Baseball is inundated with statistics. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with that - especially for those who love numbers - an overload of stats can cause major problems when it comes to building your daily fantasy lineup.
What can you truly trust when it comes to baseball stats? There's no way to fit everything into one article, so we'll spread it out over two - and this week's edition will focus on the numbers you should rely on when it comes to deciding which players to use in your cash-game and tournament lineups:
Pitcher Home/Road Splits
The majority of pitchers fare better in their home parks than they do on the road. Here are some examples of elite pitchers who were significantly better at home last season:
Clayton Kershaw: 1.08 home ERA, 2.31 road ERA
Jon Lester: 1.74 home ERA, 3.17 road ERA
Madison Bumgarner: 2.14 home ERA, 3.39 road ERA
While not every ace boasts splits this pronounced, it is worth noting whether or not a high-salary pitcher has home-field advantage. This is equally true for mid-tier and lower-tier options, which should lead you to two conclusions: When breaking a tie, opt for the pitcher throwing at home; and if you're not sure about a starter on the road, take the safe route and fade him.
Vs. LHP/RHP Splits
This is the hitter equivalent of the pitcher home/road splits in that the majority of batters fare better against pitchers who throw with the opposite hand as their batting stance. Batters who hit from the right side boast better numbers against left-handed pitchers, and vice versa. In certain cases, the splits are dramatic enough that some hitters are benched against same-side pitchers.
This information is valuable when looking for cheap hitting options to complement your higher-priced options. Consider platoon hitters who fare well against left-handed pitchers on the day their team faces a southpaw: not only do they enjoy the platoon advantage, they'll also cost less on average than the majority of options at their position.
Hard Contact Rate
The premise here is a simple one: The harder a player hits the ball on average, the more likely he is to get on base. Here are last year's hard-hit percentage leaders, along with their slash lines:
David Ortiz: 45.9% hard contact rate, .315/.401/.620
Freddie Freeman: 43.5% hard contact rate, .302/.400/.569
Matt Carpenter: 41.9% hard contact rate, .271/.380/.505
Mike Trout: 41.7% hard contact rate, .315/.441/.550
Miguel Cabrera: 41.1% hard contact rate, .313/.393/.563
Kendrys Morales: 41.1% hard contact rate, .263/.327/.468
Jose Bautista: 41.1% hard contact rate, .234/.366/.452
As you can see, hard contact leads to elevated batting averages and slugging percentages in most cases; Bautista was an anomaly last year, but he was remarkably unlucky on batted balls. recording a higher-than-normal average of line-drive outs.
You can't roster all of the league leaders in hard contact rate at once, and it might take a few weeks for reliable trends to emerge at the beginning of the season. But once you have a decent sample size, you can use hard contact rate to identify players who have been tearing the cover off the ball but remain decently priced.