Villar – HOU, SS ($3,400) – 4.67 fantasy points per game
10. Cody Asche – PHI, 3B ($3,100) – 4.15 fantasy points per game
“Let there be productive scrubs!” declared the fantasy baseball gods this week, with a serious volume of unheralded names on the top ten value list this time around. Drew Butera, the Dodgers backup to the only slightly better known Miguel Olivo, homered twice in three games, matching his previous season-high in a single week. Steve Tolleson made a handful of quiet appearances in 2010 and 2012 but now he’s roaring onto the 2014 scene with five extra base hits in his first 11 at bats and may be earning himself a longer look this time around in Toronto. Cody Asche continues to bide his time until he is replaced by Phillies prospect Maikel Franco, perhaps extending that timeline by socking two homers and two doubles in the last seven days including a big 4-RBI game against the Blue Jays on May 6th.
The more important trends to note here probably start with the improvement of Jonathan Villar, who hit two homers and stole four bases in the last week and possesses the speed to be true difference maker when he gets on base. I’d also take note of the flames surrounding the bat of Colby Rasmus after producing a hit in each game including four homers and three doubles in his last seven despite a continuing downpour of strikeouts. Beyond that, it’s always a good idea to peruse this list for bargains as you look to fill out the final spot or two on a FanDuel roster with limited remaining salary cap.
Best Value Pitchers (Most Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
1. Ubaldo Jimenez – BAL, SP ($6,000) – 21.33 fantasy points per game
2. Josh Tomlin – CLE, SP ($4,200) – 13.66 fantasy points per game
3. Bronson Arroyo – ARI, SP ($5,000) – 16.17 fantasy points per game
4. Ryan Vogelsong – SFG, SP ($4,800) – 15.00 fantasy points per game
5. Dustin McGowan – TOR, SP ($4,800) – 15.00 fantasy points per game
6. Jon Lester – BOS, SP ($9,000) – 27.00 fantasy points per game
7. Kevin Correia – MIN, SP ($4,400) – 13.00 fantasy points per game
8. Brandon McCarthy – ARI, SP ($6,000) – 17.00 fantasy points per game
9. Roenis Elias – SEA, SP ($5,900) – 16.67 fantasy points per game
10. Roberto Hernandez – PHI, SP ($5,100) – 14.33 fantasy points per game
Ubaldo Jimenez has some truly fantastic stuff but he rarely demonstrates the ability to command it as he did in striking out 10 Twins in 7.1 innings of three-hit baseball on May 2nd. I wouldn’t expect continued dominance in his next start against Tampa Bay, but his price tag remains fairly low and a few risk-welcoming FanDuel users are sure to take the plunge and hope for the best. I’m significantly more intrigued by Josh Tomlin as he’s about the opposite of Jimenez in the stuff and command departments, and priced so low he’s the kind of pitcher that can turn consistently average stuff into a plus value outing against all but the most imposing opponents.
Jon Lester‘s May 3rd start was so fantastic that it propelled him onto the best value list despite his shiny $9,000 price tag. The sample size is tiny over one week for pitchers which makes the results a little less telling than for hitters, but any time you see someone on both the top performer and top value lists, there’s no clearer indicator to keep them on your radar for upcoming contests. The same can be said for Brandon McCarthy, and the difference in his price tag and Lester’s pretty fairly represents the difference in their likelihood to extend their stretches of dominance. I like McCarthy and will keep my eye on him, but I probably would steer clear in his next start on May 9th against the American League’s top-scoring offense in the Chicago White Sox.
Biggest Bust Hitters (Fewest Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players priced at or above $3,000 and with at least 3 games played over the last week.
1. Josh Reddick – OAK, OF ($3,000) – -0.54 fantasy points per game
2. Billy Hamilton – CIN, OF ($3,300) – -0.08 fantasy points per game
3. Coco Crisp – OAK, OF ($3,200) – 0.21 fantasy points per game
4. Ben Revere – PHI, OF ($3,200) – 0.25 fantasy points per game
5. Josmil Pinto – MIN, C ($3,100) – 0.25 fantasy points per game
6. Eric Young Jr. – NYM, OF ($3,300) – 0.35 fantasy points per game
7. Ben Zobrist – TAM, 2B ($3,400) – 0.42 fantasy points per game
8. Manny Machado – BAL, 3B ($3,400) – 0.50 fantasy points per game
9. Yadier Molina – STL, C ($3,300) – 0.58 fantasy points per game
10. Carlos Beltran – NYY, OF ($3,200) – 0.70 fantasy points per game
As I mentioned above the Oakland lineup has just not been the same since getting demolished by Jon Lester, with the subsequent results being especially bad for Coco Crisp and particularly Josh Reddick. Reddick actually cost his owners more than a half a fantasy point per game compared to an empty slot last week, and I can’t say its really surprising after his horrendous 2013 season and even worse start to 2014. He went 1 for 18 with five strikeouts and no walks over the last seven days, and its starting to look like his 32 HR in 2012 were a total outlier. His peripherals weren’t fantastic even that season and based on his numbers since the beginning of 2013 I’m starting to doubt whether we’ll ever see Reddick surpass 20 HR again. With so many offensive options in Oakland, he may not even get the chance to dig himself out of this multi-year slump.
Beyond the stories of Manny Machado‘s disaster of a return and the enduring slumps by usual greats Ben Zobrist, Yadier Molina, and Carlos Beltran, the trend this week seems to be a lot of disappointment by speedy outfielders across the league. Not much needs to be said about Billy Hamilton and his combination of failed expectations and current injury, but he was the worst of the bunch offering negative points per game with Ben Revere and Eric Young Jr. close behind in the race to run their FanDuel owners into the ground.
Biggest Bust Pitchers (Fewest Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players priced at or above $7,000.
1. Zack Greinke – LAD, SP ($9,500) – 2.00 fantasy points per game
2. CC Sabathia – NYY, SP ($7,100) – 1.66 fantasy points per game
3. Francisco Liriano – PIT, SP ($7,600) – 2.66 fantasy points per game
4. R.A. Dickey – TOR, SP ($7,100) – 3.00 fantasy points per game
5. Felix Hernandez – SEA, SP ($10,100) – 6.17 fantasy points per game
6. Jesse Chavez – OAK, SP ($7,500) – 4.66 fantasy points per game
7. Scott Kazmir – OAK, SP ($7,900) – 5.00 fantasy points per game
8. Andrew Cashner – SDP, SP ($8,200) – 5.50 fantasy points per game
9. Chris Archer – TAM, SP ($7,200) – 5.33 fantasy points per game
10. Jordan Zimmerman – WAS, SP ($8,900) – 7.00 fantasy points per game
Nothing will kill your FanDuel team like a huge bust from an expensive pitcher. I get the logic of spending a lot of your cap on your pitcher as it’s basically half of your team’s scoring potential out of a single roster spot, but you better be pretty sure the guy is a sure-thing for 15-20 or more points if you’re spending 25-30% of your total salary cap on him. That $1000 or $2000 of extra salary spent to upgrade from a solid mid-tier option to an ace can really impact the quality of players you’re able to field in the rest of your lineup. Zack Greinke offered excellent proof of this concept turning in just 2 fantasy points on May 5th after rain put a quick end to his already poor day after just three innings, a tragic start for a lineup left with just $3,187 to spend on each hitter.
The reasons are varied and it could be recent performance, possible bad weather, or just a gut feeling, but if you’re not totally certain about a top-shelf pitcher, its rarely a bad call to go with a cheaper option so you can invest in the proven hitters likely to carry you to victory. The elite pitchers can be very tempting, but they carry a mandate for such high production that even a decent game can be a major disappointment. Unless its one of those rare days with absolutely no appealing starters available in the low or mid price range, only laziness or lack of time can prevent you from finding a more cost-effective option. Keep that in mind as you think about investing in struggling big names like Felix Hernandez or Jordan Zimmerman in their next start.