On Monday I touched on the idea of examining how hitters have performed against specific types of pitchers to try and find good daily matchups. Because a batter’s performance against a specific pitcher is too small of a sample to be predictive, why not look at a batter’s performance against that pitcher and others like him?
Let me qualify everything I’m about to say by saying that this method of choosing batters is merely something I am exploring. Despite the increased sample size I can get by looking at a batter’s performance against similar pitchers, it’s still usually not a huge sample size. And I’m also doing a pretty crude job of finding similar pitchers. I’m considering strikeout and walk skills, groundball and flyball tendencies, frequency of fastball usage and velocity as my variables in finding similar pitchers.
It’s hardly scientific and nothing close to exact. But I’m almost positive it’s a better approach than just using simple batter-versus-pitcher data. But I’m not sure it’s better than just looking at how a batter has performed against either left or right handed pitching as a whole.
Purely for the purpose of looking at an example, let’s take a look at Juan Uribe. I chose Uribe because he has a .318 batting average and .818 OPS for his career against the starter he will face today, John Lackey. Not insane numbers, but better than Uribe’s career numbers. And Uribe has also been slightly better against right-handed pitching in his career, so I’m not concerned that he doesn’t have the platoon advantage today. You may also be thinking that it’s pointless to talk about Uribe since very few would actually pick him. But he’s hitting .325 with a couple homers over the last 30 days and comes at a reasonable price, so I consider him at least a plausible option.
Because Uribe compiled his stats against Lackey in just 22 plate appearances, we can’t rely on those numbers to predict what he’ll do against Lackey today. But we might be able to get a better idea of how he’ll to do today if we look at how he has performed against Lackey as well as other pitchers like Lackey. I consider Lackey to be a guy with slightly above average strikeout to walk skills who leans toward the groundball side of the spectrum with slightly above average velocity and a fairly heavy reliance on fastball usage.
I found the ten guys that were most similar to Lackey since the beginning of 2009 in my estimation and compiled Uribe’s stats against all of them. In 186 plate appearances against those pitchers, Uribe hit .228 with a 4.3% BB% and 22.4% K%. Again, I’m not sure how predictive this is, but I know it’s more predictive than looking at just Uribe’s stats against Lackey.
Now that I’ve pulled off the almost impossible task of talking you out of picking Juan Uribe, let’s move on to some guys I do think you should pick.
The Daily Five
Wade Miley, $12,847 – I’m going away from my strategy of spending on top flight pitching today because the guys up top have matchups ranging from not good to tough. But Miley gets the Phillies who are 12% below average against left-handed pitching. And Miley has been pretty good since the beginning of June. In 14 starts he is averaging 6.5 innings per start, has an ERA of 2.54 and has what are essentially league average strikeout and walk rates. Miley has probably been able to have the sub-3.00 ERA despite the average skills thanks to Arizona’s defense which leads the league in defensive runs saved.
Martin Perez, $12,991 – Death, taxes, and pitchers facing the White Sox, especially left-handers.
Edwin Jackson, $7,844 – It’s hard to pass up a guy with a SIERA under 4.00 at this kind of price. And his matchup is pretty good as well. The Padres are dead average with a 100 wRC+ this year, but they’ve been well above average against lefties and well below average against righties like Jackson. And the game is in Petco, not Wrigley. No idea why Jackson is this cheap.
Juan Francisco, $5,284 – I’m a fan of Homer Bailey, but he’s had trouble keeping the ball in the yard in Cincinnati for his career (1.21 HR/9). Taking Francisco comes with some risk because he has a good chance of getting you negative points thanks to his 35% K%. But he’s got upside in this particular situation and doesn’t cost too much.
Stephen Vogt, $3,732 – I’m not positive Vogt will play today since the A’s don’t stick to a platoon at catcher all the time. But if he does, he’ll have the platoon advantage against Bud Norris who has serious platoon issues.
If you take those five recommendations, you’ll have over $8,000 per slot to fill your other seven lineup slots.
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