Daily Fantasy Baseball 101: Batting Order

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Daily Fantasy Baseball Series:  Ballpark Factors

By: Jonathan Piening

A player’s spot in the lineup is one of the most important factors to consider when making your daily fantasy picks.  The higher a player is hitting in the lineup, the more expected plate appearances that player is going see each game.  The leadoff hitter can expect to see about 4.6 plate appearances per game while the 9 hole hitter is about 3.75.  That’s a major difference.  The steep decline actually starts once you hit the sixth spot in the lineup, so you’ll want to keep your exposure to guys in the top 5 spots in the lineup if at all possible.

Players hitting in the 1-2 spots can be expected to score more runs while the players in the 3-5 spots can be expected to have more RBI opportunities.  Runs and RBI’s typically are scored the same so getting opportunities for both in the 1-5 spots is where a lot of a player’s output will come from.  Let’s take a look at a couple players, Corey Seager and Byron Buxton, to illustrate how their lineup spot impacted their value last year.

For a majority of his plate appearances last year, Byron Buxton was hitting 9th for the Twins, making him virtually unusable from a DFS standpoint.  He was seeing almost 1 less plate appearance per game than his teammate Brian Dozier, who was leading off.  If Dozier was 0-4 going into the 9th inning and goes yard, he had a great game from a DFS standpoint.  If Buxton is 0-4 in that same game, he likely won’t get the opportunity to come through like Dozier did.  Buxton did spend some time at leadoff last year as well, so if he can hit up towards the top of the order, we can expect him to be a usable fantasy asset for us and someone to target assuming he is producing.

Corey Seager made his debut in September of last year and largely spent most of his initial games batting 6th, which is right on that cutoff line I discussed before.  He was still usable (6th is the last spot to average 4+ plate appearances), but we were hoping he would make the most of his plate appearances, knowing it would generally be closer to 4 than 5.  As October approached, Seager began getting appearances in those prime spots hitting anywhere from 2nd-5th.  This is when we really wanted to roster Seager, and will look to do the same this year as he’ll be a fixture in the top 5 of that Dodger order.

Most players have a locked in spot in the lineup where they make 80%+ of their plate appearances.  These players will be priced accordingly.  The guys in the top 1-5 will be scoring the most runs, driving in the most runs, and getting the most plate appearances each game for the opportunity to produce fantasy points so they will likely be higher priced.  The guys batting 6-9 will generally not be producing as much so their prices will generally be lower.  The opportunity we look for is when one of the guys that typically hit 6-9 jumps into the 1-5 spot.  Their expected plate appearances go up as does their expected output.  Keep an eye out for guys that may start the season towards the bottom of the lineup and get spot starts up towards the top or prospects like Seager who see their value rise as they rise up the batting order.

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