5 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for Monday 5/17/21

With production being highly variable on a night-to-night basis, daily fantasy baseball plays a bit differently than other sports.

An 0-for-4 dud from a chalky high-salaried slugger is a lot more common than a total dud from a top-salaried NBA player or even than a stinker from a top quarterback or running back.

That means that it's not uncommon for value plays to end up doing the heavy lifting in carrying your lineup. The fact that they can be the difference between a good and a great lineup isn't much different than other sports, but value plays being able to make up for a whiff on a high-salaried play completely is somewhat unique.

Let's get right into it and take a look at the top value options on today's slate.

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners ($9,000)

With a trio of high-salaried arms on the slate -- Gerrit Cole ($12,300), Yu Darvish ($11,100), and Walker Buehler ($9,900) -- we need to balance "value" (in the sense of a low salary) with some predictable upside.

Yusei Kikuchi is just behind them in salary, but his path to upside is largely unobstructed, and a $3,300 savings from Cole goes a long way tonight.

Kikuchi faces the Detroit Tigers, who rank last in the Majors in active-roster strikeout rate (29.0%).

Kikuchi has trended away from his fastball over his past three starts (21.9%), which is down from 36.1% through his first four starts, and in that sample, his strikeout rate has gone from 19.8% to 33.3%.

He should have no issue racking up strikeouts agains the Tigers.

Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners ($3,000)

Like Kikuchi, the Seattle Mariners' bats are also in a good spot.

They'll be facing Casey Mize to start the game, and Mize ranks third-worst among probable pitchers for today in SIERA since the start of 2020 (Mize's mark is 4.98).

Kyle Seager owns a 40.3% hard-hit rate and a 49.5% fly-ball rate against righties since the start of 2020 (418 plate appearances), while also putting up a .336 wOBA and a .212 ISO in that split.

In all, Seattle has a pretty nice 4.20 implied run total tonight.

DJ LeMahieu, 2B/3B, New York Yankees ($3,000)

DJ LeMahieu and the New York Yankees hold an implied total of 4.92 runs against Jordan Lyles and the Texas Rangers.

Lyles holds the worst SIERA (5.22) among all starters on this slate since the start of 2020, and this season, he finds himself in the 13th percentile in expected ERA and in the 5th percentile in hard hit rate allowed. Yikes.

The Yankees have a lot of possible value bats, including Gio Urshela ($2,900) and really whomever else they roll out toward the top of the lineup.

LeMahieu gives us multi-positional eligibility and owns a .335 expected wOBA this year (the MLB average is .320).

Jake Cronenworth, 1B/2B, San Diego Padres ($2,400)

Jake Cronenworth draws the partially overachieving Sonny Gray tonight and should hit third for the San Diego Padres.

Gray's 3.55 ERA looks a lot better than his expected ERA of 4.14. He is limiting hard contact (92nd percentile) and generating strikeouts (85th percentile) but is allowing walks (33rd percentile).

Cronenworth holds the platoon advantage here and has a 38.1% hard-hit rate over his two MLB seasons against right-handed pitching.

That has led to a .380 wOBA and a .213 ISO against righties. He's also struck out just 13.4% of the time in that split.

Kyle Schwarber, OF, Washington Nationals ($2,800)

Adbert Alzolay is an interesting case. He holds a 4.50 ERA this season but has had some poor luck in that department, as his expected ERA is 3.92.

However, he's over-performed based on his expected wOBA (.316) compared to his actual wOBA allowed (.272), and the same goes for the expected slugging (.441) compared to his actual slugging allowed (.377).

Kyle Schwarber holds an expected slugging of .462, comfortably over his actual slugging results (.411), which are in line with the MLB average (.414).

Schwarber gets the handedness advantage, as well. Since the start of 2020, Schwarber has a .221 ISO over 254 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, and that stems from a 40.5% hard-hit rate.