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Free Swings with Scott - May 25
Fri, 25 May 2018 (by Scott Chu, @Chuseph_Esquire, Chuseph@gmail.com)

I'm excited to announce that I'm now a writer with excellent Friends with Fantasy Benefits team! The “Best Bets” portion of the article will still appear at DailyBaseballData, and you can follow the link at the end to catch the rest of the article (don't worry, there's no paywall).

Best Bets

Conservatively, you could say that there are 5 of the top 15 starters on the mound tonight (I'd personally call it 5 of the top 10 or 12) in Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, Noah Syndergaard, and James Paxton. In DFS, much like season-long points leagues, the SP is king. Tonight, every one of my 50/50 and small group (20 or fewer) lineups will likely feature two of these 5 guys, and I'm willing to bet that my GPP lineups will as well.

Max Scherzer has a beautiful match up against the Marlins. Against RHP, they have the 10th highest K%, the 3rd lowest BB%, the 2nd fewest SB, the 4th worst OBP, the 2nd worst SLG, the worst ISO, the 3rd worst wRC+, and the 2nd worst wOBA. Now quite a few of these stats run together (if your OBP is awful and your SLG is awful, your ISO will be awful), but I needed to highlight just how bad they've been against righties. Mad Max is the best right-handed starter in baseball right now, and has been for a few years. Despite being 33, he's got the best FIP and K% of his career so far. He has yet to allow more than 2 ER in any start, and has 3 consecutive starts with 10+ K. He will be VERY expensive and likely heavily owned, but I don't care. He's the best bet to score the most points.

Two of the other right-handed aces, Noah Syndergaard (@MIL) and Luis Severino (vLAA), have much less favorable opponents, as both the Brewers and Angels are in the top 10 in wOBA v RHP. Syndergaard is in a slightly better position, as the Brewers do strike out a lot (24.8 K%, 7th highest) and don't roster anyone by the name of Mike Trout. Thor took advantage of their free-swinging ways back in April when he threw 5.1 IP with 11 K and 0 ER. Severino will likely still perform well (he's got a 1.67 ERA at home with a 39/6 K/BB over 32.1 IP), but with a high price tag and facing a team that has the 4th lowest K% and 4th highest wOBA v RHP, I'm probably going to pass.

Corey Kluber draws the Astros. He actually faced them a week ago, putting up 10 K in 7 IP and allowing just 2 ER. The evidence suggests that there is no advantage for either side when a SP faces the same team in back to back starts, and the Astros, while clearly an offensive powerhouse, are not invincible. If you've got a good feeling, go for it. That said, he's tough to recommend due to the Astros not striking out that much (21.6 K%, 19th highest) and their high wOBA (.323, 6th best).

James Paxton, the lone lefty, draws the Twins. They strike out more than most (24.6 K% v LHP, 7th highest), but are otherwise a pretty average offense against LHP. The Twins are celebrating the return of their perennially injured slugger Miguel Sano, who has hit lefties well over his career (.370 wOBA), but that isn't enough to scare me away. Paxton has been electric of late. Over his last 5 starts, he has a 33.1 K%, 5.9 BB%, a 2.38 FIP, and 2 CG (including that no-hitter you may have heard about). We've seen Paxton when he's on before, and it's DFS gold. He should be a little cheaper than the 4 guys above, but just as (if not more) effective.

Want to see the rest? Head on over to Friends with Fantasy Benefits for this and many other fine Fantasy Baseball articles.



RotoBaller FanDuel MLB DFS Lineup Picks (5/24/18)
Thu, 24 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

We have a bit of a weird schedule for games today, so let me break things down. There is a 12:35 pm est slate which has three games, then a 7:10 pm est slate which also has three games. FanDuel decided to leave off the two games in the middle of the day. I'll try and hit on options on each slate so there is a good mix to look at.

In this article, I will be providing you with my daily fantasy baseball lineup picks for FanDuel on 5/24/18. The lineup picks will range from some of the elite players to mid-priced options and value plays.

FanDuel DFS Pitchers

Rick Porcello - P, BOS @ TB (FD - $9,300)
Porcello is one of the better pitchers on this slate and comes in with a few things going in his favor, so let's break it down. It should be noted that he has given up 13 earned runs over his last three starts, which is his worst stretch of the season, but now up against a Tampa Bay Rays team, who don't pose too much of a threat. The Rays come in with a 22% strikeout rate vs right-handed pitchers, which isn't the worst, but also not the best. Porcello himself comes in with a 30% strikeout rate vs lefties and a 20% strikeout rate vs righties. It will also help that Porcello simply isn't walking anyone this year, with only 11 walks in 10 starts this season.

Felix Hernandez - P, SEA @ OAK (FD - $6,500)
We all know Hernandez isn't the same pitcher he once was, but with his lower price, he can offer some nice flexibility in your lineups. King Felix is up against the Athletics, who he has already faced two times this season, and put up some very good numbers in those games. He has put up 38 and 40 FanDuel points, with seven strikeouts in each, which is tied for his season high. He has a great pitcher's park behind him, and with Oakland having a 23% strikeout rate vs right-handed pitchers, he is in a good spot to repeat those performances.

FanDuel DFS Infielders

. . .

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



Using Sabermetrics For Fantasy Baseball Part 8 - FIP and xFIP
Wed, 23 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

he first advanced pitching stat most fantasy owners encounter is FIP. FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching, and attempts to measure a pitcher's actual skill instead of the effects of luck or his supporting cast. According to the DIPS theory that the metric is based upon, pitchers control only Ks, BBs (and HBP) and home runs allowed. Therefore, Ks, walks and dingers are the only inputs to determine the number.

Calculating FIP requires way more math than most fantasy owners are comfortable with, so don't worry about the formula. For fantasy purposes, it is sufficient to understand the three primary inputs listed above and the fact that the stat is on the ERA scale. That means that if a FIP would be a good ERA, it is a strong FIP. The math is perfect, meaning that the league average FIP and ERA are identical (4.36 in 2017).

Sometimes xFIP is cited instead of FIP. The x stands for expected, and the stat is rooted in the fact that HR/FB varies for pitchers just as much as hitters. While FIP uses a player's actual homers allowed, xFIP charges him with a league average amount of homers based on his fly balls allowed. Some pitchers are consistently more or less homer-prone than average, but studies show xFIP is a more reliable predictor of future ERA than regular FIP.

How to Use FIP and xFIP to Draft and Manage Your Team

This predictive nature of FIP and xFIP is the reason fantasy owners should care about them. Both metrics predict future ERA more reliably than ERA itself, making them a good go-to stat to determine if an early breakout may be for real or if a struggling superstar is likely to rebound. All things being equal, it is generally expected that a pitcher's ERA will regress towards his current FIP and xFIP over the long season.

For example, some panicked when ...

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



RotoBaller DraftKings MLB DFS Lineup Picks (5/22/18)
Tue, 22 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

We have a monster 15-game slate to break down today, and there are some great options across the board. There are a few high-priced pitchers on the slate you should be looking to pay up for, along with plenty of bats you want to jam into your lineups.

In this article, I will be providing you with my daily fantasy baseball lineup picks for DraftKings on 5/22/18. The lineup picks will range from some of the elite players to mid-priced options and value plays.

DraftKings Starting Pitchers

Chris Sale - P, BOS @ TB (DK - $13,100)
Chris Sale is the most expensive pitcher on the slate, and I give him the edge over Cole for a few reasons, so let's take a look. Sale has pitched seven or more innings in three of his last four starts, compared to Cole's one game at seven or more innings in his last four starts. That might not seem like a big deal, but when you are paying up for a pitcher in this price range, you want to know they are going deep into the game, and not get pulled early. Sale is up against the Rays, who have a 23.5% strikeout rate vs left-handed pitcher this season, which is 11th worst in the league. This is a nice positive park shift in Sale's favor, as he is in Tampa and away from Fenway Park. Sale has racked up nine or more strikeouts in three of his last four starts, including two games with 12 or more.

Caleb Smith - P, MIA @ NYM (DK - $6,400)
Smith is a cheaper option at pitcher, who has a few factors going in his favor tonight. First off, he is up against the Mets, who have a 26.7% strikeout rate vs left-handed pitchers, which is third worst in the league. The first time Smith faced the Mets this season, he put up seven strikeouts in five innings, while allowing three earned runs. If he is able to limit the earned runs and squeeze out one more inning, we could be looking at some serious value for a pitcher who is under $7K. Great park factor in his favor should allow him to limit the damage.

DraftKings Infielders

. . .

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



Isolating ISO
Sun, 20 May 2018 (by RotoGuru)

I've added an extra stat on the Pitcher vs. Batter report. "ISO" ("Isolated Power") now appears in the far right column. It is calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging average. The final result measures how many extra bases a player averages per at bat. A player who hits only singles would thus have an ISO of 0.



Identifying runs created from 4-seamer alone
Sat, 19 May 2018 (by Clifton Neeley of baseballVMI.com)

This is the eighth of a series of articles about the impact of air density on baseball performance.

When teams travel to Coors Field, they hit the four-seam fastball on the first day at a clip of 12.13% of strikes thrown when their VMI is identified as a high plus rating; by the third game it is down to the 9% range. This rating is due to the larger movement on the four-seam fastball the team has recently experienced prior to arriving at Coors Field.

Mechanically, this means that when hitters first identify the pitch as a fastball, they set their arms and balance their body to square up on a pitch that should move similarly to what they’ve recently experienced. But we know that in heavier air than at Coors Field the ball lifts more. Therefore, their bodily setup is higher on the pitch than it should be for accurate Coors Field hitting. However, it is better to be above the pitch on the setup than below it, because it is a lifting pitch. So the bat, being a weight on the hitter’s arms can be more easily dropped than lifted. These facts cause their higher hit percent in Coors Field than on the road, as the pitch is therefore straighter. These facts also cause the high percentage (see below) against the sinker away from Coors Field for the Rockies on the road. This is because the Rockies’ bodily setup has become about 3 inches lower on the fastball because of Coors Field repetition, making the sinker and two-seamer less of an adjustment for them.

[click to view the entire article]

Visual Memory by Clifton Neeley, creator of the Visual Memory Index© and author of the web-site www.baseballvmi.com. Clifton pitched and played baseball and fast-pitch softball in the mountainous southwest Colorado area from 4,000 feet in Grand Junction to 6,000 feet in Durango to 9,000 feet in Telluride prior to his college experience in baseball.



Free Swings with Scott - May 18
Fri, 18 May 2018 (by Scott Chu, @Chuseph_Esquire, Chuseph@gmail.com)

Best Bets

There are EIGHT starting pitchers who, coming into tonight's slate, have an ERA at or below 2.70. Now, not all of them are true Aces, but it does speak to the relative strength of tonight's pitching options.

The best of the 8, Max Scherzer, who is also the best right-handed starter (and probably the best pitcher in the game overall), gets an under-performing Dodger team in DC, who are exactly 17th in baseball in K%, ISO, and wOBA against RHP. That's not scary enough to keep me away from a guy who has yet to give up more than 2 ER in any game and who has tallied double-digit strikeouts in 6 of his 9 appearances (with a low of 7 Ks and a high of 15 Ks). Just pay the toll and put him in.

The Diamondbacks, who recently lost the best bat in their lineup so far this season in A.J. Pollock, have been the 2nd worst offense in baseball against RHP (.286 wOBA) due to a lack of power (.144 ISO, 6th worst), a lack of contact (25.3 K%, 4th worst), and a lack of luck (.265 BABIP, 2nd worst). I doubt any of those marks will improve against the dominant Jacob DeGrom. He's striking out more batters than ever (32.0 K%) this season while also allowing a hard contact rate of just 24.0%. DeGrom hasn't given up an ER in over a month, and while he has dealt with injury, I think he'll have a pretty normal workload in tonight's game assuming he doesn't throw 30+ pitches right before a lengthy rain delay.

Good Gambles

In 195.1 IP since joining the Astros, Charlie Morton has a 3.23 ERA and a 10.4 K/9. When healthy, you simply can't deny his results. He'll toe the slab against the Indians in Minute Maid Park, where he has somehow been even better (2.96 ERA, 10.6 K/9). As mentioned previously, Minute Maid is actually a pitcher-friendly park, and the Indians, for all of their playoff aspirations, have not been a particularly strong offense against righties (12th in wOBA and K%, 18th in wRC+) and have been awful on the road (.293 wOBA ranks 26th in baseball). He's averaging 7.75 K per start through 8 games, and I think he'll find his way to 7 or 8 Ks in this one as well. Others will avoid him due to the Indians' reputation, but it's worth noting that they're actually 21-21 overall and just 8-12 on the road. Feel free to throw him out there.

I know you WANT me to talk about Sean Newcomb. He faces the Marlins, has thrown 19 consecutive shutout innings over his last 3 games, and has gathered 5+ K in every start. Here's the thing – as bad as the Marlins are against RHP, they're actually not bad against LHP. They have the 6th lowest K% and the 3rd best BB/K, which certainly surprised me. That said, they hit for very little power (2nd worst ISO) and don't score a ton of runs, either (9th lowest wRC+). I'm not saying you shouldn't start him – I'm just saying that many people will be, and they might be a little disappointed by the final line.

Long Shots

Ivan Nova, who isn't actually all that good, faces the Padres at home in spacious PNC Park. If you've read this column at all over the last 2-3 years, you'll notice that I've picked on the Padres a lot due to their low wOBA v RHP and their high K% v RHP. Consider this a continuation of that trend. If you absolutely MUST save on salary or stream a guy in your league, Nova is probably available and you could do a lot worse.

Stacks to Consider

CHC (LHB) v Homer Bailey – Living up to his name, Homer has given up multiple of his namesake in 4 of his last 5 starts. He's also allowed 3+ ER in each of his last 6 starts and at least 7 base runners in each of his last 5 starts. Simply put, he's not very good. Since the start of the 2014 season, he's allowed the 642 lefties he has faced to hit for a .366 wOBA. For reference, Nelson Cruz, Mookie Betts, and Kirby Puckett each have career wOBAs of .366. The surging Anthony Rizzo is the best play, but Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ have some pop in their bats (wOBAs > .340 since the start of 2017) might help you fill out your roster for less money assuming they're in the lineup.

BOS (LHB) v Alex Cobb – For some reason, Alex Cobb cannot get lefties out. He's pitched against a southpaw 59 times so far – 28 of those lefties got a hit (.483 AVG). 12 of those hits were HR – yes, slightly more than 20% of the times Alex faced a lefty in 2018, the ball ended up in the seats. I'll be adding Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland (my favorite in this matchup), and maybe even Brock Holt to my lineups where possible to try and cash in on Cobb's lefty problem.



RotoBaller DraftKings MLB DFS Lineup Picks (5/17/18)
Thu, 17 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

Tonight's featured slate starts at 7pm eastern, with nine games to choose from. We've also got two later slates, but those games are covered within the featured slate. Since it doesn't fit into any slate, the Dodgers-Marlins matchup at noon will not be included here.

In this article, I will be providing you with my daily fantasy baseball lineup picks for DraftKings on 5/17/18. The lineup picks will range from some of the elite players to mid-priced options and value plays.

DraftKings Starting Pitchers

Cole Hamels - P, at CHW ($10,800)
Hamels is coming off of back-t0-back stellar outings against two of the toughest lineups in baseball in the Astros and the Red Sox, where he allowed a combined two earned runs over 12 innings. Hamels has a strong 25.1% K-rate on the year and he should continue his success against the White Sox. Chicago strikes out more than any other team in baseball against lefties, with a 27.3% mark. This gives Hamels a ton of upside.

Jeff Samardzija - P, vs COL ($7,000)
I understand why you might be wary of starting Samardzija, but he gets a fantastic matchup tonight. The Rockies are one of the worst lineups in the league, as their paltry .289 wOBA versus righties ranks them 27th in baseball. They also have the fifth highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching at 24.8%. Shark will also get to face them at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. At this price, he should provide you with outstanding value.

DraftKings Infielders

. . .

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



RotoBaller FanDuel MLB DFS Lineup Picks (5/16/18)
Wed, 16 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

Pretty interesting schedule we have on our hands on this Wednesday in the middle of May. Fourteen major league games are set to take place, but only 11 of them are in the larger contests. There are six games in the Early slate and five on the Main. I'll be focusing on those as that's where the majority of money is in prize pools (and there are far more contest options in those as well). The Early slate locks at 12:05 and the Main at 7:05.

I'll update this Vegas section as the day goes along with any relevant information. As of Tuesday night, what I can say for the Early slate is that Vegas is expecting a lot of runs in the Phillies-Orioles game (over/under of 10.5) and very few at Citi Field where the Mets host the Blue Jays (over/under of 7.5).

FanDuel DFS Pitchers

J.A. Happ - SP, at NYM ($8,600) - Early
Happ has put together a pretty strong first-quarter campaign. The Toronto lefty has posted a 29% strikeout rate, a 3.16 SIERA and an 11.7% SwStr rate through 45 innings. He had a rough go his last time on the mound, but the Seattle team that delivered the damage ranks third overall in advanced stats against lefties. His opponent today, the Mets, rank dead last in the same leaderboard and they also happen to strike out a ton (26.7%). In addition to Vegas seeing this as a low scoring game, Happ also gets a positive park shift and doesn't have to face the DH. He's a good value price as well, and he's a strong option in this Early slate in either format.

Also Consider for Early:
Trevor Bauer - SP, at DET ($9,300) - Cash/GPP
Nick Pivetta - SP, at BAL ($7,100) - GPP

FanDuel DFS Infielders

. . .

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



Using Sabermetrics For Fantasy Baseball Part 7 - Lineup Slot
Tue, 15 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

To this point, this series has focused exclusively on trying to predict and validate home runs and batting average. There is a reason for this--modern sabermetrics tend to reject the idea of a "clutch RBI guy" and therefore do not bother inventing predictive metrics for it. Runs and RBI are team-dependent stats, and are unhelpful in ascertaining a given player's real value.

That might work for stat heads, but fantasy owners frequently see 40% or more of a player's value tied to his RBI and run totals. We have to care about them.

Drafting hitters from strong offenses can help pad the totals, but as you'll see, an even bigger advantage can be found by looking at a player's slot in the batting order

Lineup Slot & Counting Stats

In the table below, each batting order slot's PA, RBI and Runs are presented from the 2017 season. The final number is simply R + RBI, an approximate measure of that slot's overall value to a fantasy team.

SlotPARBIRRBI+R
1st22,6782,1423,2765,418
2nd22,1362,4133,0055,418
3rd21,6322,9192,8545,773
4th21,1533,0972,6725,769
5th20,6212,8162,5595,375
6th20,1102,3502,2904,640
7th19,5812,2432,1464,389
8th18,9781,9312,0373,968
9th18,4061,6471,7433,390

Each batting order slot loses around 500 PAs compared to the slot before it. If we divide this total by the 30 current MLB clubs, we get a difference of around 17 PAs between consecutive hitters on one team. That may seem insignificant, but it compounds. For example, there is an average of 34 PAs separating a team's leadoff man from the three hitter. Counting stats like Runs and RBI require opportunity to accumulate, and hitters earlier in the batting order have more opportunity. Bear this in mind when comparing similarly skilled players on draft day.

RBI are highest from the cleanup spot, and trend downward in both directions from there. Leadoff hitters only get more RBI than the eighth and ninth spots despite the largest PA total. This is because they never have runners on base before their first PA of the game, and need to rely on the weaker eighth and ninth hitters to get on in front of them after that. Since good hitters are usually clustered early in the order to maximize their PAs, leadoff men get minimal help from their teammates in producing RBI.

Runs peak at the leadoff slot and decrease from there. This decrease is not linear, as 151 runs separate the second and third spots while 269 separate fifth and sixth. For this reason, fantasy owners want to stick to the early batting order slots where teams cluster their best hitters if possible. Leadoff guys have the most opportunity and the team's best hitters hitting behind them, so they score a lot of runs for the same reason they do not register many RBI.

Finally, the R+RBI column refutes the idea that ...

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



RotoBaller DraftKings MLB DFS Lineup Picks (5/14/18)
Mon, 14 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

Although the MLB schedule shows a nine-game slate on Monday, we will only get to partake in eight of those matchups for DFS purposes. The ATL/CHC game has a 2:20pm (EST) start time and is excluded from the DK docket.

From the games we do get to choose from, there are three matchups with an over/under of at least nine total runs. Also, we only have one team who is favored with odds greater than -160 (Cleveland is -215). Vegas had to make some tough decisions on Monday, and so will we, as there are five games with the favorited team having -140 odds or lower.

In this article, I will be providing you with my daily fantasy baseball lineup picks for DraftKings on 5/14/18. The lineup picks will range from some of the elite players to mid-priced options and value plays.

DraftKings Starting Pitchers

Carlos Carrasco, CLE (@ DET) - $12,200
It’s a tough call on who to choose between the top two pitchers in price on Monday. Patrick Corbin is the most expensive option, but I prefer Carrasco. This season, Carrasco is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 29 innings of work on the road. Plus, he already faced Detroit on April 11th: 9 IP, 1 ER, 6 K. In 2017, Carrasco was 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 39.2 innings against the Tigers (six starts). Finally, in his last three outings on the road, Carrasco has allowed only three total earned runs and struck out 28 batters.

Tyler Anderson, COL (@ SD) - $7,500
Once you lock in your expensive SP for Monday, you need to decided which cheaper option to plug in to your lineup. One of my favorites is Anderson. Let me rephrase that, any inexpensive starting pitcher facing the Padres is one of my favorites. This season, San Diego is 28th in runs scored (151 runs in 41 games) and second in team strikeouts (407). Anderson already faced the Padres twice this year. He has a combined 1.50 ERA and 12 strikeouts with only two earned runs in 12 innings against San Diego.

Sal Romano, CIN (@ SF) - $5,300
I typically don’t target underdogs as my DFS starting pitchers, but the low-risk/high-reward for Romano is too good to pass up. He’s allowed no more than two earned runs in five consecutive appearances for the Reds. As for Romano’s opponent, the Giants are 25th in runs scored (156 runs in 40 games), third in strikeouts (385), and 26th in team wOBA against right-handed pitchers (.300). All are positive signs for Romano, who struck out seven batters in his last appearance (vs. NYM).

DraftKings Infielders

. . .

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]



Changing a Team's wRC+ Statistic
Sat, 12 May 2018 (by Clifton Neeley of baseballVMI.com)

This is the seventh of a series of articles about the impact of air density on baseball performance.

Even casual observers understand that the Colorado Rockies are the single most unique team ever to compete in Major League Baseball. They have the highest home batting average of any team ever over the course of their history and maintain the highest home winning percent over their history. But, coupling those gaudy home numbers with the lowest road batting averages and win percent, as well as recent revelations of their Weighted Runs Created, Plus (wRC+) statistic, the Rockies remain an anomaly, almost indescribable.

A recent article in the Denver Post by writer Patrick Saunders pointed out the wRC+ road statistic as being the worst in the league in spite of the overall high scoring production. Mr. Saunders also outlined the management's planned attempt to bring the road stat into more normal ranges. To be fair, the management has their hands tied. Each year the Rockies add another statistical anomaly without being able to fix any, and the team has done nothing in terms of facilities to prepare for the future, so a new idea must be born every year in order to promise the fans a reason to buy tickets. Just as all the other teams in the league have done for years, they promise a new player, a new coach or manager, and/or a new focus on bringing the most recently exposed anomaly into conformity with the balance of the league. The Rockies think they are making progress with the team and the fans, but it always turns out to be a disappointment to everyone. A subsequent article by Mr. Saunders revealed what almost everyone in baseball agrees with: The Colorado Rockies are loaded with talent.

In 2016 the plan is to use a drill while in Spring Training in Scottsdale, AZ. which will be fun (that is, if putting money in a hat and gambling it against winning an inning is fun) and will cause professional players to focus better than they were capable of during the previous years. So, let me get this straight in my head...the problem over the course of their history was focus? The problem was not trying hard enough to play the necessary small ball? Let's see, was the problem then Vinny Castilla's? Walt Weiss's? Todd Helton's? Larry Walker, Craig Counsel, Andres Galaraga, Dante Bichette, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzales, Blackmon, Dickerson, LeMahieu, Fowler, Arenado, Cuddyer, Morneau, Jeff Baker, Matt Holliday, Eric Young, Clint Barmes, Juan Uribe, Jeff Cirillo, Chris Ianetta, Nick Hundley (.355 Home and .237 Road)? Just who, over the past 22 years, hasn't been able to focus on doing things the right way, playing good small ball, and creating runs, like a quality professional baseball player? Maybe it was the fault of managers (Don Baylor, Jim Leland, Buddy Bell, Clint Hurdle, Jim Tracy) and now Walt Weiss!

Actually, the answer is all of them were handicapped by playing professional baseball with their home field at Denver, Colorado. This drill that is planned at 1,200 feet Scottsdale in warm weather will do nothing for the team in terms of wins and the wRC+ statistic. However, if (during any season) they could fly to a sea level location, run the drills, take BP and bunt good moving pitches for about 3 days prior to leaving on every road trip, then this planned drill would have a chance to take effect. Obviously they can't do that, because the schedule will not allow them to do so. Therefore, their work in spring training at Scottsdale will have little positive effect on the team statistics.

If you have been doing some reading on the Rockies and on the effects of altitude and temperature on a baseball pitch, then you know that I am referring to the data on MLB hitters and pitchers moving in and out of good ball movement conditions. Baseball is a much easier game to play when you know effectively where the ball is going. When players spend a home stand at Coors Field, then leave for a road trip to say, San Diego, the ball is diving and darting and they aren't used to it. How are they going to consistently compete in a professional league against the Home Team under those conditions? They have two different games to play -- one type at home and the other on the road -- and it is well known that professional athletes, in order to keep up with the competition, must be exposed to the full gamut of MLB ball movement every day as opposed to on and off every two weeks or so. The extra movement players experience upon leaving Coors Field makes it impossible for them to bunt effectively, hit and run effectively, get timely hits, move runners around the bases, throw accurately from catcher to 2nd base, pitch with precise control, and play the game with great confidence.

Typical baseball answers will never work for Coors Field players, so ... [click to view the entire article]

Visual Memory by Clifton Neeley, creator of the Visual Memory Index© and author of the web-site www.baseballvmi.com. Clifton pitched and played baseball and fast-pitch softball in the mountainous southwest Colorado area from 4,000 feet in Grand Junction to 6,000 feet in Durango to 9,000 feet in Telluride prior to his college experience in baseball.



Free Swings with Scott - May 11
Fri, 11 May 2018 (by Scott Chu, @Chuseph_Esquire, Chuseph@gmail.com)

Best Bets

We’ve got 3 bona fide Aces up tonight. Justin Verlander v TEX and Max Scherzer @ ARZ are both very nice matchups that we should all be excited about. Both the Rangers and Diamondbacks have high K% against RHP (3rd and 6th highest, respectively) and low wOBAs (8th and 6th lowest, respectively). On top of that, the parks they’ll be in (Minute Maid and Chase) are very pitcher friendly. At least one of these two NEEDS to be in your lineup tonight.

Chris Sale, our other Ace, will face off against the Blue Jays in Toronto. His matchup is quite favorable (TOR ranks 25th in wOBA v LHP so far and Rogers Centre is a neutral ballpark for runs), but isn’t quite as favorable as the matchups for JV or Mad Max due to the Blue Jays plate discipline (their 20.6 K% and 0.43 BB/K are less than ideal). That said, the Blue Jays were recently no-hit by a lefty and have scored 3 or fewer runs in 5 of their last 6 games, so I won’t talk you out of using him.

Good Gambles

After a very promising start to the season, Luke Weaver has fallen on hard times. He’s allowed at least 4 ER in 4 straight games and hasn’t pitched more than 5.1 IP. His 5.60 ERA is scary, but his 3.44 FIP indicates that luck is at least partially to blame. He’s giving up a lot more fly balls than he did in 2017 and is walking more batters, but his contact numbers and velocity appear just fine. He faces the Padres tonight, who have been a popular target for DFS players since DFS began, and this season is no different due to their K% (highest in baseball v RHP) and wOBA (2nd worst). He will be owned more than you’d expect due to his season numbers due to his matchup, but he’s worth a shot if you don’t want to pony up the dough for 2 of the 3 Aces.

Brandon McCarthy is coming off a disastrous outing against the Giants where he gave up 8 runs in 3.1 IP. Apart from that blow-up, he hasn’t given up more than 3 ER in an outing and has pitched at least 5 innings. He hasn’t been big on the strikeouts, but seeing as he’ll face the Marlins, who cares? They’ve been as bad as advertised this season, and McCarthy should be a solid bet for 5-6 IP, a W, 4-6 K, and 0-2 ER. That’s a great streaming target or low-cost play in DFS.

Long Shots

With 3 top SP and a plethora of intriguing secondary options (Kenta Maeda, Jameson Taillon, and Tyler Skaggs all have cases to be made as well), I don’t recommend any of the bargain options. In DFS, it pays to pay up for SP.

Stacks to Consider

MIL (L or R) v Chad Bettis – Don’t be fooled by the sparkling 2.05 ERA – Bettis is the same guy he’s always been (4.14 FIP in 2018). He’s given up a lot damage to RHB despite bring a RHP, but he’s not particularly proficient against hitters on either side. Oh yeah, and the game is in Colorado. Since the start of last season, Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Christian Yelich all have wOBAs over .360 against RHP, while Jesus Aguilar and Lorenzo Cain aren’t far behind.

LAA (R or L) v Lance Lynn – In his 6 starts so far, he has given up 5+ ER 4 times, 7+ H 4 times, and 3+ BB 5 times. Lefties have always been an issue for him (.346 wOBA against in his career), but EVERYONE is getting their shots in so far this season. The Angels feature very few LHBs in their lineup, but Shohei Ohtani has performed very well against RHP so far. I’d avoid struggling Kole Calhoun, but Mike Trout (if you can afford him), Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and Zack Cozart have performed admirably against RHP and should be near the top or middle of the lineup. If Chris Young finds a start, he might be a nice value play as well.



Premium text data for 2018 season now requires subscription
Thu, 10 May 2018 (by RotoGuru)

Effective today (May 10), the accessing of various RotoGuru/DBD files in text format (i.e., CSV, SCSV, etc.) will become a premium service, subject to a one-time subscription fee of $37 for all files related to the 2018 season.

The primary file is the MLB DFS master file for 2018, including game-by-game data for each MLB player, with all sorts of information - opposing pitcher, weather conditions at game time, umpire, batting orders, DFS salaries, DFS positions, and DFS points. It is updated each morning, and also shows DFS salary and position data for the current day's games.

Text versions of several other reports are also included in this subscription, including the daily point reports, daily BvP data, and RotoGuru sortable stats data. HTML (formatted for browser) versions of each of these pages will continue to be free. The subscription is only for text data files (i.e., CSV or SCSV formatted)

For more information on the various files available and to subscribe, see this page:
RotoGuru/DBD text file subscription information for 2018 season.

2017 Season
Files for the 2017 season continue to be available for a separate subscription fee of $36. To subscribe to the 2017 files, go here: subscription information for 2017 season.

2016 Season
Files for the 2016 season continue to be available for a separate subscription fee of $35. To subscribe to the 2016 files, go here: subscription information for 2016 season.

Special note about ADI values: ADI (Air Density Index) values are a proprietary measure developed by baseballVMI.com. This year, in order to see these values displayed on the weather dashboard, you do not need a premium subscription to DailyBaseballData. However, as of today, you must have an active paid membership at baseballVMI.com. Membership information is available at baseballVMI.com.



Using Sabermetrics For Fantasy Baseball Part 6 - Pull%
Wed, 09 May 2018 (by contributed by RotoBaller.com)

Earlier in this series, we saw that fantasy owners generally prefer batters to hit the ball into the air in order to have a chance at a home run. Yet, all fly balls are not equal for this purpose. A player can maximize his power production by pulling the ball in the air.

Today we'll look at how to utilize Pull% for fantasy baseball analysis and, ultimately, win your 2018 fantasy baseball leagues.

If you aren't familiar with using sabermetrics to gain an advantage on your fantasy leaguemates, check in on the rest of our series. Learn how analyzing stats related to batted-ball distribution and more can help improve the performance of your fantasy baseball team entering the 2018 season.

How to Interpret Pull%

In 2017, roughly 62% of all home runs were to the batter's pull side. Only 13% of homers went to the opposite field, with the remaining 25% going out to center. This distribution is fairly consistent year-to-year, so it's safe to count on going forward.

In a way, this makes intuitive sense. Pulled baseballs tend to be hit with the highest exit velocity, making it easier for them to leave the stadium. The power alleys next to the foul poles on either side of the ballpark also present the shortest distance to the cheap seats. If a player's HR/FB dramatically improves, a change in approach involving more pulled baseballs could help explain why.

Boston's Xander Bogaerts provides a good illustration of this kind of change. In 2015, he pulled only 16.7% of his fly balls, producing a HR/FB of 5.3% and a total of seven dingers. He significantly upped his power game in 2016 by pulling 28.1% of his flies, leading to a much higher 11.4% HR/FB and 21 bombs on the campaign. The increased power was not exclusively the result of the Pull% spike, as he upped his FB% as well (25.8% in 2015, 34.9% in 2016). It helped to validate his HR/FB increase, though.

Unfortunately, the change in approach did not last. Bogaerts pulled only 24.5% of his flies last season, dropping his HR/FB to 7.2% and his season HR total to 10 in the process. Once again, the raw number of fly balls Bogaerts hit decreased (30.5% FB%), so the change in Pull% was not solely responsible for the loss of power. This example illustrates that while a change in Pull% can support an increased HR/FB, it will last only as long as the player wants it to.

You should also avoid looking at raw Pull%. ...

[click here to read the rest of the article on RotoBaller.com]




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