Draft MLB DFS Strategy Part 2: Winning Lineup Hitting Advice

Welcome back DFSArmy VIPs to the second installment on strategy in Draft for all formats. Hit me up in slack (UW81) or on twitter @Chasing21_UW81 for any questions related to playing on Draft.com. I provide more general information and strategy regarding DFS as opposed to being married to single sport. Today we’re going to get into the meat and potatoes of Draft looking at hitting touching on how to use our tools to leverage against the field.

Want a free month to DFSArmy and don’t have a Draft account yet? Sign up for Draft today through our link here, deposit at least $20, and email us at ffootballgeek@gmail.com with the site you registered for and the username you chose. We will get back to you with a code for a free month of DFS Army VIP membership for each new site signup. It’s that simple.

One note I want to talk about before I dive in is variance in MLB compared to NBA for people transitioning into it this year for the first time. In NBA DFS, you can expect to get a certain result from a star player. There’s usually a floor and ceiling and more often than not, they’ll perform in that range. MLB is very different. The best hitter in MLB can get you 0 points on any given day. It’s tough to swallow and even harder to predict. All the research you do on can’t predict with pin point accuracy when a Mike Trout is going to go 0-5 or hit for the cycle. We do our best as data analysts to give the most likely outcome based on a number of variables.

Related DFS Material – Handling Variance Once and For All

Draft MLB Scoring for Hitting

Similar to the other major sites, we’re seeing a large advantage to home runs. Draft’s scoring system is a bit of a hybrid between FanDuel and Draft Kings which results in lower overall scores. Combined with pitching, post a score in the 40s often is enough to take down 3 and 5 mans, and sometimes a score in the 20s can take down your H2H depending on the night.

Adjusting to the MLB Draft Format

There are a couple concepts to keep in mind that are different than a traditional DFS Site

  • Stacking isn’t necessary at all. In fact, you’ll make worse decisions trying to force in a stack.
  • Have a cash mentality in drafts. Top of the order is better than the bottom so your hitters have more opportunities to score points.
  • There are plenty of options at both infield and outfield for player selections than your competition realizes.
  • Value isn’t a concept here. You’re not looking for a min priced guy in a good spot. You’re looking for a Mike Trout in a smash spot and if you’re in a H2H or 3 Man, there are enough to go around.

Finding that Diamond in the Rough

Taking advantage of your opponents with superior tools. One of the great things about being in DFSArmy is that we have a large stable of coaches and resources at our finger tips. We can use this to gain a massive advantage thanks to Draft’s own projection system. You will find immediately that the projections provided by draft are vastly different than our own grading system. What you might not realize is that a lot of recreational players use those projections, which creates value opportunities to grab star hitters in smash spots in later draft rounds.

Pro Tip: You can set your own projection order. Do it. Do it before you enter your first draft. Always set your draft order before you start queuing up contests because you can’t be 100% sure you won’t run into data or wiki problems, your phone battery dies, etc. The site doesn’t care and it’ll auto draft you regardless. Actually if you take nothing else away from this article, this is the most important thing you need to do on Draft.

Recap Draft Pitching Strategy with Part 1: Winning Pitching Advice

Finding the HR hitters: Use the dong detector article plus the prop bets for home runs that get posted in #MLB-news-and-notes or go look them up yourself if you’re drafting earlier in the day. The names and faces generally don’t change too much and you should be looking to grab yourself a marquee hitter with one of your first picks.

Late round hammers: One scoring concept to keep in mind when selecting your hitters, especially when you’re entering 5-man ore more snake drafts, is stolen bases. A single or walk plus a stolen base is still seven points which is a more likely scenario than a home run more often than not. I guarantee your opponents aren’t looking at that angle when selecting hitters for the night. Everyone is looking for home run hitters. While selecting hitters that have the capabilities to smash it out of the park is important, multi-dimensional hitters are going to get you more points in the long run.

wOBA and exit velocity: These are the two stats I personally favor the most when putting together my hitting research. I’ll take a guy getting on base 3 out of 5 times every game versus the one that hits a home run every 3 games, but I also want that guy to have the power behind his swing to get an extra base or home run now and then.

Positional Scarcity and You

Hitters being broken up into infield and outfield only takes this away. Looking at a Friday with 14 games being on the main slate, there are 75 hitters with a DFSArmy grade of 80 or better. Considering everyone is taking 4 hitters, that’s almost enough to cover a 10-man without going into the 70s. FYI there’s currently 168 at 70 or greater. That means there are a lot of hitters in potential smash spots. I always recommend a one:one approach when picking players on draft for strategic reasons. We’ll dig into one:one drafting in the next section around strategy.

Drafting Strategy in General

A major mistake people make on draft is closing out a position too early, usually in the second round. For MLB we have three positions to draft:

  • One (1) Pitcher
  • Two (2) Infield
  • Two (2) Outfield

Closing out a position means drafting an entire position before looking at another. Here’s a scenario.

I’m picking on the turn in a 3 man draft. I decide to grab Josh Donaldson with my first pick and Kris Bryant with my second pick, effectively closing out my Infield position. For arguments sake, I just secured the #2 and #3 projected in fielders of the night. Score! My opponents proceed to both draft OF, OF, OF, OF. Now with my third pick, I’m looking at the fifth overall OF as my BEST option. Grabbing the #5 and #6 puts my average strength of my line up down to 3.8. Lower the Strength score the better.

While you still don’t have the strongest draft regardless of the scenario, you accomplished three different goals:

  • Improving your own strength score by 10.5%
  • Decreasing one of your opponents overall strength by 10%
  • Closing the gap between the strongest score and yourself

This assumes each opponent drafts optimally (which rarely happens) leaving you open to exploit your opponents draft tendencies.

Infield vs. Outfield drafting: In general, it doesn’t matter. Grab the strongest person in your pre-determined draft order. If you’re picking first, grab your #1. If you’re picking second, grab your #1 if available and your #2. It only starts to matter after the first round of picks. Did your opponent close out a whole position? Close out the opposite position first making their draft worse. Did everyone go one:one drafting? Pick your next strongest player. Is their scarcity in pitching this slate? Grab that #1 pitcher in round 2 or 3 then before your opponents have the ability to.

The Power of Practice:

Take advantage of the ability to do free drafts. Set them up with other DFS members, meet each other in slack, and do a bunch of mock drafts. Free contests are going to be useful in this format because in general, everyone wants the same players. You’re going to see the Trouts of the world going early whether he’s facing an Ace or not because matchup doesn’t matter for those guys (in general). What you’re really looking for is getting an idea of when that player you have an eye on that’s in the 80-90s in our projections, but isn’t in the top 10 on Draft’s projections. The forgotten gems. Can you leave them until pick 10? Pick 15? Often times you’ll figure out you’re able to get a #1 pitcher because the field is undervaluing a player our projection system says should be a higher value target.

Playing those $0 contests can keep you from getting blind-sided by odd picks. I promise at some point, your opponent is going to grab a confusing pick that’s not even on your radar. I had someone grab Trea Turner Pick 1 when Coors field was available before. I’ve seen people grab a pitcher first pick with 6-7 options on a slate.

How to Hedge on Draft

The more small contests (H2H/3-Man) you start playing on a slate, the more trends you’re going to see. You’ll even start noticing you end up with the exact same lineup in some cases. Hedging is easier in this case with contests of this size. Just skip a person in your ranking. If you’re grabbing Judge every 2nd pick, pivot to Stanton instead. If you’re always seeing the same pitcher, grab a different one even if the better one is available. I know it’s difficult to pass up a hitter we grade in the high 90s for someone in the 80s, but it’s how you get variety in your line ups. You can’t guarantee the Trouts of the world are always going to go ham. While counter intuitive, employing at least partial hedging can save you from getting a donut to your bankroll in a night.

The other option is to purposely grab 1-2 lower projected hitters while keeping 2-3 staples to give you some variety without straying too far from your core. Think of it as MMEing. You have your core, and you spin players around that. So if you have 4-5 guys you’re always grabbing, keep using them and then fire off one different guy.

That’s it! It’s really that easy when you make some slight adjustments as compared to your traditional DFS sites. Remember to tag me in Slack @ UW81 or twitter @Chasing21_UW81 if you have any more in depth questions on pitching strategies. I recommend tagging me in Slack as opposed to just asking as due to my work schedule, I am in slack the least of all staff members, by a large margin.

Move on to our Draft Slate Strategy Breakdowns