2013 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

Imagine Turning $5 Into $50,000 Playing Fantasy Baseball?

The season just got started a week ago, and if you are anything like me you are ready for some serious action. I enjoy playing the small games, but every once in a while you get that itch to do something a little bit more. Enter the DraftKings $150,000 Walk-Off coming this Friday. You throw in five bucks to qualify and you could possibly be the lucky winner of the $50,000 jackpot. I’m sure that got some of your attention.

When I heard about the contest I started off doing my usual “I won’t win it so why even try” routine. Then, it hit me. It only costs five dollars so why not. After all, the Astros and Marlins continue to play even though their mathematical odds of winning the World Series are probably on par with winning this challenge. In those cases, their owners have to pay the players millions of dollars to catch lightening in a bottle. In this case, you get to choose your own lineups and just donate a five spot. The odds might be even better than when you take a couple free spins at an online casino or something, because here you at least have some control over your team’s lineup.

Like the Astros and Marlins, there are many feeling the pain of the first week of fantasy action. Yours truly suffered through a 1-11 smack down when pitching seemed to go south for some key hurlers. Playing daily fantasy means never having to say you’re sorry. C.C. Sabathia melts down? There’s always a whole new lineup tomorrow. Mike Trout unexpectedly takes the collar? Just pick someone else tomorrow.

For those unfamiliar with the DraftkKings experience, signing up is very easy to do. All you have to do is go to their website and make yourself a profile. You can use a credit card to make whatever deposit you feel comfortable with and you are ready to play. Each contest allows you to pick one player at each position (three outfielders) and two pitchers. They give you 50,000 to spend and you have yourself a daily roster. Contest run from $0 all the way up to the high rollers. Five dollars for the chance to earn $50,000 seems like chump change really.

My Team

Of course, it’s always reasonable to question the “expert” when the expert has nothing on the line. So, I will be playing along with you guys in the hopes that I can find the elusive down payment on our next house. For those that have read my platoon advantage series, you will notice a common theme.

Pitcher-Tommy Hanson ($9,500)

There is one simple rule when dealing with the salary cap. Save money wherever you can. Hanson is facing the Astros on Friday night and as I write this, they have already been shut out three times. Moreover, they have ten or more strikeouts in all but two of their games. Hanson isn’t great, but you don’t need to be against this bunch.

Pitcher-John Lannan ($5,800)

Like with most fantasy leagues, you have to think of what you get points for. You get points for innings, strikeouts, complete games, and ERA (lack of earned runs), but you also get points for winning. The Marlins are currently tied with the Astros for the worst record in baseball and Lannan hurled seven innings in his first start. So, you can go low budget for both of your pitchers.

Catcher-Salvador Perez ($3,900)

The best part of playing fantasy baseball is not having to worry about who the best player is over the course of a season. We are looking day to day. Perez has a .367 total average against lefties and he’s facing one on Friday night. J.A. Happ may have thrown zeroes out on his first trip to the mound, but he is a typical fourth or fifth starter normally. The odds are good for Perez on Friday.

First Base-Brandon Moss ($4,300)

Again, you must look at players as parts and not the whole. The whole Brandon Moss isn’t worth a second mention, but the one that faces right-handers is actually pretty good (.320 TAV). The best thing for you is that he comes fairly cheaply.

Second Base– Chase Utley ($4,600)

This one is a toss-up between Utley and Ben Zobrist. Both of them sport .300+ total averages against pitchers from the side they will be facing on Friday night. Robinson Cano does as well, but he will be the most expensive second baseman on the board. When there isn’t much space between the expensive player and cheaper player you go with the cheaper player. Utley is facing the aforementioned Marlins, so we give him a little bump up in base pay.

Third Basemen– Evan Longoria ($4,700)

The Rays are going up against the Boston Red Sox and Jon Lester on Friday night. Longoria has a career .353 TAV against lefties at this point. That makes him an even more dangerous hitter than Miguel Cabrera in any circumstance. When you save on pitching you can afford the best at other positions.

Shortstop– Pete Kozma ($3,500)

Sometimes life is too good to you. In this case, the cheapest option is also the best one in terms of track record. Kozma doesn’t project to be a stud shortstop over the course of his career, but since he came up last year he has been performing. He has a .308 TAV against right handed pitchers and there is no one else on the shortstop list that can touch that on either side on Friday night.

Outfield-Matt Kemp ($6,700)

As best I can figure it, you have enough to splurge on one outfielder. We save those bullets for Matt Kemp because Kemp is a god against lefties. You don’t see many .376 TAV splits from anyone much less an everyday player. The Dbacks are throwing out Pat Corbin and while Corbin was promising in 2012, he was hardly dominating. He could end up being one of their big arms in the future, but the future isn’t now.

Outfield-Franklin Gutierrez ($3,500)

He’s actually off to a good start this year after spending a couple of seasons battling injuries. He has always been good against lefties and they are slated to face one on Friday. A career .300+ TAV against the southpaws is a surprise given his general track record and you can also take advantage of a hot start.

Outfield-Jay Bruce ($4,500)

Okay, no hard and fast numbers here, but when you get to the end of your salary rope you have to play a few hunches. The Reds have been killing the ball as a team and have more games with ten or more runs scored than any other. Bruce hasn’t exactly been hot, but he hasn’t been bad either. Let’s call this a magic rub off pick.

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