Let me be the first to say Happy Opening Day!

This day should be a national holiday so families can take in a day game with a couple of hot dogs, Cracker Jack and maybe a cold brew or two along with 9 innings of baseball (or more if you wish for extras).

BvP for MVP is back and hopefully with a vengeance!

I signed on with DailyOverlay last June, a few months into the 2015 season. I didn’t really have a chance to set guidelines, rules, parameters, etc., I eventually got away from what I normally would do with BvP and recommended too many batters and pitchers for each slate. I couldn’t help myself.

This year will be much different.

  1. BvP for MVP will be part of our Expert Consensus each Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and will be graded amongst the experts.
  2. I likely will not have more than 5 or 6 recommendations for each slate instead of everyone and their mothers like last year.
  3. My picks will mostly consist of bats, but I believe BvP goes both ways. I will have (I hope) at least one pitcher each day (get ready for some John Danks vs. Royals!).
  4. All BvP data will be pulled from the greatness that is DailyBaseballData.com. Dave Hall does an excellent job of updating data consistently and promptly.

A couple more things before we get into the picks for Opening Day 2016.

BvP (Batter versus Pitcher for any newbies out there) is a constantly debated, hot-button Daily Fantasy Sports topic. The sharks will tell you baseball has too much variance to rely on the data. Some will say viewing BvP data is advantageous because it could give you an idea of ownership levels based on the stats. The rest will say that they might consider rostering a player based on BvP because the numbers are so outrageous you can’t ignore them.

My advice regarding BvP: Use it however you want and what makes you comfortable. Honestly, I believe making lineups strictly using BvP is not a good strategy at all. My first year playing baseball DFS, I was a bit ignorant. When I discovered Batter vs. Pitcher data, I thought DFS baseball would be a cake walk, so I poured in the dough and made lineups only based on BvP. It blew up in my face. So I wrote it off after awhile, until last year.

That’s when I discovered BvP as a great tool for either building your lineups around (2 to 3 guys) or supplementing them. You have to find the right guys. BvP can include everything: Pitchers versus a team of hitters, steals against a pitcher, walks against a pitcher, HRs against a pitcher or even something as simple as batting average against a pitcher.

There’s a realization you need to swallow first before diving into BvP data — a guy who is 10-for-14 off a probable pitcher looks great on paper, but there’s a possibility the batter sees the pitcher only a couple of times during a game. Your batter is then stuck in a lineup against the bullpen, or worse, he’s a platoon guy and gets pulled in the middle of the game.

Either way, there’s an “art” to picking the right BvP guys. It’s not JUST about the data, it’s about using it to find guys that have the greatest predictability for production. My picks will factor in more than BvP, but that’s where I will start. Each pick will have an explanation on why I picked that guy, and not just a “hey, I like him because he’s awesome” kind of thing. Vegas, Park Factors, humidity, temperature, wind, batting order, etc., all will be factored into my selections. I feel I’ve improved my knowledge of the game in regards to DFS in the offseason, and I hope my picks help you improve your daily fantasy lineups should you choose to utilize them.

I wish you good luck in the 2016 season. It’s a long, fun and sometimes a very stressful time in DFS. Keep your head up, there are a 162 of these things and one awful day doesn’t define your ability.

One more thing, check the weather every day. This could enhance or devalue a BvP player as well, just like with anyone else. I suggest following Kevin Roth on Twitter. He’s a DFW meteorologist and he provides 2-3 updates a day for upcoming games. He is the man and I fully trust anything he says.

Ok, you’ve made it this far. I swear most BvP articles won’t be this long. Time to call my shots!

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Brandon Crawford – SS – Giants – vs. Wily Peralta

BvP: 4-for-11, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Analysis: Let’s get this out of the way first, if Wily Peralta is your Opening Day starter, your season might be in trouble. Now, anything can happen on OD, so Peralta could go 7 IP and 0 ER, but I am not betting on that. In fact, I am betting the Giants’ bats are the chalk plays of Opening Day and here’s why: 1. Miller Park is the 3rd-best hitter friendly park in baseball. 2. He’s increase his HR/9 every year since 2013. 3. Giants have a lot of lefties that could send one flying over the 6-foot fence in right field. Crawford being one of those guys. He’s cheap across the industry and Peralta’s wOBA against lefties vs. Crawford’s wOBA against righties in 2015 is .338 to .343, respectively.

Nelson Cruz – OF – Mariners – vs. Cole Hamels

BvP: 3-for-8, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Analysis: This BvP selection is a tag team alongside Narrative Street. Nelly Cruz versus his former team against a lefty. The temperature will be in the 80s, so while not Summertime Texas, at least it’s not chilly like many outdoor stadiums see this time of year. Cruz is coming back home and crushed left-handed pitching to a tune of a .459 wOBA in 2015. Cruz will hit in the cleanup spot in the middle of a lineup that’s more than capable of getting on base. We want HRs in DFS and Cruz’s 23.7% HR/FB percentage, a .254 ISO, a hitter’s park, against a lefty, against his former team, and BvP numbers are more than enough ingredients to project Cruz to light one up with his boomstick.

Bryce Harper – OF – Nationals – vs. Julio Teheran

BvP: 10-for-23, 3 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SB

Analysis: Teheran was a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher last season. At home, he could hold it together, but away from Turner, things got ugly in a hurry. We will see how things go later today, but we are likely going to see an even bigger improvement from Bryce Harper in 2016. Harper closed in on the .500 wOBA vs. right handers last season and has a ridiculous .238 ISO, so the power is there. Teheran was more than turrible against lefties last season (.383 wOBA) and Harper feasts on RH pitching. With 3 HRs and 6 extra base hits in 23 ABs against Teheran, Harper is poised to pad those stats starting tonight.

Carlos Gonzalez – OF – Rockies – vs. Zack Greinke

BvP: 9-for-25, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB

Analysis: CarGo tatooed Greinke for two HRs last season, a season in which Greinke was very lucky, according to the stat sheet. Greinke sported a .229 BABIP, a 1.66 ERA and a 3.22 xFIP/3.27 SIERA, telling us that Greinke never showed much regression despite the numbers. I am willing to bet that another year older with a new team that features a hitter-friendly park, Greinke’s numbers will inflate and I am banking it starts with the Rockies today, who are used to hitting in elevated spaces. CarGo’s .415 wOBA against RHs in 2015 shows he isn’t slowing down at 30 years of age.

Josh Donaldson – 3B – Blue Jays – vs. Drew Smyly

BvP: 5-for-8, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB

Analysis: We all know Josh Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP, crushes left-handed pitching (.428 wOBA in ’15). So far, he’s done a solid job against Drew Smyly, who is a fly-ball pitcher. While I would love this matchup more if it were in Toronto, I will say that Donaldson is matchup proof when it comes to park factors. His power is extraordinary from the right side and go back and look at his 2015 stats if you already have forgotten about his ability.

Clayton Kershaw – P – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. San Diego Padres

PvB: 16-for-75, 5 2B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 27 Ks

Analysis: Matt Kemp might like to stick it to his former team, but that is going to be difficult against the best pitcher in the game. Kershaw is the most expensive pitcher on the board and he’s likely to be the most highly owned pitcher on the board. Don’t worry about either one of those things because he has one of the safest matchups of the day against the lowly Padres in one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in the majors. Kershaw improved his K/9 rate last season from 10.85 in 2014 to 11.64 last year. In 75 ABs against Kershaw, the current Padres’ roster has mustered just 5 RBIs and 5 extra-base hits. Kershaw also is the most likely pitcher to grab the win, which is huge in DFS baseball. Can’t wait to watch Kershaw wheel and deal later today.

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