5/2/2014 12:00 A.M. ET
Red Sox to target, avoid Friday in daily fantasy game
Play MLB.com's Official Mini Fantasy Game to win All-Star Game, World Series tickets
By Jonathan Bales / Special to MLB.com
Now is a great time to play the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com, whose participants can win tickets to regular-season games, the All-Star Game and even the World Series.
Daily fantasy baseball is a different animal than season-long leagues, as your decisions are so matchup-based, and much can change in a span of 24 hours. To give you an idea of what to examine when playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com, let's take a look at some factors to consider for Friday night's Red Sox-A's game at Fenway Park.
Weather: Many daily fantasy baseball players start their research by looking at the weather. If there's a high probability of rain, that's probably a good sign to steer clear of players in that matchup. If one of your players' games gets postponed, you'll struggle to succeed in a one-day format on that date.
Even if there's no rain, elements such as wind speed and direction can alter projections. If the wind is blowing out to right field at 20 mph, that's a big positive for a left-handed pull hitter such as David Ortiz.
Opposing pitcher: One of the most obvious factors to consider for any batter is the opposing pitcher. You want to consider the pitcher's overall quality as well as whether he's righty or lefty. Many times, left-handed pitchers perform at their peak against left-handed hitters. On a related note, righty hurlers often fare best vs. right-handed batters.
The A's on Friday are scheduled to start Dan Straily, a righty with a 1.21 WHIP on the year. Although Straily has recorded one strikeout per inning in 2014, those who play the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com may still consider selecting Boston batters for this contest.
Ballpark: Your picks' ballpark du jour can greatly influence their outlook. For instance, Fenway historically has been a hitter-friendly park, and it ranked among the top five for left-handed and right-handed batters in 2013. You could potentially target A's for Friday's game, too, assuming you like their matchups. Since the A's call a pitcher-friendly venue home, their hitters often perform at their best on the road.
A unique aspect of one-day fantasy baseball is that players are given salaries, and you need to work within the confines of a salary cap to field a team. Everyone wants the big bats, of course, but it's all about how said hitters' anticipated production compares to their salary. Sometimes, those elite players cost too much, prohibiting you from creating a balanced lineup.
With that said, here are two Red Sox batters to target and one Boston hitter to avoid on Friday.
Mike Napoli: Over the past three years, Napoli has been at his best against right-handed pitching. Although the numbers are close, he has a higher average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage against righties than lefties. Napoli is 0-for-3 against Straily in his career. However, that sample is so small that it's considered statistical noise. In fact, daily-fantasy players need to see dozens of at-bats before placing any sort of weight on batter vs. pitcher data.
By the way, you can find batter splits right here on redsox.com. Simply use the menus at the top of the page to select your criteria and see which players perform best in certain situations.
Ortiz: Big Papi is listed as a first baseman in DraftKings, so you won't be able to roster both him and Napoli in one lineup. You can play the duo separately in different leagues, but Ortiz should be your man if you have to make a choice between the two.
Big Papi absolutely crushes right-handed pitching; in 2013, he turned in a team-best 1.092 OPS and a .652 slugging percentage against them. He's also hit a home run once per 15.1 at-bats against righties across the past three years, compared to once every 20.6 at-bats vs. southpaws.
Dustin Pedroia: Last season, Pedroia was dominant against left-handed hurlers, but he fared worse vs. righties. In 449 at-bats off them, the second baseman managed a .345 on-base percentage, which was a bit lower than one might expect from the four-time American League All-Star. Furthermore, Pedroia struggled to hit for power against righties, posting a .376 slugging percentage against them. To put that in perspective, no one on the World Series-winning team (minimum 51 at-bats) posted a slugging percentage so low vs. righties.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.