It’s that time again, Draft Street is sponsoring another $350 Free Roll available to Mastersball readers. By means reminder, this will be a one day contest featuring the games played on Friday, May 11. It costs nothing to enter and seven spots will cash, totaling $350. All you have to do is choose 14 players that fit under the salary cap and watch your points add up. I’ve cashed in each of the first two promotions, though admittedly last time my alter ego, Lord Z took the honors in the Baseball HQ promotion. But the point is, if I can do it how hard can it be?
As usual, my focus is going to be on LHB-RHP and RHB-LHP hitting matchups, favoring players at home in good hitting parks. For pitching, I want a guy at home, facing a lesser team and lower quality opponent on the mound, in an effort to increase win potential. I’ll choose three starters and pair up the cheapest closer corresponding to one of the starters.
Like always, I refuse to be suckered into the hitter versus pitcher data that everyone seems to think is so vital to success. Google it if you don’t believe me, but the sample size is simply too small for past performance to be significant, regardless of how enticing it may seem.
This week, I am going to introduce another factor into my selections, one which may seem counter-intuitive, but as it turns out, could end up playing to my advantage twice. You see, my own unpublished research as well as everything I have seen on the Internet all conclude the same thing, and that is deploying perceived hot players while avoiding what appear to be cold players is not a viable strategy, as recent performances is not an indicator of expected performance. That is, it is much better to rely on a player’s history than make a judgment on a couple of weeks, no matter how well the player has performed. I see this as an advantage since I sense others will shun these players, and their salaries are lower. The Draft Street salaries are at least in part based on recent and/or performance to date, so there are several notable star players with depressed salaries.
To briefly review how I put the pieces into the puzzle, I start with the pitching, not necessarily looking for the bargain basement prices, but focusing more on juicy matchups. I’ll make up salary with hitters. To that end, I go through all the positions and try to find a viable player for under $5000. Then I raise the limit to $6000. At this point, I assess where I stand in terms of available salary and go through the higher players until I have one spot left, then it is a matter of finding the best player under that number, keeping in mind the goal is not to get as close to the cap as possible, but rather to find the best player as possible. That said, if I feel I am leaving too much cap space unspent, I will look to see if I can upgrade a spot.
That’s the process, here’s the squad:
C: Carlos Santana ($6717) – Santana is on the road, but he is facing Clay Buchholz, who is off to a very slow start. The Tribe has a bunch of lefties in their lineup which should lead to a few run producing and scoring chances.
1B: Albert Pujols ($5636) – YIKES!! I know he is off to a slow start, but Pujols is priced like a platoon player. Adding to the intrigue is the opposing mounds man is Yu Darvish. The matchup defies two of my rules of thumb as Albert is facing a righty on the road, but at least the park is favorable. Plus, it’s Albert freaking Pujols, priced below such luminaries as Matt Downs, David Cooper, Brett Pill and Matt LaPorta. Come on.
2B: Danny Espinosa ($4055) – Here’s putting the slump theory to the test, I am pretty sure Espinosa will not be played a whole lot, even though his salary is quite low. He’s on the road, facing James McDonald who is on a roll, but like hitters, recent streaks are not a harbinger. Espinosa is a switch-hitter and can score points with his power or speed; I just have to hope he is able to make contact as strikeouts are counted against the total.
3B: Chase Headley ($5900) – Headley is on the road, but at least it is in Philly, facing Vance Worley, not an overwhelming matchup. I like Headley because he’s a switch-hitter and I think he is underrated, leading to a reasonable salary. He’s a better base runner than many realize which can lead to runs and steals.
SS: Jimmy Rollins ($5249) – While Rollins is no longer a roto-stud, he still profiles very well in this format since the only negatives are strikeouts and grounding into double plays, a couple of results Rollins is usually able to avoid. He’s a switcher, facing Richard at friendly Citizen's Bank Park. I know he’s in a “slump” which renders the veteran shortstop my third scuffler with a depressed salary.
OF: Denard Span ($5115) – This is my least confident pick as Span turned out to be the “fit him in” guy. That said, the matchup against Kyle Drabek is in his favor and since Span’s game is running, the big park is not an issue. I’ll take a walk, steal and a run any day.
OF: Hunter Pence: ($9145) – In a vacuum, Pence is a perfect selection since he fits the vitals: RHB vs. LHP at home in a great park. But there’s another reason I chose him.
OF: John Mayberry ($3659) - Sensing a pattern? Hang in, there’s more to come. Along with fitting the criteria, Mayberry is dirt cheap, and that’s not all.
UT: Ty Wigginton ($5291) – If you have not figured it out by now, I am going to have a Philly cheese steak for dinner then blast the theme from Rocky through my speakers as I get ready to cheer on my favorite team (for one night only), Philadelphia. It came about by accident, but as I was constructing the team, I decided to overload on Phillies, hoping to cash in on a slugfest. I’m not sure if this is a viable strategy, seems to me it may be a win or go home sort of play, but maybe that’s what it takes to win this thing. One note on Wigginton, he is a risk since he’s hurt, but I am covered by using him at utility and not third without another third baseman at utility. This way, if I am worried that he won’t play. I can look for a hitter at any position, not just the hot corner. My best backup option is Alfonso Soriano at Milwaukee against Randy Wolf, but I am eager to deploy the overload method so I hope to find a positive report on Wiggy early enough to lock in the best lineup.
UT: David Ortiz ($9364) – Big Papi is at home, facing Ubaldo Jimenez. This is a lot of salary to spend, but I like the matchup. Something to note is especially when it comes to East Coast and Midwestern games, pay attention to the forecast, it would he harsh to lose a player due to a rainout. Friday night is supposed to be perfect in both Boston and Philadelphia.
GENERAL WORD OF CAUTION: DO NOT TRUST THE PITCHERS TO BE ACCURATE! Last time C.C. Sabathia was listed as a probable for the Friday games and he did not pitch. It is well worth the effort to confirm that the listed starter is indeed scheduled, not to mention you could be basing hitting selections on hurlers not actually active that evening. Keep in mind that since Draft Street needs to set and lock the prices well in advance of the games, often something slips through the cracks.
SP: Chris Capuano ($14,531): Capuano is one of the more under-appreciated fantasy performers. His peripherals have been solid for over a year. Dodger Stadium is a nice place to pitch and Jamie Moyer and the Rockies make for a nice matchup. Capuano should be able to neutralize the lefties in the Colorado lineup, which is their strength.
SP: Jaime Garcia ($9747): Garcia at home is always a good thing. Mike Minor and the Atlanta Braves are not easy opponents, but to be completely upfront, the main reason this was chosen was to pair up Jason Motte with Garcia as Motte’s salary is surprisingly low.
RP: Jason Motte ($1879): Unless I am missing something, there is no reason for Motte’s price to be this dirt cheap, figure I may as well take advantage.
P: Gavin Floyd ($13,680): Pitcher strikeouts along with wins are what pump up the points and I like Floyd’s chanced for both as he faces off against the Kansas City Royals.
Good luck to to your squad!