Justin Van Zuiden

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MLB GPP Lineup Strategies

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


More so than any other sport, baseball is a different animal when it comes to GPP lineup strategies compared to H2H and 50/50 lineup strategies. Since there is so much variance, there are inherent advantages to putting together a different style of lineup for your GPP play.  Since this topic interested me a good bit, I ran a series called “The GPP Scene” on RotoGrinders for the 2014 MLB season where I dissected three different strategies on a weekly basis over the course of 14 weeks.  My goal with this series was to figure out if there was one definitive strategy that worked better than the others over the course of a full season.  With all the variance that exists day-to-day in MLB, it’s easy to chalk up losses to that.  I wanted some concrete, longer-term data.  The three strategies I used for this series were as follows:

 

STRATEGY #1 (Team #1) – THE STACK

 

Stacking in baseball is one of the most hotly debated topics in daily fantasy sports. FanDuel limits you to four hitters from a specific team. Stacking is often justified in tournaments because when a team scores a bunch of runs, generally most of their hitters had a good day. An RBI for one hitter means a run scored for another hitter, and if you have both ends of that, you’re at a huge advantage.  If a team puts up 10 runs, you will move your way near the top of the leaderboard if you have the right hitters from that team.

 

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STRATEGY #2 (Team #2) – THE PITCHER FOCUS

 

Loading up a high-end pitcher is an interesting strategy for tournament play. People generally take a few more chances with their GPP pitcher, and if the popular low-end pitcher plays of the day fail, you have a significant advantage if you roster an ace and he pitches well. However, this forces you to take some chances with more value-priced bats that are not as likely to pay off. In my opinion, this strategy is the safest but has the least upside.

 

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STRATEGY #3 (Team #3) – THE HITTER FOCUS

 

This is probably the second-most popular strategy next to stacking. If you go cheap on your pitching, it’s easy to load up on some big-time bats. The easiest way to do this is to look for middle-to-low-end pitchers who are facing weak offenses.  It’s easy to stomach taking a risky pitcher when you know he has a good matchup. Plus, this will allow you to get a hitter like Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera into your lineup. In my opinion, it is a very good strategy to use in GPP play, because if you get a stud hitter on the day and he goes nuts, you have a big edge on the field.

 

Over the course of the season, here is a chart that shows the final results for each of the three strategies as laid out in The GPP Scene:

 

FINAL RESULTS: THROUGH WEEK 14

 

StatisticTeam #1Team #2Team #3Overall
Total Score 2486.41 2400.27 2148.32  
Average Score 35.52 34.29 30.69  
High Score 69.25 50.50 59.50  
Low Score 6.08 12.00 7.58  
Entry Fees (Season) $700 $700 $700 $2,100
Winnings (Season) $1,580 $295 $810 $2,685
Profit/Loss (Season) $880 -$405 $110 $585
ROI (Season) 125.7% -57.9% 15.7% 27.9%

 

You can view all fourteen weeks of articles in the archives over at RotoGrinders if you wish to read a little bit more about how these final results came about, but for now we’ll just look at the final figures shown here.  Let’s start by dissecting the final data a little bit.  I’ll also throw a disclaimer out that Team #1 was the only team to garner a top-three finish in the FanDuel $10 Line Drive GPP over the course of the year.  These GPP’s almost always had 800-plus entrants, so it was very difficult to score a huge finish.  Team #1 finished in second place in week #13 of 14, and that really helped the final bottom-line numbers.

 

The first thing to note from the above chart is the average score data.  Team #2 was actually very close to having the highest average score – and in fact did have the highest average score through twelve weeks.  However, it easily had the worst overall results of the three different squads.  Remember, this team was constructed around a high-dollar pitcher focus.  What does this high average score but mediocre GPP result of this squad tell us?  Well, it goes to show that using a high-end pitcher is a safe play, but it may not be the best tournament play.  It lends a lot of credence to the thought that playing it safe is the way to go in cash games while taking big risks is the way to go in tournament games.

 

Long-term GPP success is ultimately determined by hitting a big payday.  You don’t enter a GPP looking to finish in the money.  You enter a GPP to finish near the top.  As Herm Edwards infamously said, “You play to win the game!”  That could be a good slogan to keep in mind for GPP contests.  As a result, why play it safe?  Why roster Clayton Kershaw at a huge salary in a GPP when everyone else is going to do that?  All it took was one big night from a team stack to cushion a whole season’s worth of results in this format.  In sum, don’t be afraid to take a chance.  It may take a while to pay off, but it should do so in the long run.  If you hit a stack or peg a cheap pitcher that is not owned by a large percentage of the field, you are sitting pretty.

 

Doing this article series has actually allowed me to think up a different approach to use in my MLB tournament contests as well as my head-to-head and 50/50 games to use in 2015 and beyond.  My favorite strategy for tournaments has always been the stacking approach, so it was good to see that bear fruit in this series.  However, I was truly surprised at the lack of tournament upside that was shown in paying up for pitching.  I will definitely have no qualms about taking chances on cheap pitchers next year via the boom-or-bust approach.  After all, remember that in a tournament game there’s no reason to play it safe.  Take a chance to win big, or at least go down swinging for the fences!  However, for cash games I was impressed with the safe average score put up by the pay-for-pitching approach.  It’s really settled the debate for me going forward.  Pay for pitching in your cash games and save on your pitching in your tournament games.

 

As always, the unpredictability of baseball will always be there.  Perhaps you think this isn’t enough of a sample size to make any definitive conclusions, and you may very well be correct.  The landscape of baseball is always changing, and the day-to-day variance is primarily why it is such a beautiful sport with which to play the boom-or-bust tournament approach.  Hopefully this data will help you with your lineup-building as you move forward as well.  Good luck!



STLCardinals84 has qualified for 3 separate live finals, including the FanDuel Baseball Championships in 2013 and 2014. Justin won the MLB Monster 3 separate times in 1 month on FanDuel and was one of the most profitable players in all of Daily Fantasy this past season. STL is ranked No. 6 overall. You can follow him on Twitter @stlcardinals84.
Email :Justin Van Zuiden



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