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DFS Baseball 101: Prospects Profiles

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

With the baseball season winding down and football starting up, a lot of daily fantasy players will switch sports, but for those who continue to play baseball, we have the Sept. 1 call-up period. This is where major league teams are allowed to expand their 25-man rosters to 40. This presents a unique opportunity as several players will be moderately priced when they are first called up. You can take advantage of this by knowing who the top prospects are to build stronger lineups.

This week's article is going to cover some of the prospects who have already been called up this year and reviewing their performances. In daily fantasy baseball you can put yourself in a very strong position by knowing which prospects are the best ones to use.

Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI
2.8 FPPG; standard deviation 3.97 (77 games)
Opening salary: $2,200
Current: $3,700
Peak: $3,800

Franco was promoted to the Phillies on May 15 and immediately put in the middle of the lineup at a key position. He displayed good power and his salary went from $2,200 to $3,100 in a few weeks. Franco was moved from the fifth spot in the lineup to the third on June 15. In a two-day stretch in June, he put up 17.75 and 14.75 fantasy points at Yankee Stadium, showing the huge potential he can bring, and his salary took a big jump to $3,700. With Franco’s hot streaks, he makes for a great tournament play when you can catch him at a reasonable salary.

Recommended play: tournament vs. RHP

Delino DeShields, Jr. OF, TEX
2.6 FPPG; standard deviation 3.11 (67 games)
Opening salary: $2,200
Current: $3,200
Peak: $3,700

The Astros have not made many mistakes this year, but one of them was allowing DeShields to leave via the Rule 5 draft. It was a very strange move as DeShields was a 2010 first-round pick with a pedigree of his father in the bigs. The Rangers took a flier on DeShields and it paid off very well. He made the Opening Day roster but did not play much. He started getting regular playing time at the beginning of May and became their leadoff hitter on May 22 after averaging 5.08 FPPG (May 5-May 15). When looking at DeShields' game logs, I found that he has a huge home/road split (3.28 FPPG home vs. 2.32 road). Another outlier was his performance against his salary: when DeShields is priced above $3,300 his FPPG was 2.15 vs. 3.20 when $3,300 or less. You never want to pay up for a player of DeShields' profile, but when you can get him at home and moderately priced, then you buy.

Recommended play: tournament vs. RHP at home

Devon Travis, 2B, TOR
2.6 FPPG; standard deviation 2.99 (60 games)
Opening salary: $2,500
Current: $3,000
Peak: $3,700

Travis was the surprise starting second baseman in the potent Blue Jays lineup to start the season. He was moved to the leadoff spot on April 17 after putting up 3.2 FPPG in his first 10 games. Travis averaged 2.77 FPPG while in the leadoff role until he got injured on May 16. He came back on June 26 but was put back in the ninth spot in the lineup, killing his value. Also, his salary had risen to $3,300 making him even worse of a play. Travis only averaged 2.28 FPPG from June 26 to July 28 when he got hurt again. He was on his way to potentially winning rookie of the year hitting leadoff for the best offense in baseball before the injuries. This is a prime example of how valuable the lineup spot is for daily fantasy baseball.

Recommended play: tournament vs. RHP at home

Billy Burns, OF, OAK
2.5 FPPG; 2.67 Standard Deviation (85 games)
Opening salary: $2,300
Current: $2,800
Peak: $3,800

When Burns was called up in early May, he was immediately put into the leadoff spot giving him a huge boost in value. His home/road splits are significant for a player who does not have much power. Burns takes advantage of the spacious home park in Oakland (2.8 FPPG vs. 2.0 on the road). His salary peaked on June 21 but the good thing about Burns is he is a steady performer for cash games. Because of this, his salary never gets too out of hand. In May and June he averaged 2.8-2.9 FPPG, but fell hard in July/August down to 1.8 FPPG.

Recommended play: cash games vs. RHP at home

Joc Pederson, OF, LAD
2.5 FPPG; standard deviation 3.12 (106 games)
Opening salary: $3,200
Current: $2,800
Peak: $4,800

Pederson started the season hitting seventh and eighth but then moved into the leadoff spot on April 29 ($3,300) and proceeded to go bonkers. His salary jumped from $3,300 to $4,800 on May 10 (Coors Field). Pederson is the quintessential “GPP” boom-or-bust play because of his immense power but low batting average. Manager Don Mattingly started moving him down in the batting order against left-handed pitching, and recently moved him back back to the seventh and eighth spots. Peterson’s value came early in the season when he was on the road against right-handed pitching. His salary was still affordable and he was outperforming the price tag in tournaments. Talk about park factor: he is averaging 7.0 FPPG in six games at Coors Field. His monthly FPPG are as follows: - 3.2 April, 2.95 May, 2.73 June, 1.00 July, 2.45 August.

Recommended play: tournament vs. RHP on the road

Next week I will profile some of the bigger name prospects (Carlos Correa, Miguel Sano) this year and their impact on daily fantasy baseball.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.