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MLB DFS Game Theory for 4/4/16


The first real day of the DFS MLB season is upon us and I’m extremely excited. In this article I’m going to look at the slate as a whole from a game theory perspective, rather than try to figure out which hitters have exactly the best matchup. Both are important, but there are a lot of resources out there that analyze matchups, but few that approach DFS from the perspective of game theory. For this to be worthwhile we have to accept a few axioms:

  • Baseball is a high variance sport
  • Every hitter has the same floor: 0 FPTS
  • Ownership % is semi-predictable

If you disagree with any of the above, this is not the article for you. Also, if you are looking for cash game advice, this is not the article for you. For reference, any prices mentioned refer to DraftKings. Everything I will mention follows from the above axioms. Now, let’s take a look at the afternoon slate and try to make some money.

Favorite Stacks

First of all, I should explain how I approach stacking. I absolutely think that you should stack in a majority of your lineups. Variance is so high in baseball that finding 8 uncorrelated batters who all have excellent games is extremely difficult. I take Vegas team totals very seriously when stacking, but I’m also looking for lower owned stacks, particularly ones that I expect to do well against pitchers that I believe will be highly owned. I’m generally going to have a 5-man stack in tournaments, but I’m not going to be too strict about the other 3 hitters on my teams, I’ll stack them when it seems right and otherwise not.

[Get full MLB Odds on XN Sports]

Philadelphia Phillies — The Phillies are my favorite stack on the board. No, they aren’t a good team. Yes, Raisel Iglesias is a good pitcher. Wait, why am I on the Phillies? Well, Vegas doesn’t have them doing terribly at 3.5 projected runs, Iglesias hasn’t thrown much at all in spring training, and he gave up a lot of homers last year. He also pitches in the Great American Smallpark and has a mediocre bullpen backing him up. The key thing is that I think he will have a very high ownership % because of his strikeout ability, and if the Phillies smack him around, we can leapfrog much of the field. Also, assuming Devin Mesoraco (who I like as a hitter) is catching, he is a terrible defensive catcher and the Phillies have some stolen base upside in players like Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera. If Cameron Rupp is in the lineup and top 6 in the order, I’ll probably have him as part of my stack. He’s been mashing the ball during spring training and catcher is always a rough position to roster.

Baltimore Orioles — First things first, Vegas likes the Orioles and has them scoring 4.6 runs. Ervin Santana is not a good pitcher anymore and he’s particularly susceptible to lefties. A lot of the Orioles hitters have a lot of pop, and a 5 man stack could easily yield a few homers. The weather is a concern here, so keep an eye on that.

Pitchers

The most common way to roster pitchers on DraftKings seems to be one expensive guy and one cheap guy. For many, the cheap guy will be Iglesias. I think this sets up using two expensive pitchers as the contrarian play. Among the high-priced guys I like David Price & Madison Bumgarner the most. Dallas Keuchel would be okay but the weather will likely scare me off him. Max Scherzer is just too expensive for me given that he’s facing an Atlanta team that, while bad, doesn’t whiff that much. Although Corey “Klubot” Kluber can rack up the K’s, I’m hesitant to use him against the Red Sox, who just don’t K that often, when I like other options more. I have no interest in low salary guys like Chris Tillman because they generally have very low K upside, and strikeouts are just about everything on DraftKings.

To Fade or Not to Fade?

Bryce Harper is the ninth most expensive outfielder on DraftKings; he’s not the ninth best hitter. Honestly, everything is perfect for him tomorrow outside of the ballpark dimensions. With that said, everyone playing tomorrow is going to be using him. Referring back to our axioms, every player has a floor of 0. So, in tournaments, I will be on the Bryce Harper fade. He could be owned 60%+ in tournaments, and that just takes him out of consideration for me. If you need an alternative, Nelson Cruz mashes lefties and will be drastically lower-owned.

I hope you find this article helpful. In the future, it will be a little bit more about actual picks and less about contextualizing the article. This being the first edition and the early slate only having 7 games just set it up this way. I hope this article helps you find success on the first day of the DFS MLB season. If you have any questions feel free to contact me on Twitter @SykoDFS.

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Featured Image Credit: SD Dirk/Flickr C.C. 2.0 via WikiMedia Creative Commons

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