When identifying daily fantasy baseball value, you'll consider a number of factors. Some of them are simple - which players are hot? Which ones have the best matchups? - and some are a little more complex. This post focuses on a statistic novice DFS players might not put stock in when assembling their lineups, but it's one that could mean the difference between a huge tournament payday and just breaking even, or worse.
With the dramatic increase in home runs over the past few years, it's clear that players are selling out more than ever to go deep. This is reflected in the league-wide jump in fly-ball rate, or the percentage of batted balls that wind up in the air (not including line drives). Targeting fly-ball-heavy batters gives you a greater potential for home runs, which are the name of the game when it comes to assembling a winning large-field tournament lineup.
Here are the five leaders in fly-ball rate among qualified hitters; target these players if you're looking for GPP gold:
Ryan Schimpf, San Diego Padres (67.9)
No player best personifies the shift to home-run craziness quite like Schimpf, who hits fly balls more than two thirds of the time he makes contact. Yet, while the approach appears to be working on the surface - Schimpf has seven home runs in just 101 plate appearances entering Thursday - his BABIP sits at an alarming .109, suggesting that perhaps the odd single through the infield might not be the worst thing. He's an all-or-nothing play, but can be had for relatively cheap most nights.
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (67.3)
Close behind is another guy who has no shame when it comes to his home-run-hitting efforts - though we should have known this was the case following Story's incredible rookie season. Story does make considerably more hard contact (30.8 percent) than Schimpf (20.8), which is part of the reason why Story's BABIP (.217) is higher; that said, he has just six homers in 107 plate appearances, behind his pace of a season ago. He remains a solid tourney pick, albeit a stronger one when playing at Coors Field.
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers (58.0)
This is the least surprising player on the list, since pretty much everyone - Gallo included - knows that the only way he'll stay in the majors is to mash as many 450-foot bombs as he can. Gallo's 52.0-percent hard-hit rate is obscene, and is a significant factor in his eight home runs hit in just 105 plate appearances. A .238 BABIP has room for growth, but the 38.1-percent strikeout rate hampers his ability to be more than a tournament flier. Still, you could do worse as a high-risk, high-reward play.
Curtis Granderson, New York Mets (56.3)
The majority of players who have increased their fly-ball rate are better off for it - and then there's this guy. Granderson posted the lowest FanGraphs WAR of any qualified hitter in the major leagues in April, and comes into Thursday slashing an abominable .137/.186/.242 with one home run in 102 plate appearances. Granderson has hit at least 20 home runs in three straight seasons with the Mets, but his fly-ball rate in that span topped out at 46.9 percent. Maybe he should stop trying so hard. Fade him.
Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (54.5)
Perez is the ultimate home-run sellout, combining a sky-high fly-ball rate with the third-highest pull percentage (58.4) of any qualified hitter. The approach hasn't hurt his batting average - he's at .247 entering Thursday, the exact mark he finished with in 2016 - and with six homers in 97 plate appearances, he's on pace to cruise to a career best in that category. Target him in all formats as a middle-of-the-order bat with big-time scoring potential.