For those of you that have been following the ever growing trend of analytics in baseball, you are probably familiar with the latest addition to Major League Baseball’s statistical portfolio called Statcast. On a basic level, Statcast presents fantasy players with tremendous insight into what’s really happening on a baseball field. It brought together a missile defense technology from a company called Trackman with a German company called ChyronHego to track and measure the movement of both the baseball and the players on the field.
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With this technology, we can gain a greater understanding of not only what is happening in a baseball game from a traditional baseball statistic perspective, but also why these things are happening and what is more likely to occur in the future. From a predictive sense, we’d much rather use a hitter in DFS who is consistently squaring the ball up and driving it (which you can see in his exit velocity) even if he isn’t necessarily having success in a traditional sense with hits, homeruns, etc. In fact, the Tampa Bay Rays don’t judge their hitters based on batting average at all, but instead focus on the players exit velocity.
We are really just scratching surface with this data, but even at this point, it can be incredibly beneficial in examining hitter or pitcher performance and often times can point you in the direction of low owned DFS plays, as hitters may be really hitting the ball well but getting unlucky with the actual results.
One of my favorite strategies in DFS is utilizing Statcast data to match up a pitcher’s repertoire and tendencies vs each handedness of hitter and matching that up with the strengths of a hitter based on exit velocity (and at times launch angle). At times, we may have sample size issues in these cases, but many times you will get greater insight into a batter vs. pitcher matchup. It’s really more of a batter vs. pitch type analysis, as opposed to the traditional Batter vs. Pitcher (BvP) data that many will reference in DFS research.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at some guys who really jump out based on this data for the real 2017 MLB Opening Day!
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
I, like many other baseball fans, am enamored with Benintendi’s talent as baseball player. He’s the top prospect in baseball for a reason, and I’ll be targeting him early and often in DFS this season hitting out of the 2 hole for a dynamic Red Sox offense. Tomorrow, however, is a truly great spot for the young outfielder. Gerritt Cole is a talented young pitcher, but he relies almost entirely on a hard 4-seam fastball and a slider to left handed hitters. Benintendi excelled in his time with the big club last year against these pitches, with a 92.7 MPH EV and .500 ISO against 93-96 MPH fastballs, and a 92.5 MPH EV and .471 ISO against sliders. He’s my favorite OF play for both cash games and GPPs on tomorrow’s slate.