5 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for Tuesday 5/4/21
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.
Alex Cobb, SP, Los Angeles Angels ($8,000)
Cobb began the year with back-to-back strong starts but has since stumbled in two straight, the last of which came against the lowly Texas Rangers. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but his peripheral numbers remain excellent, as he owns a 3.04 SIERA, 28.7% strikeout rate, and 6.3% walk rate in spite of his terrible 7.16 ERA. A quick look at an absurd .469 BABIP suggests Cobb's struggles have been due in part to poor luck.
Although Cobb has never carried a high strikeout rate before, he's induced a 14.5% swinging-strike rate, so there's a chance this isn't a fluke. The matchup is right to test the waters against Tampa Bay (3.90 implied total), a team with a 25.7% strikeout rate versus righties going back to last year. There's plenty of risk here, but Cobb is unlikely to see a high draft percentage.
Jake Cronenworth, 1B/2B, San Diego Padres ($2,900)
The San Diego Padres are one of the top stacks tonight against Mitch Keller, who has been all over the place this season. He's put up a 5.25 SIERA over five starts, along with a 20.7% strikeout rate and ghastly 14.1% walk rate.
The Padres aren't exactly the type of team that will let you get away with all these walks, and sure enough, when they faced Keller earlier this season, they roasted him for seven earned runs in just 3.1 innings.
Keller has recorded a 6.01 xFIP versus left-handed batters, so Jake Cronenworth is one guy we can feel pretty good about including. Although Cronenworth hasn't shown the same pop as last year -- at least not yet -- his plate skills are virtually identical with a 15.1% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate. He should have a good chance of getting on base against someone like Keller.
Bobby Dalbec, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox ($2,100)
But instead let's hop down to Bobby Dalbec, who's barely above the salary minimum. Of course, there's a reason he's this low -- Dalbec is striking out 34.6% of the time and only has one home run in 81 plate appearances. He has absolutely been a dud more often than not thus far.
That said, the good news is he's still showing a high barrel rate (14.9%), which is something he also did last season (22.0%). There's some real power in his bat, and it should only be a matter of time before he connects on some more dingers.
Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves ($2,400)
The Atlanta Braves have a 4.74 implied total against Joe Ross, who has tallied unspectacular numbers over four starts. Ross has historically performed worse against left-handed batters, but this year, he's mustered a mere 16.7% strikeout rate versus righties, and when we last saw him in 2019, that mark was just 19.9% in 35.2 innings.
It all lines up for stacking righties and lefties alike, and that includes Austin Riley, who remains low-salaried respite some consistent play lately. Riley hasn't registered as many barrels in 2021, but considering his career .203 ISO, we should have confidence in his power coming around.
Hunter Dozier, 3B/OF, Kansas City Royals ($2,900)
You know something is up when the Kansas City Royals have one of the better implied totals on the board, and that's because they're facing Sam Hentges, who has all of 5.2 innings (3 appearances) of big league experience this season.
To look for Hentges' numbers as a starter, we have to go back to 2019 in Double-A, where the young left-hander posted 5.11 ERA with a modest 21.4% strikeout rate and 10.9% walk rate. While Hentges' 3.93 xFIP suggests he was better than that ERA, these are pretty meh marks across the board at a mid-level in the minors.
Unfortunately, the Royals actually have some fairly high salaries tonight, so they're not the easiest lineup to stack, but if nothing else, we can look to Hunter Dozier as a low-salary piece. Dozier's checking a lot of boxes on his Statcast page these days, which includes an inviting 12.7% barrel rate.