May 17, 2014

Daily fantasy baseball picks for Saturday’s early games only.  I turned around my fortunes with last night’s games, so I’m playing afternoon baseball.  (Gambling be like that!)  You can sign-up for my free daily fantasy baseball picks here.

Pitching

  • Shelby Miller– I’m happy to stake my afternoon on this guy.  The splits favor it!  Last year, Miller had a 2.62 era during day games, compared to a still good 3.17 at night.  Importantly, he also had a 1.75 at home compared to a 4.57 on the road.  That’s a pronounced difference.  This year’s numbers also bear out the trend, though more modestly.  He is facing a good Braves team, but those splits can’t be ignored.  Also, I think Aaron Harang is still in the process of coming back to earth.  He’s an over 4 era guy this year, despite his white hot start.

Hitting

  • Jhonny Peralta  – I think he will be among those helping Miller to victory.  He’s 10-28 lifetime against the Braves veteran right-hander.  He also has two homeruns against him.  He’s hit in three straight and in 9 of his last 10.  Peralta has eight homers on the year.

Lineup Stack

  • Nationals– When I saw they let Bartolo Colon out of assisted living for this one, I had to stack the lineup!  In all seriousness, his last outing was atrocious.  I think his (likely) steroid aided swan song of last year is just about over.  In limited at-bats, it seems quite a few Nationals see the ball off Colon.  (Legal disclaimer: I have no idea if Colon is actually using steroids, nor do I know if he does or not qualify for Medicare.)

Value

  • Nate McLouth – Part of my lineup stack  against Colon will include lefty McLouth.  He’s out to a super-slow start with only 7 hits in 62 at-bats, but the guy can play and Colon is old.  Careful, however, in case Colon breaks a hip and the Mets bring in a lefty.  Hairston will be batting for Nate.

Pick of the Afternoon

  • Peralta– Hot hitter, good history against Harang.  I like it!

May 16, 2014

DFB Picks for Friday night 

Not only have my picks been cold lately, guys have been getting hurt.  I picked Fernandez.  Within days he needs Tommy John.  Hopefully I don’t send anyone to Dr. Andrews this evening.

Also, take note: Yankees-Pirates is already rained out and multiple others are in jeopardy.

Pitching

  • Jered Weaver– Weaver is on a roll.  From my perspective, he’s doing it relatively quietly and under the radar, but maybe I’m just not paying enough attention.  In his last three outings, Weaver is 3-0 with a 1.83 era and 18 strikeouts.  Pretty strong lines.  Fanduel backs up my under the radar theory, as they are only pricing him at 7.6.  Will Myers has a good history against him, and is heating up.  I might play them both in a head to head matchup.  If you want security, spend the money on Darvish.  If you really want to go out on a limb, go with Miley.  The Dodgers don’t hit lefties well, with the second lowest team batting average in the majors against southpaws.

Hitting

  • Adam Dunn  – He’s back from a calf injury.  And everyone has learned what Abreu can do.  Jose gets pitched around tonight by the young, weak starter.  Dunn cashes in.

Lineup Stack

  • White Sox– Big bats against a guy who shouldn’t be pitching in the majors.

Pick of the Day

  • Dunn– Can I get two homeruns?

Can this be Done with an Algorithm?

Can daily fantasy baseball be reduced to an algorithm?  I don’t know, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

The Comparison to Stocks

The stock market used to seem random.  To large degree, it is still deemed to be random.  However, there are numerous algorithms that have been invented to handicap the stock market.  Literally thousands of data points are analyzed.  Using the whole history of the stock market, including all securities traded thereon, data is analyzed for patterns.  If history were to predict the future, there’d be a fortune in knowing when and how.

Backtesting

The idea of using past data and it’s patterns

An Algorithm as Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy

The same concept applies in daily fantasy sports, and particularly in daily fantasy baseball.  What would history reveal?  For instance…

  • If a guy hits a homerun yesterday, are the chance greater or less than standard that he hits one today?
  • If a guy threw a shutout last time out, does he pitch better than his season average this time out?
  • If a guy is hitting better than his season average over his last seven games, what’s the liklihood he hits a homerun tonight?

The examples are numerous.  Last night, I tried something.  I said, I want to find a guy who is hitting better than his season average over his last 7 games, who hit a homerun yesterday and either has a favorable lefty-righty matchup or has hit a homerun and walked off the opposing starter.

Huh?

You have to try something, right?  Turns out, that set of criteria produced a few more guys than one starting lineup.  I used the best salary combination I could find to create a few teams.  I was so proud of my genius algorithm.  I was starting guys I had barely noticed all season.

Probably the worst night of my daily fantasy season.  Nobody hit.  A good night out of a few starters was nullified by a complete lack of offense.  However, I know I’m onto something.

It’s a Huge Amount of Data

I’m not talking about doing something I can do in half an hour just from looking at a few matchup sheets.  I’m talking about the whole history of baseball.  I’m talking about multivariate analysis on every hitter who has ever played the game.  I’m talking about bayesian logic applied to our national pastime.  It’s not crazy.  Ask Billy Beane.

The Biggest Daily Fantasy Baseball Money Leagues are Huge

The amount of money in daily fantasy sports at this point is enormous.  I’m not talking about your fantasy football league that has a $500 season long buy-in with the winner taking home a few grand.  I’m talking about multi-thousand dollar contests running nightly and lasting one day.  And it seems to be growing exponentially every season.  There’s money to be won here.

Maybe It’s Random

Of course, maybe there is no secret to be unlocked.  Maybe in studying history in an insanely deep and statistical way will prove that finding value and consistent performance in daily fantasy baseball cannot be reduced to an algorithm.  Maybe it’s random.  (Not completely random as the good players will be good and the not-so-good will be, well, not-so-good.)  But unlocking the value might be random.

Performance, Salary Value is Secondary

It’s a function of the salary algorithm to some degree too.  Fanduel will create salaries differently than Draftday, for example.  The value is obviously a function of cost.  However, despite the differences between the sites, I don’t think it matters.  The key is finding hitters statistically likely to perform, then constructing lineups around that information with salary as a secondary factor.

Conclusion

You need the data set.  In essence, every box score in history.  Then you need insane mathematical chops.  I mean Ramanujan mathematical chops.  Or at least the ability to program a computer to tap into that kind of data analysis.  But my hypothesis is you find data useful as daily fantasy baseball predictive information.  I also predict it won’t be too long before it’s completely worth it.  These fantasy games are getting huge.  The money at stake is insane.