Today’s main slate features 12 games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a data-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs contributor, Matt LaMarca.
FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tool and real-time analytics platform that enables players to test theories, create and backtest models and construct customized lineups. In this piece, I leverage the same tools used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) for each slate.
7.1 K Prediction – Lance McCullers
Today features a relatively weak group of starting pitchers, with only Lance McCullers possessing a price tag above $10,000. McCullers is a bit miscast as the top pitching option on the slate: his current price tag of $11,500 is the highest it’s been all season, and he’s made only three starts since returning from a short stint on the disabled list. He has averaged 100 pitches over his last two starts, however, suggesting that he likely has no limitations in terms of pitch count.
Despite being priced up, he has some factors in his favor. He leads all pitchers with a K Prediction of 7.1, and his 12-month K/9 of 11.01 ranks first as well. He also has the lowest opponent implied team total at 3.7 runs and is the largest favorite with a projected margin of victory of +1.7 runs. At FantasyLabs we have a proprietary Plus/Minus metric that measures actual vs. expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. Pitchers with comparable K Predictions, opponent implied team totals, and projected margins of victory have a historical Plus/Minus of +3.72.
There are two potential concerns with McCullers. One is his matchup with the Mariners, whose projected lineup has a splits-adjusted wOBA of .340 over the past 12 months. The second is his recent Statcast data, as McCullers has posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +20 feet. With his ownership likely to be the highest of the day by a significant margin, it’s not unreasonable to consider fading McCullers in DraftKings tournaments.
95 Park Factor – Matt Moore
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the pitcher. Pitching in San Francisco is just about as good as it gets for left-handers; their Park Factor of 95 is the highest mark available to starting pitchers. Matt Moore gets that benefit in today’s matchup against the Cleveland Indians, and despite some shaky pitching numbers, overall Moore has a historical Plus/Minus of +2.08 when pitching at AT&T Park.
Outside of his park, though, there’s not much to like about Moore in this matchup. His opponent implied team total of 4.5 runs makes him a slight underdog, and the Indians’ strikeout rate of 16.6 percent against left-handed pitchers is the second-lowest mark on the season. At only $5,300, however, he doesn’t have to clear a high bar to return value, and pitchers with comparable salaries and Park Factors have a historical Upside Rating of 12 percent and an average ownership rate of only 4.9 percent. On a day with no sure things at pitcher, Moore will likely be a contrarian option with some upside.
13 Pro Trends – Charlie Blackmon
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Charlie Blackmon leads today’s slate with 13 Pro Trends, a number that has historically resulted in a Plus/Minus of +3.17. Blackmon is playing at Coors Field in today’s matchup against the Padres, and while that’s good for all batters, it’s been especially good for Blackmon; he’s posted a .505 wOBA and .425 ISO when playing at home this season. The results have been an average Plus/Minus of +3.72 at Coors in 2017, which is especially impressive considering he’s typically priced as one of the most expensive players on the slate.
Blackmon has also crushed the baseball recently, with an average distance of 259 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 48 percent. Batters at Coors with similar Statcast numbers have historically smashed with an average Plus/Minus of +6.28.
Even without his excellent Statcast data, Blackmon has plenty of value just by virtue of being a leadoff batter at Coors for a team with an implied team total of 6.3 runs. Batters with comparable team totals and lineup spots in Colorado have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.43. Any way you slice it, Blackmon looks like an elite option today in all formats.
+73 Recent Batted Ball Luck – Austin Hedges
Austin Hedges is currently questionable to play in this game after taking a foul ball off his mask on Friday, but if he’s in the starting lineup he’s in an interesting spot against the Rockies at Coors. He’s been pretty terrible as a fantasy producer over his last 10 games, returning value only once and posting an average Plus/Minus of -1.25, but his recent Statcast data suggests he’s been hitting the ball well. At FantasyLabs, we have a Recent Batted Ball Luck (Rec BBL) metric that measures the difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days. Hedges score of +73 is one of the highest marks of the day and implies that he should be due for some positive regression going forward.
Hedges specifically has a strong distance differential of +25 feet over the last 15 days, and batters at Coors with comparable differentials and Rec BBL scores have a historical Plus/Minus of +4.68. Hedges has also been a reverse splits hitter over the past 12 months, meaning that he’s a right-handed batter who fares best against right-handed pitchers. His past year ISO of .223 against right-handed pitchers is the fifth-highest splits-adjusted ISO among today’s projected starting catchers.
At only $3,400, Hedges could be a cheap and relatively contrarian way to get some exposure to Coors Field. He’s projected to occupy the eighth spot in the batting order for the Padres, and batters in the bottom third of the lineup have a historical ownership of only 4.9 percent at Coors Field. He’ll likely have a lower ownership rate than many of his teammates and could serve as a diversifying option for stacks.
85 Team Value Rating – Rockies and Athletics
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Rockies and Athletics are tied for the top rating today at 85, and these teams could not be in more different spots. The Rockies have the top implied team total of the day at 6.3 runs and are an expensive team to target: five projected starters have salaries of at least $4,500, and Blackmon’s salary of $5,600 is tied for the most expensive among all of today’s batters. The A’s meanwhile have one of the lowest implied team totals of the day at just 4.4 runs, but they’re still cheap in comparison to their total: Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso are the most expensive batters on the team at only $4,000 each, and the other seven projected starters cost no more than $3,200.
Outside of Blackmon, the Rockies batter in the best recent form is Mark Reynolds. He’s posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +24 feet, and batters at Coors with comparable differentials have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.72. He also has wOBA and ISO splits of .415 and .248 over the past 12 months, which are among the top marks on the slate. Nolan Arenado has a historical Plus/Minus of +1.84 at Coors Field and should be one of the most popular options for the Rockies.
Finally, Carlos Gonzalez has been terrible this year, but at only $3,000 he could be an intriguing contrarian play as the No. 6 batter. Hitters with comparable salaries, lineup spots and implied team totals at Coors have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.98.
UPDATE: Carlos Gonzalez in NOT in the Rockies lineup tonight.
The A’s are facing Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi, and for the most part that’s a good thing for Oakland: of all projected starters, only Ryon Healy has negative 12-month wOBA and ISO differentials against righties. Leadoff hitter Matthew Joyce has posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +21 feet, and leadoff hitters with comparable differentials have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.49. Davis has been especially potent against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months with a wOBA of .366 and ISO of .301. Matt Chapman leads the team with six Pro Trends and has a wOBA of .406 and ISO of .444 against righties through his young career. At only $2,100, he costs just $100 more than the minimum.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.