FanDuel’s Dinger Tuesday Picks For May 24: Juan Soto, Christian Walker Have Value to Homer
John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Juan Soto
Each Tuesday, FanDuel runs a popular promotion that allows each user to bet $25 on one player in every MLB game played that day to hit a home run. Regardless of whether or not the player you bet on homered, you receive $5 in free bets back for each home run hit in the game, with a max return of $25.
Given the average number of home runs in an MLB game in 2021 was 2.44, you will receive an average of $12.20 in free bets back for each $25 home run bet you make, without accounting for the loss in expected value on the vig of the home run yes prop.
Even though home runs are down this year, the prop retains its positive expected value, even if it’s lower now. I’ve chosen to be more selective by targeting games with higher totals in hitters parks, generally.
Here’s my favorite selections for Tuesday’s slate:
Cubs vs. Reds, 6:40 p.m. ET
Pick: Tommy Pham +730
Great American Ballpark is almost always going to be included in a Dinger Tuesday card. It’s one of the best hitters parks in the league and tonight, it features the highest total on the board. The Reds’ bats have finally arrived this season and Tommy Pham is one of the more underrated hitters in all of baseball. He’s top 20% in xwOBA, hard-hit rate and barrel rate across the league.
Throw in that Cubs starter Marcus Stroman has a career high barrel rate of 8.6% allowed and Pham is the best value long shot in the Reds lineup on Tuesday.
Dodgers vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET
Pick: Juan Soto +480
Juan Soto at +480 against almost any right-hander at Nationals Park is going to be undervalued.
I know that Soto hasn’t produced to the level that some expected for him at this point in the season, but he’s still one of the best hitters in the sport. He has a barrel rate above 12%, and the barrel rate is only one percent lower than last season. Soto has been generally unlucky when you look at his hard-hit rate and quality of contact. His xwOBA is still up near the best in the league and he’s facing an overvalued pitcher in Walker Buehler.
It would be an easy to pick a Dodger here given that Nationals starter Josiah Gray is a fly ball pitcher and has allowed a 15% barrel rate this year. But Buehler’s velocity is down, he’s missing way fewer bats and getting hit harder. Soto is going to get hot at some point and +480 is a great price to back him in a game that should have plenty of balls flying.
Phillies vs. Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET
Pick: Marcell Ozuna +460
Marcell Ozuna is a notoriously streaky hitter; he’ll run red-hot and ice-cold at various points of the season. He began the season as hot as anyone in the sport the first two weeks and he has been in a prolonged slump mostly since.
However, there’s some signs that Ozuna is starting to come out of that slump. His xwOBA in his last 20 plate appearances is trending straight upward. Ozuna is striking out less, hitting the ball hard more often and barreling more pitches than he did last year.
Kyle Gibson is a solid pitch-to-contact pitcher for Philadelphia, but he’s really struggled once he gets through the order the first time. His OPS allowed jumps from .481 to .918 when hitters get to see him a second time in 2022.
The price isn’t good enough on Matt Olson or Ronald Acuna Jr. for me to hop in on them, but all of the signs are there that Ozuna is about to go on another power surge in the middle of the Atlanta lineup. His 4% improvement in barrel rate is notable and predictive.
Tigers vs. Twins, 7:40 p.m. ET
Pick: Gio Urshela +730
Let’s chase a long shot in this game against one of the worst starters in all of baseball.
Beau Brieske takes the ball for Detroit against a Minnesota lineup that is second in xwOBA in all of baseball. The Twins don’t swing at bad pitches, they slug good pitches and are top-6 in barrels and hard-hit rate.
Gio Urshela has seen an improved barrel rate himself in 2022 and because I’m expecting homers in this game, I’m going to chase a longer shot. Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are never bad options in the middle of the Minnesota order, but Urshela should be priced closer to +500 given the pitching matchup, in my opinion.
Urshela doesn’t swing at bad pitches often and has seen improved numbers across the board since moving from New York to Minnesota. Brieske has an xERA of 5.50 and has allowed a poor 11.9% barrel rate.
Royals vs. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET
Pick: Christian Walker +380
Walker cashed twice last week for Dinger Tuesday bettors who played him in both games of Arizona’s doubleheader with the Dodgers. But let’s consider just how well Walker is slugging the ball right now. He ranks 12th in all of baseball in barrel rate, up there with J.D. Martinez, Bryce Harper, Yordan Alvarez and Austin Riley.
He’s not being priced like one of those hitters would be if they faced a pitcher like Jonathan Heasley of the Royals. Heasley allowed a hard-hit rate of 56% last season and pitched to an xERA of 7.34.
He’s barely pitched in the bigs this year — only 31 batted balls — but the hard hit rate is still bad and the xERA remains poor. I don’t love playing this game because Zac Gallen is an ace for Arizona and that could limit the total homers. But I want to fade Heasley and I love what Walker has done this year.
Rangers vs. Angels, 9:40 p.m. ET
Pick: Kole Calhoun +480
The Rangers have been tweaking with the swing, approach and batting stance of Kole Calhoun after his brutal start to the 2022 season. The last 100 plate appearances, the results have been showing up in his underlying numbers. If you look at rolling numbers, Calhoun is one of the biggest risers in xwOBA in the last 50 and 100 plate appearances.
Angels righty Noah Syndergaard has seen his stuff fall off considerably in the last couple years. He’s missing fewer bats, striking out fewer hitters and isn’t throwing as hard. His barrel rate allowed is considerably higher than years past and Calhoun is the best buy low in the Rangers lineup right now. His .411 xwOBA in the last 100 PA puts him as a great option to hit another homer on Tuesday.
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