5 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for Monday 5/3/21
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-salaried slugger is a lot more common than a total dud from a top-salaried 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-salaried play completely is somewhat unique.
Let's get right into it and take a look at the top value options on today's slate.
Kenta Maeda, SP, Minnesota Twins ($6,900)
It's hard to explain why, but Kenta Maeda is off to an uncharacteristically awful start to the year, and considering he's allowed three home runs in back-to-back games, you could honestly consider rostering the Texas Rangers as an under-the-radar stack despite their tiny implied total.
But it's also hard to imagine Maeda staying this bad, and the Rangers are a possible get-right matchup with a 26.3% strikeout rate and 87 wRC+ versus right-handers going back to 2020. Maeda's 17.9% strikeout rate is underwhelming, to say the least, but his 13.6% swinging-strike rate is right around his career average, theoretically suggesting he should get those punchout numbers up eventually.
We're taking a leap of faith in rostering Maeda, but on a slate with no sure things beyond Tyler Glasnow and Walker Buehler -- the latter of whom could be lost due to rain -- this might be the right opportunity to "buy low" on Maeda and trust his proven track record.
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants ($3,100)
Belt produced an amazing 16.8% barrel rate in 2020, and he's carried that right over into 2021 with a 17.8% mark. Strikeouts have held him back (33.7% strikeout rate), but in terms of power upside, it's easy to like what Belt is showing a little over a month in.
German Marquez has been solid through six starts, but a 13.3% walk rate has gotten him into trouble at times, which could open the door for the Giants to put together some big innings. This is also the third time San Francisco will face Marquez already, and that familiarity should help give them an edge.
AJ Pollock, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers ($2,100)
The Los Angeles Dodgers are another team with a surprising amount of value, as we could see five different players with salaries of $3,200 and below.
As mentioned earlier, we could lose this game due to weather, but if it plays, we can roster AJ Pollock at barely above the minimum against a struggling Kyle Hendricks. It took a while to get there, but Pollock is starting to put together some strong nights at the plate, including a massive two-dinger performance on Sunday.
As for Hendricks, he's already coughed up as many home runs as he let up all of last year (10) while seeing a drop in grounders (31.6%) and a rise in walks (7.4%). The Dodgers carry a 4.89 implied total tonight.
Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers ($2,800)
As noted in the Maeda blurb, the Rangers have a poor implied total despite Maeda's early woes, so they could certainly flop tonight.
But if it turns out these home run issues are more of a trend than fluke, then who better than Joey Gallo to take advantage? Oddly enough, Gallo isn't lighting up the Statcast page like he normally does, but his maximum exit velocity (94th percentile) is up there as always, so that power is still hiding in there somewhere. After all, let's remember that he owns a career 20.8% barrel rate and .279 ISO.
Even if you don't want to go all-in on a stack, Gallo makes perfect sense as a tournament one-off. It sure doesn't hurt that we could see high winds blowing out to right field, too.
Alex Kirillof, OF, Minnesota Twins ($2,400)
On the other side of that game, the Minnesota Twins have a solid 4.52 implied total that ranks top five on the night, but they're a tricky team to stack against Dane Dunning. That's because Dunning has actually performed pretty well this season, owning a 3.44 SIERA and 25.0% strikeout rate.
That being said, his numbers drop off against lefties, which was the case in 2020, as well. Since the start of that season, he's only managed a 5.04 xFIP and 21.9% strikeout rate in the split.
So, if nothing else, we should feel comfortable rostering left-handed bats, and that includes top prospect Alex Kirilloff, who seems to be figuring things out quickly since debuting in mid-April. After a slow start, Kirillof has now slugged four home runs in the past three games, and he's showing a high barrel rate and hard-hit rate thus far.
He had limited experience in the minors and is still striking out too often, so it's difficult to say where his numbers ultimately land this year, but there's enough here to take the plunge on the Twins' number-five hitter.