For the first seven years of his career, Elvis Andrus was a light-hitting shortstop that would provide cheap speed for fantasy teams. That Elvis has left the building. Unlike Mr. Presley, who aged into a fat slob which lowered the barriers to entry for employment as an impersonator, Mr. Andrus has become phat. For those that only know # as a hashtag, phat was synonymous with great, back in the 90’s. I still can’t believe phat was a thing.
Anyways, Andrus is the #1 shortstop in fantasy right now. He’s batting .305 with seven home runs, 34 runs scored, 32 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. The wOBA is .353 and ISO is .170.
For perspective, the ISO has been below .100 six of the last eight seasons and the season-high in home runs is eight, which occurred last year…
Danny Glover played Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movies. Murtaugh was the stabilizing force to the maniac that was Martin Riggs, played by the maniac Mel Gibson. Was Lethal Weapon a reality show before reality shows? Was the lethal weapon in Lethal Weapon Riggs or was it like a ying and yang thing where the combination of Murtaugh and Riggs formed a lethal weapon? I’m going with the assumption that Riggs was the lethal weapon.
A funny thing happened while I was setting my lineups for this week. I picked up not one, BUT TWO starting pitchers from the Colorado Rockies. Here’s where I blow your mind….They’re both named Tyler! Weird, right? You see friends, there once was a myth in fantasy baseball that the only good Rockies’ pitcher was the one not on your roster. My how times have changed. I mean, people are listening to albums again, The Rock is contemplating a Presidential run and a good portion of the Colorado pitching staff is fantasy relevant. What’s real anymore? Is this the Upside Down?? Anyway, both Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood have dates with the San Diego Padres this week and here’s the best part: The games are in Petco Park. I just high-fived myself. Both Anderson and Chatwood are lightly owned, just 11% & 7% respectively. That’s bargain bin shopping amigos. Ignore Anderson’s ugly ERA (5.38) and focus on this: He’s allowed just seven runs and racked up 32 K’s over his last 24.2 innings across his past four starts. Chatwood owns a 4.50 ERA (Thanks Coors!), but he’s been effective on the road dropping that number to 3.06 while producing a 3.86 xFIP. The Padres meanwhile, have decided to continue their tradition of being all but unwatchable by turning in a .641 OPS, .148 ISO and 73 wRC+. Those numbers rank 29th, 29th and 30th respectively. So yeah, this seems like a great time to get to know the Tyler’s.
Positional depth is a fascinating topic. Preseason, it’s one of the first things returning owners look at when emerging from their offseason hibernation. Thoroughly fattened by chips and Dominos’ pasta dishes – please tell me nobody is actually spending money on those – understanding where “fall offs” occur at positions is essential in constructing overall rankings and providing guidance for where targeting positions might be more appropriate.
A narrative I remember hearing in March was that elite first basemen were hard to come by. We had Goldschmidt, Votto, Freeman, and Encarnacion, followed by some Wil Myers believers (justified!), and a stretch of murky waters. As with any depth estimation, what happens in-season always throws a metaphorical wrench in what we initially thought. Cody Bellinger gets called up after less than one month, Freeman is lost for 10 weeks, Encarnacion once again starts slow, and everything we thought we had ironed out is tossed like that salad you should have eaten instead of that Dominos’ pasta dish! Has Jenny Craig taught you nothing?!
Enter our two darlings of the first base position two months in, Justin Bour and Justin Smoak, single handedly causing disgruntled twitter followers to tweet at the likes of Tristan Cockcroft and complain that he should do his job better. Yeah Cockcroft, we want four LABR titles in a row, three isn’t enough!
Here we are in week 8, so you know what time it is: it’s time to take advantage of the apathy of others. It was a rough weekend in the Holt household, as I checked in Sunday afternoon to find that Tajuan Walker, the one guy who’d been healthy and pitching semi-decently on my deepest NL-only team, had randomly hit the DL with a blister issue. Meanwhile, Trevor Cahill, who’d practically been carrying my pitching staff in the same league before he got hurt, was headed for an MRI that gave me the sinking feeling that he wasn’t gonna be pitching again any time soon. After slamming my computer shut and spending about an hour behaving like a 7-year old having a bad round of miniature golf, I needed an attitude adjustment. I went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and remembered that if Chris Pratt can go from being a tubby sitcom fifth banana to a universe-saving mega-movie star, I can keep fighting in the world of fantasy baseball until October. Now that I’m looking at the comparison with a clear head, sure, it may make no sense whatsoever, but it inspired me to spend an hour Sunday night scouring my various league waiver wires in an attempt to improve my teams. By the way, if you missed out on Parks and Rec when it was on the broadcast television, it’s one of the rare network sitcoms of the last decade that’s worth going back and watching, IMHO (has it been so long since anyone used the term “IMHO” that it’s retro now?)
I know, I know…The title is an awfully long stretch. I just wanted to pay tribute to one of my favorite Tribe albums. I’m referring of course to the legendary hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest for all of you young hipsters who might not be familiar. “Midnight Marauders” was a pivotal release for the group as their lyrics shifted to more of a community concern and focused on stories about their everyday lives. Great stuff and you should definitely check it out. In fact, I challenge you to listen to the entire album and not have “Award Tour” and “Oh My God” stuck in your head for the next week. So, where am I going with this and what does Joe Mauer have to do with it? Could it be that Marauders was released in 1993 and that happens to be the last time Mauer was fantasy relevant? Just kidding. I’m here to sell you on the idea of streaming Joe Mauer for your hitting pleasure this week. Sounds crazy, right? Well, the Twins are scheduled to play seven games this week and all of them line up against right-handed starters. That’s important because Mauer has been a career .318 hitter against righties while slugging 101 of his 132 career home runs against RHP as well. That’s cool. Better yet is the fact that he owns a .378 wOBA, 136 wRC+ .882 OPS against right-handers. Sign me up! He’s also just 3% owned, so yeah…you could say he’s available everywhere.
Like always, I’ll be suggesting a few of my favorite plays with the assistance of the Stream-o-Nator and Hitter-Tron. All of the players mentioned below will be available in at least 50% of standard ESPN leagues, so stream away if you’re so inclined. Without further delay, I bring you the Week 8 streaming suggestions. Enjoy!
With the state of the pitching landscape, moments like last Thursday night, when Twins’ prospect Jose Berrios finally flourished in the major leagues force all fantasy owners turn a very watchful eye north to Minnesota, with a club that has situated itself atop the AL Central heading into Sunday’s action.
After two starts, Berrios has 15.1 innings of work under his belt with 15 strikeouts and two walks. Good for a sub 1.00 ERA and a FIP, that isn’t as good as Kenley Jansen’s -0.95, but will be buoyed by the advanced control always touted as a strength. How much of his current line is indicative of what we should actually expect is more of a puzzle after how dominant he was at home against the Rockies. Tampering expectations might come because his matchup was the second of a double header, and despite the Rockies hold on the NL West, their WRC+ in both home and road games is sub 90, suggesting they might be playing a bit over their heads.
Now that I’ve gotten the two most obvious points to calm us down from Ian Desmond’s comment that Berrios’ stuff looked like Jose Fernandez, I still can’t get over the fact that Berrios had 20 swinging strikes, seven on his curveball, 12 on his fourseamer, and a lone whiff to his sinker. This was basically double the amount of whiffs he had on his fastball and curveball independently, at any point in his major league career. Needless to say, this was a glimpse at the peak of the Berrios mountain. Watching this start, it was painfully obvious that the Rockies had no chance on his curveball, which he threw near 35% of the time and generated about 20% swinging strikes on.
Thursday was a game of firsts for Berrios, but as with any player that storms onto the scene, taking a step back to look at what is actually possible moving forward is extremely important.
That is one of my favorite GIFs of all-time. And it just happens to be perfect for this piece. Ian Happ (29% owned – increase of 27%) was called up to the majors over the weekend. On a side note, that 2% difference in ownership has to be Prospector Ralph. Anyways, in three games Happ is 4-for-10 with three runs scored, two home runs, and four RBI. So, why am I so giddy? He’s a Cub, so you know he’s going to be an OBP monster. He’s a switch-hitter so there shouldn’t be any platoon issues. Happ has also been batting clean up. Either Mrs. Maddon is smitten with Happ or Ian has some pictures tucked away of Joe. Whatever the case may be, he’s got some semblance of trust from the manager. Javier Baez is sitting on the dugout steps pondering what he did wrong. While Happ is not known as a plus defender, I don’t think that’s going to be too much of an issue. Have you seen who’s decorating left field for the Cubs? The final piece to the puzzle is the depth chart for CF: Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay. Exactly. TREASURE: IT’S HAPPENING!
Well, here we are gentlemen and five girl readers. Hmm, if I’m one of the five girl readers and I’m writing this [Jay’s Note: You forgot my mother.], does that mean I should only be addressing 4 girl readers? Or should I just stick with 5, since I’m certainly vain enough that I’ll be reading my own work once it’s published? Hold on, is “published” the wrong word since we’re talking about the internet, and does my use of it make me sound out of touch? Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, here we are: week 7! Most MLB teams have played around 40 games now, so we’re about a quarter of the way through the season. Have any owners just flat-out quit in your leagues? In one of my keeper leagues (which of course are a different animal than re-drafts when it comes to punting a season), there were several blockbuster trades over the past weekend… those “in the hunt” have definitely distinguished themselves from those who are “playing for the future”. Meanwhile, I have a few re-draft leagues where some owners are barely setting valid lineups. Does this happen in your league? And if so, do you care?