We've switched things up a little bit in our Daily League column: Instead of giving you an exact lineup, we'll be sharing top positional plays with quick analysis about why we like these guys. There is no set budget for these picks, so they may be star-studded-- the idea here is to give you an overview of some of the best plays at each position, including some value picks and some strong matchup plays.
Today is Moving Day. Our family is moving out of the old home and into the new one over the weekend. It’s a process that has gone on for months now, and somehow it only now seems real. When you think about it, the baseball season is the exact same way: we tell ourselves nearly a dozen different ways about how some player's struggles are only temporary,v or how someone’s hot streak is just a flash in the pan. When the clock turns to July, though, we are approaching the halfway point in the season, and all those rationalizations fly out the window. We start to realize that player isn't just hot, he's establishing a new normal. There is fairly limited batter-versus-pitcher data for tonight, and so for today's matchups, we're going to go with a slew of guys who are showing they are for real in the aggregate.
Molina has usually been an all-star because of his defense. Many of us in the commentary industry panned the five-year extension the Cardinals gave him, but all he has done is hit since signing that contract. He has spent most of the year above .350 and is on pace to hit 15 more HR. It may not be Buster Posey quality, but then again Buster Posey isn’t playing to Buster Posey standards these days. Molina is basically a lock to be on base at least once.
First Base—Chris Davis
Will Chris Davis he hit 60 HR and drive in 150 RBI? I doubt that very much, but he should certainly be able to hit more than 40 HR and drive in around 120 runs. How many people would have thought that at the beginning of the season? He's been unstoppable at the plate, and though the price tag is hefty, I think he's a fair bet to break out of his 0-for-7 against Phelps tonight at the Yards.
Second Base—Matt Carpenter
Give it to the Cardinals for creative thinking. They took a player that was a very good hitting prospect without a position and put him at a position where they didn’t have an established player. The result is that he has been brilliant and they have the deepest lineup in the National League. He has no history against Colon, but Oakland is the kind of stadium that plays to Carpenter's strengths as a hitter. This could be a multiple extra-base-hit night for the Cards' 2B.
Third Base—Manny Machado
Time is a funny thing. Sometimes prospects hit it big immediately and sometimes it takes them a few years to establish themselves. Everyone was betting on Machado establishing himself as a big time player, but no one expected it would happen this soon. Machado has a hit and an RBI against Yankee starter David Phelps in 7 AB, but the Orioles are going to be aggressive in trying to go after the extraordinarily inconsistent pitcher. I think they're a good bet to hang some crooked numbers on the Yanks tonight.
Like Machado, Segura was always highly thought of, but no one imagined this. Chances are he will end up closer to hitting .300, but he will have double-digit home runs and at least 30 steals on the season. How many veteran shortstops can produce those numbers? He faces the rookie Gerrit Cole in Pittsburgh tonight, and Cole has yet to have a bad outing. It could come tonight.
Beltran is one guy who we have a substantial batter-versus-pitcher history to go on; he's hit Colon to the tune of .317 with 4 bombs and 3 doubles. That's seven extra-base hits out of his thirteen in 41 AB. Look for Beltran to have a strong night.
Gomez has evolved into a premium power/speed threat. However, he still has issues with plate discipline, but that's less of an issue against a pitcher like Cole who pitches to contact in such a pronounced way. Gomez is returning to the lineup for the first time after a minor shoulder sprain, so make sure he is active before investing in him for your lineup.
Nobody would call Schierholtz a top-ten right fielder. In fact, he may not even be among the top half at his position when the season comes to a close. However, he probably will end up hitting 25 HR and driving in close to 80 R. That makes him a viable fantasy regular. As a strong-side platoon player, he gets the right-handed pitcher in Iwakuma tonight in Seattle. No history there, but Schierholtz is hot with 2 HR and 7 RBI in the past week.
Starting Pitcher—Max Scherzer
Scherzer is going to be expensive, but start after start he has shown that he is well worth the investment. Longoria and Zobrist are a combined 3-for-23 with 6 K against Scherzer. It is going to be another big night for the strikeout machine as he goes for his major-league leading 12th win.
As always, remember to check your MLB daily lineups before they lock and make sure you are doing your own research, too, for optimal performance! The most successful daily leaguers are grinders who are constantly tweaking their lineups as the day goes on and fantasy news gets released. Good luck today, RotoBallers!