MLB DFS: Power Index – 5/3/23 – DraftKings & FanDuel Main Slates

The Wednesday evening MLB DFS main slate includes eight games on both DraftKings and FanDuel and features a mixed bag of options both on the mound and at the plate. After yesterday’s deep pitching slate was a marvel to watch through the evening, tonight’s leaves a bit to be desired. There are several strong options available, including a premium starter against one of the worst teams in baseball and an ace in a challenging matchup, but the board also includes a few clunkers and spots that can be taken advantage of with bats which should create a fun slate with numerous potential pathways to success.

Main Slate Power Index – 5/3/23 – 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 is the average of 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 biggest bats.

The Cubs land at the top of the Power Index for Wednesday night in their favorable matchup against 26-year-old righty Jake Irvin, who will be making his debut. Ranking as the 14th-best prospect in the Nationals’ system is not much, but it is something. Irvin is not a highly regarded prospect overall, he has pitched in the Washington system since 2018 after being picked in the fourth round. Irvin threw 103.1 innings across high-A and AA last year, posting a 24.6% strikeout rate with a 1.50 ERA and 3.86 xFIP at high-A and a 25.5% rate with a 4.79 ERA and 4.17 xFIP in AA. In 128.1 innings in A ball in 2019, Irvin had a 3.79 ERA and a 3.91 xFIP with a 21.1% strikeout rate, and over five starts in AAA in 2023, Irvin has a 5.64 ERA and 5.30 xFIP with a 20.4% strikeout rate. This is a pitcher who should be targeted with bats at the Major League level. The Cubs lineup is projected in its typical form, the club disappointed in their opportunity against Trevor Williams last night, but going back to the well for power against Irvin looks like a strong option on Wednesday and they are not overly expensive around the industry. Leadoff man Nico Hoerner is the most expensive Cubs hitter on DraftKings at $5,300, he lands third in salary at $3,700 on the FanDuel slate. Hoerner is not a big power hitter but he is a good correlated scoring option to remember in Chicago stacks. The second baseman does have two home runs in his 133 plate appearances this season, but his 2.7% barrel rate matches the 2.6% he posted last year in hitting 10 home runs over 517 opportunities. Hoerner’s talent comes through in his triple-slash at .310/.348/.411 with 10 stolen bases while creating runs eight percent better than average. As a quick aside, the volatility of early season stats can still be seen, the original version of this paragraph accidentally used yesterday’s stat line for Hoerner, in one game his WRC+ went from 116 to 108, halving the percentage above average for run creation he has provided for the season. It is still extremely early and all current-year performances should be viewed that way. The power bats start in the second spot in the lineup for Chicago and run through at least the sixth. Dansby Swanson is slashing .306/.419/.407 and has created runs 34% better than average this season. In 696 plate appearances last year, Swanson hit 25 home runs, stole 18 bases, and had a 116 WRC+ while barreling the ball at a 10.8% clip with a 46.1% hard-hit rate and a .170 ISO. Swanson is an excellent shortstop who is too cheap at $4,800/$3,100, he has just two home runs and a .102 ISO so far this year, but everything else about his game has been intact and his barrel rate is sitting at 11.3%, the power will come. Ian Happ has an 11.7% barrel rate and a 39% hard-hit while walking 16.3% of the time and getting on base at a .407 clip. Happ has hit three home runs and stolen four bases while creating runs 41% better than average. Happ costs just $4,500/$3,000, the switch-hitting outfielder is a better player than that and should be popular for the price around the industry in this matchup. Cody Bellinger slots into the cleanup spot in the projected lineup, he has seven home runs on the season with a .293 ISO and a 158 WRC+ and has been excellent at limiting his strikeouts, which puts him back in the form that won an MVP in 2019 and was covered in depth in yesterday’s slate overview. Bellinger is a major threat in this lineup but still costs just $4,300 on DraftKings while landing at $4,000 on the blue site, he has a 9.80 in the home run model today, ranking him fourth overall. Bellinger falls between Swanson’s 9.97 and Happ’s 9.65 in the home run model, while both Seiya Suzuki and Patrick Wisdom land further ahead at 11.27 and 11.47 respectively. Suzuki has a 51% hard-hit rate but just a 4.1% barrel rate in 74 plate appearances with one home run this year. His WRC+ is slightly below average in the short-term at 99 but he is a very capable bat in the heart of the order for just $4,600/$2,800, the FanDuel price is too cheap. Wisdom has eligibility at third base and in the outfield on both sites with a $4,500/$3,800 price tag. Wisdom has 11 home runs in his 110 plate appearances with a 150 WRC+ and a massive .394 ISO. Wisdom makes terrific contact, he has a 21.3% barrel rate with a 59% hard-hit so far this year, last year he was at a 14.2% barrel rate with a 46% mark for hard hits, which he translated into 25 home runs in 534 plate appearances. Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini are grizzled veterans who can still power one out from time to time, presumably while smoking a Winston and sipping a Budweiser. Hosmer is cheap at $2,200/$2,500 with a pair of home runs in 81 plate appearances. He has a .118 ISO this year and posted a .113 with eight homers in 419 plate appearances last season. Mancini hit 18 home runs in 587 plate appearances last year and 21 in 616 the season before, he has three on the board this year with a triple-slash that is rounding into form at .258/.307/.376, though his ISO is just .118 and he has an 87 WRC+ to this point. The final projected spot goes to Miguel Amaya who will be making his MLB debut. Amaya is a 24-year-old AA catcher who was called up to cover for Yan Gomes’ injury. Amaya has been mashing at AA so far this season, he has four home runs with a .386 ISO in just 56 plate appearances while slashing .273/.411/.659 in his return from first Tommy John Surgery then an ankle injury that knocked him out of action for much of 2021 and 2022.

The highly disappointing underperforming White Sox land third on the board in a matchup against righty Louie Varland, who has made one start this season and had five outings last year at the Major League level. Varland gave up a 41% hard-hit rate with 88.7 mph of average exit velocity and a 3.77% home run rate while pitching to a 4.13 xFIP and a 3.81 ERA with a 19.8% strikeout rate last year. In his first start this year, Varland struck out eight Yankees but allowed three earned runs on three solo home runs to 25 total hitters, he had a 3.11% home run rate in 105 AA innings in 2022. Varland is a bigtime strikeout arm who was regularly above a 30% strikeout rate at each stop in the minors, his arsenal is fairly well regarded by Stuff+ metrics, so this is potentially another spot in which a team is flashing power against a pitcher who may poke numerous holes in the lineup even if he gives up a bit of power. The White Sox have been atrocious at sequencing and creating runs to this point in the season, but they are flashing power that is at least interesting relative to where the other teams on this slate land on the board. With Tim Anderson back in the fold, the engine might finally get turned over for Chicago’s offense. The dynamic leadoff man is a catalyst for everything the White Sox do, he slashed .301/.339/.395 with 13 stolen bases and a 110 WRC+ last year in 351 plate appearances and .309/.338/.469 with 17 home runs, 18 stolen bases, and a 120 WRC+ in 2021. Anderson is an excellent threat for speed and mid-range power and his hit tool and on-base acumen keep him involved as a productive piece of Chicago stacks. Andrew Benintendi has just a 3.6% barrel rate and a 23.8% hard-hit percentage for the season and is slashing .277/.330/.327 with just a .050 ISO and an 85 WRC+. The outfielder has been a far more productive hitter in his career, while he has never hit for a lot of power he did manage 17 home runs in 538 opportunities in 2021 before cratering to just five but still slashing .304/.373/.399 with a 122 WRC+ and a 38.5% hard-hit rate in 521 plate appearances last year. Benintendi costs just $3,400/$2,700, he can be rostered as a correlated scoring piece, but he and Anderson are currently duplicate skillsets atop the lineup, with Anderson being the better option between the two. Andrew Vaughn has a 10.8% barrel rate and a 44.6% hard-hit this season, following up a productive 2022 that saw him post a 7.9% barrel rate with a 48.4% hard-hit percentage over 555 plate appearances. Vaugh hit 17 home runs with a .159 ISO and a 113 WRC+ over that sample, joining everyone in this lineup with the exception of Yasmani Grandal in being above average by WRC+ last season. Vaughn is very cheap on DraftKings at just $2,800, which seems like a mistake, he costs $3,200 on the FanDuel slate and has been a productive enough hitter so far in 2023. He has three home runs with a .174 ISO and a 126 WRC+ over 127 plate appearances. Between the contact profile and the steady production, Vaughn looks like a good buy for the price, he also has a 9.18 in our home run model, placing him second on the team. Eloy Jimenez is the team leader with an 11.44 but he has scuffled to this point in the season. Jimenez is priced at only $3.100/$2,800, he has there home runs and a .155 ISO in 92 plate appearances this year and is still finding his form after missing so much time the past few seasons and already this year. The slugger has an encouraging 13.6% barrel rate and a 47.5% hard-hit for the year. Luis Robert Jr. costs $4,600/$2,800 as another cheap hitter, he is now down to .216/.263/.405 with a .189 ISO and those same five home runs he had two weeks ago. Robert has made 119 plate appearances and has just an 80 WRC+, he has not been great this season despite placing second on the team in home runs in April. Robert is cheap in the heart of the lineup, he should not be skipped but he may not be the star that Chicago was hoping for in the long run. Gavin Sheets and Grandal are slated to hit sixth and seventh, Sheets has made 57 plate appearances with two home runs and a 112 WRC+ so far this season, Grandal has bounced back with three home runs and a .200 ISO while creating runs 15% better than average this season. Jake Burger has been surprisingly good so far this year with seven home runs in his 75 plate appearances. He is slashing .231/.320/.631 with a .400 ISO and a 155 WRC+. Burger’s excellent 25.6% barrel rate and 48.8% hard-hit percentage are encouraging but it is still difficult to put extended faith in the player, he has a serviceable 6.95 in our home run model today. Elvis Andrus rounds out the lineup, he has zero home runs and a .038 ISO while slashing .200/.267/.238 over 117 plate appearances, and people wonder why this has been a bad team in 2023. Andrus’ fraudulent career as a producer of MLB DFS points should come to an end sooner than later, for now, this is basically an eight-man lineup.

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