In our quest to take down the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com, we're on the lookout for stats or factors that aren't heavily utilized by other participants.
Daily fantasy users try to find undervalued players -- those whose projected stats exceed their cost in terms of their salary. So if DraftKings is fully accounting for a particular stat, it won't be of much use. If you're paying for home runs, for example, you'll have a difficult time finding value since players who've hit many homers also cost a lot of money.
Additionally, you shouldn't strongly emphasize often-referenced and popular stats when looking to generate a unique lineup -- a valuable strategy in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com. Why not? Because it is harder to get ahead of the pack if everyone is using the same strategy as you.
As a result, much of the "small stuff" matters quite a bit because it goes overlooked, and those who know and capitalize on this can gain a competitive advantage. One example of an esoteric stat to reference: ballpark factors. We've briefly discussed why ballpark factors offer value; the stadium at which a game is played can really alter runs and fantasy stats. Some daily-fantasy-baseball users examine ballpark factors, but few place as much importance on the stadium as needed. Included below are a few ballpark-factor elements to keep in mind.
One of the best ways to use ballpark factors is to understand how each stadium sets up for lefty and righty sluggers. Certain parks might be only moderately hitter-friendly overall but really friendly to just left- or right-handed hitters.
Rogers Centre, Coors Field, Camden Yards, Great American Ball Park, Fenway Park, Minute Maid Park and Yankee Stadium are among the most hitter-friendly venues for left-handed hitters. Meanwhile, Coors Field, Comerica Park, Rogers Centre, Angel Stadium, Fenway Park, Chase Field and Target Field are among the friendliest parks for right-handed bats.
Ballpark factors aren't useful only when selecting hitters. The park at which a pitcher is throwing should have a major impact on how much you value him. Most users seem to have a general sense of this when a pitcher is throwing at Coors Field, but it extends to other parks.
Additionally, you can use hitter projections based on park factors to help select your pitchers. If a right-handed pitcher were set to face a bunch of left-handed batters at a ballpark that has been very unfriendly to lefty bats, that's a favorable situation for that hurler.
On the road
Ballpark factors can be especially useful when considering traveling players with extreme home parks. For example: When the Mets or Pirates hitters travel away from home, they're much more likely to hit better than their overall stats would indicate Using this knowledge could provide you value, so keep in mind when a hitter from a pitcher-friendly home park travels to a batter-friendly venue.
The same goes for pitchers. You can expect Rockies or Blue Jays arms to typically be at their best on the road, when they can get away from their home conditions, which favor hitters.
Nuances of park factors
Understanding how a ballpark's conditions affect a game and fantasy production is an important and underutilized source of value, so try to pick up little stadium nuances. One tip: Wind blowing out toward center field at Wrigley Field has a much stronger effect on the flight of the ball than the same wind pattern at other parks.
Similarly, at parks with a retractable roof, it's important to know whether the roof will be closed in a given game. When the D-backs close their roof, for example, it can negatively impact the flight of the ball -- hurting hitters and helping pitchers. Such advantages, although considered small, can be turned into a substantial advantage in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.