The 9 hitter isn’t leading the way in Fantasy Point Production
Like all sports, MLB DFS boils down to opportunities to score Fantasy Points and efficiency in those opportunities. Due to the nature of baseball, determining opportunities for batters is made easier by the batting order.
Naturally batters who hit early in the batting order had more plate appearances over the last 5 seasons. The increase in plate appearances (PA) leads to higher floors for these players, making them safer plays for cash game lineups. With each PA, your batter gains another chance to score fantasy points making busts less likely.
While PAs are key, not all are equal. Here’s DraftKings Fantasy Points per PA by batting order from 2011-2015:
MLB team’s best power hitters hit around 3rd to 4th in the batting order, allowing them them the most opportunities to hit with players on base. The skills of 3rd and 4th batters shows up in the chart above, with these being the leaders in DraftKings Fantasy Point Production per PA. Notice the sharp decline starts around the 6th-7th position in the batting order.
To tie both opportunity and efficiency together here’s DraftKings Fantasy Points per game by batting order from 2011-2015:
In this graph we can see batters that hit 3rd in the lineup score the most FPs per game. This is the spot in the batting order where top efficiency meets high opportunities. The second leader in fantasy points per game is the leadoff spot. Although the leadoff hitters don’t usually possess the power we typically look for in MLB DFS, the increase in opportunities helps them to generate big fantasy production on a game to game basis. These are typically players with a great ability to get on base and the ability to steal once they do so. Leadoff batters also benefit by having good hitters behind them, giving them great opportunity to score runs.
Just as we saw a decline around the 6th-7th spot in DK FP/PA, we see a similar decline for DraftKings Points per game. While price, match up, and individual performance dictates how we form our DFS picks, you should largely be avoiding batters late in the order. This is especially true in cash games, as the lack of opportunities greatly reduces players’ floors. As a general rule of thumb, target players in the 1-5 spots in the batting order in cash games. In GPP tournaments however, you can sometimes select later batters who are playing in positive game environments as contrarian low ownership plays. Big risks yield big rewards in tournaments.