MLB H2H and 50/50 Lineup Strategy
More so than any other sport, baseball is a different animal when it comes to lineup building between head-to-head and 50/50 play (known as “cash games”) versus tournament play. Since baseball naturally has more variance on a nightly basis, you can take a lot of risks with tournament lineups. General cash games should revolve around reducing that variance as much as you can. With that, let’s get started with a few key principles to building those cash game lineups.
Principle #1 – It all starts with the pitching
The most consistent element in baseball is starting pitching. In general, a stud pitcher will give you a decent point total 80 to 90 percent of the time he pitches. Even the best hitters only have good games 50-60 percent of the time. Therefore, it’s only natural to recommend spending on your pitcher for your cash games.
Even if this makes your pitching take up a good chunk of your salary cap, it’s the most important position for your team in cash games, especially on sites on which you only get one pitcher. On multiple-pitcher sites, it’s probably best to look for one stud and one mid-range pitcher. Bottom-barrel shopping for starting pitching isn’t generally the best idea for any type of cash game, no matter the site. The Clayton Kershaws, Adam Wainwrights, and Stephen Strasburgs of the world are your best friend in cash contests.
Principle #2 – Take chances with a couple hitters
In order to fit those good pitchers on your teams, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to take a chance with some of your hitters. The good news is that this is okay. Even on good nights, you’re going to have a hitter who goes 0-for-4 with a strikeout. It happens in baseball. Get used to it if you aren’t already, because it’s a daily occurrence.
Whether it’s Miguel Cabrera or Henry Blanco, some of your hitters will have off nights. Take a chance on a minimum-priced shortstop who is getting a start at Coors Field. Take a chance on a cheap guy who’s hitting .400 over his last 10 games. Pick your spots, look for guys who are starting and have some trends in their favor, and plug in a few bargains.
Principle #3 – Target lineup and matchup beneficiaries
This is where your biggest edge will come in MLB. Contrary to many of the other popular sports, you will know virtually every team’s starting lineup before the games lock for the night. This can be your best friend.
Let’s say the Angels have a bench guy who destroys left-handed pitching and is say, 8-for-16 in his career against a certain left-handed pitcher. Then say the Angels decide to hit him second in the batting order that night because of those factors, right in between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. I don’t care who this player is; he has just become one of the top plays of the night. This is an extreme case, but looking at left/right matchup splits and batting orders, then picking out guys that have multiple factors in their advantage is the single biggest key to long-term profitability in daily fantasy baseball.
Principle #4 – Don’t expect perfection
Even if you follow all these things, you will have awful nights in MLB. There will be nights when you think you have everything nailed and your hitters will go 3-for-39. Your ace pitcher will get shelled by the Houston Astros at home. These things happen from time to time, and on a single night baseball can be your worst enemy.
However, if you stick to bankroll management principles and trust your research methods, having a sound system will net you long-term profits in MLB more so than any other sport. You just have to learn to ride the waves of ups and downs, especially when it comes to your bread-and-butter of cash games. When the downs happen, don’t get discouraged. Stick to your principles and profitability should win out in the long run.
Best of luck this MLB season!