The Brew(er) Man Group: Evaluations Part XX
Welcome to my MLB article! Here I will take a data-driven approach to MLB DFS Baseball as it pertains to both Pitchers and Hitters alike.
I’ll be using an evaluating system that I developed over the last couple months with the goal of producing the most actionable advice possible with the help of macro and micro analytics! There’s a whole bunch of math going on, but it is all for a good cause, I promise.
As you read through this beautiful piece of work, keep in mind that MLB is a sport that thrives on variance. My article is based mostly on GPP thoughts and pivots looking to avoid the Chalk and succeed when others fail.
First off, I’ll need to give a little information about my evaluator, the data points in which it reads, and how the eventual grades are derived! The entire thing is based in Microsoft Excel, using data found on FanGraphs (FanGraphs.com), so literally, anyone could build it (if you have more free time than you know what to do with it, that is). It uses a complex set of formulas and equations to build into master sheets, which are populated with daily information, and sent to another page for Daily use.
Each stack will have its own grade depending on how the variables shake out in the specific matchup. Speaking of Variables, for Pitchers, we are dealing with 14 separate weighted variables, while Hitters run 15 separate weighted variables. The overlapping variables are as follow:
- Stadium (Where the game is played)
- Avg (The pitcher’s allowed hitting average)
- WHIP (Walks, Hits per Inning Pitched)
- GB% (The pitcher’s groundball percentage)
- HH% (The pitchers allowed Hard Hit percentage)
- HR/9 (How many HR’s the pitcher allows per 9 innings)
- K/9 (How many strikeouts the pitcher gets per 9 innings)
- wRC+ vs L (Offensive value against Lefties)
- wRC+ vs R (Offensive value against Righties)
- Team LD% (The average of a stack’s Line Drive percentage)
- Team HH% (The average of a stack’s Hard Hit percentage)
- SO% vs L (The average of a stack’s Strikeout percentage to Lefties)
- SO% vs R (The average of a stack’s Strikeout percentage to Righties)
- Total (The implied runs total for a stack)
For Hitters, we have an extra variable in Home/Away, since Away teams are guaranteed a chance at bat in the 9th inning and Home teams are not. These Variables have been chosen because I believe they are actionable and show true value when deciding on where to attack in DFS. Each one is weighted with values of 3, 5, 10, and 15 points (depending on importance and percentile) which adds up to 100. The grade that each Pitcher, Hitter, or Hitting Stack gets is then displayed using a formula that adds all those variables up!
Now that we have all the verbiage out of the way, let’s get down to business!
This slate is relatively devoid of fantastic pitching options, and it kind of forces you into paying way up for Carlos Carrasco ($13,200) when he really doesn’t deserve to be in that pricing range at all (generally reserved for Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw type Aces). If you want to pay down a bit further, you’ll be sacrificing a lot of floor and safety to do so, and many of the options upside is rather limited as it stands. I would stay away from cash games today and focus entirely on GPPs with these pitching options.
Top plays at the position:
Pick of the Slate: Kenta Maeda
I don’t generally believe in paying a premium for a pitcher simply due to lack of options, and Carlos Carrasco is not worth $13k in almost any matchup, so I’m trying to pay down at the position today. Kenta Maeda has my second highest rating (56) on a slate with a lack of good options and has a lot of good things going for him. He has the second lowest implied total on the slate at 3.4, and plays in the best park for pitching in the league on the road at San Francisco. The Giants have a minuscule 81.31 wRC+ against RHP and below average marks in both line-drive rate (18%) and hard-hit rate (31%). Maeda has the advanced stats to back up his 3.79 ERA, and his biggest weakness in giving up the long ball is mitigated nicely by a weak hitting team in a huge park.
Carlos Carrasco is my top rated pitcher on the slate, but is overpriced due to a matchup with a flailing Tigers team and a lack of elite options on the slate. His 10.14 K/9 is the highest on the slate and this Tigers team sports a 26% strikeout rate to RHP, showing the obvious upside Carrasco can offer in this spot. We also get the benefit of an implied win bonus, considering the Indians have the highest IRT on the slate against a rookie with a bad bullpen behind him. Carrasco is the highest upside play, but also overpriced for his median production.
I always worry about playing Estrada, especially against heavy hitting teams, but I think that his price in this matchup is more than compensating for his downside. I do worry that his splits against RHH match up a bit too well with the Orioles lineup (29% groundball rate, 1.48 HR/9) but the Orioles have been awful at the plate over the last 15 days, sporting the lowest recent hitting grade of any team on the slate (16 overall). Estrada has a high K/9 of 9.08 and if the Orioles bats are cold again, he has a chance to easily pay off a tag of only $6800.
Other pitchers in consideration for one reason or another:
- Reynaldo Lopez (good upside, strong stuff, Royals have weak bats)
- Zack Greinke (Low owned with plenty of upside, Rockies can strikeout a lot)
- Brandon Woodruff (Impressive in limited action, Pirates very cold, Brewers run support)
Top 25 Hitter Evaluations
With a lot of sub par pitching options on the slate, we are sure to have a lot of options to consider at the plate. We have 4 teams currently implied over 5 runs, with 2 teams very close behind, so picking and choosing the correct spots will be important. With that being said, it’s a nice day to find the chalk cheap pitcher and take some bats against him to complete some stacks.
Top plays for Hitters on this slate:
Pick of the Slate: Aaron Judge
Since the All Star Break, Aaron Judge has been ice cold at the plate. Recently, however, we have seen him making more contact as well as trending in the right direction in power and launch angle (as evidenced by a double dong last night). He is surging and gets to face off with Jake Odorizzi and the Rays bullpen in a friendly offensive environment. Judge’s 153 wRC+ and 44% hard-hit rate to RHP should come in handy against a righty that struggles against same side hitters, allowing 43% hard contact and 2.11 HR/9 to RHH.
My highest rated hitter on the slate, Domingo Santana faces off against Steven Brault, a relief pitcher, at home against the Pirates. With a 128.26 wRC+, 31% line-drive rate, and 42% hard-hit rate against LHP, he is the best overall hitter in his current split on this slate (besides maybe J.D. Martinez) and plays in a nice offensive park in Milwaukee. The Brewers have been hitting very well lately, and Steven Brault is not good, with a mediocre 45% groundball rate and 1.58 HR/9 to RHH, giving plenty of opportunity for event upside. Domingo Santana is one of the best values for us as well, at only $3800, and has a very good chance to break the 15 point barrier in this spot.
As mentioned above, J.D. Martinez is in the best position of any hitter on this slate and faces off against Kyle Freeland and the Rockies at home in Arizona. Martinez is on fire, with 7 HRs over his last 5 including a 4 HR game. His 208 wRC+ and 51% hard-hit rate are unmatched, both in and out of applicable split, and Kyle Freeland is nothing special. His 61% groundball rate is worrisome, but his 4.63 K/9 is not, meaning a lot of contact in a great hitting environment. There’s nothing wrong with riding a hot streak.
Other hitters in consideration:
- Ryan Braun (great against LHP, very cheap, lots of upside)
- Justin Smoak (Jimenez sucks against LHH, 2.3 HR/9 allowed, low ownership)
- Mike Moustakas (Hitting well right now, Lopez gives up a lot of hard contact, good IRT)
Top Stacking Evaluations
I’m not exactly sure where the ownership will go, but if people pay up for Carrasco it’ll be hard to fit the Diamondbacks. If that is the case, I think they are the highest upside option on the slate, but in the case that they do end up getting touted hard, we do have a couple other spots to consider. Make sure to pay attention to who gets attention today, as it would be a good strategy to attack the chalky cheap SP today with such low floors all around.
Let’s break a couple of these spots down:
Stack of the Slate: Milwaukee Brewers at home against Steven Brault
Like I mentioned earlier, the Brewers are hitting very well right now and are coming off of a sweep of the Cubs in Wrigley, and now get a bullpen game against Steven Brault and the Pirates’ arms. This matchup features a 1.8 K/BB and a 15% strikeout rate (lowest on the slate), as well as a 68% LOB rate that isn’t going to be helped by a good offensive ballpark. Overall, the ratings against the SP/BP are what carry this to my top rating, with the teams stacking averages relatively low, but with a team that is hitting hot, the SP/BP matchup is more important regardless. We know the Brewers have a lot of home run upside, and if they get to Breault early it could come out to play here.
Blue Jays at home against Ubaldo Jimenez:
I have a feeling that Jimenez will be popular tomorrow due to a combination of cheap price tag and a perceived “good matchup”. He put up a gem against the Bluejays a couple months ago, and if people believe in the PvT there he will get more ownership than he should. The Bluejays are a weak team this year but have some LHH that can really get to Jimenez, as well as some very good RHH that can break his strong splits. With a 1.64 HR/9 and a 1.455 WHIP, this matchup has plenty of room for RBI and event upside, and we know the Baltimore bullpen is very bad. We have the strongest SP/BP rating here and would hope that the Jays can get on base for a power lefty like Smoak to drive up the runs.
Yankees on the road against Jake Odorizzi:
The Yankees are getting hot again over the last couple weeks, and look to be making a surge into the wild-card race. They play against Jake Odorizzi, who is a decent arm but gives up a lot of hard contact (43% to RHH) and a lot of HRs (matchup features a 1.53 cumulative HR/9). This is great news for the Yankees who have a plethora of power RHH including Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, who are both heating up. I also love to see a super low BABIP with this spot, currently .256, giving some confidence in regression to the mean. If that regression comes in this matchup it could mean a lot of RBIs for this aggressive lineup.
Other stacking spots that make sense:
- Diamondbacks (Surging right now, good ballpark, contact pitcher)
- Mariners (Hamels much worse at home, good ballpark, low owned)
- Royals (contact heavy team, pitcher gives up hard contact, large IRT)
May Variance be with you, and I’ll see you at the cash line.
As always, you can follow me at @PayDirt_DFS on twitter! Thanks for reading!