6 Under-the-Radar Daily Fantasy Baseball Plays for 4/6/16

Kenta Maeda finds himself in a perfect matchup today, but he may still go overlooked in his first Major League start. Who else will fly under-the-radar?

If you have played daily fantasy sports for a while, you realize by now the importance of being contrarian, especially in large-field tournaments. Being able to recognize which players are going to be owned by the majority of the field and to find players who you think have a similar point projection but will come at much lower ownership can really separate yourself from your opponents.

The purpose of this article will be to bring you some high-upside players who will likely go overlooked and give you an edge.

Michael Pineda, SP, New York Yankees

FanDuel Price: $8,400

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Michael Pineda is severely underrated and is in a risky matchup against the Astros tonight. I'd expect most to gravitate towards Stephen Strasburg, leaving Pineda as an awesome tournament play.

Why You Should Use Him:

Pop quiz! Among pitchers with at least 160 innings last season, who posted the lowest walk rate in the Majors? Need a hint? He weighs over 250 pounds and pitches half his games in New York.

You guessed Pineda didn't you? Well, if so, you were wrong. It was Bartolo Colon! Second place, though, belonged to Pineda, who posted an absurd 3.1 percent walk rate. Although, unlike his equally rotund friend, Colon, Pineda paired his low walk rate an impressive 23.4 percent strikeout rate. In fact, his K-BB%, which subtracts a player's walk rate from their strikeout rate, ranked 10th in the league.

Even more impressive was Pineda's splits against right-handed batters, against whom he posted a 24.1 percent strikeout rate and a 2 percent walk rate. Two percent!

These stats are fun and all, but how do they help us?

Well, Pineda's opponent today, the Houston Astros, just happens to have one of the most exciting and dangerous one through three hitters in the game. Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa are three of the best young talents in the Majors, and being able to keep them in check is the first step towards stopping this explosive lineup. Oh, and they're all right-handed, did I mention that?

Below are the three hitters' splits against righties and lefties last season.

Player wOBA (R) wOBA (L) ISO (R) ISO (L) Hard% (R) Hard% (L) K% (R) K%
Jose Altuve 0.319 0.413 0.136 0.170 24.9% 26.3% 11.9% 8.8%
George Springer 0.336 0.405 0.154 0.237 28.3% 43.3% 26.5% 20.0%
Carlos Correa 0.359 0.378 0.209 0.282 31.7% 35.2% 19.5% 15.0%

The struggles of Houston's top three hitters against righties has been a consistent trend throughout their lineup. The Astros had the second-highest strikeout rate (23.6 percent) against righties last season, after posting the highest mark (24 percent) in 2014.

So, this matchup is perfect, right? Let's just lock Pineda into our cash lineups and move on. Not so fast, my friend!

While Houston did post the second-most strikeouts in the league last year, they also scored the sixth-most runs. The Astros' wOBA against right-handers was the fourth-highest in the league, while their ISO against righties was the second-highest. So, Houston is a team that can hang 10-plus runs on any given night but also may strikeout 10-plus times. 

That sounds like the perfect recipe for a GPP play. That is why you're here, right? These players are under-the-radar for a reason.

Could Pineda get bombed and single-handedly keep your tournament lineup from cashing? Absolutely. He could also put up double-digit strikeouts and toss a gem, though. I would limit my shares, but if making multiple lineups, some exposure certainly makes sense. His combination of price, ownership, and upside is unmatched among pitchers on today's slate.

Kenta Maeda, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

FanDuel Price: $7,200

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Basically any pitcher on the main slate is going to go overlooked compared to Strasburg. I'm a little conflicted on whether Kenta Maeda will go overlooked or not, though. In theory, he is a very talented pitcher who is cheap and in a terrific matchup. Most have no idea who he is, though, and will feel uneasy rostering an unknown, so hopefully his ownership is kept in check.

Why You Should Use Him:

Well, that is now two games, six hits, and zero runs for the Padres. Maybe San Diego should go ahead and change their logo to the "Crying Jordan" face. It seems inevitable at this point.

To be fair, one of those games was against Clayton Kershaw, but the Padres are really bad offensively and are even worse at home. That shouldn't be too surprising, considering the park they call home has had the second-lowest park factor over the past three years.

They are also really bad against right-handers, which bodes well for Maeda. San Diego's wOBA against righties ranked 28th last year, while they struck out the sixth-most frequently and walked the seventh-most infrequently.

Maeda is another exciting Japanese pitching prospect, but unlike most, he already has pinpoint control. His transition should be much smoother than many others' have been, and he couldn't have picked a better environment in which to pitch his first Major League game. In 23 Spring Training innings, Maeda posted an impressive 2.35 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and 20 strikeouts.

Enjoy him while he is cheap and under-owned because he won't be for long, especially if he is able to take advantage of this matchup tonight.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

FanDuel Price: $3,400

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Most daily fantasy players understand that Adrian Gonzalez mashes right-handed pitching, but the same is true for Joey Votto and Chris Davis, who also both draw a matchup with a righty and have higher implied totals for their games.

Why You Should Use Him:

Gonzalez's opponent today, Andrew Cashner, isn't a horrible pitcher, but he did post a pretty pedestrian SIERA of 4.00 last year and has some horrible splits against lefties. Cashner gave up a .517 slugging percentage to lefties, as opposed to a more respectable .425 against righties. He also allowed a wOBA of .383 and a 12.3 percent walk rate to lefties. Even more promising for Gonzalez's upside is the fact that Cashner's ground ball rate dropped from 48.5 percent against righties to 35.5 percent against lefties, while his fly ball rate rose from 30.6 percent to 39.9 percent.

Gonzalez should be able to take full advantage of Cashner's struggles, as he hits righties with the best of them.

Last season, he posted a .360 wOBA, .498 slugging percentage, and .230 ISO against righties, demonstrating his considerable power potential when the matchup is right. He also maintained a 37.1 hard hit rate and 38.3 percent fly ball rate, so there's a good chance he collects some extra base knocks against Cashner tonight.

Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees

FanDuel Price: $2,800

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Similar to Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira will be overlooked due to Davis and Votto being in such great spots.

The Yankees also have a low total today, as Collin McHugh is a fairly well respected pitcher, who posted a sub-4.00 SIERA last season.

Why You Should Use Him:

If Teixeira has a matchup against a right-hander who is anything but an elite ground ball pitcher, you need to give him consideration in tournaments because he has the biggest difference between his splits against lefties and righties than any power hitter in the Majors.

Last season, 25 of his 31 home runs came against righties, which isn't at all surprising when you consider the underlying numbers. Teixeira elevated his wOBA from .342 to .399 against righties, but where the differences really become noticeable are his power numbers.

He posted a .413 slugging percentage against lefties and an absurd .609 slugging percentage against righties. His ISO against righties jumps off the page at .339, as opposed to .190 against lefties. He also had a 38.6 percent hard hit rate and 45.7 percent fly ball rate against righties.

He may end up just lofting a bunch of routine fly balls to the warning track, but there is legitimate #DoubleDong upside in this matchup. That is rare for a player at this price, especially one who you can get at low ownership.

Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

FanDuel Price: $2,800

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Joc Pederson is part of a deep outfield position, and the fantasy community is down on him after his late-season collapse in 2015.

He also hits in the bottom half of the order, and Los Angeles is only projected for 3.7 runs today.

Why You Should Use Him:

Pederson should benefit from Cashner's struggles against lefties, similar to Gonzalez, and his splits against right-handed pitching last season are almost as impressive as the hard-hitting first baseman's.

Pederson posted a wOBA of .345 against righties, which was supported by an impressive 39 percent hard hit rate. 16 of his 19 dingers came against righties, which isn't surprising when you look at his power numbers against right-handed pitching. He posted a .423 slugging percentage and .214 ISO while hitting fly balls at a 42.8 percent clip.

Pederson is far from a cash game play, but he has big power potential in this one and makes for an intriguing risk/reward punt play in tournaments tonight. Pairing him with the next under-the-radar player makes it very easy to fit some of the elite talents from today's slate into your lineup, too.

Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals

FanDuel Price: $2,200

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Michael Taylor is a part-time player and hasn't even been named as a starter, so don't expect him to be heavily owned.

Why You Should Use Him:

Taylor posted impressive numbers last season in limited time, putting up 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases with a 31.6 percent hard hit rate.

He is never a safe option, due to his career strikeout rate of 31.6 percent, but he could find himself hitting leadoff for a potent Nationals lineup in a terrific matchup against Bud Norris.

Norris posted a 4.17 SIERA last season and allowed right-handed hitters to put up a .531 slugging percentage and .379 wOBA with just a 15.1 percent strikeout rate. There is a very good chance the Nationals get to him early and often, in which case it will be hard for Taylor not to reach value at near minimum price. It's rare you get a player with this much upside for this cheap.

Be sure to keep an eye on the injury news tonight. If Ben Revere is declared out, Taylor becomes one of the best value plays out there for tournaments.