Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 14
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.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Seattle Mariners
When the books closed on the month of May, Dan Vogelbach was the owner of a .321 ISO that looked more like a typo than an actual stat. Naturally, his .840 OPS in 120 at-bats since the start of June seems like a minor letdown, but the Seattle Mariners' slugger actually put together quite an impressive month.
Vogelbach's hard contact spiked to 54.9% percent over the month of June, and the 26-year-old drew an impressive 19.2% walks against 21.7% strikeouts. Along with his sensational plate-discipline groove, we might expect some give back on the 13.3% homer-per-fly mark last month; he managed a 19.0% mark in his 2018 rookie season.
Vogelbach's platoon splits are still an issue (he carries a .501 OPS against lefties on the season), but the Mariners draw a number of beatable righties in Week 14, including Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Griffin Canning, while Vogelbach's upper-$3,000s FanDuel salary doesn't seem to bake in his sturdy floor and sky-high upside on a night-to-night basis.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
It's been a long, cold June for Paul Goldschmidt and the St. Louis Cardinals. Cards fans wondering why they've got the one of the National League's worst offenses on the month can look no further than their slumping first baseman, whose .181/.274/.309 triple slash for June makes his underwhelming May (.293/.381/.364) look gaudy by comparison.
Granted, Goldschmidt's peripherals for June aren't pristine by any means (particularly the subdued 11.4% liner rate), but it's hard not to raise an eyebrow at that .209 BABIP, particularly next to Goldy's 45.7% hard-contact rate.
In short, Goldschmidt is struggling, but he shouldn't be struggling quite this badly. Whether because of the stink of the Cardinals' recent folly or the pair of road series at pitcher-friendly parks in Seattle and San Francisco, daily players are likely to fade Goldy this week, but that mid-$3,000s FanDuel salary looks like a reasonable price for a contrarian play on a battle-tested power bat.
Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds have turned their season around on the offensive end, posting the second-most productive month in the National League behind the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. Imagine how hot the Reds would be if they got anything at all from Eugenio Suarez, who has been mired in a seemingly bottomless month-long slump.
Indeed, after sizzling to a .985 OPS in May, Suarez has compiled a demoralizing .569 mark over the last month. We would expect this steep decline to bear out in his peripheral stats, which it does ... sort of:
What's interesting here is that Suarez's struggles are reflected more in the nature of the contact (fewer liners, significantly fewer fly balls) rather than the quality of the contact (soft contact is only slightly up, hard contact is down but still above-average).
This could mean that Suarez is an adjustment away from busting out of his slump. At the very least, we should expect some homer-per-fly regression here, as Suarez managed a 23.4% rate during his breakout 2018 season. The hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park should help, of course, and that's where Suarez and the Reds will play all six of their games this week. With his FanDuel salary nosediving into the low-$3,000s, Suarez makes for a very interesting upside play.
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers
Ronald Guzman's 35% liner rate in June was a top-five mark in the Major Leagues, but the Texas Rangers' infielder had only a .241/.330/.392 triple-slash to show for it on the month. The good wood for Guzman certainly jives with an excellent plate-discipline profile (11.7% strikeouts-minus-walks, 26.3% reach rate across June), indicating that the 24-year-old could have a mini-breakout in store for the weeks to come.
Guzman carries a stout .807 OPS against right handers on the season, so FanDuel players can lean on Guzman as a sub-$3,000 option when the Rangers draw righties Griffin Canning, Felix Pena, and Michael Pineda in Week 14.
Logan Forsythe, 2B, Texas Rangers
Logan Forsythe also appears to have some unnaturally subdued production in the month of June. The Texas Rangers' utility man posted a .140/.228/.200 triple-slash that positions him as one of the worst hitters in the league, but Forsythe is doing some damage to the baseball despite the poor surface stats, stinging 27.6% line drives on 58.6% hard contact.
Of course, contact has not been Forsythe's specialty of late, with the 32-year-old amassing an ugly 38.6% strikeout rate on the month, hinting that the sharp decline we've seen from Forsythe over his last two seasons might be approaching its nadir. Still, the metrics underwriting the veteran's June swoon are somewhat baffling: only a 7.4% swinging-strike rate and 17.1% offerings at pitches outside of the zone. Those are elite plate-discipline numbers, not exactly the signal of a hitter being overmatched.
Forsythe hits at the bottom of the lineup, but it's a deadly lineup nonetheless, and his near-minimum salary on FanDuel makes him an interesting dart throw for the coming 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 personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.