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Intermediate MLB DFS: wOBA

We continue our breakdown of the basics for MLB DFS. In this section, we look at wOBA, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses during the Milwaukee Brewers Photo Day on February 19, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

In daily fantasy baseball, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means understanding statistics and which ones will help you most in building your lineups. One of those is wOBA, which we will discuss below.

wOBA

Definition

wOBA, or Weighted On-Base Average, is a way to take into account different values for each hit. Batting average gives a home run the same value as a single, whereas wOBA weighs a home run higher than a single, etc. It ends up being a much better way of assessing a hitter.

Strategy

Hitters

The league average wOBA is around .315. Anything above .365 is great, while anything below .295 isn’t close to great. When you pick your batter, judging his ability from wOBA over batting average is a more efficient method.

One way to find value using wOBA is to look at the difference between wOBA and batting average. If a player has a low batting average or on base percentage, but a good wOBA, his at bats are more efficient than those two stats are showing.

Splits

Checking splits on any statistic is a step you should take in evaluation. As a basic rule, right handed hitters see the ball better against left handed pitchers and end up putting up better statistics against them and vice versa. For some batters it is more pronounced than others and in some rare cases a batter bucks the trend and hits better or at least equally against pitchers of the same “handedness.”

Extreme cases may push that hitter to see fewer at bats when a different handed relief pitcher comes in, but as long as the matchup is strong against the starter, you are still maximizing your matchup.

Pitchers

Pitchers also have a wOBA statistic, but it is based on what hitters accomplish against them. Again, basing performance on wOBA is better catch all statistic than batting average or its ilk. Looking at wOBA against will help sort through that slate’s most effective pitchers.

Splits

We can’t be assured that a pitcher will face a certain number of lefties or righties in any matchup, but we can see how many lefties vs. righties each team sends out in their average lineup. Some teams are going to be stronger against one side of the plate than the other and if your pitcher matches up well against a lineup based on splits, you are in business.

Sample size

If you have a player with multiple years under his belt, looking at his statistics should be predictive as to how he will play moving forward barring injury. We can see how he’s been progressing or not, from year to year and then see how his current yearly statistics stack up to his career statistics.

Small sample sizes aren’t to be trusted, especially if they go against a steady career norm. The good news is that we can see minor league stats as well, so even rookies have some history to evaluate, but quantifying numbers against major league hitting and pitching is always the most useful.