The 2019 season is just around the corner. With it comes another year of The Daily Grind. I’ve been writing this column since 2012. Or maybe 2011. In any case, a long time. It started as waiver wire advice, but the advent of daily fantasy hijacked the focus. With a name like The Daily Grind, it was always destined to about DFS.
Sometimes people ask me why The Daily Grind is the way it is. If you’re familiar with the column it’s basically three very simple parts with some “writer’s voice” tossed in for the lulz.
The biggest value add is the TDG Invitational, an opportunity to compete against fellow FanGraphs readers. Last season, the invitational was a no rake GPP with a consistently sizable overlay. In other words, readers got some free money. Cool. We’re returning to FantasyDraft this year for more no rake GPPs. It’s the best deal in all the land.
The next bit is about weather. That’s just in case you’re feeling lazy and want to know which days you can skip worrying about rain. The weather section is too simple to be counted as one of the “three very simple parts.”
The second simple part is a run down of all the available pitchers. I offer some takes about the pitchers I like and comment on good and bad dollar values. Then I list the guys who are likeliest to melt. Sometimes I’ll explain those. Sometimes I consider those picks self explanatory.
Part four of the column is SaberSim Says… It’s a peek into a projection system’s mind. SaberSim is basically Steamer for a single day. I list out the five best pitchers and hitters while also pointing out the top values. I can’t reveal too much because the portion I’m using is a paid service. It’s also the only part of the column with any focus on bats.
There’s a reason for that. One of the most difficult assignments I deal with all season long is DFS picks. Sites want me to highlight bargains and other values, and they usually want it published or submitted by 9:00am. Unfortunately, the best time of day to actually identify values is around 5:00pm when the majority of lineups are available.
Why? The short answer is that lineup slot has a much heftier role on the value discussion than skill in a single day contest. With some often temporary exceptions, the sites generally do a good job about supplying taut prices for each player. The ones they struggle with are those who bounce between the bottom of the order and a key spot in the lineup. Depending on their role that day, they’re consistently under or overpriced. In some cases, you can predict these opportunities solely based on opposing pitcher handedness. The sites eventually figure this out too. Other times, it’s sheer madness with no rhyme or reason. Those are the ones that remain bargains or burdens.
And so, you have your answer as to why The Daily Grind is the way it is. Pitcher matchups generally don’t dramatically change on game day. Even if Brandon Nimmo sits for Keon Broxton, it’s only a mild effect on expected runs allowed. Hitters could see their plate appearance projection increase or decrease by nearly a full plate appearance depending on role and other factors – especially on teams that play frequent platoons.
So how do I build my lineups? Much as I construct The Daily Grind, my early day research is focused purely on pitchers. I know who I want to use and who I want to target. I wait until lineups are out before I start trying to piece together batters. I’ve found that when I put together dummy lineups, I become anchored to those picks. So now I don’t even make them.
And that’s the thrust of why The Daily Grind is the way it is. We have a place to play together for (basically) free and some personal analysis built to match my own process. I look forward to spending another season with you.
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