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Advanced MLB DFS: Streakiness

We continue our breakdown of the basics for MLB DFS. In this section, we look at streakiness, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals at bat during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 20, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

If you have reached this level, you’ve likely been playing some form of fantasy baseball for a while now. We might think about fundamentals as applicable to beginners, but there are fundamentals even an expert level player can learn — or at least brush up on. For DFS, that means understanding how the batted ball profile statistics can help you build your lineups.

Streakiness

Definition

A streak for hitters can be defined in many ways. Your traditional hitting streak is when a player gets a hit in consecutive games, with Joe DiMaggio owning the record with 56 straight games with a hit. Of course, when we are talking about DFS, we are more interested in multi-hit, multi-RBI games bunched together, as those type of games help us win tournaments.

Strategy

Are streaks predictive?

Hitting streaks are a real thing but the question is, can you know when a player is on one and use that to predict how he will perform? The answer is, you can’t. Does that mean there aren’t players you can see are healthy, seeing the ball well, hitting line drives and stealing bases more than usual? No, there are obviously players who are at their best and sustaining that play for an extended period of time. But, there is little way to quantify those seemingly real streaks with streaks that come from more random factors.

Luck

One way to help identify if a player who is seemingly on a streak can continue to put up good numbers is to check on how lucky he has been. A high BABIP and HR/FB compared to career averages is one way to show that maybe the hitter is just getting lucky or at the very least, is on a streak that could end quickly.

DFS Pricing

Looking at a player’s last week of at bats is not as predictive for future play as looking at his last 1,000 at bats, even in the short term. So, when a player has put together a strong bunch of games, his ownership numbers and price will rise. High ownership and price are two things we don’t want in DFS. Going against the grain is usually the better long term move in these types of situations.

Don’t go against the grain on principle though. You still want to find optimal matchups, and if those happen to coincide with a player who is on a “streak,” then you’ll need to weight his price and possible high ownership into your decision. But, on average, I rather have a modestly priced player who hasn’t been putting up big numbers compared to his career averages who is also in an optimal spot.