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Alex Chamberlain 

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April 5, 2017 1:22 pm

Fantasy Freestyle: Fixing What Broke in Francisco Liriano

0

Alex Chamberlain

Liriano went from a top-30 fantasy starter to written off after a rough 2016 season. Are his results headed for a rebound?

The fantasy community was quick to write off Francisco Liriano as being cooked. It's as if the 500-plus innings of 3.26 ERA he posted from 2013-2015 were all a fluke—or that they didn't happen at all. It's also as if not a lot changed in 2016 when hitters punished him, hitting home runs on nearly 19 percent of fly balls. With everything we know about what pitchers can and can't control on the mound, it's a mystery to me why Liriano went from a top-30 arm to one that's barely top-75. Still, I'll humor the notion that there's something to fix. Perhaps there is. I don't even know yet. We're going on this journey together.

It's pretty easy to spot what went wrong in the numbers. After allowing only 16 home runs with his sinker during his three almost-elite seasons, Liriano gifted 14 homers using the pitch in 2016. It never was a particularly safe pitch (it allowed a .297/.396/.429 triple-slash during those aforementioned almost-elite seasons), but the damage ballooned out of control in 2016 to the tune of a .301/.419/.502 triple-slash. Both are bad, to be clear, but wow, that's bad. Also: The outcomes didn't fundamentally change outside the isolated power allowed.

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George Bissell and Alex Chamberlain of Baseball Prospectus discuss the most polarizing starting pitchers in fantasy baseball.

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March 10, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Players to Avoid: Relief Pitchers

0

Alex Chamberlain

You might want to let someone else draft or buy these bullpenners in your leagues this spring.

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Craig Kimbrel is not a bad closer. He's a very good closer. Since 2011, he leads all relievers in saves by a mile, trails only Aroldis Chapman in strikeout rate (K%) and ranks third in ERA (although not behind anyone who has logged as many innings). That'll do. Last season didn't go so well, though. Don't blame the torn meniscus -- Kimbrel's ERA improved after he returned from surgery and rehab. But that ERA remained inflated all season, and potentially irreversible trends could be to blame.

Kimbrel walked more than five hitters per nine innings last year. Five! Maybe that one can be chalked up to his injury -- he walked almost seven hitters per nine upon returning -- but it had hovered above 4.0 BB/9 even prior to his stint on the disabled list. Ironically, Kimbrel threw more first-pitch strikes than ever before, and it's not even close; you'd think that'd portend better control. Yet he threw fewer pitches in the zone than ever before -- a stark contrast. Combine that with the fact he kept leaving pitches up in the zone, and it all may be enough evidence to suggest he's losing it a bit. His velocity dipped ever so slightly last year, making me wonder if he reached back a bit extra to maintain his velocity at the expense of control.


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February 28, 2017 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: Danny Salazar vs. Vincent Velasquez

1

Alex Chamberlain

Which of these electric right-handers is a better fantasy bet this year?

Mike Gianella released our starting pitcher rankings last week. With so many starting pitchers to rank and so few tiers, it's impossible not to be dissatisfied with how we ranked some starting pitchers. It's not a knock on Mike -- just a fact of life. While some of the most intriguing comparisons may exist between teammates -- Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, and Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly all reside within a handful of spots of each other, if not consecutively -- I'll focus my attention elsewhere to two consecutive high-upside, relatively high-volatility arms in the third tier: Vincent Velasquez and Danny Salazar.

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February 14, 2017 10:39 am

Tale of the Tape: Khris Davis vs. Miguel Sano

0

Alex Chamberlain

Which of these sluggers is a better fantasy bet in 2017?

Bret shirked his duties of feeding me an angle for this because he was drafting in mixed-league LABR or some inexcusable nonsense like that. I took off my own training wheels and immediately noticed an interesting contrast between back-to-back outfield picks who could not be more similar: Khris Davis and Miguel Sano. At 24th and 25th among outfielders, respectively, and just outside the overall top 100 with about a 10-pick cushion between them, the two are virtually perfect substitutes in terms of price and skill set. In the tale of the tape, however, one must prevail. I always head into these things with a preconceived notion, but I try not to let it color my bias. I'll be fighting it strongly this time.

Batting Average

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Which of these shortstops is a better second-round bet to anchor your fantasy team this year?

Since 2012, the fantasy community had never drafted more than three shortstops in the first two rounds (of 15-team drafts), per NFBC ADP data. This year? Six. The position appears top-heavy, but making the optimal selection early on can make or break your draft. Possible selections include Francisco Lindor and Jonathan Villar, both nested comfortably into the second round—and neither quite as safe nor risky as one might expect.

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January 31, 2017 5:09 pm

Tale of the Tape: Nolan Arenado vs. Kris Bryant

0

Alex Chamberlain

Which of these studs is likely to be the better fantasy bet in 2017?

I've been tasked with a doozy this week: choose between Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado. Both are sure-fire first-round picks, and for both you could make a valid argument to draft either one as high as no. 3 overall. Alas, it seems as if I may be splitting the finest of hairs by engaging in this exercise. Yet Bryant's and Arenado's similar profiles have produced markedly different results -- different enough that a deep dive might unearth a market inefficiency to which the fantasy community has turned a blind eye.

Historical Finishes

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January 24, 2017 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: Ian Kinsler vs. Jason Kipnis

1

Alex Chamberlain

These second basemen are close alphabetically, but are they all that close when it comes to 2017 fantasy production?

Ah, our two favorite alphabetical second basemen: Ian Kinsler and Jason Kipnis. In 2016 both matched and exceeded, respectively, their home run totals from the previous two years en route to each of their second-most valuable seasons in their careers. Both are five-category hitters, albeit modestly, and they project to put up similar batting lines in 2017. They're a comparison worth picking through with a fine-toothed comb.

Health/Volume

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January 17, 2017 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: Victor Martinez vs. Carlos Santana

3

Alex Chamberlain

Which of these two ex-catchers is a better investment in redraft leagues this spring?

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January 11, 2017 12:51 pm

Tale of the Tape: Welington Castillo vs. Brian McCann

2

Alex Chamberlain

Should you choose the new Oriole or the new Astro to don the tools of ignorance for your fantasy squad this year?

The NFL playoffs have started, which means you have no reason not to start preparing for the 2017 fantasy baseball season. The Baseball Prospectus fantasy staff will analyze each position on a weekly basis, kicking it off with catchers starting yesterday. Every Tuesday I'll bring the Tale of the Tape: a category-by-category breakdown of two similarly ranked players resulting in a verdict toward one or the other. Behind the dish, Brian McCann and Welington Castillo fared comparably in 2016 and project to do so again in 2017 -- as low-end options in standard mixed leagues.

Batting Average

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December 31, 1969 10:00 pm

Tale of the Tape: Nolan Arenado vs. Kris Bryant

0

Alex Chamberlain

Alex is tasked with choosing between two of the best in the business.

I've been tasked with a doozy this week: choose between Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado. Both are surefire first-round picks, and for both you could make a valid argument to draft either one as high as No. 3 overall. Alas, it seems as if I may be splitting the finest of hairs by engaging in this exercise. Yet Bryant's and Arenado's similar profiles have produced markedly different results—different enough that a deep dive might unearth a market inefficiency to which the fantasy community has turned a blind eye.

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