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.
The first Thin Thursday of the year includes nine games – eight of which are actionable. I recommend avoiding the all day affairs which include the Phillies-Reds game. The afternoon quintet is the big contest of the day. The three game evening group will be...crap shooty.
There's all kinds of weather to watch. New York is going to be soaked, but the system should clear out after a three hour delay. If they think the field can drain in time, they may choose to play it. Washington and Baltimore have around a 50 percent chance for rain, clearing out late. It might get wet in Los Angeles too (20 percent). Cleveland is tabbed for a wintery mix (40 percent).
In other words, don't join a contest if you won't be around to make last minute lineup tweaks.
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.
Editor's Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer: win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now!
Onto the bargain plays. We'll do a little mix and match with the two contests.
1 – Adam Conley – SP – Miami (FanDuel Price: $6,200)
Based solely on his accomplishments last season, Conley is a modest bargain at this price. In 67 innings, he posted 7.93 K/9, 2.82 BB/9, and a 3.76 ERA. His success reads as mostly sustainable. He may walk a few more batters.
However, 2015 isn't entirely representative of his talent. He got better over the offseason, adding strength and velocity to his fastball. A faster fastball usually translates to better success with offspeed stuff. If Conley has a weakness, it's that his three pitch repertoire is incomplete. He throws a good fastball and slider, but his changeup performed poorly last year. Conley has confidence in the pitch – he threw it more than the slider. That could be a sign of upside.
2 – Miguel Montero – C – Chicago (FanDuel Price: $2,700)
The evening slate contains only cheap catchers. I recommend going with the priciest of the bunch at hitter friendly Chase Field. The D'Backs are turning to homer prone righty Rubby de la Rosa. It's a high variance matchup. De la Rosa has the stuff to fan plenty of Cubs. If he's even slightly off his game, we could see three or more homers. Montero still mashes right-handed pitching.
3 – Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
The tiny evening contest also has the best first base bargains. In addition to a cheap Pujols, you could get value from Pedro Alvarez ($2,800), Byung-ho Park ($2,600), Joe Mauer ($2,500), and C.J. Cron ($2,300). Pujols' long track record and reliable power obviously take the cake. He popped six homers this spring. He may have another 40 homer campaign in the tank if he can stay healthy. He has the platoon advantage against Derek Holland.
4 – Jed Lowrie – 2B – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
The Athletics have faced nothing but lefties. Tonight, they get their first righty of the season – Mat Latos. Lowrie hit second or third against the lefties. Hopefully he has a similar role versus a righty. Last April, Lowrie hit .300/.432/.567. He hit the disabled list on April 27 and never got going when he returned to action in August. While he's not a huge power threat, there's a chance he'll launch a big fly or drive in multiple runs.
5 – Danny Valencia – 3B – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $2,400)
Let's just say I don't respect Latos very much. He was terrible last year, and he looked even worse this spring. As a reclamation project, he's doomed to fail. Valencia was long viewed as a platoon bat. When the A's acquired him late last season, they installed him as the everyday cleanup hitter – a role he's continued in this year. Valencia rewarded the club by mashing lefties AND righties.
6 – Jimmy Rollins – SS – Chicago (FanDuel Price: $2,700)
Even though this game is at pitcher friendly O.Co Coliseum, it promises to be a high scoring affair. Rollins has somehow wormed his way into the White Sox two-hole. I think there's some dead cat bounce to be had, and I like how he matches up against ground ball pitchers. He still has enough power and speed to put up the occasional big game. It's also hard to argue with his role between Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.
7 – Adam Eaton – OF – Chicago (FanDuel Price: $3,200)
Speaking of Eaton, he's at the top end of our bargain tier. I all for trying a White Sox stack today against Graveman. The A's righty has particular trouble with lefties. Eaton has earned a reputation as a slow starter, but he's running hot this spring. He's had multiple hits in all three games. He's a substantially better hitter versus righties - .294/.374/.473 last year.
8 – Michael Taylor – OF – Washington (FanDuel Price: $2,200)
To be entirely honest, I wanted to keep talking about A's and White Sox bargains. There are a lot of them, but I think you get the picture by now.
With Ben Revere sidelined with an oblique injury, Taylor is in line for a temporary starting job. Rather than shaking up the lineup, Dusty Baker seems inclined to install the low OBP Taylor atop the order. Typical Dusty... In any event, Taylor is a three true outcomes guy with power and speed to spare. I think he'll have trouble with Conley, but you gotta love this price if he's hitting leadoff.
9 – Joey Rickard – OF – Baltimore (FanDuel Price: $2,400)
It's possible I'm getting a little too cute with this recommendation. When young hitters are overexposed in the majors, they usually compensate by getting very aggressive. That can be problematic against an effectively wild pitcher, but it helps versus a control freak like Phil Hughes. The Twins starter could actually benefit from throwing more balls – a lesson Brandon McCarthy shared with me before his breakout 2014 season.
Rickard is a bottom of the order, multi-hit threat with minimal speed. He should be extremely unpopular, giving you a chance at solid production that doesn't overlap with anyone else. Since it's a three game contest, he's more likely to provide that always desired stealth value.