March 25, 2014
Daily League Strategy
The daily gaming boom really started to take hold last year across all sports, and the lengthy baseball season is a perfect match for the format. It is sure to be even more popular in 2014, with a bounty of gameplay options available with something sure to fit your tastes. Perhaps you’re new to the game and looking to play with regularity in 2014. In that case, you’ve got some learning to do, but you’ve got some time to do it. Today, I want to cover some basics of the gaming when it comes to picking the most effective lineups. After all, that is the object of the game.
For the completely uninitiated, daily gaming is a format in which you pick a lineup and either square off against a single opponent or a group ranging in size from small to large. Prize pools vary based on the format being played, and you can very often find freeroll options, too. Your lineup consists of that night’s players only; you tally up the points based on the events that transpire across the night’s slate, and a winner is decided.
Pitcher vs. Batter Doesn’t Matter
When selecting your lineup for the day, you may be inclined to figure out how well your target batter has fared against the day’s starter, but here’s the thing: It really doesn’t matter. Not statistically speaking, at least. In very few circumstances will a pitcher and batter have amassed a statistically significant sample of work against one another, and even on the off-chance that they have, the bulk of that data was likely etched in stone when they were much younger players, and its relevance will be tenuous when you’re dealing with a pair of 36-year-olds. In most situations, you will have somewhere south of 20 PA between a pair, and while seeing a résumé of 8-for-18 with three homers and two walks might make you feel better about picking that particular third baseman, I promise you, it’s only psychological.
Use Larger, More Generic Splits
Instead of focusing on the minute sample of how Batter A has fared against Pitcher B, turn your attention instead to the slices of data that are going to carry more relevance. How does the batter fare against lefties and the pitcher against righties? How have these two fared in tonight’s venue (though your sample is likely only large enough for the home player in this instance)? You can move away from the specific venue and look at home/away numbers for the player in question, too. In short, these are all going to offer so much more information than the pitcher-batter matchups that so many daily gamers are unfortunately fond of using.
Be Diligent About Weather—Particularly in April and May
A rainout is a surefire way to end your night before it starts. If you plan on playing the daily game when the weather is sketchy (which is usually these first couple of months), then make sure you are going to be around your computer or mobile device as game time nears. That 6:30 p.m. movie with the girlfriend on the East Coast might have quite a sour ending if you come out of it two hours later only to see that the Cleveland was rained out and you got zeros from Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana, and Jason Kipnis against Houston. There are countless weather resources online; use them.
Pay Close Attention to Scoring at Each Outlet
I get it, some of these seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised. You have to make sure you understand the scoring system at your site of choice. For example, DraftStreet only awards two points for a pitcher win—one of the lowest in the industry. This means you don’t need to run from Jose Fernandez because he is a Marlin or avoid the Max Scherzer start you like just because he’s facing off against Chris Sale and the pair might be deadlocked at one after seven innings. Other sites reward five or even 10 times as many points for the pitcher win completely altering your strategy. In fact, you almost have to secure a pitcher win to compete in some of the larger tournaments so while you love Fernandez, it’s hard to really back him against the Dodgers because you’re not sure the Marlins will get much of anything against Josh Beckett.
This is merely a taste. Is your interest piqued? This is a fun and exciting new way to play the game you love while enjoying the game you love to watch. Again, this is only the beginning and these four tips should be foremost among your rules for success, but it’s hardly the entire toolbox. In the coming weeks, we’ll dive deeper and continue to discuss the game at length before we finally kick off the season and start rolling out applicable strategies, including recommendations on who might be the best pick to bring home the title on a particular night.
On March 24, 2014, Baseball Prospectus entered into a partnership with Draftstreet.com. Get all the details and learn how you can join in on the action here!
Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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