Throughout the season, I am using our FREE Trends tool to create a custom trend, and then I am tracking the results of my matches for the week in this article. The goal is to create trends with high Plus/Minus values and share them with our readers every Friday.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this week I’m going to attempt to create a trend with a positive Plus/Minus and lower than expected average ownership. Yes, that’s what I did last week. But in my opinion the addition of the “Average Ownership” field to our MLB Trends tool is such a game changer that it’s worth spending several weeks on.
This week, we’ll start in a chalky point by looking at favored pitchers whose K Predictions are six or greater:
The Plus/Minus is great, but the average ownership among matches is sky-high (for a one-pitcher site like FanDuel) at 14.5 percent.
The final filter I’ll apply is “Pro Trends are between 1 and 3.” Basically what we’re saying here is, “Find pitchers who are favored and likely to strikeout six or more batters but who do not have much else going for them.
We’ve cut the average ownership in half (and then some), but we’ve lost over two points from the average Plus/Minus. In guaranteed prize pools, is that a good trade-off to make? Let’s head to the results and find out.
Tanaka’s 11.2 percent ownership seems high, but given that this was taken from the six-game early slate, I think it’s actually very reasonable. Particularly when you consider that Kyle Hendricks came at 38.3 percent ownership while costing $600 more than Tanaka.
Given the ownership gap and proximity to Hendricks’ salary, Tanaka cold have done some damage with a big outing here. You see what I mean about a pitcher being favored to win and strike out six with not much else going for him: Facing the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium is by no means an ideal scenario. All things considered, Tanaka did fine and he exceeded his implied salary-based total. But he was outpaced by Hendricks and as a result not very useful on this slate.
Tuesday was a full 15-day slate so Weaver’s 12.4 percent ownership here is more ‘legit’ than Tanaka’s from the previous day. A former first-round draft pick who was coming off a 10-K game in only his fourth career Major League start, Weaver was an intriguing option. And since he qualified for this trend we know he was favored to win and had a decent K Prediction.
But the lack of Pro Trends told us there was probably not much else there. Despite the positives, rostering Weaver meant taking a chance on an inexperienced rookie on the road against a team that was projected to exceed four runs by Vegas.
The matches on Wednesday night were more or less in line with expectations for the trend. We want low-owned pitchers who are in a position to win and strike out six or more bats, and so we got low-owned pitchers who were in positions to win and whose K totals hovered around six. This was also a great slate to try this approach, with three aces on the hill priced above $10,000, each commanding relatively high ownership levels.
So what does today have in store for this trend? Let’s take a look at the current matches:
Firstly, it’s important to note that this is absolutely a trend for which the matches may change throughout the day. As lineups are released, a pitcher’s K Prediction may rise or fall. Similarly, a pitcher may gain or lose Pro Trends based on things like Vegas movement, the weather forecast, etc.
So be sure to check back again later, but for the moment we have some interesting results. At first glance, I’m seeing three ‘aces’ and doubting that low ownership will be available. But with Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, and Jon Lester also on the slate, maybe lower ownership will be more available than I expect.
And since I enjoy silly results in small sample sizes as much as the next person, take a look at how Yu Darvish has performed in games in which his Pro Trends have been similarly low:
In general, you will be able to find low-owned pitchers with strikeout and win upside through this trend. The downside is that there are also going to be negatives that you’ll have to be willing to accept — perhaps a low Bargain Rating, a higher-than-average price point, or a run projection for the opponent that is above your normal comfort level.
With that in mind, this trend can be thought of as the tournament-cousin of the cash game trend I introduced in the very beginning. We know to look for cash game plays through wins via the Favorite/Dog filter and strikeouts via K Prediction. But if you want to take a walk on the wild side, draw the line there and apply the “Three or fewer Pro Trends” filter.