When trying to identify players to target in MLB DFS, finding players struggling at the plate prior to their explosion proves pivotal to winning. For example, entering gameplay on Sunday, Gary Sanchez owned a .356 weighted on-base average (wOBA) but a .579 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA). His slugging percentage of .538 did not raise concern, but, when perusing the expected slugging percent of 1.000 for Sanchez, attention to detail could portend his three home run explosion. Of course, targeting the Orioles, who allowed 14 home runs in a three-game set versus the Yankees also makes sense. With this in mind, three teams own a very favorable schedule this week, with two familiar names from last week, but in line to succeed again.
- Two games versus Texas, four versus San Diego with four left-handed pitchers on tap
Not only will Christian Walker headline waiver wire bids this weekend, but he’s also back on the radar for MLB DFS with four southpaws on the horizon. He’s yet to homer off of one this year but hit five last year in only 66 at-bats. Prior to game play on Sunday, Walker accrued 28 plate appearances with a .269 average but a .355 expected average, a .692 slugging with a .770 expected slugging and a .409 wOBA against a .475 xwOBA. Within his 21 batted ball events, Walker owns a 102.6 MPH fly ball and line drive average exit velocity. He’s also recorded 10 hard hit events of 95 MPH-plus exit velocity. With positive regression lying beneath his actual numbers along with potential power on tap, Walker will be tough to avoid in the week ahead.
Teammate Ketel Marte received a mention in last week’s article, but with four left-handed starters along with a tired Rangers bullpen in his future, Marte could be in store for another big week. Marte’s hitting 18 points below his actual average and increased his average launch angle to 11 degrees this year compared to only 5.7 degrees in 2018. Plus, over his last 205 at-bats versus southpaws, Marte’s slashing a robust .327/.388/.605 with 37 runs, 11 home runs and 124 total bases. Yes, please.
- Four games at Baltimore, three at Texas
Visiting two plus-hitter parks on the heels of crushing baseballs sets up well for Seattle. After 11 games, the Mariners presently average 7.7 runs, 2.5 home runs and 4.5 walks per game. Even though Domingo Santana does not fly below the radar, he could be even more productive so far this year. Santana’s hitting 11 points below his expected average, 25 points below his expected slugging percentage and sits 13 points below his expected weighted on-base average. He also owns an average launch angle of 18.2 degrees this year with 11 of his 29 batted ball events resulting in 95 MPH-plus exit velocities. Plus, Santana hit 24 of his 30 home runs in 2017 off of right-handed pitchers, along with all four this year with four of the six pitchers slated to start being right-handed and a the ever unpredictable to be announced in Kansas City on Wednesday.
Basically representing a fantasy free space, Jay Bruce went undrafted in many 12-team leagues. He’s already hit five home runs in only 38 at-bats this year. Like Sanchez above, Bruce owns a .184 average but a .239 expected one. His slugging should only be five percentage points better according to his expected statistics, but Bruce should improve in terms of wOBA with a .366 mark so far against a .401 xwOBA. Add in Bruce’s 10 batted ball events of his 26 total with a 95 MPH-plus exit velocity as a sweetener.
- Three games at Chicago White Sox, three at Toronto
So, Tommy Pham owns a 42 game on-base streak during which he’s hitting .361 (57-for-158) with six doubles, six triples, seven home runs, 24 RBI and eight stolen bases, which dates back to August 21st of last year. Through his first 40 plate appearances, Pham’s hitting .242 with a .302 expected average, slugging .242 with a .413 expected slugging and a .280 wOBA which sits 94 points below his expected weighted on-base average. Pham’s not producing power yet, but his average exit velocity falls one MPH below last season’s and he’s only four percentage points below in hard hit percentage. If Pham turns on fastballs this week, a surge could be in the offing. Last year, Pham hit 12 home runs against fastballs and this season, his .294 slugging mark so far against the pitch lags well behind his expected .555 slugging percentage. Regression to the mean against fastballs would put Pham in line for a very nice power bump in two plus hitting environments.
With the teaser of Sanchez in the lead-in, there’s two hitters in line for better results in the week ahead. Mike Moustakas will head on the road to Los Angeles and could benefit. Through his first 33 plate appearances, Moustakas owns a .172 average with a .270 expected one. his .448 slugging percentage does not cause too much concern, but his .508 expected mark could portend more home runs in the days ahead. His average exit velocity this year of 92.9 MPH represents an improvement of over three MPH compared to last year. He’s also averaging launch angles of 19 degrees. Like Pham above, simple improvement against fastballs will unlock power. Moustakas owns a .222 average against them this year but with a .357 expected mark.
Perhaps moving around the diamond could be affecting Niko Goodrum, but he’s due for some positive regression. Goodrum’s owns a .296 average but a .362 expected one and a .519 slugging but a .742 (a whopping 223 point difference) expected slugging rate. Yes, he will face a tough Indians staff early in the week, but their bullpen can be leaky and he gets three right-handed pitchers in Minnesota to end the week.
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Been writing about fantasy baseball since 2012. Hit the Moonshot in 2016 without a fancy computer algorithm, just blood, sweat and tears, thanks to home runs by Ryan Flaherty along with Preston Tucker. So, each homer matters. Entered three 12-team NFBC leagues last year with a first and second place finish. Complete fantasy grinder, so check out the regression hitter articles weekly for cheap pivots or depressed sluggers due to pay dividends. My work also appears for free and behind the paywall at Fantasy Alarm, the Bullpen Reports on Rotographs and here. Thanks for all the support.