MLB DFS Strategy: Fresh Ingredients, Fresh Data
Posted from the 2015 season – still relevant, dig in! I spent all the All Star Break in an unfamiliar place. Instead of my typical day surrounded by numbers, monitors, live scoring, and information; I spent the break surrounded by fresh air and wildlife. Instead of navigating loads of information and making last minute adjustments, I found myself staring endlessly at mountains and lakes. The change was welcome. I had the time to appreciate my incredibly supportive wife and the vast beauty of the landscape around us. But most importantly, I had a lot of time to think.
When I played tennis in college, I’d often eschew rides from teammates to our post practice dinners. It wasn’t that I wanted to avoid being the seventh guy crammed into a five seat vehicle (though that didn’t hurt), but it was that I really valued the 15 minutes of introspection the walk allowed me. College came with a lot of opportunities and freedom, but also a lot of pressure. I wanted to prove I belonged both athletically and academically. I wanted to fit in socially. I wanted to find my way; I needed that time to really think each day about where I was going and how I was going to get there. I still need that time and over the All Star Break I got it. I was able to think about a lot of things personally and professionally: my relationship, my career and the state of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). It’s incredible how far DFS has come.
When I first started playing, information was sparse, contests were small, and the edge was huge. Over time, the information has become better, the contests are getting bigger, and the edge (while still there) has certainly decreased. I knew this would all happen over time, but I’ve always been surprised by how quickly things have moved (admittedly, we’re at fault for some of this). When we started providing content in 2013, the idea of using platoon splits or more comprehensive statistics like wOBA wasn’t as prevalent. Now it’s commonplace. The importance of park shifts, lineup positioning, and even umpires are becoming more commonplace. The market is getting more efficient and for some this is a really scary proposition. It’s harder to be haphazard as a player and still have success. You need to be tactical with your bankroll management and game selection to try to improve your probability of success.
As the industry grows, we’ll see newer screen names in the lobbies and subsequently newer faces providing content. During this time, some of the challenges of experienced players getting smarter will get mitigated by the influx of new players. Over time, those who make the best effort to find and understand which statistics matter will improve their games (and for some their content as well), but an edge will always remain. It will remain in the nuances of managing your bankroll, game selection and understanding data.
The latter is what I want to focus on today because I think a lot of people confuse knowing with understanding when it comes to data. We all know the ingredients that go into pizza, but still some pizzas are way better than others. Why? Because there is a skill involved in assembling the ingredients, and there is a skill involved in selecting the best quality of ingredients. While more people are familiar with wOBA or looking at platoon splits, not everyone is ensuring their ingredients are of the highest quality.