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Daily Baseball 101: The Art of Stacking

Michael Rathburn

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. He was also nominated by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for Best Baseball Series in 2011.

One strategy in daily fantasy baseball is called stacking. Stacking is when you choose all of your hitters from the same team.

On FanDuel, they have limits to how many players you can take from the same team (four), so the term "mini-stacking" was derived. Mini-stacking is a strategy best used in large field tournaments in which you will have multiple entries. You are trying to hit on the best combination of two teams' hitters, because in baseball, single events can correlate with each other. For example, if your first and second hitters reach base, and your third hitter gets a homer, well, not only do you get the points from your third hitter, but then you get runs scored from the first and second hitters at the same time.

If you take four hitters from the same team, you want to try and select players who are also in consecutive batting order in their team's real lineup, as close as possible. The best combinations are 2/3/4/5, 1/2/3/4, and 3/4/5/6. One of the rules I have with mini-stacking is try and avoid taking left-handed batters (LHB) when they are going up against left-hand pitchers (left-handed pitching). The only time I'll buck that rule is if only one of the hitters in the stack is left-handed and it's the No. 3 hitter. Anthony Rizzo is an example of this, because he's hitting well against left-handed pitching this year (.308). Also, it's a good rule to avoid hitters in the 7/8/9 holes, because you lose at-bats as a result of them hitting lower in the order, plus those hitters could be replaced later on in the game due to relief pitching matchups.

I avoid situations like the one with the Nationals where Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche hit in the middle of the lineup, but the great thing about the Nationals is when they are going against lefties, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon are such lefty mashers that you can work them in along with others like Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond to create a good mini stack.

When delving a little more into the numbers, I look for the highest run totals (8.5 or higher), then look at what pitchers are the heaviest underdogs in those games. Another thing to consider is checking the wind. If it‘s blowing out at 15 mph or more, then you can look at mini-stacking in that game due to the added potential of home runs.

*The numbers below are based on FanDuel scoring from the 2014 season.

Lineup Spot (Average Points Per At-Bat)

3 = 0.70
4 = 0.64
5 = 0.60
2 = 0.58
1 = 0.57
6 = 0.53
7 = 0.50
8 = 0.48

Average 0.57

The numbers show that the 2/3/4/5 combination is highest performing mini stack of hitters.

Category Ranks Based on Batting Order

Single = 1/2/3/5/4/8/7/6
Double = 3/1/2/5/4/6/7/8
Triple = 1/2/5/8/7/6/3/4
Home Run = 4/3/5/6/2/7/1/8
Run Scored = 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8
RBI = 3/4/5/6/2/7/1/8
Walk = 3/4/1/2/5/8/6/7
Stolen Base = 1/2/3/8/5/7/6/4

This shows that no matter the category, you have a significant advantage taking hitters in the 1-5 spots in the batting order. The exception is the leadoff spot, which will not provide very much power but will give you stolen bases.

Best Mini Stacks by Team (Total Average Points Per At-Bat)

The No. 4 hitter for the A's averages 0.84 points per at-bat, with Brandon Moss having the majority of the at-bats in the four hole this season. Those are not, specifically, Moss' points per at-bat.

Athletics-3.07
4-Brandon Moss 0.84
3-Josh Donaldson 0.81
1-Coco Crisp 0.72
5-Derek Norris 0.70

Where you really want to mini stack the A's is against right-handed pitchers, but you don't want to play Moss against left-handed pitchers, because his wRC+ against left-handed pitching is 100, which his wRC+ is 121 against right-handed pitching. The A's love moving John Jaso up to No. 1 or No.2 spot in the lineup versus right-handed pitching, making Jaso and Moss a great set to pair. Crisp, Jaso, Moss, Stephen Vogt would be your optimal mini-stack against right-handed pitchers with Crisp, Donaldson, and Norris great against left-handed pitchers.

Blue Jays-3.04
3-Jose Bautista
4-Edwin Encarnacion
5-Dioner Navarro
7-Brett Lawrie/Colby Rasmus/Juan Francisco

With three switch hitters in the top five of the Blue Jays lineup, you can go either way with the Blue Jays. Ideally, you'd want to use Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Navarro, Francisco, Ryan Goins, and Colby Rasmus against right-handed pitchers and Reyes, Cabrera, and Bautista against left-handed pitchers.

Tigers-3.03
4-Victor Martinez
3-Miguel Cabrera
1-Ian Kinsler/Rajai Davis
5-J.D. Martinez/Torii Hunter

With such a heavy right-handed hitting lineup, you only want to use the Tigers against weak left-handed pitching.

Rockies-2.99
3-Troy Tulowitzki/Carlos Gonzalez
4-Troy Tulowitzki/Justin Morneau
2-Drew Stubbs/Corey Dickerson
6-Wilin Rosario/Justin Morneau

Use the Rockies at home, but never use them on the road.

Pirates-2.90
3-Andrew McCutchen
6-Ike Davis/Pedro Alvarez
5-Russell Martin
2-Neil Walker/Starling Marte

It's best to use the Pirates against left-handed pitching, especially at home, because McCutchen, Marte, Jordy Mercer, and Gaby Sanchez are great against left-handed pitchers.

Angels-2.85
2-Mike Trout
3-Albert Pujols
7-David Freese/C.J. Cron/Chris Iannetta
1-Kole Calhoun

Both Trout and Pujols are hitters that have good splits against righties and lefties, so you can go either way, but you should lean toward using them against left-handed pitching since they are right-handed hitters.

Dodgers-2.84
2-Yasiel Puig
3-Hanley Ramirez/Yasiel Puig
4-Adrian Gonzalez
6-Andre Ethier/Juan Uribe/Scott Van Slyke

Indians-2.78
3-Michael Brantley/Jason Kipnis
4-Carlos Santana
8-David Murphy/Yan Gomes
5-Lonnie Chisenhall

The Indians are one of the best teams to use against weak right-handed pitchers with Kipnis, Chisenhall, and Brantley all good left-handed batters.

White Sox-2.75
3-Jose Abreu/Conor Gillaspie
6-Alexei Ramirez/Conor Gillaspie
4-Adam Dunn/Dayan Viciedo/Jose Abreu
8-Alejandro De Aza/Tyler Flowers

Orioles-2.74
3-Adam Jones
2-Manny Machado/Steve Pearce
5-Chris Davis/Nelson Cruz
4-Adam Jones/Nelson Cruz/Chris Davis

Marlins-2.69
3-Giancarlo Stanton
4-Casey McGehee
6-Marcell Ozuna/Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Garrett Jones
1-Christian Yelich

Brewers-2.66
3-Jonathan Lucroy/Ryan Braun
1-Carlos Gomez
2-Ryan Braun/Scooter Gennett/Jean Segura
4-Aramis Ramirez/Carlos Gomez

Diamondbacks-2.66
3-Paul Goldschmidt
2-Aaron Hill
1-Ender Inciarte/A.J. Pollack
4-Miguel Montero

Nationals-2.62
3-Jayson Werth
4-Adam LaRoche
2-Anthony Rendon
5-Ryan Zimmerman/Ian Desmond

Cardinals-2.59
3-Matt Holliday
1-Matt Carpenter
5-Yadier Molina/Jhonny Peralta
2-Kolten Wong

Braves-2.59
3-Freddie Freeman
5-Jason Heyward/Chris Johnson/Evan Gattis
4-Justin Upton
1-Jason Heyward/B.J. Upton

Rangers-2.57
4-Adrian Beltre
5-Alex Rios
6-Mitch Moreland
8-Leonys Martin/Robinson Chirinos

Mets-2.55
4-Curtis Granderson/Lucas Duda
6-Lucas Duda
5-Chris Young
1-Eric Young/Curtis Granderson/Juan Legares

Phillies-2.55
5-Marlon Byrd
3-Chase Utley
4-Ryan Howard
2-Jimmy Rollins

Cubs-2.54
3-Anthony Rizzo
2-Junior Lake/Justin Ruggiano
4-Starlin Castro
7-Nate Schierholtz/Wellington Castillo/Mike Olt

Red Sox-2.54
3-David Ortiz/Dustin Pedroia
4-Mike Napoli/David Ortiz
5-Mike Napoli/Daniel Nava
1-Brock Holt/Dustin Pedroia

Astros-2.53
3-Jason Castro/George Springer
2-George Springer/Dexter Fowler
1-Jose Altuve
5-Matt Dominguez

Rays-2.51
3-Matt Joyce/Evan Longoria
7-Yunel Escobar/Matt Joyce
2-Ben Zobrist/Desmond Jennings
6-Brandon Guyer/Desmond Jennings

Yankees-2.47
1-Brett Gardner/Jacoby Ellsbury
4-Mark Teixeira
3-Jacoby Ellsbury/Carlos Beltran
2-Derek Jeter

Reds-2.44
4-Jay Bruce
5-Jay Bruce/Todd Frazier
2-Todd Frazier/Joey Votto
1-Billy Hamilton

Twins-2.40
1-Brian Dozier
7-Kurt Suzuki
2-Joe Mauer/Brian Dozier
5-Jason Kubel/Oswaldo Arcia/Josh Willingham

Giants-2.39
4-Pablo Sandoval/Michael Morse/Buster Posey
3-Buster Posey/Pablo Sandoval
2-Hunter Pence
8-Brandon Hicks/Brandon Crawford

Royals-2.39
5-Alex Gordon
8-Alcides Escobar/Mike Moustakas
6-Salvador Perez/Billy Butler
4-Billy Butler/Salvador Perez/Alex Gordon

Mariners-2.36
3-Robinson Cano
8-Mike Zunino/Dustin Ackley/Brad Miller
5-Kyle Seager
6-Kyle Seager/Mike Zunino

Padres-2.06
5-Jedd Gyorko/Yonder Alonso
7-Rene Rivera/Yonder Alonso
3-Seth Smith/Carlos Quentin
4-Yasmani Grandal