Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 18
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.
Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
A .226 batting average for Alex Bregman over 89 plate appearances in July might have you thinking that the Houston Astros infielder has been slumping through the summer, but that couldn't be further from the case. Just about every other metric finds the 25-year-old excelling of late, whether it be his 58.2% July hard contact rate (second only to Aaron Judge for best in the majors over that span), his minuscule 2.8% swinging strike rate (the best in the majors), or his 22.5% walk rate (also tops in the majors).
In other words, Bregman remains a cornerstone producer with a rock solid floor and no shortage of power upside, making the slight discount in his low-$4,000s FanDuel price all the more tempting. Don't hesitate to lean on Bregman as the powerhouse Astros look to run up the score against the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners this week.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies
The power has gone out for Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. After scorching the earth with a 1.209 OPS and .411 ISO across May and June, the scruffy veteran has cooled off mightily in July to the tune of a .110 ISO and .673 OPS across in 88 at bats.
The underlying numbers don't quite jive with a major power slump, though.
Sure, a dip in fly balls could explain some of the negative power regression, but with liners and hard contact actually improving in July, the only trend that jumps off the page here is the massive drop in homer-per-fly rate.
Expect Blackmon's power production to whiplash back towards his career norms in the months to come, perhaps beginning this week, with the Rockies playing all six games at the hitter's haven in Coors Field.
Tommy Pham, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
A sluggish July finds Tommy Pham slashing .236/.333/.404 on the month, leaving fantasy players thirsty for production from the 31-year-old outfielder even as he's tallied 102 plate appearances on the month at the top of the Tampa Bay Rays lineup.
It looks like this is a bit of an unlucky funk for Pham, who sports a .265 BABIP on the month, well below his fleet-footed career mark of .341. Assuming Sunday's hand injury doesn't keep the perennially nicked up Pham off of the field, he makes for a nice upside play as his FanDuel salary dips below $4,000 and the Ray visit hitter-friendly Fenway Park to begin the week.
Jorge Polanco, 3B, Minnesota Twins
On the surface, it would appear that production from breakout Minnesota Twins outfielder Jorge Polanco has recoiled slightly in July. A .250/.305/.478 triple slash in 101 plate appearances on the month has the 26-year-old looking more like a replacement-level bat, but his hit-tool metrics show him to be anything but average.
Indeed, Polanco has been shredding the ball for a 29.3% line drive rate and 45.3% hard contact across the month, all without selling out his command of the plate (7.2% swinging strikes, 17.8% strikeouts overall). The mediocre surface production might mask an impending hot streak for Polanco, whose FanDuel salary is hovering in the mid-$3,000s as the Twins gear up to face some shoddy pitching from the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals this week.
Khris Davis, OF, Oakland Athletics
July simply has to be the nadir for Khris Davis. The normally steady power-hitting outfielder is mired in a deep, dark slump, with 89 July plate appearances producing a .013 ISO that looks more like a typo than an actual stat.
Truth be told, not all of the advanced stats look good for the Oakland Athletics outfielder. Fly balls are down, grounders and swinging strikes are up. Still, Davis is making plenty of hard contact (42.9% in July) and very little weak contact (8.9%) while working the vast majority of his hits to the pull or center side, where power production is much more likely. In other words, the slump here isn't a total mirage, but it shouldn't be looking this bad for much longer.
Hard as it may be to remember at this very moment, Davis is capable of putting up a massive hot streak at the drop of a hat. With Davis' FanDuel salary potentially dipping below $3,000, he makes for a no-risk, high-yield dart throw as the A's face the back ends of the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals staffs 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 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.