A big part of daily fantasy baseball research is figuring out how to build a profitable lineup in a relatively short amount of time. Note that I say “profitable lineup” because it doesn’t take very much time to construct a lineup, but we’re all interested in winning doll-hairs, right?
We really have just hours to analyze all sorts of data and select the best combination of players possible. With the huge player pool in baseball, it doesn’t make sense to try to analyze every single player individually. Instead, we need ways to cut that list down in a hurry so that we’re working with a much smaller group of players and teams on whom we can do more intense research.
There are numerous ways you can decrease the size of the universe of players you intend to study. On the individual level, I like to look at wOBA and ISO splits. I have some data that sorts players based on their Weighted On-Base Average and ISO versus the handedness of the starting pitcher they’re facing that day. I generally look solely at players above certain numbers in each category, examining wOBA for all players and ISO for power hitters. That helps me cut down the list of possible players from hundreds to a few dozen.
I also love to analyze things on the team level for daily fantasy baseball. That’s actually where I start because there’s such a direct link between team success and individual success, both in real-life and in fantasy baseball. To cut down on potential teams to stack, I look at the Vegas lines. I generally implement an artificial cutoff of about 4.0 projected runs, though I will dip below that in certain situations if I like the handedness and upside of a particular lineup.
Anyway, these are the ways I make my daily fantasy baseball research as efficient as I can. That doesn’t mean it’s what you need to do, but you should think about which stats or odds or filters you prefer and how you can use them to avoid wasting time on players who aren’t worthy of being rostered. Then you can spend as much time as possible on the players who matter.
Let’s get to today’s stacks and tournament plays.
Seattle Mariners (vs Roberto Hernandez)
Using the method I outlined above, one of the teams I’ve highlighted for today is the Seattle Mariners. The park isn’t ideal, but they do face a weak pitcher and Vegas has them at 4.1 projected runs. They also have a lefty-heavy lineup, including three players in Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Dustin Ackley who crush right-handed pitching relative to how well they perform versus southpaws.
Best of all, the Mariners are almost never a popular stack. Consider this a contrarian option, particularly as a mini-stack.
Kansas City Royals (vs Mike Pelfrey)
My second against-the-grain special of the day is the Royals at home against the Twins. Like Seattle, they’re going to be unpopular, but Vegas has them as the third-best offense tonight, behind the Rockies and Padres, of course. That’s right, Kansas City is currently projected better than Detroit and Toronto.
I really like the lefty bats in this contest, too: Moustakas, Morales, Gordon, and Hosmer.
OF Dalton Pompey, Toronto (vs Ubaldo Jiminez) – $4000
Pompey continues to impress. He’s exceeded his expected production by an average of 1.41 points per game this season. He’s also crushed righties with a .355 wOBA, and now he gets a weak one at home. His spot in the order will be key, but I like him either way (especially if you decide to stack Toronto, which is fine).
1B/3B Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh (vs Jason Hammel) – $4100
There is going to be a lot of rain situations to monitor across the country tonight, and this is one of them. Unless things pick up in Pittsburgh, though, this game (and many others) will be one that’s more relevant to pitchers than batters (meaning the game could get delayed, but is very unlikely to get cancelled).
Alvarez smokes righties; actually, his wOBA over the past 12 months is 166 points better than versus lefties. I don’t envision his ownership being very high in GPPs, so he has a lot of tournament value.
1B Ike Davis, Oakland (vs Jered Weaver) – $3500
A first basemen who absolutely mashes right-handed pitching. A pitcher who struggles badly against lefties. A quality hitting situation. A cheap price. What’s not to love?
2B Jose Altuve, Houston (vs J.A. Happ) – $4200
As a contrarian player, I’m looking for situations that are better than what people believe that will allow me to get a stud at reduced ownership. I’m not entirely sure how high Altuve’s ownership will be tonight, but I’d guess the fact that he’s facing a lefty (and thus will have a perceived lowered chance of stealing a bag) will decrease his popularity.
However, I actually like Altuve more against lefties. I’ve found in the past that the most important part of projecting steals isn’t the handedness of the pitcher, but rather how often the player can be expected to get on base. Three steal attempts against a southpaw beats two against a righty; the difference in steal rate based on pitcher handedness isn’t as great as you’d think.
Altuve has a 12-month running wOBA of .462 against southpaws! He loves to face lefties, and almost no difference in steal rate could make up for that. He’s my favorite second baseman for GPPs tonight because of how a perceived knock (that is actually a positive) could affect his ownership.
P Cole Hamels, Philadelphia (vs Miami) – $9200
There are a bunch of aces on the mound tonight—Kershaw, Price, Cueto, Kluber, and Bumgarner among them—so I don’t think Hamels ownership is going to be too high. Those guys are all fine plays, but you’re going to have a tough time playing two of them and fitting a decent bunch of hitters into your lineups.
At $9200, I like Hamels as a GPP option against an offense that could whiff a lot. There are a lot of other pluses for Hamels. He’s (-125) to win and Vegas has Miami at only 3.4 runs. He’s playing in a park that has actually been a top 10 park for pitchers over the past year, and his salary has dropped $700 since the start of the season.
I also like Doug Fister if you want to save more cash, but Hamels is one of my top pitchers of the night, regardless of price.