As regular daily league players know, FanDuel has recently changed its scoring system. Effective this past Thursday—the day after the All-Star break—FanDuel has decreased the value of a win for pitchers from 7 points to 5 points and has added HBP for hitters at a point a piece. Anecdotally, it doesn’t seem as though the pricing system has changed at all, which makes sense since FanDuel’s stated goal was to decrease the impact of a strong pitching performance. Today, I thought I’d take a look at how these changes affect the game and the way we, as players, approach it.
To start off, let’s look at the average number of points scored per day by hitters and pitchers under each format. Included are all games since 2005 with all pitchers who started the game and all batters who received at least three plate appearances in a day.
What we see here is that the change in scoring for hitters has very little effect. The difference is 0.03 more point scored—an increase of just 1.6%. Hit-by-pitches happen very infrequently—0.9% of plate appearances end in a HBP.
For pitchers, though, the difference is a bit more dramatic. Pitchers will lose, on average, 0.7 points per game. Still, as remarkable as that might sound, it only amounts to a decrease of 7.9%. That’s certainly significant, but it’s not enormous.
If we combine the changes to both hitting and pitching, we see that pitchers are still much, much more valuable. All said, the difference between hitting and pitching amounts to hitters closing the gap by 9.6%.
Next, I thought we’d look at the distribution of performances. That is, will these changes lead to more (or less) extreme performances. First let’s look at the distribution of hitter points:
Here, we see that the distribution of performances is almost identical between the two systems for hitters. The scoring change amounts to a grand total of roughly 1% fewer games where the hitter scores in the negatives. Let’s check out pitchers:
For pitchers, we see almost no change in the percentage of pitchers who have below average days but some very noticeable, very interesting changes in the percentage of pitchers who post above average days. Before the change, pitchers scored between 8 and 15 points 34% of the time. After the change, however, they’ve scored between 8 and 15 points 41% of the time. That’s very interesting because it tells us that the change in scoring has actually helped pitchers to post a good (but not great) score –at least in games played since 2005.
This may just be noise, however, and when we dig deeper, we see that this is an even more dismissible result because if we focus on great performances (instead of merely good ones), pitchers scored more than 16 points 23% of the time with the old scoring format and just 16% of the time with the new scoring format.
From what I can gather, it seems as though the scoring system change will have almost exactly the effect FanDuel intended—a narrowing of the gap between hitters and pitchers and a decreased percentage of great starts by pitchers. It shouldn’t change our strategies too much, though, since the gap between hitters and pitchers is still 90% of what it was before. As such, it might be prudent to go a little more hitter-heavy than you otherwise would—10% more, if we’re being exact—but on a day-by-day basis, this won’t amount to anything especially noticeable.
Derek Carty’s work can also be found at Baseball Prospectus, CardRunners Fantasy Baseball, and DerekCarty.com. He has previously had his work published by The Hardball Times, NBC’s Rotoworld, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, and USA Today. He is the youngest champion in the history of LABR, the longest-running experts league in existence, and is a graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau’s Scout Development Program (aka Scout School). He welcomes questions via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.