Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 9
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.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, Colorado Rockies
After a fractured fingered deflated the excitement surrounding Daniel Murphy's debut season with the Colorado Rockies, the veteran hit maker has been slow to warm up since his return in late April. Murphy carries a pedestrian .210/.265/.339 slash line through 68 plate appearances in May, with a .111 ISO at home across that sample indicating that the benefits of the hitter's haven at Coors Field have been thus far lost on the 34-year-old infielder.
In terms of skills, however, Murphy still looks very shrewd at the dish. His 5.8% swinging strike rate across May is pristine, somewhat apologizing for his 17.6% overall strikeouts in that span, notably above his career rate of 12% but still well below league average. His 65.5% swings in the zone might have you think that Murphy is tentative in the wake of his injury, but that number falls right in line with career norms for the choosy veteran. It really does seem as if the balls Murphy is looking to attack (37.3% hard contact in May) simply aren't falling for hits (.240 BABIP).
Murphy's batted-ball luck should level out sooner than later, and a Week 9 home stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays is a nice opportunity for daily players to get in while his price is still relatively cheap.
Shohei Ohtani, DH, Los Angeles Angels
The hype around Shohei Ohtani has somewhat dimmed, partly because the novelty surrounding his fantasy-provider-busting dual eligibility has subsided, and partly because his production has been rather quiet since his return to action in early May.
And while it's true that the Japanese phenom's .227/.307/.318 triple slash across his first 75 plate appearances is nothing to gawk at, under the hood Ohtani looks much closer to the dominant power force who took the league by storm early last season. The 24-year-old carries a strong 33.3% line drive rate and a gaudy 45.8% hard contact mark, while Statcast credits him with an expected batting average (xBA) of .296 and an expected slugging percentage (xSLG) of .455.
Week 9 finds Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels visiting Oakland Coliseum and T-Mobil Park, not exactly prime hitting venues, but we all know that Ohtani has power that plays anywhere, and his low-$3,000s price tag on FanDuel pegs him as a terrific value.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Marcell Ozuna can't seem to string together a period of impressive production, as his .198/.277/.396 May slash line punctuates another underwhelming campaign to follow his injury-addled 2018.
Adding to the frustration, Ozuna's peripherals look impressive as ever: he's rocked 48.6% hard contact across 101 plate appearances this past month, while Statcast pegs him for an 11.2% barrels rate that sets him just behind of Mike Trout for 14th best in the majors on the season.
Ozuna believers have no reason to stop believing, and if his recent lack of production drags his FanDuel price below $4,000, he could be a profitable mid-priced play in Week 9.
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves
May was an ominous month for Ozzie Albies and his fantasy owners last year, with the heralded rookie turning an ugly corner after a white hot .293/.341/.647 performance in April of last season. He limped to a .254/.296/.409 line from May on last season, and May has been just as cruel to the Atlanta Braves infielder this year, with Albies slashing a very dire .240/.294/.330 over 109 plate appearances on the month.
Plate discipline problems persist for Albies (12.5% whiffs, 39.9% reach rate in the May sample), but he's doing quality work with the pitches he is getting a hold of, stroking 44.4% hard contact and 26.3% liners over the last month. Pessimism around the unproven Albies has depressed his FanDuel salary below $3,000, making him a very intriguing lineup filler when the Braves host the back end of the Detroit Tigers rotation over the weekend.
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Hamstrung by one of the most lefty-hostile ballparks in the majors, Brandon Belt's anticipated 30-homer power now seems like a Bigfoot-grade myth, with the 31-year-old San Francisco Giants lefty still waiting on his first 20-homer campaign in his ninth MLB season.
Surface stats show more of the same middling production from Belt, who sports a .698 OPS over his last 70 plate appearances. It's hard to cry foul on that .239 BABIP over that span considering the 40.4% fly ball rate that comes with it, but that 43.8% hard contact and 5.7% strikeouts-minus-walks sure paints the profile of a dormant slugger waiting to bust out. If only he could catch a break from that cavernous AT&T Park.
One such break is coming this weekend, with the Giants visiting the Baltimore Orioles in the much more hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Even if Belt's high-$2,000s FanDuel salary bumps up a little for that road matchup, he makes for a very interesting dart throw against super sluggable Orioles arms like Andrew Cashner and David Hess.
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/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.