Daily Fantasy Sports:
Adjusting for Scoring

May 22, 2012 -

By Steve Grantz—Here we go again.

After a mediocre attempt at tackling daily NFL fantasy, I have jumped in again as a novice to swing at daily fantasy baseball.Since I am paying for lessons, I am starting absolutely small, putting $1 into 3- or 5-team leagues using a larger salary cap of $35,000 for nine position players and a pitcher.

I have also needed to learn the scoring system.


What has struck me first is how simple the pitching scoring is. A strikeout is worth 1 point, an earned run loses a point. Every inning pitched is 1 point, recorded in fractions, so each out is worth 0.33 points. A win is worth 5 points.

As a fan of advanced metrics, that scoring system for pitching makes me feel dirty. In particular, weighing the win designation so heavily in the scoring feels wrong. A pitcher can control only so much—basically throwing strikes or balls, inducing ground balls versus fly balls.  And even that is on just one side of the game— defense. A win is determined just as much on the offensive side. A pitcher’s efforts mean little (in the NL) or nothing (in the AL) for how his own team does at the plate. Wins are pretty much a poor indicator of pitcher performance, and also not so easy to predict.

So that being the case, I have been trying to ignore those fat 5 points and instead to concentrate on what I think a pitcher can control— namely strikeouts and efficiency (innings pitched).

Using a common fantasy technique, I also want to look at matchups. Since strikeouts score me points, and runs against hurt me, I want to see which teams are more prone to swing and miss, and not score runs. The current top three teams in strikeouts are the the the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, and Arizona Diamondbacks. The teams with the lowest run production are the Pirates, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics (the Orioles strike out a lot, but they put up runs in bunches).

Looking at both team strikeouts and runs scored, Pittsburgh and Oakland look to be good opponents.

Checking the matchups, that gives me a choice of R.A. Dickey (NYM at PIT) for $7,100 against the salary, and C.J. Wilson (LAA at OAK) for $7,500. Both are cheaper than top priced Roy Halladay ($8,900) for comparison. C.J Wilson is the better known name, but his last three outings have been unimpressive. Two outings were against a tough Texas Rangers team. Most recently, though, Wilson lasted just 2 2/3 innings against another free swinging middle-of-the-road offensive team, the Chicago White Sox. I’ll take a chance, pocket the spare $400 in salary, and go with R. A. Dickey against the worst offense in baseball.

Written by

Steve Grantz grew up in South Philadelphia, graduated from Central High and went to Penn. Steve works in the software industry to pay for his taste in food and wine, and uses his winnings in weekly poker games to plug up leaks in his sports wagering.

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