RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 5

Just over a month into the 2016 MLB season we are are finally able to get a real feel for what may come in the weeks and months ahead. Of course, if you’re into the daily side of fantasy sports (and if you’re reading this you obviously are) we’re not concerned with the week or months ahead. It’s all about today.

This Friday you have yet another chance to earn yourself a spot in the 2016 Rotowire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship with your weekly chance to qualify for the Championship round to be held on July 22. A top-10 finish in the weekly contest will earn you a ticket for the big dance.

Rotowire Expert Competition

Despite a down week, Aaron Quinn continues to lead the expert competition, but Joe Bartilotta is gaining fast thanks to a dominate 179-point Week 4 performance on the shoulders of Victor Martinez and Justin Bour that puts him at second overall after the first month of action. Here’s the top-10 through four week and you can also keep tabs on the full leaderboard for the expert contest.

  1. Aaron Quinn (aaronq) – 579.9
  2. Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) – 572.6
  3. Chris Olson (christop) – 543.6
  4. Chris Benzine (crispy272001) – 531.6
  5. James Anderson (realjranderson) – 527.8
  6. Peter Merrill (black26) – 527.2
  7. Ronny Mor (ronnymor2) – 524.5
  8. Scott Jenstad (oaktownsj) – 523.1
  9. Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) – 517.8
  10. Kevin Payne (kevinccp) – 515.8

Daily Strategy

With all the stats and matchup data available at your fingertips it can be difficult to slice and dice the numbers and properly parse the data to give you an advantage. Batter vs. pitcher data, for example, is riddled with small sample sizes, making it truly rare to ever glean any sort of impactful lineup information. Simplicity is key, and the single stat to zone in on is weighted on-base percentage (wOBA). wOBA is by no means a perfect stat but it can give a great overview of a player’s — or a team’s — general success at the dish. And when looking for help setting you lineup, the team aspect is what you should focus on.

Pitching is king in FanDuel’s baseball contests and with just one starter to run out their in your lineup, it imperative that you nail your guy. To aid in this effort, I often turn to team matchup data vs. handedness for opposing starters to help identify weak spots in the day’s slat. A few quick minutes on Fangraphs can help reveal wOBA splits for batters vs. RHP and batters vs. LHP on a team by team basis. After you’ve separated a few enticing starting options from the days bunch of pitchers, check in on how well their opponent typically does against same-handed pitching. If a team is in the top-third in wOBA for the matchup, toss the starter out. Target weak offense with high K% and low walk rates and, most importantly, wOBA towards the bottom of the league in that matchup.

Putting this into practice, we can take a quick look at the top recommended pitcher from RotoWire’s Lineup Optimizer: Madison Bumgarner. MadBum put together six shutout inning the last time he took the mound, but the matchup this week at home against the Rockies is not all that attractive. The Colorado ranks second in the league in wOBA against left-handed pitching and, while they strike out quit a bit against southpaws (24.6%), this is a matchup that the number are telling you to avoid. Again, you are only selecting one starting pitcher, make sure that the matchup does indeed line up in your favor.

Rotowire, also offers a number of key links that will help you find all the information you need about the day’s slate:

Value Plays

SP Noah Syndergaard New York Mets @ San Diego Padres

FanDuel Price: $11,200

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Noah Syndergaard has waisted no time establishing himself as one of the leagues top arms and he’s priced like a true ace on Friday. His matchup remains enticing, however, and while he’s not exactly a “value play” there really little reason to skimp on starting pitching. Syndergaard has been a little shaky over his last two outing, allowing seven earned runs in 12.1 innings pitched, but he continues to generate over a strikeout per inning and boasts a  phenomenal 44:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. A date with the punchless Padres on Friday evening — a team that has put up a paltry .277 wOBA while striking out at a league-wort 25.7% clip against right-handed pitching — is the first place to look when selecting your pitcher.

1B Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers

FanDuel Price: $3,700

Aside from a monstrous two-homer 53.4-point game back on April 25, Miggy has been a relatively quiet contributor, topping double digit fantasy points just once in his past five games. He’s still a stud, however, and the price point gives you little reason to shy away. Miguel has batted over .300 every season since 2010 and has batted below .292 just once in his career — during his 87-game rookie campaign back in 2003 with the Marlins. Very little of this matters as we look ahead to a one-game matchup, of course, but he’s a slight discount from the top tier of first baseman Friday and Miggy is primed to pick things up at the dish as we move closer to summer.

OF Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

FanDuel Price: $3,700

Bautista is off to a sluggish start to the 2016 season, posting a so-so .216/.364/.451 through 30 games and he is set to face off with an unknown Friday evening with rookie Kenta Maeda taking the hill in opposition. Bautista’s price, however, has dipped below $4,000 in the daily game and is an affordable roll of the dice with the hopes for a monster game.

OF Justin Upton Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers

Fanduel Price: $3,100

Upton has been a source of frustration for many through the season but he is warming at the dish, batting .414/.414/.586 with two double and a home run over his past seven games. Like Cabrera and Bautista, Upton has the upside to post a multi-homer game on just about any night. He’s also had success against Ranger starter Cole Hamels in the past, slugging .514 in 35 career at-bats against the lefty.

High Risk/High Reward

OF Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies

FanDuel Price: $4,500

He seems to find his way into this spot on a weekly basis in this blog. Stanton will have his first showdown with young stud Vincent Velazquez on Friday in Miami adn while the mathup is not necessarily a slam dunk, Stanton is simply on fire. He’s posted back-to-back multi-hit efforts and is batting an absurd .400/.533/1.000 — thats right a 1.000 SLG — over his past ten games. He’s blasted six homers and driven in 12 runs in that span. When the top power hitter in the game is also the hottest player in the game, it just may be worth it to bust your bankroll to get him in the lineup.

Steer Clear

SP Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies

FanDuel Price: $11,700

As mentioned above, MadBum is facing a tougher-than-you think matchup this evening as the Rox typically do well against left-handed pitching. He’s the top-priced pitcher on the market and it’s hard to justify taking the dive on a day jam-packed with top-flight starting options.