The Best Daily Pitcher Projection Of All Time: Clayton Kershaw

As weird as it may sound, I’ve been waiting for this day to come for months. I’ve been waiting for the best pitcher in baseball to get the best matchup possible, and that’s come today with Clayton Kershaw facing the Rangers. I would guess that if I projected every pitcher since the beginning of daily fantasy baseball, Kershaw today would have the highest projection of any of them. To commemorate this special occasion, I’m going to project Kershaw’s fantasy points today, simplifying some of the math to make my life easier.

The reason Kershaw is so good today mostly has to do with his makeup and the makeup of the Rangers. Kershaw kills lefties, and the Rangers 4 best hitters are lefties, as well as their pitcher today Wandy Rodriguez. Kershaw, in his career, has struck out 12.9 batters per 9 innings against lefties. This is off of a career average of 9.56 strikeouts per 9 innings. Considering Kershaw has struck out 11.59 batters per 9 innings this season, his lefty strikeout numbers are likely better. For the sake of ease, I’m going to call it 14 strikeouts per 9 innings as his projection against lefties.

Before I try my hand at projecting Kershaw today, I have to make a few more assumptions. The average strikeouts per 9 innings for a starting pitcher this season is about 7.5, which will serve as the average K rate the Rangers have faced. I will use strikeout rates from the past two seasons to get strikeout splits for hitters, and use Steamer projections to estimate K rates. I will also estimate 28 batters faced per game for Kershaw, which is a mix of the 27.74 total batters faced per game he had last season, and the added bonus of being at home. I will also assume on average he will pitch 8 innings.

Given the 28 batters faced model, the leadoff hitter will get 4 at bats against Kershaw, while I will assume the pitcher will face him twice and a pinch hitter will hit against Kershaw once.

My guess for the Rangers lineup is based on yesterday. I’m going to guess Corporan is going to catch, as Chirinos is due for a day off.

Shin Soo Choo

Elvis Andrus

Prince Fielder

Kyle Blanks

Mitch Moreland

Joey Gallo

Carlos Corporan

Hanser Alberto

Wandy Rodriguez


Now all I need to do is estimate the theoretical K rate of each hitter against Kershaw, and multiply each percentage by 3, except with Wandy and Choo. To estimate theoretical K rate, I will multiply each hitters projected K rate against lefties by the ratio in which Kershaw’s strikeout rate is greater than average. In this case, we will use 1.87 (14/7.5) for lefties, and 1.2 (9/7.5) for righties. Wandy will be given a .45 strikeout rate, my estimate of an average lefty pitcher vs lefty pitcher.

Shin Soo Choo .25*1.87*4 = 1.87 strikeouts

Elvis Andrus .165*1.2*3 = .594 strikeouts

Prince Fielder .185*1.87*3 = 1.04 strikeouts

Kyle Blanks  .23*1.2*3 = .828 strikeouts

Mitch Moreland .243*1.87*3 = 1.36 strikeouts

Joey Gallo .4*1.87*3 = 2.25 strikeouts

Carlos Corporan .288*1.2*3 = 1.04 strikeouts

Hanser Alberto .17*1.2*3 =  .612 strikeouts

Wandy Rodriguez .45*1.87*2 = 1.68 strikeouts

Pinch Hitter .2*1.2 = .24 strikeouts

Strikeout Projection: 11.514 Strikeouts

For earned runs allowed, I’m going to say 1.8. The run projection is hard to decipher from the Vegas line, but our estimates are the Rangers are projected to score 2.2 runs. Given not all of that is going to be Kershaw, and not all of those are earned, 1.8 seemed reasonable. For win percentage, I’m going to estimate .667, as the Dodgers are currently close to 3 to 1 favorites and Kershaw is likely to pitch most if not all of the game. That means his expected points for winning is 4*.667 = 2.668.

Final Projection: 8 IP, 1.8 ER, 11.514 K, Win Chance = 20.382 FanDuel Fantasy Points

So an average game for Kershaw today, just a mediocre game, he scores 20 fantasy points. Kershaw could certainly have a bad game, if you consider 15 fantasy points from your pitcher bad. Obviously with a game at Coors, there are going to be a lot of good high priced hitters today. But if you want to be smart, sell out for Kershaw.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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