This is the fifth piece in a series of articles looking at Statcast data for batters and pitchers.
Statistics like exit velocity, batted ball distance, and hard hit rate are still relatively new to many daily fantasy players. FantasyLabs Co-Founder Jonathan Bales recently put out a video on how to use batted ball data within our Player Models. This series uses the suite of Labs Tools to explore the DFS value of Statcast data.
Batted Ball Distance
In his most recent book, Bales emphasizes batted ball distance as a great predictor of future performance. Using our Trends tool, Pro subscribers can easily backtest the relationship between batted ball distance and FanDuel batters over the last 12 months:
There is a steady and positive correlation the board: The farther a ball is hit, the better that generally is for the batter. However, past the sweet spot of 226-250 feet, a decline occurs, perhaps because many balls hit over 250 feet are fly outs.
As might be expected, ownership increases with batted ball distance. (Pro Subscribers can review exposure levels in our DFS Ownership Dashboard.) It’s possible that even though the final subgroup has a depressed Consistency Rating it has elevated ownership because DFS players focus on home run hitters.
Recent Batted Ball Distance
Analyzing recent batted ball distance allows us to focus on batters hitting the ball well over the previous 15 days:
What’s noticeable about this data is that, whereas a long-term batted ball distance of 250-plus feet isn’t maximal, a recent distance above 250 feet yields the highest Plus/Minus in the study.
Additionally, there are two more features of interest in this data set. The range of raw production, Plus/Minus values, and Consistency Ratings is much wider in the short-term data than the 12-month data. That’s probably not surprising, as short-term data can be more easily impacted by variance. However, the short-term ownership is much more condensed, probably because DFS players are relatively slow to adjust to changes in hitter performance. Keeping this in mind when using our Lineup Builder to create your teams can give you an edge.
Looking at the difference between a hitter’s average batted ball distance over the past 15 days versus the past 12 months can be fruitful:
While there’s a positive correlation between distance differential and production, that same correlation doesn’t exist for differential and ownership. The difference between guys whiffing and crushing (compared to their historic averages) is less than one percentage point of ownership. Targeting batters with distance differentials of more than 25 feet may provide the biggest edge of all.
Putting It All Together
The farther a batter hits the ball, the more productive he tends to be. That’s probably not a surprise, but what’s notable is the extent to which short-term distance matters. When used in combination with other Statcast metrics, Labs statistics, and Vegas data, batted ball distance is likely to provide a significant edge.
Previous installments of the Statcast(unate) Event series can be accessed via my author page.