Daily fantasy baseball contest picks for Draftbug and Snapdraft for Wednesday, May 20th

Like last week, I’m doing an in-depth analysis of Wednesday’s games for players in daily fantasy baseball contests. At each position, I’ll list the top five healthy players according to my ratings, along with their prices in Draftbug. Snapdraft’s scoring is VERY similar, so the same ratings should apply, although the pricing varies enough that you could end up with a very different lineup using the same ratings. Although the discussion will focus on Draftbug, the same thought process applies in Snapdraft, and I’ll include a lineup for Snapdraft at the end of the article as well.

For each position, I’ll list my ratings for the top five players, as well as any others that I seriously considered putting in my lineup for the day. Depending on the size of the contest and the buy-in, the salary cap varies between contests at Draftbug (unlike Snapdraft, which always uses the same salary cap). One change from last week is that I’ll use a salary cap of 1400 points (instead of 1500). Not only does that require more interesting tradeoffs and compromises, but it is the cap used for the daily freeroll contest, which is likely to be most people’s first exposure to the contests. Keep in mind that the ratings listed are specifically for Wednesday’s games, based on factors such as park, opponents, platoon advantage, and home field advantage.

One reader last week finished second in several contests using my ratings, and concluded that “the system works more or less as advertised.” While it’s certainly gratifying to see someone do well using information I’ve provided, it’s probably worth mentioning that it takes a while to really know how good you are at these contests. In the long run, they’re very dependent on skill … more than most fantasy baseball formats. However, in the short run, there’s extremely high variance in the results.

Starting Pitchers:

1 Vazquez     15.4     199
2 Kazmir      14.9     249
3 E. Santana  14.8     249
4 Gaudin      14.2     N/A
5 Gallardo    13.9     209

This is an incredibly easy choice. I typically am willing to spend whatever it takes for the top starting pitcher, but in this case Vazquez is relatively cheap, and he’s actually probably underrated by my system’s incomplete ability to project innings pitched.

Relief pitchers:

1 Papelbon  3.9   210
2 Fuentes   3.9   156
3 Rodney    3.5   102
4 Gonzalez  3.5   96
5 Qualls    3.5   90

In general, in a large multiplayer contest (like the freeroll), I prefer taking a starting pitcher and and reliever from the same team. However, Vazquez tends to pitch a lot of complete games, so I’m going to use Qualls instead of Gonzalez.


1 Martin    .80  174
2 McCann    .69  186
3 Mauer     .67  174
4 Laird     .61  72
5 Napoli    .60  120

For hitters, my ratings reflect their per-at-bat projection. That means that I’m penalizing players who tend to get more at-bats—those who bat early in the lineup, play on teams with high on-base percentages, and don’t get removed late in games. As the season progresses, I’ll build some kind of estimate of plate appearances into my statistical model, but for now it’s something that I just need to keep in mind when I’m making my picks. The only two reasonable choices at catcher today are Martin or Laird. I’ll be using Martin. With the restriction of the 1400 salary cap, he and Vazquez are the only two top-rated players that I’ll be using.

First Base

1 Cabrera    .94  288
2 Pujols     .82  324
3 Teixeira   .78  176
4 Morneau    .72  240
5 Loney      .71  144

Cabrera has such a strong projection that I had hoped I’d be able to use him today. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the room under my salary cap, so I’ll be taking Loney to save salary. When I’m evaluating potential lineups, and I seem to be falling just barely short of being able to field a substantially better team, I often look for additional contests to enter that use a higher salary cap. Likewise, if I have a lot of room left under the salary cap (which doesn’t happen as often), I look for contests with a lower cap.

Second Base

1 Pedroia   .90  234
2 Polanco   .73  102
3 Utley     .72  252
4 Hudson    .71  96
5 Cano      .70  174

Like Cabrera at first, I had hoped I’d be able to afford Pedroia. I couldn’t, so I’m taking Polanco.

Third Base

1 Rodriguez  .86  300
2 Wright     .86  306
3 Jones      .83  210
4 Lowell     .76  126
5 Blake      .69  108

Lowell is a great bargain at third base today. Note that the gap between his projection and the top third basemen is much less than that between some of the other “bargain” players and the top players at their positions. It’s becoming clear that my model “likes” the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Dox, and Tigers hitters today. But keep in mind that not all players on a team will be affected equally by a match-up. Factors such as platoon advantage, stolen base potential against pitchers who don’t hold runners on well, ability to draw walks against pitchers with poor control, and more can result in some surprising rankings among players on the same team.


A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.
1 Ramirez     .83  324
2 Reyes       .83  318
3 Furcal      .81  210
4 Jeter       .65  174
5 Rollins     .65  288
  Aviles      .64  138

In Furcal, I was able to afford I player not far from the top two, for a substantially lower price.


1 Beltran    .83  234
2 Ordonez    .82  174
3 Granderson .81  192
4 Bay        .81  210
5 Kemp       .80  210
  Drew       .80  96
  Pierre     .79  84
  Ethier     .76  154
  Damon      .74  138

I tend to look for bargains among outfielders. In general, there are more good alternatives among outfielders most days. Today is no exception, as Drew, Pierre, and Ethier (or Damon) provide good, cheap alternatives who are just barely worse than the top five outfielders. Several of these players (Pierre in particular) seem to be ending up on my team and my opponents’ teams often enough that they’re likely to be among those whose prices will be modified soon.

Using the same ratings, my Snapdraft team for the day is Martin, Cabrera, Pedroia, Rodriguez, Furcal, Beltran, Drew, Pierre, Vazquez, and Kazmir. That looks a lot more like an all-star team, and that’s fairly typical. Snapdraft uses the same $27M salary cap for all contests. The disadvantage is that teams in the same contest tend to look fairly similar, because it doesn’t force tough decisions. The advantage is that you can use the same lineup in multiple contests at the click of a button.

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My Draftbug lineup for tonight:
M. Cabrera
A. Hill
M. Lowell
M. Scutaro
R. Martin
J. Vazquez
M. Gonzalez
J. Damon
R. Ibanez
J. Pierre

My attempt at a spreadsheet is just getting going, so several of these picks are just gut feelings (ie. Brad Penny is terrible).  I’m going to try a snapdraft team with your lineup, see how that goes.