2016 MLB DFS Strategy Guide

With the first half of the MLB season officially in the books, I find it quite appropriate to share my lineup building process and, essentially, my strategy when it comes to MLB DFS. As many providers, ourselves included, have experienced, MLB DFS is a completely different animal. The season is an absolute grind and inconsistency should be expected. Baseball is a tough sport to predict, but if you’re analyzing the right trends and tools, you should be able to come out with a profit.

While this article will not go extremely in depth (it would take way too long and you wouldn’t want to read all of it), there are two sections that I chose to break this article up into; the sources that I find to be the most helpful, and the statistics that I weigh much heavier than others. It could make sense to just throw stats that I use under the sources as well, but with a sport that is so driven by statistics, I feel that it’d be more effective to dedicate a separate section to it.

So, without making you wait any longer, here is my MLB DFS Strategy Guide that is used to construct the Fanduel lineups that we share.

Part I – Sources

As most of you are no stranger to DFS sites, some of this might sound like common sense, but for some, it will be extremely useful. When I started DFS, the only money I wanted to spend was the money I would deposit onto Fanduel (and that mentality remains today, aside from costs to get the site up and running). With that in mind, it already eliminates a ton of DFS research sites. There are a handful of websites I use to help my research and I am listing them below in no specific order:

  • RotoGrinders
  • Fangraphs
  • Fantasy Labs
  • Daily Baseball Data (Primarily for BvP)

While many of the areas of these sites are extremely similar, I use each of them for different things. RotoGrinders is great when looking for all of your stats in one place, rather than searching specific stats over and over again. They publish incredible articles and I find the site most useful when choosing my pitcher. They put together an advanced pitching breakdown every single day that curates all of the advanced stats you need for each pitcher and break down which is the best option. While I still rely on myself to make the final decision, it helps a ton.

The second site that I go to when constructing my lineups is Fangraphs. This site, in my opinion, does the most for me. Fangraphs is the Mecca for advanced statistics (which I will get into later). You go to the site and search any, and I mean ANY player, past or present, and it generates countless tables of statistics that you never knew existed. When constructing lineups, batting average with home runs and ERA with strikeouts only tell you so much about a pitcher, and Fangraphs does an incredible job of organizing these statistics for you in an easy-to-find fashion.

Fantasy Labs is a site much like Rotogrinders, but I personally don’t prefer to use it as much. While most of Fantasy Labs content requires payment, such as their customized models (Bales model, etc.), there are a number of free resources on their site. They always list the top handful of players for the day in terms of “Pro Trends” which essentially summarizes who is most likely to have a productive day, and they also produce incredible articles that dive into the advanced stats of players. I should also mention that a lot of the players they mention are lesser-owned players, which becomes extremely helpful when you’re looking for a lower-priced option as opposed to a stud.

Daily Baseball Data is a much more lowkey site than the other three that I have included. While you can find Batter vs. Pitcher data on just about every site, I don’t think that any site does a better job of putting it together than they do. I have included a screenshot of what their tables look like just so you can see how easy to use it is.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 7.54.56 PM.png

The organize it by listing the opposing pitcher (highlighted on top) and below, they show the current roster of players that have faced the opponent throughout there career with various stats. You can sort the tables by any stat by simply clicking on it. As you can see, in this example, the table is sorted by OPS.

Those are the sites that I use far more than others when constructing my lineups, but what I pay attention to a lot more are the numbers…

Part II – Statistics

While reading articles and looking at tables give you a great start to constructing a lineup, the meat of the sandwich is advanced stats. Many DFSers don’t always look beyond the surface stats, which isn’t a horrible thing if you’re the occasional player, but if you’re looking to develop consistency, you need more. There are a TON of advanced stats out there, and since I am doing my best to keep this article short and sweet, I am going to include the three stats that I look at most when constructing lineups.

  • wOBA
  • ISO
  • Contact Percentages

wOBA seems to be the statistic that is taking over the DFS world, as I’ve seen sites and providers all rely on this stat rather heavily this season. wOBA stands for “Weighted On-Base Average” and essentially credits a hitter more for better hits. While batting average treats all hits the same, wOBA takes into account how much more valuable extra base hits are than mere singles. The main reason for analyzing wOBA as opposed to just looking at batting average or slugging percentage is because it also takes into account how the player contributes to run scoring. An RBI-single is obviously more valuable than a single, and wOBA acknowledges that. So when looking at constructing lineups, this can be a huge stat. For example, Matt Kemp is notorious for destroying left-handed pitching. This season, he sports a .321 batting-average against lefties, while his wOBA sits at .405. That shows that he is knocking in runs and hitting for more extra base hits against lefties, something that just looking at batting average doesn’t show you.

The second advanced stat I look at when constructing lineups is the ISO of a batter. ISO is short for “Isolated Power” and is a representation of the number of extra base hits a hitter records per at-bat. The easiest way (actually VERY easy) to calculate ISO is by simply subtracting a batter’s batting average from their slugging percentage. To break it down further, Fangraphs gave a great example, which I have included below:

“For example, a four singles and zero home runs in 10 at bats is a .400 batting average and .400 slugging percentage. One home run and zero singles in 10 at bats is a .100 batting average and .400 slugging percentage. The first player’s ISO is .000 and the second player’s ISO is .300.” – Fangraphs

If you were strictly looking at batting average and slugging percentage, you would treat both of these players equally. When you look at ISO, you realize that the second player is hitting more for extra bases and therefore, is more valuable in your lineup.

The third and final advanced stat that I chose to include in this article is contact percentage. This is actually my favorite stat to look at when choosing between pitchers, but is useful on both sides of the ball. Contact percentage is extremely simple. For pitchers, it is the percentage of balls hit that are going for ground balls, line drives, or fly balls, and also the measure of how hard the hits are (soft contact, medium contact, and hard hit percentage). Obviously when looking at a pitcher, the most enticing combination would be a high ground-ball percentage to go along with a high soft-contact percentage. While this stat seems extremely simple, it is often overlooked. The contact percentage is often the reason for a higher/lower ERA for a pitcher. For example, look at a pitcher like Mike Pelfrey of the Tigers. Pelfrey’s ERA this season sits at 4.58 which is rather high for a starting pitcher. Why? Because his fly-ball rate is 26.1% and his hard-hit percentage is a career-worst 31%. That combination means a ton of home runs.

When you flip the stats around to the other side, they can be just as useful. I will not go that in depth with it because it’s even more obvious that the stats for the pitchers, but if there are two players priced at $3,700 on Fanduel and player 1 has a HH% (Hard hit %) of 21% and player 2 has a HH% of 28% and this is the tie-breaker, you obviously are going to take the latter. The harder a player hits the ball, the higher his line-drive and fly-ball percentages will be, and in turn, the more home runs and base hits they record.

There you have it. While the article was not extremely in depth, I hope that after reading this, you have a bit of a different approach when constructing MLB DFS lineups in the second half of the season which will hopefully result in more success.

*Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to providing lineups and analysis for you all for the second half of the MLB season!*





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