Picking an Outfield with Momentum

posted in: Baseball | 0

Finding weaknesses in how daily fantasy sports sites evaluate players is a good thing. The scoring systems will not change for players, but how sites like FanDuel and DraftKings predict scoring is not always 100 percent accurate, and if you are able to find those weaknesses, you can gain a huge advantage over practically everyone in your league. Less than 1 percent of all daily fantasy sports players will ever do their own analysis, and if you can find a way to do your own that is more effective than how the sites do theirs, you will suddenly have a big edge.

This is much easier said than done, of course. Statistics are sometimes difficult to comprehend and there are many numbers out there, most of which do not mean much. However, baseball is a game of streaks and momentum, and this is something that most sites don’t take into account. So, if you do when making your draft selections, you will have that edge spoken of earlier.

Let’s look at three of the top outfielders in the game right now: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Nelson Cruz. They are all pretty close in fantasy point talent on FanDuel. Harper has averaged 3.9, Trout has 3.4, and Cruz has 3.3. In this light, Harper should be most expensive and Cruz the least, and that’s exactly how it is on FanDuel right now. Harper is $4,600, Trout is $4,300, and Cruz is $4,000. This seems right, but the question to ask is, is that extra $600 for Harper worth 0.6 of a point?

This isn’t clear if you look at season long stats. There are too many things to consider, and they are all very close in talent. However, if you look at momentum, the answer becomes much more clear. To do this, take the fantasy points earned over the last few games and weigh them more heavily than games played in the past. Suddenly, you see that Harper is worth much more than Trout, who is worth much more than Cruz. Yes, Cruz has the most homeruns out of any of them, but based upon most recent performances, Harper is scoring more points than he is on a regular basis. If you go with this approach, then Harper’s larger salary makes sense, and in fact, you will see that he is probably worth much more than $600 beyond Cruz’s value.

Now, if you look at FanDuel’s most recent salary updates, there are a few players priced higher than Harper. The most expensive is currently Carlos Gonzalez at $5,600. Is he worth that? If we use the same criteria as the other three, then yes, he is. He had two games recently where he scored 16+ in FanDuel fantasy points, and this has tilted his price up much higher than the others. It now becomes a judgment call. Gonzalez is on a definite hot streak, but his overall stats for the year are not quite as good as Harper’s except in the homerun category. Harper has more hits and a far better batting average and OPS number. Still, Gonzalez’s recent hot streak has brought him attention and it has boosted his price as a result. What you do with this information is up to you, but it’s good to know why pricing is established as it is.

You can take this principle and apply it anywhere, although it’s more effective in hitters than it will be in your pitching selections. Pitchers do not play as much, and their stats will vary much more from game to game simply because of the smaller sample sizes involved. It will still work, it just won’t have the same degree of accuracy.