Regression to the Mean | Week 2

Regression to the Mean | Week 2

With the exception of Seattle and Oakland, there’s yet to be a full week of data available in regards to batted ball data, but, for daily fantasy sports, this week’s slate of games provides some players of interest to focus on when building lineups. There will be variance with limited results, however, using a mix of last year’s numbers along with early returns on Statcast, both positive and negative regression will occur for batters. Due to this, there are some intriguing targets this week in our Regression to the Mean series along with a potential fade.

Scott Schebler, Cincinnati Reds

One year removed from hitting 30 home runs in 2017, Scott Schebler only hit 17 last year in fewer games played. He did maintain a home run per fly ball percentage above 20 percent in each season. He will be facing seven right-handed pitchers this week with three at home and four on the road in Pittsburgh. In 2018, Schebler owned a .282 batting average, .280 expected batting average, .483 slugging percentage and a .503 expected slugging versus fastballs. He walked 12.1 percent of his hit at-bats on the pitch with a 20.2 strikeout rate. With Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin and Freddy Peralta, he will see a steady diet of them, especially with Peralta on the mound. It’d be nice if it would heat up a bit, but Schebler could provide some under the radar pop this week with simple positive regression. Keying on the 20 percentage points of expected slugging coming to roost this week.

Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks

It feels like when Christian Walker gets a chance to play for Arizona, he produces. However, his lack of at-bats early this year continues to frustrate fantasy players. Arizona will face at least four southpaws this week, with a chance to see five. If there’s ever a time for Walker to shine, this could be it. Last year, Walker did strikeout 21 times in 59 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, but he also launched five home runs. His slugging percentage of .388 in 2018 accompanies a .452 expected slugging percentage according to Statcast, plus, versus fastballs, he owned an expected slugging over 50 points higher than his actual one. He’s a bit boom or bust making him a tournament play, but prior to Sunday’s action, Walker produced two batted ball events against breaking pitches this year with an average exit velocity of 100.3 MPH and a 30-degree launch angle. On his only event versus a fastball, a 108.6 MPH exit velocity with a 23-degree launch. Mercy. Free Walker this week.

By the way, teammate Ketel Marte will make for an intriguing target as well. Last year versus left-handed pitching, Marte slashed .321/.387/.584 with 15 doubles, four triples and nine home runs for a robust .263 isolated power.

Peter O’Brien, Miami Marlins

Apparently, it’s flawed power hitter gets an opportunity week in daily fantasy. With Garrett Cooper landing on the injured list, Peter O’Brien rejoins the Marlins looking to add much-needed punch to the lineup. Over a 22 game sample last year, O’Brien slashed .273/.335/.530 with four home runs. It’s a small sample size, but O’Brien also cut his swinging strike rate to 12.6 percent while increasing his contact percentage to 71.3 percent. Whether or not he can replicate this remains to be seen, but with two southpaws coming up this week along with a trip to Atlanta to face a freshly rehabbed Kevin Gausman, it does not seem too daunting. Just avoid using him against Jacob deGrom on Wednesday. But when searching for cheap power to round out a tournament lineup, O’Brien could be a sneaky play. Hone in on his .258 isolated power last year along with his .554 expected slugging. Last year against fastballs, O’Brien produced a .844 slugging percentage, a .901 expected slugging and 99.1 average exit velocity with a launch angle of 19 degrees.

Ryon Healy, Seattle Mariners

It all cannot be positive, right? Ryon Healy and the Seattle offense continues to churn out runs and extra-base hits early on this season. However, beneath Healy’s robust .360/.407/.840 current slash after 27 plate appearances, his BABIP sits at .368, only 65 points above his career rate. Saying Healy could be in the midst of a breakout will not be the point. He could be healthy and productive again. Paying full retail for it to continue, especially when Seattle takes to the road later this week will be risky. Prior to Sunday’s results, here are Healy’s results by pitch type from Statcast:

  • Versus Fastballs: .286 average, .191 xBA, .571 slugging, .343 xSLG
  • Versus Breaking Balls: .500 average, .149 xBA, 2.000 slugging, .323 xSLG
  • Versus Off-speed: .333 average, .267 xBA, .667 slugging, .621 xSLG

Last year, Healy hit .215/.258/.392 on the road with a .170 isolated power. Versus right-handed pitching, it raises his average to .222 away from Seattle but his isolated power falls to .147 with eight home runs in 171 at-bats. Heed the underlying data and understand regression will be coming for Healy soon. Just be sure it’s not in lineups this weekend when visiting three right-handed pitchers in Chicago.

Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates

So, with so much focus on power, a bonus play for the week ahead. Adam Frazier broke out in the second half last year, though many did not notice. He hit .306/.357/.533 over 55 games with seven home runs in 180 at-bats. Frazier also notched a .228 isolated power with a .342 expected on-base average. Here’s a look at his batted ball data by half last season:

Hitting atop the Pirates lineup with six right-handed pitchers on tap could make for a cheap upside play for runs and under-owned pop this week.

As more data compiles, deep dives into player match-ups will continue to evolve in the weekly regression report. Best of luck this week.

Statistical Credits: