MLB Top Plays: Saturday 4/3

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Brad Johnson
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This article outlines the best daily fantasy MLB plays of the day at every position. We take a comprehensive look to uncover these core recommendations, factoring respective salaries into the analysis.

Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.

The action today is split between early, afternoon, and late contests. The first and final five games of the day are more frequently included in contests so we’ll focus our attention there.

HITTING STACKS

Tyler Anderson at Jake Arrieta (EARLY) – It doesn’t appear the new baseball is any less juicy than last season. What’s more, early reports suggest the wind could be blowing out to right-field at 15-mph. Anderson got some hype this spring. Historically, he’s a forgettable pitcher. It’s worth noting he embraced a fly ball-based approach last season. Arrieta is attempting to arrest a long downward decline. He’s aided by a high ground ball rate, although that hasn’t stopped him from having issues with home runs.

Dodgers at Jon Gray (LATE) – If you tuned in yesterday, you’ll remember the entire Dodgers lineup was recommended as a top play against Senzatela. Part of that recommendation related to Senzatela’s ground ball rate. The Dodgers lineup is packed with hitters who prefer the ball low in the zone. Prior to 2020, Gray was a consistent ground ball pitcher. He completely fell apart last year including a loss of those ground ball traits. His spring didn’t go well either. Whether it’s the good or bad version of Gray who shows up today, this is a terrible matchup for him.

PITCHER

Top Play: Zac Plesac - Indians (at Detroit Tigers) (EARLY)

Our DFS projections rate Plesac as 5.5 points better than the next best pitcher (Mike Minor) in the early slate. The Indians righty broke out last season by throwing fewer fastballs. He commands his four-pitch repertoire well. Expect a strikeout per inning over six frames. The Tigers lineup is moderately improved from past seasons, but it should remain somewhat strikeout prone.

Pivot: Logan Webb – Giants (at Seattle Mariners) (LATE)

Webb flashed potential in the past as a future mid-rotation pitcher with a 50 percent ground ball rate. While spring stats always come with a grain of salt, he dominated the competition in 17 innings, allowing just one run, seven hits, and two walks against 22 strikeouts. His success has been tied to increased confidence in his secondary offerings. Incidentally, that’s what led to Plesac’s breakout last season. Is it Webb’s turn?

Also Consider: Walker Buehler, Lance Lynn, Corbin Burnes, Corey Kluber, Tanner Houck, Minor

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CATCHER

Top Play: Will Smith – Dodgers (at Gray) (LATE)

It won’t be unusual for Smith to be a “top play” this season, and it’ll almost always come back to the same recommendation. Bizarre 2020 notwithstanding, Gray is a ground ball pitcher who also appears to be in a deep funk. Smith has an extreme fly ball rate and matches up best against ground ball pitchers. Toss in Coors Field and he’s a modest bargain even as the most expensive catcher.

The best of four good options in the early slate is Salvador Perez.

Pivot: Tom Murphy – Mariners (vs Webb) (LATE)

Assuming he starts, this is the poor man’s version of the Smith recommendation. Murphy is capable of producing extreme fly ball rates which lends itself to a matchup against a ground ball pitcher. Of course, he also has a painful 34.6 percent career strikeout rate which only increases the risk of zeroing out. He’s all or nothing.

Wilson Ramos could be a sharp GPP pivot in the early bin. If the Tigers string together some damage against Plesac, it’s going to ruin a lot of DFS lineups.

Also Consider: Kurt Suzuki, Carson Kelly, Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras, Christian Vazquez, Gary Sanchez, Perez

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Trey Mancini – Orioles (at Tanner Houck) (EARLY)

Mancini looked awfully comfortable in his 2021 debut yesterday, working counts and delivering two hard-hit balls. He performed well all spring, albeit with a modest strikeout problem. That’s to be expected from a player who missed more than a calendar year of baseball. This isn’t a perfect matchup for Mancini – both he and Houck skew towards ground ball contact. Boston has plenty of relievers of the fly ball variety and probably won’t squeeze more than five innings out of their starter. He is especially valuable on DraftKings where he has a meager $2,000 price tag.

Unsurprisingly, the late slate is dominated by Coors Field bats – Max Muncy and C.J. Cron.

Pivot: Shohei Ohtani – Angels (vs Lance Lynn) (LATE)

After a lost 2020 season, Ohtani came to camp and sizzled, hitting .548/.571/1.032 with five home runs in 34 plate appearances. He’s already launched one deep fly. With a Coors Field game in play and a plethora of attractive options at both higher and lower price points, I expect Ohtani to be all but ignored. That’s in part down to a sticky matchup against Lynn. The White Sox right-hander has struggled with left-handed hitters in the past. That’s down to the predictability of his repertoire.

You might consider Bobby Dalbec as a power pivot versus Matt Harvey. His swing is geared to dump fly balls over the Green Monster, and Harvey’s low strikeout rate should mean more balls in play.

Also Consider: Jose Abreu, Anthony Rizzo, Edwin Rios (if starting), Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

SECOND BASE

Top Play: DJ LeMahieu – Yankees (vs Ross Stripling) (EARLY)

Both of today’s second base recommendations are about maximizing balls in play. Not only do 80 percent of LeMahieu’s plate appearances end with contact, he also consistently posts a high BABIP. That’s down to his willingness to use the opposite field. Stripling is a ground ball pitcher which mutes LeMahieu’s power potential.

Pivot: Ketel Marte – Diamondbacks (at Joe Musgrove) (LATE)

Our projections expect Marte to be the top second baseman and the best value at the position. He is a hard contact machine who puts the ball in play more often than not. This is a valuable DFS trait even when the matchup isn’t ideal. Musgrove is a ground ball pitcher with a deep repertoire. Unfortunately, Marte mostly makes low-angle contact, limiting his home run potential tonight.

For the early contest, consider Nick Solak. His power returned this spring making him a multi-threat.

Also Consider: Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Nick Madrigal, Whit Merrifield, Cesar Hernandez

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Jose Ramirez – Indians (at Julio Teheran) (EARLY)

Ramirez is a tricky DFS target this season. He’s far and away the top-rated third baseman today, but we’ll always need to acknowledge the lack of protection in his lineup. As the only true threat, it reduces the incentive for Teheran and others to throw him hittable pitches. Still, this is a fantastic opportunity to chase multiple hits and/or home runs.

The obvious late play is Justin Turner, but you can also find Manny Machado against a middling southpaw.

Pivot: Cavan Biggio – Blue Jays (at Corey Kluber) (EARLY)

There is some hope the good Kluber has returned. Aside from some apparent command issues, he performed well this spring. As an extreme fly ball hitter with near-perfect plate discipline, Biggio still matches up well for Yankee Stadium-aided power.

For the late slate, Josh Fuentes has started both games for the Rockies and is hitting at the top of the order. Even if Walker Buehler pitches well, I expect a limited pitch count.

Also Consider: Ke-Bryan Hayes, Gio Urshela, Guerrero, Dalbec, Kyle Seager, Turner, Machado, Rios

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Corey Seager – Dodgers (at Gray) (LATE)

There’s really no need for explanation. Seager’s approach is optimized for DFS, he’s facing exploitable pitchers, and he has altitude on his side.

In the early slate, Javier Baez won’t get the full benefit of the wind out to right field, but he should put some hard-hit balls in play against Anderson.

Pivot: Ha-seong Kim – Padres (vs Caleb Smith) (LATE)

We’re still awaiting Kim’s first start. Assuming he’s in the lineup with a southpaw on the bump, he’s overshadowed by several studs in the late contest and has an irresistible price tag. Scouts describe Kim as an all-around talent who can be expected to avoid strikeouts.

Also Consider: Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr., Tim Anderson, Xander Bogaerts, Gleyber Torres, Baez

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Cody Bellinger – Dodgers (at Gray) (LATE)
Mookie Betts – Dodgers (at Gray) (LATE)

Again, it’s not complicated. These are the two top-projected hitters in the slate. They’re expensive but by no means overpriced. They both get a bump in expected output from both Coors Field and the Rockies lousy pitching staff.

The early contest has plenty of big outfielders too. The Yankees dynamic duo of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are priced to move and rate among the likeliest to homer.

Pivots: Gregory Polanco (at Arrieta) (EARLY)
Jorge Soler – Royals (vs Kohei Arihara) (EARLY)

While there’s a risk the game has passed Polanco by, he’ll perhaps never have a better situation than today. He’s a fly ball hitter whose frequently hard contact has been overshadowed in recent seasons by a high strikeout rate. Arrieta doesn’t exactly repeat punch outs, and he struggles with left-handed hitters who lift the ball. Wrigley wind hype could turn this selection a tad chalky. I consider the high risk of a zero to be outweighed by multi-homer upside.

Soler is surprisingly affordable given his near-Stantonian home run projection and useful lineup role. Arihara is a bit of an unknown quantity. My read from watching his spring starts is to expect a lot of balls in play – possibly softly hit when he’s on. I think he’ll blend general competence with the occasional disaster outing.

Also Consider: Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Ohtani, A.J. Pollock, Bryan Reynolds, Kyle Isbel, Stanton, Judge, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Pham, Cedric Mullins, Merrifield, Teoscar Hernandez