How Do Batting Splits Affect Hitters in MLB DFS?

Even casual baseball fans know the dynamics of dominant hands in pitcher vs hitter match ups. Right handed batters perform best against left handed pitchers and left handed batters perform best against right handed pitchers.  These match ups can be broken down to 4 different groups: right handed batters vs right handed pitchers, left handed batters vs left handed pitchers, right handed batters vs left handed pitchers, and left handed batters vs right handed pitchers.  We refer to each group as a type of ‘split’.

Although Batting Average is not a very useful statistic for research in daily fantasy (or a useful statistic in general), it does a good job illustrating batting efficiency by split when looking at league averages.  The graph below shows league Batting Average by split over the last 6 seasons:

 

Batting Avg Splits

Here I averaged each league split over the course of the 6 seasons:

bar graph last 6 yrs batting avg

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Just as we’d assume, Batting Averages were highest in splits where batters faced a pitcher of the opposite hand,  and by a meaningful difference.  The right handed batters’ average rose 4.6% when facing left handed pitchers compared to their right handed counterparts.  Left handed batters saw an even bigger difference between splits, with the league Batting Average 8.4% higher against right handed pitchers than against left handed pitchers.

 

Since power hitting is such a big component of MLB Daily Fantasy, we next graphed league average Slugging Percentages over the last 6 years:

Slugging percentage graph

And Slugging Percentage league splits averaged for last 6 years:

slugging percentage bar (2)

Again, we see a drastic increase when facing pitchers of the opposite hand. Right handed batters saw a 5.2% increase in Slugging Percentage facing left handed pitchers and left handed batters saw a large 16.6% increase against right handed pitchers.

Both lefties and righties perform better by both metrics when facing pitchers of the opposite handedness, but the difference for lefties is particularly significant.  In addition to greater loss of efficiency, we could assume from this data that left handed batters are more likely to be pinch hit for late in games when relievers are lefty. Although pinch hitting is hard to predict, left handed batters may have some increased volatility worth considering when picking players for your Daily Fantasy lineups.

While differences in individual hitting splits will vary from league averages, it becomes apparent we should be paying attention to batting stats by split when selecting the batters for our Daily Fantasy lineups.  The value of a batter can change drastically depending on whether he’s facing a left or right handed pitcher.  A batter may be a good pick if he’s facing a lefty, but a bad pick if facing a righty of the same caliber.  We’ll generally want to select batters facing pitchers of the opposite hand, especially if the batters are left handed.

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