Can we talk about the SS position right now? Seriously, it’s like 2004 travelled into the future, made like rabbits to triple itself, and then gloriously handed it’s crown to the offspring that will eventually put them all to shame. Ok, maybe not to shame…there’s no far less PED’s, but sweet mercy if this crop of shortstops ain’t something to behold. Let’s give a little rundown: Seager, Bogaerts, Correa, Lindor, Desmond, Tulowitzki, Machado, Villar, Nunez, Miller, Segura. That’s 11 guys. So, for a 12-tea standard league there’s no use in reaching big time for a SS, as I haven’t even mentioned Turner (he’ll get the eligibility next year), Swanson (still two years away from becoming the next Jeter), Semien (could be the 2017 Schoop), Ramirez in his breakout, the young’n Russell or the sneaky good Crawford. However, there’s another name vying for that 12th spot. Someone not so small (6’1″, 180 lbs) that fits the mold of one of the first four names mentioned and is blossoming into a pro hitter before our eyes. Someone worthy enough as a Creeper to get his name written in the tab of this article enough to relegate all the prior names to last name status so far. Someone named…
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For this one I admit you need some Fallon, or an annoying college girl’s exclamation of agreement, to lighten to mood. After all, the Creeper of the Week for Week 21 was compared to none other than Jeff Francoeur back in June by FanGraphs. And, unfortunately, it wasn’t that far off. However, said player also miraculously graded as a 75 overall player (almost unheard of) days before the start of the 2015 season. Ratings like that rarely translate into a washed up player at age 25. Yet, here we are near the end of August 2016 and our Creeper is currently sitting in AAA. Raking in AAA, but AAA nonetheless. And in case you’re wondering, I realize that I haven’t done a good job, no, any job of convincing you to roster the upcoming player, but that’s what the next paragraph is for. So…channel your best sorority girl: YAAAAAAASSSSS! (And then just continue the rest of his name.)
SAGNOF ALERT!!! And maybe who you’re not thinking of (unless of course you tetras’d the title together in your brain place). No, we’re not talking Travis ‘All I Do is Singles/Steals’ Sebastian Jankowski, although he could bring some value if you’re looking solely for steals. But there’s a better option out there. Someone who preseason had the chance to be Jarrod Dyson 2.0 with enough at bats. And then the at bats didn’t come. This isn’t the first time that storyline played out, though. Every spring training there seems to be some player that comes along, plays well, gets some low key hype leading into the draft and then absolutely bombs. Typically those players wallow in the kiddie pool of minor league baseball mediocrity all year until a September roster expansion call-up, but sometimes…sometimes they prove they belong far before September. I was hopeful it would be mid-April that we would see these stats accumulate for our Creeper of the Week, but an 0-16 start effectively ruptured all chances of contributing early and exited his presence from our fantasy minds. Now, with a 5-5 game under his belt and 5R/3SB in his past three games, somebody’s creeeeeeepiiiinn….
The English major in me is just teeming with excitement for the title of Week 19’s edition. Any of you ever read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game out there? (And damn it, I know I’m geeking out right now. Whatevs.) The quick premise of the book is that there’s a special boy who has a greater ability than anyone else to defeat an enemy in what is posed as a simulated game. I won’t spoil the rest, but suffice it to say, he’s special because he wins. All the freaking time he wins. Even though he’s not the most imposing character he wins. And it’s just like his fantasy baseball namesake:
It’s all about the value. In the preseason, it’s about the risk vs. the reward in finding value. You know, good ol’ ROI. For instance, this year if you wanted to take a gamble on a massively hyped rookie destined for great things, it may have cost you a fifth round selection. Which rookie? Corey Seager (and maybe even earlier in some drafts, especially those around the LA area). Seager exploded onto the scene late last summer after dominating the minors for the Dodgers. Has he failed to bring a net positive ROI from that fifth-round valuation? Of course not. Check out his line to date: .307/66/17/47/1. He’s topping his projections, universally owned and helping fantasy teams climb atop the leaderboard. But who am I kidding…it’s just a waste of space to talk more about Corey Seager. You’re not picking him up. And you’re overpaying to trade for him. So, instead, why not go for the guy that’s Corey Seager Lite (spelling intended…you’ll see…)? On pace for a .260/70/22/60/8 mark, this week’s Creeper of the Week is just waiting to boost your MI, SS in a bind, or OF due to injuries.
The best leaders walk in a room and everyone knows their presence. Without even being aware of why sometimes, the attention magnetically focuses towards them. It’s like gravity. Leadership gravity. And in order to have it there is normally a glimmer of gregariousness written into the fabric of the leader; everyone’s thankful that they are exactly where they are. In baseball it’s seen in the locker room: they walk in, everyone feels it; they say a word, everyone listens; they’re at their plate, everybody watches.
The Creeper of the Week for Week 17…he doesn’t have that. Haha, a little bait and switch there for ya. Nope, I don’t peg him as the leadership gravity type, but he followed perhaps one of the greatest leaders with it in baseball history: Derek Jeter. For all his overhyped meh of fantasy baseball, you can’t argue The Captain’s leadership presence on the Yankees, and the lack of it now that he’s gone. I’d venture to say one element the Yanks have felt since Jetah hung em up is the black hole manning the field at shortstop; however, in his stead we find a player becoming so gregarious due to his rise as a hitter that he even decided to make his last name a play on that word…
I ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin’. Please, don’t leave me, girl. (Don’t you go!)
Truth is I could recite just about any Temptations song to you. Growing up with a dad who only listened to Motown and oldies, the moment I started to take interest in ladies I had a song for every occasion. Now, granted, I was about 10 or so when I asked out my first girlfriend, so the stakes weren’t crazy high. But whether a fifth grade swing or a fifteen year old fling, my adolescence knew how to swoon a girl. And I know how to spot a keeper.
Now if I gotta cry to keep you, I don’t mind weepin’ if it’ll keep you by my side.
Will tears flow from my now 30-year old eyes as I’m writing this? Um. No. That’s one thing I’ve matured in since the teenage years (and for the sake of my friends, my family, my wife, my children and my masculinity, thank Heavens). But I’d do just about everything I could short of that to make sure I got this week’s Creeper of the Week onto my roster and, in keeper leagues, locked in for next year. And if you miss out on him, you’ll be bregging to get him from someone else. See what I did there?
Alex Bregman, SS (17.1%) – So what if the ‘Stros decided not to bring Bregman up to start the second half. They’re just being silly. Just about the only universal commentary from the All-Star Weekend was that Alex Bregman was overwhelmingly ready for the Majors. He raked two extra-base hits in the Futures game, and has his signature already written and waiting on him at 3B in Houston. The beauty of playing the hot corner with the SS eligibility, a la Manny Machado, is that he must have enough pop to play there while being eligible at a weak position. Bergman has the potential to come up and challenge the numbers of any of those top SS listed in the rankings below. And since this is all about finding a player owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues, welp, now’s your chance. His 17.1% mark will balloon to north of 65% within a week of his call-up. And why all the fuss? The #2 overall pick in 2015 has dominated at the plate by producing 23 HR and 18 SB in his first 600 MiLB ABs across the top four levels. He doesn’t K much, walks about 10% of the time, and currently sports a .388 ISO in 11 AAA games, surpassing his .263 mark in 62 AA games. Sweet mercy, come and come quick, young man. You’re being patiently awaited for on 5 of my teams. Thank you! And for you that pick him up…you’re welcome.
Now enough creepin’…let’s get to the Rankings. BUT WAIT!!!
No, no, no. Haha, I don’t think this song would fit in with culture 50 years later. Actually, I’m quite certain that for anyone under the age of 24 it probably didn’t fit in well in 1965. You really gonna sing a song about wanting to be a weiner? I mean, c’mon…
So, let’s change the name and have a little rhyme time of our own. But instead of getting horribly inappropriate, because when does that ever happen on this site, we’ll just talk about the dingers, not the weiners, of Kevin Kiermaier, not Oscar Mayer. That dude’s a grouch, anywho…
Kevin Kiermaier, OF (6.4% Owned) – Currently on the DL, Kiermaier’s an interesting case for how to properly and effectively skim the waiver wire for the hidden gems. Before he hit the shelf Kiermaier posted a slash line of .231/18/5/16/6 in 137 ABs. While that won’t blow you away, it’s a pace that was on target to approach an esteemed 25/25 mark. Improving every single major offensive statistic from his 2015 breakout-ish total of .263/62/10/40/18 in 535 ABs, I’m giving Kevin the nod this week, because he’s due to return shortly after the All-Star Break. If he gives you another 250 ABs to finish the season he could be a Top 25-30 OF for the second-half. An improved ISO (.211), increased BB% (8%), and decreased K% (16.1%) were harbingers of his good numbers to start the year. What really excited me for his second-half, though, is his terribly unlucky BABIP (.247). For a guy with 25 SB upside, that’s really low and unlucky. Like, the only thing more unlucky would be if you were caught singing that song posted at the top of this article that’s most certainly stuck in your head now. HA! Gotcha! Now go stick Kiermaier in your DL slots before it’s too late. Here’s to the second-half!
And HERE’S TO THE ALL-STAR BREAK! 1st half is in the books! But enough creepin’…Here are those Top 100 Hitters for Week 15…THE ALL-STAR BREAK!
Now, to be fair, the player profile pictures for Danny Espinosa are dated and not fully current. But I’ll be damned if he doesn’t own the belt for the best profile picture in recent history. Outside of sleepy Adam Jones, you just can’t beat what awaits you when you click on the Creeper of the Week’s profile picture on any single site you choose to play fantasy baseball on. Go ‘head. Pause reading this. I give permission (but come back!!!). Check out Espinosa’s profile. But WAIT! Before you do…when you’re there, go ahead and pick him up, too. Why you ask? Well, I mustache you the question of why he isn’t already on your roster? Have you freaking seen what he’s done lately?!? Let’s highlight this creeper (who in any other context with that facial hair would overwhelmingly be a massive creeper. Cust sayin’)…
Honestly, it’s getting tough pinpointing the Creeper of the Week every seven days at this point of the season. A lot of prospects haven’t received the call to the bigs, and the post-draft sleepers are mostly snatched up as we approach July. But…we gotta just keep swimming, because when a prospect gets the call with a certain batting profile, it leads to some hopeful expectations. Success at AAA through the start of the season with an improved ISO, high walk rate, manageable K% (<15%) and track record of solid BABIP all project well to the major league level. You may be thinking, ‘Oh, great…another column on A.J. Reed!’ Haha, while he fully fits this profile, all four of Ralph, Dan, Grey and I have each highlighted him before (I was just a little early). And now with his call up this past weekend his ownership should likely jump well over 20% by the time you’re reading this. But there’s another who fits the profile. And, like Reed, got the call on Saturday.
Brandon Nimmo, OF (4.0%) – You can keep your Dory, give me more Nimmo. While the theaters are swelling with hype for Disney/Pixar’s latest masterpiece in the big sea, Finding Dory, it would behoove you to shift your attention to the rookie recently called up in the Big Apple. Go. Quick. Find Brandon Nimmo. Why? With the Mets outfield situation constantly in flux, and Michael Conforto being the most recent casualty now back in the minors (remember when he was ranked in the 60-70 range?!?), Nimmo finds himself looking at considerable at bats and a wonderful shot at sticking with the highest level. His ISO of .180 in AAA is serviceable, especially at 23 years old, and he was the 13th pick in 2001, so the pedigree is there. He slashed .328/.409/.508 through 287 at bats, and if he produces even a measure of that he’ll garner a lot more attention in the coming weeks. My favorite piece of his profile, though, is the BB%. Moving from AA to AAA in 2015 his BB% doubled, as did his ISO. This year it sits at 11.6%, meaning that even without a high BABIP, he can get on base enough to bring some counting stats. He’s still quite raw, but we’ve seen players like him come up with a huge burst, even if they tarry off as the season wears on. In need of a boost? Finding Nimmo may be a blockbuster for your lineup’s lackluster trajectory. Or…he may not make it out of this week. Haha! He’s definitely a name to watch, though. Optimistic projection: .275/30/6/25/10 in 300 ABs. (Waiting for Ralph to obliterate this projection now…)
Enough creepin’…Here are those Top 100 Hitters for Week 13!