5 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for 5/21/19
With production being highly variable on a night-to-night basis, daily fantasy baseball plays a bit differently than other sports.
An 0-for-4 dud from a chalky high-priced slugger is a lot more common than a total dud from a top-priced NBA player or even than a stinker from a top quarterback or running back.
That means that it's not uncommon for value plays to end up doing the heavy lifting in carrying your lineup. The fact that they can be the difference between a good and a great lineup isn't much different than other sports, but value plays being able to make up for a whiff on a high-priced play completely is somewhat unique.
Let's get right into it and take a look at the top value options on today's slate.
Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B, Texas Rangers ($3,000)
This isn't just point chasing -- though it doesn't hurt that Cabrera went yard twice last night -- but he and the Texas Rangers are once again one of the slate's most appealing offenses. They're still at home where the forecast calls for some heat, and they're up against Seattle Mariners southpaw Tommy Milone.
Milone hasn't pitched a major league game yet in 2019, but in 49 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, he posted an awful 5.65 xFIP. For a guy that hasn't posted a skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) better than 4.11 in the majors since 2013, that's not exactly encouraging.
Cabrera is making some great contact this season, with a hard-hit rate north of 38% for the second straight year and a career-high 45.1% fly-ball rate. He struggled mightily with southpaws over 167 plate appearances last season, but since 2016 (464 plate appearances), he has a viable .336 wOBA in the split. Another two-homer game probably isn't in the cards, but he's still a nice cheap way to get exposure to the big upside the Rangers offer on Tuesday.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, C, Texas Rangers ($2,300)
If you're looking to save even more, Kiner-Falefa is priced only $300 above the minimum tonight, and while you'll need to double-check that he's in the starting lineup before locking him in, he has the upside to blow away that salary.
Milone gave up a 37.6% hard-hit rate and 50.0% fly-ball rate in his last big league season, and he's allowed fly-ball rates above 44% in each of his last Triple-A seasons too.
Kiner-Falefa has largely been a groundball hitter in the majors (51.6% groundball rate), but with Milone's tendency to let opponents put the ball in the air, he gets a boost in home run potential -- especially because he's seen a jump of about 4% in fly-ball rate in his split against southpaws.
The increased potential for runs and RBI in such a well-positioned offense makes Kiner-Falefa's upside even more appealing.
Kendrys Morales, 1B, New York Yankees ($2,500)
Even with a $300 jump in price, just about everything I said about Morales yesterday holds true today.
He's struggling this season but has found some success since joining the New York Yankees, with three hits, two runs and four RBI in four games. He's also hitting the ball very well in 2019, with a 42.2% hard-hit rate and 9.8% soft-hit rate, so his paltry .230 BABIP (compared to a .292 career average) suggests that we can expect a bounce-back from his early-season .271 wOBA.
He also gets another dreamy matchup tonight. The Baltimore Orioles' relievers continue to be one of the worst groups in the majors, and they'll likely be tasked with some heavy lifting tonight, since the O's are starting David Hess, who is on pace for a SIERA worse than 5.00 for the second time in as many major league seasons.
Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees ($2,900)
Right back to the Yanks, Hess has had an especially tough time with left-handed bats in the majors. In that split, he's allowing a 34.1% hard-hit and 44.5% fly-ball rate, seeing his strikeout rate drop to 16.1% and posting a 5.34 xFIP.
Like Morales, a low BABIP (.205) is holding Gardner's production back, and considering his 30.1% hard-hit rate is well above his career average, we shouldn't expect his BABIP to stay nearly this far below his .307 career mark for long.
He's also sporting a solid .339 wOBA in 143 plate appearances against right-handed pitching (despite a still egregious .212 BABIP), putting him on pace to top a .330 wOBA in that split for the third time in his past four seasons.
Gardner hits near the back of the order, but he's still a great way to get cheap exposure to the Yankees' hefty 5.62-run implied total.
Eric Thames, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers ($2,700)
Thames is bizarrely cheap considering his .363 wOBA and .207 ISO so far in 2019. It's only over 116 plate appearances, but neither of those numbers look like anomalies after he posted a .369 wOBA and .271 ISO in 2017 and a .330 wOBA and .259 ISO in 2018.
His batted-ball profile is still excellent (44.2% hard hits, 13.5% soft hits and 46.2% fly balls), and he's even more interesting when he has the platoon advantage like he does tonight. Over these last three seasons, he has a .369 wOBA and .271 ISO on a 44.8% hard-hit and 43.7% fly-ball rate against right-handed pitching.
Cincinnati Reds righty Sonny Gray is looking good this year, with a 3.77 SIERA that is on pace to be his best since 2014, but he's also allowing a 43.2% hard-hit rate -- a mark that jumps to a huge 51.0% in an admittedly small 78-hitter sample against left-handed bats. Last year, he also saw a jump in hard contact against lefties, as well, giving up a 37.8% hard-hit rate compared to a 35.5% rate against right-handed sticks.
Thames strikes out a ton and Gray is pitching well, so his floor is low here, but he also offers far better home run potential than you'll usually find at a price tag this low.
Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.