Relevant Attributes Of Pitchers For Daily Fantasy Baseball
Everyday in the forum, we post a table of pitcher attributes that Max and I use to guide our decisions in daily fantasy baseball. You can look at the table on the day I’m writing this post here. For someone who is new to baseball statistics, this may look like a bunch of gibberish. In this post, I’ll explain these stats, as well as how you should use them when making lineups in daily fantasy.
Find Today’s Table By Click Here. Find Pitching Attribute Tables On The Daily Strategy Threads On The Forum Every Day!
All 3 statistics in the table, wOBAsplits, FIPSplits, and ISOSplit have the same metric format. Positive values refer to a split that is more favorable for left handed hitters, and negative values refer to a split that is more favorable for right handed hitters. This will be explained more in detail as we dive into each individual statistic.
wOBA stands for Weighted On Base Average, but that name is not very illuminating. wOBA is a statistic that is similar to batting average, slugging percentage, or OPS in the sense as it attempts to measure offensive value. It does this by looking at the historical runs added from each offensive event, single, double, walk, HR, etc regardless of context. The formula for wOBA can be found here, as well as further explanation on the subject. Because the formula is similarly structured to fantasy point scoring on FanDuel and DraftKings, it is an extremely good metric for daily fantasy baseball.
In the pitcher attribute table, we have a column called wOBAsplits. This is simply the difference between a pitchers wOBA allowed to right handed batters versus left handed batters since 2005. In the table, we see Charlie Morton has 810.4 innings pitched (IP), and his wOBA split is .079. In his career, left handed hitters have a wOBA was .376 against him, which is much worse than the league average wOBA of .312 in 2014. However, against right handed hitters Morton is only allowing a .297 wOBA, much better than average. Morton is quite tough against right handed hitters, but poor against left handers, and because of this left handed hitters are much more appealing targets for daily fantasy against him. Facing the Twins today, Joe Mauer should be a solid play, while Brian Dozier probably should be avoided.
You could call C.J. Wilson the left handed Charlie Morton. Like Morton, he does much better against one handedness type over the other. His negative 0.059 wOBAsplit indicates he is much tougher against left handed hitters than right handers.
Beware of sample size here. It’s quite rare you see a left handed or right handed pitcher break a range of .08 to -.06 on their career wOBA split. Players with low innings pitched can often have wOBA splits greater than .1 or -.1, but that is mostly due to short term luck, and they should regress back to normal in the future.
FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching. You can read about FIP in detail here. The idea of FIP is that pitcher could look a lot worse or better than he is because of his defense, so it only looks at statistics that don’t depend on defense: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. xFIP is the same as FIP, except instead of including home runs, it assumes that the number of home runs a pitcher will allow is directly in proportion to the number of flyballs they give up. This may sound a bit weird, but there is a fair amount of luck involved in home runs, and the amount of home runs a pitcher gives up is highly correlated to the flyballs they allow.
Because there is a lot of luck in the short term on how well balls put in play perform (i.e. a ball that is hit hard directly at a fielder and one hit hard towards a gap will result in an out and a double or triple respectively), and because strikeout and walk rates stabilize quickly, xFIP is probably better used in small samples than wOBA. We can see Noah Syndergaard has the highest xFIP splits today at 1.38, but he actually has slightly negative wOBA splits. Because we only have 78.2 innings pitched, we should trust xFIP more, and assume that he is going to be tougher against righties than lefties.
xFIP is also useful for considering pitcher matchups. Because the formula is mostly based on strikeouts and walks, xFIP helps us measure how dependent a pitcher’s matchup is on how many right handed or left handed hitters are in the lineup. Because Syndergaard’s xFIP is off the charts on the positive side, the quality of his matchup is going to greatly depend on how many right handed hitters are in the opposing lineup. On average, right handed pitchers face about an equal amount of left handed and right handed hitters, while left handed starters face around 1/4th the left handed hitters than they do right handed. As a rule of thumb, a lineup with 6 right handed hitters or more is above average for a right handed pitcher, and a lineup with just 3 left handed hitters or more is above average for a left handed pitcher.
Of all the metrics considered, Isolated Power (ISO) is the simplest. It’s a players slugging percentage minus their batting average. It’s a metric that represents how much power a player has. Because home runs represent a large percentage of a players fantasy value (around 50% for a prolific home run hitter), the difference between ISO given up to left handed vs right handed hitters is very important. Like wOBA, sample size is a big issue here, so I wouldn’t even consider ISOSplit for a pitcher with under 400 innings pitched.
All three metrics are quite correlated, but sometimes you can find some variations. For example, Colby Lewis is a big splits righty who gives up a lot of home runs, but he actually gives up more home runs to right handed hitters than left handed, he just doesn’t give up much of anything else. Chris Young is very similar, although his ISOSplit is neutral, meaning right handed and left handed hitters have similar success hitting for power against him. Anibal Sanchez is a neutral wOBA split righty, but has an ISOSplit of -.033, meaning right handers hit for much more power against him than left handers.
How To Use and Not Use These Metrics
Julio Teheran is a great example of why these metrics can be so useful. He is much worse against left handed hitters than right handed hitters, especially when it comes to hitting for power. Facing the Orioles today, left handed power hitter Chris Davis should be expected to do quite well.
But this is only true because Teheran is a below average pitcher in a hitters park on the road. For the most part, hitters do well because of the opposing pitcher and the hitter friendliness of the park. Great starting pitchers often have big splits, and even though they may be worse against one handedness type or the other, they are still above average against both. David Price is a perfect example. Price has big negative wOBA splits and ISO splits, so does that mean right handed hitters are good to target against him? Absolutely not. Price is pitching today at Tropicana Field, one of the best pitchers parks in the league. His career wOBA against right handed hitters is .297. While lefties have fared much worse, a wOBA of only .257, right handed hitters still perform below average against him. Splits is only a secondary factor, it won’t turn a bad matchup into a great one.
- Splits can help guide your lineup making decisions for hitters and pitchers.
- wOBA splits tell you how well left handed hitters have performed against a given pitcher compared to right handed hitters. Positive numbers indicate lefties faring better, while negative indicates righties faring better.
- xFIPSplits give you an idea of offensive performance splits in smaller samples, as well as how dependent a pitcher’s matchup is on the handedness profile of the opposing lineup.
- ISOSplit tells you how different handedness profiles hit for power against a given pitcher.
View all posts by Daniel Steinberg