MLB DFS: Power Index – 5/24/23 – DraftKings & FanDuel Main Slates

The Wednesday night main slates get underway at 7:05 ET with eight games on both DraftKings and FanDuel and a board loaded with opportunities. The slate is very short on premium pitching options, the top name-recognition options are either struggling, pitching in Coors Field, or both. The best pitching candidate on the board is a high-end rookie who has been excellent and is facing one of baseball’s worst lineups at a high price and what will probably still be extreme popularity on both sites. With a long list of mediocre pitching options, this seems like a slate that will be won by capturing big performances at the plate.

Note: there is a significant wind blowing in toward home plate in Chicago that will have more of an impact on power than may be coming through in the numbers today.

Main Slate Power Index – 5/24/23 – DraftKings & FanDuel Main Slates

The power index represents a team’s opportunity for home run upside in the matchup against the scheduled starting pitcher. This is not a direct guideline for stacking, but it can be utilized to determine the most likely sources of power-based contact, hitters who are not homering are frequently hitting doubles and driving in runs, and providing valuable MLB DFS scoring. The “Full” column averages our home run opportunity score for each player in the lineup from 1-9, while the “Top 6” column averages only hitters 1-6, where teams typically place their most significant bats.

Veteran lefty James Paxton has been surprisingly good in his return to action after missing all of 2022 and throwing a total of 21.2 innings since 2019. In his first outing, Paxton struck out a stunning nine Cardinals hitters while allowing two earned runs with a home run in five innings. In his second start, he went six innings and struck out five Padres while allowing one earned run on five hits including a home run. Despite the good performances, Paxton has allowed a 91.3 mph average exit velocity and an 11.1% barrel rate and is playing into the massive power on display in the Angels lineup. At $8,900/$10,400 Paxton is a different play from site to site, he is more valuable on the DraftKings slate but should be less popular at the high price on FanDuel. It is difficult to put full faith in the veteran in this matchup, but he has taken two big steps toward earning some faith, and he projections in the middle of the pitching board in our model, making him a viable SP2. The Angels have had Mickey Moniak in the leadoff spot with Taylor Ward taking a seat the last two nights, it will be interesting to see what happens with the left-handed outfielder tonight against same-handed pitching. Ward hits from the right side of the plate and will probably land back in the leadoff spot, there is also a path to both players being in the lineup. Moniak has been on fire over 32 plate appearances since his callup, the former first-overall pick hit another home run last night and now has four with a pair of stolen bases, yet he still costs the minimum on FanDuel and just $2,800 on DraftKings ahead of the team’s power core. If we insert Moniak into the leadoff role, he pulls in an 11.83 in our home run model. Ward slots into the same spot with an 8.50, he has scuffled through most of 2023 and has lost his full-time job. The outfielder is slashing .231/.306/.329 with a .098 ISO and 77 WRC+ and has hit four home runs. Mike Trout has 11 home runs with a .242 ISO and 142 WRC+ over 205 plate appearances, and Shohei Ohtani has 11 home runs with a .243 ISO and 138 WRC+, so they’re pretty good at this. Trout leads the team with a 15.22 in our home run model while Ohtani lands at 14.10 and Hunter Renfroe falls behind them in the fifth spot in the lineup with a 13.54. Renfroe is one off the pace of his superstar teammates with 10 home runs and a .213 ISO with a 112 WRC+ and he comes at nearly $2,000 less in salary on DraftKings and $800 less than both stars on FanDuel. Brandon Drury has seven home runs with a .216 ISO, adding yet another sturdy right-handed home run hitter to the lineup against the lefty who has allowed exploitable contact since his return. Drury has a 12.2% barrel rate and 45.2% hard-hit rate for the season and a 9.15 in our home run model. Gio Urshela has been creating runs 13% below average and he has one home run with a .303/.322/.358 triple-slash, he has a weak 3.84 in our home run model. Luis Rengifo has a 4.93 in the model, he has hit two home runs but has not been great at the plate this season after mashing 17 in 511 plate appearances last year. Chad Wallach and Zach Neto close out the projected lineup, Wallach has hit three home runs in 47 plate appearances and has a 17.2% barrel rate with a .217 ISO, he is pulling a surprising 8.08 in our home run model and could be a sneaky-good catcher play if he is in the lineup. Neto lands at 4.36, the rookie has a highly regarded hit tool and is coming around somewhat with a .248/.319/.364 triple-slash and two home runs.

Righty Tyler Wells has been pretty good so far this year. The 28-year-old has made eight starts and thrown 52 innings with a 2.94 ERA and 4.33 xFIP with a sparkling 0.79 WHIP. Wells has induced an 11.9% swinging strike rate and he has a 23.7% CSW% that is up about a point over last year’s strike-throwing mark. Wells has a 23.5% strikeout rate and has been very good at limiting free passes, which could be an interesting mix against this aggressive Yankees lineup that is flashing some upside for power against him. Wells has allowed a 5.10% home run rate so far this season despite otherwise pitching well, the 10.8% barrel rate, 42.4% hard-hit rate, and 90.3 mph of average exit velocity which is playing into the upside of a few of the Yankees’ home run hitters. New York’s projected lineup opens with Gleyber Torres, who has a 9.10 in our home run model with seven in the books over 206 plate appearances so far this season. Torres’ power famously disappeared in the weird short 2020 season and for all of 2021 before he came back to life last year with 24 longballs and a .194 ISO in 572 opportunities. Torres has been below last year’s level of premium contact so far this season, dipping from 10.7% barrels and 44.9% hard hits to 7.7% and 33.5% but he is at worst an effective correlated scoring play and he has made two major strides at the plate that are going under-discussed. Torres has halved his strikeout rate while doubling his walk rate year-over-year as the season rounds the quarter pole. The second baseman walked at a 6.8% pace with a 22.6% strikeout rate last year and is so far at a 12.1% walk rate and 12.6% strikeout rate in 2023, which has him involved to the tune of a 117 WRC+. Aaron Judge is playable in any matchup, tonight he leads the entire slate with a 17.16 in our home run model. Judge has 14 on the season with a .355 ISO while creating runs 81% better than average, he is worth all the salary necessary. Anthony Rizzo has 11 home runs while slashing .310/.388/533 with a .223 ISO and 157 WRC+ this season, the excellent first baseman remains cheap at $5,100/$3,300 and has an 11.54 to land second on the team in our home run model. DJ LeMahieu is also inexpensive, he lands at just $3,700 with third base eligibility on the DraftKings slate and costs just $2,800 on FanDuel with eligibility at both corner infield spots and second base. LeMahieu is striking out at a 27% clip this season, up 14 points year-over-year, but he has also pushed his hard-hit rate up by about 11 percentage points in an odd 178 plate appearances for the veteran. LeMahieu has five home runs but just a .156 ISO and a 103 WRC+ in the heart of the order. Harrison Bader has been an important piece of the Yankees run creation machine since returning to the lineup 73 plate appearances ago. The outfielder has a .275 ISO with five home runs and three stolen bases while creating runs 38% better than average. Bader strikes out just 9.7% of the time and walks just 2.7%, meaning that the ball has been put in play in a significant number of his plate appearances so far. Bader is a viable option at $3,800/$3,100, he has a 6.78 in our home run model. Willie Calhoun is in the projected lineup but we could also see Jake Bauers in this spot, either player makes for a lower-end option, Calhoun has a 7.03 in our home run model with three on the board this season, Bauers would have a 7.71 in the same spot. Anthony Volpe has been up and down, his production of counting stats has made him valuable for MLB DFS purposes at fair prices and a premium position, but overall he is slashing .207/.291/379 with a run-creation mark that sits 14% below league-average. The shortstop is cheap for his ceiling at just $4,100/$2,900 in this matchup, he is an interesting option particularly if he ends up lower-owned. Oswaldo Cabrera and Ben Rortvedt round out the projected lineup with a 5.10 and 7.24 in our home run model. Rortvedt has made just four plate appearances at catcher this year, coming up after Jose Trevino hit the injured list. He hit three home runs in 98 otherwise ineffectual plate appearances in 2021 and did not have an MLB plate appearance in 2022. As usual, we would prefer Kyle Higashioka for MLB DFS purposes.

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