Daily Fantasy Baseball: An Introduction to Stacking
Stacks on deck. Fat cash is nice. You can pop bottles all night, baby, if you pick the stack that is right. Said, if you pick the stack that is right.
90 percent of the time I listen to rap, I'm listening to it to get DFS advice. Thanks, T.I.
I may have twisted his words a bit, but I do think the point of "Whatever You Like" was pretty clear: stacks win stacks in daily fantasy baseball. It's a profitable strategy in most daily fantasy sports, but stacking finds its origins and most obvious benefits in baseball.
So that we can properly take advantage of the beauty that is stacking, let's go through what exactly stacking is and why it makes sense in practice. Then, we'll go through some strategies for implementing it both in cash games and tournaments.
What is Stacking?
Chances are, if you have played DFS in other sports, you know what stacking is. Just in case, let's clarify quickly to make sure the true intent here is clear.
When you "stack" one team, the intent is to fully benefit when that offense has a big night. If the Chicago Cubs unleash for 15 runs, you're going to want a piece of that action, and stacking can allow you to maximize the size of that piece.
The big benefit of stacking is that it can allow you to double-dip in certain categories. If you have both A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt, and Goldschmidt hits a two-run homer with Pollock on second base, you get the points for Pollock's run and Goldschmidt's RBI of Pollock. When you spread that through four batters in one lineup, it's easy to see the benefits.
A minor caveat here is that most sites will put a cap on the number of players you can use from the same team. For FanDuel, that number cannot exceed four, and that does include the pitcher. That rule is different on other sites, but I would recommend checking it out before you play just so there isn't any confusion when you get an error message.
How to Implement Stacking
Okay, so we want to use players on the same team. What next?
It's important to break this apart into two separate discussions -- one on cash games and one on tournaments -- as the strategies will vary depending on the game type. Because stacking is more common in tournaments, let's start there.
In a tournament, while you do want to consider floor, your main focus is upside. This means you'll likely be targeting different players than you would in a cash-game lineup.
My favorite tournament stack is usually the third- through sixth-place batters in the order. These are generally the players who offer heavy upside without being too low in the order.
If you'll remember our discussion on batting order, the average points per game really fell once we got past the first four spots in the order, and the fall from fifth to sixth was fairly dramatic. That said, I'm totally okay with using a guy in the six hole in a tournament.
The reason here is that we're looking for the big-money plays, meaning -- very broadly -- home runs. The table below shows the percentage of home runs from 2013 to 2015 hit by each spot in the order.
|Batting Order||Percentage of Home Runs|
Our main concern with using a player low in the order is volume. Even though they saw much fewer plate appearances over this same span, players in the six hole still managed to account for a higher percentage of the league's home runs than those in the top two positions. That's important when it comes to tourney lineups.
Now, batters at the top of the order are going to score more runs than those at the bottom (leadoff runners scored 14.46% of the runs those three seasons), but those lower on the rung can make up for it with RBI's.
|Batting Order||Percentage of RBI's|
Not only did the batters in the sixth spot have a higher percentage of the league's home runs than the top two in the order, but they also had more RBI's. That's why I'm fine with dipping this low when it comes to tournaments.
Clearly, all of this is going to depend on the construction of the individual lineup. If Mike Trout is hitting second, you're not going to gloss over him just because of this. It's more to show that you should have a preference for power when you're stacking in a tournament, even if that means lower volume.
For cash games, I tend to gravitate more heavily toward the top of the order. To explain why, let's go back to our piece on batting order to show the scoring distribution for each spot in the lineup. This is all based on FanDuel's scoring rules from the 2013 to 2015 seasons.
|Spot In Order||Points per Game||Points per Plate Appearance|
I focus much more on per-game averages when it comes to cash games, and the highest averages all come at the top of the order. That's why my stacks skew that way when I'm filling out a cash-game roster.
Yes, this means I am in favor of stacking in cash. I don't do that for NFL games, but I am more than happy to do so for MLB.
For me, the main difference is the manner in which I stack. As mentioned, I prefer to use batters higher in the order, but I will also generally use fewer players than I would in a tournament. If I have eight roster spots to fill, I might stack three players from the same team in cash as opposed to four in a tourney.
When you choose not to stack in cash, you are going to be targeting eight different starting pitchers in eight different ballparks. Considering opposing pitchers and park factors are two of the things I consider most highly, I feel as though I'm using sub-optimal process in order to avoid stacking at that point. Because of that, I just fully embrace the stack and try to benefit the same way I would at other times.
I'm not saying you should always listen to T.I. to formulate your DFS decision-making, but when it comes to stacking, dude is on to something.
The intent here is to double-dip and get double points when a batter drives in a teammate. This is why most stacks will include four consecutive batters, though there is some room for flexibility there.
When stacking in a tournament, you want to jack up your ceiling as much as possible. This includes possibly digging a little deeper into the order than you normally would in a cash game in order to get the power that guys batting fifth and sixth provide.
Finally, stacking in cash is totally fine, too. You will have to shift your strategy a bit in order to minimize risk, but focusing on a smaller number of teams and parks makes sense.
The benefits of stacking shouldn't be too difficult to grasp. Any time you can get twice the points for a single event, you should be trying to do so, and stacking allows this. Implementing the strategies associated with stacking into your daily roster construction can help bring you additional upside and ease the high variance game that is daily fantasy baseball.