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!
Why do I continue to highlight songs from my middle school days? I honestly have no idea. But it works. However, I can’t take the credit for this one. Thank you, creative Royals fan and MLB.com. If only I could pull the freakin gif off of Twitter now. Ugh. Am I a Royals fan? No. Do I #VoteRoyals? No. Do I still get jiggy with it? Um, I’m not sure that I ever did. I don’t know that Will Smith did, either. But in terms of a creeper, it’s a perfect moniker for another MI that’s already given the boot to one established veteran, and is proving that he’s more than worthy of his spot at 2B. Since taking the leadoff slot in the lineup, the Royals are 8-2 in their past 10. Who we talking about?
Whit Merrifield, 2B (21.2% owned) – He’s jumped up just above the 20% threshold with a 15.2+ added percentage. And smart of you if you already grabbed him. Is he cracking the Top 100 quite yet? No. But just barely. Consider him the honorable mention of the week. In the past 15 days Merrifield is tied with Robinson Cano and Paul Goldschmidt for the most hits in the majors (21), Rougned Odor for the most at bats (63), and is tied for 11th in total bases (33) while slashing .333/10/2/8/1. His BABIP is an unsustainable .400, but through the minors he’s proven he can get on base (~.350 OBP past three years), provide a little pop and swipe some bases (48 SB in last 750 minors ABs). Hitting atop the Royals lineup should give him ample opportunity to rack up runs, and it seems that he’s here to stay after the Royals DFA’d Omar Infante due to Merrifield’s emergence. He may slow down a tick, but while he’s hot I’d grab him, especially if you need AVG, R and SB help. Let’s safely project .275/40/6/30/15 the rest of the way. I can get jiggy with that.
Enough creepin’…Here are those Top 100 Hitters for Week 12!
Listen, I love a good gif. More than most. But if I put the gif of Rhianna singing, nay, dancing in her music video for ‘Work’, not a single person would read this article. No one. Not anyone. Not in the overset of evers would anyone ever continue scrolling down to read about the Creeper of the Week when they could all gaze like a creeper at the ‘work’ of Rhianna rolling her hips in front of Drake. It’s the epitome of mesmerized. So, for the sake of errbody, I’ll refrain, mostly likely cause you to just go google the music video on Youtube, and carry on with my main point for the article.
Jayson Werth, Werth, Werth, Werth, Werth, Werth! He say I pick him up, up, up, up, up, up! Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. (And then she keeps making consonant sounds. That’s music? I digress. Just watch the video. Googly eyes await.)
Jayson Werth, OF (16.1%) – As professional a power hitting left fielder with solid average that you’ll find, injuries have been the primary concern with Werth. From his days in Philly to the past few in Washington, not only has Jayson flashed the greatest baseball caveman look since Johnny Damon’s Boston days, he’s also provided some serious stats. Sure, he’s aging, and has been on the shelf a bit the past two seasons (this one included), but despite the average he has a .230/81/22/75/1 line in his past 599 ABs. He’ll get the counting stats in a great lineup hitting ahead of arguable NL MVP candidate Daniel Murphy and reigning MVP $500M man Bryce Harper. His legs aren’t what they used to be, and that may be affecting his BABIP, but it’s still sure to rise. Currently it sits at .270, but his career number is .325. Look for the average to rise as long as he stays healthy, and the counting stats to continue pouring in. His past 14 days? .293/8/4/13/0. At 16% owned that’s more than valuable, and enough to just creep into the Top 100!
Enough creepin’…Here are those Top 100 Hitters for Week 11!
After a long wait we finally get the grand entrance! Makes ya feel good, right? Especially if you had the patience to wait for it. Aaah, patience. It’s one of those things you have to learn. No one has it by default (haha, come hang with my three kids 3 and under if you don’t believe me), and it’s something you seemingly always have to ‘work’ to find. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. It’s also the fruit of an experienced fantasy baseball player.
Finding the right prospects ahead of the curve is a key element to the equation of winning in fantasy. Can you be the first to jump the gun and get the guy still in the minors that will come onto the scene and take you over the top? While they can backfire (ahem, my bad? Where you at A.J. Reed?!?), when they hit they can be the to winning your league.
Think Ryan Braun in 2007 (.324/91/34/97/15). As a damn rookie in 114 games! Now, that was a different era, and Braun has different juices flowing through his veins now, but he wasn’t the only one to make an immediate impact:
Melvin Upton Jr. in 2007 (.300/86/24/82/22 in 126 games – essentially his peak form)
Max Scherzer in 2008 (3.05 ERA, 10.61 K/9 in 56 IP)
Kyle Schwarber in 2015 (.246/52/16/43/3 in 273 AB)
Those are a few examples, and if you snagged those guys your team became significantly better after the draft. I’m not including the likes of Bryce Harper (2012) or Kris Bryant (2015) here, because they were almost universally drafted in their respective years, and, similarly, you should know by the title I’m not talking about the kid who made a great splash last year for the Dodgers, Corey Seager (.337/17/4/17/2 in 113 AB last season), as he was drafted this year. No, we’re truly looking for the player we’ve been waiting on, the player we’ve been patient with, but was largely undrafted. This week it’s a certain 2B we’ve been very patient for, and he’s finally here!!! Don’t look now, but he’s already creeping…
Jurickson Profar, 2B (13.3%) – Oh, not the name you expected? Who’d you think I was highlighting? Trea Turner? C’mon now…I’ll take the better prospect. “(Gasp!) Did he really just say that?” Yessir. And I’ve been patiently waiting to say it for three years now since I drafted him in an AL-Only. Sure, Turner arrived in the bigs over the weekend, and is already up to 30%+ owned, but it won’t last long (called up due to paternity leave for Ryan Zimmerman), and I believe his perceived value is tied more to the infield situation in Washington than his own offensive prowess (he’s a faster Zack Cozart…). On the flip side, Profar was the #1 prospect in baseball three years ago, flashed incredible pop at a young age prior to his injury (only 23 yo now), and possesses enough wheels to get 15-20 SB in a full season. The playing time is the obvious concern here with Rougned Odor back from suspension, the Rangers committed to Elvin Andrus at SS, and the money designating Fielder as their DH, albeit undeservingly. However, Profar has hit safely in every game since his call up (7 straight through Saturday) with multiple hits in 5 of those games. Already blasting 2 HR with 9 runs, Profar is proving he’s both healthy and capable in his call-up. Even with Odor back, the Rangers should use Profar to spell Beltre, potentially fill in at 1B and DH (like he did Saturday) and get some OF reps with all their injuries. If he continues capitalizing on the opportunity, he won’t stay unowned for long as, if nothing else, he’s an incredible MI option.
Enough creepin’…Here are your Top 100 Hitters for Week 10!
Power. It’s why we’re all here, right? As Kanye so eloquently penned:
I’m living’ in that 21st century
Doing something mean to it
Do it better than anybody you ever seen do it
Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it
I guess every superhero need his theme music
No one man should have all that power
The clock’s ticking’, I just count the hours
Stop tripping’, I’m tripping’ off the power
See, it’s power that rules supreme in fantasy baseball. Whether it’s a pitcher’s flaming fastball for strikeouts or a hitter dropping mammos into the light tower, power brings strength in numbers. Power is like the tide of fantasy baseball: when the tide rises, everything else rises; when the tide falls, everything else falls. So, if you want to accumulate the most stats possible, target power. And, for hitters, the best way to muster up power? The pull.
While it comes with pros and cons, pulling the baseball provides more power as the batter generates more torque from the turn in his hips. Chubbs was right, it really is all in the hips. As the body turns and the hitter gets out in front of the ball for contact, the shoulders, the hips and the wrists are all engaged to bring the bat through the swing creating the greatest exit velocity of the baseball. Now, before all the baseball purists yell at me, this is not to say that the best hitters in the game are those that only pull the ball. The truth would actually be the opposite, as hitters must be able to take what’s given to them and hit to all fields. But…this isn’t real life. We’re talking fantasy. And in fantasy, gimme those pulled home runs all. day. long, because sometimes a hitter unlocks his development and success when he pulls the ball more. Case in point? The creeper for week 9…
Adam Duvall, OF (16.9%) – I mentioned Duvall twice last week as he almost topped Trayce Thompson for the highlighted hitter, but he’s jumped him this week all the way into the Top 100 rankings, which is rare for players owned in less than 20% of leagues. But that’s where you can find Duvall, available in 80%+ of ESPN leagues. Duvall’s taken over everyday duty in the Reds outfield and is producing like a fantasy darling since he took the job. The reason for his recent success (4 HR last 6 games) he highlighted himself in a recent interview with Zach Buchanan, “‘It’s probably because I’m getting the head [of the bat] out,’ Duvall said. ‘Your bat speed maxes out from the plate to a little bit past it. Anytime you can catch the ball out there, you’ve got a chance to do some damage.'” And that’s just what he’s doing: serious damage. Now, be careful with Duvall, as his sub-.300 OBP and 30%+ K% scream cold spells are coming, but he’s pulling the ball so well that he’s raising his average, blasting the ball out of the park and racking up the counting stats. Oh, and that power? Duvall has a .313 ISO. As Kanye said, ‘no one man should have all that power.’ But he does.
Enough creepin’…Here are your Top 100 Hitters for Week 9!
‘Splash! Thompson hits another! All of California is cheering for this kid!’ I just want to hear Vin Scully say that once. Has he? Oh, wait, you thought I was talking about Klay? C’mon now, this is baseball, and we’re traveling south down the Cali coast to LA where we find the future mashing prince of Dodgertown. The brother of the Splash Brother in Golden State, Trayce Thompson is quickly making a name for himself early in this 2016 season. We’re gettin’ to to in Week 8, and Trayce is creeeeepin…
Trayce Thompson, OF (10.7%) – In the Week 7 edition a few commenters noted the hot bat of Thompson and Adam Duvall. While considering both for the highlight, Trayce edges him out despite potential concerns about the Dodgers having a crowded OF. Duvall’s OBP sits barely over .300 at….301. That ain’t good, no matter how much pop you have in the bat. Thompson, on the other hand, sports a cool .347 OBP with a 9.2% BB% and a 22.4% K%. While that K number might seem high, he’s managed to drop it almost ever year of his professional career. Last season for the ChiSox Trayce hit 5 HR in 135 PA. Solid. .238 ISO. Strong. This year he’s already mayshed 7 in 35 games and seems to be a lock for consistent ABs int he struggling Dodgers lineup. In May he’s slashing .301/10/6/14 with a 6:9 BB:K ratio. With Ethier, Crawford and Van Slyke all on the shelf, Puig seriously struggling and the Dodgers bats essentially flat-lining, Los Angeles can’t afford to not have him in the lineup right now. With another strong week under his belt, he’s a Creeper of the Week that could actually move his way into the Top 100 come Week 9. Get ahead of it while you can.
Enough creepin’…Here are your Top 100 Hitters for Week 8! Now in TECHNICOLOR!
You know how that should go. Countin’ money you know how it goes. Pray the real live forever man. Pray the fakes get exposed.
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Drake. We’re six full weeks in and I’m just gettin’ tired of these fakes taking up roster spots due to their name value. Ya know? Pray that real live forever, man! Ok, well, I don’t really pray about fantasy baseball, but I hope that some of the bigger names turn it around and come back to life for the sake of our fantasy baseball teams. When it comes to ranking the Top 100 hitters in terms of rest-of-season value, though, it’s time to cut bait on a few. And, honestly, I may even be late by a few weeks in bringing out the scissors. You’ll see a lot of names at the bottom of the rankings this week that dropped out. Don’t freak out. Don’t get emotional. Look at the stats, even the deeper stats, and you’ll see it’s more than time to get the hotter players in your lineups regardless of name.
Listen, I’m no clairvoyant. Actually, I don’t even believe in them. Look into a ball, read a card, trace a palm and tell the future? GTFO. Well, unless you’re Professor Trelawney and your medium of choice for prophesy is tea leaves. Anyone? Anyone? Did I just nerd out alone?!? Thanks for judging me at this very moment. I could have said meteorologist instead of clairvoyant above, I suppose.
While I joke about it, one of the most important elements to competing in fantasy baseball, especially in long-term leagues, is knowing how to look at the minor league spectrum and predict the future of prospects that can help you in the immediate. It’s not necessarily telling the future, but there’s a way to extract some wisdom from the process. Now, let me go all teacher on you as to why the word wisdom was just used: Wisdom is looking to the past to know what’s going to happen in the future before it happens.
Applied to fantasy baseball, experience and wisdom can give you a leg up on the competition if you know what to look for. The elements of a call-up? A team that believes they should be in competition, a struggling hitter at the major league level, and a red hot hitter that can maysh (redneck pronunciation intended). Oh, it also doesn’t hurt to have FanGraphs highlight said player. I’ve yet to do this, and am surely shooting myself in the foot by doing so, but it’s time to make this week’s Creeper of the Week someone who has yet to take a major league at bat. Read those tea leaves and get out ahead of the crowd, because he won’t be available in many leagues once he’s called up. And I predict that will be soon.
Ever made a girl swoon for you? Now, obviously I’m writing this from the angle of a guy, asking the question to other guys, even though if you listen to the podcast maybe we should change that direction after Grey being called effeminate in the most recent episode (haha!). But before you puff up your pride and answer that question in your head, ‘Well, yeah!’ let’s play the comparison game. Teddy Roosevelt says ‘Comparison is the thief of joy,’ and if ole Teddy is right then let me sap your joy for a moment: none of us could serenade and swoon like Frank Sinatra. Dude’s timeless, suave, and the epitome of cool. But why in the world am I beginning a fantasy baseball post by discussing Frank Sinatra’s game? Because even the best of ’em need a little luck.
Typically I argue that fantasy football requires much more luck than fantasy baseball, as the length and grueling nature of the season allows for managers to actually manage themselves into the playoffs and further. It’s a fallacy to believe that luck isn’t involved, though. In ‘Luck Be a Lady,’ one of Sinatra’s most iconic songs, he tells the story of needing Lady Luck’s presence to win his bet. In order to win your league, you better start swooning that scantily-clad dame of fortune as soon as you can. How? Nail the draft, avoid the DL, and pick up the right hitters at the right time. I’m here for the last one, you could probably use some help on the first one, and we’re gonna need a lot of help with that middle portion for this week’s Creeper of the Week (and even the honorable mention).
When does a fad become a trend, and a trend the new standard? Whether it’s fashion, politics, music, movies, language or style, the shift from perception to reality advances faster and faster. In baseball, how fast does that timeline shift for a player? How long do we need to realize that a player’s stats are the new norm and not a flash in the pan? 50 at bats? 100 at bats? 2 months? Of course, there’s always the risk of regression, like the 80’s being totally back in style, but there are other things from the past that just won’t come back. Or at least we all better hope they don’t. Like Jnco. Haha, that used to be cool?