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Daily Fantasy Strategy – 6/27 – For Draftstreet

I feel strongly that the work of Bill Petti and Jeff Zimmerman on Edge% is one day going to give us a more complete idea of how pitcher’s attain success.

Right now, we know that elite Edge% pitchers, those who hit the edges of the strike zone (especially horizontally) with the highest frequency, are, at the very least, some of the best at limiting walks. We know that the better the Edge%, the better ERA and FIP tend to be, even though BABIP tends to be higher.

Perhaps most importantly for daily fantasy, what Edge% doesn’t tell us is who strikes out the most batters – the top 10% in Edge% do better than the next couple of groups, but it’s the pitchers between the 25th and 50th percentile, for whatever reason, have the highest strike out rate (and the highest walk rate, less surprisingly).

Jeff and Bill have also done work on Heart%, the percentage of pitches that catch the meaty part of the plate, though how that relates to other metrics is not yet clear (theory: the higher the Heart%, the higher the HR/FB%, with a strong correlation).

Anyway, all of this is to say that Edge%, once it becomes public, will be another tool we can use for daily fantasy, perhaps to identify lower-risk pitchers (better BB% and ERA/FIP) or guys with the highest strikeout potential, regardless of ratios.

By the way, if you’re DraftStreeting today, we have a pool of just four games to choose from thanks to a light schedule and some afternoon games. It’s too bad, too, because there were some nice hitting environments available to pick on.

The Daily Five
Chien-Ming Wang – $6,162
Look, I don’t believe for a second that Wang’s 2.18 ERA, or heck, even his 4.07 FIP, is for real. I don’t. And I’m not a Blue Jays homer – okay, I am, but that’s not why he’s here. We’ve got eight pitchers to choose from, and we’re obligated to start at least two. Wang is cheaper than anyone but Jonathan Pettibone, is one of only two pitchers facing a high-strikeout team and is one of only two pitchers working in a non-ideal weather set-up. Wang could very well get lit up, but at this price and given the other options, I’d rather just go cheap and try to make up the gains at the dish. Least ringing endorsement…ever.

Jon Lester – $9,221
Pretty much the same shtick goes here, except for the fact that Lester has the added wrinkle of having been terrible lately to boot, and is facing a red-hot team. So why give him the nod? For one, all the price and environment items mentioned in Wang’s write-up. For another, the Jays have just a .297 wOBA against lefties, and Lester has shut them out twice this year (though he was lit up the other time). And finally, because strikeouts rule the day and while the Jays don’t whiff a tonne against southpaws, Lester is in that odd Edge% wheelhouse I mentioned earlier. Note as a Jays fan: I really hope this one comes back to bite me. Ugh, what a terrible day for pitchers.

Oswaldo Arcia – $7,663
Jeremy Guthrie is bad. He’ll probably be worse in 80-degree temperatures with a 14MPH wind blowing out to left-center field. Cue up some Twins if you’re so inclined – righties have the wind advantage going for them, lefties have the .397 wOBA Guthrie is surrendering going for them. I’ll be dialing up Arcia, a righty with some strikeout risk but a guy who has had the ball exploding off his bat since he debuted as a professional in 2009. Dude can stroke.

Adrian Gonzalez – $8,168
His price has climbed a bit of late, but he’s still potentially underpriced thanks to the narrative that he’s no longer a power bat. He’s got 10 homers, though, and is low-risk in the strikeout department with just a 13.4% K-rate. Just as important, he uses the whole field (the wind is blowing out to left-center) and has shown far more pop against righties.

Asdrubal Cabrera -$6,044
Here are some Miguel Gonzalez facts: huge ERA-FIP discrepancy (3.75-4.42), big time fly-ball rate (40.3%), critically low Edge%, huge Heart%. Cabrera is underpriced due to just returning from injury and some pre-injury struggles with on-base ability. But he can find a mistake, and the high-temperature, high-wind environment in Baltimore should allow for him to do so. There IS some thunderstorm risk with this game, but when you’re pool has just four games to draw from, it’s tough to avoid. Big steal at this price.

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