Are Road Hitters Better Investments Than Home Hitters?


Originally published at DFSEdge.

Now that Iím super cool and running in daily fantasy circles, I find myself discussing players and strategies with various people, which can lead to an interesting exchange of ideas.† One idea that someone mentioned to me recently was how it might be wise to target hitters on the road.† While the home team is entitled to last licks, if they hold the lead through the top half of the ninth inning, the bottom half of the inning doesnít get played, robbing a minimum of three hitters an extra plate appearance and a chance to produce additional fantasy points.† Hitters on the road, however, will always play the ninth inning.

This sounded like a good theory to me, so I decided to run the numbers.† Using a six-year period of recent data, I looked at all batters with at least 3 plate appearances in a game (to weed out, as best I could, pinch-hitters and other such mid-game replacements) and, as we expected, found that hitters on the road did indeed accrue more plate appearances than the home teamís batters.† The difference isnít enormous ó 4.3 PAs per game for away hitters; 4.1 PAs per game for home hitters ó but it is there.

Of course, there is one assumption weíre still making here: that extra plate appearances lead to extra production.† It makes logical sense, but letís make sure.† Below, youíll find a table with the average points per game (PPG) for each of the eight major daily fantasy sites broken down by Home and Away batters.

PA

FanDuel

Draft Street

Fantasy Feud

Daily Joust

Fan Throwdown

Draft Kings

Star Street

Draft Day

Away

4.3

2.4

2.9

3.2

4.3

3.4

7.3

8.6

12.5

Home

4.1

2.5

3.0

3.3

4.5

3.5

7.5

9.0

13.1

Difference

0.1

-0.1

-0.2

-0.1

-0.2

-0.1

-0.2

-0.4

-0.6



Well thatís weird.† Did I input the wrong set of data in each row?† It looks like away hitters get that PA boost but that home hitters actually perform better across the board, on every single daily site.† How could that be?† When I first saw this result, I thought there had to be something wrong with my query, that Iíd somehow miscalculated and that the rows were reversed or wrong entirely.† Then I realized what was going on.† Check out this table and see if you can figure it out:

BA

HR/PA

Away

0.264

2.6%

Home

0.275

2.9%

Difference

-0.011

-0.2%



Itís home-field advantage!† On a per-at-bat basis, hitters just perform better in general at home than on the road.† Weíll discuss home-field advantage in more detail at a later date, but we can clearly see that even if away hitters get that extra plate appearance boost, home-field advantage negates the advantage and makes the home hitters better betsÖ at least on average.

You see, on average, the road hitters only get an extra two-tenths of a plate appearance.† But in reality, there is no such thing as a fractional plate appearance.† Hitters either get an extra time at bat or they donít.†Eighty percent of the time, they wonít get anything extra, but 20 percent of the time theyíll get one full opportunity for added production.† Letís take a look at one more table looking at how an extra plate appearance alters a playerís value:

PA

FanDuel

Draft Street

Fantasy Feud

Daily Joust

Fan Throwdown

Draft Kings

Star Street

Draft Day

Away

5

2.8

6.0

5.5

6.8

3.9

10.8

5.8

7.3

Home

4

2.4

4.8

4.4

5.4

3.1

8.6

4.8

5.8

Difference

1

0.4

1.2

1.1

1.4

0.8

2.3

1.0

1.5



While home hitters are better on a per-at-bat basis, away hitters are definitely the better play if they wind up getting that extra time at the plate.† The odds are against it, but if youíre playing in a competition against a large number of opponents, say in a tournament, embracing risk and volatility is a wise strategy (as weíve discussed before).† This is one more way of doing that.