There are umpteenth numbers of research strategies when it comes to playing MLB DFS.
You will have your beginner or casual players simply stacking left-handed batters against a weak right-handed pitcher or vice versa when you stack some right-handed bats against a poor left-handed arm.
That’s about as basic as it gets, however, as there is a plethora of research that needs to happen in order to have success and you can chalk any success the above strategy has as pure luck.
There are many ways to research your offense, but some people struggle with exactly what stats to use when it comes to rostering productive players.
I’m going to break down what stats I use when I’m doing the research on my position players, what the stats tell us and finally why we should use this stat in the first place.
As always, these stats are found over at Fangraphs, under the ‘Teams’ section and ‘2019’ under the ‘Team Batting Stats’ header.
Let’s get to it!
Best MLB DFS Offensive Stats to Use
First, you can essentially throw standards, or traditional, or counting stats out the door.
I used strictly advanced stats. There isn’t anything a traditional stat tells you that an advanced stat can’t and traditional stats such as home runs, doubles, RBIs and runs are hard to quantify.
You see a player has 12 doubles in 247 plate appearances. How are we supposed to understand from that how powerful his bat has been in terms of hitting for extra-bases? Divide 247 by 12 and figure out how many doubles per plate appearance a player has? That is both annoying and time-consuming and still fails to tell us the true extra-base power of the player’s bat.
Stick to advanced stats and save yourself the headache of trying to pry information from counting stats.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important advanced stats when doing your MLB DFS research.
wOBA – Weighted On-Base Average
What does this tell us?
Rather than using strictly on-base percentage, wOBA is a much more impactful stat in terms of telling a player’s productivity per plate appearance.
For example, a walk and a triple are assigned the same value when calculating the on-base percentage. All on-base percentage cares about is whether the player got on base or not.
With wOBA, there is a weighted value to getting on base. Home runs are assigned a higher weight than triples, triples more than doubles, doubles more than singles, etc.
wOBA attempts to assign a proper value for each type of hitting event and the more impactful the event (home run, for instance) the more weight that event gets in the complicated wOBA calculation.
There isn’t a widely agreed upon the scale of how to read into wOBA, but a simple Wikipedia search reveals the following:
wOBA Scale | |
---|---|
Classification | Range |
Elite | .400 + |
Very Good | .371 – .399 |
Good | .321 – .370 |
Average | .320 |
Bad | .291 – .320 |
Very Bad | .290 and below |
Why Should We Use this Stat?
The wOBA stat is the most universal stat in terms of viewing a player’s productivity at the plate. You know that if a player has a low wOBA that he is likely not getting on base much and isn’t hitting for much extra-base power.
If a player has a high wOBA, you know he is getting on base a nice clip and furthermore, he is getting on base impactfully with doubles and home runs very much a part of that player’s equation.
ISO – Isolated Power
What Does This Tell Us?
Isolated power is a little simpler than wOBA.
ISO is a measure of power combing extra-base hits and excluding singles. Think of the ISO calculation as slugging percentage minus batting average.
Slugging percentage gives weight to a single, double, triple and a home run, but the weights increase as two for a double, three for a triple and four for a homer. It’s essentially calculated as total bases minus at-bats. Therefore, think of slugging percentage is how many bases per at-bat (walks excluded).
ISO, on the other hand, does not give a weight to a single. The result of an ISO calculation can, therefore, be thought of as extra-bases per at-bat. Therefore, a player who has only singles has an ISO of 0. If you hit a home run in every at-bat, your ISO would be 3.000 as you had three extra-bases in every at-bat.
Why Should We Use This Stat?
Using ISO is of vital importance in doing your DFS research strategy.
Singles are nice and all, but we want power with the bats in our lineup, of course. At DraftKings for example, a home run is worth 14 points (10 for a home run, two each for RBI and run) while a single is worth three points. A double is worth five points and a triple is worth eight.
We aren’t interested in players who don’t hit for power unless that player gets on base out of the leadoff spot, for example, and has run-scoring upside thanks to some big bats behind him. In almost all other scenarios, we are looking for players with power and ISO is the best measure of power.
I would measure the final ISO figure like the following.
ISO Scale | |
---|---|
Classification | Range |
Elite | .225 or more |
Very Good | .191 – .224 |
Good | .161 – .190 |
Average | .131 – .160 |
Bad | 1.01 – .130 |
Very Bad | .099 or below |
wRC+ – Weighted Runs Created Plus
What Does This Tell Us?
The weighted runs created plus stat is another stat that tells us on a universal basis how productive a player’s bat is, however this stat takes external factors into consideration.
By external factors, I am speaking to park factors. For example, a player that plays his home games at Coors Field in Colorado – the league’s most hitter-friendly venue – will be assigned a lesser wRC+ than a player with identical stats that plays his home games at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego.
As the name of the stat indicates, this stat quantifies how well a given player is at creating runs and normalizes it so we can compare players’ performances on a level playing field.
Say Nolan Arenado – who plays his home games at Coors Field – owns a 150 wRC+. You could then look at someone like Khris Davis – who plays his home games at the pitcher-friendly O.Co Coliseum in Oakland – owning a 150 wRC+. This means that Davis’ production is equally impressive considering the disadvantage his ballpark has given him.
Finally, wRC+ gives us relativity as well. For instance, a wRC+ of 100 is average. Therefore, a wRC+ is 10% above average and a wRC+ of 90 is below average.
Why Should We Use This Stat?
wRC+ isn’t as helpful from a DFS perspective as the two stats above, however, I like the fact I can look at a wRC+ of, say, 125 and tell myself that this player is 25% better than league average, factoring in the venue, at creating runs.
Sometimes we can have a player that has a very high OPS, but since on-base percentage is half of the OPS calculation, that player could be walking a lot and would therefore not be creating a ton of runs and could have a wRC+ well below league average, say around 80.
The higher than wRC+, the better, to be sure.
I don’t use this stat in and of itself as I certainly look at wOBA and ISO first, but it’s a nice complement to these stats to ensure this player is as effective as we think from a DFS perspective.
K% – Strikeout Percentage
What Does This Tell Us?
This one is the easiest of the bunch.
Strikeout percentage simply tell us what percent of a player’s plate appearances result in a strikeout. Keep in mind this means all times a player comes to the plate – not just at-bats.
The formula is simply the number of strikeouts / plate appearances x 100.
According to Fangraphs, here is a scale you can judge K% by.
K% Scale | |
---|---|
Classification | K% |
Excellent | 10% |
Great | 12.5% |
Above Average | 16% |
Average | 22% |
Poor | 25% |
Awful | 27.5% |
Why Should We Use This Stat?
It’s not a mandatory part of the research, but I use this stat to essentially tell me how many empty at-bats a hitter is producing.
If two players have identical stats, but player A has a K% of 28% and player B has a K% of 18%, I’m going with player B. Of course, it’s rarely that simple, but nonetheless, it’s worth looking into.
Rostering a player with a low K-rate has its benefits. If a player isn’t strikeout out much, it means they have an excellent batter’s eye and are either walking a lot or making contact a lot. Making contact has its benefits in certain DFS-related situations (sac fly, hit and run) and while an RBI or walk aren’t huge rewards in DFS, they are better than what a strikeout nets you: zero.
A player that makes contact always has a better chance of getting a hit or getting on base in general than a player who is striking out almost a third of the time. You never know, this could be the difference between cashing on the profit side or missing out on the cash line altogether.
Stolen Bases
Of course, we need to check in on the stolen base upside a certain player gives us.
There’s no need to explain this one other than to make mention that steals are rewarded heavily at DraftKings, just as heavily as a double, in fact, with five points per steal.
We are getting into an era of baseball where the heavy home run hitters are very much stolen base threats as well. Think of the Mike Trout’s, Mookie Betts’ and Ronald Acuna Jr.’s of the world. There is a ton of power/speed potential on just about every single MLB slate.
Like with the strikeout, if I am deciding between two players with similar power stats, I’ll check into the stolen base stat for sure to see if there is an advantage to be had with one player over the other in the stolen bases department.