This is a weekly series that follows MLB trends created with our Trends tool. Although the trends in this series are made with specific slates in mind, they are designed to remain relevant throughout the season.
7/3: Carpenter at the Top
Much has been made about Matt Carpenter’s performance when he’s batting in the leadoff spot versus spots lower in the batting order. Using our Trends tool, it’s easy to see that over the past four seasons Carpenter has generated the most Plus/Minus value on DraftKings out of the leadoff spot: The first spot in the order is the only spot from which Carpenter has generated a positive value:
Overall, Carpenter has added around 0.6 DraftKings points to his Plus/Minus when leading off. Impressive as that may seem, that number is actually right around what you would expect to see from any batter who is leading off. In other words, the narrative that Carpenter performs better when leading off seems to be true, but that is only half the story since the same is true for most batters in the MLB, at least from a DFS-centric fantasy-points-versus-expected-value perspective.
On Monday, we had Carpenter projected for nine to 12 percent ownership in our Models, behind only Mark Reynolds among first basemen, even though Carpenter was on the wrong side of his lefty/righty splits. Playing Carpenter when he is batting lower in the order has been a losing proposition, but I also don’t want to play Carpenter solely because he is leading off. Outside of his spot in the batting order and the Cardinals’ high implied Vegas total, I did not seeing many other positives for Carpenter among his Park Factor, handedness splits, or recent Statcast data, so I faded accordingly.
Pro subscribers can review ownership trends across tournaments of various buy-in levels via our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after lineups lock.
Carpenter went one-for-four with an RBI en route to seven fantasy points and a -1.15 Plus/Minus. He was outperformed by several other first basemen, led by Luke Voit and Joe Mauer.
7/4: Coors Light
If you’ve been consistently stacking Coors Field games this season, you’ve probably lost money overall. For the first time in our database, batters at Coors Field have posted a negative Plus/Minus on DraftKings in 2017. One possible explanation for this could be that the outfield walls were raised prior to the 2016 season, although last season’s scoring was largely unaffected.
Whatever the case, the fact remains that although batters at Coors Field are still being rostered at a high rate they are failing to live up to salary-based expectations now more than ever before. Even games with high implied Vegas totals have disappointed this season: In 2017, in games at Coors in which a player’s team has had an implied run total above six, the Plus/Minus falls to -0.47 while average ownership skyrockets to 16.4 percent.
That brings us to the Rockies, whose Tuesday implied team total was 6.5 runs at home against Homer Bailey and the Reds. In addition to the aforementioned Coors trend for 2017, Vegas line movement was another huge red flag in this game. The Rockies lost 0.7 runs from their initial implied run total of 7.2 leading up to the game despite 62 percent of all bets coming in on the over. Colorado’s moneyline odds had also worsened over the course of the day even though the team got 77 percent of the bets.
I thought the Rockies might be limited to four or five runs, which would have been a disappointment. I did not think they were going to be limited to a single run, which is how it played out. At high ownership levels on a small evening slate, the Rockies bats were major disappointments:
7/5: Alex Wood
It’s no secret that Alex Wood has had a great 2017 season so far. Only Chris Sale and Max Scherzer have scored more fantasy points above salary-based expectations on DraftKings this season. The crazy part is that there is legitimate reason to be hopeful that Wood may even improve on his excellent fantasy production in the second half of the season.
Through the early stages of the season, Wood was racking up strikeouts and limiting runs, but he was not pitching deep into games. He did not pitch past the sixth inning until May 19, and he has eclipsed seven innings only three times. The good news is that the Dodgers seem to be giving Wood a longer leash of late.
Wood entered his most recent start with a 15-day average pitch count of 96 pitches, his highest total since May 2016. In the seven games over the past two seasons that Wood has entered with a recent pitch count above 90, the results have been off the charts:
An average ownership of 18 percent tells us that maybe we aren’t collectively paying enough attention to Wood’s pitch counts. Even in Wood’s most recent start against the Padres, a plus matchup, Wood’s ownership remained a reasonable 22 percent.
On a slate with limited pitching, Wood probably stood out more than he generally would have. Wood was the most expensive pitcher on DraftKings by $2,300 and the only pitcher whose opponent was implied to score fewer than 3.5 runs. Despite his high ownership, Wood remained a fixture among top-placing teams in guaranteed prize pools as he turned seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts into 36.75 DraftKings points.
Thanks for following along with my three custom trends this week. As always, there’s plenty more left to be explored via the Labs Tools.