FANTASY PLAYS: Fading pitchers who allow fly balls
Power drives upside in daily fantasy baseball. While home runs are difficult to project on a daily basis, we can target hitters in matchups against pitchers who allow hard-hit aerial contact.
Two stats in particular help inform how often pitchers give up home runs. Hard-hit rates and fly ball rates help inform how often pitchers give up home runs beyond measuring directly with home runs per 9 innings (HR/9).
Among 79 qualified starters this season, there are four who have both hard hit and fly ball rates above 40 percent: Jason Hammel (Kansas City), Bartolo Colon (Texas), Jakob Junis (Kansas City) and Mike Minor (Texas). Not surprisingly, these two sets of teammates have been yielding tons of power to opponents. In particular, Junis has allowed 2.04 HR/9 and Colon has given up 1.75.
The numbers for Hammel and Minor are a bit tamer at 1.15 and 1.55 HR/9 respectively. Minor’s HR/9 has risen dramatically recently as his home run to fly ball rate normalized. Minor has allowed a total of seven home runs over his last five starts, at least on home run in each start.
Hammel could go down a similar path in the near future. His low HR/9 relative to the hard-hit aerial contact he is allowing is a result of a lucky home run to fly ball rate of 8.9 percent. In his previous five seasons, Hammel had a double-digit HR/FB rate. Pitchers who give up hard hits as often as Hammel usually have higher home run to fly ball rates, above 15 percent.
Regardless of a pitcher’s surface stats of wins, ERA and strikeouts, if they’re allowing hard-hit aerial contact there’s upside for opposing hitters.
The WGC Bridgestone returns to Firestone this year and welcomes Tiger Woods back to the field, where he is seeking his ninth victory at this course and won his last PGA Tour event in 2013. Firestone Country Club is a 7,400-yard par 70 that played as the fourth longest on tour in par-adjusted distance during the 2017 season and had the sixth most narrow fairways, all contributing to it playing nearly half of a stroke above par on average.
Unlike last week’s Canadian Open, fantasy scoring will be hard to come by, as Firestone yielded just 13 eagles in the 2017 tournament. With limited fantasy scoring in the way of birdies and bogeys, bonuses tied to finishing position will be critical for fantasy golf and make up a higher percentage of the fantasy scoring. The other strategic aspect of WGC events is that there is no cut, ensuring that all six golfers you select will be playing on the weekend. Both of these factors set up an interesting fantasy environment where the difference in scoring between the first and fifth placed golfers will be greater than the difference in scoring between the 30th and 50th ranked golfers.
Justin Thomas rates as the strongest fantasy value this week at a price of just $8,800 on DraftKings. He has the fifth highest win odds in DailyRoto’s probabilities, third highest in fantasy projections and has a 28 percent chance to finish inside of the top 10 at this event, but is not inside the top 10 most expensive golfers.
Firestone tests all aspects of a golfer’s game and Thomas has a balanced game gaining strokes off-the-tee, on approach, around the green and with putting. At face value, some fantasy golfers may be scared off of his course history (28th and 33rd in two starts), but he finished third at last year’s WGC Bridgestone in strokes gained tee-to-green and would have contended if not for an unusually poor putting performance.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto, http://dailyroto.com