Advanced Hitting Statistics

FantasyDraft 101 was designed to teach novice players the absolute basics when it comes to daily fantasy baseball. All players are welcome on FantasyDraft.com, so congratulations to those who read the 101 series and have since graduated. This is now the second lesson in the FantasyDraft 102 series and is a follow-up on the beginner hitter stats. Knowing and understanding basic statistics is a great foundation, but the advanced statistics make a more direct impact on the daily game. Learning these in addition to the basics will greatly improve understanding of why events occur for hitters on a given night, and outcomes will start to seem less random.

Advanced Hitting Statistics

As mentioned in the FantasyDraft 101 statistics article, baseball is the most statistic driven sport. Few can recite exactly how many points the all-time leader has in the NBA (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), but most can tell you Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs in his career, which is a record that stood for 31 years. In daily fantasy baseball, being able to recite (or at least research and identify) each player’s numbers from each side of the plate is a huge upper-hand. Batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage really do not tell the whole story. A lot of luck is involved with batting average, walks are only worth two fantasy-points and there are better statistics at gauging hitters than slugging percentage. For those reasons, these three statistics should come in handy:

Weighted on-Base average is based on the belief that not all hits should be valued equally. FanGraphs.com does a better job of defining the term better than I ever could:

wOBA is based on a simple concept: Not all hits are created equal. Batting average assumes that they are. On-base percentage does too, but does one better by including other ways of reaching base such as walking or being hit by a pitch. Slugging percentage weights hits, but not accurately (Is a double worth twice as much as a single? In short, no) and again ignores other ways of reaching base. On-base plus slugging (OPS) does attempt to combine the different aspects of hitting into one metric, but it assumes that one percentage point of SLG is the same as that of OBP. In reality, a handy estimate is that OBP is around twice as valuable than SLG (the exact ratio is x1.8). In short, OPS is asking the right question, but we can arrive at a more accurate number quite easily.

Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.”

wOBA is typically written out in decimal form to the third decimal, similar to batting average. The league average is typically between .315 and .335 with any number .400 or over considered elite.

Isolated power is a metric that does a more accurate job measuring raw power than slugging percentage. Players can have identical slugging percentages without accounting for how often a player has been on base. The formula for determining isolated power is slugging percentage minus batting average. The example FanGraphs gives to help distinguish is as follows:

“Four singles and zero home runs in 10 at bats is a .400 batting average and .400 slugging percentage. One home run and zero singles in 10 at bats is a .100 batting average and .400 slugging percentage. The first player’s ISO is .000 and the second player’s ISO is .300, which tells you that the second player hits for extra bases more often. ISO doesn’t replaced a metric like OPS or wOBA, it simply helps you determine the type of player at which you’re looking.”

Two players with identical batting averages or identical slugging percentages can be having completely different seasons and those statistics do a poor job of distinguishing that. Isolated power shows you the amount of extra bases a player gets per at-bat, which is an important number for daily fantasy baseball. .130 to .160 is considered average with any number over .250 considered elite.

Weighted runs created is a statistic that tries to measure a players’ value in terms of runs. Weight runs created plus (wRC+) is the statistic I want to focus on in this article. wRC+ measures how a player’s weighted runs created total compares with the league average after controlling for park effects. Essentially, it gives overall value to a player and shows how many runs they are worth to their team. Here is an explanation from FanGraphs:

“wRC+ is park and league-adjusted, allowing one to to compare players who played in different years, parks, and leagues. Want to know how Ted Williams compares with Albert Pujols in terms of offensive abilities? This is your statistic. wRC+ is the most comprehensive rate statistic used to measure hitting performance because it takes into account the varying weights of each offensive action and then adjusts them for the park and league context in which they took place.”

Unlike wOBA, it takes stolen bases (and caught stealing) into consideration for players such as speedy leadoff hitters. 95 to 106 is considered an average wRC+ total with any number over 160 considered elite.

Application

Applying these statistics to daily fantasy baseball is similar to the process of applying the basic statistics. Players with an elite wOBA are the game’s best hitters, while those with great wRC+ totals may include players stealing bases and producing runs as opposed to driving them in. With these statistics however, the key is to find the split statistics, such as batters versus left-handed pitchers and how their advanced statistics rank. Players like Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith have become daily fantasy darlings because, as they only play part of the time, their price is usually low. When they play, they are likely facing the handedness of the pitcher they destroy. For Gomes, that is left-handers (career .374 wOBA, 133 wRC+ and .206 ISO) and for Smith it’s right-handers (career .361 wOBA, 123 wRC+ and .205 ISO). Star players such as Freddie Freeman have drastic splits: career .381 wOBA against RHP versus .328 wOBA against LHP. Favorable matchups such as Freeman against RHP are called the “platoon advantage.” Finding players and being able to identify them in their preferred matchups is how you consistently find your way into the PayoutZone on FantasyDraft.com.

If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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