Nobody understands the importance of Vegas quite like Johnny Drama. Whether it’s brawling with Seth Green or getting a flawless massage from his personal masseuse, Drama finds value through Vegas. In DFS, we rely on Vegas for a magnitude of factors. One of my favorite tools at FantasyLabs is the Vegas Score. The Vegas Score consists of run total, money line, line movement, etc. These unique, constantly updating features help us extract the data we are looking for in regards to Vegas.
Pitching is the most important part of MLB DFS, so we have to make sure we are paying for pitchers in the right spots. I wanted to see how pitchers performed when their Vegas Score was in the top 1%. This means that the pitcher has a premiere matchup when factoring in Vegas odds. To do this, I used our Player Trends Tool and set it to show only pitchers with a 99-100 Vegas Score percentile.
It is likely that if a pitcher has a 99-100 Vegas Score, they are pretty expensive to begin with. Even with an Average Expected Points of 19.29, pitchers with a 99-100 Vegas Score are performing 4.45 points better, on average. Gerrit Cole has three games with a Vegas Score of 99-100. His DraftKings points those three games: 19.3, 26.15, 37.95. Andrew Cashner with two games: 27.6, 41.45. Corey Kluber with four games: 27.7, 27.95, 39.8, 28.6. Yusmeiro Petit with three games: 31.1, 17.8, 40.35. Despite what Occupy Wall Street might say, being in the top 1% surely has its perks.
When looking at the list of pitchers, there are a few guys who regularly hold a spot. Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez have the largest sample sizes. Let’s take a look at their games with top 1% Vegas Scores to see how consistently they exceed expectations:
Kershaw has a Plus/Minus of 8.68 when he has a top 1% Vegas Score, which means he scores 8.68 more points on average than his expected points. Here is a sample of his game log:
As you can see, it is probably a good idea to play Kershaw no matter what when he is in the top 1%. Let’s check out King Felix and see how he fares:
Felix has a Plus/Minus of 6.85. Here are some of his best games with a Vegas Score of 99-100:
Seems like there is a pattern here. When selecting a pitcher, especially an expensive one, consistency is key. We define consistency as when a player has reached his salary-based expectation. Kershaw has 80% consistency with a top 1% Vegas Score, while Felix has 84% consistency.
I don’t like throwing around the term “must play”, but if I see a pitcher with a top 1% Vegas Score, I will be salivating. With how significant pitching is in DFS, it would be foolish to ignore the data. After all, Drama doesn’t ignore the data.
Vegas baby! Vegas!