Basic Hitter Selection
If you monitor our forums here at RotoGrinders, you will notice a common theme come up in our forums: What metrics do you use to select your hitters? Is batter vs. pitcher history a useful tool? How can I get better at picking my hitters?
In this lesson, I will discuss a few different things you can use to help yourself out, but there is one key concept to understand first:
Variance is Inherent to MLB Hitting Performances
This is important, because even the best hitters can have days where they go 0-for-4 with a couple of strikeouts. This is another reason why most people tend to load up and spend on pitching, which tends to be a little more reliable. Taking cheap hitters is often a way to go because of the variance that’s involved. Despite this, there are certain things you can look at to improve your hitter selection. Let’s get to a few of the more common ones.
METRIC #1 – BATTER VS. PITCHER HISTORY
No topic is more hotly contested here than batter vs. pitcher history, or “BVP.” Some people think it is totally worthless, some people live by it, and I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t think there’s any merit to taking a guy because he’s 3-for-6 against a pitcher in the past. That’s not nearly a good enough sample size and can be attributable to random variance in MLB.
However, if you see a guy who has a huge history against a certain pitcher, I do think it’s worth considering. My favorite example here is Billy Butler vs. Justin Verlander. Verlander is an ace pitcher, but Butler just has him figured out. Butler has a career 30-for-68 mark against the Tigers ace. That’s a .441 batting average to go along with a .506 OBP. That’s serious enough for me to look at when I’m setting my lineups. I don’t use BVP a lot, but I will when it’s an extremely large sample size or when I can’t decide between two hitters as a tiebreaker.
METRIC #2 – RIGHTY/LEFTY SPLITS
Some hitters are just better against a certain handedness of pitcher. Left-handed hitters often struggle with left-handed pitchers. Certain righties are simply used as specialists to go up against left-handed pitching. This is one of the most underrated things in DFS hitter selection. If a team has a batter who hits .400 against lefties and .225 against righties, and you see him in the lineup on a given night hitting 2nd against a left-handed pitcher, he instantly becomes a very good play that night.
This is a metric that doesn’t take much effort to look up and can give you a big edge on the competition. Also, keep an eye on the splits for the pitcher, too. Some right-handed pitchers are actually better against left-handed bats, and we call these pitchers “reverse splits” guys. In short, you have to consider the handedness splits of both batter and opposing pitcher. When they match up in a good way for your hitter, he’s a great target.
METRIC #3 – TARGETING WEAK PITCHERS
Another simple way to pinpoint good hitter options is to simply target bad pitchers. On days like opening day, it’s really hard to find hitters with good matchups as every team throws their ace. However, you can find a few teams who don’t really have an ace. For example, Texas was starting Tanner Scheppers on Opening Day. He’s significantly worse than every other pitcher on the mound on this day. This instantly gives a boost to all the Phillies hitters going up against him.
You can take this one of three ways:
- 1) Target the Phillies’ middle-of-the-order bats as solid top-end plays
- 2) Target the Phillies’ cheaper bats as your low-end hitters for the day
- 3) Stack the Phillies’ bats.
This depends on your game selection and what type of games you are playing. If you’re pairing your hitters with stud pitchers, you’ll likely use option 2. If you’re in a GPP, go ahead and go with option 3. If you’re using cheap pitchers, feel free to use option 1. Putting an MLB team together is like filling out a nice, neat puzzle.