If you want to win playing fantasy baseball on DraftKings, you have to be smarter than the competition. You don’t want to think along the same lines as the players you’re competing against. Here are a couple more advanced ways to think about lineup construction.
1. Pitcher streaks are more predictive than hitter streaks
Everyone talks about hot and cold streaks. “Take Machado tonight, he’s on a 5 game hitting streak.” “Avoid Donaldson he hasn’t hit a home run in a week.” We’ve all heard it, but does it mean anything?
For hitters, no, not really. The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball (which will be referenced several times as The Book throughout this) looked at hitting and pitching streaks and what we can learn from them. I will spare you the details, but they looked at the performance of every player after being on either a 5 game hot/cold streak, and found that these streaks did not indicate how batters would perform in future games. In other words, their performance on both sides, regressed back to their season norms.
However, for pitchers, it’s a different story. Streaks do provide useful information in predicting a pitcher’s future performance. Reasons that could lead to why this is the case for pitchers could be a result of health, tipping/not tipping pitches, or mechanics, one way or the other. If a pitcher is feeling great and mechanics are in sync, it usually leads to sustained success for a pitcher and via versa.
Don’t let hitter streaks dictate how you build your lineup, but use it to your advantage when choosing pitchers.
2. Ground ball pitchers vs fly ball batters
Everyone is aware of the splits of lefty vs lefty, right vs lefty, etc., but there’s another platoon split that many people are unaware of, and it is extreme ground ball pitchers vs. extreme fly ball hitters. Fangraphs looks at this more in depth, but if you are looking to find unconventional value when constructing your lineup, look at hitter’s tendencies of how they put the ball in play and the tendencies the opposition typically has when facing a pitcher.
3. Don’t obsess over Small Sample Sizes (SSS)
Once again, I defer to The Book, do not let batter vs. pitcher propaganda cloud your judgement. Small sample sizes are deceiving and the numbers prove it. Just because someone is 12 for 20 lifetime against David Price does not mean they have “figured him out.” In baseball, the sample of 20 at bats is far too random and noisy to have any statistical meaning or relevance.
The Book looked into players who performed at a specified “high standard” against pitchers with at least 17 at bats against them. They then looked at how the batter performed over their next 9 at bats against the pitcher they previously had so much success against. They found that nearly everyone regressed. The previous success did not carry over in any way. Let Harold Reynolds obsess over another meaningless thing on air, don’t let it keep you from cashing in your next DraftKings contest. It is far more useful to look at both the pitcher and batters career bodies of work rather than isolated matchups of a handful of at bats.
Congrats on getting through a boring, but hopefully useful, read. Don’t get caught thinking like everyone else when you’re building your fantasy baseball lineup, you’ll never win a GPP playing the same way as everyone else. Think outside the box, find value where others aren’t, and avoid the false hype surrounding others. Now go use all the information available to you to build the the best lineup possible and cash in tonight.
How to Draft Your Fantasy Baseball Team
1) Sign up for free at DraftKings.com
2) Draft a team of 8 hitters and 2 pitchers while staying under the salary cap
3) Follow along with your scores live throughout the contest