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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: 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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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

<< Previous Column Entries Next Column Entries >>

If you saw any of these outlandish things coming before the season started—well, you were right.

A popular preseason article topic for fantasy baseball writers is “10 Crazy Predictions.” These types of articles usually try to make wild predictions based on a somewhat logical premise. Typically, most of these predictions miss the mark, with perhaps one or two of them hitting the jackpot.

Truth is stranger than fiction, or so the old bromide goes. But every year, it never fails: Something happens that falls completely outside of the realm of anyone’s predictive powers, even for those who are trying to find outliers. Below is a non-inclusive listing of fantasy baseball events that no one in his or her right mind would have predicted in April that are absolute stunners.

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July 11, 2014 6:30 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Buy or Sell: Charlie Morton

0

Wilson Karaman

The sinkerballer has seen his strikeout rate spike recently, but can he keep it up?

For those of you who loyally read my weekly Starting Pitcher Planner column (which will return at its regularly scheduled time next week, incidentally), it should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of Charlie Morton’s work. And lately that’s been an easier position to embrace, as the sinkerballer has turned in an outstanding stretch since the calendar flipped to June. Over his past seven starts he’s thrown 45 innings of 2.80 ERA, 1.02 WHIP baseball—and that includes one poor start against the Cubs that singlehandedly accounts for 42 percent of the runs he’s allowed during the period. But what is perhaps most interesting about this string of starts is that he has bucked a career strikeout rate that hovered just north of 6.0 K/9 to whiff 49 batters across those 45 frames. Morton emerged from his Tommy John cocoon as a consistent back-end starter in medium-depth leagues last year, and looked to be on a nice path towards reprising the role again through the first couple months of this season. But the strikeout rate gains over an increasingly intriguing sample size suddenly make him a much more attention-grabbing option for mixed leaguers. So what’s going on? Where did all these whiffs come from, and is this a sustainable development?

Let’s start with the usual suspects. Quick glances at Morton’s velocity and pitch movement by month don’t yield much in the way of explanation. After seeing his two-seam velocity peak at 92.9 miles an hour in May he’s actually seen that number drop down 92.1 in June and 91.8 so far in two July starts. So that’s not moving in the right direction at all. And speaking of movement, when we take a peek at his horizontal movement we find that after manipulating about 10 1/2 inches of horizontal movement on his two-seamer back in May he’s down to about 9 1/4 inches now. Huh. So basically, Morton’s hot stretch coincides with lower velocity and less movement on his pitches, usually two signs reserved for situations in which a pitcher may be unhealthy or otherwise experiencing a period of unproductivity.

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July 11, 2014 6:30 am

Fantasy Freestyle: What to Expect From Jimmy Nelson

10

Craig Goldstein

The Brewers righty is coming back to the big leagues; here's a look at what he could do for your fantasy squad.

Jimmy Nelson is going to make his second start of the season on Friday. You’re forgiven if you missed the first one—though it was good (5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 0 ER)—and you’re forgiven if you don’t remember our Call-Up article on him, because it took place during the call-up heavy month of September, last season. Nelson replaces Marco Estrada in the Brewers rotation at a time when the Brewers desperately need to maintain their 1 ½-game lead in the NL Central, lest they fall back into a crowded wild card race. Replacing Estrada with Nelson at this crucial time shows one of two things: The Brewer’s complete lack of faith in Estrada ironing out his home run issues (which are bad, even for him), or their belief in the abilities of Nelson, not necessarily to live up to his potential, but to be better than Estrada will be for the remainder of the season.

Speaking of that potential, here’s what erstwhile BP-er Jason Cole had to say last September about Nelson:

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July 10, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: League Norms and Trade Markets

0

Jeff Quinton

How understanding league norms could help you make the most of your fantasy swaps.

Many a fantasy baseball player is trying to make a trade right now. Many trades will be made that should not have been made. Many trades will not be made that should have been made. League norms, while usually helpful, can play a role in distorting fantasy baseball trades and trade talks. More specifically, league norms often cause us to make trades outside of what the market dictates. Again, this can cause trades that should be made to go unmade and trades that should not be made to be made. We will take a look at league norms and how they impact trades. We will then look at what we can do about it.

League Norms:
I am usually all into books and journal articles and stuff, but sometimes good ol’ Wikipedia has just what the internet writer ordered:


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July 9, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Don't Forget About Me

6

J.P. Breen

The recent surges from April's fantasy slumptrucks.

A couple weeks ago, we discussed some unexpected early-season fantasy studs and asked how they had fared since their brilliant starts to the season. An intrepid commenter suggested a follow-up article that highlighted some players who had accelerated their performance after spinning their wheels out of the gate. This is my humble acquiescence.

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July 7, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Trade Deadline Edition, Sellers

2

Mike Gianella

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

Unless you are in a very shallow mixed league, chances are excellent that the major league non-waiver trade deadline will have an impact on your fantasy league. Even if you don’t play fantasy baseball, the deadline is a fun time if you are a baseball fan, but ever since I started playing fantasy baseball, I feel like I pay extra attention to the rumor mill.

What I have compiled for our readers this week is a helpful, at-a-glance, one article look at the potential trade market this month, particularly from the viewpoint of players who might be on the move. 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 that this article proves useful to you as well.

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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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