4 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for Opening Day
Have you ever heard someone let out one of those embarrassing, high-pitched squeals when they get a bit too excited?
Jaso isn't some top-notch superstar, and he's not going to be a guy who launches 30 home runs this year. But he hits leadoff for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and catcher-eligible players who hit leadoff are real-life unicorns.
The other perk of Jaso is that he isn't going to drain your salary allocation. He's only $2,500, giving you plenty of flexibility to spend up on some of the true stars on the slate.
Jaso isn't alone in that respect. There's lots of value to go around for this opening slate of games at various positions. You may not need to spend down this much in order to fit your team under the salary cap on a small slate like this, but that doesn't change the fact that these dudes can ball. Let's run through a few players who should find their way into your lineup Sunday.
John Jaso, $2,500 on FanDuel
This one isn't necessarily about Jaso himself because his matchup against Cardinals' starter Adam Wainwright isn't ideal. It's just about volume.
By hitting leadoff, Jaso is guaranteed at least four plate appearances (unless the Cardinals bring a lefty out of the pen to neutralize him before that). The next highest-hitting catcher on the slate may be Jaso's teammate, Francisco Cervelli, but he doesn't have the platoon advantage that Jaso does. This is what puts our little unicorn over the top.
Jaso finished last year with a 38.1% hard-hit rate against right-handed pitchers, striking out only 17.8% of the time and walking in 11.2% of his plate appearances. That's the formula for a steady hitter. Giving him a solid spot in the batting order -- even against a tough pitcher -- is enough to make him a lock in my lineups.
Lucas Duda, $2,600 on FanDuel
Volquez has the highest SIERA of any pitcher on the slate by nearly a full run at 4.35. His strikeout and walk numbers are fairly even against righties and lefties, but his ground-ball rate disappears against lefties. For a guy like Double-Dong Duda with multi-homer potential, that's sweet, sweet music.
Duda is the exact type of power hitter we want when there's a righty on the bump. He posted a 39.6% hard-hit rate and a 50.6% fly-ball rate versus right-handed pitchers last year, both of which were among the best marks in the league. The concern with him is strikeouts, but he even cuts those to 22.7% against righties. He really shouldn't be $2,600, and I wouldn't mind using him even if I have the money to spend up for another first-base bat.
Neil Walker, $2,500 on FanDuel
Target. The. Mets. A'ight?
A lot of the reasons we're enamored with Duda (and the higher-priced Curtis Granderson) draw us toward Neil Walker. He's left-handed, he hits righties well, and Volquez is mediocre. This one isn't too hard to decipher.
Walker's batted-ball profile isn't quite as drool-worthy as Duda's, but it's still more than adequate. His hard-hit rate against righties last year was 34.8%, equal to his fly-ball rate, which is a respectable mark. When you have a slightly below average strikeout rate, that'll certainly work.
The added bonus of Walker is his spot in the batting order. He could find himself hitting as high as fifth, which puts him in a great spot to pick up some RBI's. Volquez has an above-average walk rate and a below-average strikeout rate, a recipe for plentiful men on base. If Walker does end up hitting fifth, expect him to capitalize and at least snag you some points in that department even if he doesn't necessarily go off himself.
Stephen Piscotty, $2,700 on FanDuel
This one is largely dependent on what kind of lineup the Cardinals trot out against Francisco Liriano. If Stephen Piscotty is batting second, I'd lock him in right away and try to capitalize on the volume.
Piscotty's splits against lefties in the minors won't blow you away, but his 2015 season featured two things that'll give him an edge against Liriano: he doesn't strikeout much, and he can draw walks.
Over 184 plate appearances against lefties last year between Triple-A and the majors, Piscotty walked 11.4% of the time and sported a 17.4% strikeout rate. Liriano has always had issues with control, and his career ERA in the months of March and April is 5.29. That's partially due to an 11.9% walk rate at the start of the season. This gives Piscotty a bit of leverage that he could exploit if he bats high in the order.
None of the batters in the Cardinals' lineup are necessarily safe options for this opening slate, Piscotty included. The dominant version of Liriano could show up and blank them completely. But of those options, Piscotty's spot in the batting order and ability to draw walks against lefties may make him the top choice.