Tips for how to play Fantasy Baseball
How to play Fantasy Baseball in DFS Contests
Baseball does not care whether or not you like math; it constantly gives you numbers. You can ignore them if you like, or you can go on a date with them, see how things feel, and give yourself a shot to support a family with your DFS earnings.
There are a lot of things to consider when building your DFS lineup. Even simple tricks like paying attention to batting order can make a difference. The average number of Plate Appearances (PA) by the 1st spot in a batter order is 745. The 9th spot in the lineup averages 596 PAs. So if you only took leadoff hitters, you would have an average of 1 extra PA per game. More PAs yield more points. The conclusion here is you can get an extra point or two a night by sticking to the top half of a lineup. Maybe you pay for the occasional 5 hitter in the right situation, but stay away from anyone hitting lower in the lineup than.
Little tricks like that are how you go from shooting fish in a barrel to being a DFS Baseball winner. Put some thought and work into your daily lineups, or you are playing from behind. So what kind of things would you look for?
Because you will be given a budget with which to build your team, you should always have an idea of a player’s value. You may even want to get creative with numbers and make a system to track values. The more times you can identify and roster a player at a cheap price, the more you can afford to both buy more talent and overspend when decisions are less obvious. Also, if you fill most of your roster with value, you can afford to pay a premium on elite level hitters or a reliable ace against a weak team.
Because baseball is such a long season, we can validate a player’s worth with statistics. Within a full season, however, each player will go on a series of hot and cold streaks, which are more important to DFS than what you expect out of that player long term. Generally, you want to use pitchers who have been pitching well in their last five outings and hitters who have been hitting well over the last week or two.
Let’s transition to some profiles you can apply to your players.
Bats on Hot Streaks
This is a one day game. Anyone can be started in any game if they are on a hot streak. You will learn how to compare and contrast different streaks; just be careful not to overpay for these too often. In general, the longer they continue, the less you want to try to take advantage of them, mainly because the prices rise as streaks continue. Until the price gets out of hand, play away.
This is a good way to find value. While the best hitters in the game can usually hit well against a Right-Handed Pitcher (RHP) or a Left-Handed Pitcher (LHP), most hitters favor one or the other. These preferences are Platoon Splits. Some hitter’s Platoon Splits are considerably better against one of those two (usually opposite of the handedness of the hitter). If you can get a left-handed batter (LHB) who crushes RHPs and learn that this RHP gets hit a lot harder by LHBs, you’ve got yourself a strong hitter to invest in for your DFS lineup.
Homeruns are great no matter what fantasy game you play. DFS is no different, power matters. The best value for homerun hitters will be buying guys with power while they are cheap or playing the hitters who get fewer headlines, but are in good situations, such as a guy with a good platoon split. You may even find that the vast majority of a hitter’s homeruns come against lefties. If he’s hitting against a lefty tonight, you want to get him in your lineup. Cheap power with a platoon advantage is good value.
Steals are a strong area of opportunity for DFS players. Chicks dig the long ball, so everyone knows who has power. It may take a little more research to play steal guys well, especially since many of them may not get full time at bats. Now that steals and homeruns are scored similarly, steals are a lot more valuable than home run watchers realize and that spells opportunity. Success rates are important here. You don’t want to count on steals from someone who gets caught two out of every five attempts. If you know who is fast, which teams like to run, and which teams can be run against, you can find some good value with SBs.
Walks get points. That means that guys who take walks will get that extra point or two more often. It also means that if you miss and he has a bad night, he could at least still walk and score a run, meaning more stability to your overall score. You should also look to fade wild pitchers with guys to take those walks.
Here is another article that can help you find the right hitters for you lineup.
Arms on Hot Streaks
You want to target pitchers who have been in a groove for five starts or so. A good rule of thumb here is to look for guys with good walk rates over that span; you always like strikeouts, but walks are overlooked yet every bit as important as strikeouts in terms of good pitching.
You may be able to refine this advice, but I never take pitchers with BB/9 of 4.00 or greater. Even better, only playing pitchers with an under 3.40 BB/9 would be a good way to filter out guys at a higher risk for disaster outings where they get hit hard AND walk a few people in between hits.
This works for pitchers, it’s just the opposite perspective of Platoon Splits for hitters. You want pitchers who don’t get hit harder by lefties against a lineup with 7 of them. Checking Platoon Splits can save you from some bad situations.
Quick parting thought: Get to know wOBA. It is a very popular hitting statistic with Baseball DFS because it tries to use a single number to show a hitters overall output. wOBA can be analyzed for Platoon Splits, short samples (streaks) for batters. For pitchers, it shows how well a pitcher suppresses batter’s wOBAs. That takes a lot of the noise out of watching other stats.
Here are some important stats to consider when building your lineup.
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