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09-17

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Streaming Strikeouts
by
J.P. Breen

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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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

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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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August 15, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Starling Marte and Being Wrong

4

Craig Goldstein

Craig doesn't like being wrong, but he doesn't mind owning up to it about the Pirates outfielder.

This won’t come as a surprise to most anyone, but I thoroughly enjoy being correct. My default form of conversation is argument/debate, and I’ll generally play devil’s advocate even if I agree with someone, as a means to ferret out why I agree, or why that point is worth making. Basically, if I’m talking to you or at you, it’s because I have a vested interest in making a point that I want you to agree with. I’m a terrible person.

What sucks (for me) is I’m wrong a lot. I don’t think the percentage is particularly egregious, but as with anyone who puts their opinions on record, those opinions are going to be wrong with some regularity. I’ve accepted that as a part of life, but it’s still hard to swallow. 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. I was wrong about Starling Marte.

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August 13, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Setting Expectations on Superstars

3

J.P. Breen

Reevaluating the fantasy value of two elite hitters you may have been nervous to draft this spring.

“He’s just a name-brand at this point. He’s not as good as people think. At this point, people are blinded by previous performance, rather than current or future performance.”

My buddy, Drew, leaned forward and smiled as he crossed off Tom Brady’s name from our pre-draft ranking sheet. Drew and I have co-owned a fantasy football team for years. He’s the brains of the operation. I’m along for the ride because it makes me more interested in the NFL than I otherwise would be, but Drew spent the better part of two months preaching to me that Tom Brady was no longer the quarterback everyone had grown accustomed to over the past decade. We had him as the no. 8 QB in our pre-draft rankings and it’s not difficult to imagine the smug look on our faces as we watched Brady go as the third-overall QB in the second round.

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August 11, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Other Competitive Balance Mechanisms

9

Mike Gianella

Looking at the pros and cons of various methods to curb or prevent "dump" trades.

Last week, I talked about salary caps in auction-style leagues and how they can still allow non-contending teams to rebuild without destroying the integrity of your league. As many of my readers have pointed out, there are several other methods you can use to either curb dump trades or prevent them entirely if you so desire. Over the years, I have used some of these methods in my carryover leagues. Others I have not used but have heard about through either reader feedback or from other fantasy baseball analysts who also play in keeper leagues. The list below is not intended to be comprehensive but offers a guide to different ways you can navigate this issue in your league or leagues.

Salary Floor
A salary cap addresses how much salary a contender may put on his or her roster, but does little if anything to discourage a team at the bottom of the pack from simply vacating its roster and shipping everyone away to another squad. An alternative suggested by many of my readers is a salary floor. Putting a minimum required salary on a team still allows teams to play for next year but prevents teams from simply jettisoning everyone off of their rosters and potentially disrupting the competitive balance of the league.


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August 8, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Jeremy Hellickson

4

Craig Goldstein

The Rays righty is back on the mound, but is he ready to help you in fantasy leagues?

Stop getting excited about Jeremy Hellickson. All four of you. If we haven’t learned that we shouldn’t judge anything based off of four starts or 20-plus innings, we sure as hell should have. So let’s not declare him “back to the old Hellickson,” or make any other bold proclamations here. Let’s just take a look at what he’s done over 20 brief innings, and see if he’s doing anything different. If he is, perhaps you can get in on the ground floor of his value, after a rough 2013.

With his strikeout and walk rates in the same vicinity of his career totals, let’s start with his velocity, per Brooks Baseball:

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August 7, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: A Strategy Example From the Deadline

2

Jeff Quinton

Examining how the concepts about which Jeff writes can be applied to a real fantasy league scenario.

Less specifically, I type words. More specifically, I type words about the theories and concepts that surround fantasy baseball strategy. Every once in a while, it is worthwhile to zoom in a little, to take a look at an actual fantasy baseball example because it allows us to see how these concepts and theories can play out in our leagues. Consequently, I bring you a case study from my NL only keeper league (which also happens to be my favorite league). The trades and non-trades made by the top three teams in my league provide excellent studies on strategy, owner tendencies, competitive response, and trade markets as well as the interactions of all these concepts. Let us get cracking.

The League:
11 team, NL only, 5x5 roto, 15 major league keeper max, 4 minor league keeper max, 12 hitters/9 pitchers/1 utility slot.


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August 4, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Leagues With In-Season Salary Caps

3

Mike Gianella

In-season salary caps can restrict unwanted trade activity, but they might also alter your preferred strategy.

One of the most common complaints from fantasy baseball players revolves around trades with disparate value. While this complaint exists in non-carryover leagues, it is a far more common issue in keeper leagues, where there is always room for debate about what constitutes fair value. Depending upon what your league is like, a cost-controlled Byron Buxton for Miguel Cabrera and Felix Hernandez trade either sounds eminently fair or like a complete and utter sham.

One conundrum in auction-style Roto leagues is that depending upon the league’s contract, salary, and freeze limit rules the market price for Buxton might very well be much higher than it is for Cabrera and Hernandez. There are several reasons that this phenomenon might occur, and to catalogue all of them is well beyond the intended scope of this article. In some leagues, though, it isn’t uncommon to see trades where three, four, or even five major league players are swapped for a cost-controlled Buxton.

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July 31, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Deadlines and Systems of Thought

2

Jeff Quinton

Helpful tips for making the most of your 11th-hour swaps.

Good whatever time of the day you are reading this; more importantly, good almost trading deadline. At this point, you are all familiar with my love of the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amost Tversky as well as my love of Kahneman’s very excellent Thinking, Fast and Slow. Up to this point, when my articles have involved their work, they have been regarding the thinking part rather than the fast and slow part. This has not been unintentional because in fantasy baseball we almost always have time to analyze every decision we make; thus, we almost always get to avoid thinking fast or System 1 thinking as Kahneman describes it. One of the exceptions to this particular “almost always” is your league’s trade deadline. In some leagues, there is a flurry of activity right before the deadline and thus a flurry of System 1 thinking.

This very moment seems like a great time to explain System 1 and System 2 thinking. Kahneman calls System 1, “the brain’s fast, automatic, intuitive approach” and System 2 “the mind’s slower, analytical mode, where reason dominates.” The former is great for making life more enjoyable by lowering the cognitive burden of living in such a complex world. In other words, System 1 is great for quickly and effortlessly making decisions of little consequence. When deciding which parking space you should park in or whether to go with Regular or 100% Colombian at Wawa (#regular4life), System 1 is the perfect system for the job. In fact, using System 2 for these types of decisions would be exhausting. That said, System 1 has many problems for navigating complex problems in that it is affected by biases, finds connections that do not exist, makes counterproductive associations, jumps to conclusions, and chooses the less cognitively difficult path instead of the optimal path. Conversely, System 2 is the better system for making important, difficult decisions. System 2 is not perfect for such instances, but it is the best we have and it is much better at overcoming many of the obstacles presented by System 1. The catch with System 2, however, is that it requires a certain amount of time.

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July 28, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: FAAB in Review: Asking the Non-Experts

6

Mike Gianella

Mike digs into some league-mates' strategies when bidding on NL-only imports Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Every decision influences the next set of decisions that we make. Like a pebble in a pond, what we do today has a definitive impact on what we do tomorrow.

In fantasy baseball, this is true in every facet of the game. The auction or draft we have impacts what kind of trades or free agent moves we make during the season. The trades we make impact whether or not we make additional trades. The free agent pickups we make impact future free agent pickups and future trades. This series of actions and subsequent actions goes on until the season is over. In keeper leagues it goes on until you leave the league or the mortal coil.

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July 24, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Sustained Success and the Red Queen Hypothesis

2

Jeff Quinton

Outperforming your competition year after year requires not only improvement but also staying a step ahead.

While I have been providing mid-season strategy articles of late, I came across the Red Queen effect the other day and began thinking about its impact on fantasy baseball. As a result, this article holds relevance throughout the entire season (maybe more so in the offseason), but does not hold specific relevance to this point in the season.

I am most likely a better fantasy baseball player today than I was two years ago. You are most likely a better fantasy baseball player than you were two years ago. Anyone who has been playing fantasy baseball for some amount of time is probably better now than they were before. If we are all improving, then getting better is helpful in that we do not fall behind, but it does not necessarily get us ahead. And that, kiddos, is the kicker. In other words, improving yourself and gaining an advantage are two very different things. In order to consistently succeed, we need to both improve and gain an advantage, but competition makes this inherently difficult. We will take a look at why it is difficult to sustain success and if anything can be done to overcome those difficulties.

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July 23, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Useful Non-Closer Relievers

3

J.P. Breen

These bullpen arms might not rack up saves, but they can help you pad other categories in Roto leagues.

In non-dynasty leagues, quality relievers who do not rack up saves are often overlooked. If employed correctly, though, they can be pseudo-saviors for two main types of squads: (1) teams who have an underperforming pitching staff and are striving to recover in specific categories in the second half of the season, and (2) leagues that have strict “games started” limits in order to keep teams from simply streaming starters all season.

Teams who have fallen behind in pitching categories can try to cobble together a trade or two, hoping to bolster their pitching staff for a second-half run. However, trades aren’t always possible. And even in the meantime, it can be useful to target specific relievers who can help in desired categories. This article will outline a few relievers who could be useful waiver-wire pickups to aid in WHIP/ERA or in strikeouts. I’m not including pitcher wins because that seems like a crapshoot.

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July 21, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The MLB Trade Landscape, Buyers

10

Mike Gianella

A look at the moves buyers might make and the fantasy impact they'd have.

Two weeks ago, I looked at the potential sellers at the major league trade deadline. Today, I will take a look at potential buyers.

The same caveats from my last article apply. What I have compiled for our readers is a helpful, at-a-glance look at the potential trade market this month, particularly from the vantage point of teams that might be adding players. It is not meant to be an all-encompassing guide; it is possible some rumored targets are not listed below. Since this is a fantasy article, I will focus on fantasy impact but if you are a non-fantasy player and a Baseball Prospectus reader I hope this article proves useful to you as well.

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