Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Spray Charts for Fantasy Baseball from Graphical Player

One of the things I like most about Graphical Player so far are the spray charts they have for every batter. In fantasy baseball it’s important to distinguish between trends and flukes. For sleeper picks, rookies or possible breakout candidates with short track records, I’ve found the spray charts to be a helpful tool.

The spray charts for Graphical Player show dark lines for fly balls, gray for grounders, white circles for major league home runs and black circles for minor league homers. I believe the application for fantasy baseball is this – stay away from righties that only hit home runs to left field (see J.J. Hardy, Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes). Anyone in the bigs can crush an inside pitch and once the scouting report is out look for a lot fewer. I’m much less worried about lefties because most pitchers are righty so balls will still tend to break in making it a little more difficult to avoid inside mistakes (see Jeremy Hermida, Jason Kubel and Hideki Matsui).

On the other hand I have a lot of confidence in baseball players that have a wide distribution in their spray chart home runs (see Brandon Philips pictured above, Nick Markakis and David Wright). These spray charts tell me that these guys know how to hit, making them safe fantasy baseball players that may display more upside this season. For a batter to hit the ball to all fields with power they will need some combination of the following – early pitch recognition which allows for the proper body adjustments, the ability to hit lefties and righties well or ungodly strength. Either way they are more likely to maintain or improve upon last year’s fantasy baseball stats because we can infer that they have real baseball skills. I wouldn’t take Philips or Markakis in the first round (yet) but if you have an opportunity, I think you’re safe grabbing them up to a half round early for your 2008 fantasy baseball team.

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