Welcome, my fellow comrades. Baseball season is finally upon us. I know a lot of followers here at The Fantasy Authority focus mainly on football, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help introduce you to a new found love. Baseball is probably my favorite DFS sport to play and is also my best in terms of profitability. Over the course of last season, I was able to hone my process in and really become competitive. My goal this season is to provide some MLB DFS content here at TFA and help you win some money. With that being said, I wanted to provide you with a brief “Beginner Guide” on some MLB DFS basics. We can go more in-depth on the exact stats to look at as the season goes on, but for now, I just want to give a lay of the land.
The very first thing to do when just starting out with MLB DFS is to figure out which scoring system you want to play under. Until you become familiar with the entire player pool, I would suggest trying to stick to one site. This will limit the price based evaluations you will have to do while you are also trying to learn who players are. I also recommend this because the scoring is somewhat different between DraftKings and Fanduel. For example, here are some pretty important pitching differences:
DK: You must roster two Pitchers. Points are awarded for outs, strikeouts, and wins. Points are taken away for earned runs, hits, and walks.
FD: You can only roster one Pitcher. Points are awarded for outs, strikeouts, wins, and quality starts. Points are taken away only for earned runs.
So as you can see, FD has more positive events and less negative events for pitchers, whereas DK has a mix of both. The roster construction is also different in the number of pitchers you have to play. I recommend looking into the scoring systems and decide on which site you think you would want to try and stick with that one in the beginning.
After you have your site picked out, it is time to start building some teams. It will take you a little bit of time to get accustomed to pitcher/hitter types, but I hope to get some content out that should help speed that process along for you. When selecting pitchers, we obviously want to use guys that aren’t going to give up many runs in that game. However, we also need to focus on strikeouts as strikeouts count for a big portion of pitcher scoring.
For example, player A might have one of the highest strikeout rates among all of baseball. At the same time though, he is prone to get blown up occasionally. This is the type of pitcher I will want to play in tournaments. In tournaments, I focus more on strikeout upside than I do run prevention. When playing cash games, you would much rather roster the run prevention pitcher. Becoming familiar with high risk/high reward pitchers is important for tournaments because these are the guys who see low ownership but when they have their ceiling game they win you all of the monies.
On the hitter side, we want guys who are going to either hit home runs or steal bases. These are where the majority of the hitter points come from. Having a team full of home runs and steals is the most likely way to vault yourself up the leaderboard.
Something important to focus on for hitting is “stacking.” What stacking means is you are playing 4-5 guys from the same team in hopes that their team approaches double-digit runs for the game. Stacking makes a ton of sense because let’s say you want to play the 3rd hitter in the Braves order. For him to have a big game, he needs to either A) hit 1-2 home runs or B) have a multi-hit and multi-RBI game. In order for him to have a multi-RBI game, you will need him to knock in the players who were hitting in front of him.
So let’s say you play hitters 1-2 for the Braves. Hitter 1 gets on base via a walk. He then steals 2nd. Next, hitter 2 hits a double and scores hitter 1. Now you have 9 points from hitter 1 and 7 points from hitter 2. Hitter 1 would have missed out on 2 points and hitter 2 would have also missed out on 2 points if hitter 2 did not hit hitter 1 in. All of this to say, generally you want to find your top stacks of the night and then mix in hitters from other teams around those stacks.
Fangraphs.com is the Mecca of baseball stats, especially the ones that we will use to help us try to predict player performances. I suggest trying to familiarize yourself with the site and player profiles. When you get to a players profile, there are a bunch of tabs, but none more important than the batted ball tab. I will try to introduce you to some important stats over the coming weeks. If anyone wants to go through a thorough breakdown of a player as an example though, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Matty_D_30 or just message the TFA account. You can also join our DFS slack chat by sending us your email address and you can hop in the chat for FREE.
That is basically the most basic pieces of MLB DFS. Everything gets a lot more complicated from there, but don’t let that scare you away. I believe there is a solid profit opportunity in baseball. If your process is right, which I will do my best to help with, then you are already ahead of a majority of the field who is looking at the incorrect statistics such as ERA and batting average.