With production being highly variable on a night-to-night basis, daily fantasy baseball plays a bit differently than other sports.
As a result of this, the primary method of selecting hitters is to "stack" certain teams in good spots to produce. Most of the top stacks on a given day come with hefty salaries.
In addition to that, a vast majority of pitchers with the upside to win tournaments are high-salaried. They don't allow many runs and strike opponents out often.
Therefore, crushing your value plays -- whether it be a pitcher unexpectedly piling up strikeouts or a lower-salaried batter racking up points -- is the true secret sauce to taking down a baseball tournament.
Which budget options stand out today?
Gio Urshela, 3B/SS, Minnesota Twins ($2,700)
With just 90 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) to begin the new year, the Minnesota Twins are off to a slow start offensively. Tonight could help.
They've got a sizable 4.73 implied team total in Kansas City against Daniel Lynch. Lynch, the owner of a career 5.01 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), didn't help the concerns around his effectiveness by allowing three homers in five innings during his season debut in St. Louis.
Notably, Gio Urshela should hit right in the middle of the order against him at this small salary. Urshela is off to a slow start against righties, but in a small sample of 16 plate appearances, he's tattooed lefties for a 170 wRC+ and .200 isolated power (ISO).
Jesse Winker, OF, Seattle Mariners ($2,700)
Dunning has ceded five earned runs in 8.2 innings to open 2022, so he's far from untouchable. Importantly, the Texas right-hander is especially prone to issues against lefties. While he keeps the ball out of the air against righties (20.1% fly-ball rate in 2021), his fly-ball rate skyrockets against lefties (34.1%).
This might finally be the spot that prize offseason acquisition Jesse Winker gets going. Winker is also sensitive to handedness. His ISO in 2021 was non-existent against lefties (.108), but he mashed righties for a stellar .296 mark. In fact, he's still looking for a hit against a lefty in 2022. He just can't hit them.
Joey Wendle, 3B/SS, Miami Marlins ($2,700)
Always be cognizant of the unexpectedly-high run total in MLB daily fantasy.
Mikolas has a 2.61 ERA in two starts to begin the season, but a 4.69 SIERA indicates that regression could be on the way. After all, Mikolas' 5.4% swinging-strike rate is leaving plenty of balls in play, and randomness can take over at any time with that the case.
Joey Wendle always had plenty of talent in Tampa Bay, but their deep lineup left him as a platoon guy. He's bested lefties and righties alike to a .398 weighted on-base average (wOBA) so far. His low strikeout rate (4.2%) should mean he'll put balls in play with a high-contact pitcher like Mikolas on the bump.
The Fish make for a fun tournament stack today. Along with Wendle, you can squeeze in the white-hot Jesus Sanchez with powerful bats like Jorge Soler, Avisail Garcia, and Jesus Aguilar as options below $3,000.