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Daily Fantasy Baseball Advice: How to Learn from Losing

Learning from Losing
by John of

I saw an interview with Tiger Woods a few years back where he was asked if he loved to win more then he hated to lose. He said that he hated to lose more. Now somewhere up on Tiger's list was an unbridled passion for running around with other women but we will try our hardest to stay on topic here.

As an embattled daily competitor in the fantasy sports realm I can understand fully what Tiger meant. A winning night in fantasy baseball is awesome and can be very profitable. You go to bed peacefully as a victor. When the new dawn comes however and the money is in the account, the previous battle is over and today's matchups are what counts. It is the nights on which I lose that I might toss and turn some...wondering how I went wrong and itching to get back in the ring and try again tomorrow.

I like to get up early the next day and look at my losing squad to take notes on where I might have made poor decisions when selecting my salary cap team. A few common themes have usually resulted in my demise of that day. Perhaps it would be best to break them down one at a time.

Putting too Many Eggs in One Basket: Often I like to fade certain pitchers with some of my hitters on a given night. When I see weak hittable pitchers with high ERA's/WHIP's on the probables for that day, my eyes take on a certain gleam. It is like Christmas all over again and you can't wait to open up your biggest present. Many times taking a few great hitters from the same team facing these kind of pitchers works. However, there are those nights when the pitcher rises to the occasion.

For example, in 2012, Jeremy Guthrie (for most of the season) resembled a human pinata on the bump. He had been lit up numerous time for Colorado before he got traded to the Royals and then welcomed his new team his first few starts by getting blasted again. However, Guthrie suddenly turned the switch on the the next few weeks and had 3 great starts in a row. I was victim on two of these starts by taking about 4 hitters from the opposing team and getting maybe 1 hit COMBINED from them with several Ks. Ouch and game over. The bottom line here is that these pitchers are in the big leagues for a reason. They can pitch well on certain nights and loading up against any one pitcher can be very fateful if that starter tosses a gem.


Not enough power: Chicks aren't the only ones to dig the longball. Daily fantasy players love them. Dingers, bombs, jacks, whatever you like to call them. They are usually worth 6 or 7 in your daily game and if you can get a bundle of them you're sitting pretty for cash on that night. Some nights that I lose I realize I had too many rabbits on my squad. Guys that can hit and run but not necessarily for power. I love taking maybe one leadoff guy for my squad but when you take a couple, you better hope they score some runs or swipe some bags. For example (using some 2012 players), guys like Ellsbury or De Aza can produce well on nights when their team scores a bunch but Cody Ross or Alex Rios are similarly priced from those teams and are much, much more likely to hit a home run. Make decisions accordingly when deciding between similar players and go for the ones likely to leave the yard.

Too Risky With Pitching: In my opinion pitching is one of the easier things to count on in baseball. Stud pitchers rarely disappoint. While they don't come cheap for your squad, you can usually depend on them for a solid amount of innings, lots of Ks and a great chance for a win. After the studs, you have a middle tier of pitching to examine and play based on matchups according to who they're pitching to and where they're playing. Then comes what I like to call the Volquez tier. This tier has cheaper options you might be able to play in certain matchups and can provide outstanding value. After that you have several layers of crap before you get down to the "Blackburn territory." I avoid this tier most nights because I simply cannot stand taking pitchers that I think have a great chance at giving me negative points. I have seen countless daily managers spend little on pitching and load up on the Hamiltons and Brauns for that night only to see their pitchers get bombed. On some losing nights, I realize I simply took on too much risk with my staff. If you have even one of your starters get shelled, it will be very difficult to win that night, so I like to play if safe and smart with my staff.

Consider your pitching staff on your daily team like you would your 1st round pick in a big money fantasy football league: it probably won't win your league for you but it certainly could lose it.

Too Many Whiffs From Hitters: I very seldom insert guys on my daily team that strikeout regularly. Perhaps nothing is more frustrating in daily fantasy than spending decent money on a hitter who decides to go 0-4 on that night with 3 Ks. After stringing together multiple expletives I vow to never take this hitter again to my therapist the next day and attempt to move on. On some occasions I play hitters like Chris Davis when they are facing a non-strikeout starter if I think there is a decent chance they can go yard on that night. Pay close attention to who their opposing pitcher is however. There is a huge difference in facing a Derek Lowe as opposed to a Ubaldo Jimenez. Yes, they can both be hit but when Ubaldo is pitching well he will toss in a good number of Ks while Lowe has not struck out a hitter since Reagan was president. Guys that really irk me are the Kelly Johnsons of the world.....guys that can strikeout once or twice every game yet hit a homer every 3 weeks as if that will make it all better.

It is especially important to pay attention to your cheap hitters. I have 3 or 4 of these guys on my team every night so I try and make sure these hitters have a decent chance to make contact and are not prone to going down on strikes. Lastly, do not play a cheap lefty hitter facing a decent lefty starter. In my opinion you're asking for it, as many times this results in the whiff and negative points for your squad. See Davis, Ike for more confirmation on this point.

Didn't Pick the Right Players: Haha. Ok, this one is obvious but I create a daily list of players I like for that night and usually have to skip a few guys on it to make the salary work. Take extra thought and time to decide on similar players as to avoid kicking yourself later. What player has the better chance to explode? Just as importantly, which player could potentially hurt you more? Is my roster well balanced with solid pitching and hitting potential? You're not going to always pick the right players but being consistent is the name of the game in the daily grind of fantasy sports. I have a tendency to remember my losing nights more then my winning ones but if you try and focus on why you lost (however painful it is to look at your losing squad) you may just improve your chances on winning the next day. Learn from your mistakes and move on my fellow competitors..every day presents a new chance to succeed in this industry.

Related: Pay to Learn.

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