One of the more overlooked aspects of DFS is plate appearances. The number of times a player steps to the dish is huge. How relevant the following is to your personal analysis depends of what goes into your analysis. If you scan lineups looking for good matchups without breaking out the spreadsheet there will be some information integral to your preparation. If you use a spreadsheet, chances are you incorporate some if not all of this. As an example, the daily projections I provide for Fantasy Alarm have all of this rolled in. If you use them, further adjusting based on one of the ensuing graphs would be in essence double dipping.

All of the following charts use combined data from 2012-2014 broken into Home AL, Away AL, Home NL and Away NL, looking at the nine batting order spots.

Let's first look at plate appearances per game.

As was discussed last week, hitters receive more plate appearances on the road and that's clearly shown here. The two away lines are basically parallel with the AL being a little higher since more runs are tallied in the junior circuit and teams hit in all nine innings so there's a better chance the bottom of the order come up..

It's a bit tough to see but the plate appearances for the top of the order essentially overlap between the leagues then slowly separate which makes sense since more games stop higher up in the order without last up. The small differences aren't what's really important. The most pertinent observation from this chart is hitters get more chances on the road.

With that as a backdrop, let's get right to the crux of this discussion. What follows are three graphs illustrating the number of points each position in the batting order averages per game home and away, per league on these three DFS sites: Fantasy Aces, FanDuel and Draft Kings.


You've probably heard the top five spots in the order are preferred and here you can visualize why. The three-hole is best, then clean-up, with lead-off, second and fifth flip-flopping between sites, depending on the scoring (more on that in a minute). The sixth spot is below that group and the rest keeps slipping downward. It's not so much that the dip to sixth is any steeper than the other drops, but more that 1st, 5th and 2nd are all close so you can't exclude any of those and leave ample inventory from which to choose. On most slates, there should be sufficient stock to not have to use players hitting sixth or lower unless the price is extremely attractive.

If the purpose of a stack is to maximize point-scoring efficiency, not only should the best stacks utilize players adjacent in the order, but they also should include the number three hitter, especially in the National League. In fact, on Fantasy Aces, a 1-2-3 stack looks most efficient while on FanDuel and Draft Kings, a 3-4-5 combo averages more points. As is explained below, there are reasons for this which will be investigated in future essays.

With the repeated disclaimer that a properly designed projection system will factor the above into its algorithm, it's a bit curious that the top point scorer is the three-hole hitter from the senior circuit. Intuitively, shouldn't it be an American Leaguer since there are more runs scored in the American League? Let's break down some of the stats that go into generating fantasy points, presented on a per game basis.


This shows the three-hole hitter in the NL accrues more total bases per game than his AL counterpart, which obviously contributes to the difference in points. What's interesting is it appears the difference between the three and four hitter in the AL is less than that in the NL, suggesting the NL more often puts their best hitter in the three-hole. How about looking at runs plus RBI?


Here you can really see the impact of the pitcher hitting in the National League with the American League slope being flatter than the National League.

As alluded to earlier, there's some additional studies that elaborate the differences in scoring between the different sites, focusing on walks, strikeouts and steals but we'll save that for another time. There's a lot here to digest and simply check out as a baseball fan. 

Since it's so important, I'll repeat it one last time. What you see above is incorporated into my little black box that generates daily projections. But if you're more of an intuitive player there are some actionable visual observations that can help you piece together a winning lineup.