CheeseIsGood's Million Dollar Musings Primer
Hello Grinders, welcome to the Million Dollar Musings! I am excited to be writing this article again this season. I wanted to give you some pointers on what you can expect from this Premium article, which will be available for Premium members for FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo and FantasyDraft.
The goal of the Musings is not just to recommend plays for that particular day, but to give you a better understanding of the research and analysis that go into MLB DFS. We have an endless array of tools at RotoGrinders to help you build a lineup. I want to help you get a deeper grasp of the process and meaning behind the stats that get you to those lineups.
Rather than having a template that I work from, each day’s article is going to be structured differently, as the slate requires. I plan to walk you through what I see in the days slate from a big picture perspective, and then break things down in different categories. On busy days, I may post different sections of the article at different times, so if you check in the morning and see a few things posted, check the bottom of the article, and I’ll note if there is more content on the way. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you can find me @davepotts2, and I’ll post a note when the breakdown is updated.
The most common format I will follow is:
-Pitcher Breakdown – Sort the pitchers into tiers, comparing the high priced aces all the way down to cheap salary saving options. I’ll compare stats of the different pitchers, look at their current form and the matchup they have that day. Then we’ll talk about their salary and how it fits for different types of contests on that slate.
-Hitter Breakdown – I will usually write a paragraph or two about the best overall hitting spots on a slate. Some days, this may be most of the teams on a slate, other days, it may only be a couple teams. We’ll look at what type of hitters we’re looking for in those games and then see which hitters stats match up well. Then we’ll look at some under the radar options where we can find some lower-owned hitters with upside or cheap salary savers in decent spots.
-Cliff Notes – After both the pitching and hitting sections, I will typically post a short concise recap of the pitchers and the hitters, giving you an easily digestible final word on my thoughts for the slate.
Here are some of the other different things that may be covered from day-to-day:
Bird’s Eye View/Slate Overview – What does the day look like from a big picture perspective? Should we see a lot of high scoring games today, or low scoring pitchers duels? Is it a day to pay up at pitcher and stack in tournaments, or should we look to a bargain pitcher and load up on star hitters?
Stacks – If you are a tournament player, we will go through teams to consider stacking. We will also look at the likely ownership percentages and talk through if a popular offense is a play or a fade.
Cash Games vs Tournaments – I will compare players at different positions who offer different skill sets and talk about when you might use a high contact speedster vs a swing and miss power hitter.
Position by Position – Some days we may go position by position and talk about top plays for cash games and tournaments at each position.
Game by Game – Especially on days with smaller slates, we will go game by game and give a brief rundown of the pitchers and if and when the offenses should be used.
Bargain Players – We will take a look at cheap players that you can use to help fill in your lineup.
Goofy Jokes – Also an important and often overlooked part of DFS success.
That is just the beginning of what you can look for this year, and again, every day may have a slightly different format. I will be looking to give you the information that I think is the most important and useful for that particular slate. I will be using a variety of stats throughout the season, you can always ask me if you don’t know what something means, but here’s a quick look at stats you will see me use regularly:
K%/BB% – A pitchers strikeout and walk percentage. For a pitcher, strikeouts are good and walks are bad. League average is around 22% K and 8% BB.
Swinging Strike % – How often does a pitcher get a swing and miss. While any strike is a good pitch, an ability to make guys miss shows quality stuff from a pitcher. If you see a pitcher with a high swinging strike rate and a low K% below is career norm, he is likely due for improvement. League average is around 10%.
BABIP – Batting Average on Balls in Play – For the most part, pitchers don’t have a lot control on whether a ball goes for a hit or an out once it is hit into the field of play. The league average BABIP is .300, so if a pitcher has an unusually high or low BABIP, it is likely to regress towards .300.
HR/FB% – Home Run per Fly Ball Percentage. Like BABIP, there is a lot of luck in HR/FB%. Most pitchers will end up around the league average 12-13%. (The league average HR/FB has historically been around 10%, but it has been steadily climbing over the past few seasons with the league’s boost in power)
Hard Hit/Soft Hit % – The more hard contact a pitcher allows, the more likely they are to allow hits and runs. A hard hit rate over 35% is bad for a pitcher, while a soft contact rate above 20% is good for the pitcher.
FIP/xFIP/SIERA – These are known as ERA estimators, or more accurate gauges of what a pitchers ERA “should be” if he had league average luck on things like BABIP and HR/FB%. I will use SIERA most among these three, but all are useful tools.
wOBA Against – wOBA is a hitter stat for Weighted On Base Average, which is the most comprehensive all-in-one measure of a hitters effectiveness. It can be used on the flip side with pitchers, who are looking for a low wOBA against.
Left/Right Split – Is a pitcher better against right or left-handed batters. Generally pitchers perform better against same-handed batters, but it’s always important to check the stats and make sure, as some pitchers have reverse splits or over-exaggerated splits.
Ground Ball%/Fly Ball% – Pitchers have a good amount of control in whether they allow ground balls or fly balls, and it is a very consistent stat year-to-year. A ground ball pitcher tends to give up more hits but fewer runs, while fly ball pitchers are the opposite, as most fly balls turn into outs, but they also allow more home runs. League average is around 45% GB and 35% FB, with the missing 20% being the average line drive rate.
wOBA – As mentioned above, wOBA is a single metric designed to capture a hitter’s overall offensive value. League average wOBA is around .320.
K%/BB%/Contact/Plate Discipline – As with pitchers, there is nothing more basic that a hitter can do than get a hit, a walk, or a strikeout. I will usually refer to a hitters strikeout rate, which is a league average of about 22%. I will refer to a hitter with a low strikeout rate as a good contact hitter, simply meaning he makes a lot of contact and rarely strikes out. The term ‘plate discipline’ means the hitters ability to judge strikes vs balls. A hitter who rarely strikes out and draws a lot of walks has good plate discipline.
HR/FB%, ISO – Home Run per fly ball percentage and Isolated Slugging Percentage are measures of a hitters power. Unlike pitchers, hitters establish their own HR/FB% rather than clustering around a league average. The league average is still around 12%, but big power hitters will be consistently over 20% while slap hitters will be under 5%. ISO measures a hitters extra base hits per at bat. The league average ISO is around .160.
Hard Hit/Soft Hit % – As with pitchers, how often a batter hits the ball hard is extremely important. The batter has more control than the pitcher in how hard the ball is it, and so you’ll see bigger differences in the numbers. While the averages are the same, you’ll see top hitters above 45% hard hits and weaker hitters down in the mid-20’s.
Left/Right Splits – We will always talk about a hitters skill set in relation to the handedness of pitcher he is facing. Some players are similar against all pitchers, but some have big splits against righties or lefties.
OBP – On-base percentage is an old stat that is not commonly used anymore, as newer metrics such as wOBA have been developed. However, I still value a hitters ability to simply reach base, especially in cash games.
I’m really excited about this new MLB season and helping you have success with more than a bit of fun along the way!