Fantasy Baseball Strategy – Learning the Basics for DFS for MLB

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The key to daily fantasy baseball, like daily fantasy sports in general, is research. With so much statistical information available, daily fantasy baseball players must focus on the right ones. Here are the basics when it comes to daily fantasy baseball.

Game Elements

Weather is normally a non-factor or only slightly significant with most sports, but not when it comes to baseball. Weather plays a huge role when starting your daily fantasy research. The very first thing players should look for is the possibility of rain in any open-air stadium that does not have a retractable roof. It is just too risky to take anyone in a game with a high chance of rain. There is no faster way to have a lineup ruined than to roster players in a game that ends up being rained out.

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Daily fantasy baseball players must keep in mind each and every ballpark when setting lineups. Some ballparks are more hitter-friendly and other are more pitcher-friendly. Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play, is an extreme example of a hitter-friendly park. There is a huge advantage when playing a baseball game a mile above sea level. With such low air density at Coors Field, it results in baseball’s traveling a further distance which means more opportunities for home runs.

Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is an example of how a ballpark can be both hitter-friendly and pitcher-friendly depending on the weather. Chicago is known as the windy city and it is common to have gusting winds on any given day at Wrigley. Wind speed greatly affects the flight of a baseball. If the winds are blowing out that means to stay away from rostering the starting pitchers in this game and focus on batters since there is a higher chance of home runs and runs overall. If the winds are blowing in consider the starting pitchers and avoid power hitters as it will be harder to hit home runs.

Petco Park in San Diego is well known for being a pitcher-friendly park overall. Targeting a specific ballpark is extremely important in making a daily fantasy lineup. It even goes into more depth with different ballparks being better suited for right-handed pitchers and vice versa. Also, keep in mind that more runs are scored when temperatures are warmer compared to colder temperatures.

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Using Vegas to Your Advantage

When Vegas sets their spreads, totals, and props they take in account every relevant factor. Vegas has a proven past for being extremely accurate, which makes them a critical tool when making a daily fantasy baseball lineup. The main Vegas line to look at is the over/under run scored totals. For high over/under totals fantasy players should be looking for favorable matchups with hitters.

If the over/under totals are low then targeting pitchers would provide more value. Make sure to target pitchers whose teams are heavy favorites since pitchers get more fantasy points for a win. Also, check out prop bets that can be made on individual players. When Vegas sets a prop bet line on a pitcher at 10 strikeouts, you can assume that pitcher will have plenty of K’s that night.

Matchups and Past History

The next step in making a daily fantasy baseball lineup is finding great matchups between pitchers and batters. This is done by looking up a player’s splits. For the most part, right-handed pitchers tend to struggle against left-handed hitters, and same with left-handed pitchers against right-handed hitters. A great way to find value is to pick on pitchers who struggle against a certain handedness of hitters. When analyzing pitchers, the best stat to use is weighted on-base average (wOBA).

The majority of hitters see the baseball better from opposite-handed pitchers. There are some cases of hitter with splits that are extremely one sided. These hitters are so terrible against one handedness of pitchers that his overall cost is down. Once these hitters go up against a pitcher with the handedness that he is successful with his value is almost too good to pass up. Be sure to look up hitter splits against pitcher handedness to find the best value plays in that slate of games.

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Compare Different Fantasy Sites

Every daily fantasy site is slightly different from each other, which is why you must compare them before constructing a lineup. One difference is the actual scoring of games themselves especially when it comes to pitchers. Some daily sites keep it simple for pitchers with set points for wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and negative points for earned runs allowed. Other sites are known for adding bonuses to pitchers who complete games, throw shutouts and no-hitters. When it comes to hitters check to see if the daily site gives negative points for outs and if so target more contact hitters.

You can view detailed FanDuel MLB Scoring rules here. Or if you prefer DraftKings, you can see our piece on the DraftKings MLB scoring here.

Besides scoring, comparing player salaries between different daily sites will help you find value plays each day. If the majority of daily sites have a certain player priced significantly higher than another site, that player deserves to be evaluated further as a possible start on the site he is less expensive. In daily fantasy finding value anywhere you can gives you a huge advantage against other players. Finding value will help open up your lineup for the more expensive stud players you must have in order to take down any given contest.

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Variance

What makes daily fantasy baseball so challenging is the amount of variance involved. In other sports, like basketball, we know star players will always get a certain amount of points as long as they are not injured. But in baseball, a star player could go 0-4 with 3 strikeouts any given night. The Key is not to let the variance frustrate you and to play contest within your budget. You can withstand the variance better by playing more cash games and 50/50 contest. These contest payout the top 50% of lineups instead of a top 20% payout with tournaments or GPP’s.

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