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DFS Baseball 101: Breaking Down Draftstreet Hitting

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. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

Cracking the code of the DraftStreet salary algorithm is something that only the hardcore players have tried over the years because it’s so heavily weighted on the most recent performance. An extreme example is the night that Lonnie Chisenhall put up 33 fantasy points, which caused his salary to jump from $5,746 to $11,323. His salary more than doubled because of that performance, and pushed him to the point you would never even consider playing him at such a high cost. Looking at the data, I’ve found one of the most important things to understand while playing on DraftStreet is identifying when a player’s salary is too high to even consider him for a roster spot. On the flip side, another key is also recognizing when a player’s salary has fallen so low that he’s a must play. Because hitting in daily fantasy baseball is extremely variant, it’s important to identify your benchmarks, then value. Taking $9K hitters with scrubs at catcher, second base and/or shortstop is not going to cut the mustard. You need to find value in the $5K-$8K range that will give you a floor, but also provide you with a high enough ceiling to win.

Salary Cap - $100,000
Roster - Three starting pitchers, nine hitters (Target $50,000 on Pitching/$50,000 on Hitting)
$5,555 average spent per hitter
$16,666 average spent per starting pitcher

DraftStreet Scoring Rules

HR = 4 points
1B = 1 point
2B = 2 points
3B = 3 points
RBI = 1.5 points
Runs = 1.5 points
SB = 2 points
CS = -1 point
BB = 0.75 points
HBP = 1 point
K = -0.75 points

Importance of wRC+

There’s more emphasis on making contact and creating runs on DraftStreet. While I always reference wOBA (weighted on base average), when looking at DraftStreet, I will also pull in wRC+ (weighted Runs Created plus). wRC+ measures how a player’s wRC compares versus the league average. A wRC+ of 125 would mean the player created 25 percent more runs than the league average. On the flip side, 80 would mean the player created 20 percent fewer runs than the league average. This stat is also park and league adjusted, allowing for an apples-to-apples comparison. Another reason I love wRC+ is that I know right away where a player stands versus the league average because baseline is 100.

Top Players wRC+ 135 or higher

LHB vs RHP (2013-2014) - Normally I would look at 3 years but you have to factor in players like Robinson Cano who have switched parks.

Chris Davis, Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Lind, David Ortiz, Matt Adams, Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Scooter Gennett, Robinson Cano (#1 from 2011-2014; should be downgraded now in Safeco and away from Yankee Stadium), Brandon Moss, Corey Dickerson, Bryce Harper, Matt Carpenter, Brandon Belt, Lucas Duda, Coco Crisp, Carlos Gonzalez, John Jaso, Kyle Seager, Daniel Nava, Adrian Gonzalez, Christian Yelich, Carlos Beltran

RHB vs LHP (165 or higher)

Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Jordy Mercer, David Wright, Justin Upton, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Cabrera, Derek Norris, Mike Trout, Khris Davis, Jayson Werth, Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Johnson, Aramis Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez, Scott Van Slyke, Hunter Pence, Paul Goldschmidt

When it comes to exposing splits, always go with RHB vs LHP. The data shows a significant advantage for the hitters. Also, I’ve even seen top daily fantasy players who have won tournaments while running out a lineup filled 100 percent with right-handed hitters against southpaws.

Basic Salary and Performance Breakdown

March 31 - June 27 (22,994 hitter performances)
Average Salary $5423
Average Score 2.3 points
Average Multiplier 0.43 (Salary/Points Per Game)

High Score: 33 (Lonnie Chisenhall)
Low Score: -3.75 (Shin Soo-Choo)

High Salary: $11,927 Edwin Encarnacion
Low Salary: $1,158 Chris Carter (Most of the time the minimum salary is $2,500)

High Score by Position

C - Ryan Hanigan 21.75
1B/DH - Paul Goldschmidt 28.5
2B - Jedd Gyorko 20.5
3B - Lonnie Chisenhall 33
SS - Hanley Ramirez 25.5
OF - Ryan Braun 27, Charlie Blackmon 24.5, Alex Gordon 23.5

The highest ceiling positions are first base, third base and outfield.

Average Points by Position

C - 2.0
1B/DH - 2.6
2B - 2.15
3B - 2.43
SS - 2.17
OF - 2.35

Salary and production correlate here; expect to get more production out of first base, third base and shortstop.

Average Salary by Position

C- $4804
1B/DH - $6150
2B - $5241
3B - $5383
SS - $5036
OF - $5590

Expect to pay more at your first base, third base and outfield positions while saving at catcher, second base and shortstop.

Average Multiplier by Position

C - 0.42
1B/DH - 0.45
2B - 0.40
3B - 0.45
SS - 0.43
OF - 0.42

Top Value Plays (Average Salary/Average Points Per Game)

C - Devin Mesoraco (0.65), Derek Norris (0.55), Victor Martinez (0.54)
1B/DH - C.J. Cron (0.58), Steve Pearce (0.57), Adam LaRoche (0.56), Anthony Rizzo (0.55)
2B - Jose Altuve (0.60), Gordon Beckham (0.58), Jonathan Schoop (0.55)
3B - Todd Frazier (0.61), Brock Holt (0.60), Lonnie Chisenhall (0.59), Kyle Seager (0.57), Anthony Rendon (0.56)
SS - Alcides Escobar (0.58), Chris Owings (0.58), Asdrubal Cabrera (0.56), Erick Aybar (0.56), Starlin Castro (0.55)
OF - JD Martinez (0.76), Gregory Polanco (0.69), Michael Brantley (0.60), Denard Span (0.59), Corey Dickerson (0.57), Lorenzo Cain (0.57), Khris Davis (0.55)

These are the players who have represented the best value for the season on DraftStreet based on their average salary/points per game.

Target Scores

Target Score Cash Games – 60 points [30 pitching 30 hitting] (Multiplier target 0.60); 3.3 points per hitter
Target Score Tournaments (Place in the Money) – 75 points [37.5 pitching 37.5 hitting] (0.75); 4.2 points per hitter
Target Score Tournaments/Qualifiers (1st place) – 100 points [50 pitching 50 hitting] (1.00); 5.5 points per hitter

How often do these multiplier targets happen for hitters?

0.60 = 31 percent
0.75 = 25 percent
1.00 = 2 percent

How often do these point per game targets hit?

3.3 = 29 percent
4.2 = 21 percent
5.5 = 17 percent

The goal is to find as many opportunities for players to hit at least a 0.60 multiplier and 3.3 points per game to win in cash games consistently. The numbers show on average that scenario hits 30 percent of the time.

Salary Value Breakdown

$10,000-$11,927 (147 players)/Average Multiplier 0.37 / 3.85 points per game
$9000-$9999 (409 players)/Average Multiplier 0.40 / 3.77 points per game
$8000-$8999 (898 players)/Average Multiplier 0.39 / 3.29 points per game
$7000-$7999 (1923 players)/Average Multiplier 0.43 / 3.19 points per game
$6000-$6999 (3891 players)/Average Multiplier 0.45 / 2.91 points per game
$5000-$5999 (5950 players)/Average Multiplier 0.43 / 2.32 points per game
$4000-$4999 (5911 players)/Average Multiplier 0.42/ 1.89 points per game
$3000-$3999 (2936 players)/Average Multiplier 0.44 / 1.58 points per game
$0-$2999 (935 players)/Average Multiplier 0.43 / 1.15 points per game

There is better value in the $9K-$9999 range versus $10K+, but you can see the drop off in production between $8000-$8999. Look at the dropoff in production from the $6000-$6999 range and $5000-$5999. As you go further down the salary chart, the higher the risk. Finding those mid-tier value plays and mini stacking would be the preferred strategy.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.