Braves Stack 17: To Albies or not to Albies

Introduction
Welcome to Fanatical Stacks, the Rotogrinders award-winning blog that is home to daily Atlanta Braves stacks. Stacking my favorite team allows me to reduce my player pool while still utilizing the knowledge I have of daily fantasy sports. I operate each day as if the Braves will smash. That means I’m only searching for two pitchers and three hitters to make my lineups work. I get to root for my favorite team, while also waiting for variance to strike in my favor. You know, like that one time we put 12 runs on Jose Berrios and the Twins. Too bad I didn’t play that day…

Hit Rate
Stack No. 16 let me down, so we are sitting at 8-for-16. Not a bad rate (for me) of green screens, given that this is a GPP-only affair.

Braves Update
Welp, we just can’t stay healthy. Ender Inciarte injured his hamstring on Friday, so now the bottom half of the lineup is even more depleted. Adam Duvall was optioned for about six hours, called back, and promptly hit a dinger in Saturday’s game. Johan Camargo is finally down in Triple-A where he belongs, but I don’t think we can be too excited about Adeiny Hechavarria taking his place. WHEREFORE ART THOU, DANSBY SWANSON?

Anyway, Matt Joyce should start against right-handed pitching, while Charlie Culberson should crack the starting lineup against southpaws. Basically, I’m considering the top six hitters and that’s it.

The Opponent: RHP Tony Gonsolin
The Dodgers are shifting Dustin May to their bullpen—I assume to manage his workload—so Gonsolin is being recalled from Triple-A to start today. Gonsolin threw 90 pitches in his last big league turn on August 5th, and looks like a guy with a legitimate repertoire. A four-seamer, splitfinger, and slider, with a little curveball sprinkled in is the scouting report. The splitter is what helped him carve up the Cardinals in his recent turn, generating 10 swings and misses on 23 pitches. So maybe it’s prudent to see who can handle a splitter on the Atlanta side.

Best Braves
First off, the Braves have 150 homers against right-handers, ranking 5th in the MLB. They are only two dingers behind the Dodgers, for reference. The Yankees (171) and Twins (168) lead the way. Anyway, the Braves also rank third in walk rate at 9.8% and rank seventh with a .196 ISO. The team’s collective strikeout rate is 22.6%, which is 15th. Here are the individual pieces against right-handed pitching so far in 2019:

1 Ronald Acuña Jr. – 26 homers (tops on the team), 26 steals (tops on the team), and 79 runs (tops) in this split. Only Freddie Freeman (77) has more RBIs than Acuña Jr. (63) in this split. Ronnie really can do it all. A 45.8% hard contact rate in this split ranks third on the team.

2 Ozzie Albies – Has nine homers and nine steals in this split, alongside a .263/.332/.434 slash line. Certainly not terrible, but we like him because he is hitting in the two-hole and for the modicum of speed he offers—the nine swipes ranks second for Atlanta, who are top-heavy in the speed regard with Acuña. Anyway, we always prefer Albies against lefties, but as a full stack and with a depleted bottom half of the lineup, Albies is one of our locked in options.

3 Freddie Freeman – 24 homers, second only to Acuña. His customary .321 batting average, too. Set it and forget it, especially against right-handed pitching, against whom Freeman has a whopping 52.0% hard contact rate (tops for ATL).

4 Josh Donaldson – 23 homers against righties. Clearly this is the power alley for Atlanta. Donaldson is probably still considered a lefty-basher by many, but he only has six dingers against southpaws in 2019. Against righties he has a batting average that is nearly 50 points higher and has shown far more power. This is definitely his best split right now. Donaldson has a 47.4% hard contact rate against righties, second only to Freeman.

5 Brian McCann – He gets a lineup boost due to all our injuries and is always a fine option due to a depressed price point (only $3,500). Given the absences of Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley, “Mac” has the most homers (10) in this split for Atlanta by anyone not named Acuña, Freeman, or Donaldson.

6 Adam Duvall – Has produced better against lefties in his career, with a 102 wRC+ in that split compared to only an 89 wRC+ against righties. Duvall walks less and strikes out more against righties, and in 2019 he is showing the beginnings of some extreme splits (small sample so far). For reference, Duvall has a 9.1% strikeout rate against lefties, compared to a 42.9% strikeout rate against righties. Duvall has a .208 batting average in this split, compared to a .368 mark against lefties. According to wRC+, he is 100% better than average so far against lefties (202 wRC+) but 40% below the MLB average against righty pitching (65 wRC+). I think it is pretty clear that we can just roll with Brian McCann instead, who is $100 cheaper and fills an annoying catcher position.

Nope, we aren’t diving into Matt Joyce or Adeiny Hechavarria. Sorry! Even Joyce is merely league average right now in his best split. No thanks.

Value Plays

So who might make it all work today?

Jean Segura ($3,700) is slated to hit cleanup for Philly today, and fills a big need for my Braves stack. I’ve been wondering why his price is so depressed lately. Can anyone tell me? Against a lefty especially, as Segura has a .283 ISO and .372 wOBA in this split—compared to a .107 ISO and .309 wOBA against righties. So maybe it’s that performance against right-handed pitching that is holding the price down. Today he gets the lefty Joey Lucchesi, who has shown a concerning dip in velocity over his last couple of starts. I’ll bite. My only lament is that Rhys Hoskins ($3,900) won’t fit into a Braves stack with Freddie Freeman IS A UTIL SPOT, DRAFTKINGS?!?

Sticking with Philly, Scott Kingery ($4,000) does his best work against lefties, with a .253 ISO and .310/.322/.563 slash. His 28.9% strikeout rate in this split gives me a little pause, though.

LHP Thomas Pannone ($4600) is not for the weak, but he is one piece that leapt out at me today. He followed Wilmer Font in his previous start, and will do so again today. What appeals to me is Yusei Kikuchi on the other side of this one. Kikuchi has been a nightmare all season, and I think today is a a day you can actually chase the win with Pannone. I won’t go nuts with this pick, but I will employ this play with regularity today.

Holy Oscar Mercado at only $4,000 against C.C. Sabathia in Yankee Stadium.

Call me crazy, but if people actually want to stream Jason Vargas against the Padres, I’ll be happy to weave in as many San Diego bats as possible—all of whom are cheap today. Not a single Padre is above $4,200 today. Nice.

I’ll keep buying Aaron Judge ($3,900) so long as he is cheap, no matter who the opposing starter is (Clevinger today).

Teoscar Hernandez ($4,100) against the aforementioned Yusei Kikuchi is promising. This is the better split for Hernandez, who has a startling 52.7% hard contact rate against southpaws. I’ll bite.

22-year-old Trent Grisham ($3,500) might bat leadoff against Erick Fedde, and he is slashing .303/.342/.545 so far with a pair of homers. Only 33 at-bats in this small sample, but sitting in the top spot ahead of Grandal and Yelich is a nice place to be for that price. Fedde has been fine against righty bats, but lefties are torching him so far, to the tune of a .336/.391/.512 slash and .378 wOBA. Too bad I probably can’t afford Yelich along with my Braves…

And here’s another lament: I can’t fit in the lefty Mike Moustakas ($4,100) without losing Albies or Donaldson. But given Albies is deficient against righties, that might be a switch that I employ a little today.

Paying down for Pannone probably means I can pay up for Zack Wheeler ($10,700) against the Royals. Wheeler is a strong road favorite, likely due to no one thinking that Glenn Sparkman is going to have two good starts in a row…

Holy Isan Diaz at only $3,400 AT COORS FIELD. I don’t know what Diaz has or has not done at the MLB level yet, but for a guy with his power how can you not consider that bat today??? Diaz has 13 strikeouts against three walks against righty pitching, along with a homer and a double so far. It is obviously early, with only 36 at-bats in this split so far. A 50% fly ball rate and 47.8% pull rate are encouraging to see, though.

That’s about it for me. It might be a day to consider weaving in Moustakas or Diaz instead of Albies…problem is I don’t know what Brave would take that spot. Dare I only four-man stack my beloved Braves today? It is either that or take on that huge strikeout potential by Duvall. But Duvall was the big hero yesterday, going back-to-back with Donaldson off of the lefty Ryu. That’s just it, though. Ryu is a lefty, and that is the better split for Duvall. Do I ride the narrative or consider the numbers? Decisions, decisions.

Who are you all stacking today? Anyone ever blindly stack their own team, regardless of the matchup or the numbers? I am finding it difficult to stack the “lesser” pieces of my own team, even when building multiple lineups.

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