4/29/2014 12:00 A.M. ET
Three tips for success in fantasy tournament play
By Jonathan Bales / Special to MLB.com
If you have yet to dabble in daily fantasy baseball, the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings is a great place to start. Each time you play (for free), you unlock a chance to attend actual MLB games, including the All-Star Game and World Series.
There are a few different primary league types in daily fantasy baseball. The Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings is a tournament, meaning there are many users competing for prizes in a single league. As you might expect, the strategy you implement in tournaments should differ from your approach in other league types, such as a head-to-head matchup.
In a tournament, you want to do everything in your power to obtain a really high score. You might think that's always the case -- no one is trying to create a lineups that's just OK -- but there's no extra downside to your lineup tanking in a given day as compared to performing decently. In other words, the difference between "good not great" and "horrible" is basically nothing.
With that in mind, here are three tournament tips to get you rolling.
Tournament Tip No. 1: Seek variance in batters
The Moneyball revolution brought with it an emphasis on specific player traits in batters, one of which was the ability to get on base. Whereas batting average was once the key stat analyzed by most, on-base percentage is now understood as a better tool for judging players.
In daily fantasy baseball tournaments, though, your goal is to increase the upside of your lineup as much as possible, and that means seeking hitters who are naturally high-variance. You're not just looking for the ability to walk and hit singles, but rather to rack up points via relatively low-frequency events. That usually comes from either hitting for power or stealing bases.
Thus, search for batters who either hit for power, swipe bags, or preferably both. That player type is more likely to put up a monster performance than one whose value comes primarily via his ability to just get on base.
Tournament Tip No. 2: Pay for pitching
Pitchers are far more consistent than hitters on a day-to-day basis. That makes sense when you consider that batters typically get just a handful of hacks at the plate, while hurlers often throw triple-digit pitches.
Pitching is the one area where you want to pay for consistency in tournaments. The most expensive pitchers continually finish at or near the top of the fantasy rankings for the night. They have built-in upside, so the fact that they're also consistent doesn't limit their ceiling.
But regardless of what you pay for pitching, you always want to value strikeouts. High-strikeout pitchers are more likely to record a top-tier fantasy output, and thus are more worthy of consideration for tournaments.
Tournament Tip No. 3: Stack your lineup
Finally, you should combine players on the same big league team whenever possible -- it's a strategy known as "stacking." Stacking is a shrewd tournament strategy, because it enhances your team's upside by creating synergistic relationships within your lineup; a hitter's performance is dependent on that of his teammates, so when they both turn in awesome nights, you'll benefit more than if you picked players on different teams.
You must choose hitters from at least three teams when playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings. Many users like to pick a pair of value bats from different teams, then use a "six-man stack" -- six teammates who have a good matchup in a given day. If you use a six-man stack and that offense scores a great deal of runs, there's a very good chance you'll find yourself near the top of the daily-fantasy leaderboards.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.