Did anybody else forget that the Texas Rangers led the AL in wins last year? Because I do…early playoff exits will do that, right Red Sox? I feel like I’ve never been so down on a winning program. The Rangers need pitching, and they need it bad. Despite finishing 7th in runs scored in all of the MLB, they barely had a positive run differential. The third worst team ERA in the AL will do that to ya. So all this to say, the Rangers need pitching, and they need it badly. Is there any help on the way from the farm system? That’s a good question, but unfortunately there’s only Yohander Mendez ready to make an impact this season, and how much of an impact he makes is up for debate. Most of the exciting arms in the Texas system are 2-3+ years away, at least. So they’ll have to look elsewhere for reinforcements. The system has been raided in recent years by promotions, and big trades to acquire, first Cole Hamels, and then Jonathan Lucroy, among others. In fact, four of the team’s last five first round picks have been moved over the last two seasons. So yeah son, the cupboard is bare. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst system I’ve ranked, but it could be in the bottom ten, and it’s certainly in the bottom half of the league. Have I got you excited to read this yet? Don’t worry, as a special treat for reading this, you get my Top 100 Prospects post coming Wednesday! However, for today it’s the Texas Rangers Top Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.

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The LABR mixed-league draft has taken place in mid-February since its inception a couple of years ago and I have been lucky enough to be a part of it. Steve Gardner at USAToday.com is a gracious host, it’s a good group of people and competitors (even better with the addition of Dr. Roto and Scott Pianowski of Yahoo) and the timing of the draft is a great incentive to get my preseason projections, values and research done about the same time Grey finishes his marathon of player ranking posts.

Every preseason, I do things a little differently. I would like to say I am inspired by Einstein but his brilliance does not excuse his mediocre bagels. Yes, it’s not like I live in a bagel mecca nirvana heaven Garden of Eden in Austin, TX (Wholy Bagel excluded) but the theory of relativity does not extend to bagels IMO.

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This episode is going to be uuuuuuuuugggge, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers Top Prospects all crammed into one. Both really tremendous, tremendous farm systems. Okay, neither of them are really that great, but our Presidential Trump filter makes everything bigly. So Halp and myself delve into both systems and our favorites from each. We talk Jose De Leon for at least the 20th time on the prospect podcast. Not because we love him or anything, but mostly because he gives us tons of reasons. Well the rest you can listen to and find out, it’s the latest episode of the Razzball Prospect Podcast.

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It took us a few weeks, but we have arrived at the finale. We can finally wrap up the Couch Managers 2017 Industry Mock Draft recaps. It feels like just yesterday I was getting started on what was likely to be a 60,000-word article on all 23 rounds of this mock draft before Grey slapped me and told me to put down the bourbon and split this into multiple posts. Below, I’ll be posting the results of rounds 19-23, my thoughts on said results, and the final team for every owner.

In case you have yet to see my previous posts, here is a quick recap of the league rules for this mock:

This mock was for a 15-team, 5×5 roto, with 23 roster spots made up of 9 pitchers (9), 1 spot for each position (8), a second catcher (1), 2 more outfielders (2), one corner infielder (1), one middle infielder (1), and one utility position (1).

Links to previous recaps:

Now, let’s get rounds 19-23 out of the way so that we can get to the good stuff!

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How many hot’s is too many? I’ll say three. Because three’s are wild when I’m dealing. Third Base is going to provide a ton of power this year (we really need to appreciate how many homers were hit last season, and wonder if regression is coming…but what fun is that? Let’s predict even more Power for 2017, shall we?) and there are some speed guys, and some multi-position qualifiers, and just a whole cornucopia of idiosyncrasies going on at third base.

It might be my favorite position this season.  I typed that, never having thought that before, having a favorite fantasy position. Fantasy baseball position, you know that’s what I meant.  My new favorite player, World Series Winner (typing that makes me so dang happy) Kris Bryant, qualifies there (and in the outfield, too) and if you’re a fan as well, check this out.  While he’s number one in my heart, he’s number two in my rankings.   Though number two ain’t bad (well, it depends on who number two works for, doesn’t it?).

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If you’re like me on most Fridays, you’re sitting in your car beneath an underpass and writing ALF fan fiction, but today we have a different type of fantasy for you to engage in.  No, not your fantasy where it’s you and that girl from high school in a tub of Alphabet Soup and you write her a love letter on her back in noodles!  This is a fantasy baseball fantasy!  Because you know what would be really cool?  If you could join a fantasy baseball league that was against, like, 1000 other fantasy baseball teams.  But not a 1000-person league, where people are trying to figure out who the back-up third baseman is on the Single-A Astros affiliate, the Corpus Christi Amscrayers.  No, this is a 12-person league designed so you compete against eleven other people in your league, then 90 other leagues of twelve.  That would be cool.  Oh, wait, we’ve done that.  It’s called the Razzball Commenter Leagues, and they’re back, and you don’t even have to be a commenter to join it!  For a limited time only, get your loved one a fantasy baseball league!  That’s right, your hearts go pitter-patter or you’re dead on the inside (my condolences).  Since back in June when you abandoned your fantasy baseball team because it was totally sucking and you returned to your cubbyhole of leftover Chinese food and Teddy Grahams, you’ve longed for this day.  As Bob Marley sang, this is your redemption song, mon.  Or womon, for our five girl readers.  It’s time again to join some fantasy baseball leagues. Before you close all of your extraneous porn windows and rush to sign up, let’s explain how these fantasy baseball leagues are going to work.  We’re going to have a bunch of leagues and crown a winner from each, then we’re going to crown ONE winner from all of the winners.  We will be crowning the winner by taking each team’s points and multiplying it against a ‘league competitiveness factor.’  If you want to see how it worked last year, go here.  So we’re going to fill up as many fantasy leagues as we can for the next seven weeks.  Each fantasy baseball league will be a mixed league, 12 team, snake draft, roto, 5×5, 5 OFs, one Middle Infielder, one Corner Infielder, one Utility, 9 pitchers, 20 game eligibility, 180 Games Started max, 1000 IP minimum. Like last year, we will again be going with TWO DL SLOTS. The only things you need to change from the default settings is the 180 Games Started and the TWO DL SLOTS.  Please be vigilant about having the exact same league rules and setup as everyone else. The lineup is also known as:  C/1B/2B/SS/3B/CI/MI/5 OF/UTIL/9 P/3 BENCH/2 DL with 180 Games Started and 1000 IP minimum.  The fantasy leagues will be played in ESPN and they will be free to join.

We’re going to start with twenty leagues of 12 and see how we do from there. To join a league… Sorry, again for the people in the back of the room:

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I think this will conclude this year’s rankings for all players, but with the way closer roles can change between now and Spring Training, finishing will be bountiful. There seems to be a big difference among experts in the top-10, and I am no different.  Also, the bottom tiers for the rankings are a “wait and see” proposition, as there are easily 7-8 teams with a closer by committee situation, or at best, a closer who is a retread of a retread.   Everyone knows who you are Fernando, you don’t have to stand up and raise your hand or shoot an arrow fictitiously at me.  So as we approach draft season and beyond, use this list for now, because the situations will be fluid from here on out.  As I promised two weeks ago, you will get a new list every two weeks, with a holds post (no it won’t be in different color for people who just skip the preface of an article) in betwix.  Get excited folks! Spring is sorta here, and with that comes all of Grey’s rankings, my closer and bullpen stuff, and basically every tool under the sun to help you be the best you can be.  Now get out there and win one for Flipper!

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What’s good baseball peeps? For those of you not familiar with me, I’m Honcho and I’ve dabbled in fantasy here at Razzball on the football side and helped with DFS a bit. This year, well, I’m jumping into the season-long game. Once we get to opening day, my posts will consist of pitching and hitting streamers based on the results of the Stream-o-Nator and Hitter-Tron each week. Until then I’ll be contributing a bit of everything to help get you primed for the 2017 season. For this particular piece, I’m looking at a few players who I believe are sitting just a tad too high based on Grey’s rankings. Now, before we move on, let me say this: Grey is the best in the business. His rankings are absolutely rock-solid and you’ll be a better fantasy player just by visiting Razzball on the reg. I like to think of Grey as the Mike Trout of fantasy analysts, or better yet, the David Hasselhoff of industry experts. If fantasy baseball was exclusively played in Germany that is. He’s like the Adam Lambert of… ahhh never mind! You get the point. He’s really, really good and this article is not meant to disparage his work in any way. I’m just going to point out a few examples of guys I think should be knocked down a few spots in his rankings. This doesn’t mean I hate the players I’ve listed below, in fact they’ll most likely wind up on a few of my teams in the coming weeks. For example, Grey has Todd Frazier ranked as the 10th best third baseman. Know what? It’s hard to argue against a guy coming off a 40 HR/15 SB type year. But here where I disagree slightly. Frazier, who will turn 32 before the season opens, suffered a 6 point drop in his hard contact percentage last season (31.3%), falling from 37.3% in 2015. His strikeout rate rose to an unsightly 24.5%, which happens to be the highest of his six seasons at the major league level and checks in at fifth worst among qualified third basemen. Perhaps the most frightening item in play here is the mysterious finger injury that suddenly popped up a few weeks ago. He’s scheduled to return to baseball activities on March 1. With all that to digest, it’s hard to imaging Frazier finishing 2017 with a batting average above .240. I still expect he’ll reach 30 HR, but you’ll pay considerably more than you should to obtain his services. Considering what his counter rate is at the moment (5th round NFBC) I’ll gladly take Jake Lamb, Alex Bregman or Jose Ramirez to fill out my CI or 3B position.

Here’s a look at a few players who I believe were ranked while Grey was sipping on grandpa’s cough medicine:

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To say Daniel Murphy is a schmohawk transcends fantasy baseball.  Murphy said he disagrees with the gay lifestyle, but loves all people because he’s a Christian.  “What exactly is the gay lifestyle?” would’ve been the best followup question ever.  Daniel Murphy thinks for a moment, then thoughtfully says, “Dressing up in frilly crap, watching Queer as Folk reruns and eating D.”  Then, after a moment, “But I love all people!”  Or if a gay reporter said, “I’m gay and my lifestyle is watching sports, getting mustard on my old, brown tie, and I don’t even have Showtime.  Does my lifestyle bother you?”  Murphy pauses, then replies, “Yes, you eat D and I prefer ketchup on my hot dogs.  But I still love you.”  Every sport needs a bad guy, and that’s why baseball has everyone on the Yankees.  Daniel Murphy isn’t a bad guy, he’s just a douche, but, not that long ago, John Smoltz compared gay marriage to a person marrying an animal, so Murphy will probably be working Fox broadcasts in the near future, along with Pete Rose and A-Rod.  Fox:  We Hire Everyone MLB Asks Us Not To Hire.  Any hoo!  None of that matters for our purposes, or porpoises if dolphins are reading.  This is about what a schmohawk Murphy is for fantasy, that does matter for us.  Schmohawk lives matter!  Anyway, why is Daniel Murphy overrated for 2017 fantasy baseball?

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I wonder if the Rays are mad at the Yankees for stealing their style? The kings of drafting/signing and stashing are back, with a whole new crop of youngsters, and there’s some underrated names to come. While their top specs may not have the name value the Yankees, or say the Braves have, many of them are destined to make an impact on fantasy in the coming years. One of my favorite shortstop prospects calls the Rays home in Willy Adames, who is at most a year away. As well as one of the more slept on corner infield prospects in Casey Gillaspie, who could have an impact this year. In fact the Rays have a lot of high floor, low ceiling types waiting in the wings in Durham ready to become wavier wire fodder, and hot schmotato’s. Not only do we have some Top 100 types, and some floorboreds, we also have some talented far off youngsters, ’round here we call them Lolita’s, for you to crush on. Without further ado, it’s the Top Tampa Bay Rays Prospects. That’s right, it’s TAMPA! Stevie J.

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