Making a daily fantasy baseball lineup can be a long and complicated process. This guide is meant to give you a brief overview of the research that I use every day when selecting hitters. If you would like to learn about how to select pitchers in daily fantasy baseball, click here.
BATTING STATS TO TARGET
In baseball, there are a ton of different stats. We will focus on the stats that are both readily available and useful in daily fantasy baseball.
Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA)
Even though batting average is a more common statistic, it’s not nearly as informative as weighted on-base average. The difference between the two is fairly simple. Batting average treats all hits the same, regardless of whether it’s a single or a home run it counts as one hit. Weighted on-base average says that not all hits are created equal. This stat weighs each hit in proportion to their actual run value which makes a home run a lot more valuable than a single. In terms of fantasy baseball, wOBA is a better statistic to use because hits are worth more fantasy points depending on if they are a single, double, triple, or a home run.
The general rule in baseball is that pitchers have the advantage over batters with the same handedness as themselves. In other words, right-hand pitchers typically fare better against right-hand hitters and left-hand pitchers typically fare better against left-hand pitchers. That’s not always the case though and a quick way to find the best matchups of the day is to research the splits of the hitters as well as they pitcher that they are facing.
The best statistic to use when analyzing splits is wOBA. This statistic is ready available for all hitters and pitchers and it’s a great way to learn which hitters perform better against certain types of pitchers. For example, Adam Jones has a glaring difference between his splits against left-hand and right-hand pitching. He has crushed left-hand pitching this season with .425 wOBA, but he has struggled against right-hand pitching with only has a .315 wOBA. This tells us that in general he is a much better play when he is facing a left-hand pitcher.
Batter vs. Pitcher (BvP)
The Batter vs. Pitcher statistics is one of the more common statistics in baseball and also one of the most debated topics in daily fantasy baseball.
Advocates for BvP argue that certain hitters tend to have continued success against certain pitchers and that past performance can predict future success. This may be due to a number of reasons such as the hitter seeing the ball well out of the pitchers hand, certain pitchers struggling against certain teams, or the matchup just favoring the hitter.
Advocates against BvP statistics argue that the sample size is too small to carry any actual value in predicting future performance. They argue that hitters take thousands of at-bats in their career and that a sample size of somewhere between 1-100 at-bats against a certain pitcher over numerous years is pretty meaningless.
Both sides make valid points, but at the end of the day, it’s worth taking a look at the BvP statistics as a secondary research source. Often times you will find that the BvP statistics actually confirm some of the plays that you were already considering taking. That said, as a general rule, ignore any BvP statistic that doesn’t have at least 10 at-bats. A sample size that small doesn’t hold any weight for predicting future performance.
ANALYZING THE MATCHUP
Analyzing hitter’s statistics is only half of the battle. The opposing pitcher that each team faces is just as important. Here are four factors to look at in a hitter’s matchup:
1. Opposing Pitcher’s Splits – We’ve covered the importance of looking at a hitter’s lefty/righty splits, but it’s also important to look at the opposing pitcher’s lefty/righty splits. Doing so will allow you to come up with a combined wOBA matchup for each player. For instance, Adam Jones has a .425 wOBA against left-hand pitching this season. If he is facing J.A. Happ who has given up a .335 wOBA to right-hand hitters, Adam Jones will have a combined wOBA matchup of .380. You can quickly calculate this combined wOBA to find the players with the best matchups each night.
2. Ballpark Factors – All ballparks are not all created equal. If you look at the difference between Coors Field (the best hitter’s park) and Petco Park (the best pitcher’s park), the numbers are staggering. Coors Fields yields almost four runs per game more than Petco Park. Make sure to factor in the ballpark that each game is being played in. Look at the run production, the number of home runs hit, and the ballpark splits for left-hand and right-hand hitters.
3. Hot Streaks – This is also a highly debated subject, but baseball is very streaky sport. Targeting hitters that are locked in and have confidence at the plate is never a bad strategy. That said, recent performance shouldn’t carry as much weight as the matchup or the ballpark.
4. Vegas Lines – The Vegas lines are a great source of information for both starting pitchers and for offenses in general. The lines can be used to see the big favorites of the night as well as which games are expected to be high scoring.
FINDING VALUE IN LINEUPS
Finding value is one of the most overlooked aspects of daily fantasy baseball. In order to construct an optimal lineup each night, you are going to have to find value at different positions each night. One of the best ways to spot value plays is to look at each team’s lineup as soon as they are released. Look for abnormalities in the lineup such as players that are batting much higher in the order than they normally do.
Stacking in daily fantasy baseball is when you take multiple hitters from the same team in hopes that the team has a big night offensively. The strategy behind stacking is fairly simple: when you take multiple hitters from the same team, you will score additional fantasy points for every run scored because you will get points for the RBI as well as the run. Stacking is a proven strategy that works in GPP’s, but the variance is extremely high which makes it a risky proposition for cash games.