DraftKings Arcade Mode Breakdown: Friday, May 19th
Hello Grinders. We made it to Friday and are rewarded with a nice 14-game main slate. This article will be dedicated to the new DraftKings Arcade Mode game. As of Friday morning, DraftKings does not have an Arcade Mode slate with the 9:35am EST Red Sox-A’s game featuring Chris Sale, so I’m treating this as a 13-game slate without that game.
I’ve seen a lot of comments on RotoGrinders that it’s much easier to play and it’s very enjoyable, but that there’s a lot more randomness to the scoring. I personally have been playing it as well and like the format, but I hear you on the random comment. Can we really predict grand slams? Probably not. But the goal of this article is to break down the slate in a way that focuses on certain aspects of the Arcade Mode scoring to help us approach it as we would the normal game format. With that said, let’s dive in:
The first thing we need to do is take a step back and look at the Arcade Mode scoring. What types of players should we target? Here are the scoring rules:
There are a few things that stick out to me:
1. Rosters are smaller since you’re only drafting 6 players instead of the traditional 10. Additionally, Arcade Mode is broken up into smaller slates. This means there’s likely to be more player overlap and why I would stress the importance of game theory in these contests (we’ll get to this more later).
2. Home runs and steals are emphasized in this format. In the old format you’d get 10 points for a home run and 5 points for a steal; in Arcade Mode it’s 15 points and 12.5 points, respectively. Additionally, the “Jack and a Bag” combo (thanks Pepsi7) nets you a 10 point bonus.
3. Strikeouts are still king. In this new format, you still want to target strikeout-heavy pitchers who can go deep into games to help you with the innings pitched points and hopefully grab you the win too, which is now worth 9 points instead of 4 points. But because scoring is so hitting-dependent, you could make the case to punt at pitcher and focus on bats.
4. Participation trophies are being handed out for hitters. Honestly, the 1 point for a plate appearance doesn’t mean much to me. There’s nothing more tilting than seeing your score move up 1 point because you know your batter just made an out. Some might argue this scoring encourages you to play hitters near the top of the lineup or who don’t get pinch hit for so you can get the extra 1 point but in the grand scheme of things, 1 point in Arcade Mode is not very important.
One thing I need to emphasize: don’t be afraid to take risks. As I mentioned above, game theory is still important in Arcade Mode. A few nights ago, someone won $10,000 by rostering a 0.6% owned Tyler Collins who double-donged. And I can’t explain how someone won $1,000 playing a 0.2% owned Mark Canha who went nuclear for 98.25 points. If you see an off-the-wall play you like, do it.
With that said, let’s work on today’s slate but approach it in a slightly different way. I’m going to focus on five sections that emphasize the scoring of Arcade Mode to see if we can identify good spots for the hitters and pitchers.
Below is a list of the HR/9 career ratios of all 26 starting pitchers on today’s slate. The biggest way to leapfrog to the top of the scoreboard is home run hunting. I’m using their career averages because some pitchers have been injured this season and their small samples skew the data. Now I understand this can be slightly misleading. For example, gas can Jered Weaver’s early career success hides the fact he’s giving up homers left and right now. But I’d rather work with a larger sample if possible:
The takeaway for me is you can target guys like Trevor Williams and Ariel Miranda, and of course, Jered Weaver. Williams is pitching in PNC park today so that will help suppress some of the power against him, but the Phillies have enough power that you can throw a dart at some of their hitters like Aaron Altherr or Tommy Joseph. As for Miranda, White Sox players such as Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, and Matt Davidson are in play. Heck, even ex home run derby champ Todd Frazier isn’t so crazy.
Below is a list of the number of steals each starting pitcher has allowed so far this season, and how many he allowed last season:
I was surprised to see Nate Karns atop the list. Brian Dozier and Byron Buxton have the most speed on the Twins and have Jack and a Bag upside. Not only is Jered Weaver a gas can, but he gave up the most steals last year with 20. The Diamondbacks are easily one of the best 2-man stacks to target if you’re playing on that slate, as Paul Goldschmidt has stolen 10 bases, and projected leadoff man Gregor Blanco has 2 already in only 9 games with the team.
The Jack and a Bag
Hitting home runs is hard. Stealing bags is hard. Doing both of them in the same game is even harder. Below is a list of players who have done the elusive Jack and a Bag so far this season. Is this list predictive that they will do it again? I have no idea. But hitting home runs and stealing bases requires skill, and I like to take note of who has been willing to do it thus far.
Ring Me Up
Below are the career K/9 ratios of all the starting pitchers. Again, the goal of your starting pitcher should be to nabs strikeouts and go deep into games. Same caveat as above, that I’m using career numbers to gather a larger sample size but skills can change as players develop. For example, Charlie Morton is now throwing straight heat and has added 5 MPH to his fastball:
Not surprising, but Jacob deGrom tops the list. If you’re paying up, he has a nice matchup against the Angels. If you’re willing to pay down, Luis Severino has a nice matchup against the strikeout prone Rays. I don’t hate Nate Karns either but would prefer he was pitching in Kaufman Stadium instead of Target Field, so he’s definitely a boom/bust play. Alex Wood is another name that pops from the list. Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Bauer are prone to losing their control at any moment, so play at your own risk. I won’t be going there.
Ah, the always controversial Batter vs Pitcher (BvP). I’m not going debate whether BvP data is predictive here, I’ll leave that to the smart guys on Twitter. But what is interesting to me in Arcade Mode is the 5 point First Hit bonus. It’s a little odd to reward a hitter for getting their first hit but I like looking at BvP data for this. My thinking is that if a hitter has faced a pitcher before and has had some decent success in the past, it’s possible it will be easier to get another hit for the 5 point bonus compared to a hitter who is facing this pitcher for the first time. Again, I completely understand the “BvP is not predictive” argument, but this is my article and I’m going to write whatever I want. Here are some BvP numbers that stood out to me:
Chris Davis has just owned Aaron Sanchez. Could Davis strike out three times today? Sure, it’s Chris Davis. Sanchez could also just choose to walk Davis, as he’s done 10 times in their careers against each other. The Mets also have some solid BvP against Ricky Nolasco and make for an interesting 2-man stack between Bruce/Reyes/Walker. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are also noteworthy, as they’ve had success against the knuckleball so far.
My favorite Arcade Mode pitchers for today if you aren’t paying up for Jacob deGrom are Luis Severino, Charlie Morton, Alex Wood, and Taijuan Walker, depending on which slate you’re playing. My suggestion is not to YOLO the pitcher spot today but pay for one of those guys and hunt for homers. If you’re chasing steals, Nate Karns is a good pitcher to target. And I don’t need to reminder you to pick on Jered Weaver, but so will everyone else.
The Mets, Phillies, and White Sox are contrarian power team pivots off the Diamondbacks and Rangers, as I expect people to pick on Jered Weaver and Nick Martinez. If you’re chasing BvP, Chris Davis, Jay Bruce, and Jayson Werth have good career numbers. Again, don’t be afraid to get crazy with some of your picks. If Mark Canha win a GPP, you Canha too (sorry that was awful but I had to try).
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter here. Let me know your thoughts on this article as I’d be open to doing more in the future if you find it helpful. If you also have any feedback regarding anything in here, drop me a comment below. Good luck tonight.