Daily Fantasy Strategy – 7/1/13 – For Draftstreet

If there is a flaw in the pricing of hitters on daily fantasy sites, it’s that recent performance seems to be weighted too heavily. Just as an example, Jason Heyward was among the cheaper options for awhile after his slow start, but all the underlying numbers portended that he would rebound. And he has. He’s hitting .296 with four home runs over the last 30 days. If you rode Heyward until his price crept back up, you got some nice value for awhile.

If you can identify other guys with bad traditional numbers but good underlying numbers in the most recent sample, you can find some value plays to ride almost daily until the price catches back up. I like to start by looking back at K% over the last month or so. I’m looking for guys who are showing better plate discipline than they have in recent years but whose production and fantasy value is being depressed by some other factor. Below is a list of the hitters with the biggest improvements in K% over the last 30 days (min. 60 PA) compared to their K% since the beginning of 2012.

Name K%, Last 30 K%, 2012-2013 Gap wRC+, Last 30
Everth Cabrera 12.00% 21.10% -9.10% 189
Austin Jackson 10.60% 20.50% -9.90% 187
Mike Trout 11.50% 19.90% -8.40% 169
Giancarlo Stanton 18.10% 27.50% -9.40% 168
Adam Dunn 21.40% 33.00% -11.60% 161
Josh Reddick 10.80% 21.20% -10.40% 110
Juan Francisco 24.30% 33.30% -9.00% 104
Andre Ethier 10.00% 18.50% -8.50% 94
Willie Bloomquist 6.30% 14.40% -8.10% 88
Dayan Viciedo 14.30% 21.70% -7.40% 39

Obviously the guys from Dunn up aren’t getting a discount based on poor recent performance. But the guys from Reddick down have been somewhere from slightly above average to pathetic. Of those five, Francisco and Viciedo are the most interesting to me. For starters, they have power, and power is the easiest way to an above average daily fantasy day. They’ve also been on the wrong end of BABIP luck over the last 30 days. Francisco has a BABIP of .220 over that time frame, and Viciedo has a BABIP of .235. Admittedly, Francisco’s paltry 8.9% line drive rate over the last month is a big part of that. But Viciedo’s LD% is 22%.

Viciedo was a guy I targeted a lot early in the year when he faced a left-hander given how he torched left-handed pitching last year. It was only a 133 PA sample size, but Viciedo’s wRC+ vs. LHP was 177 compared to a 71 wRC+ vs. RHP. And his strikeout rate against LHP was about half of what it was against RHP. His splits haven’t been as drastic this year, but they are still substantial. His K% vs. LHP has risen 4.7%, but its still 4.5% lower than his K% vs. RHP. And his wRC+ vs. LHP is only 109, but it’s still much better than it is vs. RHP (59 wRC+). The main reason the gap hasn’t been so wide is that his HR/FB vs. LHP is down. In fact, it’s actually lower than his HR/FB vs. RHP so far this year. But I expect it to come up from 6.7% vs. LHP.

When I started writing this, I didn’t expect it to turn into a Dayan Viciedo love fest. But here we are. Unfortunately the White Sox are off today, so I won’t be able to recommend Viciedo in ‘The Daily Five’ below. And it is equally unfortunate that he’ll be facing a right-hander on Friday, which is the other day I write this piece each week. But he is scheduled to face a left-hander on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Daily Five

Jordan Zimmermann, $17,856 – This is your bi-weekly reminder to spend big on pitching. On a day with only six night games from which to choose players, the options are slim. And the 12 starting pitcher options are fairly unappealing. Zimm is one of only two starters tonight who averages more than six fantasy points per game in Draftstreet scoring. He averages 7.79 points per game, and the next closest guy tonight is Jose Fernandez with 6.18 points per game.

Jose Fernandez, $13,911 – Speaking of Fernandez, I narrowed down my choices for the other two pitching slots to Fernandez, Shaun Marcum and Wade Miley. Marcum and Miley have the best match ups of the group, but unfortunately they will be facing each other, which cuts down the potential of three wins to two. So Fernandez got an automatic nod at that point despite the fact that his match up with the Padres is just an average one as the Padres are about league average vs. RHP according to wRC+.

Shaun Marcum, $9,876 – The price difference between Marcum and Miley was only about $200, which isn’t enough of a difference to be a deciding factor when your budget is $100,000. And the difference in match up wasn’t huge either. The Mets have an 88 wRC+ vs. LHP like Miley, and the D’Backs have a 94 wRC+ vs. RHP like Marcum. Ultimately, the decision came down to who has pitched better this year. And that’s Marcum by a hair. Miley has the lower xFIP, but Marcum has the lower SIERA. Marcum has a 13.5 K%-BB% compared to Miley’s 9.1 K%-BB%.

Pablo Sandoval, $5,552 – Here is an example of a guy whose price is depressed based on recent performance (or lack thereof). Sandoval returned from injury a week ago and has just two hits in 19 at-bats since his return. But he’s a career .300 hitter who has a 129 wRC+ when he hits from the left side. He’ll be hitting from that side today against right-hander Bronson Arroyo.

Adam LaRoche, $6,315 – Just another lefty-righty matchup. Laroche has pop and Gallardo has had homer issues in the past.

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This post, covering one of the leading sites for daily fantasy is sponsored and made possible by the generous support of Draftstreet. FanGraphs will maintain complete editorial control of the postings, and brings you these posts in our continued desire to provide the best analytical information on the latest in baseball.



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You can find more of Brett's work on TheFantasyFix.com or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.


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ClutchFB
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I spent big on starters (Zimmerman, Moore, Fernandez) and only picked up a couple of big bats. Brandon Phillips against a mediocre lefty seems like a really good play. Giancarlo Stanton hits bombs for a living and Marquis gives up a ton.

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