Matt Carpenter has entered himself into the National League MVP race over the last two months of the 2018 season after many wrote him off, including yours truly. I went so far as to write an article about the Cardinals moving Tommy Pham into the leadoff position was what was best for the St. Louis Cardinals. Just like Carpenter and his salsa I am ready to eat my words. Carpenter has found himself in this situation while being primarily in the lead off role. His potential MVP status has opened my eyes to the evolution of the lead off hitter as a force in MLB lineups.
Traditionalist have a predetermined idea that a leadoff hitter should be someone with speed. A player that can turn a single into a double or even triple by being on the move. But today’s MLB doesn’t work that way anymore. Baseball is a game of statistics as well as ever changing dynamics. Players like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon can change the game with their speed, but they are the leadoff hitters of the past. The new form of leadoff hitters are players that force a pitcher to be on their game right away or be down by one run.
Today’s leadoff hitters focus more about getting on base and provide much more power. Look at the impact that George Springer had for the World Champion Astros during their great 2017 run in the playoffs. Springer was able to jump on get me over fastballs to start the game and put an immediate run on the board. Lead off hitters now rely on patience and launch angles to beat up on the opposition rather than using their speed.
Look at a list of impactful leadoff men in today’s game and see that there is a new trend in the game. Joining George Springer are star caliber players like Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Dickerson, and even Bryce Harper have spent time in the leadoff spot for their respective teams. Managers are beginning to understand that their best hitters will not only be getting more at bats but they will also be in a position to see a few get me over fastballs that can be deposited in the seats. Instead of pitchers trying to pitch around these players they are forced to pitch to them at least once rather than start a game with a runner on base.
Matt Carpenter is currently leading the National League in homeruns. While a large portion of those homeruns are solo shots he is still making an impact from the lead off position. What is overlooked is that he has the protection of the middle of the order forcing pitchers to throw to him. The worst thing a pitcher can do is to put a man on in front of the middle of the order. Carpenter has to see strikes, he has to be challenged and he more you challenge him the better he has been. This is the new idea of lead off hitters. In a way its like a slow pitch softball approach, why not get your best player as many at bats as you possibly can?
Tons of potential tonight with multiple games projected for high run totals, here are the Power 5 DFS Picks for August 6th.
Nick Tropeano, Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels ($6,200)
Tropeano is by far not the biggest pitching stud on this slate but a matchup against the awful Detroit Tigers is one you should always keep an eye on, especially when they are facing a righty.
Tigers hitters bat 30 points lower against righties to go along with 30 points lower on the road. Tropeano’s low cost will allow you to pay up for bats with so many potentially explosive games on the slate you will need to have room for stacks. Tropeano will face a projected 5 right-handed batters and four switch hitters, on the season righties are hitting just .215 against him. At just $6,200 the flexibility he brings is worth the risk.
Jose Martinez, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals ($4,000)
With injuries becoming a an issue for the St. Louis Cardinals Jose Martinez will be called upon as they head into Miami. Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neil have recently been put on the disabled list allowing Martinez to benefit from the playing time. Luckily for DFS players defense is not taken into consideration.
Martinez is projected in the middle of a St. Louis lineup that has been steady against lefties all season. Eight players in the St Louis lineup have at least a 108 wRC+ against LHP over the last calendar year with only cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna (118 wRC+, .158 ISO) below a .200 ISO. That’s some proficiency against a southpaw who has allowed a .350 wOBA to RHBs since the start of last season. Martinez can supply the runs and hits that will make him worthy of the nod as your starting first baseman.
Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals ($4,900)
Merrifield is the definition of on hot right now, hitting .479 over his last seven games. Matching up with the surely popular Cole Hamels will set you apart from most players. Merrifield has been a lefty masher all season with a .377 average and five of his seven homers. Look for Merrifield to also give you a boost on the basepaths as Hamels has shown an inability to hold runners on this season. The Royals currently have nothing to lose so why not let your players run free on the bases.
Evan Longoria, 3B, San Francisco Giants ($3,200)
In a time where Draftkings is making you pay top dollar for even the most modest of batters, Evan Longoria is still nicely priced for a hitter that has been streaking. Going for over 8 points in five straight games Longoria has the potential to bring lots of value at a low cost. Even with All- Star Charlie Morton on the mound sometimes you just can’t put out the flame of a hitter on fire.
Daniel Palka, OF, Chicago White Sox ($4,700)
Palka loves to hit fastballs. Lance Lynn only throws fastballs. This is a dangerous matchup for the veteran hurler. Palka also loves himself some home cooking, hitting .278 at US Cellular Field nearly 70 points higher then he does on the road. Look for Palka to try and jump on Lynn early. I am calling a home run tonight and potentially a dominant night from the young White Sox Hitters.
With a nine game slate upon us in DFS I wanted to pass along my plays for tonight August 2nd 2018. All prices based on Draft Kings.
Pitcher- Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves ($10,500)
Most people will be drawn to known aces Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. But with matchups against much better offenses I wanted to go with a much lesser known All-Star pitcher. Mike Foltynewicz has established himself at the top of the rotation starter. Playing in New York against a team that has been underwhelming to say the least should give Foltynewicz a better matchup to get him on track post All Star break.
In two post All Star break starts thus far Foltynewicz has struggled playing much higher level offenses of the Nationals and the Dodgers. Mike’s last start against a much more inspired Mets team on June 12th he was able to score 21.5 DK points. While you are paying a steep price at $10,500 I believe you will see a big upside and can save yourself over $1,000 when compared to the two previously mentioned aces.
SS/3B- Tim Beckham, Baltimore Orioles ($3,800)
Former prized draft pick Tim Beckham recently made a list of top 20 draft busts over the last ten years. With star Manny Machado in LA Beckham will see an increased role with the Orioles and I believe increased production. This Orioles/Rangers game looks and feels very stackable. Beckham stands out to me due to his mid-level cost and power/speed potential. Beckham’s is 3/4 in his career versus Yovanni Gallardo, while that is a small sample size I really like the exit velocity of 95.8MPH in those at bats. Not only did he hit Yovanni, those balls were destroyed.
SS/3B- Johan Carmago, Atlanta Braves ($4,100)
Carmago has been a big part of my DFS lineups this year, especially against lefties. The Braves showed that they are committed to Carmago at third base for the rest of the season by not making a move at the trade deadline. The matchup tonight vs Jason Vargas intrigues me. Carmago has shown great power against lefties slugging a ridiculous 200 points higher as a right handed batter. Vargas has also been a dumpster fire the entire season, there is no reason to think that is going to change. With Draftkings prices as high as they are playing a guy with major power upside and a low price is a need.
OF- Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers ($4,900)
The resurrection of Shin-Soo Choo is in full force in 2018, until the last 15 games. A matchup with Andrew Cashner is always a way to break a slump . Choo hits 60 points higher against righties as well as 15 point higher at home. Choo will have his chances during this game projecting to bat second. This game will be one that many pick on with the highest projected run total on the slate. I expected Choo to be a cornerstone in my lineup. I see a potential home run from him tonight.
1B- Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays ($4,100)
First base has its obvious choices. Paul Goldschmidt should be popular tonight, Joey Votto actually has some great career numbers versus Max Scherzer, Justin Bour versus a struggling Nick Pivetta is also intriguing. I am looking at Justin Smoak against the pitcher formally known as King Felix. Smoak is 6 for 10 in his career against Felix with a 95.2MPH exit velocity. He hits Felix very hard and consistently. Even though Smoak has not had the season he had in 2017 he has still been consistent with his power holding a season long ISO of .223.
Smoak’s price tag will allow you to make moves on some of the beast of the night like Mookie Betts and JD Martinez.
Mike Montgomery- Cubs
Felix Hernandez- Mariners