This is the 149th installment of The Labyrinthian, a series dedicated to exploring random fields of knowledge in order to give you unordinary theoretical, philosophical, strategic, and/or often rambling guidance on daily fantasy sports. Consult the introductory piece to the series for further explanation.
Last month I wrote about how to build dominant FantasyLabs trends and how not to use our Trends tool. Because I’m evidently obsessed with our Trends tool, this piece is about . . . our Trends tool.
Also, I’m expecting this piece to be short, which is good for everyone.
The Original Title of Friday Night Lights
Let’s say that there’s a hitter with great recent Statcast data. Over the last 15 days, he has a batted ball distance of 250 feet, fly ball rate of 45 percent, and hard hit rate of 50 percent. If you build a balanced trend around those data points, you see this:
Look at that high Plus/Minus and Consistency Rating! This guy is going to crush, right?
Well, he might not — because . . .
- He has a -0.250 ISO differential in our Player Models.
- He is projected to bat eighth on our Lineups page.
- His team has an implied total of 3.5 runs on our Vegas Dashboard.
When you put those three factors into a trend, the result is bloodier than my Friday night steaks:
In case you need context: I like steaks the way I like my wife.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
The question arises: For the purposes of this slate, which information regarding this hypothetical player matters most? Phrased differently: Who is this guy?
- Is he a slugger who has smashed the ball over the last half-month?
- Is he a bottom-of-the order grunt in a bad lineup and on the wrong side of his splits?
He’s both — just as one fictional character is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — but which side of his nature is likely to predominate in this slate?
If we combine his past Statcast data with his present circumstances . . .
. . . we see that comparable players have historically been closer to Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll. This doesn’t mean that this player doesn’t have elevated potential for a No. 8 hitter. In fact, from a game theory perspective, he could be a great contrarian play in guaranteed prize pools. As you can see from the small sample, it’s rare for a hitter this late in the order to have Statcast data this exceptional. That counts for something, especially given his low ownership, which could be reviewed in our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
Nevertheless, this encompassing trend is clear: Although this player provides some value — which is an amazing feat for a No. 8 hitter — we should focus more on his negative circumstances and less on his positive recent form. Context matters.
Anything Less Than Perfect Is Imperfect
It’s easy when doing DFS research to focus on the positive numbers that are less relevant and overlook the negative numbers that are more relevant. It’s easy to do this because humans (I think) tend to be overly optimistic when it comes to evaluating opportunities that can enrich them.
So don’t do that. Instead, determine to have a total perspective. Focus on all relevant data. Seek out the negative.
Perfect the circle.
I don’t know what that means, but it sounds conclusionary.
And “conclusionary” is totally a word.
The Labyrinthian: 2017.54, 149
Previous installments can be accessed via my author page or the series archive.