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April 20, 2015 6:54 am

The Buyer's Guide: Mike Moustakas

2

J.P. Breen

Is the Royals third baseman's hot start a sign of a breakout in progress?

Glowing scouting reports and minor-league numbers are no guarantees of major-league success. While both are intensely valuable and help us project future big-league stars far better than we otherwise could, there’s something special about the jump from Triple-A to the major leagues that proves too much for some top prospects.

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April 13, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Shane Greene

10

J.P. Breen

Does progress with his changeup portend sustained success for the Tigers righty?

We all have transitional moments in life, and in sports, all with different degrees of significance and magnitude. That moment when you recognize that you’re not good enough to play college ball and that you’re essentially done playing competitively. That moment when you realize that you’ve met the one you’re going to marry. That moment when you graduate from docile fan to obsessive fanatic of your favorite team. That moment when you moved from catcher to pitcher and it just clicked.

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April 6, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Kevin Gausman

7

J.P. Breen

The Orioles have yo-yo'd Kevin Gausman between roles, but what does that mean for his fantasy value?

A couple years ago, I was chatting with an unnamed minor-league pitcher about his much-heralded breakout campaign. He signed a pro contract with ample hype, but scuffled for a couple of years, moving from the rotation to the bullpen and back again, and getting moved to multiple minor-league affiliates. Suddenly, the light bulb came on and he dominated.

Asking him what changed, he deadpanned, “They finally put me somewhere and let me [expletive] pitch.”

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March 30, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Adam Lind

2

J.P. Breen

Is a bit year in store for the ex-Jay as he takes over at first base in Milwaukee?

Fantasy baseball owners are hardwired to pursue value. It’s not always about grabbing the best player at a given position, but rather identifying several players who are undervalued by the community and spending less to acquire more. That way, the banked money can be utilized in other areas to create the best possible squad.

When acquiring high-end players, value isn’t always paramount. In auctions, if you’re unwilling to spend the extra $5-10 on an elite player, you’ll be stuck with extra money in the end and a roster devoid of impact talent. Similarly, in snake drafts, the first couple of rounds are more about acquiring “safe” production among the elite, rather than absolute talent—which is why someone like Troy Tulowitzki is a back-end option in the first round, when his talent is clearly top five.

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March 23, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Kyle Hendricks

2

J.P. Breen

A closer look at the intriguing Cubs righty.

For those diehards who religiously follow the minor leagues, devouring the wonderful BP top-10 prospect lists and Monday Ten Packs, we’re always cautioned to be careful of player comps. Such comps place unrealistic expectations on player development and don’t allow for minor leaguers to carve out their own niche. They categorize and label guys in a way that’s not always productive and is sometimes unfair.

I do believe statistical comps can be useful for fresh-faced major leaguers, though, in terms of fantasy baseball. Minor-league scouting reports paint a picture of what a player could become if everything clicks; however, it’s always important to take a step back from the painting and consider where it fits in the larger fantasy landscape. That is to say, statistically, what type of player could [Player X] become and what does that look like for fantasy owners.

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March 16, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Michael Pineda

2

J.P. Breen

Can the big Yankee build on a promising 2014 comeback from shoulder trouble?

The offseason has officially ended with spring training in full force, which can only mean that the BP Fantasy Team is returning to our in-season writing schedule. That means the return of my weekly column, The Buyer’s Guide, which profiles a specific player each week in hopes of dishing out some buy-hold-or-sell advice to fantasy owners.

Here’s how this works:

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September 10, 2014 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Lance Lynn

2

J.P. Breen

Has the Cardinals righty truly become a fronline starter, or should owners look to dump him on someone who believes in his breakout?

With less than a month remaining in the 2014 season, we begin to shift our gaze toward the 2015 fantasy campaign. That’s not only because many leagues have moved beyond their trade deadlines, but also because it’s too difficult to project performance over a two- or three-week period of time. Too much fluctuation exists. Thus, the buy, hold, or sell discussion at the end of the piece will be geared toward the 2015 campaign while still providing some analysis in regards to the remaining three weeks.

September and October is when fantasy owners begin to reflect on the entire year and dish out accolades. While we’ll be talking about Fantasy MVPs and Fantasy Busts soon enough, the Most Underappreciated Player is regularly one of the more interesting distinctions discussed each autumn. In that vein, it seems right-hander Lance Lynn is deservedly getting some love as of late. He’s been overshadowed by Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha this year—and even Shelby Miller more recently, to some extent—but he owns a sterling 2.80 ERA and has easily been a top-30 fantasy starter.

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August 25, 2014 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Carlos Carrasco

2

J.P. Breen

The Indians righty caught J.P.'s attention last week, and now might be the time to pounce.

Spring training in Arizona is close to perfection for me. I adore the various unique ballparks that only fill to half of their capacity, the infectious optimism that surrounds every team, the pristine weather, and the opportunity to submerge myself in nothing but baseball. Most of all, I enjoy the action on the backfields. There’s something great about watching dozens of young players playing a wonderful game, wearing jerseys without their names on the backs, and honing their craft in relative obscurity.

The real thrill, though, comes when some no-name guy jacks one 450 feet to straightaway center. Or when a random pitcher catches your eye because he’s popping triple digits with ease. It’s that moment in which you mutter, “Wow. Who the f--- is this guy?” and quickly start scribbling notes.

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August 18, 2014 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Jonathan Lucroy

2

J.P. Breen

The Brewers backstop has emerged as a darkhorse MVP candidate, but his is improvement at the plate sustainable?

Approach at the plate has been on my mind in recent weeks. I’ve been specifically ruminating on the learned aspect of plate discipline; for example, how gifted 20-something hitters who have otherworldly hand-eye coordination can learn to eschew a simple bat-to-ball approach and focus on quality pitches to hit. That is to say, how can hitters develop the inner filter to discern between pitches they can hit and pitches they should hit, or which pitches they can merely hit and which pitches they can drive.

Obviously, such a development would be desirable for any player, and it can happen for many different reasons. Maybe it’s a maturation process. Maybe it’s a new pitching coach who presents the information in a different way. Maybe it’s trial and error. Maybe it’s studying the numbers. But I’ve been more convinced that most big-league hitters are only able to carve out sustained success over multiple seasons if they can adjust and refine their approach at the plate, at least to some degree.

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August 11, 2014 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Josh Harrison

1

J.P. Breen

The Pirates utility man has outperformed expectations to date, but is there reason to believe he can stay hot?

As experienced fantasy owners, we’re all accustomed to surprise performers early in the season. We all react to differently. Some owners pepper the waiver wire with claims, hoping to ride the wave of success, while other owners wait for the wheat to separate from the chaff, if you will, before jumping on individual bandwagons.

Personally, I try to pick-and-choose my spots. I don’t prefer the claim-and-drop strategy that many owners employ, in which they claim hot-starters and quickly release them once their performance expectedly drops. I claim guys I plan to retain for a good portion of the season, investing in breakout performances I believe in. It perhaps takes a bit longer to make those decisions—and thus I can miss my chance to acquire those players—but it’s a bit more sustainable in the long term.

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August 4, 2014 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Lucas Duda

2

J.P. Breen

The Mets slugger is thumping like Chris Davis in 2013, but does that mean you should invest in his services?

Every fantasy owner has a handful of players who have repeatedly burned them. Like the sleeper picks who don’t pan out, yet leave you undaunted and going back to the well next season for another bucket of water, only to find out it’s still polluted, pungent, and undrinkable.

Brandon Morrow was one of those guys for me. I felt a brief sense of vindication when he dominated with a 2.96 ERA over 21 starts in 2012, only to suffer extreme heartbreak when he plummeted into the abyss the following year. Luckily, that next season, I shied away from him in general and only resented my impetuousness in a single league. Progress, right?

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July 28, 2014 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Francisco Liriano

0

J.P. Breen

The Pirates lefty has fared well in July, but is that reason to believe that the tide has turned on his 2014 season?

It’s no secret that Francisco Liriano remains one of the more electric arms in baseball. He still has a lively fastball, as well as a devastating slider-changeup combination that can induce a myriad of swings-and-misses. When he throws strikes consistently and stays healthy, he can be dominant. Last year, he missed a few starts and only threw 161 innings, but he decimated the NL Central with a 3.02 ERA (2.92 FIP) and struck out more than a batter per inning. Ultimately, he was a top-30 starter and a wonderful surprise in all formats.

Fantasy owners remained skittish when drafting Liriano this spring. His average draft position didn’t reflect his 2013 performance, as owners worried about his health and whether he had truly discovered something that would lead to consistent, reliable performance on the mound.

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