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Daily Baseball 101: Examining Splits, Part 2

Michael Rathburn

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. He was also nominated by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for Best Baseball Series in 2011.


A couple weeks ago I dug into the importance of analyzing splits stats in daily fantasy baseball, with the intention of going further by looking at specific aspects like position, batting order, and handedness. The differences in a hitter’s wOBA (weighted on base percentage) are very important in identifying the highest optimal environment. Of course, this is combined with taking your hitters against weaker pitching (look for high fly ball/low strikeout/high walk pitchers) to go against.

Let's start off with some baselines first. The reason for doing this is to get familiar with the league averages. That way when we start talking about hitters with .450 wOBA, the significance will mean something because you are getting a 25 percent advantage over the league average. All data is from 2011-2013 unless noted.

Average wOBA

All hitters .315
LHB vs. LHP .290
RHB vs. RHP.305
LHB vs. RHP .325
RHB vs. LHP .325

I have preached this before, but I really wanted to emphasize the importance of seeking LHB vs. RHP and RHB vs. LHP matchups because over a period of time these large sample sizes prove out that the statistics are in your favor by adhering to this strategy. Again, it is not an absolute because you have to combine this with the park factors, batting order, and opposing pitcher.

Batting Order

1st - .320
2nd - .315
3rd - .350
4th - .345
5th - .327
6th - .319
7th - .307
8th - .294
9th - .245

Note the significant drop off from taking a hitter in the bottom third of third of the order. This is even more important when you start looking at mini stacks (taking three hitters from the same team). Taking hitters who follow each other in the lineup (3-4-5, 1-2-3, etc.) is the ideal situation. When you are taking hitters out of order, you run the risk of not getting the inherent benefit of the runs and RBI. (1st hitter gets on, 2nd hitter gets on, 3rd hitter hits a homerun, and now hitter 4 is up with no one on).

Positions

C - .310
1B - .340
2B - .310
3B - .320
SS - .305
OF - .325

Your key offensive positions are 1B, 3B, and OF, with C, 2B, and then SS at the bottom. I typically will look at getting my value from those C/2B/SS slots unless there is a top-tier player in a great environment (Buster Posey vs. LHB on the road, Troy Tulowitzki vs. LHP at home, Dustin Pedroia vs. LHP at home).

While we cover some of the basics on the hitting side, looking at team totals for deciding starting pitching is the best measure for success in daily fantasy baseball. Taking into consideration a team total at home versus road, and how hitters perform against right-handed pitching and left-handed pitching are the two measures I look at along with wOBA and strikeout rate. Statistics are from March 31 – May 31 of this season.

Home Stats

Highest K Rate

1. Astros - 25 percent
2. Mariners - 25 percent
3. White Sox - 24 percent
4. Mets - 23 percent
5. Cubs – 23 percent
6. Phillies - 23 percent
7. Braves - 23 percent
8. Giants - 22 percent
9. Padres - 21 percent
10. Dodgers - 21 percent

Lowest wOBA

1. Mariners - .277
2. Mets - .286
3. Padres - .291
4. Royals - .294
5. Orioles - .297
6. Phillies - .299
7. Rangers - .302
8. Cubs - .303
9. Brewers - .307
10. Nationals - .310

Teams on this list twice: Mariners, Mets, Padres, Phillies. The first three are poor offensive teams in pitching-friendly ballparks. You can have confidence selecting pitchers on the road against any of those three squads.

Lowest K Rate

1. Tigers - 14 percent
2. Royals - 14 percent
3. Rockies - 14 percent
4. Athletics - 16 percent
5. Indians - 16 percent
6. Rays - 16 percent
7. Pirates - 17 percent
8. Cardinals - 18 percent
9. Rangers - 18 percent
10. Yankees - 18 percent

Highest wOBA

1. Rockies - .409
2. Blue Jays - .358
3. Marlins - .351
4. Athletics - .348
5. Tigers - .341
6. Yankees - .339
7. Indians - .337
8. Diamondbacks - .327
9. Pirates - .325
10. Rays - .325

Some of these are obvious like the Tigers, Athletics, and Rockies, but take note of the Marlins wOBA at home with a .351 wOBA. The Fins aren’t an automatic play against in this situation like in past seasons.

Road Stats

Highest K Rate

1. Marlins 25 percent
2. Twins 25 percent
3. Braves 24 percent
4. Cubs 23 percent
5. Pirates 23 percent
6. White Sox 23 percent
7. Padres 22 percent
8. Giants 22 percent
9. Red Sox 22 percent
10. Brewers 22 percent

Lowest wOBA

1. Reds - .282
2. Diamondbacks - .284
3. Padres - .284
4. Rays - .287
5. Cardinals - .290
6. Cubs - .290
7. Royals - .294
8. Braves - .294
9. Pirates - .295
10. Twins - .297

Teams on both lists: Twins, Braves, Cubs, Pirates, Padres. Home or road, the Padres offense is putrid and should pretty much be the first team you look at going against when taking your pitcher. The first two teams (Reds, Diamondbacks) on the lowest wOBA are both home hitter parks, and suffer when going on the road.

Lowest K Rate

1. Royals - 16 percent
2. Blue Jays - 17 percent
3. Rangers - 19 percent
4. Mariners - 19 percent
5. Indians - 19 percent
6. Yankees - 19 percent
7. Orioles - 19 percent
8. Dodgers - 19 percent
9. Rays 20 - percent
10. Phillies - 20 percent

Highest wOBA

1. Angels - .338
2. Blue Jays - .332
3. Dodgers - .330
4. Orioles - .329
5. Brewers - .328
6. Rangers - .326
7. Athletics - .322
8. Tigers - .319
9. Nationals - .315
10. White Sox - .315

Interesting that the Mariners, who were the worst hitting team at home, are the fourth lowest team in strikeouts on the road. Teams that appear on both lists Blue Jays, Rangers, Orioles.

Handedness of a lineup can be a very overlooked part of daily fantasy baseball strategy. When the lineups are released, you need to take note if the manager has adjusted his lineup for the consideration of the opposing pitcher. If a left-handed pitcher is on the mound, did the manager put in a right-handed hitter heavy lineup? Did the manager move up right-handed hitters in the lineup? Rays manager Joe Maddon is the best in baseball at this.

Versus Right Handed Pitching

Lowest wOBA

1. Padres - .285
2. Braves - .285
3. Cubs - .285
4. Mets - .290
5. Phillies - .290
6. Mariners - .293
7. Royals - .294
8. Diamondbacks - .303
9. Astros - .303
10. Rays - .305

Highest K Rate

1. White Sox - 23 percent
2. Marlins - 23 percent
3. Astros - 23 percent
4. Giants - 23 percent
5. Braves - 22 percent
6. Cubs - 22 percent
7. Padres - 22 percent
8. Twins - 22 percent
9. Mariners - 22 percent
10. Angels - 21 percent

Teams that appear on both lists: Braves, Cubs, Padres, Mariners, and Astros. The theme here, especially on multiple pitchers sites where you can really only get one ace in your lineup, is take mid-tier pitching against these bad offenses.

Highest wOBA

1. Blue Jays - .347
2. Rockies - .345
3. Athletics - .339
4. Dodgers - .338
5. Indians - .335
6. Tigers - .331
7. Marlins - .329
8. Angels - .323
9. White Sox - .322
10. Orioles - .316

Lowest K Rate

1. Royals - 15 percent
2. Tigers - 17 percent
3. Athletics - 17 percent
4. Rays - 18 percent
5. Indians - 18 percent
6. Rangers - 19 percent
7. Blue Jays - 19 percent
8. Yankees - 19 percent
9. Dodgers - 19 percent
10. Cardinals - 19 percent

Vs. Left Handed Pitching

Lowest wOBA

1. Reds - .278
2. Dodgers - .287
3. Mariners - .290
4. Indians - .292
5. Cardinals - .293
6. Royals - .294
7. Twins - .297
8. Padres - .299
9. Rays .305
10. White Sox .309

Highest K Rate

1. Mets - 26 percent
2. Cubs - 25 percent
3. Braves 25 percent
4. Dodgers - 24 percent
5. Twins - 24 percent
6. White Sox - 24 percent
7. Brewers - 23 percent
8. Reds - 22 percent
9. Phillies - 21 percent
10. Red Sox - 21 percent

Note on the Mariners – their left-handed hitters have 361 at-bats against left-handed pitching which is the most in baseball. Even more telling, the Mariners right-handed hitters have a .261 wOBA and 27-percent K rate against LHP, which is when they SHOULD have an advantage.

Highest wOBA

1. Braves - .371
2. Rockies - .360
3. Blue Jays - .342
4. Phillies - .342
5. Rangers - .340
6. Nationals - .340
7. Angels - .337
8. Brewers - .334
9. Cubs - .330
10. Astros -.320

Lowest K Rate

1. Royals - 16 percent
2. Rockies - 16 percent
3. Angels - 16 percent
4. Indians - 17 percent
5. Orioles - 18 percent
6. Rangers - 18 percent
7. Marlins - 18 percent
8. Yankees - 19 percent
9. Blue Jays - 19 percent
10. Tigers - 19 percent

Here are some of my pitching picks Monday night based on the above data:

Fanduel

Cash Games (Heads Up, 50/50)

Clayton Kershaw

Tournaments

David Phelps, Charlie Morton, Jose Quintana

DraftKings

Cash Games

Kershaw + Morton/Quintana/Phelps

Tournaments

Morton, Quintana and Phelps (any combination of two)

DraftStreet
Kershaw, Phelps, Morton

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