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08-18

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: The Unsung Heroes of the Shortstop Revolution
by
Wilson Karaman

08-17

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Recent Top Performers: Pitchers and Outfielders
by
J.P. Breen

08-10

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Deadline Post-Mortem
by
J.P. Breen

08-04

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Early Returns on the 2016 Draft Class
by
Wilson Karaman

07-27

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11

Fantasy Freestyle: Four Things I Believe
by
J.P. Breen

07-22

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Yasiel Puig's Missing Pop
by
Wilson Karaman

07-13

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: First-Half Awards
by
J.P. Breen

07-08

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Second-Half... Bounce Backs?
by
Mike Gianella

07-07

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Gimme Some of That Sweet Ratio Love
by
Wilson Karaman

06-30

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Dynasty Prospects: A Few of My Favorites
by
Wilson Karaman

06-24

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Bargains and Busts, Midseason Edition
by
Mike Gianella

06-17

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: So What's Going on with Jose Abreu, Anyway?
by
Wilson Karaman

06-17

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: On Average, We'd Rather Not
by
Mike Gianella

06-10

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeper-League Trading: A Primer
by
Mike Gianella

06-09

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Evaluating the California League All-Stars
by
Wilson Karaman

06-09

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Building a Contender in TGDX
by
J.P. Breen

06-08

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Mark Trumbo and Being Wrong
by
Jeff Quinton

06-02

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Yes, You Can Stream Jeff Locke, Except You Can't
by
Wilson Karaman

05-27

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Batted-Ball Trajectory and BABIP Overachievers
by
Wilson Karaman

05-19

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: New Managers and Stolen Bases
by
J.P. Breen

05-13

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: What Happened to Last Year's Hot Starters
by
Mike Gianella

05-12

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Prospect Tweet Bag
by
Wilson Karaman

05-06

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: We're Doing it Wrong
by
Mike Gianella

05-05

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: Early-Season Ramblings
by
Wilson Karaman

04-28

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: The Best Fastballs of the First Few Weeks
by
Wilson Karaman

04-22

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: The Art of the Steal
by
Mike Gianella

04-20

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Batted-Ball Profile and Team Defensive Context, Part 2
by
Wilson Karaman

04-15

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1

Fantasy Freestyle: It's Early, Calm Down
by
Mike Gianella

04-13

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Batted Balls and Team Defensive Context
by
Wilson Karaman

04-12

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: My Fantasy Investment Portfolio
by
Scooter Hotz

04-08

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: The Problem With the Rules in Standard Leagues
by
Mike Gianella

04-06

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Bold Predictions for 2016
by
Wilson Karaman

04-01

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Spring Training Risers
by
J.J. Jansons

03-29

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Juan Nicasio: Is it Too Soon to Buy in?
by
George Bissell

03-29

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Distributing Dollars
by
Mike Gianella

03-24

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: The BP Local Fantasy Baseball Guide
by
Baseball Prospectus

03-24

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Auction Bargains
by
Scooter Hotz

03-24

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10

Fantasy Freestyle: Endgame Targets
by
Bret Sayre

03-18

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Fantasy Freestyle: Recapping the 2015 Model Portfolios
by
Greg Wellemeyer

03-17

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Analyzing ADP to Identify Bargains
by
J.P. Breen

03-17

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Risers and Fallers in OBP Leagues
by
Scooter Hotz

03-15

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Spring Training Velocity Watch
by
Matt Collins

03-14

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: Targeting Under-the-Radar Prospects for Rebuilds
by
J.P. Breen

01-08

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: A Look at Preliminary ADP Data
by
Wilson Karaman

01-08

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11

Fantasy Freestyle: Bounce-Back Candidates: Starting Pitchers
by
Keith Cromer

01-08

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: Dominican Winter League Retrospective Valuations
by
Greg Wellemeyer

01-06

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0

Fantasy Freestyle: Desert Dynamos
by
J.J. Jansons

01-05

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: Inflation 101
by
Mike Gianella

01-04

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Surveying the Uncertain Closer Landscape
by
J.P. Breen

12-24

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Fantasy Freestyle: A Recommendation Retrospective
by
Wilson Karaman

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April 28, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Best Fastballs of the First Few Weeks

3

Wilson Karaman

Examining pitchers who've thrived early with good old-fashioned country hardball.

Who doesn’t love a good fastball? We’re still only a handful of starts into the season for starting pitchers, and it’s still pretty early to be looking at some of the performance indicators (DRA, cFIP, etc.) to draw many conclusions. But one thing that’s always worth checking out around this time is pitch movement and effectiveness, as those can clue us in early on what’s driving some of the early performances we’re seeing. Big steps forward with a particular pitch can be an indicator that initial performance is or isn’t likely to be sustainable. So let’s start where everything in pitching starts, and look at some of the best hard stuff we’ve seen in April.

The Best Four-Seamer

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April 22, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Art of the Steal

2

Mike Gianella

Evidence that stolen bases are improperly valued in fantasy circles, and ideas on how to fix a steal-lacking squad via trade.

With the exception of saves, stolen bases are the category most likely to make people moan and groan in fantasy baseball. The value of the stolen base is disproportionate to what it is in real life, which generates a great deal of frustration when it comes to constructing teams in roto leagues. Some go as far to suggest that the solution is to play in a (shudder) points league.

Two common beliefs among fantasy players are that: 1) stolen bases are not all that valuable and 2) stolen bases can found easily on the free agent pool. In this article, I will examine both of these perceptions and see how well they hold up under scrutiny.

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Wilson examines a few worm-burners who benefit from the glovemen behind them and a few flyball hurlers whose outfielders cramp their style.

Last week I took a look at some groundball pitchers whose tendencies are wasted to a degree in front of poor infield defenses, as well as some flyball pitchers built fairly well for their outfield defenses and park contexts. This week (and with the added benefit of more current data!) we’ll turn the tables and look at the other half of the equation: groundball guys in good places and flyball guys in bad places. The additional week-plus of games allows us to at least peak at some of the early season trends that, while far from definitive, are at least starting to take some shape now. This won’t be nearly as helpful of a list, from the standpoint that a lot of the grounder guys are well-known and the fly ball culprits are all pretty comfortable on “Do Not Start!” lists near and far. Still, with the clearer early-season trends I think there’s some value in incorporating these returns into a list of fringier guys who may be somewhat more or less interesting given how their particular skills set jive with their supporting contexts.

Groundball Guys with Good Infield Defenses

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April 15, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: It's Early, Calm Down

1

Mike Gianella

Advice on resisting the urge to overreact to results from the first week-and-change of the regular season.

After months of preparation and then putting your team (or teams) together in a draft or auction, it was finally here. Opening Day is arguably the most exciting day of the year for baseball fans. Spring training is not without its charms, particularly if you had the time and money to travel to Florida or Arizona, but while it is a wonderful harbinger of the baseball season, it is not quite the same as the real thing.

For fantasy baseball writers, this is an odd time of the season. For writers who cover major league teams or the sport on the whole, the transition from spring training to regular season games is a smooth one. Game write-ups take precedence, but features pertaining to what a manager or a player are thinking present natural opportunities for copy. In fantasy, most of the heavy lifting occurs between January and Opening Day. While the subject well doesn’t run entirely dry, there nearly isn’t as much for much for us to do.

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April 13, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Batted Balls and Team Defensive Context

2

Wilson Karaman

Examining the pitchers whose worm-burning and flyballing styles mesh best and worst with their clubs.

We tend to operate with certain assumed axioms in the world of fantasy baseball, one of which is that pitchers who generate ample groundball contact and avoid the tightrope of excessive flyball contact are preferable. And the risk-reward is certainly apparent in the numbers: Last year big-league hitters mustered just a .144 average on flyballs but slugged .443, compared to a .243/.263 line on grounders. Sure, you give up more base hits on the ground, but they tend to be singles with limited potential to really do stand-alone damage. Flyballs, on the other hand, leave yards and lead to runs.

But all pitchers, and all pitching contexts, are not created equal; there are some guys whose stellar groundball rates mean less because they pitch in front of porous infield defenses, while others who walk on the wilder side in the sky are better bets on account of stellar fly-catching troupes patrolling the grass behind them. Now, the variance here isn’t extreme for most pitchers, but it isn’t insignificant either. Major-league leader Brett Anderson induced 380 grounders last year, and had he done so in front of the most efficient infield unit (the Giants) he’d have benefitted from an extra 26 out conversions over the course of his 180 innings relative to the worst unit (Philadelphia).

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April 12, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: My Fantasy Investment Portfolio

0

Scooter Hotz

Scooter runs down the players he owns across many of his half-dozen leagues this year.

On Sunday I finished my final auction of the 2016 season. After a Founders Red’s Rye and a Tired Hands Alien Church with a few of my fellow owners, I went home and started to compile a list of players I owned in each league, with an eye toward figuring out which players I had most frequently across my six leagues.

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April 8, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Problem With the Rules in Standard Leagues

10

Mike Gianella

Mike identifies the flaws in the rules that typically govern basic fantasy formats.

No! Wait! Don’t leave! I know that the last thing anyone wants to talk about when it comes to fantasy baseball are rules. Many, many years ago, I was in a home league where at least half of the league was populated by attorneys, and we would spend at least an hour before each auction discussing the league’s constitution. This is as gut-wrenchingly awful as it sounds. There were a few years where we held our auctions in metropolitan high rises and I would keep wistfully looking at the window, wondering if there was any way at all to unbolt it and fly away to sweet, sweet freedom.

Now that I write for Baseball Prospectus, I play in many more expert leagues than I used to and have been exposed to more combinations of rules and formats than I would have ever imagined possible. Tout Wars, the expert league formed by Peter Kreutzer, Lawr Michaels, Ron Shandler, and Jeff Erickson in 1998, is particularly innovative, offering several twists on the “traditional” Rotisserie rulebook that in some cases have been adopted by the fantasy industry at large.

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April 6, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Bold Predictions for 2016

6

Wilson Karaman

Wilson goes out on a few limbs, putting big-time stock in Delino DeShields, Mychal Givens, and others.

A few weeks ago we pooled our staff predictions into a one-stop shop, but writing a full “bold” predictions column is one of my favorite annual exercises, and that didn’t quench my thirst. So here, then, I present to you a half-dozen things that I foresee to be inevitable fantasy outcomes of the 2016 calendar year.

Delino DeShields, Jr. Will Be a Top-10 Outfielder
By last year’s standards my claim here would essentially mean I’m predicting DeShields to earn $27 this year, and roughly equal, in bulk value, the season that Mookie Betts—he of the 16th-best overall ADP this spring—just produced. That’s a tall mountain to climb, but hear me out. Last year DeShields sneakily earned $15 in less than 500 plate appearances, and he did it largely on the back of 25 steals (which was somehow good for 11th-most in the majors). In his prior three seasons in the minors he’d stolen over 200 bases. This is one of the fastest players in Major League Baseball, and last year’s total feels about as light as the laws of physics allow. He made some intriguing adjustments as the season wore on last summer, cutting his whiff rate by three percentage points in the second half and overcoming an early tendency to pop balls up on the infield. And then there’s the spray chart: Check out the line-drive distribution over the last three months of the 2015 season. He always got on base at a robust clip in his minor-league career, and that translated very well in his big-league debut. Elite speed, plus above-average on-base abilities, plus a batted-ball distribution favorable to maximizing that speed… yeah, I’m buying. Give him 40-50 steals and all of the Runs that come with leading off every day for a solid offense, and suddenly the earnings levels I’m talking about are there for the taking if he can coax a .270 average out of his bat.


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April 1, 2016 10:59 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Spring Training Risers

3

J.J. Jansons

Notes on a handful of players who upped their fantasy stocks last month.


After sending spring training darling Matt Davidson—who was hitting a cool .413/.438/.783 in 46 at-bats—down to Triple-A on Tuesday, White Sox GM Rick Hahn dropped a nugget of wisdom that should apply to fantasy owners everywhere: “You try not to fall too much in love with young players or out of love with veteran players based on spring results.”

With those important words of advice in mind, let’s take a look at five players who have increased their fantasy value, both in redraft leagues and in dynasty leagues, with their solid performances this spring:


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March 29, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Juan Nicasio: Is it Too Soon to Buy in?

4

George Bissell

The Pirates righty has been dominant in spring training, but should you rush to grab him in fantasy formats?

Mulder, the human mind naturally seeks meaningful patterns and configurations in things that don't inherently have any. Given the suggestion of a particular image, you can't help but see that shape somewhere.” –Dana Scully in The X-Files episode “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (1995)

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March 29, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Distributing Dollars

4

Mike Gianella

Why Mike believes his unconventional spending in the recent NL Tout Wars auction was the right approach.

Last week, I wrote about my NL Tout Wars auction. This auction was one of the strangest auctions I have ever had. I didn’t spend over $18 on a player, and only spent under $5 on one player: Taylor Jungmann of the Brewers. This was hardly by design. Based on the prices in LABR NL earlier this month, I fully expected to spend aggressively at the top of the food chain, particularly on the hitters. My bid limits were structured in a way that thought I would walk away with one or even two hitters at $35 or above. As you have probably read by now, it didn’t work out that way.

Table 1: Tout Wars NL 2016, 12 Most Expensive Hitters

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Some thoughts from those who pay closest attention to their teams.

Nothing truly signifies the end of a long winter full of trades, rumors, position battles, and injuries like the start of Fantasy Baseball Draft season. When you see that draft calendar begin to count down in days instead of weeks, it means spring is finally here, and real games are just around the corner. It also means that you’re running out of time to get ready. You need to finish your research. There are a number of great fantasy resources available, especially right here at Baseball Prospectus, but you often need to dig through so much information to get find what you really want. So we’ve decided to help you about.

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