Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 11
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.
Rhys Hoskins, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies may be, on paper, one of the more talented in the National League, but their dynamic lineup has yet to find its groove in 2019. Over the last month, the Phils have sputtered to a team-wide OPS of .715, identical to that of the bottom-feeding Miami Marlins. At the center of this troubling stretch of offensive futility is Philadelphia's breakout slugger Rhys Hoskins, who in that span carries a subdued .232/.350/.354 slash line after posting a smoldering 1.001 OPS across his first 128 at-bats of the season.
But an apparent dip in production from Hoskins masks a strong stretch of plate-discipline heroics, as the hawk-eyed 26-year-old carries a slim 5% strikeouts-minus-walks over the last month on the back of a 25.9% reach rate and just 9% swinging strikes. Hoskins' choosiness may not show up in his power production over that period, but metrics indicate that it is, in fact, leading to quality contact, with the first baseman stinging a 48.7% hard-hit rate with 26.3% liners.
Looks for Hoskins' strong plate discipline to begin paying dividends in Week 11, as the Phillies aim to gang up on low-rent Arizona Diamondbacks starters Taylor Clarke and Jon Duplantier as well as tough-but-hittable Atlanta Braves arms like Kevin Gausman and Mike Foltynewicz.
Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
It's been quick the Jekyll-and-Hyde season for Paul DeJong. The St. Louis Cardinals' infielder began 2019 on fire, posting a .342/.403/.607 triple-slash line through his first 129 plate appearances, but of late, he's cooled off precipitously, slashing .169/.303/.313 in his last 100 trips.
Slight dips in season-long exit velocity and barrel rate don't seem to tell the full story here, but perhaps his .180 BABIP in the recent sample does. Given that DeJong has stroked 40.6% hard contact and just 37.5% fly balls, it's hard not to suspect some serious batted-ball misfortune here, as DeJong carries a career .304 BABIP and above-average sprint speed.
Look for the bounces to start going his DeJong's way sooner than later. With his salary trending towards the low-$3,000s on FanDuel, DeJong cound make an interesting contrarian play as the Cardinals visit the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins this week.
Nick Markakis, OF, Atlanta Braves
Nick Markakis rarely gets talked about when he's hitting well, so you better believe he's pretty much invisible now that he's slumping. The perennially underappreciated Atlanta Braves outfielder has been a shadow of his normally steady self over the last month, limping to a .218/.313/.322 slash line over his last 100 plate appearances.
Yet Markakis remains a skills metronome, posting an identical 12% walks to 12% strikeouts over that sample, with a barely-there 4.1% swinging strikes and some respectable if unspectacular quality of contact metrics (22.4% liners, 39.5% hard hit).
The veteran outfielder's steady production is certainly more suited to season-long fantasy, but when the price is right, he can make for a quietly productive contrarian option for daily players. Now might be the time, with Markakis trending in the mid-$3,000s on FanDuel and carrying some favorable splits (.854 OPS as home this season, .679 on the road) into a pair of series at SunTrust Park in Week 11.
Christian Walker, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
The bottom seems to have fallen out on the surprise breakout of Christian Walker, who followed up an eye-popping start to 2019 (.307 ISO across March and April) with an ice-cold slump that has seen the late-blooming Arizona Diamondbacks' infielder slash a miserable .211/.279/.368 over his last 104 plate appearances.
Yet the skill metrics that made Walker an out-of-nowhere talking point in early part of the season appear to be holding firm despite the poor recent results. Walker has rocked 24.2% liners in the recent sample, and his barrels and exit velocity metrics remain among the best in the league for the balance of the season, with Statcast crediting him with a .526 expected slugging (xSLG) even as his recent struggles have dragged his actual slugging percentage down to .486.
Also on the wane is Walker's FanDuel salary, which is trending in the low $3,000s, making the D-Backs' first baseman a relatively cheap, upside-rich option for daily players in the week ahead.
Brandon Drury, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
The back end of the struggling Toronto Blue Jays' lineup is not exactly a breeding ground for fantasy intrigue, but the recent work of Brandon Drury deserves some attention for daily players looking to find a diamond in the rough. Drury's .258/.304/.358 slash line over the last month won't turn any heads, but his 16.7% strikeout rate in that sample perhaps should, as the 26-year-old outfielder appears to be righting the ship on the troubling contact trends that saw him punch out at an alarming 34.9% clip over his first 106 plate appearances.
Couple that with 26.8% line drives and 41.1% hard contact in his most recent 76 plate appearances, and there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for the perennially underwhelming Drury, who Statcast credits with a .437 xSLG that would mark a career high.
With a FanDuel salary near the minimum, Drury could make for a sneaky-good roster filler this week as the Jays visit hitter-friendly Camden Yards to hack away at a very poor Baltimore Orioles staff.
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.