It’s great to have Major League Baseball back for daily fantasy baseball contests, and to give you even more ways to get in on the action, DraftKings launched a simple and fun new MLB Snake Draft fantasy format at the start of the season. The new style of play gives you a chance to build a small squad of top hitters, so check out how it works and get ready to keep your fantasy baseball draft skills sharp all season long.
Remember that MLB Snake only includes hitters, and the classic format requires two infielders, two outfielders and two utility players. The lowest score of the seven players on your roster is automatically moved to your bench slot if possible, so drafting at least three IF and three OF allows maximum flexibility.
Wednesday is a getaway day as many teams get ready to transition to different locations for their second series of the week. As a result, the main slate is an early-focused afternoon contest of 10 games beginning between 1:10 p.m. ET and 4:10 p.m. ET. There are a couple of early games not included and a couple of night games left out as well in addition to a doubleheader scheduled between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, which is also not part of the main slate. The games that are included offer plenty of interesting options to consider for your lineup, led by the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, who have the highest DraftKings Sportsbook over/under of the 10 games at 9.5 runs. Many teams are back to the top of their rotation or their second starter, so there are a few matchups to avoid, but there are also a few to attack highlighted below.
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Favorable Early Round Targets
J.D. Martinez, IF, Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
MLB Snake Rank: 10th
Martinez has quickly erased any lingering doubts after a rough 2020 with his red-hot start to 2021. After posting an underwhelming .290 wOBA and .175 ISO in 2020, Martinez seems to have re-discovered the swing that made him one of the top sluggers in baseball. He has a 50% hard-hit rate this season according to Statcast and has gone 10-for-21 (.476) while averaging 16.8 DKFP per game over his first five contests. Seven of those hits have been for extra bases, with five doubles and two homers to go with his nine RBI.
Martinez is in a great matchup in the game with the highest run total of the slate as well. He will take on left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who looked good in his first start against Miami. When he’s at his best, Martinez crushes lefties and had a .539 wOBA and .482 ISO against southpaws in 2019. He also has good history in this specific matchup, going 9-for-15 with four doubles and two home runs against the Rays’ starter in their past meetings. One final note, it’s weird to see Martinez listed as an IF, but make sure to account for that since DH is classified as an IF spot in MLB Snake even though Martinez is on OF in standard contests.
Rhys Hoskins, IF, Philadelphia Phillies
MLB Snake Rank: 33nd
Hoskins got Tuesday off but should be back in the heart of the Phillies’ lineup as they take on Mets lefty David Peterson in their series finale this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Hoskins had a tough Spring Training but has been solid since the real games started, going 7-for-19 (.368) with four doubles and three RBI.
Last season, Hoskins feasted on left-handed pitching with a .509 wOBA and .390 ISO. He was also much better at home in the hitter-friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. So far this season, he has a 57.1% hard-hit percentage, per Statcast, and he should be able to outproduce his draft ranking in this juicy matchup this afternoon.
Early Round Player to Avoid
Whit Merrifield, IF, Kansas City Royals
MLB Snake Rank: 2nd
Merrifield has had a great start to the season, going 8-for-16 with three homers and almost 20 DKFP per game, but he has risen a little bit too high for this matchup on Wednesday afternoon against Shane Bieber. The 2020 AL Cy Young award winner held lefties to a .194 wOBA last season and only gave up one home run to a left-handed hitter during the entire shortened season. Bieber did give up three runs in his first start of the season but also struck out 12 batters, with seven of those punchouts coming against left-handed hitters, who he held to 2-for-15 on the day. Merrifield isn’t an awful pick later in the draft, but taking him this high seems to be an overreaction given how difficult this matchup is.
Late Round Flyers
This section tries to exploit players who are in favorable matchups and should out-produce their rankings even though they are below the threshold for drafted players in some formats.
Eddie Rosario, OF, Cleveland Indians
MLB Snake Rank: 48th
Rosario is locked into the middle of Cleveland’s lineup and offers some solid power potential in his matchup with Jakob Junis and the Royals. Junis allowed 2.49 HR/9 last season, the highest mark of any pitcher on this slate, while posting a 6.23 FIP over eight starts. Five of the seven home runs he allowed last season were to left-handed hitters, who posted a .430 wOBA against him. On the other side of the matchup, Rosario thrives against right-handed pitching, posting a .365 wOBA and .284 ISO and hitting all 13 of his home runs last season against righties.
In his first four games with Cleveland, Rosario has gone 3-for-12 with a home run. He did go 0-for-4 to start the series against Kansas City, but that was in a start against lefty Danny Duffy. He should fare much better against Junis and makes a nice pick with upside at this point of your MLB Snake drafts.
Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox
MLB Snake Rank: 84th
With Tim Anderson (hamstring) sidelined, Eaton hit leadoff on Tuesday even though the White Sox were facing a lefty. He overcame that lefty-lefty matchup and was a big part of the offense, scoring three runs and producing 11 DKFP while going 1-for-4 with a walk. The White Sox have dominated the first two games of this series in Seattle and have outscored the Mariners by a combined score of 16-4. They get another great matchup on Wednesday against righty Justin Dunn. Dunn made 10 starts last season for the Mariners and went 4-1 with a 4.34 ERA. However, a look at the advanced stats shows he may have gotten pretty lucky, allowing a significantly below-average .179 BABIP and posting a 6.54 FIP. When Dunn’s luck did run out, it was usually against left-handed hitters, who posted a .313 wOBA against him and hit six home runs in 107 plate appearances with a 41.0% hard-hit rate.
While all of Chicago’s left-handed bats are worth a look, Eaton is an attractive late-round flier, especially if he is back in the leadoff spot. He has gone 5-for-20 (.250) in his first five games of the season but has added four walks and scored seven runs to boost his production to 10.0 DKFP per game. Eaton also already has a home run this year while posting a solid 43.8% hard-hit rate.
Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers
MLB Snake Rank: 128th
Even after his red-hot start, Baddoo may be around late in drafts since there is so much depth on this slate. The Rule 5 pick had never played above high-A when the Tigers grabbed him from the Twins’ system, but he has become an early-season sensation. Baddoo earned his way onto the team with a great Spring Training, going 13-for-40 (.325) with five home runs, 11 RBI, and four stolen bases. He also walked 10 times, showing an improved approach at the plate.
In his Major League debut, Baddoo deposited the first pitch he saw into the opposite field bleachers in Cleveland. He didn’t start on Tuesday but continued his fairy tale beginning to the season with a walk-off single against his former team. The legend of Baddoo could continue to grow if he’s back in the starting lineup against righty Kenta Maeda and the Twins on Wednesday afternoon. Baddoo has gone 4-for-8 with two home runs, six RBI and a stolen base in his three games, averaging 15.7 DKFP. He offers a nice blend of power and speed which gives him multiple ways to produce, so take a flier late that he’ll continue his hot streak to round out your roster.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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