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12-22

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Is Marcus Stroman the Real '6 God'?
by
Nick Shlain

12-18

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Don't Forget the Vets
by
Matt Collins

12-17

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Undervalued NL Starting Pitchers
by
Keith Cromer

12-16

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: The Trouble With Tiers
by
Mike Gianella

12-12

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9

Fantasy Freestyle: Shortening Your Dynasty Rebuild
by
J.P. Breen

12-11

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Jose Quintana, Forever Underrated
by
Matt Collins

12-10

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: American League Speed Options on the Cheap
by
Keith Cromer

12-09

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Is Yordano Ventura Overrated Now?
by
Nick Shlain

12-05

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: The Moderate Rebuild
by
Craig Goldstein

12-04

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Hey, So What Happened to Mike Minor Last Year?
by
Wilson Karaman

12-03

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Relief Help
by
Keith Cromer

12-02

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeper Decisions
by
Nick Shlain

11-25

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Christian Yelich is Poised to Break Out
by
Matt Collins

11-25

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Offseason Trades and Responding to the Default Effect
by
Jeff Quinton

11-25

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: 40-Man Additions to Know
by
Craig Goldstein

11-20

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Offseason Trades and the Default Effect
by
Jeff Quinton

11-18

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9

Fantasy Freestyle: Five Fantasy Busts
by
J.P. Breen

11-13

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Fantasy Freestyle: Five Fantasy MVPs of 2014
by
J.P. Breen

11-06

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: What to Make of Odrisamer Despaigne
by
Keith Cromer

11-05

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Curb Your Pitching Enthusiasm
by
Nick Shlain

11-04

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Three Players Looking for Bounce-Back Power
by
Matt Collins

10-30

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Going All-In on Hyun-jin Ryu
by
Matt Collins

10-30

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Fantasy Freestyle: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept that Justin Upton is Quite Good
by
Wilson Karaman

10-28

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: Madison Bumgarner for Cy Young
by
J.P. Breen

10-24

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Fantasy Freestyle: Projection Season and the Recency Effect
by
Jeff Quinton

10-23

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Brandon Belt
by
Ben Carsley

10-21

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Alcides Escobar
by
Wilson Karaman

10-20

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Fantasy Freestyle: My Personal Scorecard: Part 2 - National League
by
Mike Gianella

10-17

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Joe Panik
by
Ben Carsley

10-16

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Jon Jay
by
Jeff Quinton

10-15

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Lorenzo Cain
by
J.P. Breen

10-14

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: Prospect Predictions
by
Craig Goldstein

10-13

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: My Personal Scorecard: Part 1 - American League
by
Mike Gianella

10-10

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Shelby Miller
by
Wilson Karaman

10-08

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back at Super Subs
by
Paul Sporer

10-07

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: My Favorite Endgame Targets of 2014
by
Bret Sayre

10-06

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Sergio Romo
by
J.P. Breen

10-03

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Denard Span
by
Wilson Karaman

10-02

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Trades and the Importance of Hustle
by
Jeff Quinton

10-02

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Fantasy Freestyle: Edinson Volquez
by
Craig Goldstein

10-02

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Are Elite Pitchers Becoming More Numerous?
by
J.P. Breen

10-01

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Josh Donaldson
by
Paul Sporer

09-30

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Eric Hosmer
by
Ben Carsley

09-29

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: 2014 Expert-League Recaps
by
Mike Gianella

09-26

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: Prospect Rankings Review
by
Craig Goldstein

09-25

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Using FIP to Find Value
by
Wilson Karaman

09-25

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Theory-Driven Versus Context-Driven Strategy
by
Jeff Quinton

09-23

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12

Fantasy Freestyle: Backing Off Backstop Prospects
by
Ben Carsley

09-22

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: DFS and the State of Fantasy Baseball
by
Mike Gianella

09-22

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Fantasy Freestyle: Circling Back to The Holy Trinity
by
J.P. Breen

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December 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Is Marcus Stroman the Real '6 God'?

2

Nick Shlain

A look at whether the young Jays righty can take another step forward in 2015.

Formerly on Fantasy Freestyle, I took a closer look at right-hander Yordano Ventura, whose fantasy stock is a bit inflated after a successful rookie campaign with the Royals. Today we’ll change it up and look at another young American League hurler generating plenty of buzz with the added plot twist that yours truly is even buying the hype.

That young pitcher is Marcus Stroman, who will wear the number six next year. Despite not making his first start until May 31st, Stroman earned $13 in AL-Only leagues this year (according to BP’s valuation Santa Claus Mike Gianella). For comparison, Ventura earned $16 in “only” leagues, but enough about him.

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December 18, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Don't Forget the Vets

2

Matt Collins

They might be on the wrong side of 30, but these players can provide a safer return than many hotshot 20-somethings in 2015.

Youth has always dominated the sports landscape, and it’s only getting more prominent. With more and more press being given to the prospects around baseball, it’s becoming even more fun to dream on a player’s potential in hopes of a bright future. Fantasy baseball is no exception to this. In your various drafts, you will always have people who fall in love with a specific name and put them on their team expecting the upside to be hit. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is an important part of anyone’s draft. If you’re going to win your league, you need to take some chances on the upside plays and hope they provide value relative to where they were drafted or what you bid on them. With that being said, you can’t have a roster full of those guys. Balance is an important thing, and sprinkling in some relatively sure things with the potentially great youngsters is important. The problem, of course, is that after the very top-tier, most of these sure things come in the form of aging veterans, guys who you never know when the decline will actually start. The following group of players won’t be the sexiest pickups for your team, but are a good bet for solid production to surround your young, potentially great players.

Note that these write-ups are for 2015 only. Obviously things change significantly for those of you in dynasty and keeper leagues.

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December 17, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Undervalued NL Starting Pitchers

0

Keith Cromer

These senior-circuit hurlers might be better fantasy assets than you think.

You will always find value with starting pitchers in shallow mixed leagues, but even in the deepest of NL-Only 5x5 leagues, there are usually a handful of pitchers from year-to-year that produce solid earnings, yet never get the love they deserve. In most cases, these pitchers are undervalued because of their strikeout totals, the team they pitch for, the metrics show regression, or simply that there is never any buzz when their names are called out.

I target these pitchers each year, knowing the investment will be low and the earnings will be positive. Now mind you, you don’t want to fill up your pitching staff with pitchers of this ilk, especially in 5x5 leagues. Yet it seems many forget there are three other traditional starting pitcher categories in 5x5, get hung up on K/9 rates and pass these pitchers by. In my experiences, in competitive NL- Only 5x5 leagues, grabbing one or two of these unappreciated arms in your respective drafts or auctions can help you pile up quality innings and wins without hurting your ratios.

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December 16, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Trouble With Tiers

10

Mike Gianella

Why adhering to tiered rankings might be an impediment in auctions.

It is only a few players into your 2014 NL-only fantasy auction and you are already unhappy with how the auction has progressed. It isn’t because you panicked and overspent on a player or two early but rather because everyone else is buying players and you’re still sitting on the sidelines, waiting to hit your spot. The problem is that you’re reaching the point of the auction at which you have to fill your top offensive slot with a $30-plus player and they’re almost entirely gone. You don’t want to pay $35 for Hanley Ramirez, but the only alternative left is David Wright, and you have a bad feeling about him this year.

For some fantasy players, this scenario might not sound familiar. However, if you use a tiered approach to auctions, it is entirely possible that you can get trapped in a scenario where you feel like you have to overpay a player or two in order to fill out your “tiers” on offense.

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December 12, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Shortening Your Dynasty Rebuild

9

J.P. Breen

A look at some ways to get your team back in contention post haste.

Dynasty leagues with extensive minor-league rosters have become more popular in recent years. It’s one of the greatest ways to keep all owners engaged throughout the season, as the action never quits. However, such intensive and deep leagues can be intimidating for first-time owners. For example, I joined my first dynasty league in 2014, and it wasn’t with a bunch of amateurs. I jumped into the deep end and participated in TDGX—a 20-team, 40-man roster dynasty league with fantasy experts from across the internet baseball landscape.

It was my first dynasty draft and my first attempt at fielding my own team. Needless to say, it didn’t go smoothly. I made rookie mistakes in the draft. Grabbing elite prospects is important because the league includes a 10-man minor-league roster, but I erred and drafted prospects too early. That made my big-league roster far too shallow.

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December 11, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Jose Quintana, Forever Underrated

0

Matt Collins

Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija will get all the press, but another starter on the South Side might be the best fantasy value.

Chris Sale is going to be the ace. He’s going to be the guy everyone targets early in fantasy drafts to head their rotation. Jeff Samardzija is the newcomer, coming off a great season, and the signal that the White Sox are, in fact, “going for it.” He will grab headlines, and may be targeted a little earlier in drafts than he ought to. These are the two who are going to demand all of the focus in the White Sox’s rotation, the ones everyone will talk about. I implore you, though, do not forget about Jose Quintana. One of the more underrated pitchers in the game, he’s done nothing but put up consistently solid numbers in his short career. No, he’s not going to anchor anyone’s rotation, but as someone who is projected to be a late-round pick, he can provide huge value in that spot.

The number one thing Quintana is going to give you is a solid ERA, despite pitching in a horrific park for pitchers. Over his three-year career, the lefty has put up a 3.50 ERA, a number that puts him in the same breath as Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, and Matt Moore. He took a big step forward last year as well, with a 3.21 ERA (30th best in MLB) supplemented by a 2.81 FIP (10th best in MLB). Now, it needs to be mentioned that part of that success was due to a 3.5 percent HR/FB rate that will almost certainly rise. However, that should be offset by his career-high BABIP falling back towards his career norms, as well as his ever-improving walk and ground ball rates. For those reasons, we have plenty of reasons to believe in his WHIP. He’s able to keep guys off the bases not only by throwing strikes, but throwing effective strikes. Quintana has become a master of pounding the low part of the strike zone, as we can see here:

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December 10, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: American League Speed Options on the Cheap

0

Keith Cromer

Don't overpay for steals! Instead, put these prolific thieves on your 2015 fantasy squad.

Having had the privilege of competing in the CBS Expert Leagues the past couple of years, I started my auction prep-work around this time each year, since those leagues typically auction in February. Along with my research on relievers, as I referenced in my Fantasy Freestyle article from last week, I also spend quite a bit of time trying to identify speed options that might be undervalued come draft day.

As I headed into the AL-Only 5x5 CBS Expert League auction this past year, I went in with a strategy to get either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout at my sheet prices, buy Masahiro Tanaka at my sheet price, fill out my MI with fantasy-producing starters, and then figure out the rest as I went along. Well, I got Cabrera and Tanaka early as well as some solid middle infielders, and then focused my energy on getting a couple of speed guys, so I would not have to chase stolen bases later in the auction and overpay. The way the dynamics of the auction room played out, I was able to sit back and grab Rajai Davis, Jarrod Dyson, and Craig Gentry for a combined $5. No, that is not a misprint… that was a $5 investment that resulted in 92 stolen bases and $53 in earnings, or a $48 ROI, and I ran away (no pun intended) with the steals category in the league. For some reason, I have found over the years that there is not a lot love for these “one-trick ponies” despite the value they provide. As such, I always target and snatch these fantasy gems.

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December 9, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Is Yordano Ventura Overrated Now?

1

Nick Shlain

Have 100-mph bullets and the Royals' postseason success blown the righty's value out of proportion?

It didn’t take very long for me to push my anti-pitcher agenda here at Baseball Prospectus, as my first Fantasy Freestyle was about curbing spending on pitchers in auction-style drafts. I’ll continue to not love pitchers today as I take a closer look at Yordano Ventura, who has generated plenty of buzz coming off the Royals’ October run.

Despite a slight build, Ventura held up as his rookie season went along making 30 starts and totaling 183 innings pitched with a 3.20 ERA. He also made four starts in the playoffs. Going forward, how Ventura’s body stands up to throwing 200 innings is a concern, especially when considering he mostly gets by on his flame-throwing as his average fastball velocity was 96 mph this year. Despite his elite fastball velocity, he doesn’t miss bats at an elite rate—his 20.3 percent strikeout rate ranked 37th among all qualified starters this year. Ventura totaled 159 strikeouts this year, the same amount as Justin Verlander. Ideally, Ventura will miss more bats as he matures as a pitcher and improves his secondary offerings. His raw stuff might be too good for it not to happen eventually, but when gauging how to value him for next season it would be extremely unwise to assume improvement without cause.

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December 5, 2014 10:58 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Moderate Rebuild

1

Craig Goldstein

Might retooling on the fly be a better plan than tearing it down and starting over?

Author’s Note: This column is intended for deep leagues only

It’s become increasingly clear in the last few years that fans of baseball, fantasy baseball owners included as a subset, are tolerant of essentially two modes of thought when it comes to their team and how it’s built. There’s the contending team, that makes itself known to be attempting contention for a wild card spot, if not a division crown, and the rebuilding team that isn’t competing that year so is all about future assets and long-term growth. These are accepted styles of competition in which one is either competing at the top or dwelling at the bottom with the idea of competing at the top down the line. What’s less accepted is mediocrity, or stagnancy. Move up or move down, or at least make your motives known.

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December 4, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Hey, So What Happened to Mike Minor Last Year?

1

Wilson Karaman

A look at whether the Braves lefty is primed for a rebound.

I’ll admit up front that I have a huge soft spot for Mike Minor. I acquired him in my home league as a buy-low guy in late May of 2012, and he proceeded to return gobs and gobs of surplus value for me over the following season-and-a-half. I didn’t end up owning him in any leagues this past season, and I was pretty bummed out about that coming out of my assorted drafts. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, though, right? According to NFBC data Minor was taken as the 29th starting pitcher off the board last spring, yet Mike Gianella recently figured him as the fourth-biggest bust among NL starting pitchers after he returned exactly zero dollars-worth of production in a season plagued by injury and poor performance. So what happened here, and where should we be setting expectations for Minor in 2015 and beyond?

The injury issues probably deserve front and center attention as top billing in our story. Minor had what can be charitably described as… well, just a terrible-sounding operation to remove scar tissue from his urethra as the new year dawned. In addition to making men around the country wince and recoil, the procedure knocked him off his standard throwing schedule heading into spring training and led to some shoulder inflammation after he tried to ramp up too quickly. The shoulder issue turned out to be a nagging one, forcing a DL stint that cost him all of April and ending his season prematurely in September as the Braves fell out of contention. When he did toe the rubber in between those shutdowns the results were obviously quite poor relative to the pitcher we saw over the previous 18 months. And the first thing that jumps out in looking at his profile is that Minor’s release point for the vast majority of the season was significantly higher than it had been at any point since his first-half troubles in 2012.

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December 3, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Relief Help

6

Keith Cromer

These pitchers might not rack up saves, but they could still hold considerable fantasy value.

From my perspective, it’s never too early to begin speculating about teams’ bullpens during the offseason and researching who could make a fantasy impact the following year. Playing fantasy baseball for as long as I have has taught me that finding those hidden reliever gems can be the difference between hoisting a trophy and waving the white flag in July. Spending time studying every arm in all major-league bullpens is a staple of my pre-draft routine, and just as important as the homework done for position players, starting pitchers, and impactful rookies.

Please note I am not talking about closers, but rather those reliable bullpen arms that have impressive peripherals and produce in high-leverage situations, not just save situations. These pitchers have earned the trust and confidence of their managers and will continuously be given the opportunity to pitch in similar future situations that could result in wins, holds, and potentially some saves. Even in deeper AL- and NL-Only leagues, the value of these relievers is sometimes unappreciated, despite how they can offset bad performances by starting pitchers in any given week.

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December 2, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeper Decisions

4

Nick Shlain

Resolving a few hypothetical dilemmas involving Kole Calhoun, Kevin Gausman, J.D. Martinez, and Angel Pagan.

Although inspired by a real event, the following story is fantasy and does not depict any actual person or event.

We’re completely entrenched in the slog that is six months without real baseball, but that doesn’t mean fantasy owners are bereft of all decision-making. It’s the time of year when keeper-league owners must make a call on which players they’ll have back next year.

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