Five Secrets of Daily Fantasy Baseball

Daily fantasy baseball is one of the most entertaining and exhilarating daily fantasy sports around. There might not be a better feeling than watching one of your hitters round the bases after a three-run shot or watching your starting pitcher strike out the side. It’s also a sport that can be easy to understand if you can digest some of the basic principles of the game. Below we have the five biggest secrets of daily fantasy baseball to get you started.

5 Secrets of Daily Fantasy Baseball

1) Target Lefty/Righty Matchups

One of the first stats you should look at when selecting batters for your lineup is left/right splits. Most often, players who bat left-handed have an advantage against right-handed pitchers and players who bat right-handed have an advantage against left-handed pitching. For some players though, the difference between their ability to hit left and right handed pitching is so extreme that it can create value.

Typically, the players with more stark differences between facing left and right-handed pitchers are used in a platoon role. If they aren’t in the lineup every day, they will often carry lower salaries and can offer value when they get the matchup they excel in.

This can also apply to looking at opposing pitchers. Some pitchers struggle more against left or right-handed batters. Combine a mixture of a hitter’s splits against the pitcher and the pitcher’s splits against that handed batter to find which players are poised to have a big day on the diamond.


2) Strikeouts are King

When selecting your two starting pitchers, strikeouts can offer value in two separate ways. First, they’re worth two points each so racking up swings and misses can be the fastest way to tally a ton of fantasy points. Second, strikeouts are the second most consistent statistic, according to MLB expert Jonathan Bales.

There are a few ways to look at strikeouts but one of the best stats is strikeout percentage (K%). This is found simply by dividing the total number of strikeouts a pitcher has by the total number of batters the pitcher has faced.

Calculating Strikeout Percentage

Strikeout Percentage = (Total Strikeouts) / (Total Batters Faced)

Example: Clayton Kershaw has struck out 120 batters of the 500 batters he has faced.

(120 Strikeouts) / (500 Batters Faced) = 24% Strikeout Rate

Below is an example of what qualifies as a great strikeout rate vs. a poor strikeout rate, according to a study by FanGraphs.

RatingStrikeout %
Excellent27.00%
Great24.00%
Above Average22.00%
Average20.00%
Below Average17.00%
Poor15.00%
Awful13.00%


3) Stack Lineups to Score Big

One successful strategy in daily fantasy baseball is stacking, which means pairing between two and five teammates in a lineup to try and score points in bunches. The basic premise behind why lineup stacking works is correlation. Think of it this way; imagine you have Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon in your lineup and LeMahieu/Blackmon are on 1st and 2nd base. Up comes Nolan Arenado and he launches a three-run home run into the stands. First, you get the points for Arenado’s home run (10 points), his 3 RBIs (6 points, 2 each) and his run scored (2 points) for a total of 18 DraftKings points. On top of that, you get the points for the two runs scored by LeMahieu and Blackmon for an additional four points (plus any points they earned in getting on base originally).


4) Batting Order Matters

Put simply, every at bat that one of your players gets is a chance to score fantasy points. DraftKings scoring does not take away points from batters, so even if your hitter gets out there is no negative impact on your overall score. Therefore, more at bats equal more opportunities to score points.

This mentality works best when looking at cheap hitters. If you have a hitter hitting 2nd at $2,200 on DraftKings and another hitting 7th at that same price, you want to take the player hitting 2nd (even if the matchup might be slightly better for the player hitting 7th.)

MLB Expert Jonathan Bales looked at the percentage of lineups that finished in the money, based on the lowest batting order position of all players in their lineup. For example, if you had a lineup where every hitter was 5th or higher in the order, then the cutoff for latest batter would be 5th.

Note: Stats are split between 50/50 style contests and GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pool tournaments) in the chart below.

mlbscoring2


5) Park Factors Are the X-Factor

If you’re looking for a variable that affects both batters and pitchers, park factor might be your answer. Every park in every city is unique. Some parks are set up to benefit hitters. Some parks are set up to benefit pitchers. Some parks are better for lefties or righties.

When drafting your pitchers, look at the park in which a pitcher is taking the mound. If he’s playing in a pitcher-friendly park, that player is going to be far safer than someone playing in a batter-friendly park like Yankee Stadium or Coors Field.

If you have two pitchers or two batters that you’re struggling to choose between, use park factors as the deciding variable in which player you’re going to draft.

Take a look at some of the park factors from 2017, courtesy of ESPN. The chart below shows that Chase Field (ARI), Coors Field (COL) and Miller Park (MIL) are the most hitter-friendly parks in 2017. On the flip side, AT&T Park (SF), Camden Yards (BAL) and Citi Field (NYM) are the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in 2017.

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Geoff Ulrich is a promoter & user at DraftKings (Username: wavegoodbye) and plays on his personal account in games he offers advice on. These views/strategies are his own and do not reflect the views of DraftKings. He may also deploy different players/strategies than what he advises.