LOOKING BACK: BaseballHQ, 2011-2016

Yes, "the new BaseballHQ.com"—in so many different ways.

In the last of our five-year eras, we pick things up in 2011—a time when the thought of Albert Pujols dropping out of the first round seemed laughable, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez were going to save the Rays, Mike Trout had yet to sniff the majors, and Jock Thompson warned against rostering Chris Getz and Mike Aviles (OK, some things never change).

It was a time of change—big change—for us here as well. First and foremost, the BaseballHQ.com homepage got a makeover. Our traditional design, circa December 2011, gave way to a brand new look just months later. Article photos, teasers (What the heck DID you do with Adam Dunn?), "contextual tabs," and comments sections would become mainstays.

And it wasn't just the website. We couldn't ignore the smartphone era, so we tried some new things. Some stuck; others didn't. BaseballHQ.com added @BaseballHQ to the crew with our less-than-groundbreaking first tweet in March 2011, BaseballHQ Radio—though it technically started before 2011—hit the airwaves via iTunes, and we even hung out on Google on "May Day" in 2013.

The look, feel, and delivery of our content was changing, and so were things behind the scenes. Under the Gannett umbrella, the USA Today Sports Media Group acquired Fantasy Sports Ventures (us) in January 2012, which opened up new avenues for us to share content.

But the bombshell dropped on May 1, 2015, as the day we never thought we'd see (or wanted to see) had arrived. Ron Shandler announced, in his final Fanalytics column, that he would no longer be writing for BaseballHQ.com. Read through the comments of his swan song, and you'll get a taste of what Ron meant to not only this site and the broader fantasy baseball industry, but to you—loyal subscribers just enjoying a hobby.

Many wondered what Life After Ron might be like; even though—for all intents and purposes—he handed over the day-to-day reigns to Co-GMs Brent Hershey and Ray Murphy years before his official departure. The baton was formally passed to Ray and Brent back in 2013, and BaseballHQ.com has stayed true to its roots—pushing the envelope with cutting-edge research, teaching you how to fish, and continuing to build our unique sense of community.

In 2013, our first Divisional Outlook column (now PT TOMORROW) debuted; featuring an injury that would open the door for Bobby Parnell—how ironic. Jurickson Profar received an elusive "9A" prospect rating before shoulder injuries derailed that path, while Matt Carpenter and Starling Marte were merely seen as breakout candidates.

We switched our MATCHUPS column to daily mode and hooked in our Starting Pitching Report—you can probably guess why. We'd be remiss to omit the impact Daily Fantasy Sports has had on our industry during these years, though we're still wondering where this is going. Go back and read some early thoughts from Ron on DFS (here and here). Even more interesting in hindsight.

For the 2014 season, we took our flagship FACTS/FLUKES series one step further when Ray Murphy fired up the F/F SPOTLIGHT on Adrian Gonzalez. It quickly became a subscriber favorite; eventually spawning the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association's (FSWA) Baseball Article of the Year (online), written by ... eh, nevermind.

Speaking of awards, Alex Beckey became the 2012 FSWA Writer of the Year, BHQ Radio won Podcast of the Year in 2013 thanks to Patrick Davitt's wizardry behind the mic, David Martin took home the 2013 Baseball Article of the Year (print), and finally (in our opinion) the 2015 Baseball Forecaster won Best Fantasy Baseball Publication. Safe to say we're doing OK.

Our research team kept churning for more as well, revamping PQS and altering our baselines with the changing landscape, debuting a new expected wins metric, and annually updating tried-and-true strategies; including my personal favorite: the Santana Plan (2012's version included three-fifths of PHI's staff).

So even though things have changed—on the website, behind the scenes, and in the industry—we're still plenty busy. Testing new ideas, re-evaluating our own assumptions, and churning out award-winning, innovative content.

Do we have any idea what the next LOOKING BACK article (2016-2020) will be like? No clue, but rest assured that the culture and vision Ron Shandler fostered here will live on in everything we do. The future is bright, and we're excited to bring you along for the ride.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.