Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 6
Recent batted-ball data can be very useful in MLB DFS, allowing us to notice the players who are seeing the ball well and hitting the ball with authority yet coming up short on results.
Remember, your fantasy opponents may only be paying attention to counting stats like homers and RBI and ratios like batting average and slugging percentage, which hardly tell the complete story of a hitter's performance. This is a major market inefficiency in daily fantasy, and one that is easy to exploit with a look at the underlying stats.
In this article, we'll examine recent batted-ball data to highlight players whose surface results are lagging behind their actual skills metrics (per FanGraphs and Baseball Savant), potentially putting them right on the edge of a productive hot streak that could pay huge dividends for daily fantasy players who roster them at a relative discount.
J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston Red Sox
In keeping with a disappointing start for the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, 31-year-old slugger J.D. Martinez has been merely mortal to begin the 2019 campaign. The late-blooming Martinez carries into Week 6 a .488 slugging percentage that is quite a letdown by his lofty standards, with a mere four long balls putting him well off the roughly 40-dinger pace that has made him a fantasy star over the past two seasons.
Under the hood, however, Martinez continues to look like every bit the perennial power threat, with a .659 expected slugging (xSLG) and .454 expected weighted on base average (xwOBA) that both rank in the top 3% of all MLB hitters. Even the more straightforward metrics show Martinez to be locked in at the dish, with a minuscule 13.9% strikeout rate on the back of a five-year-low 12.7% swinging-strike rate.
With the Red Sox squaring off against extremely hittable arms on Seattle's and Baltimore's staffs this week, Martinez looks like a strong investment in daily fantasy, especially if his FanDuel salary lingers in the low $4,000's.
Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Mets
Robinson Cano's ho-hum reputation as a post-peak veteran combined with a recent hand injury might make him a popular fade candidate in Week 6. To be fair, the infielder's .246/.299/.390 slash line won't exactly catch your eye, but the 36-year-old is posting respectable rates in terms of line drives (25%) and barrels (10.1%), resulting in a solid .291 expected batting average that ranks in the top 12% of the majors.
With Cano's FanDuel salary setting in around the mid-$3,000s, he makes for an interesting contrarian play as the Mets look to touch up some young arms on the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins in Week 6.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, Chicago White Sox
You'd be forgiven for scrolling right past what seems to be a rapidly regressing Yonder Alonso, who has followed up two seasons of journeyman rejuvenation with an awful .173/.289/.346 start to 2019.
Yet advanced metrics show the 32-year-old veteran to be putting in good work at the dish despite the forgettable results. Alonso currently sports a career high in terms of average exit velocity, lending the slugger a respectable .458 xSLG, with Statcast pegging him for a 46.3% hard-contact rate that's near the top 12% of all MLB hitters.
With the Chicago White Sox gearing up against the ramshackle Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays rotations in Week 6, Alonso's low-$3,000's FanDuel salary looks like a small price to pay for what could be some robust production out of the cleanup spot.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
It might take all season for the stink of that historic 0-fer streak to leave Chris Davis. In fact, a glass-half-full approach might have you marveling at how Davis has turned an 0-for-38 start into a .167 batting average in just over a month.
Along the way, Davis hasn't looked totally lost despite the hair-raising 33.7% strikeout rate. The erstwhile Baltimore Orioles' slugger is actually posting his best barrels mark since 2016, with 44.9% hard-hit rate and 29.8% out-of-zone swings, both of which would be the best such clips of his career.
All of which is to say that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the struggling Davis, who represents one of the keenest combinations of value and contrarian status in the daily game. At close to the minimum salary, daily players don't have much to lose here.
Gordon Beckham, 2B, Detroit Tigers
The 10th-year journeymen is doing his best to crash the MLB power party, posting career-high marks in exit velocity and barrel rate, but he's also giving it back with a career worst 37.3% strikeout rate and 15.7% swinging-strike rate.
And while Beckham's current .523 slugging percentage might stick out like a sore thumb on his player profile (his career mark is .368), Statcast charts his xSLG as just about in line with his actual mark while crediting him with a juicy 64% hard-contact rate.
Beckham's lineup context certainly makes him a less-than-ideal target for counting stats, but his new feast-or-famine approach and slim sub-$3,000 FanDuel salary should earmark him as an intriguing contrarian dart throw this week.
Tom Whalen is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tom Whalen also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username whalentc. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.