Fantasy owners proficient in advanced statistics have a substantial advantage over their league-mates, even though most leagues use traditional measures of value. A player’s underlying numbers can be useful indicators of how they will perform in the future, and identifying players whose value will soon spike or plummet is crucial as the fantasy season progresses. Below are three useful advanced statistics that could help alert owners find breakthrough performers before the rest of their league catches on. While no single statistic serves as a catch-all, each of these metrics, when used in conjunction with the rest of a Fantasy player’s profile, can be a valuable resource in finding potential waiver wire acquisitions or trade targets.
Fielding Independent Pitching
One of the most crucial ideas put forward by those using statistical analysis to evaluate baseball was the belief that traditional measures for evaluating pitchers (wins, saves, and, to some extent, ERA) were poor indicators of a player’s true talent level. FIP, using a weighted calculation of a pitcher’s walk, strikeout and home run totals per inning pitched, sought to identify pitchers whose true performance level was better or worse than traditional statistics would indicate; factors such as an abnormally good or poor team defense, hit sequencing, or simple batted-ball luck could explain a discrepancy between a pitcher’s true talent and their actual results.
Ground Ball Percentage
The same logic applies to pitchers, although in reverse. A pitcher who consistently generates ground balls could make for a useful, cheap flyer by limiting potential power damage. Although rarely overpowering, high ground-ball pitchers are generally consistent mid-rotation type pitchers, with players like Dallas Keuchel, Aaron Sanchez and Carlos Martinez demonstrating the upside potential if a ground-ball pitcher does see a dramatic uptick in strikeouts.
Average Exit Velocity
With Statcast data quantifying minute details of nearly every pitch, fantasy owners can identify potential targets based on a player’s most granular data. Exit velocity readings for hitters can help to find players making better or worse contact than would be expected from their actual results. Obviously, a player’s likelihood of success increases the harder he hits the ball, so players who consistently square the ball up are coveted by MLB teams and fantasy owners alike. A glance at the early average exit velocity leaderboards for this season portends big things for Miguel Sano, while also supporting the superb starts for Khris Davis and Freddie Freeman. Of course, if a player strikes out or hits ground balls at an extremely high rate, then the potential impact of a high exit velocity is diluted somewhat, but exit velocity can be a useful tool to find players to buy low or sell high on.