Baseball is filled with numbers; some may argue too many numbers. A portion of them can be used to predict performance, while others are pretty much meaningless. This “DFS Study Session” is aimed at Daily Fantasy players who want to learn more about key statistics used to screen pitchers and hitters for their daily fantasy contests. The following is a introductory guide to what we at TheFakeBaseball believe are some of the most important stats/indicators to monitor for DFS MLB. Beginners should find this piece very useful, while more seasoned players can use this as a checklist to review their DFS repertoire. Either way, enjoy the stat-crunching journey into the wonderful world of Daily Fantasy MLB!
Rule #1: Pay attention to the Vegas odds. This should be your starting place every day. The Fake Baseball’s cheat sheet does a great job at listing not only all the Vegas odds, but the peripheral stats to go along with it (team wOBa vs R/L, strikeout rate, wOBA H/A/L14). This is the most comprehensive tool for DFS MLB research as it gives you an idea of which games are projected to foster more runs.
Dig a little deeper into the stats. When looking at the Vegas odds, you want to use the o/u as your guide to screening offenses in a good position. Any over/under 9 or above is considered high, and you should direct your attention to that game. Figure out why the over/under is set at that number. Examine both pitchers, and look at their weaknesses. For example, does one pitcher give up a high wOBA or HR/9IP to left-handed batters? If so, give a hard look to the power-hitting lefties in that lineup (more on this later).
Screening for pitchers. Conversely, you want to target pitchers who are slated in games with a low o/u, usually of 7.5 total runs or less. On top of this, you want to seek out pitchers who are in a good position to get the win. You can screen for this by looking at the pitchers who are favored by -140 to -150 or greater. The higher the odds (-), the better in this scenario. A “money-line” of over -200 is considered elite. Using these odds, paired with the peripheral stats listed in the matchup sheet should give you a great view of the daily pitching landscape.
Which stats should you use? One of the best indicators for hitters (and opposing pitchers) is the wOBA metric. FanGraphs does a good job of fully explaining this metric here, but essentially it takes batting average and on-base percentage and weighs them appropriately for extra-base hits. You can take this a step further by isolating how certain pitchers stack up (in terms of wOBA) vs left and right-handed hitters. The same goes for batters vs pitchers of each handedness.
What other stats are important? When looking for power upside, you want to use the ISO statistic, defined by FanGraphs here. Overall, it is used to measure the “extra-base potential” of a given player, and anything higher than .180 is considered above average. Taking this, and referencing it with the wOBA rating and HR/9 statistics of the opposing pitcher (on top of the park factor) can yield to some high upside power hitters suitable for large tournament formats.