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Wilson Karaman 

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10-21

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Alcides Escobar
by
Wilson Karaman

10-10

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Shelby Miller
by
Wilson Karaman

10-03

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Denard Span
by
Wilson Karaman

09-25

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Using FIP to Find Value
by
Wilson Karaman

09-19

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10

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 26
by
Wilson Karaman

09-12

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13

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 25
by
Wilson Karaman

09-05

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13

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 24
by
Wilson Karaman

08-29

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7

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 23
by
Wilson Karaman

08-22

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12

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 22
by
Wilson Karaman

08-15

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6

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 21
by
Wilson Karaman

08-08

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11

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 20
by
Wilson Karaman

08-01

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7

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 19
by
Wilson Karaman

07-25

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9

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 18
by
Wilson Karaman

07-18

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5

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 17
by
Wilson Karaman

07-11

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Fantasy Freestyle: Buy or Sell: Charlie Morton
by
Wilson Karaman

07-03

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11

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 15
by
Wilson Karaman

06-27

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2

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 14
by
Wilson Karaman

06-20

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10

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 13
by
Wilson Karaman

06-13

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9

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 12
by
Wilson Karaman

06-06

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6

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 11
by
Wilson Karaman

05-30

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10

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 10
by
Wilson Karaman

05-23

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7

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Nine
by
Wilson Karaman

05-16

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4

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Eight
by
Wilson Karaman

05-15

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: The Middle of the Road
by
Wilson Karaman

05-09

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18

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Seven
by
Wilson Karaman

05-02

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6

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Six
by
Wilson Karaman

04-25

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3

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Five
by
Wilson Karaman

04-11

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12

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Three
by
Wilson Karaman

04-04

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16

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week Two
by
Wilson Karaman

03-31

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2

My Model Portfolio: Yes, I Paid for Trout
by
Wilson Karaman

03-24

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Early-Season Strategic Decisions
by
Wilson Karaman

03-17

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6

Five to Watch: American League Prospects
by
Wilson Karaman

03-13

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5

Five to Watch: American League Hitters
by
Wilson Karaman

03-06

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6

Tale of the Tape: Joe Nathan vs. Sergio Romo
by
Wilson Karaman

02-20

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5

Tale of the Tape: Yoenis Cespedes vs. Wil Myers
by
Wilson Karaman

02-06

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3

Tale of the Tape: J.J. Hardy vs. Xander Bogaerts
by
Wilson Karaman

01-23

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Tale of the Tape: Freddie Freeman vs. Eric Hosmer
by
Wilson Karaman

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The Royals shortstop won't be a sexy name on draft day, but there's a lot to like about his fantasy profile.

Player Background
The Brewers signed Escobar as a 16-year-old on international signing day of 2003, and he made his stateside debut the following summer as a 17-year-old in the Pioneer League. After working his way up to Double-A for the second half of his age-20 season in 2007, he cracked the Brewers’ top prospect list for the first time heading into 2008, ultimately topping the list as a five-star prospect in 2010 and peaking as high as 19th on the BP 101 that same offseason. The Brewers traded away the then-26-year-old J.J. Hardy to clear a path for Escobar, which should tell you all you need to know about how highly regarded he was as a prospect. Regaled universally for his plus-plus range and generally top shelf defensive profile at short, Escobar was tabbed as an impatient, powerless hitter, but one still capable of slapping his way to a .280-plus batting average with 30-steal speed.

Despite the shortstop-of-the-future billing, the Brewers shipped the then-23-year-old to Kansas City as the centerpiece of the Zack Greinke trade after he struggled in his first full big-league season. Since arriving in KC, Escobar has pretty much developed into exactly the type of player scouts envisioned him becoming. He hasn’t posted a walk rate over 4.2 percent in any of his four seasons in Royal blue, nor has he managed to crack the .100 ISO threshold or generate league-average offensive value.


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October 10, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Shelby Miller

1

Wilson Karaman

After he held his own against Clayton Kershaw in the deciding game of the NLDS, is the righty's arrow pointing upward for 2015?

And on we march to the LCS! Unfortunately, one of the teams making that claim this year yet again is the Cardinals, who dispatched my Dodgers to the golf courses of Southern California for the second straight year. And one of the guys who helped set up their 412th-straight NLCS clash with the Giants was 23-year-old Shelby Miller, who pitched 5 2/3 reasonably strong innings in the Division Series clincher.

Now, if you rewind just two months to the beginning of August, this highlight would’ve been an improbable one to predict. At the time, Miller was staggering his way through a terribly disappointing sophomore campaign. His 4.14 ERA and 1.39 WHIP through July were paired with ugly strikeout and walk rates, resulting in a brief demotion from the rotation and an ownership rate that cratered at 67 percent in Sportsline leagues after the All-Star break. Hope for the breakout that many envisioned pre-season looked to be as fleeting as Miller’s command, and those with long-term dynasty league investments in the talented right-hander were exploring options to ship him for cents on the dollar as trading deadlines approached.

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October 3, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Denard Span

0

Wilson Karaman

The outfielder has transformed his offensive game since coming to D.C., but can he sustain the improvements into 2015?

Welcome to the most glorious of days: the first of maybe two (if we’re lucky) days annually when we get a full schedule of four playoff baseball games. Several of my colleagues have already kicked off our Playoff Spotlight series with looks at the various fantasy values of several players who either are or were at one time playing in this year’s post-season. Pieces on Eric Hosmer, Josh Donaldson, and Edinson Volquez all await your consumption.

Today I’d like to turn my attention to a player I have a long personal history of fantasy entanglement with, Washington leadoff hitter Denard Span. Span’s coming off his best fantasy season since his first full year in the Majors back in 2009. His .302 average, 31 steals, and 94 runs combined to catapult him into the top 15 overall fantasy outfielders in 2014, just like I drew it up in the preseason when I was completely sold on the likelihood of that happening. So how did Denard get his groove back, and what’s the likelihood that what he did this year is repeatable in 2015?

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September 25, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Using FIP to Find Value

3

Wilson Karaman

Examining some pitchers whose second-half ERAs belied strong peripherals to see whether a breakout 2015 might be in store.

Well, it’s that magical time of year. The season is winding down, and here we sit preparing to begin our annual stare into the frozen, dead abyss of a fantasy-baseball-less winter. Fortunately, those of us in keeper and dynasty leagues are somewhat exempt from this situation because, as the saying goes, there is no offseason. This is actually, legitimately one of my favorite times of the year for those formats, as it’s the time when we can start to analyze the breakouts and the disappointments of the past season and begin to construct rudimentary target lists for upcoming trade talks over the winter and, in shallower formats, drafts next spring. I play primarily in head-to-head leagues, and particularly in this format I’ve found the following exercise to be quite valuable as a quick and dirty starting point. Since head-to-head championships are determined by player performances during weekly format playoff matchups the it tends to open up opportunities for acquiring players on the relative cheap who performed poorly down the stretch and may have contributed to a league-mate losing his or her final matchup. This “recency bias” plays off exactly the kind of negative memory impact my colleague Jeff Quinton took a long and engaging look at last offseason, and I highly recommend the read for context.

One of the primary places I like to direct my efforts at the start of each off-season is the FIP bin of second-half pitching performances. Particularly given that starting pitchers will usually only get one shot, maybe two, to contribute in a head-to-head matchup a poor finish to the year can sting that much more. And the metric also provides a valuable opportunity to sniff out some emerging talent among guys who may have started to come into their own at the big league level but might not quite have the production (or, subsequently, the hype) to back it up just yet.

To this end, here are the top 20 pitchers with the biggest gap between their second-half ERA and FIP numbers:

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September 19, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 26

10

Wilson Karaman

For the last time this year, Wilson helps you set your fantasy rotation with a look at next week's two-start pitchers.

Welcome to your final Weekly Pitching Planner of the 2014 season.

It’s been real writing this column for you this year, and I hope it’s been as informative for you to read as it has been for me to write. The final week of the season is notoriously difficult to predict for pitching matchups, as both teams that are out of the hunt as well as those with nothing left to clinch in the regular season will often shut guys down before their final starts and otherwise shuffle up their rotations on the fly. So the best I can offer you at this juncture is a snapshot of who’s currently lined up for two starts with the caveat that you should make sure to double check how things look about an hour or so before your rosters lock for the week and go with your gut.

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September 12, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 25

13

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner!

It appears as though the Orioles are planning to slot in a sixth starter next week for Tuesday’s matchup with Toronto, which will render them two-start-less. Also lacking two-startitude will be the Red Sox, who it seems are bound for a six-man (at least) rotation for the duration of the season. The Marlins haven’t announced their starters for next week as of this writing, presumably hinting at a possible shuffle in advance of what may be their last-gasp series with the Nationals next weekend. Stay tuned for that one. The Rangers also haven’t announced their plans, though given the combination of pretty poor options in that rotation and a fairly tough away schedule at Oakland and Anaheim, I wouldn’t pay a ton of attention to how that one shakes out. Finally, the Twins’ rotation is in flux after presumable two-start pitcher Kyle Gibson got bumped by Wednesday’s rain. They haven’t announced a Monday starter, though if it remains Gibson (on short rest), he’d be a “sit” against Detroit and Cleveland.

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September 5, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 24

13

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner!

By now most head-to-head leagues are squarely into playoff territory, and that’s an unfortunate thing pitching-wise, because the pickin’s are slim this week for quality two-start options. Just three auto-starts and six straight “start” recommendations between both leagues, and the NL is particularly buried in difficult options. Even owners in shallower league are going to be forced to make tough choices this week, which will inject some unwanted indecision into the playoff picture. As far as standard abnormalities go, the White Sox have not announced a starter for Monday or Tuesday at this point, and both will be lined up for two-start status, albeit with tough draws at U.S. Cellular against the A’s and Twins. The Giants have also yet to announce who will take the slot most recently occupied by the MLB record-holder for most consecutive batters retired, and it is that slot that will line up for two starts next week. Whether it remains Yusmeiro Petit or defaults back to Tim Lincecum, it’ll be a start worth considering, as it’ll be a home-and-home set involving the hapless Diamondbacks. And finally, the Cubs will be switching to a six-man rotation down the stretch, as they work some of their young arms into September looks and play it safe with the workloads of others. It’s a strategy I wouldn’t be to see more from out-of-contention teams given that two-fold benefit.

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August 29, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 23

7

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! It’s that magical time of year when the calendar flips to September and the playoffs wander into town like a surly drunk in fantasy leagues near and far. There’s a decent crop of two-start options this week, as a handful of rainouts and wrap-around series have extended the options for some teams, while only the White Sox and Astros will be limited to five-game schedules. The Tigers still haven’t confirmed a starter for their Tuesday/Sunday slot in the wake of Anibal Sanchez’s setback, but given the collective performance of their no. 5 starters over the last few weeks (8.44 ERA over nine starts totaling just 37 1/3 innings), whoever it is will be unlikely to warrant consideration. As always feel free to use the comments section to request additional ramblings on a certain pitcher not covered in the write-ups below.

On to the nuts and bolts: Outside of the elites, two-start pitchers are often as much or more trouble than they’re worth. 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:

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August 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 22

12

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner!

A nice slate of options for the week, as only the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will be limited to five-game schedules. The American League is particularly stacked; while they lack an “auto-start” option from the top shelf of the league, there is a long and illustrious list of both “start” and strong “consider” options for fantasy managers to choose from. The Angels have still not announced a fill-in for Garrett Richards as of this writing. His gruesome injury is a huge blow for his real and fantasy teams alike. Whoever gets the nod will have a tough draw with the A’s on his card, and won’t be much more than an end-game “consider” at best.

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August 15, 2014 8:03 pm

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 21

6

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! It’s a thin week for two-start options, particularly in the American League, where the A’s, Rangers, and Blue Jays only play five games apiece and offer no two-time starters. Additionally, the Orioles are set to activate Ubaldo Jimenez from the disabled list this weekend and currently list a six-man rotation for next week. Keep an eye on the situation, particularly if you’re a Bud Norris owner, as he’s slated for the Monday start and would presumably be in line for their Sunday start as well if they thin the heard to a standard five-man crew. Beyond the limited slate it is additionally just a tough week for mid-tier starter match-ups. Meanwhile the National League also features three teams (Rockies, Marlins, and Brewers) who will only suit up five times as well. Basically, if you’ve got yourself one of the handful of reliable options this week, consider yourself lucky.

On to the nuts and bolts: Outside of the elites, two-start pitchers are often as much or more trouble than they’re worth. 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:

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August 8, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 20

11

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner! A moderate haul of 39 two-start candidates this week, as the White Sox, Indians, Angels, and Giants will be playing only five games this week, so there are no two-start options coming out of those teams.

On to the nuts and bolts: Outside of the elites, two-start pitchers are often as much or more trouble than they’re worth. 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:

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August 1, 2014 1:00 pm

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 19

7

Wilson Karaman

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

Welcome to a very special Trading Deadline edition of the Weekly Pitching Planner! Because this is going to press in the wake of a whole bunch of significant deadline deals our usual disclaimer regarding rotation plans being subject to change goes double this week. As of this writing the Cardinals, A’s, Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Astros, and Marlins have all made deals that potentially shake up their starting rotation slotting heading into next week. While the moves in some cases shouldn’t affect scheduled starters for Monday/Tuesday, in some other cases they will. I made my best guesses based off the current information I had, but obviously if and when things move around to accommodate the new depth charts, you can feel free to inquire on two-start options below in the comments.

Right now, it looks like Lester will slot in for Oakland’s Monday-Saturday starts, which is unfortunate news for Jeff Samardzija owners, as Shark was set up for a strong two-start week. Lester’s an “auto-start” if this plan does indeed proceed as scheduled. It also appears as though John Lackey will jump right into a two-start schedule if he takes over Joe Kelly’s normal slot, and that would put him at the top of the “consider” pile in the NL with starts at home against his old squad followed by a trip to Baltimore. And for the Sox I’ll go all-in with a full “start” recommendation for Bill “Spaceman” Lee’s triumphant return to the bump. The Braves and Padres will each only play five this week, so no two-start options will be found in either rotation.

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