2018 MLB DFS: Infielders and Catchers on New Teams
The 2018 DFS MLB season is almost here. Plenty of free agent moves have been made, including Giancarlo Stanton’s departure from Miami and Yu Darvish’s arrival in Chicago. Let’s examine the players landing in new places for the 2018 season and how the change in environment impacts the movers from a DFS perspective and how you might use them in yoru lineups.
Today, well take a look at infielders and catchers and how the change in scenery could help or hurt their daily fantasy baseball production at DraftKings, FanDuel, and FantasyDraft.
Welington Castillo – C
Previous Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
New Team: Chicago White Sox
DFS Upgrade: Neutral
Welington Castillo ventures to the South Side just a few years removed from a successful but ultimately insufficient stint with the Cubs. He joins a Sox team that is very young, and he’ll be a veteran influence on the rotation. But that doesn’t mean much from a DFS perspective. Still, he brings solid power to a White Sox team that already has at least some of that in Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia. Last season, Castillo hit .282 with 20 home runs. He also had an extra-base-hit rate of almost 33 percent, with 31 extra base knocks out of 96 total hits. He also logged a slugging percentage of .490, just shy of Willson Contreras’ .499 SLG%. He’s a sneaky-good pickup for the Sox and a consistent home run threat at catcher.
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Carlos Santana – 1B
Previous Team: Cleveland Indians
New Team: Philadelphia Phillies
DFS Upgrade: Neutral
I hate this move for Carlos Santana, who had a good thing going as a jack-of-all-trades in Cleveland. He could hit almost anywhere in the lineup with a strong balance of power and ability to hit for contact. He’s also reliable, having never played fewer than 143 games in a season since 2011.
So maybe I actually hate this move more for the Cleveland Indians. Santana finds himself in a ballpark that may be difficult in which to hit for efficiency. Batters hit at below-average rates for singles, doubles, and triples at Citizens Bank Park. However, it was one of the more favorable parks for the long ball, for both left- and right-handed hitters. Santana’s switch hitting ability is another plus, and after hating this move at the start, I’ve talked myself into it. Santana and Maikel Franco make for a potent combination leading a Phillies offense struggling to rebuild. Santana should be just as serviceable this year as he has been in recent seasons, but I actually do expect him to eclipse 30 home runs again, much like he did in 2016.
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Eric Hosmer – 1B
Previous Team: Kansas City Royals
New Team: San Diego Padres
DFS Upgrade: Downgrade
Eric Hosmer is a solid ballplayer, no question. Based on his eight-year, $144 million deal, the Padres think he can be something more. Fantasy owners should remain skeptical though, as Hosmer goes from an already unenviable offense to an even less enviable one. The Padres have Wil Myers and Chase Headley, but no one else on offense offers much confidence. Hosmer will likely be the core of this offense, as he hit .318 last season with 25 home runs. He’s also a career .282 hitter, and there’s a good chance he leads this Padres team in BA this season, considering Headley and Myers’ efficiency struggles.
From a DFS standpoint, there isn’t much to be excited about here. A change of scenery could be beneficial for Hosmer, but his limited power, the Padres’ weak roster, and playing in Petco do little to build confidence in the seven-year pro. Hosmer is in arguably a worse position now, since he’s no longer even on a contender, and his mid-range salary will usually be too much for his limited upside.
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Ian Kinsler – 2B
Previous Team: Detroit Tigers
New Team: Los Angeles Angels
DFS Upgrade: Yes
Thirty-five-year-old Ian Kinsler is very much in the twilight of his career, coming off a career-low .236 BA last season, his fourth and final turn with the Tigers. But that’s not to say it’s too late to extract some fantasy value from the 12-season veteran. The Los Angeles Angels have one thing no other offense (or defense, for that matter) has — Mike Trout. Kinsler may hit ahead of Trout, but he actually may be better suited for the two-spot. After all, last season as a leadoff hitter, he only managed to hit .236. In the past three seasons, he’s hit .267 at leadoff and .279 in the two-spot. That’s not a huge discrepancy, but either way, he’ll be hitting ahead of or right behind Trout. That should lead to an increase in counting stats (namely runs).
Still, Kinsler is what he is: a solid, but boring fantasy option who just doesn’t inspire confidence on most nights. Still, second base is a shallow position, and, again, he’s playing with Mike Trout, a WAR machine who has made the playoffs just once. Joining a motivated club with the pieces to compete for a playoff run should set Kinsler up nicely for a bounce-back year.
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Dee Gordon – 2B
Previous Team: Miami Marlins
New Team: Seattle Mariners
DFS Upgrade: Giancarlo, Ozuna, and Yelich are gone from Miami, so absolutely.
Dee Gordon’s tenure in Miami was a strong one, but that Marlins team just couldn’t ever put it together to take advantage of their leadoff hitter. Seattle isn’t a huge improvement, but playing alongside a rejuvenated Jean Segura and veteran Robinson Cano, along with power hitter Nelson Cruz, does give one reason to believe Gordon can build upon his 2017 campaign. Last year, he hit .308 with 60 steals in what was arguably his second-best season to date. He’ll be expensive across the DFS industry, but he’s Seattle’s best candidate to steal bases and score runs on any given night.
Chase Headley – 3B
Previous Team: New York Yankees
New Team: San Diego Padres
DFS Upgrade: Probably not
Returning to San Diego, Chase Headley is a serviceable veteran who does a lot well but nothing all that well. You can’t count on his power, he doesn’t steal bases, and his slugging percentage last season was 122nd overall. Basically, you’re counting on a multi-hit game when rostering Headley. Ultimately, his move back to the Padres is a good thing. Headley never seemed to be meant for the bright lights and pinstripes in New York, while his gritty play is a perfect fit in a Padres ballpark that often leads to low-scoring games. And, hey, he hit 32 home runs with the Padres in 2012. He’s back home there yet shouldn’t find a home on your roster most nights.
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Zack Cozart – 3B
Previous Team: Cincinnati Reds
New Team: Los Angeles Angels
DFS Upgrade: No, and he won’t even get to play shortstop
Someone must have told Zack Cozart he was in a contract year in 2017. The infielder exploded for his most productive season to date with 22 home runs, a .297 BA, a .548 SLG%, and an OPS above .900. Those were all career bests (excluding the 11 games he played in his rookie campaign). Cozart appropriately translated that into a three-year deal with the Angels. The move out of Great American Ballpark is never a promising one, as it is one of the better hitter’s parks in the MLB.
But there’s a caveat. Cozart’s non-trivial increases in SLG%, BA, and OPS compared to his career averages, coupled with the fact he was in a contract year last year, raise some red flags. He has failed to consistently show ability to hit for power (just one season with more than 16 home runs) and his batting average is normally at .260, just looking at the past few seasons. Regression seems imminent.
Evan Longoria – 3B
Previous Team: Tampa Bay Rays
New Team: San Francisco Giants
Evan Longoria has had a great career, which is never a good way to start off an analysis of a player. Longoria is 32 years old and leaving the only team he’s ever known. How many times does that work out? Can someone get Chase Utley on the line? That’s not to say Longoria doesn’t have anything left. He does. He still can hit home runs (he has 77 in his last three seasons) and has respectable efficiency at the plate with a BA in the .260-.270 range over the past few seasons. However, from 2016 to 2017, his BA, SLG%, and OPS all fell, the latter two substantially. Plus, a move to AT&T Park will do little to help his apparently waning power. Longoria is only in play when his salary is in the mid-$3K or lower on DraftKings and FanDuel. I’d also strongly recommend targeting him on the road, where home runs shouldn’t be so few and far between.
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Todd Frazier – 3B
Previous Team: Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees
New Team: New York Mets
DFS Upgrade: No
Probably the most offensively potent journeyman currently in the league, Todd Frazier once again finds a new home this season. It’s his third team since leaving Cincinnati in 2015. Now with the New York Mets, who have apparently been unable to locate David Wright again, Frazier brings power and veteran prowess into his ninth season. However, he had a down season last year, hitting .213 with just 27 home runs, compared to a .225 average with 40 home runs in 2016 and a .255 average with 35 home runs in 2015.
What I’m saying is, he’s regressing. On the wrong side of 30, Frazier is still a serviceable hitter, but his inability to hit for average means he absolutely needs to eclipse 30 home runs to be considered a success. After 27 last year, and playing in Citi Field this year, Frazier has the cards stacked against him. It appears much more likely than not that his best years are behind him. He’ll be GPP only given his ailing BA, but if his power fails too, he’ll be almost a complete stay-away on most slates, especially the large ones.
Aledmys Diaz – SS
Previous Team: St. Louis Cardinals
New Team: Toronto Blue Jays
DFS Upgrade: Yes, if he finds playing time
There hasn’t been much movement at shortstop this offseason, unless you count Manny Machado’s desire to escape the hot corner in Baltimore. But the Blue Jays snagging prospect Aledmys Diaz definitely provides some depth in Toronto as Troy Tulowitzki may start the season on the bench with bone spurs. However, between Tulo and Devon Travis, opportunity may be fleeting for the former All-Star. But a move out of a stagnant and inconsistent Cardinals offense is certainly a bonus for Diaz. He should see a boost in value when he gets starts. Pick your spots with him, but Toronto is a terrific hitter’s park, unlike Busch Stadium.