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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

04-02

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11

Fantasy Freestyle: Now is the Season of My Discontent
by
Mike Gianella

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June 13, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: In-Season Strategic Agility

0

Jeff Quinton

Sunk costs impact everyone's fantasy decisions, but acting on them the right way can give you an advantage.

Earlier in the calendar year, I wrote about strategic agility on auction and draft day. Today, we discuss in-season strategic agility, which is really more about decision framing and sunk costs than actual strategy. We are at the point of the season where we should be deciding or at least analyzing if we should be buyers, sellers, or standing pat. There are serious obstacles to overcome when doing this critical (for fantasy baseball purposes) analysis, those obstacles being our past decisions. As many others and I have mentioned before, our desire to be right (not wrong) is often greater than our desire to optimize profit, utility, fantasy baseball glory, etc. When our past strategic decisions turn out to be wrong, we may very well find ourselves trying to make up for our mistakes instead of making the best decision based on where we currently stand. To overcome these obstacles we will take a look at how we come to face them, what causes us to fall victim to them, how we can overcome them, and how we can leverage sunk costs against our leaguemates.

Please allow me to start with an example and go from there. Example:

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June 9, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Perception and (Valuation) Reality

2

Mike Gianella

Most buy-low and sell-high players are too obvious, but for some, groupthink can lead to gaps between real and perceived value.

For the most part, the idea of buying low and selling high is a waste of everybody’s time.

We all know that Mark Buehrle and Tim Hudson aren’t going to finish the season with earned run averages of 2.04 and 1.97, respectively. It is extremely unlikely that Nelson Cruz will finish the year with 60 home runs and 150 runs batted in. We even know that the superstars who are crushing it now are going to slip somewhat. If you were going to bet the over/under on Troy Tulowitzki hitting .360 or Giancarlo Stanton hitting 45 home runs, the safe bet on both would be the under.

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June 5, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Keeper League Purgatory

6

Jeff Quinton

Advice for owners who feel like they're stuck in no-man's land between contention and dumping.

After taking the last week off, it is good to be back. Today we are talking in-season keeper league strategy (we will get #behavioral next week). More specifically, we will be talking about being in the curious position of being neither a buyer nor a seller—of being in keeper league purgatory. This position does not occur in each league every year. In leagues where half the teams have a shot at a title and the other half clearly do not, every owner is either a buyer or a seller. We have not gathered here today to talk about those leagues because those leagues have no purgatory. No, we are here in this very moment to talk about leagues where first place and, potentially, other top finishes have seemingly been decided, leaving the teams battling for lesser payouts and higher minor league draft picks (or some other similar payout/finish structure) disincentivized to be buyers.

First question of the article: why are these teams disincentivized to be buyers? They are disincentivized because no matter what they buy they are unlikely to meaningfully improve their position. Second question: what do I mean by meaningfully improve their position? Almost a fortnight of Sundays ago I wrote about the fantasy win curve, which denotes the value of an increase in the standings. If the value difference between, let us say, third and seventh is not meaningful, and first and second place are not attainable, then teams likely to finish in the 3-7 range will not be incentivized to sell long term assets for assets that will help them win this year. On top of that, if third-to-seventh-place finishes hold monetary (cash) or long-term (higher picks) value, then these teams will not be incentivize to sell short term assets for long term assets either. Essentially, these teams are incentivized to do nothing; they are in keeper league purgatory.

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June 4, 2014 6:23 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Profiling Alex Reyes

1

Craig Goldstein

A scouting- and fantasy-based look at one of the top arms in the Cardinals system.

It’s not often you see a native of the U.S., much less New Jersey, signed in the international period, but that’s what took place when Alex Reyes left the states for the Dominican Republic. The Cardinals signed him for just under $1 million ($950,000) in December of 2012 and threw him right into Short-Season ball as an 18-year-old. It’s an aggressive assignment not to go through any complex leagues, but his familiarity with the U.S. likely played a part in their willingness to push him. Reyes started 2014 in Low-A, where he’s just under three years younger than the average player for the level, noteworthy because even if the production is mild, it would be considered a success based on his age relative to the level.

Reyes has received praise in the prospect community, and attention from dynasty leaguers thanks to a precocious skillset. That skillset remains unrefined though, and that bears itself out in the numbers. A 3.39 ERA is plenty to write home about from an 18 year old in Short-Season ball, but it’s worth nothing that along with his head-turning 27 percent strikeout rate, he produced an elevated 11 percent walk rate. Where he truly shined though is in limiting the long ball, as he allowed only one home run in 58 1/3 innings.

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June 3, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the Endgame, Part Two

1

Mike Gianella

In the second part of a two-article series, Mike examines the returns that $1-3 pitchers could provide to owners who are dumping.

Last week, I looked at cheap “endgame” ($1-3) hitters in the American League and National League and concluded that there were some bargains to be found at the end of the auction that could help your team next year if you’re dumping.

This week, I will take a look at the cheap pitchers.

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May 28, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the Endgame, Part One

8

Mike Gianella

In the first of a two-article series, Mike examines the returns that $1-2 hitters have provided to their owners.

After a very slow start, George Springer arrived with a vengeance this past weekend. His sizzling 1.091 OPS in May is seventh-best in the majors for the month and the buzz/wow factor or whatever the heck you want to call it is extremely high. For the purposes of comparison, Springer has a 268/348/500 slash line in his first 155 major league plate appearances. Mike Trout had a .220/.284/.376 slash over his first 155 plate appearances. It’s an apples-to-bananas comparison given that Springer is almost two years older than Trout is now, but it is nevertheless amazing how quickly Springer has broken through.

It is also an aberration.

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May 28, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Will Carlos Santana Heat Up?

2

Craig Goldstein

The Indians catcher-turned-third baseman has scuffled through two months, but there are reasons to be optimistic.

The Indians, fresh off a Wild Card Game appearance in 2013, are in last place in the AL Central. While no one player is to blame for the team's struggles, Carlos Santana's early-season woes are eye-catching. Everyone expected Santana, who has transitioned to third base after spending his first four seasons at catcher, to struggle on defense. Yet nobody anticipated his .159/.327/.301 slash line through 220 plate appearances. The question at hand then, for the Indians and for fantasy owners alike, is whether Santana will be a productive player from this point on. The answer, as it so happens, is yes.

The biggest pimple on the oily face that is Santana’s batted-ball data is the lack of line drives. Santana is no stranger to low line drive rates—regularly producing below the league-average—but his 11.7 percent clip in 2014 would represent a new career-low. The line drives he’s missing have mostly turned into ground balls, though his fly ball rate has increased as well. He's maintained a 20-homer pace because his home-run-per-fly-ball rate has remained static even with the increase in fly balls.

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May 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Representativeness, Valuation, and Tanaka

0

Jeff Quinton

A look at why evaluating players based on other players we find comparable can be troublesome, and how to overcome the issue.

Back at my old stomping grounds, I used to write about the same topics that I currently write about at Baseball Prospectus, but when I wrote about a behavioral phenomenon that had particularly negative consequences I would call it a fantasy pitfall. The representativeness heuristic can be placed in the fantasy pitfall category. What follows is a discussion of the representativeness heuristic, its impact on fantasy baseball decision making, an example of that said impact regarding Masahiro Tanaka, and a look at how we can hopefully minimize the negative impact of the representativeness heuristic on fantasy baseball decision making.

Note: while this is going to be most helpful for the offseason, I always find it best to investigate and write about such topics when they are fresh in my mind. Because this topic is particularly relevant to players coming over from Japan, Cuba, and the amateur ranks, this article should still be of some help during the season.

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May 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Dallas Keuchel: Sell-High Candidate?

1

Craig Goldstein

The Astros lefty is off to a strong start, but can he sustain it?

Last week, I took the opportunity that the Fantasy Freestyle affords us to look at one of the hotter pitching names in the early going: Nathan Eovaldi. This week I thought it prudent to take a similar look at another starter that is burning up the waiver wires and getting a lot of love from the internetting baseball community (in fact he was just profiled by Mike Petriello yesterday). We look at Dallas Keuchel on the heels of the latest sterling performance in a string of many. His eight and two-thirds inning performance left him one out shy of a second consecutive complete game. He lowered his ERA from 3.06 to 2.92 and he induced 18 ground balls, a season-high, snapping a streak of three straight games where he induced 15 ground balls.

Keuchel’s emergence as a high quality rotation option is as surprising as he’s been dominant. As a minor leaguer he never once cracked a 20 percent strikeout rate. Last year he checked in at 18 percent and this year he’s upped his game to just under 23 percent. He’s paired that impressive knack for improvement with a diminishing walk rate, going from 10.3 percent in 2012 to 7.6 percent last year to five percent thus far in 2014. Where he really sets himself apart though, is in his batted ball profile. Keuchel is generating ground balls at a 67.7 percent clip. For frame of reference Justin Masterson, as elite a ground ball starting pitcher as there is topped out at just under 60 percent in 2010, and even then his fly ball rate was five percentage points higher than Keuchel’s is now.

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May 19, 2014 6:00 am

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

3

Mike Gianella

How you should cope with a closer who loses his right to save chances depends on the format of your league.

Even if you play in only one fantasy baseball league, eventually you are going to suffer through a closer losing his job. Given the precious amount of capital we invest in closers, there is arguably nothing more frustrating than losing your closer to ineffectiveness.

We all share the same level of frustration when we lose a closer. However, there is always a temptation to rush into the breach and invest significant FAAB or a high-priority waiver claim on a closer. Is this the best course of action, or is it better to be more conservative and hope to get lucky?

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May 15, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Middle of the Road

0

Wilson Karaman

Are you stuck between contending this year and playing for the future? If so, Wilson has some advice.

As a wise fellow named “Rowdy” Roddy Piper once said, the middle of the road’s the most dangerous place to drive. And this philosophical nugget is astute indeed when it comes to fantasy baseball, particularly for managers in keeper leagues. May is moving month. You’ve had some time now to see how your squad looks in uniform and analyze early returns, and you should have a decent handle by now on your strengths and weaknesses relative to the league. A picture is hopefully starting to emerge as to whether you’ve got the foundation in place to compete this year. And now is the time to take those next steps and craft your strategies to acquire the pieces you’ll need to push you over the top or set you on a course for contention next year.

…except what if a picture hasn’t started to emerge? What if you’re stuck in that grey area between contending and pretending? And worse yet, what if others in your league have already started wheeling and dealing to address their own needs? It’s a tough spot to find yourself in, and failing to handle the situation properly can have dire consequences that alter the trajectory of your franchise for several years to come. So for the sake of avoiding catastrophe, let’s take a deep breath together and break down what you should and should not do next.

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May 14, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Nathan Eovaldi: Great or Just Hot?

10

Craig Goldstein

Craig takes a closer look at a flame-throwing pitcher who made his top 150 U25 list for dynasty leagues and is off to a fine start.

Yesterday, Ben Carsley and I released the first portion of our Top 150 U25 fantasy players, the culmination of a six-week division-by-division look. The name that received the most attention was one towards the bottom of the list, with Nathan Eovaldi checking in at no. 141 on our collaborative list. Eovaldi has jumped out to a great start in 2014, posting a 2.86 ERA backed by a 2.94 FIP, and phenomenal strikeout and walk rates, at 23.4 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

This has earned him many plaudits, and a ton of new fans, as fantasy owners who took a random flier on him have become devoted advocates. The question at hand for Eovaldi, and an important one for those wondering how to value him, is whether this new level of success is sustainable. Our eyes tell us it is, as we watch 96 MPH fastball after 96 MPH fastball whiz by us, even into the seventh or eighth inning. So if the numbers say one thing, and our eyes confirm it (or vice versa), where is the debate?

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