DFSEdge would like to announce the addition of one of baseball's brightest young analysts
. Derek Carty, 25, has already built quite a resume. Carty began writing in 2007 and within a few months helped start the fantasy section at The Hardball Times. In 2011 he joined Baseball Prospectus as their fantasy manager. Derek is a graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau's Scout Development Program (aka Scout School) and is the only active fantasy writer to have graduated from the program. He also maintains a web presence at DerekCarty.com. His work has been published by ESPN Insider, Sports Illustrated, NBC's Rotoworld, FOX Sports, and USA Today, among many others. Derek is widely respected in the fantasy baseball world and competes in both Tout and LABR, the two premier expert leagues in the industry. In his five years competing, Derek has won three titles with nine top-three finishes. In 2009, he became the youngest champion in the history of LABR—the longest-running expert league in existence—taking home his first title as a rookie.
Despite his focus on traditional fantasy early in his career, Carty took notice when daily fantasy emerged and immediately began refining his ideas for the new format. DFSEdge had a chance to sit down with Mr. Carty and discuss his thoughts on the emergence and evolution of daily fantasy. Here's what fantasy baseball's whiz kid had to say about the daily format:
What was your opinion of daily fantasy when it first came to your attention?
I thought it was an amazing concept. For one, how can you beat the rush of drafting a team (or multiple teams) every single day of the season? And honestly, I thought that it was a beatable game that I'd have a big advantage in given my skill set. In traditional fantasy, most people have caught up with all the advanced stats stuff by now, which really cuts down on the competitive edge that people like me used to have, but we as an industry have barely touched the surface on all of the ways to gain advantages in daily play. It's an exciting time, really, and it's great to be a part of it.
Daily fantasy sports has brought with it a lot of controversy. Some people (including lawyers) view it as more of a game of luck than the game of skill traditional season-long formats are accepted as. Is there more luck involved in daily or does it just require a different approach than full season leagues?
I would actually argue the opposite, that traditional fantasy involves more luck than daily. Daily gives the illusion of being a game of chance since the individual final outcomes are based on smaller samples -- you lose on the day Justin Verlander gives up eight runs and, yeah, you got unlucky -- but there is actually a lot more that goes into playing daily competently than traditional fantasy. In traditional fantasy, you need to come up with a baseline projection for a player's skills, but that's only the first step for daily. In daily, you also have to understand all of the contextual factors that affect how a player performs on any given day -- which are important, which aren't, and how to properly evaluate and apply them. In the long-run, once you increase your sample size, you'll find that daily games are very much skill-based.
I know you've done some pretty extensive research on the predictive value (or lack thereof) of Batter vs. Pitcher (BvP) numbers. Do you completely ignore BvP, or are there extremes where you might find value?
For the most part I ignore them completely, as most people should, unless they really know what they're doing. If you find a batter/pitcher pair that has something like 100-plus matchups, you can factor it into your decision-making process a little bit. Otherwise, ignore it unless you have some scouting data to support it. Maybe you know that Hitter X has holes in his swing that are exploited by breaking balls and that Pitcher Y always does his homework, likely knows this, and has an excellent curve that can dominate Hitter X.
"My research has found that you should generally ignore streaks. A player who has been hot is no more likely to play well than a player who is not on such a streak."
In traditional fantasy there are basic ideas that many experts ascribe to such as, "Don't pay for saves," "Hitters are more reliable than pitchers," etc. ... Are there any basic philosophies for daily play you'd like to share?
I think it's kind of comparing apples to oranges here. In traditional fantasy, you're playing against other people who set the market for everything. In daily fantasy, you play against other people, but the market is set for you, so there's not a lot you can really do. At one point, "don't pay for saves" was smart because people were paying so much for closers. Then once everyone stopped paying for saves, it actually became smart to pay for saves because they were cheaper. In traditional fantasy, in a lot of ways, it's about taking advantage of the mistakes your opponents make. In daily there's less room to do that, making it more about taking advantage of the value propositions you're being offered by the house.
Should people use different players in head-to-head games or 50/50 games compared to GPP contests. Can you further explain why and what makes these games so different?
Definitely. The fewer opponents you're playing against, the safer your picks can/should be. If you're playing in a huge tournament against hundreds of other people, the law of large numbers tells you that someone is bound to get lucky and have Donald Lutz on the night he hits a home run. In order to win at this format, you can't load your team with boring-but-solid David DeJesus types. Finishing in the 75th percentile does you no good. You need to finish in the 99th percentile, and to do that, you're going to need to get a little lucky, so you need to structure your roster in such a way that you increase your chances of getting lucky (as contradictory as that sounds). You're better off going with boom-or-bust, Adam Dunn kinds of players. Maybe he'll go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, or maybe he'll go 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs. You'll lose in the first case, but that's the same as you would with a team of DeJesus types. In the second case, when it happens, you'll win.
In your past research, you briefly touch on the concept of cold and hot streaks and their relevance to daily fantasy baseball.
My research has found that you should generally ignore streaks. A player who has been hot is no more likely to play well than a player who is not on such a streak. There is something to the idea of cold streaks, since there could be something legitimately wrong with the player psychologically/mechanically, etc. -- although unless you have some knowledge outside of the raw data, it generally takes at least a couple weeks for the cold streak to matter, and often times by then the player has been benched anyway.
Can you discuss other areas of interest that you plan on pursuing this year? Anything in regards to park effects and the effects of umpires?
Yeah, I've done a ton of research on my own in the areas of park effects and umpire effects, so there's a good chance I'll talk about these at some point.
When looking for a daily fantasy site to play, what important details should you look for?
The most important detail is the rake. You don't want to use a site that's going to charge you an absurd amount just for the opportunity to play.
"The fewer opponents you're playing against, the safer your picks can/should be."
Daily sites are giving out massive signup bonuses and having large tournaments with massive overlay. How long do you think this lasts and is it good for the industry?
I think it's great for the industry. These bonuses serve as great incentives to introduce new people to daily games, which can only be a good thing in the long term.
What is your favorite part about daily and the one reason why someone who hasn’t tried it should give it a go?
favorite part is boring -- I love all the number-crunching -- but the reason why others should try it is because you get to relive the best part of every traditional fantasy season, Draft Day, every single day of the year.