Texas Rangers Hitters in Daily Fantasy Sports (FanDuel, DraftKings, DFS)
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is awesome. Greedy politicians who are in the pockets of casinos, and those who fully support lotteries but attempt to eliminate DFS because they find it a “game of chance,” are laughable. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here to talk about your Rangers in the DFS landscape! Texas residents can play on FanDuel (FD) until May 1 (and hopefully, after that if Texas joins my state, Virginia, and Indiana in passing regulatory bills on the industry). DraftKings (DK) will continue to operate in Texas and filed suit asking the state court for a ruling. I play most of my DFS on FD, so that’s the angle I’ll stick with here for your Rangers players and how you should deploy them in your lineups. I will discuss the hitters in this post – pitchers will be discussed at a later date.
First, I must acknowledge the scoring changes on FD for the 2016 MLB season:
Basically, they have multiplied all scoring by three and removed the negative -0.25 for a hitter making an out. This is to increase scoring obviously, which is more aesthetically pleasing for the players. A winning score of 40-50 FanDuel Points (FDP) last year is now in the 120-150 FDP range, which, I guess, “looks better”. The downside I envision for this change is that there will be many more ties without the existence of the quarter-point scoring anywhere on the teams, especially in the large field tournaments/guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests.
Before I dive into a Rangers player-by-player breakdown, I want to give some general thoughts on things we are looking for:
- This lineup is going to potentially be deadly against RHP in 2016 – especially so when Josh Hamilton returns to the lineup to play against some righties. This is a lineup that is going to punish mediocre RHP, especially when playing in Texas. What helps for the DFS perspective is that there are no true ‘stars’, which keeps the salaries relatively low across the board.
- Players in the top half of the order are most desirable, especially for “cash games” (50/50 and head-to-head contests), because of the certainty of at-bats – we are trying to optimize opportunity here in DFS.
- Playing time in the outfield is going to be a factor here. Platoon players can provide great value in salary relief, allowing you to spend more of your salary on the studs from other teams in the league. For the Rangers, the players we will look at mostly in this light are Ryan Rua, Justin Ruggiano and Mitch Moreland. As platoon-types, they excel against a certain handedness of pitching, and often bat higher in the order than normal. The downside to using platoon-type players is that they are often substituted-out of the batting order in the late stages of the game. These types of players can be vital to building great tournament or GPP lineups.
- Getaway days can create valuable opportunity for cheaper salaried players to bat higher in the order – pay attention to batting orders, especially for daytime starts.
- Many Rangers fans know this, but non-Rangers followers may not, especially if they take what national broadcasters say to heart: the LCF jet-stream is no more. Globe Life Park has been a fairly neutral park since the changes put in place a few seasons ago.
- Beware of starting your speed-based players against LHP or any starter that has a reputation for limiting base-running. That is almost always overlooked and a crucial aspect to selecting the correct hitters on a daily basis.
Rangers’ Hitters (Current Salaries and thoughts on each player):
Keep in mind that you are working with a $35,000 team salary (for 9 players) on FD and a $50,000 team salary (for 10 players) on DK. FD requires one starting pitcher, DK requires two.
Catcher: Robinson Chirinos (FD $2,200 : DK $3,200)
Chirinos is a great cheap option at catcher. This is one position that I look to for some salary relief, in order to afford some of the studs at 1B and especially the OF. Look to target Chirinos at home against a LHP. Chirinos hit .265/.351/.494 for an .845 OPS against lefties in 2015, compared to a .213/.310/.407 slash line against righties. Significant. Chirinos also walked at a 10% clip in 2015, which helps. You won’t find many players at this price point with those type of numbers if you can roster him against a left handed starter. As always with the catching position, make sure your guy is in the lineup, especially for those day games.
First Base: Prince Fielder (FD $3,400 : DK $4,200)
While Prince’s power has declined in recent years due to age and injuries, his ownership of RHP has not wavered. In 2015, he slashed .343/.416/.507 for a .923 OPS against righties, torching them both at home and on the road. Prince also walked more than he K’d against righties (53BB/37K) in 2015, significant in the daily fantasy universe. There are many solid 1B options around his price range but look to target Prince against mediocre RHP once he gets his feet under him this season. He won’t provide the 40HR seasons anymore, but has 25-30HR pop and some solid table-setters in front of him to be able to really punish average RHP starters. An additional note, with older players in general, look to roster them more in the first half of the season than the second, as their production tends to diminish as the season ages.
Second Base: Rougned Odor (FD $2,900 : DK $4,000)
Players that possess the power/speed combo are king in DFS. Rougned Odor is underpriced to start the season on FD, as the end of last season saw his salary rise well above the $3K range when he was on his tear. A solid spring and tweak in his approach which could lead to adding the threat of a BB to his arsenal, Odor is a potential early-season DFS monster. Across all positions, Odor is priced less than players such as Yasmany Tomas, Carlos Beltran, Marlon Byrd, Josh Reddick, Wil Myers and Mark Trumbo, likely outproducing all of those players while doing so at a premium position. At the 2B position specifically, he is priced similarly to Chase Utley and Scooter Gennett, to give more of a frame of reference. The beauty of Odor as a baseball player is that he is not platoon-dependent, meaning that he hits well against both LHP and RHP (identical .781 OPS against each in 2015, actually). The downside for this type of player in DFS is that the player’s salary is going to constantly rise if he performs well against all pitchers. Some players who have platoon deficiencies will see their salary stay fairly constant or even decline because they struggle against a certain handedness. After his demotion to the minors in 2015, Odor put up a .235 ISO and .363 WOBP, putting him in the stratosphere of the top 2B in the league. In conclusion here, my advice is to get Odor into your lineups early in the season while you can before he is priced correctly in the mid $3K range on FD.
Second Base: Hanser Alberto (FD $2,400 : DK $2,500)
As a utility infielder, mainly in the lineup for his glove on occasion, Alberto can be safely avoided in DFS (for now). He is young and without much major league experience, if Alberto begins to show power, speed, or patience, we can re-visit his situation after a few weeks. There are normally cheap starting options at his current salary level which will be more profitable for you.
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus (FD $2,700 : DK $3,800)
Elvis is a strange case in DFS – he relies on his inflated hitting statistics against LHP (slash of .286/.333./.424 in 2015), but much of his value on FD comes from the combination of getting on base and stealing bags. His steals have decreased each of the last three seasons, and a closer look shows that against the pitcher handedness you’d like to use him for on DFS (lefties), Andrus stole only 4 of his 25 bases against. A contradictory situation. He is a true DFS avoid on the road, putting up a measly .538 OPS and 79 OPS+ in 2015. If you are going to use him, it must be at home, where he produced a respectable .737 OPS and 121 OPS+ for the SS position in 2015.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre (FD $3,300 : DK $4,600)
A fan favorite and likely Hall of Fame 3B, Beltre is one of the more expensive Rangers options available on the DFS platform. A look at his 2015 shows that the time to target Beltre is absolutely against those LHP starters, in the friendly confines of Globe Life Park. He had heavy pitcher handedness and home/road splits in the 2015 season. At his price, he is only in play against RHP if you are stacking the Rangers as a team against a poor RHP for use in a GPP/tournament contest. In cash games against a RHP, there will be more advantageous options in his salary range or cheaper.
Beltre vs. RHP in 2015: .276/.309/.406/.715 with 82 OPS+
Beltre vs. LHP in 2015: .311/.381/.547/.929 with 135 OPS+
Beltre at HOME 2015: .332/.375/.558/.933 and a 136 OPS+
Beltre on ROAD 2015: .240/.291/.342/.633 and a 63 OPS+
Outfield: Shin-Soo Choo (FD $3,400 : DK $4,300)
Choo’s write-up is a carbon copy of Beltre’s but for opposite handedness. 2015 shows that to target Choo against RHP starters, at home playing in Globe Life Park. He was fairly productive against same-handed (left) pitchers and on the road, but in DFS we aren’t looking for ordinary, we need excellent production to be profitable. At his price, he is only in play against LHP if you are stacking the Rangers as a team against a poor LHP for use in a GPP/tournament contest. In cash games against a LHP, there will be more advantageous options in his salary range or cheaper.
Choo vs. LHP in 2015: .237/.333/.374/.708 with 70 OPS+
Choo vs. RHP in 2015: .299/.400/.517/.917 with 118 OPS+
Choo at HOME 2015: .317/.413/.519/.933 and a 122 OPS+
Choo on ROAD 2015: .237/.338/.411/.749 and a 79 OPS+
Outfield: Delino DeShields (FD $2,800 : DK $3,900)
DeShields should be a popular mid-priced OF option early in the season – I wanted to point out here that Delino does most of his running (his most valuable DFS asset) against RHP. He is a league-average hitter but he hits atop a potent lineup against LHP, so he can provide a good value play for runs, hits, and possible SBs. Also, of note is that DeShields was excellent at home in Globe Life Park, OPS .801 and OPS+ of 125. To recap, he can be a great option at home against LHP, especially in tournament plays where you are lining up several Rangers hitters behind DeShields in the lineup.
Outfield: Ian Desmond (FD $2,700 : DK $4,000 — as a SS)
Desmond was pretty terrible against everybody last season in Washington. I would never start him on FD against RHP, and am personally taking a wait-and-see approach with him against lefties. The only scenario I am considering Desmond in at the moment is as part of a Rangers hitter stack in a GPP/tournament lineup. There is potential and upside for Desmond, as he started off the season in an enviable position in the Rangers lineup – perhaps the change of scenery and the carrot on a stick of a one-year deal will prove beneficial for Ian – let’s hope that’s the case.
Outfield: Mitch Moreland (FD $2,700 : DK $3,600 — as a 1B)
I love rostering Mitch on FD. He stays cheap because he is pretty miserable against LHP, especially from a DFS perspective. He taxes righties though (.876OPS, 115OPS+) which is nice. There is a reverse-split from Moreland that I like to exploit however, but it’s not via pitcher handedness…
Moreland at HOME 2015: .250/.319/.414/.733 and an 83 OPS+
Moreland on ROAD 2015: .308/.343/.555/.898 and a 119 OPS+
So load up Moreland in your cash games against RHP… on the road? Yes!
Ruggiano and Rua are two guys that will rarely play, but when they are in the lineup, will provide great salary relief and will likely be facing off against a LHP. Ruggiano’s claim to fame is that he smashes lefties (.856 OPS, 124 OPS+ for his career). He will be a solid OF option anytime he is in the starting lineup against a lefty. Same goes for Rua. These two will likely remain very cheap options since they are bench players. The only downside here for Rua and Ruggiano is, as I stated earlier, by rostering them you run the risk of these two being subbed out late in the game for a pinch hitter when a reliever specialist enters the game.
I hope this was an enjoyable overview of who and more importantly when to target your Texas Rangers hitters on DFS. You can reach me on Twitter with any specific questions you may have. I will also be writing a post highlighting the SP options for the Rangers on the DFS platforms.