Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 26
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.
Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Despite the fact that Bryce Harper is closing in on yet another season of 200 combined runs and RBI, 30-plus homers, and nearly 15 steals, denizens of Narrative Street would have you believe the superstar outfielder has been a disappointment in his first big-money year with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Harper's enormous contract likely has a lot to do with this pessimism, but perhaps his so-so finish to 2019 isn't doing him any favors either. The 26-year-old carries a good-not-great .254/.375/.492 September slash line into the final week of the season, but his peripheral stats (54.8% hard contact, 0% soft contact, 15.3% walks) show him to be as dialed in as can be as the season winds down.
With Harper evidently grooving, it might be worth the low-$4,000s price tag on FanDuel to see if Bryce can put together one more massive line. Now, the Phillies do draw a tough Washington Nationals rotation to start the week, but Harper remains eminently playable against Austin Voth and Anibal Sanchez, while he makes for a respectable cornerstone outfielder during the weekend series hosting the Miami Marlins.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, New York Yankees
The fringey but compelling American League MVP case for DJ LeMahieu has quieted this month right along with the New York Yankees' infielder's bat. The ace table-setter is still getting on base (.346 OBP across his last 81 plate appearances), but the power reserves have dried up for LeMahieu, who carries an underwhelming .118 ISO since the calendar flipped.
A rather nasty split between fly balls (18.8%) and grounder (57.8%) goes a long way to explain the extra-base drought, but you still have to like DJ's 23.4% liners, 42.2% hard contact, and slim 8.3% swinging strikes.
A hitter's hitter is ever there was one, LeMahieu is more than capable of adjusting on the fly as the Yankees tune-up for the playoffs. There's a lot of quality at-bats to be had here for a low-$4,000s FanDuel salary as the Yanks figure to turn the lineup over a bunch against some suspect arms from the Texas Rangers over the weekend.
Michael Brantley, OF, Houston Astros
One of the pleasant surprises of 2019, Michael Brantley has revived what seemed to be an injury-doomed career by playing 144 games to-date for the Houston Astros. And he's done more than just show up, posting a 315/.377/.504 triple slash that's resulted in one of the more valuable hitting seasons in the American League.
Brantley hasn't exactly ended 2019 with a bang, though, struggling to a .177/.257/.274 slash line across 70 plate appearances this month. This is clearly a case of poor batted-ball luck, though, as Brantley totes a .173 September BABIP despite swatting 22.2% liners and 44.4% hard contact, with a svelte 4.3% strikeout-minus-walk rate showing him to be as capable a strike-zone maestro as ever despite the poor results.
With his FanDuel salary trending below $4,000, the ten-year veteran looks like a strong mid-priced play as Houston draws an extremely soft schedule in this final week, squaring off against a number of hittable arms from the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.
Franmil Reyes, OF, Cleveland Indians
Franmil Reyes is capping off a topsy-turvy breakout season by running cold in September, posting a .704 OPS in 74 plate appearances on the month.
The output stinks, but Reyes' quality-of-contact metrics remains as ferocious as ever. The 24-year-old slugger has smashed an impressive 28.2% liners on the month to go with 51.8% hard contact and a mere 12.8% soft contact. With his FanDuel salary wallowing in the low $3,000s, look for Reyes to make a charge at the 40-homer threshold with the Cleveland Indians visiting the hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field to hack away at the back end of the Chicago White Sox rotation to start the week.
Jurickson Profar, 2B, Oakland Athletics
The long-awaited Jurickson Profar breakout has very much hit the skids this month, with the once-coveted prospect largely erasing the memory of his impressive second half by slashing a lousy .246/.329/.410 across 70 September plate appearances.
But there are myriad signs of life in Profar's underlying metrics. The 26-year-old Oakland Athletics utility man carries a paper-thin 1.5% strikeout-minus-walks on the month, underwritten by some terrific quality-of-contact metrics (32.1% liners, 45.3% hard contact).
With Profar's salary tanking below $3,000, FanDuel players won't have to invest much to see if the switch-hitting infielder can make a little noise in the season's final week. And as with Houston, Oakland has the benefit of teeing off against the ramshackle rotations from the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels to end the year.
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.