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10-31

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Fantasy Team Preview: Houston Astros
by
Keith Cromer

10-30

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Fantasy Freestyle: Going All-In on Hyun-jin Ryu
by
Matt Collins

10-30

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Fantasy Freestyle: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept that Justin Upton is Quite Good
by
Wilson Karaman

10-29

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Baseball Therapy: The Problem With Lists
by
Russell A. Carleton

10-29

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Fantasy Team Preview: Minnesota Twins
by
Mike Gianella

10-28

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Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: Madison Bumgarner for Cy Young
by
J.P. Breen

10-27

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Fantasy Team Preview: Texas Rangers
by
Craig Goldstein

10-24

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Fantasy Freestyle: Projection Season and the Recency Effect
by
Jeff Quinton

10-23

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Brandon Belt
by
Ben Carsley

10-21

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Alcides Escobar
by
Wilson Karaman

10-20

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Fantasy Freestyle: My Personal Scorecard: Part 2 - National League
by
Mike Gianella

10-17

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Joe Panik
by
Ben Carsley

10-16

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Jon Jay
by
Jeff Quinton

10-15

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Lorenzo Cain
by
J.P. Breen

10-14

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: Prospect Predictions
by
Craig Goldstein

10-13

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Fantasy Freestyle: My Personal Scorecard: Part 1 - American League
by
Mike Gianella

10-10

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Shelby Miller
by
Wilson Karaman

10-08

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Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back at Super Subs
by
Paul Sporer

10-07

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: My Favorite Endgame Targets of 2014
by
Bret Sayre

10-06

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Sergio Romo
by
J.P. Breen

10-03

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Denard Span
by
Wilson Karaman

10-02

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8

Fantasy Freestyle: Trades and the Importance of Hustle
by
Jeff Quinton

10-02

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Fantasy Freestyle: Edinson Volquez
by
Craig Goldstein

10-02

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Fantasy Freestyle: Are Elite Pitchers Becoming More Numerous?
by
J.P. Breen

10-01

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Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Josh Donaldson
by
Paul Sporer

09-29

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Fantasy Freestyle: 2014 Expert-League Recaps
by
Mike Gianella

09-26

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Daily League Strategy: Our (T.J.) House
by
Paul Sporer

09-26

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7

Fantasy Freestyle: Prospect Rankings Review
by
Craig Goldstein

09-25

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3

Fantasy Freestyle: Using FIP to Find Value
by
Wilson Karaman

09-25

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Fantasy Freestyle: Theory-Driven Versus Context-Driven Strategy
by
Jeff Quinton

09-25

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They Hold No Quarter: Starting Pitchers
by
BP Fantasy Staff

09-24

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10

Dynasty Dynamics: Jumping Ship
by
Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

09-23

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12

Fantasy Freestyle: Backing Off Backstop Prospects
by
Ben Carsley

09-22

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Interleague Report: Week 26
by
Jeff Quinton

09-22

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Fantasy Freestyle: DFS and the State of Fantasy Baseball
by
Mike Gianella

09-22

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Fantasy Freestyle: Circling Back to The Holy Trinity
by
J.P. Breen

09-19

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Daily League Strategy: Coors, Coors, Coors
by
Paul Sporer

09-19

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14

Fantasy Freestyle: Power Outage
by
Craig Goldstein

09-19

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10

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 26
by
Wilson Karaman

09-18

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They Hold No Quarter: Outfielders
by
BP Fantasy Staff

09-18

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Free Agent Watch: Week 25
by
Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

09-18

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6

Fantasy Freestyle: Small Moves That Might Matter
by
Jeff Quinton

09-18

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4

TTO Scoresheet Podcast: Episode 35
by
Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

09-17

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Fantasy Freestyle: Streaming Strikeouts
by
J.P. Breen

09-16

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8

Deep Impact: Week 25
by
Ben Carsley

09-15

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Interleague Report: Week 25
by
Jeff Quinton

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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13

Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 25
by
Wilson Karaman

09-12

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Fantasy Freestyle: The Process of Analyzing Process: A Keeper League Example
by
Jeff Quinton

09-11

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TTO Scoresheet Podcast: Episode 34
by
Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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This is a BP Fantasy article. To read it, sign up today!

October 31, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Team Preview: Houston Astros

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Keith Cromer

After showing a 19-game improvement in 2014, the slowly rebuilding Astros boast several intriguing fantasy options.

The 2017 World Series champs? Well, that’s what one publication boldly predicted earlier this year. Maybe that prediction was based on all the previous BP staffers on the current Astros payroll, maybe not, but while a 2017 World Series appearance may seem like a stretch for a team that has averaged 104 losses the past four seasons, and has only appeared in one World Series in their 53-year team history, there is reason for optimism for Astros fans. The next wave of top prospects—Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, Colin Moran, among others—should arrive in Houston over the next couple of years to join an already young nucleus of talented players.

The Astros did lose 92 games last year, but on the flipside, they improved by 19 games in 2014 with their core of young players. They also accomplished that 19-game improvement despite having players lose 902 games to the DL and a bullpen that blew a league-leading 25 saves. They are a young team that does swing and miss a bunch, but it’s an exciting roster and one that could yield multiple fantasy contributors.

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The Dodgers lefty might be the no. 3 starter in their rotation, but he could pitch near the top of your fantasy staff.

Looking at the FIP leaderboard from the past regular season, most of the names on the top of the list come as no surprise. Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Chris Sale are always near the top of the list. Corey Kluber, Jake Arrieta, and Garrett Richards had well-documented breakout seasons. When you look at all of the pitchers with at least 100 innings, though, you’ll find one surprising name of a guy who was just the number three pitcher in his own rotation. While Hyun-jin Ryu has turned himself into a highly successful major-league pitcher in the two years since coming over to the United States, he’s still overshadowed on a team filled with stars. Even within the rotation, he has to compete for headlines with the likes of Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Despite that, he’s made clear strides in his time in the majors, and has established himself as a top-20 starting pitcher.

Although he was limited to 152 innings due to shoulder issues at the start of the year, Ryu was still able to put up strong numbers across the board. He racked up 14 wins, and was able to put up a 3.38 ERA. Based on his peripherals, though, that was still an underwhelming performance. The 27-year-old posted a 2.59 FIP and 3.13 FRA in 2014, both significant improvements from his first year in the league. In fact, his performance was up throughout his stat line. He saw his K/9 rise by a full strikeout-per-nine-innings, his BB/9 fall from 2.3 to 1.7, and his HR/9 tumble to just 0.5. This all happened while his ground-ball rate held steady around the 50 percent mark and his velocity rose slightly throughout his repertoire.

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The Braves outfielder is a better fantasy asset than you think.

Last winter, I wrote a fairly lengthy piece over at Dynasty Guru detailing my frustration with Justin Upton as a longtime owner in my primary dynasty league. The verdict: The move to Atlanta in 2013 had been a net negative for Upton’s fantasy profile, as organizational philosophies emphasizing swinging for the downs and limiting stolen base attempts were poised to restrict Upton’s batting average and stolen base contributions. I later doubled down a month into the season with a pretty brutal deconstruction of Upton’s successful-on-the-surface April efforts, ultimately recommending a sell-high on account of an exploding swing-and-miss rate on in-zone fastballs and an unsustainable BABIP. My conclusion, which mind you was not necessarily unwarranted by the numbers, suggested “an ugly dossier of negative indicators for performance going forward—one that does not at all suggest that Upton’s strong surface start is evidence that he’s finally turned the corner as he enters his physical prime. Nigh on every indicator of successful hitting has not only failed to improve over the past couple of seasons, but is instead regressing at a fairly rapid pace right now.”

So, what happened next? Well, from that sell recommendation to the end of the season he maintained a .259/.330/.462 line with 21 homers, 147 R+RBI, and five steals en route to the 37th-most valuable fantasy season overall (14th among outfielders). Not on par with his April campaign, when he was the second-most valuable outfielder behind Jose Bautista, but certainly well-above average numbers across the board. The batting average was a slight liability and the steals were token contributions. His power production, on the other hand, was highly valuable even after he tore through a good bit of his full-season value in April. His .313 TAv was the second-best mark of his career, checking in 21st among all qualified hitters. Here’s the real kicker, though: I wasn’t particularly wrong in any of the analysis I offered of Upton’s offensive flaws in either of those articles. He logged the numbers he did despite a whole bunch of glaring red flags. So what do we make of him as a fantasy asset going forward, and how should he be valued come draft day 2015?

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Get ready for the season of Breakout lists. Be wary of the season of Breakout lists.

I want to get into a topic that might be the question in baseball. The one that people really want to know. Who is going to break out next year?

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The Twins are teeming with top prospects, but there are big leaguers who could help your fantasy squad in 2015, too.

Byron Buxton. Miguel Sano. Alex Meyer. Kohl Stewart. Eddie Rosario.
This is how 2013/2014’s offseason preview for the Minnesota Twins opened, and with good reason. It seemed like a fait accompli that most or all of these prospects would begin their promising big league futures with the Twins at some point in 2014. As we know now with the benefit of sweet, delicious hindsight, it didn’t work out that way. Every one of these future studs hit a bump in the road, and not one of the Twins vaunted five put up a single MLB at-bat or inning pitched in 2014.

The future still looks bright for both these prospects and the Twins, but 2014 reminded us that if you want to make God laugh, show him a well-defined prospect timetable. With the exception of Stewart, all of these prospects could still make an impact in 2015 but 2014 reminds us to temper our expectations. Given the Twins fantasy outlook otherwise, for the most part we will be the same position in 2015 that we were in 2014: shying away from most of this roster in shallower formats while waiting for better days, both in the real world as well as in our fantasy realm.


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The Giants' ace has stolen the show this postseason, and J.P. saw his outstanding 2014 coming.

Prior to the season, in a previous life, I made numerous fantasy baseball predictions. Some were (spectacularly) wrong, and conversely, some went quite well. Perhaps the more interesting discussion, however, centers on the predictions that were somehow both right and wrong. Because, at least in my mind, those are the predictions that best encapsulate the experience of fantasy baseball. You can have stellar process, nail your projections, and still come up short.

That’s what happened here:

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Kicking off the series with a team that surprisingly was baseball's worst in 2014.

With the offseason just around the corner, it’s time to kick off our fantasy team previews. Last year, we ran these in conjunction with the top 10 prospect posts, but we’re giving them their own spotlight this year. We’re also going to be using a little bit of a different format, so let us know if there are gaps in the coverage or anything like that, so we can address it.

We’re kicking off the team previews with the worst team in baseball, the Houston Astros. No, that’s not right. The Texas Astros. Dammit. The Texas Rastros. Sonofabitch this is hard. If you’re a Rangers fan, it’s not hard to conceive that the team you watched day in and day out was baseball’s worst. For the rest of us though, it’s a bizarre notion that the Rangers finished in last place, and perhaps moreso that the Astros didn’t, for once (settle down Rockies fans, we’ll get to you).

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A look at how to avoid allowing biases to influence your projections.

As soon as the baseball season comes to its inevitable and saddening end, baseball, as it does each year, will enter the offseason. For the fantasy baseball community, this means we will be entering ranking and projection season. After following “our players” and players of interest all season, we are now asked to take an all-encompassing look at the league’s baseball players. The result of doing projections periodically, as opposed to continuously, is that we are likely to invite certain biases into our processes, which can negatively impact our results. We will take a look at why we do periodic projections, the biases that come with such a process, how these biases manifest themselves, and some ways to hopefully de-bias our process.

Projection Season
The devil’s advocate in me asks, “if periodic projections causes certain problems, why not do continuous projections?” The short answer is that doing continuous projections is not feasible or desirable for most of us. A computer program could certainly perform continuous projections, but we—as mere people (note: people are awesome)—do not have the ability to continuously adjust our valuations on such a large scale. Sure, each time we watch, read about, or hear about a player, our impression of said player will be altered or reinforced consciously or subconsciously, but that is not what I am getting at. Rather, what I mean is that we cannot watch all players play every one of their plays, and we cannot fully analyze all of what we see or all of the available data. The result of all this humanness is that we can really only fully update our projections on a league-wide basis come decision times; those being the offseason for auctions and drafts, as well as, to some extent, the trade deadline. While we constantly update our valuations for the players we follow, my assumption is that very few people follow every player and those who do probably do not do so diligently enough to properly continuously update each player’s projection.


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The Giants first baseman hit for more power in 2014, but injuries held him back.

Player Background
An unheralded fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft, Belt emerged onto the prospect scene in 2010 after crushing High-A and Double-A pitching in his first professional season. He followed suit in 2011 in Triple-A, forcing his way to San Francisco by midseason. That's when the #FreeBelt movement started, as the Baby Giraffe received just 472 PA in 2012 despite hitting .275/.360/.421, hinting at promising power and boasting an 11.4 percent walk rate.

Belt was subsequently liberated in 2013, hitting .289/.360/.481 in 571 PA, finishing as fantasy's 16th-best first baseman. Given that Belt was entering his age-26 season this year, there was legitimate reason for optimism. His average draft position was no. 137 overall, according to fantasypros.com, and it wasn't totally unreasonable to project Belt for a top-12 finish at the position, if everything broke right.


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The Royals shortstop won't be a sexy name on draft day, but there's a lot to like about his fantasy profile.

Player Background
The Brewers signed Escobar as a 16-year-old on international signing day of 2003, and he made his stateside debut the following summer as a 17-year-old in the Pioneer League. After working his way up to Double-A for the second half of his age-20 season in 2007, he cracked the Brewers’ top prospect list for the first time heading into 2008, ultimately topping the list as a five-star prospect in 2010 and peaking as high as 19th on the BP 101 that same offseason. The Brewers traded away the then-26-year-old J.J. Hardy to clear a path for Escobar, which should tell you all you need to know about how highly regarded he was as a prospect. Regaled universally for his plus-plus range and generally top shelf defensive profile at short, Escobar was tabbed as an impatient, powerless hitter, but one still capable of slapping his way to a .280-plus batting average with 30-steal speed.

Despite the shortstop-of-the-future billing, the Brewers shipped the then-23-year-old to Kansas City as the centerpiece of the Zack Greinke trade after he struggled in his first full big-league season. Since arriving in KC, Escobar has pretty much developed into exactly the type of player scouts envisioned him becoming. He hasn’t posted a walk rate over 4.2 percent in any of his four seasons in Royal blue, nor has he managed to crack the .100 ISO threshold or generate league-average offensive value.


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October 20, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: My Personal Scorecard: Part 2 - National League

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Mike Gianella

In the second of a two-part series, Mike reviews how his senior-circuit bid value recommendations fared.

Last week, I took a look back at how my outlier predictions did for American League players in 2014. This week, I will take a look at the National League.

What you will find below is a complete list of players where my bid limit was $3 higher or lower than the average expert league price in the CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars NL-only auctions. In addition, based on a reader suggestion rather than simply “grade” how well my predictions did in retrospect, I will attempt to explain why each specific bid limit was particularly aggressive or timid.


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October 17, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Joe Panik

2

Ben Carsley

The former first-rounder plugged the Giants' hole at the keystone, but can he do the same for your fantasy squad?

Player Background
A first-round pick of the Giants back in 2011, Panik quietly hit his way up through the minors, landing a spot on the MLB roster halfway through the 2014 season. Once viewed as a shortstop, he’s settled in as a second baseman for San Francisco, and with Brandon Crawford firmly entrenched at short, Panik figures to stay at the keystone for the foreseeable future.

Panik’s rough 2013 campaign in Double-A tempered what was already pretty lukewarm enthusiasm about his future, but he answered his critics in a big way in 2014, both in Triple-A and in the majors. Once viewed as a surefire utility infielder, Panik now seems like he may at least be a second-division starter, and the Giants probably think there’s even more here.


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