Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 23
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.
Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
August was the leanest power period so far for Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Olson, with his .198 ISO on the month representing quite a step down from the .315 mark that he posted in an injury-shortened first half.
The peripheral numbers don't support such a relative dry spell, though. Olson's batted-ball profile still carried the mark of a dangerous stick despite the subdued results in August, with the 25-year-old stinging 31.9% liners and 47.2% hard contact across 117 plate appearances on the month. Statcast consistently pegs Olson as a legit power force: on the season, he carries a 91st-percentile exit velocity and a 98th-percentile expected slugging mark.
FanDuel players can enjoy a slight discount on Olson (his salary has stalled in the mid-$3,000s) as the Athletics encounter perhaps the softest hitting schedule of the upcoming week, squaring off against ramshackle rotations from the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers.
Shohei Ohtani, DH, Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani has been in something of a power funk, posting a mediocre .146 ISO across 102 plate appearances in August. An elevated groundball rate (51.5%) is cause for some concern, but otherwise, Ohtani has been every bit the phenom as far as contact metrics are concerned, pounding 25% liners on the month with a 51.5% hard-contact rate that's good for a top-25 mark in the Majors over that period.
The Angels slugger should make for a strong mid-priced play this week as the Halos square off against an inconsistent Oakland Athletics rotation before visiting the hitter's haven at Guaranteed Rate Field over the weekend.
Christian Walker, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Christian Walker's breakout campaign for the Arizona Diamondbacks has been an up-and-down affair. The infielder has yet to replicate the heights of his barn-storming first month (.994 OPS and .307 ISO through the end of April), but growth in his plate approach suggest Walker's late-blooming success for the D-backs is no fluke.
Indeed, concerns about sustainability marred Walker's eye-opening first half, as the 28-year-old undercut his power production with an ugly 19.1% strikeouts-minus-walks before the break. But in the second half, Walker has chiseled that mark all the way down to 6.6%.
Meanwhile, it appears he might be leaving some power production on the table, as his middling .152 ISO in August is underwritten by an excellent 28% liner rate on 42.7% hard contact. Walker and his mid-$3,000s FanDuel salary make for a strong upside play, particularly when the D-backs cap the week off with a trip to the the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
On any other team, in any other season, Corey Seager would be a standout. And yet on the hard-mashing Los Angeles Dodgers, amid 2019's offensive explosion, the 25-year-old infielder has managed to get lost in the shuffle.
Seager's .255/.294/.490 August slash line does seem rather ho-hum in the current climate, but his advanced stats over that period are anything but ordinary. His 54.1% hard-contact rate was 13th-highest in the MLB on the month, a slightly better mark than his MVP-caliber teammate Cody Bellinger and just a hair shy of prolific slugger Aaron Judge.
After a boxscore-filling turn on Monday, Seager's FanDuel salary might not wallow in the low-$3,000s for much longer, so daily players should grab the discount while they can as the Dodgers face the rouges' gallery at the back end of the Colorado Rockies rotation before catching a middling San Francisco Giants staff to end the week.
Mike Tauchman, OF, New York Yankees
One of the seemingly endless string of out-of-nowhere sluggers to buoy an injury-ravaged New York Yankees squad, Mike Tauchman broke out with a vengeance earlier in the summer, stroking a jaw-dropping 1.169 OPS through his first 99 plate appearances as a Yankee regular.
The second half of August has been another story entirely, with Tauchman submitting a .556 OPS and barely-there .023 ISO since the 17th of August.
Small samples tend to reveal all manner of anomalies, but one thing is steady for Tauchman, and that is a consistently excellent plate approach. The 28-year-old carries a lean 7.1% swinging-strike rate across 156 second-half at-bats, reaching on a mere 22.3% of pitches outside of the zone, and making contact at a strong 82.6% clip, under two percentage points behind that of teammate DJ LeMahieu, known for his elite contact skills.
Such plate prowess has allowed Tauchman to maintain a terrific 36.4% liner rate during his late-August slump. Expect Tauchman's results to catch back up with his skills sooner than later, with potential to make a strong profit on his sub-$3,000 FanDuel salary.
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.