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How I Qualified for FanDuel’s Playboy Baseball Championship

In early June, I get to fulfill every 20-something-year-old guys dream. I’m heading to the Playboy Mansion! And not only do I get to cross off something that was certainly on my bucket list, I’ll have a good chance to win $100,000 while I’m there. If you’re not sure what the hell I’m talking about, let me explain: FanDuel has made an effort to host more live daily fantasy events this year, and one of their first events is the Playboy Baseball Championship (PBC). FanDuel has been running qualifiers every day to the PBC since the season started, and a total of 70 people will end up going on June 6th. I will be one of them! We get two nights at a fancy hotel in LA, and will spend Saturday partying with playmates at the mansion while we sweat our lineups. It should be a blast.

qualified pb mansion 1


 

One of the unique aspects of these qualifiers is how top heavy they are. First place is a trip to the mansion and entry into the PBC, worth approximately $14,000. 2nd prize? $800. What this means is all of the equity of this tournament is in 1st place, and you should structure your lineup accordingly. I like to construct my tournament lineups a little differently than most daily fantasy players, so I thought I’d break down how and why I constructed the winning lineup in this tournament.

pb mansion lineup


The lineup above was the winning lineup, and before I break down each play I want to note something about Daily Fantasy Baseball: There is a lot of variance. I had 3 players hit HRs in my lineup, two of which were by players who won’t crack 20 HRs for the year. This was very lucky, and with HRs especially, it’s hard to predict when they will come.  But I did set myself up for a high upside lineup in many ways here. Let me explain.

 

Pitchers: Pay Up

On FanDuel, the scoring system is unbalanced, pitchers are much more valuable than hitters. On average, pitchers will score about 1.5 fantasy points per $1,000, while hitters will average about .8 fp/$1000. This means, essentially, that money doesn’t matter as much when spending on a pitcher and you mostly just want to go for the best pitcher available. Most DFS players think differently and love to save on pitcher in order to get those high priced star hitters. So when picking a pitcher, especially for a tournament like this, paying up for a pitcher has a two-fold advantage. Not only are you actually getting better value for your money, you will be using hitters significantly different than the field. In this case, Lynn wasn’t that much better than the highly used Brandon Morrow, but I felt like his upside was high enough where it was worth it to go with Lynn instead, especially against the righty heavy Brewers.

 

Stolen Bases and Jose Altuve

Stolen bases are huge in Daily Fantasy Baseball. On FanDuel, they’re worth about two points a piece. Rack up a single, a walk, and 2 SBs (Sometimes in one sequence like Mookie Betts), and your player has the scoring equivalent of a HR. For most players, predicting stolen bases is about looking at a pitcher and catchers rSB. If both players in the battery have a -rSB, chances are stealing bases will come easy. But with elite basestealers like Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, and Jose Altuve, it isn’t as much about whether a pitcher can hold a baserunner, because no one can hold any of these 3, it’s more about getting these players stolen base opportunities.

With Altuve last night, it was a little counter-intuitive. He was facing a lefty in Drew Pomeranz, and lefties hold baserunners well in general. But as a right-hander, Altuve is going to have a much easier time getting on base against a lefty than against a righty. Pomeranz wasn’t able to prevent Altuve from getting a steal, and a single and a double was all Altuve needed get 6+ points.

Where’s the Stack?

Most DFS players in this tournament stacked 3-4 players on one team, and some even stacked 4 players on two different teams, using players from only 2 games in their lineups. This is the norm, but the thinking is a little misguided. The assumption here is that if you choose 4 players on the same team, their performance will correlate by getting runs and RBIs off each other as well as getting more ABs when the whole lineup is doing well. The goal is to make it so all your players have great games at the same time. And this process does help, but here’s where I think the thinking is flawed:

 

1) The most important thing when constructing a lineup is to have the highest expect points, and stacking certainly sacrifices that expected value. If you used a lineup of Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson, you certainly are sacrificing the expected points of your lineup and missing opportunities to play Jed Lowrie and or having the money to use Altuve. I don’t think it’s worth it to sacrifice that value for the sake of a stack.

2) There are types of players who’s high upside games are not correlated to others on their team at all. For example, Anthony Rizzo is a power hitter, and his best game is going to come when he hits a homerun. Homeruns are worth 6 points if the bases are empty, and 7 points if there’s a man on base. So for Rizzo, it really doesn’t make much of a difference if there’s someone in front of him on base, he can have a high upside game without anyone else on his team doing jack. The same goes for basestealers. Billy Hamilton doesn’t need anyone to hit behind him for him to steal a base or score a run, so it’s not necessary to stack Hamilton with other Reds in your lineup.

The exception to this rule is weak hitters at the top of the order. Hitters who hit singles and doubles mostly need players on base in front of them, and need players to knock them in after they get on. These hitters need 2 RBIs and 2 runs to have a big game. If you use players like Nick Markakis or Asdrubal Cabrera in a tournament, it would be very smart to stack them with a couple others on their team.

So, opposed to a 3-4 player stack, I like to use 2 player stacks. Travis D’Arnaud is not really a power hitter (although he did hit one out), so stacked him with Curtis Granderson in hopes that he could knock Granderson in a couple times and raise their collective upside. I also stacked Altuve (batting leadoff) and Jed Lowrie (batting 3rd), hoping that Lowrie would have many opportunities with runners in scoring position given Altuve’s speed. Lowrie hit a HR, but he definitely benefited from Altuve in front of him, he had 3 RBIs.

As for the rest of the hitters? They were picked for various reasons, and all of their prices we’re great. There wasn’t a specific strategy here aside from just picking the best value. And that’s actually totally fine. Many players try to construct their lineups with so much purpose that a lineup with some players that have no purpose, actually becomes the most unique lineup in the tournament. That unique lineup got me 1st place by a large margin, even with some poor performances. I couldn’t be more excited for June.

Want to learn more about the Playboy Baseball Championship? Click here: FanDuel Playboy Baseball Championship. And if you’re new to FanDuel, sign up today and receive a 100% deposit bonus on your first deposit!

View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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