Fantasy Baseball 2018: Strategy – Focusing on Hidden Stats

Matthew Selz shares his Fantasy Baseball knowledge with you and helps you get a better understanding on how to prepare for your upcoming draft!   You can follow him on Twitter @theselzman!

This is not going to be another sabermetrics article. Far from it actually. Instead there are the standard stats that tend to get ignored if they aren’t scored in your league. You know the old adage, out of sight out of mind. The standard league generally utilizes a 5x5 format for scoring with batters accounting for AVG, HR, R, RBI, and SB and pitchers gathering W, saves, ERA, WHIP, and Ks. Some leagues do use OBP instead of average and others use quality starts instead of wins.

The problem with these categories for most owners is that the other ancillary stats in the box score get forgotten about. With hitters, things like OBP and SLG get lopped off for most people in batting average leagues and that can wind up effecting how you still view players. Take Joey Gallo for example, his batting average is atrocious even for a guy that hits 40 homers a year. Seeing this, you may think well I can’t take the hit in average to get the power, but that’s missing the true value he brings. His on-base percentage is in the .340 range, 120 points higher than his average typically is. So what is the benefit to that discrepancy you may ask? Well did you ever think about it in terms of runs? Runs are the only stat that hitters can’t account for truly by themselves. Sure hitting a home run gets you a run scored, but even with Joey Gallo hitting 40 in a season, that only accounts for half the runs he scores or less. So if he is only hitting .220 but still scoring a ton of runs, how does that happen? OBP is the answer. When he walks, you don’t get any credit for it in an average-only league, until the next few hitters come up and knock him in. So yes batting average matters, clearly, but if a guy is getting on base, his runs scored stats will almost assuredly benefit from it. Now a guy like Joey Votto has a solid average and a high OBP, but it still works in his favor as again, runs are the only thing a hitter can’t truly do all alone.

On the pitcher side of things there are arguably many forgotten stats, but the simplest one is walks. In this day and age when the strikeout is the glory stat and ERAs aren’t as low as they were in a few years ago, walks have gone unmentioned in what leads to upticks in pitcher’s numbers. Putting free base runners on multiple times a game isn’t the best way to reduce your WHIP or ERA but it also makes things worse in the era of the home run ball. Last year there were more homers hit in a single season than any year previously, breaking the previous record by more than a few hundred, and walks make those worse. Giving up three solo shots in six innings gives a pitcher a 4.50 ERA for the day, not great but still a quality start. Say though, that that pitcher walked a guy before two of those homers, now he gave up five runs in six innings, jumping his ERA to 7.51 for the day and taking him out of the game and out of win and quality start. So walks have so far affected his WHIP, ERA, Quality Starts, and Wins marks. However there’s more. If a guy is giving up free passes, he isn’t getting outs and continuing to rack up the batters faced and the pitch count. In a time when guys are on more strict pitch counts than arguably ever before, If a guy hits 100 pitches in the fourth or fifth, they’re coming out of the game. Now instead of a guy getting you six or seven innings a start, he gives you 5-5.67 instead, so you lose innings, which in leagues with minimums causes problems, and makes that jump in ERA sting that much more.

Certain stats are necessary to focus on because they count directly in your team’s totals for the year, however the stats that get ignored in draft research and on the waiver have as much to do with their performances as the one’s you stare at trying to make the 50-50 decisions.

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