Well, Opening Day 2019 is finally upon us! There will be plenty of bargain out there until prices coincide with the talent, but even so, you will need one or two bargain basement type players to round out your lineup. With that said: I will be giving you three cheap hitters to use in your Opening Day DFS lineups that are sure to win you some cash.
1: Daniel Palka – White Sox OF – $2,500 Salary on FanDuel
After proving his immense power against right-handed pitching last season, Palka deserves a lot of attention of opening day as he will face the young Royals right hander, Brad Keller. Last season, Palka posted some of the best power numbers in the majors against right handed pitching including a ridiculous .278 ISO, 120 wRC+, and .546 SLG, including 25 of his 27 home runs. Last season he recorded the 12th highest exit velocity on fly balls and line drives and ranked 4th for maximum exit velocity, behind only Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton.
On the other side of the equation, you have the young righty, Brad Keller. While his overall numbers were solid last year, the sabermetrics project quite a bit of regression this year because of a high xFIP and runner strand percentage. While these numbers may be more tilted toward full season projections, they still show that Keller was somewhat lucky last year and has the potential to get blown up by a talent packed White Sox lineup.
Finally, the park factor cannot be overlooked. According to ESPN’s Park Factors, Kauffman Stadium was a top 10 ballpark for hitters last year. While this stadium benefits all hitters, it was especially fond of Daniel Palka as he posted a robust 1.424 OPS there last year. On the whole, Palka carries some risk with him, but the power potential cannot be overlooked. Look for Palka to be a centerpiece in what is going to be a high scoring game in Kansas City.
2: Carlos Santana- Indians 1B- $3,400 Salary on FanDuel
Coming off of a decent but underwhelming season with the Phillies, look for Carlos Santana to bounce back in a big way this year after some unlucky hitting (see his .231 BABIP). On Opening Day, he faces Jose Berrios at Target Field in Minnesota. Santana has generally crushed righties in his career, and certainly seems to like hitting at Progressive Field. In his last fully healthy season with the Indians (2016) he smashed righties to the tune of a .915 OPS, .285 ISO, and 142 wRC+. There is no reason to believe he couldn’t do this again in 2019.
Berrios, on the other hand, has struggled against Santana, allowing a .449 batting average. Also, Berrios wasn’t particularly good against lefties last season, as he allowed a 4.13 x FIP and rather pedestrian 1.23 WHIP. Lastly, ESPN Park Factors had Target Field inside the top 15 parks for hitters, leading me to believe that some runs should be scored. Overall, Santana provides a safe, if not explosive, option because of his walks and batting approach. Get Santana in your lineups on Opening Day.
3: Maikel Franco- Phillies 3B- $2,800 Salary on FanDuel
The Phillies hot corner actually put up better numbers than most remember last season – a solid .270 batting average with 22 homers in only 132 games. Throughout his career, Franco has crushed righties, therefore making Julio Teheran a perfect matchup. Last season, Franco smoked righties, posting a 124 sOPS+, .826 OPS, .502 SLG, and a .215 ISO against them. He also rakes against Teheran, batting .303 in 33 at-bats. Sounds pretty good, right? Well it gets even better. Franco will be hitting out of the sixth spot, a place he is very comfortable in, shown by his .289 AVG and .830 OPS last year from that spot.
On to Teheran; Last season the right hander struggled heavily in March and April to the tune of a 4.50 ERA and 6 homers. Also, Teheran hates Citizens Bank Park, the stadium where he posted a horrendous 9.00 ERA in 2018 and a 7.15 in 2017. Lastly, Citizens Bank Park is a nightmare stadium to pitch in proved by the 107 AIR rate and immense amount of homers hit there last season (3rd most in the MLB). Overall, Franco offers extreme upside at the third base position for a cheap price. Get him in you lineups.
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