The Major League Baseball season is ready for a fast start with Opening Day on Thursday. DraftKings has released a new MLB Snake Draft fantasy format to give players even more ways to get involved this year, so check out how it works and get ready to keep fantasy baseball draft season rolling all season long.
MLB Snake only includes hitters, and the classic format requires two infielders, two outfielders and two utility players. It’s important to note that rosters will be made up of seven players with the lowest score automatically being moved to your bench slot. That’s nice protection in case one of your drafted players doesn’t get the start, leaves early with an injury or has their game rained out. Thursday’s Opening Day slate features nine games, with things getting started at 2:10 p.m. ET.
I’ll be bringing you some of my favorite and least favorite targets for MLB Snake each Monday through Thursday this season, so grab your bats and your hitting shoes and get ready to mash in this new format.
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Favorable Early Round Targets
Corey Seager, IF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Snake Classic Rank: 6th
Seager won the NLCS and World Series MVP when he last played games that counted, and he also thrived in games that didn’t count this Spring, hammering eight home runs with a 1.251 OPS in his 22 Cactus League games. The Dodgers are all over the top part of the draft rankings since they’re playing at Coors Field, where Seager is a .272 career hitter with five homers in 30 games.
The 2012 MLB Draft first-round pick deserves to be a high selection on this snake slate since he’s in a great spot in the lineup and seems to have picked up where he left off last season. He hit 15 homers in 52 regular season games, even before his postseason heroics, with a .427 wOBA and .278 ISO. He usually hits second in this highly productive lineup, so getting him in one of your IF spots makes a lot of sense if you don’t land a high enough pick to get Mookie Betts or Cody Bellinger and still want exposure to Coors Field.
Xander Bogaerts, IF, Boston Red Sox
Snake Classic Rank: 11th
Editor’s note: Today’s game between the Red Sox and Orioles has been postponed due to rain.
Bogaerts is expected to hit out of the cleanup spot instead of third for the Red Sox this season which should give him extra RBI opportunities. He started Spring Training a little bit late due to some shoulder soreness, but he went 14-for-35 (.229) with a home run and three doubles, so he looks ready to roll. On a slate stacked with aces on the mound, the Red Sox could be a nice source of run production as they take on the Orioles, who will give lefty John Means the Opening Day start.
Back in 2019, his most recent full season, Bogaerts posted a career-high .246 ISO and 44.4% hard-hit rate. While his ISO dropped in last season’s smaller sample size, he still had a solid 36.8% hard-hit rate and actually increased his barrel rate to 8.6%. In last year’s shortened season, X-man managed a very solid .368 wOBA.
Typically, Bogaerts is a nice option to target against left-handed pitchers. In his 64 at-bats against lefties in 2020, Bogaerts had a .431 wOBA and 1.014 OPS while making hard contact 40.4% of the time. He is also 6-for-14 in his career with a pair of homers against Means. BvP can be a little misleading due to limited sample size, but when it’s backed up by this much supporting data, it sets up a great spot to attack.
Early Round Player to Avoid
Freddie Freeman, IF, Atlanta Braves
Snake Classic Rank: 8th
Freeman will be just fine in the big picture, but the 31-year-old 1B had a rough Spring Training and isn’t in a great matchup. He went just 6-for-38 (.184) in his 17 games this spring, hitting only one home run. Last season, Freeman started slowly due to his bout with COVID-19, but he rounded into form by the end of the year, finishing with an impressive .456 wOBA and .299 ISO. He looks like he’s setting up for another slow start this year, although I still think he’ll be fine once he finds his stride.
In addition to his lack of timing recently, Freeman is only 11-for-45 (.244) in his career against Phillies SP Aaron Nola, with a .736 OPS. He and the Braves start on the road, too, so I think there are other options near the top set in better spots with better current form and more favorable matchups.
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
Wil Myers, OF, San Diego Padres
Snake Classic Rank: 38th
Myers was one of San Diego’s top hitters last season, and he credits hitting coach Damion Easley for helping him find a steady approach to maintain throughout the season. He hit .288 in his 55 regular season games, with a .400 wOBA and .318 ISO. That ISO, in particular, was a huge improvement after he posted a .179 ISO in 2019 and a .192 ISO in 2018. Myers was particularly solid against lefties like Diamondbacks SP Madison Bumgarner, hitting with a .433 wOBA, a .328 ISO and five of his 15 home runs.
With Tommy Pham still working his way back to 100% after a rough offseason and Trent Grisham (hamstring) on the injured list in the early going, Myers will need to step in and help San Diego’s stars carry the offensive load. He should be locked into the middle of their lineup and is projected to hit fifth against lefties like MadBum. Bumgarner was extremely hittable last season, so getting a piece of the Padres lineup is a good idea for their home opener. While Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis are likely to be gone very early on in snake drafts, Myers is a good way to get some exposure to the Padres lineup late, as well as some nice power and favorable splits.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, IF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Snake Classic Rank: 37th
The Pirates are counting on Hayes to be the heart of their offense after the 24-year-old made quite a splash in his 24 games last season. He hit .376 with five homers a .464 wOBA and a .306 ISO in his 95 plate appearances. Hayes has continued making solid contact this spring, going 22-for-51 (.431) with 10 extra-base hits and a 1.208 OPS.
Hayes is expected to hit second for the Pirates in the early part of the season and opens up with a road game in Chicago against Kyle Hendricks. Hayes homered off on Hendricks in one of seven at-bats against him last year, and the game environment should set up well for him to start the season strong.
C.J. Cron, IF, Colorado Rockies
Snake Classic Rank: 85th
The Rockies added Cron on a minor league deal this offseason, but the veteran has earned his way onto the team and likely into the lineup for Opening Day at Coors Field. Cron was limited to only 13 games for the Tigers in 2020 due to a knee surgery, but he had 25 long balls and a .216 ISO in 125 games with the Twins back in 2019 after hitting 30 homers with a .240 ISO in 140 games with the Rays in 2018.
Cron is an especially intriguing play since, in addition to the obvious perk of playing at Coors Field, he’s taking on a lefty in Clayton Kershaw. Cron had a .310 ISO and .412 wOBA against lefties in 2019 and developed a reputation as a lefty-specialist.
Cron should get a long look from the Rockies after hitting five home runs and posting a 1.186 OPS in 19 games in Spring Training. His rank puts him at the very end of even the deepest of snake drafts, but he has a high enough ceiling due to his long-ball potential to make him a great flier at the end of your draft.
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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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