We talk about ownership and how important it is to predict it in tournaments. We talk about player talent, and price, and recent performance, and a whole bunch of other factors to try to predict a player’s popularity from night to night.
Perhaps the most overlooked is the general scarcity of his position. The more options there are at a position, the more ownership will be evenly distributed. The scarcer the position, the more top-heavy the ownership.
Take shortstop, for example. In my model, you have Tulo, De Jesus, and then everyone else. I think shortstop is generally pretty scarce, which drives up ownership on a viable option when there’s one available.
Compare that to first base. There are so many options every night that there’s pretty much never a reason to be contrarian there. Whereas it’s probably a +EV tournament strategy to fade Tulo, even though he’s the best value, there’s less incentive to fade whoever you have as the top first base value tonight. He just isn’t going to see the same ownership, and thus offers more usable value if he performs well.
The point is to look at the number of viable options and how they’re priced, then determine how people might behave given that selection.
NY Yankees (vs Phil Hughes)
The Yankees are underutilized almost every night, in my opinion. They have so much upside basically throughout the order, both in terms of stolen base and home run potential. Lefty-dominant lineups are often somewhat risky because a lot of left-handed bats can be neutralized by southpaws, but the Yanks have a lot of even splits players who hit both hands of pitchers quite well. I like an Ellsbury/Gardner/A-Rod/Teixeira/McCann stack.
Houston Astros (vs Jeremy Guthrie)
The Astros have been going deep a lot lately, which generally increases ownership, but I think most will be off them tonight in Kansas City. Kauffman Stadium is a pitcher’s park, but I think it has a chance to play very well for Houston tonight. It’s going to be 90 degrees at first pitch with moderate winds likely blowing out straight to left field. The Astros should roll out a predominantly right-handed lineup that still has power against right-handed arms, so I like their home run probability more than the general public probably will in this game.
C Brian McCann, NY Yankees (vs Minnesota Twins) – $3800
This is a simple issue of understand where the crowd is going to be. Everyone is going to be on either Kyle Schwarber or the catchers in the Colorado game, in my view. Schwarber is on absolute fire and certainly a risky fade, but McCann represents decent value at dramatically reduced ownership. If you’re risk-averse, you might want to mix in Schwarber exposure so you don’t see a really massive swing if he goes off.
SS Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis (vs Manny Banuelos) – $4600
Peralta looks overpriced at $4600, which is $200 more than Troy Tulowitzki. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict Tulo will be in more tournament lineups by a wide margin. And although the Rockies are clearly the more high-upside offense, Peralta is arguably in a superior individual spot against a weak left-hander. Peralta has a 12-month running ISO of .226 against lefties, compared to Tulo’s .160 ISO split versus righties.
OF David Peralta, Arizona (vs Jimmy Nelson) – $3300
For the low, low price of $3300, you can acquire one of the most high-value outfielders playing today, at home in extreme heat, facing a handedness of pitcher against whom he has a .228 ISO over the past year. I think you’re going to have a tough time finding more upside for your dollar tonight. There are a number of really cheap, high-upside outfielders tonight, so this is a nice position at which to fade the game in Coors.
Note that Peralta suffered a concussion on Wednesday, though I’m not overly concerned about it given that he had yesterday off, which was a planned day of rest.
P Corey Kluber, Cleveland (vs Chicago White Sox) – $11500
Even though Max Scherzer costs $14000, I still think he’s going to have high ownership. Almost everyone who rosters him won’t be able to afford Kluber. The same goes for Felix Hernandez, Chris Archer, and perhaps Jon Lester.
The point is there are a lot of freaking aces throwing tonight, which means usage will be spread out more than normal. If you ever considering going against the grain at pitcher—which is perceived as a dumb strategy but I think actually has merit sometimes—tonight probably isn’t the best night to do it.
Kluber is facing an offense that can strike out a lot and is projected at just 3.1 implied runs by Vegas. He also has Adam Hamari behind home plate—an ump who has historically added 2.1 DraftKings points above expectation to pitchers’ scores.