Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 25
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.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
Andrew Benintendi is in many ways the symbol for a disappointing Boston Red Sox season. The erstwhile breakout candidate has continued his steadily underwhelming production through the late summer, limping to a .246/.322/.397 slash line since the start of August.
And even as the Sox have all but thrown in the towel on their title defense, there is some glimmer of hope that Benintendi can end the season on a high note. Despite a .151 ISO over his last 144 plate appearances, the 25-year-old outfielder's contact metrics find him wielding a rather hot stick indeed. Just check out his 45.4% hard contact and 25% line drives over that span.
Benintendi's low-$3,000s FanDuel salary still very much pegs him as an underachiever, and while the Sox might struggle to produce against the dynamite Tampa Bay Rays staff over the weekend, at that price, Benintendi should make for a strong upside play during three-game homestand against the San Francisco Giants.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
Skills decline and youth bias have conspired towards a rather steep decline in reputation for Miguel Cabrera, at least in fantasy circles.
It's hard to blame fantasy players for moving on to better, younger hitters. The Detroit Tigers stalwart just hasn't cut it this year, with a .287/.352/.397 triple slash that seems especially dire in the current power climate.
And yet it's hard not to get a little excited when we notice that Miggy is slugging a much more robust .317/.396/.460 since the start of August. More intriguing still, Cabrera's contact metrics have been very strong over that span, with the ageless 36-year-old smoking 27.7% liners, 48.5% hard contact, and just 6.9% soft contact over his last 144 plate appearances.
Perhaps there's a little pixie dust left in the tank for Miggy, who carries a low-$3,000s FanDuel salary into a week where the Tigers square off against talent-starved rotations from the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
Dansby Swanson carries a reputation as a glove-first superstar, but his recent work for the Atlanta Braves might be taking that designation a bit too far. Since returning from a heel injury in late August, Swanson has been positively dreadful at the dish, tallying a .158 average and .053 ISO across 69 plate appearances.
One look at Swanson's peripheral stats peg this as small-sample shenanigans. That 30.4% strikeout rate is certainly unsightly, but with an exceptional 33.3% liners, 44.4% hard contact, and 15.9% walks, Swanson hardly seems over-matched at the plate.
Daily players should pounce on Swanson's sub-$3,000 FanDuel salary as the prolific Braves offense draws six home games this week, including matchups with combustible arms like Jason Vargas, Zach Eflin, and Dereck Rodriguez.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Washington Nationals
Long gone are Brian Dozier's days as a fantasy star, but his fall from grace has probably been a bit overstated in the second half of 2019. Granted, Dozier is slashing a rather unremarkable .214/.337/.386 since the calendar flipped to August, but there's a good chance some bad batted-ball luck is at play here.
Dozier's .212 BABIP over that span is significantly lower than his .271 career mark. His command of the strike zone remains intact over that span, with the Washington Nationals infielder submitting a slender 1.2% strikeouts-minus-walks and just 8.3% swinging strikes. The resultant quality of contact is solid if not eye-popping (41.1% hard-hit, 23.2% liners), leaving Dozier and his mid-$2,000s FanDuel salary as a cheap piece of the surging Nationals offense as they look to beat up on some inconsistent arms in the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins rotation.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Batting average woes have kept Teoscar Hernandez at the very margins of season-long fantasy consideration all season, with the 26-year-old Toronto Blue Jays outfielder slashing a rather ugly .219/.294/.439 on the year on the back of a 33.4% strikeout rate.
Contact problems continue to plague the young outfielder of late. That strikeout rate is all the way up to a hair-raising 40.9% since the start of August. But Hernandez's go-for-broke approach has also produced some interesting contact trends, with Teoscar's 55% hard contact rate a top-five mark in the majors over that span. Considering he's also elevating the ball for a 41.7% fly rate during that period, we might expect a little upward give on his .446 slugging percentage.
Daily players don't really need to mind the ratios the way that season-long players do, so Hernandez and his mid-$2,000s FanDuel salary might represent a lucrative dart throw as the Blue Jays spend the week in the hitter-friendly environs of Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium.
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.