Happy July 4th! It’s an important day for our country and an equally important day to fire up the barbeque, play some music, and throw some baseball on the television with family and friends.
Today, I want to talk about narratives and how we can take advantage of them in DFS and in predicting future outcomes. In sports, frequently we reflect on games and events and say things like ‘who saw that coming’? Which basically means ‘wow, the public didn’t think that would happen’. It’s what makes sports great. The unexpected can happen in any game.
Narratives form every day with every game in every sport. In baseball, we talked in this space last week about hot and cold streaks and when those happen, narratives form.
‘Shohei Ohtani is an unstoppable force.’
‘Kyle Schwarber is the best home run hitter in baseball.’
‘Vlad Guerrero Jr. could be better than his father.’
‘The Brewers may not lose another game.’
Ok, I embellished the last one but 11 wins in a row is impressive. Those are some of the big narratives in play right now but even as it pertains to players, there are common thoughts or reactions we all have when we see or hear their names. I love to analyze and think through what those thoughts are on any given slate, and see if we can’t take advantage of them when building our rosters.
I encourage you to continue to pull in your usual data sets and run your models to look at who to play today. But I also encourage you to follow me down narrative lane below and identify where we can take our stances for the day as we look at Sunday’s slate…here we go!
Padres (Snell) @ Phillies (Velasquez) – Blake Snell is a name brand who is overrated, and gives up far too much hard contact. Maybe Velasquez isn’t so bad? His last start against Miami was impressive.
Brewers (Peralta) @ Pirates (T. Anderson) – The Brewers are rolling! The Pirates are the Pirates.
Rays (Yarbrough) @ Blue Jays (Ray) – How do you pitch against the Jays offense? They are stacked.
Cubs (Hendricks) @ Reds (Miley) – Two good offenses. Two mediocre pitchers. Hendricks has lost his form. I can see strong ownership here on the offenses.
Astros (Greinke) @ Indians (Quantrill) – Not too much brewing here. The public knows Greinke isn’t at his best anymore and Quantrill hasn’t shown his potential as a prospect. I think this game may get lost in the shuffle on this slate.
White Sox (Giolito) @ Tigers (Manning) – Manning falls into same category as Quantrill. Good prospects, bad performance so far in the majors. And Giolito, man only 1 K in his last start? He’s not the same.
Marlins (Z. Thompson) @ Braves (Morton) – This Thompson guy might be really good. And Morton is back, baby! He deals!
Mets (Stroman) v. Yankees (Cole) – The Yankees offense stinks, and Gerrit Cole is no longer Gerrit Cole without using the sticky stuff.
Twins (Maeda) @ Royals (Keller) – Two rollercoaster pitchers this season. Unreliable. And the Twins offense has just underperformed. They aren’t your fathers Twins (2019 or 2020 versions).
These statements were made in absolutes for a reason. Sure, I am only one man’s opinion here of what these common thoughts would be…but I feel strongly that if YOUR opinion differs in any of these above, then that is a contrarian view.
There is such a misconception out there of what it means to be contrarian. And for me, it’s truly just deviating from some of these current common thoughts. Do you think Cole will bounce back to the stats on the back of his baseball cards? Will Manning or Quantrill have a start which lives up to their prospect hype for just a day? Is Giolito a guy from 2020 or is something off with him? Can Maeda be the best pitcher on the slate? Could Tyler Anderson be the pitcher who stops this Brewers winning streak? What about the Marlins against Morton, can they actually rake against him?
One of the first places I am going with lineups today is attacking Velasquez. He was money last time out against Miami but the Padres lineup is not the Miami Marlins. His fly ball rate is 61% over the past 20 days and he has given up 0 home runs. On the Padres side, Fernando Tatis Jr. leads all major leaguers in Hard-hit rate in the past 10 days at 72%. Trent Grisham and Wil Myers stand out as well with 50% HH rates, and Manny Machado and Victor Caratini are over 40% fly balls vs. a 60% fly ball pitcher.
The second pitcher I will stack against is going to be Thompson. I believe his stuff is good enough to play in MLB. Heck, he’s already proved it and he has the highest K/9 on the slate today. But long-term, do we think he projects as a top of the rotation arm? He’s rock solid but regression is coming. The Braves are a tough matchup for him, and he’s actually second on the slate in fly ball rate allowed at 53%. Austin Riley is 5th in MLB in HH% over the past 10, while Albies and Acuna Jr. should hit plenty of fly balls today (40+% rate matched with Thompson’s 50% rate). Freddie Freeman at 56% Hard-hits should also win this matchup and I’d round out my Atlanta stack with Swanson or a Sunday lineup-filler (non-regular guy or catcher).
Based on Vegas lines, it looks like the Southsiders and Jays should both garner some steady ownership. If going that direction, note the HH rates below from some of the top hitters on those two teams (this is an article called Stack Your Stack, after all so I better be helping you identify the batters you should want within whatever stack you land on):
The guys who jump out here who are non-obvious are George Springer and Brian Goodwin. The bottom four are interesting too in Abreu, Biggio, Teoscar and TA. You’d expect them to bounce back but they are just not hitting the ball hard right now.
Hopefully this helps you all build and deviate today! Let me know how I’m doing in the MLB Discord channel and I am looking forward to continuing to provide some insight each Sunday on OWS!
Happy 4th and have a great Sunday!