Even the newest of DFS users know that a big part of doing well in a large tourney is finding a way to differentiate your lineup from the thousands of other players aiming at the top prize.
Being unique means being a little risky, but with so much variance in DFS baseball, that’s just part of the game. Using FantasyLabs’ Trends tool makes the risky proposition a little less daunting, though.
Even when being contrarian, it’s imperative to pick players that are in spots to do well. This isn’t a game of luck. It’s not throwing darts (or, ya know, drawing six balls out of a basket and hoping your numbers match).
One of the most important, and possibly most overlooked, features of FL has is umpire data. It’s so easy to glaze over because a typical DFSer doesn’t know the names or faces of the man in the mask … crouching behind the other man in the mask.
Names to Know
Ask any big league pitcher (or catcher), though, and they’ll tell you what you need to know. Which umps give them a pitch an inch off the outside plate with a righty up. Which ones have a strike zone that might be a tad narrow but is made up for with a called strike on a curveball a hair below the knees. And the umpires that they can’t figure out no matter how hard they try.
Meet Ron Kulpa. The proud owner of a Justin Verlander no-hitter in 2007. Five days prior, Kulpa had been behind the plate when Curt Schilling was an out away from a no-hitter.
Pitchers like Kulpa, and so should we (at least until MLB starts using the K zone to call balls and strikes, and then he’s just another dude).
There are more Kulpas in the majors, and lucky for you FL has compiled the data.
Brian Knight is another name we want to recognize. He has two no-hitters to his credit, as well (see: Jon Lester and Josh Beckett).
Play around with the Trends page and you’ll quickly stumble upon intriguing finds. Pitchers favored by Vegas and projected to record at least six strikeouts are lethal when combined with the right umpire behind the dish.
I sorted by average Plus/Minus and only selected the top 10 who fit the bill at least five times.
This is the kind of spot you want to be in. It won’t always be a sexy pick, but that’s good for DFS contrarian purposes. Already this season, the trend has an average Plus/Minus of +8.1. It’s only had one pitcher go below expectations, but Juan Nicasio ($6,900 on FanDuel) made up for that with a nice seven-strikeout performance with Hal Gibson III calling balls on strikes on April 6th.
I was on Nicasio that day and was joined by only 5.2 percent of the field.
It’s time to get to know the boys in blue. They’ll help you pick your spots to be contrarian.