The Numbers Do Lie in Fantasy Baseball: Don't be fooled by these 4 stats
A simple look at a box score or a study of fantasy categories doesn't always tell the whole story of how a player is performing. Dalton Del Don attempts to identify recent misleading numbers that are worth a closer look.
Yes ... The Numbers Do Lie.
Nick Lodolo’s 6.29 ERA is a lie
Lodolo is in the middle of a rough stretch after looking brilliant to open the season, and his next start has been pushed back a few days, thanks to a sore calf. Two of Lodolo’s past four starts have come against offenses that rank top-three in wRC+ (Tampa Bay and Texas), and his BABIP (.435) is more than 50 points higher than the next-highest starter’s hit rate this season.
If that’s not enough, Lodolo’s HR/FB rate (27%) is also the highest in baseball by a wide margin (23.5% is the second-worst). He’ll likely continue to allow both at higher rates than league average while dealing with a shaky Reds defense (Lodolo’s career BABIP is .353) and pitching in one of MLB’s best hitter’s parks, but regression is coming.
Lodolo’s 6.29 ERA comes with a 3.79 xFIP, and he has by far the biggest difference in wOBA and expected wOBA among all starters. He also ranks top-10 in Called Strikes Plus Whiff Rate, sandwiched between starters with ERAs of 2.53 (Clayton Kershaw) and 2.91 (Zach Eflin). Lodolo’s 12.3 K/9 rate is higher than that of every other starter except Spencer Strider, Shohei Ohtani and Kevin Gausman.
Lodolo screams buy low in fantasy.
Shane Bieber’s 2.61 ERA is a lie
Here are Bieber’s K percentages the past four seasons, respectively: 41.1, 33.1, 25.0, 18.8. His CSW has dropped similarly in each of the previous three seasons. He just posted his best SwStr% game of the season in his previous start, but that came against a Tigers offense that ranks bottom-five in wRC+ and K%.
Bieber somehow has a career-low BABIP (.267) despite allowing a career-worst HardHit%. He’s ceding a ton of hard contact, including an average exit velocity in the bottom 3% of the league. Bieber’s K-BB% isn’t top-50 among starters, so his ERA might look more like his current xERA (4.57) moving forward (and wins could become scarce with Cleveland’s offense ranking last in wRC+).
Jarred Kelenic’s .288 batting average is a lie
Kelenic is clearly an improved player and will provide fantasy value with homers and steals, but it’s safe to expect his batting average to continue to drop. Pitchers have adjusted to him, throwing far more breaking balls and fewer fastballs since the end of last month, and his K% has spiked as a result. We are still dealing with small samples, and Kelenic will adjust to the adjustments, but he’s batting .204/.264/.286 with zero homers and 18 strikeouts (34.0 K%) over this span (49 ABs).
THE BAT X projects Kelenic to hit .236 over the rest of the season.
Josiah Gray’s 3.03 ERA is a lie
Gray’s ERA actually drops to 2.14 if you remove his first start of the season, and that includes an outing at Coors Field. He’s unquestionably improved but has also benefited from plenty of good fortune during this stretch. Gray ranks top-25 among starters in ERA this season but ranks bottom-25 in FIP (whoa, Michael Kopech!). Only three starters have experienced a bigger decrease in fastball velocity this season than Gray, who has lost 2.2 mph compared to last year. He doesn’t rank inside the top 80 starters in CSW, and THE BAT projects a 4.95 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP rest-of-season. The regression monster is coming.