Over the offseason, there was much ado about the home run surge of 2016. Would it continue into 2017 or was regression looming?
One game into the MLB season, and we already have 30 home runs - a 5,400 home run pace. Yasmani Grandal, Rougned Odor, and Khris Davis have already popped two apiece, as has Madison Bumgarner. His don't count for fantasy purposes.
Sure, it's just one day, but the multi-homer activity tells me it's going to be another thumptastic year. Now onto business.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
- Using Park Factors
- Today's Weather and Updates
- Tomorrow's Picks
1. Using Park Factors
When pursuing home runs on the waiver wire, pay close attention to home run park factors. We all know to use Coors Field, but there are other venues that are nearly as good for big flies such as Great American Ballpark. Consider this table. Coors Field has a 132 home run park factor, meaning home runs are buffed by 32 percent. Lefties (136) benefit more than righties (130).
That's the most extreme venue. By chopping park factors by handedness you can learn a few things about certain parks. Progressive Field in Cleveland is perhaps the most lopsided. The overall home run park factor is a neutral 102. However, lefties benefit with a 118 park factor while right-handed home runs are comparatively rare. Other parks with big splits include Petco Park, Fenway, Yankee Stadium, and Wrigley. Be sure to target the correct handedness.
2. Today's Weather and Updates
Owners in same-day moves leagues may wish to view yesterday's column.
There are a few updates to rifle through. The Tigers-White Sox game was rescheduled for this afternoon. Not that anybody can freely acquire Justin Verlander of Jose Quintana. I wondered if Austin Barnes might get a start over Yasmani Grandal. After a two home run game from Grandal, I'll downgrade the odds of that happening from "maybe" to "unlikely."
Only one game is at risk in tonight's eight game slate. Thunderstorms could affect the Cubs-Cardinals matchup, although the forecast has already improved substantially in the last couple hours.
3. Tomorrow's Picks - Wednesday, April 5th
We have a full 15 game docket tomorrow. It'll be your first chance to use your fantasy roster as designed. Typically, you'll find yourself streaming pitchers on normal days like tomorrow. Since it's early in the season, you could also benefit from targeting specific lineup roles.
Pitchers to Use
Among the options are a wide range of pitchers who could be streamable. Guys like Lance Lynn, Dan Straily, Brandon Finnegan, and even Hector Santiago may have their uses off the wire. Some of them even have good matchups tomorrow. However, it's probably too soon to throw the dice. Lynn is making his return against the Cubs while the others are anything but consistent.
My favorite pick happens to also be the most widely available. Charlie Morton isn't the same mediocre pitcher you remember from his long tenure in Pittsburgh. His velocity has increased to 94 mph, and he's retained his quality bowling ball sinker. An equally effective curve ball gives Morton a chance to be the Rich Hill of 2017 - aka an old guy who's suddenly good. A matchup against the Mariners is far from ideal. Don't be surprised if his numbers tomorrow are mediocre. We'll keep going back to Morton as long as his velocity and curve are on point. He's opposed by fellow breakout candidate James Paxton.
For boring veterany goodness, try Bartolo Colon against the Mets. I like the matchup against his former teammates as many of them are fastball hitters. Colon's approach is a bag of Nibbles 'N Junk. It could keep an otherwise potent offense off the board. With Colon, you're chasing volume and a 30-some percent chance at a win. Jacob deGrom is the easy favorite.
Pitchers to Exploit
We have many exploit options, some of whom could prove to be worth full time ownership later in the season. The most volatile include Jameson Taillon versus the Red Sox and Michael Pineda opposite Alex Cobb. With Taillon, I simply don't care for the matchup in Boston. He's also a volatile asset in his sophomore season. Pineda is the poster child of volatility. He can look dominant in an outing and still allow five runs. Cobb, meanwhile, is looking to recapture past form.
It's always tempting to load up on sluggers in Cincinnati (see section 1). Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff had a rough spring. His usually plus command went AWOL. Mistakes sail deep at Great American Ballpark. His opponent, Finnegan, has below average command of decent stuff. Some days he'll be effectively wild. Others... just wild.
Homers on the Wire
Tomorrow should be Aaron Altherr's first chance to prove he belongs in the Phillies starting lineup at the expense of Howie Kendrick and/or Michael Saunders. With a lefty on the bump, it'll be Saunders who sits. Altherr was an interesting sleeper pick entering 2016 with 20/20 upside. He broke his wrist in Spring Training and scuffled upon returning. This spring, he appeared to take a step forward with the bat, showing serious in game power. Barring injury, I expect Altherr to earn a role in the heart of the Phillies lineup before long.
Stephen Drew is starting at third base for the Nationals while Anthony Rendon recovers. He didn't merit a spot on the 10-day disabled list, so he could return any day now. If Drew is starting, he has plus power and a fly ball approach. Dan Straily is a fly ball pitcher. That gives Straily the advantage. (I just felt like writing about Drew).
Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison bat leadoff and sixth for the Rays. They're facing the ever-enigmatic Pineda. He could carve right through the two lefties and still allow a home run to one or both of them. Pineda's issue is a visually appealing fastball that performs well below average. He makes frequent mistakes over the plate.
Steals on the Wire
I invested heavily in Cesar Hernandez this season with the expectation that he'd improve upon his 17-for-30 stolen base rate. His speed could easily support a 30 to 40 steal season. He rewarded me yesterday... with a home run. Hernandez, a switch-hitter, actually has decent leverage in his righty swing. He'd hit over 10 home runs a season if he batted only right-handed. He's in a good spot (aka a tiny park) to take advantage of Finnegan.
Chances are, Kevin Kiermaier should be owned in your league. Based on his 34 percent ownership rate, he may be available. Kiermaier stole 21 bases in 414 plate appearances last season, and he isn't a one trick pony. He also hit 12 home runs. The Rays bat him second in the order, giving him five category upside on any given day. Stream him early and often against right-handed pitching. He may be worth a permanent roster spot.
Tyler Saladino was set to leadoff yesterday before the game was postponed. He'll likely reprise that role for the foreseeable future. He's a rather miserable leadoff option due to a low OBP. The Sox will eventually move onto a better player. In the mean time, you can still benefit from his modest power, plus speed, and role.
Jett Bandy may be the best unowned starting catcher. Many assumed Andrew Susac would win this job, but an injury took him out of the running. Bandy is an aggressive hitter who makes plenty of contact and hits a ton of fly balls. He could scrape 20 home runs at Miller Park. He'll face Chatwood.