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Advanced Bats: DFS hitter plays for Saturday, August 8

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As we grind our way through this MLB season, some of the more interesting keys to building your DFS player pool includes taking a look at the advanced statistical side of the game. Advanced stats give you a more in-depth, accurate look into how players are truly performing, and can indicate whether players are actually underperforming, or even perhaps overperforming. 

This article is going to be designed to highlight five of the top hitters to target on each slate, using a variety of advanced statistics, in an approach to find some leverage against the field in a way others may not see themselves. Additionally, I’ll offer up a couple interesting value bats to round out your lineups, and someone worth a fade. With that, let’s dive right in.

All salaries from DraftKings.

Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox ($4,000)
J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston Red Sox ($5,300)

The Red Sox lead the way tonight with a 6.1 implied run total as they’re set to face Toronto and Chase Anderson making his season debut, but who should we really be targeting in the Boston lineup? Yes, left-handed bats are in the right matchup split, but Anderson has historically been a reverse splits pitcher, paving the way for Red Sox righties to step in as the sharp side. Last season, Anderson surrendered a .367 wOBA, 2.09 HR/9, 5.75 FIP, 42% fly ball rate and 43.5% hard hit rate to right-handed batters. Anderson’s pitch selection to righties consists of fastball, changeup, curveball. Martinez has produced an xwOBA of around .500 since 2016 against fastballs from right-handed pitchers, along with a 46.5% hard-hit rate. Yes, Martinez is known for mashing lefties, but he’s no slouch against righties either. Meanwhile, Bogaerts is currently in the 78th percentile or better in xSLG, barrel %, xBA, exit velocity, and hard-hit percentage. With all the hard contact Anderson surrenders, those are some telling numbers for the Red Sox shortstop.

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Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets ($3,400)

I discussed this last week and will say it again: Nimmo is vastly underpriced for his true level of production. He may not garner a high ceiling, nor is he a major threat to go deep, but he is a cash game essential at his current price. The Marlins are going with a bullpen game, with their opener being a left-handed arm. Keep an eye on Nimmo’s lineup positioning as a result, as the Mets tend to bat him in the lower half with a lefty on the mound, but given it’s an opener, they may decide otherwise. Since Sept. 1 last season, Nimmo has produced a .386 wOBA, .226 ISO, 149 RC+, to go with a 21.3% walk rate. Nimmo gets on base, and that’s something you want in your cash lineups.

Nelson Cruz, OF, Minnesota Twins ($5,100)

Cruz facing a lefty? Cruz facing a lefty against whom he has averaged a 103.7 exit velocity in 13 batted ball events? Opposing starter Danny Duffy was a bottom tier pitcher in xERA, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, and exit velocity a year ago. Of course, Cruz was a 99th percentile or better hitter in exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, xSLG, xwOBA and barrel % in 2019. Additionally, he’s coming off a year in which he produced a .464 wOBA and .461 ISO against southpaws, adding a ridiculous 56.8% hard-hit rate. Duffy does sport a fly ball rate against right-handed bats over 41% as well. We will definitely want some Nelson Cruz Saturday.

Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners ($4,400)

Lastly, while we don’t have much data on the Rockies starting pitcher Ryan Castellani, we do know he had an ERA of over 8.00 last season in the PCL, with a FIP of 8.25 and xFIP of 6.26. In other words, not great. His HR/FB rate was even more alarming at 30.3%. Yes, home runs are more inflated in the PCL given the hitting conditions, but facing MLB hitters isn’t exactly going to be any easier. I love a Mariners stack on this slate, who are currently implied 5.5 runs (second most behind Boston), and it starts with Seager, who is showing some encouraging signs. We haven’t seen Seager hit over .250 since 2016, but his xBA is currently .321, in the 90th percentile in the league, so this is no fluke start to 2020. Additionally, his whiff rate is in the 90th percentile, along with an xwOBA in the 86th percentile. He’ll be in the middle of the M’s lineup that should see plenty of baserunners with a high run total. 

Fade: Whit Merrifield, OF, Kansas City Royals ($5,700)

Additional value plays

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