Projecting Daily Home Runs
Home runs are huge in daily fantasy. Approximately 55% of Giancarlo Stanton’s projected fantasy points on FanDuel this season will come from home runs. This isn’t a fluke, many big home run hitters have anywhere from 40-60% of their fantasy points come from home runs. Think about that for a second. If you can predict home runs well, you can predict the majority of many players fantasy output. Unfortunately, predicting home runs isn’t easy, but there are a few metrics we can use to determine home run favorable matchups and subsequently get players likely to hit Home Runs in our lineups.
Pitcher HR Allowed
The simplest way to project home runs is to look at how many home runs a hitter is projected to hit and how many home runs an opposing pitcher is projected to allow. Fangraphs has this data from various sources. Steamer and ZIPS are the most notable projections on their site, and they both project home runs per 9 innings pitched (HR/9) and home runs per plate appearance (although you have to do the division yourself).
One of the issues with these projections is they are not park neutral. Some ballparks are much more home run friendly than others, so pitchers and hitters at home run friendly parks will have inflated projections, while players at pitcher friendly parks will have depressed projections. I’ve adjusted the projections for park factors for pitchers and posted them on our tools page. Guys who are in the top 25 on this page I will pick home run hitters going against them, and anyone in the top 10 is going to be an extremely good matchup for big home run hitters. Remember, for these guys this is around 50% of their expected fantasy points, so it’s almost all you should care about.
Going From A Bad Home Run Park To A Good One
One of my favorite signals, and one that helped me win the FanDuel Grand Slam a couple days ago, is riding home run hitters with a home park where home runs are difficult when they go to a very friendly home run park.
The Giants home field, AT&T Park, is the hardest park to hit a home run. If we look at the statistics in the last couple seasons for Giant’s sluggers, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Hunter Pence, their numbers are not mind blowing by any means. 2013 were Pence and Belt’s best season for home runs, but only managed 27 and 17 home runs respectively. Posey’s best season was in 2012, where he had 24. But these numbers are quite impressive considering half their games are at the hardest park you can play at for home runs.
Great American Ball Park, the Reds home stadium, is the 2nd most home run friendly park in the MLB using 2014 park factors. If Posey, Belt, and Pence were to play for the Reds, we would project an increase of a bit over 25% in their projected home run totals for the season. Because home runs are worth so much, this is a huge daily projection increase. This is why Belt, Posey, and Pence all did so well last weekend at Great American, which paid off for me big time. Look for Marlins, Pirates, Atheltics, and Angels power hitters heading to home run friendly ball parks as well. The Angels go to Toronto today, and guys like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols should be superb plays over the next few days.
Wind and Weather
Strong winds tend to be good for hitters, especially home run hitters if the wind is blowing out of the ball park. This is especially true at Wrigley Field, as the small park is affected a ton by the wind of Chicago. Whenever you see an extremely high over/under line at a Cubs home game, it almost certainly means the wind is blowing, and you should target power hitters in that game.
Heat also has an impact on home run conditions. Home runs have a strong, direct correlation with heat, and for a logical reason. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and therefore allows the ball to travel further. A game played in 90+ degree weather historically has resulted in over 20% more home runs than in games played in 60-69 degree weather. Look for extremely hot days as another signal to use as guidance for targeting power hitters.
- Home runs account for a vast majority of fantasy points produced, especially for power hitters.
- Some pitchers allow more home runs than other pitchers, and high home run allowed pitchers can be easily identified and targeted.
- Park factors have a large influence on home run projections, and going from a pitcher friendly home park to a home run park is extremely favorable for a power hitter.
- Wind and heat can also have large influences on home runs. Heat makes air less dense and allows the ball to travel further. Wind blowing out of the stadium can greatly aid in home runs, especially at Wrigley Field.