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04-25

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2

Expert FAAB Review: Week 4
by
Mike Gianella

04-21

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 3
by
George Bissell

04-18

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0

Expert FAAB Review: Week 3
by
Mike Gianella

04-14

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: Three Surprising Strikeout Surgers
by
Matt Collins

04-14

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 2
by
George Bissell

04-13

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0

Deep League Report: Week Two
by
Scooter Hotz

04-12

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0

Daily League Strategy: Week 2: Picking Pitchers
by
Tim Finnegan

04-07

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 1
by
George Bissell

08-05

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 19
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

07-29

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 18
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

07-08

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 15
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

06-24

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0

Deep League Report: Week 12
by
Scooter Hotz

06-24

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 13
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

06-17

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 12
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

06-10

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 11
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

06-03

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 10
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

05-27

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week Nine
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

05-20

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6

Free Agent Watch: Week Eight
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

05-06

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week Six
by
George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

04-22

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week Four
by
J.P. Breen and Jeff Quinton

11-06

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18

Painting the Black: The 2016 Free Agent 50
by
R.J. Anderson

09-25

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 26
by
George Bissell and Keith Cromer

09-18

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 25
by
Mike Gianella and Keith Cromer

09-11

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4

Free Agent Watch: Week 24
by
Mike Gianella and Keith Cromer

09-04

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week 22
by
Mike Gianella and Keith Cromer

08-28

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 21
by
J.J. Jansons and Keith Cromer

08-21

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4

Free Agent Watch: Week 21
by
J.J. Jansons and Keith Cromer

08-14

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 19
by
J.J. Jansons and Keith Cromer

08-07

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6

Free Agent Watch: Week 18
by
J.J. Jansons and Keith Cromer

07-31

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 17
by
Jeff Quinton and Keith Cromer

07-24

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4

Free Agent Watch: Week 16
by
Jeff Quinton and Keith Cromer

07-17

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5

Free Agent Watch: Week 16
by
Greg Wellemeyer and Keith Cromer

07-10

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5

Free Agent Watch: Week 14
by
Greg Wellemeyer and Keith Cromer

07-03

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 13
by
Keith Cromer and Jeff Quinton

06-26

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1

Free Agent Watch: Week 13
by
Keith Cromer and Greg Wellemeyer

06-24

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1

Deep League Report: Week 12
by
Keith Cromer

06-19

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3

Free Agent Watch: Week 12
by
Keith Cromer and Jeff Quinton

06-16

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0

Expert FAAB Review: Week 11
by
Mike Gianella

06-12

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0

Free Agent Watch: Week 11
by
Keith Cromer and J.J. Jansons

06-05

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3

Free Agent Watch: Week Nine
by
Keith Cromer and Jeff Quinton

05-29

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7

Free Agent Watch: Week Nine
by
Keith Cromer and Nick Shlain

05-22

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2

Free Agent Watch: Week Eight
by
Keith Cromer and Mike Gianella

05-18

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5

Free Agent Watch: Week Seven
by
Keith Cromer and Mike Gianella

05-13

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2

The Quinton: Please Spend Your FAAB
by
Jeff Quinton

05-11

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9

Free Agent Watch: Week Six
by
Keith Cromer and Jeff Quinton

05-04

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5

Free Agent Watch: Week Five
by
Keith Cromer and Mike Gianella

04-27

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7

Free Agent Watch: Week Four
by
Keith Cromer and Mike Gianella

04-20

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13

Free Agent Watch: Week Three
by
Keith Cromer and Mike Gianella

04-06

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3

Free Agent Watch: Week One
by
Keith Cromer and Mike Gianella

03-16

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13

Every Team's Moneyball: San Francisco Giants: Embodying the Market Inefficiency
by
Matthew Trueblood

<< Previous Tag Entries No More Tag Entries

What if Taylor Motter's season were set to showtunes? Is Chad too Kuhl for the room? Will they write songs about the guys filling in for the Dodgers injury brigade?

Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free-agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL. As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with $1 minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with $0 minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday’s games.

LABR Mixed
Trevor Rosenthal $11. Other bids: $4, $3, $1. Tout Auction: $99
Entering 2017, Seung Hwan Oh was considered one of the five or six “reliable” closing options in fantasy. His average ADP of 70th put him behind only Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton and Mark Melancon. On Opening Night, Oh blew a save in horrific fashion. It was against the Cubs, so no one thought much of it at the time, but ever since Oh hasn’t quite looked like his dominant self. The results have been solid after a rocky first week (in his past six outings, Oh has allowed one run in six innings with one walk, six strikeouts and five saves), but he also has had moments where he looked vulnerable, something we didn’t see much of with Oh in 2016.



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April 21, 2017 6:59 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 3

2

George Bissell

Ryan Zimmerman is back—what are you waiting for?

12-Team Mixed Leagues (Must be available in at least 50 percent of ESPN, Yahoo, or CBS leagues)

Hitters

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Sorting out the Texas Rangers bullpen might take all season, but chasing saves with a losing team can be a scary fantasy proposition. Melvin Upton Jr. will get a rebirth with the Giants soon—they just better hope he does better than he did with the Jays after being traded.

Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL.

As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday’s games.

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April 14, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Three Surprising Strikeout Surgers

5

Matt Collins

Where did these whiffers come from?

J.A. Happ

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April 14, 2017 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 2

2

George Bissell

Grab Asbrubal Cabrera and Michael Lorenzen while you still can. And how about the Ryan Zimmerman revival?

12-Team Mixed Leagues (Must be available in at least 50 percent of ESPN, Yahoo, and CBS leagues)

Hitters

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April 13, 2017 6:00 am

Deep League Report: Week Two

0

Scooter Hotz

Injuries beget playing time for backups, and a closer already has lost his job.

Injuries to prominent players such as Gary Sanchez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Trea Turner have freed up playing time for some bench players. A closer lost his job, too, and the guy who is taking over isn’t the guy that most people thought it would be. Plus, the usual assortment of bullpen arms with good strikeout rates or a shaky closer ahead of them and hitters on the bad side of a platoon. It might be mid-April, but the Deep League Report is rounding into midseason form.

AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS

Guillermo Heredia

He wasn’t a lock to head north with the big club after spring training, but Guillermo Heredia made the Mariners roster. The 26-year-old Cuban is a plus defender at all three outfield spots with a good approach at the plate, but he doesn’t have much in the way of home-run power or stolen-base potential. He’s a fourth outfielder for now behind Leonys Martin, Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger, so he won’t get regular plate appearances for the time being, but Dyson and Haniger haven’t been everyday players in the majors before, so it’s not-too hard to imagine one of them struggling and Heredia getting a shot at a larger role. And note that he’s a better bet in OBP leagues than AVG leagues due to his plate discipline.

Austin Romine

The injury to Sanchez has given Romine a shot at regular playing time behind the plate for the Yankees for around a month. He’s not much of a hitter with a career line of .219/.256/.324 in 371 plate appearances, but in deep AL-only leagues, a starter’s share of playing time is a big asset, even if the guy doing the hitting isn’t a particularly strong hitter. Kyle Higashioka was recalled to back up Romine, but he shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Romine’s playing time unless Romine really craters. Anecdotally, I bought Wilson Ramos in my AL-Only home league this past Saturday, giving me zero plate appearances for the first few months of the season at one of my catching slots. It made sense for me to pursue Romine to give me a good number of plate appearances at a slot that otherwise would be a dead one. I bid $6 of my $100 FAAB budget on Romine for this coming week and won him, causing me to do a little fist pump after the bids were processed. Deep AL-only and NL-only leagues make us do weird things.

Chris Young

The knee injury that landed Bradley on the DL has landed Chris Young a spot in the Boston lineup for as long as Bradley is out. So far, there is no timeline for Bradley’s return, so there’s no way to say how long the 33-year-old Young will be in the lineup. He has been a batting-average risk in the past but, to his credit, he has hit above .250 in each of the past two seasons. His speed on the base paths is mostly gone, but he still has a bit of home-run pop and will be hitting in a high-scoring Red Sox lineup. If you’re short on plate appearances, Young can help until Bradley gets back.

Other Options: Higashioka, Austin Jackson, Trey Mancini

AL-ONLY PITCHERS

Brad Peacock

When he was added to the Astros roster at the start of the season, Peacock was expected to be a long reliever. So far, he has thrown 3 2/3 innings across three appearances, which isn’t terribly long. Those innings have been very good, as he’s currently posting a 0.00 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP with six strikeouts and two walks. He’s about as far down the list for saves in Houston as it gets, so don’t expect anything from him in that category, but he could be useful for rate stats and strikeouts going forward. Plus, writing about Peacock lets me link to this clip, which is nice.

Adam Warren

The fact that Adam Warren can throw multiple innings per outing makes him a valuable asset to the Yankees out of their bullpen and makes him a valuable asset to his owners in deep AL-only leagues, too. Like Brad Peacock, he’s unlikely to get within spitting distance of saves. What Warren should do is post good rate stats and a decent number of strikeouts. Yes, I know that the 29-year-old has never struck out a batter per inning in a full season, but his ability to throw multiple innings and even pick up a spot start or two allow him to throw more innings than most relievers, enabling him to rack up K's. And for what it’s worth, he has a perfect 0.00 ERA and a perfect 0.00 WHIP with seven strikeouts (and no walks or hits, obviously) in six innings across three appearances.

Blake Parker

The 4.50 ERA that Parker is sporting right now isn’t all that attractive, but the rest of his line is: a 0.75 WHIP with seven strikeouts and no walks in four innings out of the Angels bullpen. I watched him throw an inning during the first week of the season, and the batters he faced looked uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell if it was the movement on his pitches or his annoyingly twitchy pre-pitch routine that unsettled his opponents, but whatever it was, he looked like he was in complete command of each plate appearance. At 31 years old, the 6’3” righty is no rated rookie, but he could be helpful with rate stats and strikeouts in deep leagues for owners looking to fill in a vacancy on their staff via the free-agent pool. And given the uncertainty in the Angels’ bullpen, it isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario where Parker inherits the closer’s role a month or two from now thanks to his own hot start and the failings of the pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Other Options: Danny Farquhar, Zach Putnam, Jose Leclerc

NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS

Wilmer Difo

The injury to Turner (along with another to Stephen Drew) means more playing time for Difo and in the short term. The 25-year-old Difo doesn’t have a lot of power, but he has legitimate speed and could pick up a handful of steals in short order before Turner returns. It looks like Turner won’t be out much longer, so don’t expect more than a week or two of starter’s playing time from Difo. If you could use some steals in the short term, though, Difo is a decent bet.

Alen Hanson

He doesn’t have regular playing time at second, shortstop or third with Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and David Freese starting, but none of those three are great bets to hit enough and stay healthy enough to keep Hanson on the bench all season. The 24-year-old doesn’t have much home-run power, but he has stolen more than 30 bases in four of the past five minor-league seasons. In the current low-steal environment, Hanson could swipe enough bags to be an asset in deep NL-only leagues, even if he spends the year as a utility infielder.

Jabari Blash

If you need power in a deep NL-only league, take a long look at Jabari Blash. Throughout his minor-league career, the 27-year-old has been a classic Three True Outcomes hitter, launching loads of home runs and drawing plenty of walks while striking out a ton. The 6’5” outfielder hasn’t gotten much playing time yet, but he could at least end up on the bad side of a platoon if any of the trio of young outfielders starting for the Padres struggle for an extended period of time. His walk rate makes him an appealing option in OBP leagues, but if he can’t get his career strikeout rate below 40 percent sometime soon, he won’t get a chance to draw many walks.

Other Options: T.J. Rivera, Scott Van Slyke

NL-ONLY PITCHERS

Joaquin Benoit

In the wake of Jeanmar Gomez’ implosion over the weekend, Joaquin Benoit was named the new closer in Philadelphia. The 39-year-old was a bit of a surprise selection over Hector Neris, who was stashed by many owners in deep leagues in their auctions. Benoit might have been selected as much for his guaranteed contract as he was for his pitching ability—each save racked up by the arbitration-eligible Neris would increase his probable salary in arbitration. This isn’t a problem with Benoit since he has a guaranteed contract. What matters for roto purposes is that Benoit will be getting the saves for Phillies for the foreseeable future, and that makes him pretty valuable in deep NL-only leagues, where saves are only available in the free-agent pool a few times per season. If you need a closer, you should feel comfortable bidding 30 to 40 percent of your FAAB on the veteran.

Ryan Buchter

He picked up a save during the first week of the season, but Buchter isn’t the closer in San Diego. For now, anyway. The 30-year-old is currently the setup man behind Brandon Maurer and managed to pick up that save when Maurer was unavailable after pitching in each of the two previous games. The big lefty piles up lots of strikeouts, posting an 11.1 K/9 last season and a 12.3 K/9 in the early going this season. Maurer is far from a sure thing, so if he stumbles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Buchter start racking up saves in addition to strikeouts despite the aversion that many teams have toward naming lefty closers.

Kevin Siegrist

A favorite of mine for the past few years, Kevin Siegrist is off to a poor start in St. Louis with a 19.29 ERA and a 3.43 WHIP in 2 2/3 innings after a disastrous outing against the Nationals in which he surrendered five runs in 1/3 of an inning. Walks always have been the most troublesome aspect of Siegrist’s profile and they have hurt him this year, as he has issued four already across three appearances. More troubling is that Siegrist hasn’t been striking out guys like he has in years past, with only one strikeout so far. With only 2 2/3 innings thrown, we probably can’t draw credible conclusions, and the safest bet would to assume that the 27-year-old will stabilize and return to the level he established over the previous two seasons. However, it just might be that I need to stop living in the past and entertain the possibility that one of my favorite non-closing relievers isn’t as good as he used to be.

Other Options: Brad Hand, Hector Rondon, Archie Bradley

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April 12, 2017 6:00 am

Daily League Strategy: Week 2: Picking Pitchers

0

Tim Finnegan

Skills—for the pitcher, for his opponent and his even own lineup—all matter when picking for daily leagues. But so does ballpark environment.

In Week 1, we discussed basic strategies for picking hitters to roster in daily leagues. One of the key points from that article is that fantasy owners want to find hitters who have a good chance to be in a high run-scoring environment. Focusing on opposing-pitcher quality—meaning, finding opposing pitchers who do not usually effectively prevent runs, prevent extra base hits, or prevent baserunners—is a good first step.

This week, we'll do the opposite and focus on basic ways to pick pitchers. Generally, when picking a pitcher, I look for a few key things. I want a pitcher who has a good chance to be in a low run-scoring environment, because pitchers are docked points for allowing earned runs. I want a pitcher who will pitch deep into the game, because pitchers gain points the more innings they throw, and in some formats for quality starts (6+ IP of 3 ER or less). I want a pitcher who will get enough run support to be in position for a victory, because pitchers earn points when they are credited with the win. And I want a pitcher who is going to rack up strikeouts, because pitchers get points for strikeouts. It’s sometimes difficult to find all of these qualities in one pitcher, so I look for as many as possible.

To do this, considering the quality of the opposing team that the pitcher is facing is important, just like with picking hitters. A punchless lineup in a pitcher's park on a chilly night is going to have a more difficult time scoring runs than a high-powered lineup in a hitter's park on a hot summer night. A lineup that has a lot of swing-and-miss in it, like the 2016 Brewers, who had a team-strikeout rate near 26 percent, makes it more likely that a pitcher can generate strikeouts. A team starting an ineffective pitcher against a team that is running out their own ace makes it more likely that the ace pitcher will get run support and be in position for the win, because his opponent is starting a pitcher who is prone to giving up runs.

Looking at splits is important, too. If a lineup is right-handed heavy, starting a pitcher who eats up righties, someone like Julio Teheran, can be another good way to increase the chances of run prevention and the accumulation of strikeouts. Teheran’s numbers have been dramatically better against right-handed hitters. Since the start of 2015, Teheran has an outstanding .570 OPS against, 2.78 Fielding Independent Pitching and 26.4 percent strikeout rate against right-handed batters. Home splits are also notable. Starting pitchers league-wide are more effective at preventing runs and baserunners in home games. The reason for this could be related to the pregame bullpen. A home pitcher throws his pregame bullpen and goes right to the mound while he’s hot, while the road pitcher sits in the dugout after his bullpen and cools down for a half-inning. That’s one theory, anyway. I generally favor picking a home pitcher over a road pitcher when most factors are close because of the league splits, assuming the pitcher’s home park isn’t a haven for scoring runs due to environmental or ballpark effects.

In terms of the pitcher's own skill set, the primary stats I look at when picking pitchers are OPS against, ERA, FIP, and strikeout rate (K%—not K/9). I prefer K% over K/9 because K% uses the total number of batters faced and paints a more accurate picture of strikeout skill. Finding pitchers who are efficient with their pitch counts also is helpful for finding pitchers who can get deep into games and rack up points for innings pitched.

So, for example, yesterday I picked Carlos Carrasco for a few reasons. Obviously, Carrasco’s own skills are really good, but the matchup he had is what grabbed my attention the most. Carrasco was facing a below-average White Sox team at Cleveland that has a lineup projected to score in the bottom five league-wide in total runs for the rest of the season. The opposing pitcher for the White Sox was James Shields, one of the least-effective pitchers in baseball over the past year. Carrasco looked like a good bet to prevent runs, get run support and be in position to get the win. Shields ended up only giving up one run, so run support wasn’t there like I had expected, but Carrasco pitched well enough to score well in fantasy by logging seven innings pitched, getting seven strikeouts, and allowing one run and four hits. Identifying favorable situations like these is something I find important when making pitching choices in daily leagues.

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April 7, 2017 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 1

1

George Bissell

Indentifying the premium free agents available on the market.

Welcome back! It’s been a few turbulent months, but BP's Free Agent Watch has finally returned. I’m warning you right now: We’re going to have a brand-new, fresh look this season. Unfortunately, I’m still not quite sure what, exactly, that looks like. For now, we’re going to remain in beta mode, just to tweak the look and feel of the piece. However, our focus remains the same: identify the premium free-agent targets left on the market. This column will focus primarily on players relevant to 12- and 15-team mixed leagues. If you’re looking for an even deeper dive into the free-agent pool, my esteemed colleague Scooter Hotz has you covered every Wednesday with his Deep League Report. Finally, don’t forget about The Stash List produced by Greg Wellemeyer every Thursday. It’s your one-stop resource for the top prospects, closers-in-waiting and speculative pickups worthy of a roster spot, regardless of fantasy format.

As a brief reminder, the Free Agent Watch does not include:

  • Speculative closers: Nobody wants to hear me talk about Kyle Barraclough or Hector Neris every week, right? If you’re looking for relief pitchers, consult Matt Collins excellent Closer Report series.
  • Minor-league prospects: I don’t care if Gleyber Torres is hitting .500 in June; we’re not discussing him until he’s actually called up.
  • Major leaguers currently on the disabled list: This isn’t the space to discuss stashing Wilson Ramos.

Without further delay, let’s dive into the Week 1 edition.

12-Team Mixed Leagues (must be available in at least 50 percent of ESPN or Yahoo leagues)

Hitters

Travis Shaw (1B/3B)—Brewers (available in 76 percent of ESPN & 55 percent of Yahoo leagues)

The Mayor of Ding Dong City wasted no time endearing himself to the Milwaukee faithful by taking a sledgehammer to the Rockies pitching staff earlier this week. Not only has he cemented his status as an everyday player, but also it appears that he will be a mainstay in the heart of the order. There are some lingering questions regarding his ability to hit left-handed pitching, which could ultimately sap his playing time, and limit his overall fantasy ceiling. However, he’s relocated to a fantastic home park, and clearly deserves to be owned as a three-category, corner infield option in standard mixed leagues. The incredible depth at the position and playing time concerns were his lone detractors coming into the year, but if he’s going to continue to receive full-time at-bats vs. right-handed pitching, he should remain a viable starter in a mixer.

Chris Owings (SS/OF)—Diamondbacks (available in 88 percent of ESPN & 81 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Given the dearth of stolen-base specialists in the fantasy landscape, it’s somewhat mystifying that the 25-year-old remains this widely available. He’s solidified his status as an everyday player, splitting time between shortstop and the outfield, and was one of just 28 players to steal 20-plus bases last year. There’s very limited power potential, but the multi-position versatility and speed make him a legitimate mixed league asset moving forward.

Starting Pitchers

Francisco Liriano—Blue Jays (available in 65 percent of ESPN & 40 percent of Yahoo leagues)

The 33-year-old southpaw opens the 2017 campaign with a tasty matchup against the left-handed heavy Tampa Bay Rays lineup. I’ve spilled plenty of ink on the electronic pages of BP touting Liriano as a viable back-end fantasy starter this offseason. You shouldn’t need me to sell you on him at this point. If for some reason he’s available, you know what to do.

Dylan Bundy—Orioles (available in 70 percent of ESPN & 61 percent of Yahoo leagues)

The 24-year-old right-hander spun seven sterling innings against Toronto, allowing just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts in his 2017 debut. His stuff looked incredible, especially the curveball.

The raw physical talent has never been in question with Bundy. We saw flashes of brilliance a year ago. The major concerns in his profile center more on his long-term health and immediate workload. I’d be hesitant to confidently project anything more than 150 innings, but he needs to be owned in fantasy leagues moving forward. He takes the ball again Tuesday night in Fenway Park. It’s another brutal matchup, but given the way he’s pitching, it might not be a bad idea to roll the dice.

15-Team Mixed Leagues (must be available in at least 80 percent of ESPN or Yahoo leagues)

Hitters

Delino DeShields (OF)—Rangers (available in 94 percent of ESPN & 82 percent of Yahoo leagues)

I’m not entirely sold on DeShields garnering enough regular playing time in left field (barring injury) to make a substantial fantasy impact this season. The constant presence of Jurickson Profar, Ryan Rua (and potentially Joey Gallo) has turned the Rangers left-field situation into a legitimate quagmire moving forward. To DeShields' credit, he did put together an impressive performance in spring training, can fill-in at center field, and has the raw talent necessary to make an impact in the stolen-base department when if the opportunity presents itself. The 24-year-old is still out there in the vast majority of leagues and has enough stolen base upside (25 steals in 121 games in 2015) to warrant a roster spot for the immediate future.

Andrew Toles (OF)—Dodgers (available in 96 percent of ESPN & Yahoo leagues)

In one of the more surprising developments of the spring, Toles not only won the starting job in left field, but he also ascended to the leadoff spot versus right-handed pitching for Los Angeles. This could be a temporary situation, but the 24-year-old slashed an impressive .326/.382/.511 in 102 plate appearances against righties last year. If Toles sticks permanently atop the Dodgers lineup, he could be in line to score 80-plus runs this season. The time to invest is right now, especially in leagues that allow for daily lineup changes.

David Freese (3B)—Pirates (available in 94 percent of ESPN & 97 percent of Yahoo leagues)

The hot corner is raging with talent right now, but that shouldn’t deter fantasy owners in deeper formats from plucking Freese out of the free-agent pool. With Jung-Ho Kang out of the picture for the immediate future, the 33-year-old veteran should be in line for everyday at-bats in the Steel City, making him a viable option in deeper mixed leagues. Freese doesn’t possess tantalizing fantasy upside, but there is legitimate value in his consistency and guaranteed playing time.

Pitchers

Kendall Graveman—Athletics (available in 83 percent of ESPN & 70 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Eighty-seven. That’s how many sinkers Graveman dialed up in his 2017 debut. It’s a revamped approach that takes a page straight out of the Matt Shoemaker or Rich Hill playbook. Why not just throw your best pitch as often as possible? Clearly, it worked for the 26-year-old right-hander, who limited the Angels to just a pair of runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out seven.

My initial reaction to the recent velocity bump and pronounced change in pitch selection was to be dismissive on Twitter. That might end up being a mistake. The limited-strikeout upside (5.6 K/9 in 312 1/3 career innings) puts a dent in Graveman’s tangible fantasy upside, but if this revamped approach continues to work, he’s going to be a viable streamer in deeper mixed leagues in select matchups. I’d be hesitant to throw him out there this weekend on the road in Texas (even in deeper formats) but I’m willing to at least keep Graveman on the fantasy radar moving forward. He’s one to monitor.

Charlie Morton—Astros (available in 93 percent of ESPN & 91 percent of Yahoo leagues)

The 33-year-old veteran spun six solid innings in his Astros debut, allowing just two runs and five hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks. The only blemish in an otherwise-stellar outing came when he hung a breaking ball to Jean Segura, who muscled it out to the opposite field for a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

It’s been a minute since Morton, who made just four starts a season ago before a going down for the year with a torn hamstring, has had a shred of fantasy relevance. The velocity uptick on his sinker, which began with a 2-mph jump during his brief Philadelphia stint, is what makes Morton an intriguing fantasy pickup.

He is never going to strike out more than a batter per inning, which limits the potential fantasy ceiling, but if he can throw 160 innings (armed with a 96-mph sinker) in front of Houston’s tremendous defense, he’s going to be extremely valuable in deeper mixed leagues this year.

Additional Pitchers To Consider: Chris Devenski, Alex Wood, Brandon Finnegan, Tyler Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Shelby Miller, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson. Literally anyone else instead of Clayton Richard...

The “Deep League”/AL & NL-only Specials Of The Week (must be available in 95 percent of ESPN or Yahoo leagues)

Yandy Diaz (3B)—Indians (available in 97 percent of ESPN & Yahoo leagues)

There’s a strong possibility that he’s been scooped up in the vast majority of AL-only formats already. If he’s still available, the 25-year-old, who hit .325/.399/.461 with seven home runs and five steals in 95 games at Triple-A last season, is worth taking a flyer on until Jason Kipnis returns from injury in mid-May. Diaz is extremely unlikely to provide enough power or speed to morph into a five-category contributor (or hold down an everyday role after Memorial Day) but he makes a ton of contact and should provide a decent boost in batting average.

Adam Frazier (OF)—Pirates (available in 98 percent of ESPN & Yahoo leagues)

There’s not a ton to get excited about from a fantasy perspective with Frazier. However, he hit for average at every rung on the minor-league ladder (career .299 average over 350 games) and more than held his own (.301/.356/.411 in 160 plate appearances) during a brief stint in Pittsburgh last season. Given that the 25-year-old led off against reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello in the Pirates season opener, it stands to reason that he’s going to occupy that spot versus right-handed pitching moving forward. Frazier, who was caught stealing an International League-leading 15 times in 2016, isn’t a very efficient base-stealer. That hasn’t deterred him from running against major-league competition. Given his propensity to put the ball in play and newfound spot atop the lineup, he should be squarely on the fantasy radar now (even in deeper mixed leagues.)

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August 5, 2016 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 19

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George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

If these players are available in your league, they might be worth snagging off the wire.

12-Team Mixed Leagues

Travis Jankowski, OF, San Diego Padres (Ownership: 13 percent CBS, 5 percent ESPN, 4 percent Yahoo!)

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July 29, 2016 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 18

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George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

If these players are available in your league, you might want to grab them off the wire, depending on the format.

12-Team Mixed Leagues

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July 8, 2016 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 15

1

George Bissell and J.J. Jansons

If these players are available in your league, they might be worth a look, depending on the format.

12-Team Mixed Leagues

C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels (Ownership: 44 percent CBS, 30 percent ESPN, 31 percent Yahoo!)

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June 24, 2016 11:06 am

Deep League Report: Week 12

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Scooter Hotz

Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.

One of the position players in this week’s Deep League Report has taken the mound in an MLB game, and his average four-seam fastball velocity is about the same as one of the pitchers profiled this week. That’s kinda neat. And I saw one of the players profiled below in High-A last year before his first appearance on any Top Prospect lists, which is also kinda neat. But most importantly, I answer the question posed by Ayn Rand nearly 60 years ago: Who is John Gant?

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