The second half of the fantasy baseball season is in full swing – and you’re either leading, in the mix or trailing bitterly. But one thing all fantasy owners have in common is that they can still win no matter win some money by playing the new FanNation Daily Fantasy Baseball games.
We explain how the games works here, so to give you a leg up, here are five tips to selecting the hitters in your Baseball Throwdown lineup:
1. Load up on some hitters with low projections that go up against good lefty/righty matchups.
2. Don’t fall for the batter vs. pitcher history some people tout -- the sample sizes have been proven to be too small. If one hitter owns a pitcher, then every time out after that, the pitcher has more and more information about how to get him out.
3. Since hitters don’t get any negative points for strikeouts, feel free to load up on all-or-nothing hitters like Adam Dunn and George Springer.
4. If you end up in a 10-team contest, consider stacking both of your hitters from one team that are relatively close to each other in the lineup, like an expensive pair of 1/2 or 3/4 hitters or even a cheaper pair from the bottom of the order. Every time one gets on base, the other gets a chance to knock him in, which means double points, basically, for you.
5. Target hitters facing bad starting pitchers with bad bullpens behind them in good hitting ballparks. The pitcher could get rocked early and taken out, exposing an overused bullpen for several more innings.
Read on for my top hitting picks for each day of the week.
Hitters of the week
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
-- Stats this week: .455 BA, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 0 SB
Last week, we discussed Cubs OF Chris Coghlan in this space, and this week, it’s Rizzo leading all hitters. Poking three homers in a three-day scoring period is a great way to find yourself atop all head-to-head batters. He’s tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the National League home run lead.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks -- .400 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB
Even with no hits on Sunday against the Cubs, Goldschmidt was still able to have the second-best (shortened) week of any hitter. He’s tied for third in the NL with 70 runs scored, which puts him on pace for 115 runs -- a great number for a first baseman. He continues to get on base in 40 percent of his at-bats.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York Yankees -- .500 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 3 SB
The speedy leadoff hitter is having a very good first season for the Yankees, which is already bucking the odds for free-agent hitters signing huge contracts with new teams. Ellsbury got four hits Sunday against the Reds and scored the winning run.
Hitters of the weak
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers
-- Stats this week: .063 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 0 SB
After going 0-for-4 in four straight games, Kinsler finally got a base hit Sunday against the Indians. He’s having an excellent season in Motown, and he has a chance to post a career year overall. He’s just two home runs and 19 RBI away from matching his totals in those categories from last year with Texas.
David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox -- .077 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 SB
A rough weekend for Ortiz against the Royals, and he left seven guys on base in Sunday’s series finale. No worries, though, especially after he entered the All-Star break with an RBI in five consecutive games (nine RBI total). He cracked 11 home runs, with a .299 batting average, 38 RBI and 35 runs scored in the second half last season. He also loves it when you call him “Big Papi.”
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds -- .000 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 SB
Bruce had a rough weekend, as well, but at least he stayed consistent. He entered the All-Star break with a .170 batting average in July, and he’s in danger of posting the worst season of his seven-year career. He’s on pace for just 16 home runs (half of his average over the past three seasons), with 69 RBI and 79 runs scored. However, the nine stolen bases he’s posted this season have tied a career high.
Buy, sell or hold
Buy: Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals -- One of the biggest disappointments of 2014, Carpenter went from hero to zero after a breakout 2013 season. His stats have dropped over the past three months, hitting .307 in May, .269 in June and now, .246 in July. As a third baseman, he has very little power and he doesn’t steal bases to make up for it. What was my point again? Oh, right, buy him! His value has to be at its lowest in the past couple years, and he has second- and third-base position flexibility. He still has one of the best line-drive rates in the league – only four third basemen have a higher LD% than his 23.8 percent. He hit .313 in the second half last season, with a .390 on-base percentage, so let’s hope that rebounds – starting now.
Sell: Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets -- The Mets’ big free-agent acquisition has been pretty good for them so far, in spite of what his batting average (.238) tells us. His .348 OBP ranks up there as one of the best numbers in his career. So, why sell? The Grandy Man has struggled in the second halves of the past few seasons, watching his batting average drop about 25 points from the first half to the second half. The Mets aren’t as bad as they’ve been in recent years, but they’re not Wild-Card contenders yet, and young hitters will be getting a ton of at-bats in the next few months, which could further hurt Granderson’s RBI opportunities.
Hold: Shane Victorino, OF, Boston Red Sox -- You’ve held on to Victorino and his bad hamstring for nearly two months with him on the disabled list. He picked up three hits in seven at-bats this weekend, and he had an excellent second half in 2013, when he hit .297 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, 43 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Expect some owners to test the trade waters for Victorino, but hold strong with him.
FanNation Throwdown Picks
Since most MLB starting rotations reset last week after the All-Star break, the start of this week will feature many teams’ back-end starters. That means you’ll see some good opportunities among hitters, no matter which tier they come from.
INF: Daniel Murphy at Seattle – He’s batting .330 against left-handers this season, and Mariners starter Roenis Elias has a 10.05 ERA in his past three starts.
OF: Melky Cabrera vs. Boston – Cabrera is red-hot, and he’s hitting righties about 60 points better than lefties this year. John Lackey has a career 5.43 ERA in 20 career games against the Blue Jays and a 6.06 ERA in his last three starts this season.
INF: Freddie Freeman vs. Miami – The big fella is quiet as of late, but he’s hitting right-handed pitching to the tune of .292, with eight homers and 36 RBI this season. SP Jacob Turner’s ERA over the past three starts is 8.79.
OF: Denard Span at Colorado – He has 13 of his 16 stolen bases this season against right-handers, and the last time out, Rockies SP Eddie Butler allowed six earned runs to the Dodgers. Plus, Butler’s coming off of a rehab assignment because of a shoulder injury. The Rockies also have the second-worst bullpen in the majors.
INF: Miguel Cabrera at Arizona – Spend the money on Miggy, as he’s crushing right-handers, and Trevor Cahill has been all over the place this season (including the minors), with a 5.63 ERA.
OF: Seth Smith at Chicago Cubs – Edwin Jackson is 5-10 with a 5.61 ERA on the season, and Smith is one of the Padres’ best hitters against right-handers.
INF: Derek Jeter vs. Texas – Colby Lewis has been brutal in 2014, with a 10.13 ERA in his past three starts. Jeter is certainly slowing down in his final year, but he is one of the Yankees’ best hitters against right-handers.
OF: Carlos Gomez at Houston – Scott Feldman’s 6.75 ERA in three starts against the Brewers make this a smart call, albeit an expensive one. Gomez has 10 homers against righties this year.
INF: Brian Dozier vs. Chicago White Sox – In 25 starts against the Twins, John Danks is just 6-12 with a 5.36 ERA. Dozier is having a great season – and it should get better here, as only 14 other hitters have scored more runs against left-handers this season.
OF: Brandon Moss at Texas – Rangers SP Nick Tepesch has allowed 14 earned runs in his past three starts (10.50 ERA), and his career ERA against Oakland is 8.31 in four starts. Texas also has the third-worst bullpen in the majors (4.54 ERA).
INF: Brandon Moss at Texas – Sticking with Moss for this game, as well, considering only five other hitters have more RBI against right-handed pitching than he does. RHP Miles Mikolas has been inconsistent this season for Texas.
OF: Michael Brantley at Kansas City – The Indians have knocked around Royals SP Jeremy Guthrie -- 5.89 ERA in 12 career starts. Brantley has a .352 batting average against right-handers, which is one of the best numbers in the majors so far.
INF: Erick Aybar vs. Detroit – Aybar is day to day with a groin injury, but he should be fine for Sunday. Check his status before starting him. Tigers SP Rick Porcello has been good this season, but he has a 7.39 ERA in 10 career starts against the Angels. Aybar has 40 RBI against right-handers this season.
OF: Hunter Pence vs. L.A. Dodgers – The Dodgers-Giants battle is always fun, although, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu has allowed six earned runs in two starts (6.00 ERA) against the Giants this year. Pence is batting .350 against lefties, so far.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.