When looking at “bargains” on FanDuel, we'll typically focus on hitters who are $3,200 or lower. In general, we'll only highlight players at the top end of that scale if they have star potential.
It's a nine-game, ace-free contest tonight. I love it. No consensus must-use pitchers and just enough games for a wealth of choice. Keep an eye on the weather report in Oakland. I think they'll play.
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.
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Onto the bargain plays...
1 – Charlie Morton – SP – Houston (FanDuel $6,400)
Morton made four promising starts in 2016 before missing the rest of the season with a serious hamstring injury. Through his first two outings of 2017, he's picked up where he left off. Morton has maintained a 95 mph fastball that runs up to 98 mph. He does lose velocity throughout his starts; a sign that he's still building strength. I've also noticed his command will decline as he reaches the fourth and fifth innings. The velocity is coupled with a high quality curve ball and a hard slider or soft cutter (it's unclear how to designate it). He'll flash a splitter too. There's ace upside once Morton gains a little experience with his new stuff. In the meantime, expect bumps in the road.
2 – J.T. Realmuto – C – Miami (FanDuel $2,400)
Realmuto is the obvious bargain pick versus southpaw Ariel Miranda. While Realmuto will enjoy the platoon advantage, that's not the real reason to target him tonight. Miranda throws a below average fastball which he uses to set up a plus changeup. If Realmuto can jump on early count heaters, he'll be a good bet for multiple hits with some power and run production upside. Batting second for the Marlins helps his value relative to other $2,400 catchers like Yankees eight-hole Austin Romine.
3 – Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles (FanDuel $2,900)
Pujols is now healthy enough to play first base. That in itself is a good thing. Now we just need his batting line to catch up to his body. Pujols is off to a dismal .200/.259/.280 start. He's whiffing more than ever – which is to say he still has above average contact rates. Only one ball has left the park off Pujols' bat. We're talking about two weeks of baseball. Pujols is a daily double homer threat. Although I recommended Morton above, he has a history of allowing a few too many home runs. Pujols can still pop some mammoth blasts when he gets under the ball.
4 – Matt Carpenter – 2B – St. Louis (FanDuel $3,000)
This is the time of year when FanDuel's pricing begins to react to early season numbers. Yet the stats themselves don't always have much meaning. Carpenter was slowed by a couple nagging injuries right around the start of the season. He's hit for unusually little power. A lone home run is his only extra base hit. The Cardinals are visiting Ivan Nova tonight. While it isn't an ideal matchup for a power hitter – PNC Park is very pitcher friendly – Carpenter should enjoy facing a pitcher who frequently throws strikes. Even without an exciting matchup, Carpenter is still far better than a bargain price tag.
5 – Yandy Diaz – 3B – Cleveland (FanDuel $2,300)
Twins starter Kyle Gibson pitches just well enough to keep his job. This usually entails a few surprisingly strong outings mixed with disasters. His first two starts have skewed towards the disaster side of the spectrum. Now he has a tough matchup versus the Indians. Cleveland stacks should be popular tonight, although I'd expect Diaz to go unnoticed. The Spring Training breakout hasn't hit for any power. He's making a ton of hard contact – over 60 percent – it's just that he's pounding it into the ground. In any case, Diaz is a nice opportunity to add a bargain pick to a high quality stack.
6 – Chris Owings – SS – Arizona (FanDuel $2,900)
Owings' top attribute as a hitter is that he rarely makes soft contact. His opponent, Brandon McCarthy, is known for allowing a little too much hard contact. When the two were teammates, McCarthy once credited Owings with the loudest contact on the club. He's not much of a home run threat due to a strong tendency towards line drives and hard grounders. However, he could easily reach base multiple times. He has four steals too.
7 – Ender Inciarte – OF – Atlanta (FanDuel $3,000)
Inciarte has a reputation as a slappy rabbit. It might be time to throw that impression in the trash. He adopted some of the popular swing path changes over the offseason. He's now pulling more balls with a career best hard contact rate. It's unclear if he'll continue to hit more fly balls - the increase has come at the expense of line drives. He should be considered a threat to hit 12 to 15 home runs over a season. He has a desirable matchup against Jered Weaver tonight.
8 – Matt Holliday – OF – New York (FanDuel $2,900)
9 – Aaron Hicks – OF – New York (FanDuel $2,900)
10 – Aaron Judge – OF – New York (FanDuel $2,700)
At least two of Holliday, Hicks, and Judge will play tonight against Miguel Gonzalez and the White Sox. The former Oriole is plenty familiar with Yankee Stadium. His velocity is down nearly two mph, and his command has been shaky too. It's a sign he's playing hurt. Or maybe it's just age-related decline. Holliday is recovering from a minor back injury. He's expected to be available to play. Holliday has drawn 10 walks through 43 plate appearances. Consider him the high floor option of the trio.
Hicks, the fourth outfielder, homered three times last week. He too is drawing bushels of walks. Hicks has earned a chance to play semi-regularly with his .318/.484/.773 line through 31 plate appearances. The 27-year-old is at a key turning point in his career. Once a promising prospect, he could significantly increase his future earnings with a breakout campaign. It's encouraging to see him make so much contact. If Hicks plays, it might be at the expense of Judge and his massive Stantonian power.