Daily Fantasy Sports Strategy And Tips
MLB DFS Is Right Around The Corner
With the NBA season coming toward it’s conclusion and things starting to get squirrely with injuries, players resting, teams having varying motivations and the like, now is a perfect time to start thinking about how to play and win at MLB DFS. The NBA has a strong element of predictability from night to night, with most of the scoring being linear in nature such that it’s a bit easier to hone in on approximately how many points each player will score on most nights. MLB couldn’t be any more different than NBA in that regard. Even Mike Trout will go 0-4 or 0-5 from time to time. The key to playing MLB DFS is to consistently put yourself in a favorable position and let the chips fall where they may.
With that said, today I’m going to look at a few stats to focus on when it comes to selecting pitchers and hitters in MLB DFS. Focusing on these stats alone will get you in the neighborhood of which players make for good DFS plays each day. There are of course dozens and maybe hundreds of other nuances to look at that can give you that extra edge.
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Before digging into which stats to look at, I’d like to touch on the idea that pitching is by far more consistent from night to night than hitting. For that reason, typical MLB DFS strategy would have you paying for quality pitchers that have a lot of strikeout upside and looking for cheaper, value bats as opposed to looking to pay up for the big boppers and save on pitching.
Strikeouts per 9 innings, or strikeout percentage are stats that should be a go to for selecting DFS pitchers. ¬Generally, K/9 is pretty correlated with overall pitching quality and is also a consistent stat from year to year. There are cases where a pitcher will have a very strong K/9 but still be a little wild and unpredictable. Those cases will become apparent as you continue your research. A K/9 of approximately 8.5 or more is good, while 10 or more is elite.
xFIP stands for expected fielding independent pitching. Essentially, it is a metric that is designed to resemble ERA but take the fluctuations that are the result of being lucky or unlucky out of the equation. So a pitcher with an xFIP of 2.42 and an ERA of 3.78 has probably been very unlucky in that sample. xFIP makes for a much truer predictor of future ERA than past ERA does. Any xFIP under 3.50 or so is very good, and the very best will be in the 2.60 range, with Clayton Kershaw occasionally dipping into the unheard of 2.10 area.
There is no real substitute for the betting lines. These lines are made by professionals who are factoring in every single thing us DFS players would consider and probably much more. K/9, xFIP, ballpark, weather, opposing lineup, you name it; it’s all rolled into the betting line. So when you see a pitcher that is hurling for a team that is a -150 betting favorite in a game with a 6.5 total, you can bet pretty confidently that he’s a much stronger option than a pitcher who is an underdog in a game with a total of 8.
Weighted on-base average, or wOBA, is a stat that is meant to reward the hitter for the magnitude of their contributions. Simpler stats like on base percentage or batting average don’t reward batters entirely for doubles, walks, home runs and so on. Each of those account for those plays in some fashion, but no stat tries to account and give proper credit to all of the hitting outcomes. That’s what wOBA is for. A wOBA of .340 or so is solid, with the 5 or so best hitters of 2015 achieving a .400+ wOBA. Bryce Harper slapped up a wild .461 in his monster 2015 season.
Isolated power, or isolated slugging, is a measure that attempts to account for a hitter’s raw power and how often he hits for extra bases. This stat is actually very useful in DFS as these are the plays that account for the large scoring events you need to be a competitive DFS player. Any player with an ISO of .200 or more is generally thought to have some serious pop, with players approaching .275 being some of the most powerful hitters in the league.
This is something that would be easy to overlook for a new DFS player, but is actually hugely important. Similar to carries or targets in football or minutes in basketball, lineup spot is obviously hugely correlated to opportunity. A good rule of thumb is that there’s a large drop off in terms of value between the 5 and 6 spots in the lineup. Many good DFS players take that to extreme, looking for players in the top 4 in the lineup almost exclusively for their DFS rosters.
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Thanks for reading. Find me on Twitter @IanJ300 with any questions.
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