MLB Daily Fantasy- Where’s the Alpha? (May 13th, 2018)

Throughout this blog I want to identify scenarios that may, at least initially, be mispriced by DFS algorithms that are relying on historical data without taking into account granular or situational changes, with the goal of exploiting them before they become common knowledge. While DFS results are tabulated daily, taking notice of trends before the market adjusts can provide opportunities to seek value where others are not looking, regardless of individual daily outcomes.

Will the Real Dylan Bundy Please Stand Up?

Previously in this space I’ve written about the ups and downs of Nick Pivetta, and a similar pattern of volatility is developing with the talented but erratic Bundy.  Today, he went seven innings strong, striking out 7 and allowing only 2 hits and zero runs.  Earlier this week, he had one of the worst outings in DFS history, giving up 4 home runs to 7 hitters while not recording a single out.

We’ve grown accustomed to the the extreme peaks and valleys with Bundy, but the trouble here is the lack of a discernible pattern.  Despite facing roughly the same amount of batters from each side of the plate, Bundy has given up far more home runs to RHB, but struggled mightily to strike out LHB.  He seems to perform with relatively similar skill both at home and on the road.  Looking back to last year’s stats isn’t much help, as Bundy is also lacking any pattern from 2017.

I think the factor we should be most focused on, is price.  Bundy will always come with at least some risk, and as such, he’ll be far more viable at a low price than a high one.  That isn’t to say that a low price should be PREDICTIVE of a strong outing from Bundy, just that he will be more palatable at a lower price and thus more worthy of the risk.

Giant Strikeout Numbers

We don’t typically think of the Giants as a team that strikes out a lot.  We have trained ourselves to not roster pitchers against them because of this.  We may need to rethink this, due to their shift in personnel this offseason.  The Giants have become more right handed, and have added power, but it appears to have been at significant cost of contact rates.  In 2017, the Giants were bottom 5 in both walk and strikeout rates (lots of contact!).  This year, they are still bottom 10 in walk rate, but now TOP 5 in K rate (lots less contact).

This difference was especially apparent this week, as they allowed Nick Pivetta, Aaron Nola, and Zach Eflin to all record career highs in strikeouts.  We know what Pivetta is capable of when he is good, and Nola is very good at most times, but Eflin?  Eflin is not necessarily even an MLB pitcher.  This team, that by the way has attempted to gain power at the expense of contact and not necessarily been successful (22nd in home runs, 25th in ISO) is now striking out at alarming rates, and they might even get worse.  One category the Giants have been tremendous in is BABIP, putting up a .317 thus far this season (2nd in MLB), meaning even further regression is coming and even fewer positive hitting scenarios will present themselves, leading to even more strikeouts!  Yikes!  Continue to roster almost any SP with decent K upside against the Giants with confidence.

Braves Add Another Thumper, It’s Not Who You Think

Honestly at this point I think the Braves might win both the NL East and the NL pennant.  This team is incredible.  And while you may laugh at them adding Jose Bautista (trust me, this is an understandable reaction), this is a powerful lineup at every position besides SS, and that may change if we see additional development from Johan Camargo.

But while Bautista is nice and provides a lot more thump than Ryan Flaherty would have, the real spike in power has come from Nick Markakis.  That’s right, Nick Markakis. Nick Markakis hasn’t had more than 18 home runs since 2009, and yet here he is 7 with home runs through the 2nd week of May.  He might hit 20+ home runs in his age 34 season, which would be equally unexpected and phenomenal.

Adding Bautista’s power via free agency and adding Markakis’ power via this unexpected power surge to the core of Albies, Acuna and Freeman (and I guess Ender Inciarte and whomever happens to be catching) and it’s going to be tough to convince me that this isn’t a top 3 lineup in all of baseball.  While the raw power numbers aren’t quite there yet, they are 8th in ISO, 3rd in wOBA and 1st in wRC+.  While they are generally going to be pretty expensive, stacking the Braves will almost always be a good move.

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