MLB Matchups and Stacks
Fantasy Baseball is very unique in the realm of fantasy sports. The strategy and lineup selection differs significantly from what is successful in other sports. Too many players in a game that ends 1-0 can kill a lineups and a couple players in a high scoring 12 inning game can earn you huge. When you get past the all-stars, it is less about picking the individual players as it is about identifying where the points will be concentrated (i.e. where are the high scoring games). That’s why so many fantasy players adopt the “stack” strategy. This strategy is where you pick many hitters from a team, or a game, where you expect a lot of runs to be scored and a large pool of fantasy points.
May 19th Games
We can look at some of the games over the past week and identify where successful stacks could have been implemented and the factors that caused the high scoring.
Tuesday saw some big games. 5 out of the total 15 games saw a combined total of 10+ runs with St Louis, Minnesota, Washington, and Baltimore scoring over 8 runs. If you look at the individuals of these games you can see the value a stack can bring. The heavy hitters like Harper, Dozier, Machado, and Paredes had great games, but they are consistent performers so that doesn’t prove much.
What you see however, is that cheaper players like Ramos, Desmond, Escobar, Suzuki, Grichuk, Joseph, Reynolds, and De Aza scored the same or more points than these heavy hitters just by being in the right game. While a couple of these players may have had great games, it is unlikely they all happened to have such huge individual performances on the same night.
Their huge number totals came from the the bonus runs and RBI’s that came from the team totals. The real value in fantasy MLB comes from team synergy rather than individual dominance.
Identifying High Scoring Games
The main factors most DFS players use to identify high scoring games are the vegas lines. The over under and spread are measure of the total points that will be scored in the game and how close those games will be. However, vegas is very conservative in their measures, only giving a range of 6.5 to 10 in the over under while it is not uncommon for a game to score far lower or far higher than this range.
To really identify the high scoring games you can do your own analysis with additional factors. One of the most influential is the opposing pitcher. A weak pitcher is a necessity for a high scoring game. The ideal outcome is a lot of opposing pitcher. If the opposing team runs through 4,5, or even 6 pitcher, you can be sure the game other team is scoring big.
Another factor you can look at is weather. The rule of thumb is cold benefits pitchers, hot benefits hitters. No hitter likes the sting of the bat on impact on a cold day. It makes them less aggressive. Wind blowing in to the stadium can make distance hits impossible, and wind blowing out can raise the prevalence of balls flying over the fence.
Identifying the high-scoring games is just another tool to use to pick your lineups. Alone, it won’t win you any contests but it can definitely narrow down your choices and increase the accuracy of your projections whether you choose to stack your hitters or take a more diversified approach.