Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 20
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.
Gleyber Torres, 2B, New York Yankees
The New York summer magic hasn't exactly rubbed off on New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres, who has posted a lousy .679 OPS since the start of July, dragging down the Yankees' prolific .884 team OPS over that span.
The role of Bronx goat doesn't seem fair to the second-year infielder, who posted a terrific 28.9% line-drive rate over his last 123 plate appearances, along with just 10.0% soft contact.
Look for Torres and his mid-$3,000s FanDuel salary to join in on the fun this week as the Yankees host some miserable starters at the back end of the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians rotations.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres
It's no surprise to see Eric Hosmer get lost in the so-called juiced-ball era, with the 29-year-old's 25-homer, 100-RBI pace for 2019 appearing quite unremarkable by the standards of the current offensive boom.
And when a player with so little upside slumps, he becomes nearly invisible. So it goes this summer, with the San Diego Padres infielder carrying a .224/.259/.358 triple slash since the first of July.
There should be a recoil to respectability for Hosmer sooner than later, though. The slumping infielder has a .277 BABIP over his last 143 plate appearances despite a low 25.5% fly-ball rate over that span. Compare that number to a career .315 mark; he's posted BABIP seasons as high as .351.
Clearly pressing towards an abnormally high 26.6% strikeout rate, Hosmer has still managed 38.8% hard contact and just 14.3% soft contact since the calendar turned to July, better metrics than you'd expect considering his .617 OPS over that span. At the very least, the unsexy Hosmer represents a solid contrarian roster filler as the Padres square off against an inconsistent Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff this weekend.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
The disappointing season at the dish for Lorenzo Cain continues into the heart of summer, with the once-fearsome power-speed threat slashing a mediocre .256/.329/.392 since July 1st.
Also continuing for the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder is the frustrating dissonance between his poor results and his excellent underlying metrics. Since the first of July, the 33-year-old is mashing 25.7% liners and 44.8% hard contact, all while managing a slender 7.1% swinging-strike rate.
With Cain trending at or below $3,000 on FanDuel while maintaining a spot near the top of the Brewers lineup, the veteran still carries significant game-by-game upside for daily fantasy, even if his best days are clearly behind him.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Production from the streaky Joc Pederson has been waning since the start of July, with the lefty slugger scuffling to a .237/.333/.402 triple slash in his last 111 at-bats.
Despite the subdued results, the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder is putting up the advanced stats of a strong power bat, with 48.6% hard contact against 11.4% soft contact over that span, along with 67.1% fly balls plus line drives. In the context of a positively stacked Dodgers lineup, Pederson's low-$3,000 FanDuel salary seems like a relative bargain.
Eric Thames, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
It seems like lifetimes ago that Eric Thames took the MLB by storm with his outrageous power outburst in 2017. The Milwaukee Brewers slugger has steadily sunk into mediocrity as the power landscape has left him in the dust, and since July of this year, he's been particularly unimpressive, submitting a ho-hum .676 OPS in 104 plate appearances.
It's fair to expect some degree of course correction on his current power slump. The 32-year-old's combination of hard contact (53.1% since July 1st) and fly-ball focus (50% flies in that span), combined with his tendencies towards the center and pull side (82.8% combined) should produce a much higher homer-per-fly clip than the 12.5% mark in the current sample. After all, Thames managed a 22.5% rate in the first half of 2019, and his career mark is 18.8%.
No one expects a return to white-hot form for Thames, but while he's trending below $3,000 on FanDuel, the veteran bopper makes for an intriguing, no-risk dart throw.
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.