If you play salary cap contests on daily fantasy sites like Draftstreet, you are fully aware that starting pitchers are more expensive than hitters. This is quite obviously because the scoring systems are such that starting pitchers score more points than hitters. I’m sure the goal of whoever does the pricing is to make hitting and pitching of equal value. But in my experience I’ve had more success in these contests when I spend more on pitching, which makes me think that’s where the value lies.
When I first started playing in these contests, my plan was the reverse. I figured that the higher priced hitters are the better hitters, and the better hitters go oh-fer less often. I also figured that I could find some cheap pitching options with good matchups. And those assumptions were right. But they didn’t lead to wins. The problem was that if one of my bargain pitching options didn’t hit, I couldn’t make up the loss on most nights unless one of my hitters went bonkers. After a frustrating start to my daily fantasy experience, I switched it up and started spending more on high priced starters. I have been much more successful with that plan.
Of course this change of plan was based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence observed through trial and error. But I’ve been looking at the prices each day, and I think pitching gives you more bang for your buck. Take tomorrow’s prices for example. The hitters in the pool for tomorrow average 2.08 points per game and have an average salary of $5,935.49. That means, on average, you have to spend $2,854.04 to get one fantasy point from a hitter. But tomorrow’s starters average 5.07 fantasy points per game and have an average salary$11,985.54. That means, on average, you have to spend $2,364.68 to get one fantasy point from a pitcher. I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure $2,364.68 is less than $2,854.04. Pitching appears to return more per dollar than does hitting.
The Daily Five
Hisashi Iwakuma – $16,411
What’s not to love? Among qualified pitchers, Iwakuma is 8th in ERA, tied for 12th in xFIP, 15th in K%, 10th in BB%, 7th in K%-BB%, tied for 8th in SwStr%, and tied for 1st in O-Swing%. Being the 4th most expensive pitcher today is justified. But given his matchup with the Twins, I wouldn’t quibble with him being the most expensive pitcher today. The Twins are currently 25th against RHP according to wRC+. The pitchers with a higher price tag today are in Colorado, Atlanta, and Baltimore. There’s value here.
Stephen Strasburg – $18,139
Strasburg is one of the four pitchers more expensive than Iwakuma. In fact, he’s the most expensive pitcher of the day. And it may not seem like much of a recommendation to suggest you pick the most expensive guy. But some people may be avoiding Strasburg’s price, and I would recommend that they not be scared off. The matchup with the Braves isn’t as good as matchups get, but the strikeout potential is huge. Strasburg has a career K% of 29.4% (24.5% this year), and the Braves are 2nd in K% against RHP at 25.3%.
Bartolo Colon – $11,483
I hate to reuse material, but I have to bring up something I discussed on Monday. Specifically, the White Sox offense is horrible. They’re 29th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching and 29th at home. You’d think the home park would help them out, but they’re 29th vs. RHP in BB/K (0.31).
Carl Crawford – $7,077
My recipe for picking hitters is pretty simple. Start at the bottom of the price list and scroll up until you find 1) a hitter that doesn’t suck, who 2) has a lefty-righty matchup against 3) a bad pitcher. Crawford has seen his stretches of suckiness, but his wRC+ is 126 this year. And he’s facing a right-hander with an ERA over 5.00 this year in Jon Garland. He checks all three boxes. The fact that he’s playing in Colorado is just a cherry on top.
Daniel Descalso – $5,370
How about a cheaper option? Descalso is the 2nd cheapest player on my roster tomorrow, and he doesn’t meet my criteria of not sucking. He has a career wRC+ of 82, and he’s been basically league average this year (98 wRC+). He does have the lefty-righty matchup, but it’s against Matt Cain who may or may not suck. I know I’m not selling Descalso too hard here, but when you spend big on pitching you have to take a super cheap hitter or two. If Descalso does nothing tomorrow, it won’t kill you, especially in a double up contest. But if you rolled the dice with someone like Tommy Hanson against the Astros or Shaun Marcum against the Marlins, getting nothing from them would hurt a lot more.
One Day FREE Fantasy Contest – $300 in cash prizes
Daily Fantasy is easy — you pick a lineup that’s good for one night only, and then you’re eligible to win cash. FanGraphs readers are hereby invited to enter a FREE one-day fantasy league with $300 in prizes.
This free contest will be Pick ’em style drafting. The way Pick ‘Em leagues work is you have eight tiers of players and each tier will have players to choose from. You select one player from each tier. Nothing to lose and it takes five minutes to build a team. You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts on this Friday, at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.
This post, covering one of the leading sites for daily fantasy is sponsored and made possible by the generous support of Draftstreet. Fangraphs will maintain complete editorial control of the postings, and brings you these posts in our continued desire to provide the best analytical information on the latest in baseball.