4 Daily Fantasy Baseball Hitting Studs to Target on Opening Day
If you're looking for high-priced, shoe-in studs to target for this opening slate of daily fantasy baseball, it may be best to shift your focus.
As with the opening of every season, teams are trotting out their best arms to try to suffocate the opposing offense. This is great for fans of pitcher's duels, but it may make for some tough sledding when it comes to selecting hitters for MLB DFS.
Thankfully, not all hope is lost. We've got three games on the slate from which to choose, and there are some batters with decent matchups waiting to start the season off on the right foot. They may not have the same allure of guys like Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, but here are some top-notch hitters you should be looking at to get things started.
Curtis Granderson, $3,400 on FanDuel
Only one starting pitcher for Sunday had a SIERA greater than 4.00. Heck, only one had a SIERA above 3.45, and that's the Royals' Edinson Volquez and his 4.35 SIERA. Even with that crazy defense flashing the leather behind him, he's a guy you'll likely have to target, and there are few better candidates to exploit his shortcomings than Curtis Granderson.
Volquez's splits against lefties and righties have always been fairly even with two major exceptions: left-handed batters draw more walks, and they hit a lot more fly balls. That's what separates Granderson from his teammate, Yoenis Cespedes,who we'll get to in just a second.
Granderson was a pesk againt right-handed pitching last year, walking 14.1% of the time with only a 19.1% strikeout rate. When you couple those numbers together with a 37.3% hard-hit rate and 44.2% fly-ball rate, you've got yourself an excellent top-of-the-line selection in a matchup like this.
Yoenis Cespedes, $3,800 on FanDuel
If forced to pick between the two of them, I'd pick Granderson because of his left-handed advantage. Cespedes is still a good play, though.
The advantage that Cespedes holds over other righties in the Mets' order is his reverse-split tendencies. Against righties in 2015, his strikeout rate fell to 19.0% from 27.1% against lefties. This did come with a much lower walk rate and a slightly lower hard-hit rate, but additional balls in play is huge for his DFS value. Volquez isn't a guy who will rack up the strikeouts, adding more incentive to target Cespedes.
There is one buzzkill for this Mets offense, and that's the home run park factor. Kauffman Stadium's average home run park factor over the past three years ranks 26th in the league, dampening optimism for both of the guys above. The saving grace is that neither of the other parks in play for this slate (Tropicana Field nor PNC Park) rank higher than 20th. So, yes, you're potentially stacking in a park that's not conducive to dingers, but it does rank ninth in overall park factor. On a short slate like this, you'll take that.
Andrew McCutchen, $4,600 on FanDuel
Big things could be ready to start popping for Andrew McCutchen this year. He's moving up to second in the batting order, he has the on-base savant of John Jaso hitting in front of him, and he's fully healthy after being dinged up most of last year. Adam Wainwright's still a talented pitcher, but McCutchen is a guy we should be considering for Sunday.
Wainwright flashed some reverse-splits tendencies in his last full season on the mound, struggling more against right-handed batters than lefties. His strikeout rate dipped to 19.3% versus righties, and the ground-ball rate followed suit by dropping to 44.7%. McCutchen for his career has hit lefties better than righties, but that trend started to shift last year as he amped up his hard-hit rate to 39.7% as opposed to 38.1% against south paws.
Even though PNC Park has a below-average park factor, McCutchen hits better there than he does on the road. His .409 wOBA at home last year towered over his .352 mark on the road, backed up by a 41.9% hard-hit rate and just a 17.9% strikeout rate. It's a tough matchup for sure, but it's one that McCutchen can definitely win.
Kendrys Morales, $3,000 on FanDuel
Once again, this isn't to say that the Mets' starter, Matt Harvey, isn't a good pitcher. We just don't have many options on a slate in which all teams are starting their ace, and Kendrys Morales left the shattered remains of right-handed pitchers in his wake last year.
Harvey's repertoire is still good enough to fan left-handed batters, but he did issue more free passes and allow more fly balls to lefties than righties last year. His walk rate was still better than average at 6.9%, but his 37.0% ground-ball rate gives some extra upside to opposing lefties. Enter Morales.
Morales sported a hefty 38.3% hard-hit rate last year against right-handed pitching while elevating the ball 37.2% of the time. This led to a .538 slugging percentage and .385 wOBA off of righties, numbers that seem sustainable based on his batted-ball profile. On a day where your options aren't overly plentiful, having a guy like Morales who is likely to be underowned is a huge advantage.
You could extrapolate this into making cases for Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both of whom are left handed. However, Morales has a higher hard-hit rate against righties than both, and Hosmer's fly-ball rate is a frighteningly-low 24.4%. This makes Moustakas the more attractive between the two, but Morales takes the cake of the three. Harvey is still a talented pitcher, so it'd be best to only snag exposure to one, and Morales appears to be the best option.