This article is part of our DRAFT MLB series.DRAFT MLB: Overview and Introductory Strategy
For those who love daily fantasy sports but miss the excitement of traditional drafting, DRAFT has you covered. DRAFT is a DFS platform which allows users to join contests that utilize snake drafts instead of a salary cap system for player selection. For a standard contest, users will have 30 seconds per pick to choose five players (one pitcher, two infielders, and two outfielders). From there, DRAFT functions like a typical DFS contest, with players receiving points for various things that occur on the field.
Over the course of this article series, we will look at various aspects of DRAFT and discuss strategies and tactics to help players get a handle on the format. Before moving to the meat of our first entry, however, I thought it might be helpful to look at the scoring system to get a better sense of what we should be targeting as we prepare to select players.
It is worth noting that pitchers don't get penalized for anything other than earned runs. This could give a slight bump to hurlers who allow baserunners but the major takeaway here is that wins are worth four times as much as any other category. It is for this reason that players would be wise to prioritize strong matchups for their pitcher as well as the team that plays behind him.
On the hitter's side, we can see that a walk is as good as a single, while a stolen base will only net us one more point than a base hit. This could lead to a bit of a de-emphasis on steals in favor of players who get on base but ultimately our goal is still to find hitters who can leave the yard.
Now that we have all the general stuff out of the way, I want to outline a couple of strategies we can use to take advantage of DRAFT's format in order to create an optimal lineup on a daily basis.
No Salary Cap Means no Constraints
Often times in traditional DFS formats we find ourselves scouring the landscape for acceptable low-cost options. The reason for this is that we need to save money in order to afford that high-priced hitter or pitcher we expect to have a big night. Those limitations disappear in a snake draft meaning we are free to build our lineups the way we see fit. This format heavily favors the strong researcher, as we can systematically select our favorite plays while our opponents simply rush to take the top names off the board.
Prioritize Position Players
In the scoring rubric above we saw that pitchers only get one point for the majority of their scoring situations while getting the same amount deducted for allowing an earned run. This means that a big night from a hitter will generally have more impact than a big night from a pitcher. The disparity between points given to hitters and pitchers was on full display Tuesday, as Trevor Bauer received only 20 points for his eight-inning, 12-strikeout gem against the Reds, while Francisco Lindor received 16 points for a 1-for-5 night that included a homer and two RBIs. There aren't many DFS sites that would have had Lindor in the same universe as Bauer in terms of point total, making this a quirk that players must understand in order to build the best lineups possible.
Embrace the Stack
With only five players to choose, the level of variance figures to be much lower than it would be in your standard DFS format. Therefore, it should pay to get multiple quality bats in a juicy situation. This could be particularly useful in games that take place in high-scoring run environments (Colorado, Texas etc.) as the draft format means there is only one player to a team, meaning we could take some of the best matchups off the board with some aggressive drafting.
Three Plays for Wednesday
Jose Ramirez, (INF) CLE vs. CIN – Opposing starter Tyler Mahle has been hit hard by lefties in 2018, as evidenced by the .550 slugging percentage and .396 wOBA he has allowed over 46 innings. Meanwhile, Ramirez has crushed right-handed pitchers to the tune of a .347 ISO and a .433 wOBA in 242 at-bats.
Freddy Peralta, (P) MIL at MIA – Peralta has been a revelation for the Brewers in 2018, notching a 2.14 ERA to go along with a blistering 36.2 percent strikeout rate in 33.2 innings (six starts). He has registered an 8.6 RAA with his fastball over that span. The Marlins have been one of the worst teams against right-handed pitching this season according to wOBA and Peralta may be able to withstand a few rounds of drafting, as there are several big-name pitchers on the evening docket.
Giancarlo Stanton, (OF) NYY at BAL – Dylan Bundy has thrown the ball well overall this season but owns a fastball that has yielded a -5.8 RAA and has allowed 11 homers to right-handed hitters in 53.2 innings. Stanton has notched a 17.1 RAA against the fastball while logging a .190 ISO against righties.