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09-15

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: The Other Guys, Part Two: National League
by
Mike Gianella

09-12

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9

Fantasy Freestyle: The Process of Analyzing Process: A Keeper League Example
by
Jeff Quinton

09-08

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: The Other Guys, Part One: American League
by
Mike Gianella

09-04

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: A Behavioral Look at Lineup Setting
by
Jeff Quinton

09-03

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Danny Duffy
by
Craig Goldstein

08-29

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Buy Corey Dickerson
by
Craig Goldstein

08-28

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Analyzing the Competitive Landscape
by
Jeff Quinton

08-25

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Weak Links
by
Mike Gianella

08-22

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Adjusting for Era
by
Craig Goldstein

08-21

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Information, Humans, and Errors in Valuation
by
Jeff Quinton

08-21

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Week 21
by
Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

08-20

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Being Wrong About Yovani Gallardo
by
J.P. Breen

08-15

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Starling Marte and Being Wrong
by
Craig Goldstein

08-13

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Setting Expectations on Superstars
by
J.P. Breen

08-11

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9

Fantasy Freestyle: Other Competitive Balance Mechanisms
by
Mike Gianella

08-08

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Jeremy Hellickson
by
Craig Goldstein

08-07

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: A Strategy Example From the Deadline
by
Jeff Quinton

08-04

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Leagues With In-Season Salary Caps
by
Mike Gianella

07-31

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Deadlines and Systems of Thought
by
Jeff Quinton

07-28

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: FAAB in Review: Asking the Non-Experts
by
Mike Gianella

07-24

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Sustained Success and the Red Queen Hypothesis
by
Jeff Quinton

07-23

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Useful Non-Closer Relievers
by
J.P. Breen

07-21

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: The MLB Trade Landscape, Buyers
by
Mike Gianella

07-18

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15

Fantasy Freestyle: Buy or Sell: Chris Davis
by
Craig Goldstein

07-17

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Midseason Keeper League FAAB Strategy
by
Jeff Quinton

07-15

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: 10 Crazy Predictions Fantasy Writers Should Have Made
by
Mike Gianella

07-11

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0

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

07-11

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: What to Expect From Jimmy Nelson
by
Craig Goldstein

07-10

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: League Norms and Trade Markets
by
Jeff Quinton

07-09

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Don't Forget About Me
by
J.P. Breen

07-07

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Deadline Edition, Sellers
by
Mike Gianella

07-03

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Rick Porcello: Buy or Sell?
by
Craig Goldstein

07-02

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Minor League Draft Pick Valuation
by
Jeff Quinton

06-30

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking at Values, Part 2: Pitchers
by
Mike Gianella

06-27

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Veterans With Value
by
Craig Goldstein

06-26

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: Weaknesses, Decision Framing, and Trades
by
Jeff Quinton

06-25

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking at Values, Part 1: Hitters
by
Mike Gianella

06-25

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Checking in on Cinderella: Pitchers
by
J.P. Breen

06-20

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: My Catcher Fetish and Derek Norris
by
Craig Goldstein

06-19

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Paralysis
by
Jeff Quinton

06-19

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeping Tabs on the Cubs' Top Prospects
by
Mauricio Rubio

06-18

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: A Deeper Look at FAAB in Deeper Leagues
by
Mike Gianella

06-18

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: Checking in on Cinderella: Hitters
by
J.P. Breen

06-13

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: In-Season Strategic Agility
by
Jeff Quinton

06-13

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11

Fantasy Freestyle: Straight Chasing
by
Mauricio Rubio

06-09

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Perception and (Valuation) Reality
by
Mike Gianella

06-05

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeper League Purgatory
by
Jeff Quinton

06-04

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Profiling Alex Reyes
by
Craig Goldstein

06-03

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the Endgame, Part Two
by
Mike Gianella

05-28

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Will Carlos Santana Heat Up?
by
Craig Goldstein

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September 15, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Other Guys, Part Two: National League

7

Mike Gianella

These players might not be the center of your fantasy attention, but some could have sneaky keeper value in NL-only leagues.

Last week, I took a look at some of baseball’s “other guys.” These are players who can fit a lot of descriptions, but often are afterthoughts at this time of year. In keeper leagues with reserve lists, many of these players have to be activated or cut before the season is over, so it is definitely worth taking a look at this less scrutinized pool of players to see if they are worth hanging onto in 2015 and at what price point.

These recommendations are primarily geared toward AL-only and NL-only fantasy players. Last week I looked at the American League. Today, I tackle the National League.

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September 12, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Process of Analyzing Process: A Keeper League Example

9

Jeff Quinton

Examining how to look at processes and the results they yield with a scenario from one of Jeff's leagues.

I say the following a lot: “analyze process, not results.” It is succinct and catchy. It almost reads like it should have lucky numbers on the back. But what does analyzing process actually look like? The offseason is the perfect time to analyze our processes and make improvements. In preparation, let us start by looking at one of my processes that lead to a poor result. Let us see if the poor result was a result of bad process or a possible outcome that was a part of a satisfactory or even optimal process. More importantly, let us see if there is an opportunity to improve my process.

Warning 1: What follows is not my usual application of a strategy, decision-making, or behavioral concept to fantasy baseball. Instead, what follows is an example from one of my fantasy baseball leagues that allows us to view the process of analyzing process.

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September 8, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Other Guys, Part One: American League

10

Mike Gianella

These players might not be the center of your fantasy attention, but some could have sneaky keeper value in AL-only leagues.

Last year, I introduced a piece I called “The Other Guys.” It received such a positive response that I decided to bring it back again this year.

In fantasy baseball, and particularly in keeper leagues, analysts typically take a look at the hot prospects down on the farm who are getting called up for the first time in September. This is useful from a knowledge perspective, but from a decision making standpoint often isn’t very helpful. Mookie Betts is a keep at $10 next year if he makes the Red Sox out of camp; even if he’s on the bench, it’s likely he’ll be kept for the anticipated rewards down the road.

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September 4, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: A Behavioral Look at Lineup Setting

0

Jeff Quinton

With the playoffs around the corner, Jeff looks at how to avoid biases when you decide who to start or sit.

In leagues where we set weekly lineups, we do so every week of the season, but the most important lineups we will set (and certainly the ones we will most agonize over) are our playoff lineups. While the technical aspect of setting a lineup (clicking a mouse, typing, using an app etc.) is pretty much behaviorally neutral, there are many cognitive biases that are quite possibly affecting our sit/start decisions. We will take a look at the potential impact of these biases on our decisions and how we can navigate these biases to improve our decisions.

The Biases

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September 3, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Danny Duffy

2

Craig Goldstein

Did you see Danny Duffy posting a top-five ERA? Neither did Craig, who examines whether he can keep it up.

If someone had asked you back in April to guess the pitchers with the five best ERAs entering September, odds are you’d do pretty well. Clayton Kershaw is a given, as is Felix Hernandez. Chris Sale is as near a lock as there is, and Johnny Cueto wouldn’t have been too far down the list. You wouldn’t have been crazy to throw Yu Darvish or Adam Wainwright in there, but you would be wrong. No one would have foreseen Danny Duffy in the top five.

For good reason, too. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, Duffy missed most of the following two seasons. He has totaled nearly double the innings in 2014 that he threw in 2012-13 combined, and he’s been far more effective in doing so. It’s not that Duffy was bad in that span, posting a 3.90 ERA (3.96 FIP) in 2012 and a 1.85 ERA (3.09 FIP) in 2013. Since returning though, he’s been a different pitcher. He’s striking out fewer batters and walking significantly fewer batters, and it’s set up a model of sustainable success for him, even if it’s robbed him of some of his fantasy ceiling.

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August 29, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Buy Corey Dickerson

4

Craig Goldstein

The Rockies outfielder is enjoying a breakout year, and Craig believes it's no fluke.

You may have noticed the absurd year that Corey Dickerson is putting up in Colorado, or you might not have. He’s having the year Charlie Blackmon was supposed to have after his incredible April, and he’s part of a plethora of outfielders the Rockies have that each have some value. Drew Stubbs is hitting .296 with a .195 ISO in partial playing time. Blackmon might be the worst offensive player of the bunch, given other options are Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. But back to Dickerson, who might be the best of the bunch, if we consider the existence of the tentacled fatty mass on CarGo’s finger his biggest contribution of the season.

Of his 378 plate-appearances, Dickerson has faced a right-handed pitcher 308 times, and has slashed .326/.377/.609 (!), against them. While you might think he’s just a strong-side platoon guy, Dickerson has managed a .281/.343/.469 slash line against southpaws, which might earn him a stretch of full-time play in the future. Given the 70 plate appearances that line came in, small sample size warnings do apply, but it’s worth noting he’s had some success against them in his career.

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August 28, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Analyzing the Competitive Landscape

0

Jeff Quinton

Properly understanding the competitive landscape can be critical to your decision-making, especially in keeper leagues.

“Analyze process, not results.” With our most important strategic decisions behind us for this season, right now is a perfectly good time to take a look at our process. A part of “The Process” that often gets overlooked—that I know I have overlooked—is projecting the competitive landscape of our leagues. In a lot of articles, I discuss buyers and sellers, but in order to determine whether we are or will be a buyer or a seller, we first need to know where we currently and will stand. This seems pretty easy: take a look at the standings, see which teams have underperformed, overperformed, and performed as expected, take a guess at what they will do in the future, and there you have it. If it is a head to head league, you can take a look at future matchups, and if it is a rotisserie league you can take a look at the categories. Done and done.

The above was nearly my exact process for analyzing and projecting my leagues’ competitive landscapes. I would pay more attention to specific rankings if I was in the race for a title or playoff berth, but that was really it. As you guessed, this process did not work out very well. While it may seem harmless, the consequences of improperly projecting the competitive landscape can be very negative, especially in keeper leagues. This can cause us to sell when we actually had a chance to compete and buy when we really had no chances of winning. We know the consequences of poor projection, so let us take a look at the causes and what we can do to improve.

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August 25, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Weak Links

3

Mike Gianella

Signs of and advice on handling players who aren't up to par with the competition in your league.

If you are a veteran fantasy player like I am, chances are good that you participate in leagues with strong competition. I have played in “easy” leagues in the past, and while on some level it is fun to watch a powerhouse team roll over the competition, it isn’t very challenging and after a while becomes staid and boring. I’d rather beat strong players as opposed to simply rolling over a group of chumps that is already looking ahead to fantasy football in early August.

While playing against excellent competition is the fantasy baseball ideal, sometimes a “bad” player or two does slip through the cracks and make it into a competitive league. One bad apple won’t necessarily destroy a league, but can have anywhere from a mild to moderate impact on the quality of the league depending on the nature of why the player is weak.

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August 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Adjusting for Era

3

Craig Goldstein

We all have our own idea of what constitutes a good ERA, FIP, or xFIP, but it's important to make sure that our benchmarks keep up with the times.

While some of us have come to use plus-or-minus stats that adjust to league average to make our determinations on where a player lands within his ranks, it’s clear that many people still use the standard ERA to evaluate a pitcher or batting average to evaluate a hitter. There’s no issue with that, especially when those are the relevant categories in a fantasy league—but there’s something of a collective benchmark that we have for what determines a good, great, or elite ERA or batting average. Even more advanced stats like FIP or xFIP fall prey to this collective benchmark and to our failure to adjust for context.

Focusing on the pitching side of the equation, based on the era I grew up in a 3.00 ERA was/is my benchmark for whether someone is a good pitcher. There are shades of gray of course—a mediocre pitcher can have a fluky season—but everything revolves around that 3.00. A 3.30 was pretty good and a 3.50 was solid. A 4.00 was fit for a fifth starter/long-man type. Reality, of course, is a different story. We all know that we’re in a down offensive period in baseball, but I do wonder if enough of us have adjusted to what that means on the pitching side of the equation. This is an effort to show just how dramatically things have changed over the last few years, so that we can recalibrate what an elite or good pitcher is, and then use that as a new frame of reference.

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August 21, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Information, Humans, and Errors in Valuation

3

Jeff Quinton

"I was wrong" season for the fantasy team continues with a behavioral look at errors in forecasting how players will perform.

Seemingly out of nowhere, it has become “I was wrong” season for the Baseball Prospectus fantasy team. First, Craig Goldstein wrote about undervaluing Starling Marte, and then J.P. Breen wrote about undervaluing Yovani Gallardo. Both articles do an excellent job analyzing what each author missed regarding the specific player. What I hope to look at today is not what was missed about a specific player, but rather what parts of human behavior cause us to err when forecasting player production.

In order to do so, let us take a look at forecasting and what humans do when forecasting. My favorite definition of forecast (the verb) is from Merriam-Webster and it goes, “to predict after looking at the information available.” I like this definition because it is convenient for my article. I also like it because it highlights that our forecasts are dependent on “the information available.” Relatedly, in Thinking, Fast and Slow, our main human, Daniel Kahneman writes, “An essential design feature of the associative machine is that it represents only activated ideas.” Put differently, we cannot take into account that which we cannot imagine. I am throwing around a lot of combinations of words right now, so please allow me to simplify all this:

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August 21, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Week 21

3

Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

If these players are on the waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format of your league.

12-TEAM MIXED

Norichika Aoki, OF, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have been on quite a tear in August, and having their leadoff hitter doing what he’s supposed to be doing has certainly helped them in this stretch. Aoki, who had been quite a fantasy disappointment over the first four months of the season, is doing the two things the Royals and fantasy owners want him to do recently: get on base and steal bases. Since August started, Aoki is hitting .295/.386/.410 with 14 runs scored and six steals in just 18 games. Compare that to the 40 runs scored and nine steals Aoki had over the first 82 games of the season, and you start to wonder what your team could have looked like if he had been doing this since the start of the year. And while it’s true that non-elite speed gets devalued a bit in shallower mixed leagues, Aoki’s strength in batting average (or OBP, depending on what you fancy) and runs helps make him a player who should be owned across the board right now in rotisserie leagues. —Bret Sayre


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August 20, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Being Wrong About Yovani Gallardo

1

J.P. Breen

J.P. wasn't expecting much from the Brewers righty, but he's been pleasantly surprised.

Admittedly, this article stems from a recent article by our own Craig Goldstein and an ongoing series by Jason Parks. It revolves around the idea of making preseason projections and ultimately being wrong. Goldstein took the high road in his article last week and explained that baseball analysts can occasionally hide behind process as a way of lessening the impact of making an incorrect prediction. He writes:

I often think my reasons at the time were justified, and that just because it didn’t break my way, doesn’t mean I was wrong, just that it turned out differently. This is hiding behind “the process.” I was wrong, and good reasoning at the time or not, that needs to be owned.

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