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It’s arguably the single greatest sporting day of the year. No, I am not talking about the Super Bowl, rather opening day in major league baseball. Across the country stadiums will roll out the bunting, blow off fireworks and get some random hometown celebrities to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
But what opening day really means is the beautiful beginning of another MLB DFS season!! For those of us who have suffered through the last few months of NBA head coaches screwing us over with last minute lineup changes and an appalling rash of marquee players sitting out, the MLB DFS season can’t come fast enough.
For those of you who are new to the daily baseball game we welcome you. I highly recommend you check out our DFS strategy section and especially our DFS MLB Playbook overview. This season we are investing a lot of resources into helping our readers learn, play and most importantly win at MLB DFS.
The first couple of weeks of any new baseball season can be very confusing and frustrating even to the most advanced DFS player. Eventually, players will set new baselines for themselves and we’ll be able to take advantage of the new trends as they emerge. But in the beginning of the season we have to dig a little deeper and do even more research to uncover which players we should be using.
So, let’s take a look at what tools you can use to build some winning DFS MLB teams here in the early stages of the season:
Batter Vs. Pitcher (BvP)
Yeah I know, you probably are one of those hipsters who proclaim to hate BvP and say that it isn’t viable. Well, depending on the sample size you are completely wrong. If a hitter has 15 or more at-bats against a certain pitcher their success or failure deserves some attention. Obviously the larger the sample size and the greater the success or failure, the more important this number becomes. Let’s look at some examples:
Now on to something that we can all agree on and that is outliers of career splits. Everyday we at Fantasy Alarm run through every possible split there is and sort out the ones that jump off the page the most. Whether these are L/R, home/away, day/night or any other split combination, we run through dozens of splits in order to uncover the matchups that will help you win. Here are some examples of career splits that work in our favor on opening day:
Hanley Ramirez (Vs LHP) - .307/.388/.524, .391 wOBA
Carlos Santana (Vs LHP) - .282/.392/.466, .375 wOBA
Mark Teixeira (Home) - .930 OPS
Chase Utley (Home) - .889 OPS
Troy Tulowitzki (April) - .503 wOBA
Justin Upton (April) - .447 wOBA
Of course we all know that certain ballparks are significantly more favorable toward hitters and some greatly favor pitchers. Researching MLB park factors from the past few seasons help us gain an advantage of which players to start and avoid in DFS. Early in the season though we also need to remember how the weather will effect both hitters and pitchers. In the colder climates such as New York, Boston, Minnesota, Chicago and Detroit the average temperatures will likely be between 40-55 degrees especially for night games. The colder the weather the more it favors pitching over hitting. Let’s take a look at last years park factors and the current weather conditions at the home stadiums:
Globe Life Park
U.S. Cellular Field
Minute Maid Park
Great American Ball Park
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Citizens Bank Park
Angel Stadium of Anaheim
The best part of early season DFS is identifying the players who have made big strides over the last few weeks of spring training and who the DFS sites have not corrected the pricing on. If you are able to identify the low end players who will be in the lineup early on in the season and produce, you will be able to ride them for weeks before the market corrects itself. Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the crazy values that are out there for opening day. Remember, we will have a COMPLETE breakdown of the best plays of the day in our opening day DFS MLB Playbook on Monday April 6th. I am using Fantasy Aces pricing for the purpose of this exercise:
Pay close attention to the MLB lineups each and every day throughout the MLB season. Some of the absolute best values occur when a lower level player gets hot and moves up in the order. The higher in the order a player hits the more at-bats they will see. The more at-bats a player gets, obviously the more opportunities they have to produce for fantasy owners.
Also, you need to pay close attention to which players are hitting directly in front of the superstars. We all know that Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout strike the fear of God into opposing pitchers. Thus, when they enter the on deck circle pitchers take note and are careful to not give anybody in front of them a free pass. This means more fastballs for the hitters in front of the superstars and most players at the major league level can do significant damage against the fastball.
Be sure to check our Daily MLB Lineups each and everyday throughout the MLB season.
I will be completely honest here as I am not a big believer in the Vegas lines for major league baseball. In fact, I did a study on this last season that I will publish soon on these very pages. While Vegas is very good at what they do, we have to remember that they are not interested in predicting outcomes of games. They only want to set lines that will see action on both sides so that they can generate more action.
As much as I don’t like using the Vegas lines, I will say that early on in the season they can be used, as baseline for how high or low scoring a game will be. If you are using strategies such as stacking, the Vegas line can be of great use to you. After a few weeks we will have more information on these teams and players and thus won’t have to rely on the experts out in Vegas much at all.