Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 17
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.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
We've been spoiled by the superheroics of Nolan Arenado, one of the steadiest producers in the MLB, but the Colorado Rockies third baseman has looked quite mortal in July, slashing .222/.293/.377 across 58 plate appearances.
There are some minor red flags in Arenado's underlying metrics, as he's pulling the ball significantly less in the second half (25%) than he did in the first (44.3%). Still, Arenado appears to be profiling for much better power production that we've seen in July (.151 ISO), tallying 25% line drives, 53.3% fly balls, and 40.9% hard contact.
Some give back on July's 8.7% homer-per-fly rate seems in order; that's his lowest monthly mark by far, nearly halving his 15.8% career mark. As the Rockies draw some tough road matchups against the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds, daily player might look to Arenado as a contrarian play if his salary maintains around $4,000 on FanDuel.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers cooled off in a big way in July (they're the AL's least-productive offense on the month), and so too has their veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus, with the 30-year-old infielder bottoming out to the tune of a miserable .488 OPS in 63 July plate appearances.
A slim .196 BABIP should have us suspicious of this cold streak, though, especially with Andrus sporting only 23.4% fly balls and 8.5% soft contact. Andrus still seems like he's doing strong work to put in quality at bats, posting only 17.5% strikeouts and 7.6% whiffs on the month.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
It's been a lost season for Lorenzo Cain. The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder has submitted a middling .247/.311/.362 slash line on the season, and while his .239/.301/.418 line since the start of July shows some modest power growth, Cain is still a far cry from a top-tier fantasy option.
But Cain's underlying metrics suggest that his offensive gains should be more than modest. With Cain posting 25% liners and 50% hard contact on the month, we should expect better than the .245 BABIP he's managed over that span, particularly with Baseball Savant crediting the outfielder with a 78th percentile sprint speed.
Indeed, Statcast credits Cain with a .281 expected batting average based on his quality of contact this season, so perhaps the speedy outfielder can make up some ground in the home stretch. With the Brew Crew playing all six of their games in the hitter-friendly Miller Park this week, Cain and his low-$3,000s FanDuel salary make for an interesting upside play.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
It has become fashionable to fade the clearly declining Joey Votto, and on the surface, his July production hasn't done much to endear him to daily players.
The Cincinnati Reds veteran continues his slide into mediocrity with a .583 OPS and .078 ISO in 70 plate apperances this month, but there might be reason to believe that Votto still has some productive days ahead. Votto has been choosy as ever this month (64.3% zone swings), and it looks his famous plate discipline is improving his chances at quality contact (32.1% liners, 9.4% soft contact, 4.3% whiffs), even if it hasn't produced his usual standout walk rate.
The Reds draw a very hitter-friendly schedule this week, splitting games between Miller Park and Great American, and with Votto set to tee off against blowup-prone arms like Jhoulys Chacin, German Marquez, and Peter Lambert, the 35-year-old makes for an interesting speculative play with little to no downside thanks to a low $3,000s FanDuel salary.
Josh Reddick, OF, Houston Astros
Reddick still appears dialed in for extra-base power even amid his awful cold stretch, stroking 25% liners and 40.9% fly balls, while a strong batting eye (8.8% walks, 29.4% reach rate, 6.9% whiffs) assures that Reddick isn't nearly as lost at the plate as his numbers suggest.
With a FanDuel salary flat-lining below $3,000 and beatable arms like Mike Fiers, Homer Bailey, and Daniel Ponce de Leon on the schedule, Reddick could provide a cheap ticket to Houston's offensive gold mine in Week 17.
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.