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Wilson Karaman 

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April 11, 2014 6:14 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Three

12

Wilson Karaman

Helping you set your fantasy rotation for next week with a look at the matchups for two-start pitchers.

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! Every Friday this season, I’ll be taking you through all of the two-start options for the coming week to help you decide who to start and who to sit. Outside of the elites, two-start pitchers are often as much or more trouble than they’re worth, as rare is the week in which the stars align to offer your starters not just one but two consecutive tasty matchups. As a result, you’ll notice that sometimes the better starters will find themselves in the “Consider” category, because they might have one good matchup, but a second tough one. And similarly, less-talented hurlers might just meander their way into “Start” territory on account of a plum schedule. The pitchers will be split by league, and then by categories:

Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for these guys, either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid. These are the top 20 or so starters in baseball, so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many—if any—notes associated with these groupings each week, unless a player has just moved up or is in imminent danger of moving down.

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April 4, 2014 6:49 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Two

16

Wilson Karaman

A rundown of next week's two-start pitchers, to help you decide which to play and which to sit.

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! Every Friday this season, I’ll be taking you through all of the two-start options for the coming week to help you decide who to start and who to sit. Outside of the elites, two-start pitchers are often as much or more trouble than they’re worth, as rare is the week in which the stars align to offer your starters not just one but two consecutive tasty matchups. As a result, you’ll notice that sometimes the better starters will find themselves in the “Consider” category, because they might have one good matchup, but a second tough one. And similarly, less-talented hurlers might just meander their way into “Start” territory on account of a plum schedule. The pitchers will be split by league, and then by categories:

Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for these guys, either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid. These are the top 20 or so starters in baseball, so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many—if any—notes associated with these groupings each week, unless a player has just moved up or is in imminent danger of moving down.

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March 31, 2014 6:00 am

My Model Portfolio: Yes, I Paid for Trout

2

Wilson Karaman

See how Wilson built his team after shelling out $46 for the best player in the game.

Mike Gianella recently released his latest mixed league Bid Limits, which spurred an idea from Bret Sayre called Model Portfolios, wherein the fantasy staff (and anyone else on the BP roster who wants to participate) will create their own team within the confines of a standard 23-man, $260 budget. The roster being constructed includes: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OFx5, UTx2, and Px9 along with the following standards issued by Sayre:

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March 24, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Early-Season Strategic Decisions

3

Wilson Karaman

When circumstances compel you to make a move in April or May, how should you dodge the pitfalls associated with small sample sizes?

The old cliché that “you can’t win a championship in April, but you can lose it” is a good one to keep in mind when approaching early season team evaluation, particularly as it relates to trading. When you react to April and May performances, you react to inherently small sample sizes, and that’s a generally dangerous thing to do. Players get lucky, other players get unlucky, some other players try to play through undisclosed injuries… it’s a minefield of variables out there if you’re looking at a few weeks’ worth of performance data.

Still, the fantasy baseball season is only so long, and waiting too long to address your team’s Achilles heel(s) can mean digging a hole too deep to claw your way back out of later on. Waiting too long to make moves can also lead to increased limitations imposed externally by the established market; a seller’s market may develop around a player or players you need, driving up the costs of acquisition. Still, while early-season roster shake-ups are a necessary and sometimes-advantageous part of the game, approaching them with caution is of critical importance.

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March 17, 2014 6:00 am

Five to Watch: American League Prospects

6

Wilson Karaman

You won't find these prospects on many offseason top-10 lists, but that doesn't mean they can't help your fantasy squad in 2014.

Last week we kicked off this series in the American League with my look at hitters who could do some targeted damage for owners looking to shore up a category in season, while Craig took a look at some pitchers with elevated BABIP figures to see what kind of bounce-back value he could find. Today, we’ll take a look at some young guns just trying to make it in this crazy world.

By now, everyone’s mostly familiar with the potential impact prospects expected to make their debuts this season. But every year there are always a handful of guys who come seemingly out of nowhere to do some damage right out of the gate and provide a huge boost to the savvy owner who scooped them up. Think of the Kole Calhoun/Danny Salazar types from last year—guys who were nowhere to be found in their organizations’ top 10 lists in the offseason. Here are five prospects who might fit that profile this season and warrant a spot on your watch list.

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March 13, 2014 6:00 am

Five to Watch: American League Hitters

5

Wilson Karaman

Junior-circuit bats to keep an eye on during the second half of spring training.

Ah, spring training. That glorious time of year when we do things like get excited about Lonnie Chisenhall’s on-base percentage (he’s going to break out this year, I thought last year). But while paying attention to storylines related to health and position battles is important, it’s also important to use this time to start looking toward April.

The first couple of months of the regular season are an important time for building your second-half strategy. By now, most fantasy teams are being drafted, and once you’ve had a chance to evaluate how your draft went and determine what you expect the strengths and weaknesses of your squad will be, the next step in the dance is figuring out ways you might be able to leverage those strengths to address your weaknesses during the season. I like to use April and May as an open audition to figure out which players will make the most sense to try to acquire come summertime, and to that end, spring training can be a good time to start building a list of players to monitor. Here are five hitters that I’d just as soon hold off on drafting for the time being, but who may be worth a closer look out of the gate for targeted help as the season rolls on.

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March 6, 2014 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: Joe Nathan vs. Sergio Romo

6

Wilson Karaman

The first-year Tiger has a longer résumé in the ninth inning, but is he a better value than the bearded Giant on draft day?

It happens in every draft. That moment when, despite your best intentions to avoid forking over a draft pick for a closer, you realize you’ll probably need to at least be somewhat competitive in saves if you’re going to make a run at your standard league title. And while I prefer waiting and speculating on saves as much as the next guy, there’s very definite value to be had in grabbing an established closer to anchor your bullpen in these formats. When that moment comes, and you’re actually going to sacrifice a pick to make this scenario a reality, it’s really important that you come through with the safest option possible to bag you the saves you need.

So, let’s take a look at a couple of the “safer” proven-closer types you’re likely to encounter around the middle rounds of your draft. In one corner, Joe Nathan, the newly signed and minted closer for the Detroit Tigers. In the other, Sergio Romo, another veteran coming off of his first full season saving games in San Francisco. Nathan is currently the seventh closer going off the board in NFBC drafts, with Romo following as the ninth closer about two rounds later. Over in Paul’s astute breakdown of relief pitcher tiers, Nathan checks in as a four-star option, while Romo leads the pack of three-star options. Let’s take a look at how they stack up, and see whether Nathan is really worth the slightly higher price on draft day.

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February 20, 2014 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: Yoenis Cespedes vs. Wil Myers

5

Wilson Karaman

Which of these two high-ceiling outfielders should you target this spring?

In today’s “Tale of the Tape,” we’ll take a gander at a couple of American League sluggers and see if we can shed some light on what looks to be a very tough decision for fantasy owners. Should you be more willing to invest in a bounce-back season by 2012’s would-be AL Rookie of the Year (non-Mike Trout division), Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes? Or is it a better bet to bank on a breakout first full season from the current reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers?

Cespedes burst onto the scene in his stateside debut two years ago with a scorching .311 TAv as an already-in-his-prime rookie, flashing 30/20 potential and solid on-base skills despite some issues with nagging injuries. Last season was a different story, though, as nearly everything in his offensive profile took several steps in the wrong direction and he again battled the injury bug, declining to a .275 TAv that returned just the 43rd-highest value among outfielders. Meanwhile, Tampa was quick to enjoy the spoils of last off-season’s infamous trade of James Shields that netted them the BP 101’s no. 7 prospect in all of baseball from Kansas City. Following a mid-June promotion Myers raked to the tune of a .296 TAv, and he looks poised to anchor the middle of the Rays lineup alongside Evan Longoria for a very, very long time. Both rate as three star options for 2014 according to Mike Gianella’s impressively exhaustive look at the outfield position, with Myers holding a nominal seven-spot advantage on the list. The two are currently going back-to-back in the middle of the fifth round of standard NFBC drafts (67th and 68th overall), and PECOTA projects nearly identical lines for the two (.260/.326/.454 for Myers vs. .261/.322/.457 for Cespedes). So let’s check these guys out and see if there might be a lil’ bit more upside with one of them for fantasy owners to gamble on.

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February 6, 2014 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: J.J. Hardy vs. Xander Bogaerts

3

Wilson Karaman

This week's showdown pits a consistent power producer against one of the top prospects in the league.

Today’s “Tale of the Tape” will look at a quintessential grizzled veteran vs. young gun matchup as we debate the merits of two AL East shortstops, Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts.

Hardy’s been one of the better power options at short for several years now, owning the fifth-best ISO among big-league shortstops since his breakout campaign as a 24-year-old in 2007. Now entering his age-31 season, he’s as good a bet as any middle infielder to hit you 20-plus homers and give you 140-160 R+RBI this year. In the other corner, Bogaerts is a consensus top-three prospect in all of baseball after a breakout post-season debut last fall that saw him hit .296/.412/.496 in October for the eventual World Series Champions. Bogaerts will be ranked among the third-base tiers per our internal discussions, but he would’ve rated as a borderline two-to-three-star player on Paul’s SS rankings. That would have put him right around the same ballpark as Hardy, who checked in at the back end of tier three. Let’s see if we can shed a little more light on where Bogaerts would’ve/could’ve/should’ve slotted in among shortstops, at least relative to Hardy.

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January 23, 2014 6:00 am

Tale of the Tape: Freddie Freeman vs. Eric Hosmer

0

Wilson Karaman

Two emerging, 24-year-old, left-handed sluggers square off in this week's installment.

Today we’re going to take a look at a pair of emerging 24-year-old sluggers, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer. Freeman put together a breakout campaign in 2013, posting the third-best season of all first baseman, and, after a slow start, Hosmer rebounded with a scorching final four months of the season to finish eighth at the position in standard 5x5 leagues. When you look at the future of the first-base position these are two of the premier young players in the game, and Mike Gianella has listed them back-to-back as four-star options for 2014. Mike’s list gives a slight nod to Hosmer as the preferred option, but it’s clearly a pretty tight battle. Let’s take a look under the hood and see what these two look like mano-a-mano.

Batting Average
If you look only at the surface stats you’d be tempted to give Freeman the nod. He posted a better average last season (.319 to Hosmer’s .305) and owns a better career mark (.285 to .277) over a comparable number of plate appearances. But a “not so fast!” caveat is all kinds of warranted here. Freeman’s 2013 campaign was fueled by a very high (and very likely unsustainable) .371 BABIP, and his 11.6 career SwStr% is almost three points higher than Hosmer’s. Freeman chases about 2.5 percent more balls out of the zone than Hosmer, and he makes contact with pitches in the zone almost seven percent less often. Hosmer’s disastrous sophomore campaign in 2012, meanwhile, was fueled in part by a dismal .255 BABIP—a number that carried over into the first two months of 2013 as well. Assuming the flowers and heartfelt apology Hosmer gave to Lady Luck last June keep him out of the doghouse, he’s the better bet to produce a higher average going forward.


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