One thing I look at when mining for Draftstreet bargains is the “last 30 days” filter on Fangraphs leaderboards. While there has been much work done on the predictiveness (or lack thereof) of “streaks” (for one example, see The Book), you aren’t necessarily falling prey to the Gambler’s Fallacy when looking for guys who have good underlying peripherals. Four weeks is not a long time, but for many players, it may be enough to recognize fundamental shifts in skill (batting eye, contact rate, etc.). More importantly, since valuation of players inherently is skewed towards counting stats (in Draftstreet’s case, fantasy points per game), you can get a good sense of whether a “hot” or “cold” player’s value has been artificially inflated/suppressed and exploit arbitrages that way.
Some examples of the stats I look at?
BABIP: Perhaps you have a guy putting up good BB%, K%, and batted ball profiles while suffering from bad BABIP luck. His counting stats may be suppressed during the previous few weeks and his value may be driven down. Essentially, I’m trying to exploit xBABIP-BABIP splits here.
HR/FB%: You can use this either for hitters or pitchers. Hitters are a bit more finicky, because you have to figure out whether a recently suppressed HR/FB% is just dumb luck (that’s good!) or a sign their batted ball distance is down (that’s bad!). On the flip side, for pitchers, having a high HR/FB% coupled with solid strikeout/walk peripherals may signal some a few too many flies “unluckily” leaving the yard and an inflated ERA.
Fastball velocity: If you see a pitcher’s velocity on the upswing (>= 0.5 mph over his previous month/season average), then he’s likely trending in the right direction in terms of SwStr% and K%. See the opposite? A pitcher’s value may be inflated by a good couple months where he was really bringing the heat. Of course, velocity declines can be injury precursors, too, and that’s no good.
The Daily Five
Brian McCann – $8,498
McCann is sporting the 7th best wOBA in baseball over the last four weeks. Sure, the fact that he has a .397 BABIP has something to do with it, but his K% is trending down and his BB% is trending up — both good signs of a hitter making tangible adjustments at the plate. His cost is probably still a little low thanks to his late start (shoulder surgery) and general non-eliteness early on in 2013, so use him now before his dollar mark creeps up past 10k.
Adeiny Hechavarria – $3,677
Who is this masked man who has been pounding line drives all over the field? Look at any LD% leaderboard for the last two, four, or even six weeks and you see Hechavarria at the top of the list. Yeah, he has no power, and, yeah, he doesn’t walk a lot. But if you find yourself filling out your lineup and saying “man, I really need to shave $3,000 to add Mike Trout,” the Marlins infielder might be your man.
Andrelton Simmons – $6,893
Simmons’ BABIP has taken a dive over the last month (.195) but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten how to hit. He’s only striking out 4.8% (!) of the time over the last month, so he’s not dinging you in Draftstreet, and you know once a few of those hits start falling in, his average (and price tag) will be back on the rise.
Scott Kazmir – $11,818
You can’t help but enjoy Kazmir’s mini-renaissance. Still only 29, he is sporting his best fastball velocity (92.2 mph) in eight years. Over his last four starts, he is sporting a 12.5/62.5/25.0 LD%/GB%/FB% line which has helped him to a 3.84 xFIP. While Safeco is not quite the pitcher haven it was before the moved the fences in, he’s still a good value gamble against the Mariners.
Esmil Rogers – $8,240
Since Rogers moved into the rotation in late May, he’s only put up one start with an xFIP higher than 4.40. Some may look at his 6.48 July ERA and say “DANGER!” but his HR/FB% has (absurdly) north of 30% and his K% is the best it has been all season (bullpen or rotation). If I had a “value pick of the day” stamp, he’d get it.
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