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07-28

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5

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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8

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

05-28

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2

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

05-22

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Representativeness, Valuation, and Tanaka
by
Jeff Quinton

05-22

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Dallas Keuchel: Sell-High Candidate?
by
Craig Goldstein

05-19

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: My Closer Lost His Job and Now I Hate Everybody
by
Mike Gianella

05-15

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: The Middle of the Road
by
Wilson Karaman

05-14

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Growing the Pie
by
Jeff Quinton

05-14

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: Nathan Eovaldi: Great or Just Hot?
by
Craig Goldstein

05-12

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Expert League Assessment: First Quarter
by
Mike Gianella

05-07

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Negotiation Styles
by
Jeff Quinton

05-05

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: The Upside Fallacy
by
Mike Gianella

04-28

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Transaction Paralysis
by
Jeff Quinton

04-23

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: The Benefits of Early-Season Trade Talk
by
Jeff Quinton

04-21

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31

Fantasy Freestyle: Why 70/30?
by
Mike Gianella

04-17

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Recovering Prospects
by
Craig Goldstein

04-16

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Fighting Early-Season Confirmation Bias
by
Jeff Quinton

04-14

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Auction Leagues and Salary/Contract Dynamics
by
Mike Gianella

04-09

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Buying Low, Letting Go, and the Disposition Effect
by
Jeff Quinton

04-09

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: Small-Sample Numbers That Matter
by
Craig Goldstein

04-07

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22

Fantasy Freestyle: Home Cooking
by
Mike Gianella

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July 3, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Rick Porcello: Buy or Sell?

4

Craig Goldstein

The Tigers righty is coming off a shutout, but do his peripherals portend a strong second half?

Late last season, I took a look into what had changed with Rick Porcello that enabled him to strike out 19 batters over a two-game stretch, the highest two-game total in his career. That two game sample was just an impetus to look at a larger change in Porcello’s profile though—a marked increase in strikeout rate. With another impetus occurring on Tuesday night (Porcello’s 0 K, 0 BB CGSO), I thought it’d behoove us to take a look at Porcello’s season thus far in 2014.

The 2014 season has gone swimmingly for Porcello, as he’s posting an ERA of 3.12, which would be just the second time in his career that he recorded an ERA below 4.00, with the other being his rookie campaign that ended at 3.96. Do the peripherals line up with this improved production, though? The answer, almost overwhelmingly, is no. In fact, he’s reverted to being the pitcher he was in 2009-12, ditching the peripheral improvements he picked up in 2013.

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July 2, 2014 6:30 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Minor League Draft Pick Valuation

4

Jeff Quinton

As the peak of trade season approaches, it's worth thinking about how much prospect selections are actually worth.

Many a keeper league has a minor league draft to supplement the major league draft or auction; the trading of minor league draft picks is fairly common practice in these leagues. Often serving as the final pieces to help balance a trade, the value of these picks can range from incredibly valuable to having almost no value depending on the structure and rules of the league. Proper valuation of minor league draft picks is thus critical when making a trade that includes these draft picks. Today we look at several key factors to take into account when trading away or trading for draft picks. By looking at these factors, I mean that there are typed words on them below:

Number of minor league slots in the league (Minor League Depth)
The more minor league keeper spots in a league, the less valuable the picks become. All other variables made equal, the minor league picks in a 16-team league with four minor leaguers per team are more valuable than the picks in a 16-team league with five minor leaguers per team. Why? Because, in theory, the top 64 (16x4) fantasy prospects would be owned in the first league, whereas the top 80 (16x5) prospects would be owned in the second league. Therefore, come next year’s minor league drafts, more top prospects would be available in the first league than the second league. Also, prospects that make significant improvements—the ones that jump up real and fantasy lists—are less likely to be owned in the first league than the second league. What are not different between the two leagues, generally, are the top prospects available from the most recent MLB minor league draft. Because prospects from the most recent MLB minor league draft are usually the best players for our fantasy minor league drafts (with the exception being the previously mentioned un-owned players that have made large strides), the first handful of picks in minor league drafts will be the same regardless of minor league depth. The true difference in value of minor league draft picks, as determined by minor league depth, is thus the value of the picks that follow these top picks from the MLB minor league draft. In leagues with shallow minor league depth, a bottom first round pick will probably be a top-50 fantasy prospect. In leagues with deep minor league depth, a bottom first round pick might not be a top 100 fantasy prospect.


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June 30, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking at Values, Part 2: Pitchers

0

Mike Gianella

Examining how arms have performed relative to their fantasy price tags to this point in the season.

This is Part II of my series examining midseason, Rotisserie-style valuation for AL- and NL-only league owners. Last week, I examined how the hitters were doing thus far. This week, I’ll take a look at the pitchers.

Entering the season, there was a significant amount of discussion surrounding the idea that pitchers were more valuable because pitching numbers across the board were improving. This perception led to higher ADP slotting for pitchers in NFBC draft leagues, but didn’t lead to any significant changes in auction leagues.

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June 27, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Veterans With Value

6

Craig Goldstein

Your league-mates might undervalue these players because of their age, but they can still provide a jolt to your fantasy offense.

It’s only natural to have a bias toward younger players and prospects in dynasty formats. After all, they are the gift that keeps on giving, especially in leagues that don’t have limits on how long one can be kept. We know going into the season that older players are undervalued, and yet we still can’t help ourselves from reaching when it comes to the promising young ones.

So, we know there’s value to be had all over the place in the over-30 range, as guys are still exiting their primes, but what about the 35-plus crowd. The names below won’t surprise you, as you have to be pretty good to hold value into your mid-30s, but they are a subset of players that I think can hold their value for the next 2-3 seasons, which is reason enough to hold onto/target them in dynasty leagues.

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June 26, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Weaknesses, Decision Framing, and Trades

5

Jeff Quinton

When looking for ways to improve your fantasy team, it's important not to mistake weaknesses for opportunities.

Narrow or incorrect decision framing will lead to bad decisions. This is nothing new. I even did a primer, an overview one could say, on decision framing (here). In short, by taking too narrow a view of a particular decision, we may miss out on less obvious, more optimal options. Today, we will be bringing this conversation on decision framing down to a more specific level; that level being how we go about trading to improve our team. For this article, I will keep the conversation to redraft leagues; however, the concepts can certainly be applied to any league.

When looking to improve our team, the first thing we tend to do is look to improve our biggest weaknesses. Brief example: if our pitchers are terrible and our hitters are good, then we look to trade hitting for pitching. The “fix your weaknesses” strategy is not exclusive to fantasy baseball either. In business we use resources to grow in markets where we are underrepresented, we perform the most analysis on how to improve our weakest brands, and we take the most time to make decision about our least profitable products. In baseball, we ask if a prolific minor leaguer would be able to handle a position switch in order to replace our least prolific major leaguer, we ask if we are better off finding a platoon partner for a hitter who is really struggling against lefties, etc. Our obsession with weaknesses seems innate.

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June 25, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking at Values, Part 1: Hitters

1

Mike Gianella

Examining how bats have performed relative to their fantasy price tags to this point in the season.

In the fantasy baseball community, we have reached the time of year when we start examining player performances, because we are at or near the halfway point of the season. This designation is as arbitrary as arbitrary endpoints get. However, there is enough data to begin to at least develop a picture of how accurate or inaccurate we were prior to the regular season compared to the actual results.

This week I will take a look at the best, most expensive, biggest bargains, and biggest busts in the NL and AL-only hitter pools. Next week, I will look at the pitchers.

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June 25, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Checking in on Cinderella: Pitchers

2

J.P. Breen

These starters may have unexpectedly anchored your staff in the early going, but can they keep it up going forward?

Last week, we discussed the difficulty of evaluating unexpected early-season studs. Their cumulative statistics can often camouflage a subsequent downturn in performance because of a strong month of April, leaving fantasy owners hanging on to overperformers longer than they should. It simply takes too long for the overall numbers to become unpalatable when they’re bolstered by an extremely strong stretch early in the year. Thus, it is important to isolate recent performance and determine whether Cinderella has legitimate staying power as early as possible. Fantasy owners can’t afford to pick up guys like Emilio Bonifacio during his hot stretch and stick with him for the next couple months while he drags his feet behind the remainder of one’s roster.

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June 20, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: My Catcher Fetish and Derek Norris

2

Craig Goldstein

The A's backstop is off to a sizzling start; what does it mean for Norris and other young catchers who struggled early in their careers?

I kind of have a thing for catchers. That’s a weird thing to have to admit, and frankly I didn’t even know this was the case for much of my life. You don’t necessarily know you’re weird until you’re on a podcast with three supposed friends and they call you out for having a catcher fetish. What a shameful moment.

All this is to say, I tend to value catchers more than your average fantasy analyst. There’s not a right or a wrong in this concept, it’s just a different approach. Except when it comes to Derek Norris, in which case it’s a totally correct approach because have you seen his slash line? His .313/.416/.531 line is likely a mirage of sorts, but there’s plenty of supporting evidence as to why Norris, who has previously struggled, is now a monster at the plate.

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June 19, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Paralysis

3

Jeff Quinton

A look at ways to alleviate the fear that sometimes accompanies a seemingly fair trade proposal.

This article starts with a feeling. That feeling being the one you get when you contemplate a particular type of trade offer—a fair trade offer. You know the feeling I am talking about, I know you do. The exhilaration and excitement come first, but these feelings are quickly washed over by another, stronger feeling—fear. At this point, you are beyond the constructive weighing of pros and cons; your mind is simply racing with every conceivable negative outcome. Maybe your fears are like mine, and maybe they sometimes go something like this:

“This guy throws sliders 30 percent of the time and his mechanics aren’t great. Is he due for a DL stint?” “I know 32 is not that old, but he did play in 15 less games in 2013 than he did in 2012.” “Is his strikeout rate trending the wrong way?” “This guy’s true talent is better, but he has the same amount of homers that my guy has right now. Is it really an upgrade?” “I’m trading away current production for potential future production that might never be realized. This might end up looking really bad for me.” “Am I giving up too much with no guarantee that this will significantly improve my team?”

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June 19, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeping Tabs on the Cubs' Top Prospects

7

Mauricio Rubio

Updating the fantasy stock of Chicago's best young hitting talents.

Kris Bryant was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he will likely play third base and hit in close proximity to the Cubs’ other talented and highly touted prospect Javier Baez.

Before the season started, the spring had created clever illusions about Baez, as Cubs fans and fantasy owners alike salivated at the possibility that each preseason laser beam to the outfield seats would draw him closer to major-league playing time in 2014. A deep slump to start the year popped those illusions, as those same fans and fantasy owners were left holding their heads in their hands and looking for a consolation that could only come after the high-risk proposition in Baez started solving the puzzle that is pitch sequencing.

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June 18, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: A Deeper Look at FAAB in Deeper Leagues

2

Mike Gianella

Mike examines whether clinging to FAAB dollars or trading for more to use deep into the season is a good idea.

Last week in Tout Wars (NL-only) I made a trade, flipping hot prospect Kris Bryant (yes, it is a non-keeper league, why do you ask?) for Tony Cruz and $50 in free agent acquisition budget (FAAB). I needed space on my reserve list and wasn’t going to deal Bryant (I had planned on cutting John Mayberry or a middle reliever) but the $50 FAAB was too good to pass up so I made the deal.

The trade left me with the most FAAB to spend by far; I had $141 compared to the next-highest team’s $96. I wasn’t going to cut Bryant, so I can’t quite look at the trade like it was something for nothing, but with Bryant’s ETA an open question I didn’t have a big problem making the move. The gamble is that 1) Bryant won’t be up until at least August, and 2) the best free agent who comes over from the American League is better than Bryant.

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June 18, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Checking in on Cinderella: Hitters

7

J.P. Breen

In part one of two, J.P. looks at which early-season darlings have sustained their production and which have fallen off a cliff.

In covering fantasy baseball for the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that one of the biggest struggles for fantasy owners is evaluating players who enjoyed surprisingly good starts. Some owners wait out the subsequent rough patch because they’re convinced the good times will return. More often, though, the decline in performance goes relatively unnoticed because it is masked by the torrid start to the season. That is, the overall statistics for a player can seem palatable, while that guy is actually an anchor that drags the whole team down the standings for weeks before the downturn in performance becomes obvious in the seasonal numbers.

This article aims to cut through the fog of early-season overperformance in an attempt to determine whether a guy still has fantasy value. After all, a pumpkin can be transformed into a beautiful carriage for a while, but it’s only temporary. Its real identity eventually shines through, and ultimately, it is what we thought it was: an unattractive orange gourd that we pretend to care about for a few weeks around the end of October (note: this is ignoring the revelation that is pumpkin pie, which I’m throwing a comfortable 70 on and won’t listen to any arguments to the contrary).

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