Home runs are great, but contact hitters have the best chance to provide production on a night to night basis. Take a look at these top of the lineup players and strongly consider making them part of your team tonight.
Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury – Two of the proven major leaguers left on this roster has had plenty of success against the Blue Jays Brandon Morrow. The pesky duo owns a .515 career average righty, with far more power than is expected out of these two. Ellsbury has a team high 3 homers and 8 RBI in 16 career at bats while Pedroia isn’t far behind with 2 home runs and 5 RBI. Power like this is rare from the top of the BoSox order, and their ability to identify Morrow’s pitches is even more evident when you consider that they have drawn more walks that times they’ve been struck out. The Red Sox organization may be falling apart at the seams, but for daily fantasy baseball leagues, they can provide production tonight.
Austin Jackson – In a loaded Tigers lineup against a very hittable Ubaldo Jimenez (5.52 ERA and 1.61 WHIP), Jackson will be the best Tiger in terms of bang for your buck, assuming he is active. His .389 batting average against the righty leads the team, and with Fielder and Cabrera each batting at least .300, Jackson figures to see plenty of pitches that he can handle. Up to this point, all of Jackson’s hits have been singles, but with his aggressive nature and raw speed, I’ll say he breaks that trend tonight. He may not be the highest paid player on this roster or a name that jumps of the screen at you, but he will outproduce his asking price tonight and provide his loyal owners with a valuable outfielder.
Players to avoid:
Brandon Phillips – Ricky Nolasco brings a .500 record and an average at best 4.40 ERA into this game, but he has been able to retire Phillips on a consistent basis. The Reds second basemen has a career .182 batting average against the righty, striking out nearly twice as often as he records a hit. Phillips’ fantasy baseball value will rise once Joey Votto proves he is healthy and in MVP form, but that has yet to happen, leading me to believe that Phillips’ struggles will continue. The Reds are the far superior team in this matchup, and could very easily score many runs (.656 team slugging percentage against Nolasco), but the odds are stacked against Phillips being a part of the festivities.
Matt Kemp – When it comes to big games, I tend to favor a great pitcher over a great hitter because the pitcher controls the matchup. Adam Wainwright has dominated Kemp, holding the all star to 2 hits (both harmless singles) in 17 career at bats (.118 batting average). Kemp is the best hitter in this lineup, and likely the one player Wainwright will decide he cannot allow to beat him. I expect the Cardinals to be cautious with Kemp, which limits his upside in daily fantasy baseball games. Wainwright has proven that if push comes to shove, he can retire Kemp, thus making the Dodger star a fantasy dud tonight.
Atlanta Braves – Gio Gonzalez has established himself as the Nationals ace in the post Strasberg era, and he has been nearly unhittable of late. The lefty is seeking his 20th victory of the season, and appears to be peaking at the right time as he has surrendered just 1 earned run and 11 hits over his last 22 innings pitched. The Braves haven’t faced Gonzalez often, but they have yet to prove that they can hit him, as they hold a mere .217 team batting average. Atlanta has recorded more strikeouts than hits against the Nats ace, and I see no reason while tonight will be any different.