WATCH: IMPACT PLAYER – STARLING MARTE
Today’s main slate features 15 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.
9.3 K Prediction – Dinelson Lamet
Today’s slate features a strong group of pitchers with strikeout ability. Seven pitchers have a 12-month SO/9 of at least 10.01, and two pitchers – Robbie Ray and Dinelson Lamet – have SO/9 marks of 12.07 or greater. At FantasyLabs, we have a proprietary Plus/Minus metric that measures actual versus expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. At only $7,000, Lamet leads the slate with a K Prediction of 9.3, and pitchers with comparable salaries and K Predictions have a historical Plus/Minus of +3.74 and an Upside Rating of 15 percent.
The issue with Lamet, however, is that he’s pitching against the Rockies at Coors Field. Coors has historically been the worst park for pitchers in terms of average fantasy points, Plus/Minus and Consistency Rating. The Rockies are also implied for the highest team total of the day at 6.3 runs, and the Padres’ implied team total of 5.3 runs makes Lamet a pretty significant underdog. Unsurprisingly, pitchers with comparable opponent implied team totals and projected margin of victories have been dreadful, averaging a historical Plus/Minus of -2.07. Things only get worse when we factor in Lamet’s recent Statcast data: He’s allowed an average batted ball distance of 255 feet and an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour over the last 15 days. Both are bottom-two marks among today’s pitchers.
All of this begs the question: which set of data is more important? Lamet’s opponent implied team total and recent Statcast data make him way too risky a proposition for cash games, but it actually might make him an ideal pitcher for DraftKings tournaments. Lamet clearly has upside despite the brutal matchup, and underdogs at Coors have historical ownership of only 1.8 percent.
-79 Recent Batted Ball Luck – Robbie Ray and Brad Peacock
Robbie Ray and Brad Peacock are two additional pitchers with big strikeout upside; their K Predictions of 8.4 and 7.2 rank second and fifth, respectively, on tonight’s slate. Both of these pitchers have also had plenty of recent fantasy success, with Ray posting an average Plus/Minus of +8.10 and Peacock posting an average Plus/Minus of +5.34 over the last 10 starts. However, at FantasyLabs we have a Recent Batted Ball Luck metric that measures the difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days, and both Ray and Peacock are tied for the worst mark on the slate at -79. It’s fair to question if these pitchers have actually pitched as well as their recent results would seem to indicate.
Ray is on the road in Cincinnati facing a Reds offense implied for 4.7 runs, and while escaping Chase Field is normally a good thing for Ray, pitching at the Great American Ball Park actually represents a decrease in Park Factor for left-handed pitchers. He’s also posted a distance differential of +8 feet over the past 15 days, and pitchers with comparable differentials, Park Factors and opponent implied team totals have averaged a historical Plus/Minus of -1.04. He still offers upside due to his strikeout potential, but at $11,200 he offers significant downside as well.
Peacock has a much better matchup against the Seattle Mariners; he owns an opponent implied team total of only 4.0 runs and a projected margin of victory of +1.6 runs. Even when factoring in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +12 feet, pitchers with comparable projected margin of victories and K Predictions have a historical Plus/Minus of +3.16. He’s the clear No. 2 pitcher on the slate behind Clayton Kershaw.
12 Pro Trends – Charlie Blackmon and Addison Russell
At FantasyLabs, we have what are called “Pro Trends” – angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Charlie Blackmon and Addison Russell lead today’s slate with 12 Pro Trends each; that number has historically resulted in a Plus/Minus of +2.36. Despite the similar number of Pro Trends, these players have vastly different implied team totals: Blackmon’s Rockies lead the slate with an implied team total of 6.3 runs, while Russell’s Cubs are implied for 4.8 runs, which ranks 16th on the slate.
Blackmon was in a great spot yesterday, and after homering in that contest he improved upon his already-impressive recent Statcast data. He’s posted an average distance of 261 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 48 percent over his last 11 games, and batters with comparable recent Statcast data have averaged a historical Plus/Minus of +4.76 at Coors Field.
Russell is facing Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb in today’s contest, and facing a southpaw puts Russell on the positive side of his batting splits; he’s posted a wOBA of .368 and ISO of .243 against lefties over the past 12 months. Russell has also been hitting well of late, owning 15-day/12-month distance, exit velocity and hard hit differentials of +29 feet, +5 miles per hour and +21 percentage points. Historically, batters with comparable differentials have recorded an average Plus/Minus of +1.40. Russell is relatively affordable at only $4,100 and should have reasonable ownership with the Cubs’ implied team total ranking so low among today’s teams.
100 Park Factor – All Rockies and Padres Batters
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park adjusted for handedness. Batters at Coors Field have averaged more fantasy points and a higher Plus/Minus than at any other stadium in baseball, and batters of all handedness are rewarded with a perfect Park Factor of 100. Additionally, the weather in Colorado is supposed to provide almost perfect hitting conditions today, giving the game a strong Weather Rating of 97. Historically, comparable weather conditions at Coors have resulted in a Plus/Minus of +1.26.
In addition to Blackmon, both DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds have strong Statcast data over the last 15 days. LeMahieu has posted 15-day/12-month distance and hard hit differentials of +13 feet and +16 percentage points, and batters in the top third of the lineup with comparable differentials at Coors have posted a historical Plus/Minus of +2.32. Reynolds, meanwhile, is second on the team with a recent distance of 228 feet, and, despite occupying the cleanup spot, his average ownership of 6.8 percent at Coors this season ranks 11th among Rockies hitters. Stacking the Rockies with Reynolds and avoiding someone like Nolan Arenado – his average ownership of 16.9 percent at Coors ranks first – could be a way to capture the upside of Coors Field in a slightly contrarian manner.
The Padres are implied for ‘only’ 5.2 runs at Coors, which could make their average ownership reasonable compared to the Rockies. Underdogs at Coors have historical ownership of 8.2 percent, and while that’s still relatively high, it’s significantly lower than the average ownership of favorites at 12.7 percent. Manuel Margot and Carlos Asuaje are projected to occupy the top-two spots in the lineup for the Padres, and at $3,800 and $3,700, respectively, they’re relatively cheap. Batters at Coors with comparable lineup spots and salaries have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.24, and Asuaje is also in good recent form with a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +15 feet. Jabari Blash could be a contrarian option as the projected No. 6 hitter for the Padres, and he’s posted a ridiculous 304-foot batted ball distance over the last 15 days. He’s done that over a small sample size of just four games, but batters at Coors with an average recent distance of at least 280 feet have averaged a historical Plus/Minus of +7.83.
88 Team Value Rating – Kansas City Royals
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Royals lead today’s slate with a Team Value Rating of 88, despite their implied team total of 5.4 runs ranking only sixth. Part of the reason for the high grade is the fact that their batters are very affordable; Mike Moustakas is the highest-priced hitter on the team at just $4,200.
The Royals are facing Tigers’ lefty Matt Boyd today, which is not beneficial for most of their batters; only Salvador Perez and Brandon Moss have posted significantly positive wOBA and ISO differentials against lefties over the past 12 months. Additionally, only one projected Royals starter has positive Statcast differentials over the past 15 days: Alex Gordon. Projected to bat ninth, Gordon has a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +30 feet, and batters with comparable differentials and implied team totals have averaged a historical Plus/Minus of +1.44. Stacking the bottom-of-the-order Royals with Perez, Moss and Gordon will almost certainly be contrarian, but you could make a strong case that they offer more upside than the batters in the top four of the order.
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.