If you're playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings, you know the importance of selecting the correct batters. With eight position players in your lineup, the majority of your fantasy points will typically come from your hitters.
There's a nearly endless list of ways to project hitters each day, but most revolve around a core foundation of principles. By starting with that foundation and working outward, you can choose your hitters in the most efficient manner possible. Here's where to start:
Lefty/righty splits (batter)
It's no secret that hitters tend to perform best against opposite-handed hurlers. In other words, left-handed hitters often do their best work vs. right-handed pitchers, and righty hitters usually fare best against southpaws.
Certain batters take this general rule to the extreme. Derek Jeter, for example, has a ridiculous .358 average and homers every 27.4 at-bats against lefties, compared to a .278 average and a homer every 113.6 at-bats against righties. That's quite a difference in output, and identifying that sort of advantageous situation can dramatically increase the upside of your daily fantasy lineup.
You can view many splits here on MLB.com.
Lefty/righty splits (pitcher)
Analyzing hitter splits is a pretty common practice, but few give as much attention to how pitchers perform against certain hitter types. Some pitchers are far better or worse against left-handed hitters, for example, which can and should influence how you project your batters.
For instance, Bronson Arroyo has struggled mightily against lefty batters in his career. Across the past three seasons, he's allowed a .299 average and a .534 slugging percentage to lefties, compared to a much more impressive .242 average and .392 slugging percentage vs. right-handed batters.
There are two components to every hitting matchup, so be sure that you don't overlook pitcher splits.
Batter vs. pitcher (B vs. P)
B vs. P stats -- how specific batters have performed against particular pitchers in the past -- are controversial; some give them great attention, while others find them useless. In many cases, B vs. P samples aren't large enough to help you much. Most batters just don't have a significant enough history vs. specific pitchers to trust the numbers.
Sometimes the stats help, though. For example, Curtis Granderson has faced Roberto Hernandez 41 times in his career -- a decent sample in the B vs. P world -- and he's seemed to see the ball well in many of those appearances. Overall, Granderson has hit .415 with three home runs and a gaudy 1.354 OPS vs. Hernandez.
Emphasizing B vs. P stats can be somewhat misleading at times, but there are situations when it can give you insight into how much confidence a batter has against a certain hurler.
Finally, you always need to consider the ballpark in which a player is hitting. Certain parks are simply suited best for batters, with some especially favorable for lefties or righties. Turner Field, for example, has historically been very friendly to left-handed hitters, but it ranks as one of the worst parks for right-handed hitters.
Another thing to monitor is how the ballpark for hitters on the road compares to the hitter's home stadium. When you see a batter from a pitcher-friendly setting -- such as PNC Park -- travel to a hitter-friendly stadium such as Minute Maid Park, he becomes a good target. Those batters often hit better than their overall numbers suggest they might.
On the flip side, hitters from batter-friendly stadiums such as Coors Field can sometimes struggle to maintain their overall stats when they travel to parks with less advantageous conditions for offense.
Practice these tactics by playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings. You could win regular-season tickets, All-Star Game tickets and even a trip to the World Series.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com.