So, you may have missed out on Cesar Hernandez and I am partially to blame.  (But don’t worry because according to Rotowire “Unfortunately, he lacks both power and speed, assets he would need to be fantasy relevant in all but the deepest fantasy leagues.”  On the other hand there is also: “Cesar, basically the awesomest guy in the world.“).  Uhhh, anyway, he stole 6 bases in a three game span and I haven’t even written about him yet.  If you are wondering how that happens, it’s in large part a timing thing, although I definitely should have looked into him as soon as he started playing more often because I would have seen he did show decent speed in the minors.  So what can we expect going forward?  Well, prior to an injury to Chase Utley, Hernandez was starting less than half the time.  Despite being outfield eligible he has yet to play there this year.  Upon Utley’s return he could steal (pun intended) games from Freddy Galvis in addition to occasional starts at second base so maybe he sees 5 starts each week.  He has a pretty good track record of stealing bases in the minors but prior to this year he only stole one base in 100 games and 256 plate appearances in MLB.  I think that if you picked up Hernandez you can feel ok about it, but temper your expectations somewhat. And if you missed out you should perhaps start by looking at players that may have been dropped in your league.

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The ESPYS are coming soon, so I decided it might be time to nominate some relief pitchers for mid-season hardware and steal a little bit of ESPN’s ESPYS thunder (that’s just wrong on more than one level) in the process.  Anyway, I’ll soon be handing an award to one of the relief pitchers with a chance to regress in a bad way and I’m calling these awards the Jurrjy’s because Jair Jurrjens was a pitcher that was as up and down as I can recall a pitcher being.  He was (is, I could say, after all he still exists, somewhere) a BABIP dependent* pitcher because of a low strikeout rate.  For instance, here are his 2011 1st half/2nd half  ERA splits: 1.87 in 110.2 1st half innings vs 5.88 in a small sample of 41.1 second half innings.  While it might have been better to pick a reliever to name this after, I can’t think of anyone that fits the description better than Jair Jurrjens.  The only problem is, I’m not sure if the “winner” is the one whose ERA regresses the most or the one who maintains the mirage.  I guess that’s up to the Academy to decide.  So without further ado, your 2015 Jurrjy nominees in the “rising ERA” category are:  Steve Delabar, middle reliever, Toronto Blue Jays (1.42 ERA /4.05 FIP).  Bryan Shaw, middle reliever, Cleveland Indians (2.10 ERA /4.62 FIP).  Joakim Soria, closer, Detroit Tigers (2.73 ERA /5.09 FIP).  Brad Ziegler, closer, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.45 ERA /3.78 FIP), Darren O’Day, middle reliever, Baltimore Orioles (1.21 ERA /3.17 FIP), and JJ Hoover, middle reliever, Cincinnati Reds (1.31 ERA / 3.10 FIP).  (*This article basically claims that pitcher BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is 75% luck, 13% defense, and 12% pitcher’s skill).

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This is the Saves Ain’t Got No Face “eff the team managers” edition which will give me a chance to both vent and try to deflect blame for bad calls I’ve made.  Joe Maddon of the Cubs decided to go a different route on his closer situation by removing Hector Rondon from the role.  For like three days.  And I make the call that Pedro Strop had a good chance to take over as closer.  Eff Joe Maddon.  Then in Tampa (Joe Maddon’s old team.. coincidence??) the following sequence happened:  1. Brad Boxberger gets dinged, Kevin Jepsen becomes the interim closer, (arguably) leapfrogging Jake McGee in the process.  2. Boxberger came back, blew a save.  3. Jake McGee (seemingly) takes over as closer.  4. Kevin Jepsen notches a (random) save.  5. Brad Boxberger (seemingly) regains closer role.  As of Sunday, the last 15/30 days for Rays Saves is 2/4 for Jepsen, 3/3 for McGee, 3/6 for Boxberger.  Last week I claimed Jake McGee was the new closer.  He gets zero save attempts this week.  Keep reading folks because this is really just the beginning of the latest twist and turns which will leave you wanting to pull out your hair.  (Plus recommendations to follow…)

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With Byron Buxton and Francisco Lindor now called up that basically leaves Jose Peraza as the most intriguing speedster prospect as of now.  His path to playing time is muddled even though they have recently moved him to center field because Cameron Maybin has played extremely well there.  It is my (unfortunate) opinion that due to his situation Peraza doesn’t matter for 10 or 12 team leagues yet.  Onto the recently called up speedster prospects let’s consider their current fantasy value.  Mike has done numerous writeups of these players in various places and he most recently wrote that he considers Buxton to be “Leonys Martin with upside”.  Steamer/Razzball projects Buxton for 31-6-30-15 .241 in 78 games.  Realistically his AVG will likely fall anywhere from .235 to .270 depending mostly on K rate and BABIP.  In the minors he was hitting a very mediocre .283 with a 19.0 K% and .332 BABIP.  Sure I think he has plenty of upside but don’t expect too much out of Buxton.  I would rather hold on to a red hot and perhaps genuinely improved Cameron Maybin than pick up Buxton.  Anyway, depending on your league format Buxton has likely been picked up already.  I’d say he’s worth a 15% FAAB bid depending on what else you have for SBs and outfielders.

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Last week I implored you to consider your options in selling Steven Souza, a player who seemed to be at his peak at that time.  Yes, I told you to consider moving a player that has been stellar so far.  The thing is, what a player’s done doesn’t really move me.  All I care about is what a player is going to do.  That means past stats are only important insofar as they predict future stats.  So when I see that a player has hit 15 home runs so far, or stolen 12 bases so far, all I really care about is to what degree is that level of production sustainable.  I came to the “sell” conclusion for Steven Souza by using peripheral statstics, primarily his HR/FB% (unsustainable) and K% (too high and likely to not go down much).  Going back to a May 4th post, I mentioned  offhand that Jake Marisnick was a sell high.  His AVG/SLG at the time it was published: .382/.632.  His AVG/SLG since that time: .172/.242.  That’s not to say I’m a soothsayer.  Or to say that’s precisely how regression to the mean works.  So why did that happen?  Because baseball.  But I do think it’s an example of why we, excepting those times when peripheral stats suggest otherwise, should trust the projections and use the peripheral stats they are based on.

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This is the SAGNOF Special “broken record edition” where I repeat things I’ve touched on in the past.  Danny Santana bad.  Rajai Davis good.  But let’s start with: sell Steven Souza.  Why?  So many reasons, but the most important are his 37% K rate and 35.7% HR/FB.  The K rate is bound to come down some, but how much?  32-35% might still be too high for Souza to have great value going forward, once the HR/FB rate regresses. To put that HR/FB rate in perspective, last year’s leader among qualified batters was Jose Abreu, with 26.9%.  Nelson Cruz‘s HR/FB rate was “only” 20.4% last year.  So on the one hand you can be very successful with a much lower HR/FB rate, on the other hand if Souza’s HR/FB rate were halved and we assume that half of his home runs were instead FB outs, his AVG drops from  .238 to .206.  While he can in fact have value with such a low AVG, the problem is, will the Rays send him down?   To look at it another way, think of how low his average might be during a 3-4 week home run drought.  So who to trade for?  If you want a similar type player maybe Charlie Blackmon or Gregory Polanco.  If you need some pitching maybe Jake Arrieta.  In any case, I’m trying to tell you to trade him as a player batting .238 with 10 home runs and 7 stolen bases, because that’s what he’s done.  So if you trade him make sure you get plenty in return because you are assuming the risk that he can lower his K% down to 32%-ish while maintaining a HR/FB of above 20%, because if he can do those things he can be pretty good.  But I don’t think his value will ever be higher than it is right now.

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Last week I recommended Shawn Tolleson, a player that seemed on the cusp of closerdom.  The closer’s role is now his and even though they have a player in Keone Kela that is being groomed for the role (thanks for the tip, Smokey!), it is my belief that Tolleson will stay the closer until he loses the job by blowing saves, but that could be said of just about any closer.  This week it’s time to turn our attention to the happenings in Seattle, where Fernando Rodney has an ERA of 6.23 so far this year.  I’ve previously recommended Danny Farquhar but he’s been almost as bad as Rodney. Both of them sport BABIPs of about .350 so it’s been some bad luck in addition to bad pitching.  Your answer:  Carson Smith.  Some of you have caught on already because his RCL ownership is up to 39% but it should probably be near 100%.  His ERA is 0.90 but his FIP and xFIP are 2.40 and 2.36 because his BABIP (.182) and LOB% (95.6%) are unsustainable.  So now you know where all of Rodney and Farquhar’s luck went.  The sustainable part is the solid 23:5 K:BB in 20 innings.  That’s closer material.  He could, in theory, be named the closer any day now, but unfortunately Rodney has been given a long leash so it’s not likely to happen until after the next blown save or two.

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What an eventful SAGNOF (Saves Ain’t Got No Face) week it was.  Shawn Tolleson, who was originally a high priority SAGNOF Special recommendation two weeks ago, now looks to be in a position to steal some saves from Neftali Feliz or possibly take the job outright.  Feliz is in serious trouble and it will probably be either Shawn Tolleson or Keone Kela that takes over if Feliz is in fact removed.  Right now the word is that Rangers manager Jeff Bannister is going to use whoever he fancies on any particular day to close out games and that leaves the door open for just about anyone, including Feliz.  I find it hard to believe that anyone other than Tolleson is capable of running away with the closer role so he’s my heavy favorite.  If I’m wrong, call me bad names, but try to make it funny at least.

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This week I’ve got two really ugly recommendations for those of you in need of stolen bases.  The first player has been slumping badly, the second is Public Enemy No. 1 as far as some Rusney Castillo fans are concerned… Adam Eaton or considering how he’s (not) hitting lately, Adam “I haven’t Eaton in days”.  Ok, he’s not exactly old yet and his 59/5/37/14/.264 ROS (Rest Of Season) Steamer projection (R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG) is actually quite good and is in fact better than the projections of some of the younger players I’ve recommended previously.  Secondly, we have Shane Victorino aka Rusney Castillo’s wet blanket (well to be fair, Castillo’s inability to stay healthy has been his own wet blanket, but let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story) who is back from injury.  He might not be worth owning if he’s only going to start 4 times a week but if he’s starting 5-6 times a week, well, he’s better than a lot of other players out there.   Before dismissing Eaton and Victorino keep in mind veterans Nori Aoki and Angel Pagan have fared pretty well this year.  And let’s face it, I’m basically making recommendations here for your last roster spot.  These are all players that are fairly expendable, that’s why they are out there in so many leagues.

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It’s been a busy week for SAGNOF (Steals/Saves Ain’t Got No Face) as we’ve seen the demotion of one closer (Miguel Castro), the injury of another (Adam Ottavino) and we’ve had some demotions and call-ups of base stealing prospects. Firstly, I just want to brag a little bit because I told you to pick up Jake Marisnick.  Okay, so I called him Jake Marsinick at first, but hey, let’s not be picky here.  The fact is, I first recommended Jake Marsinick, or whatever his name is, three weeks ago here.  That was back when he had one home run and two stolen bases.  Since then, he’s basically gone one to destroy MLB pitching.  Well anyway, hopefully this will help make up for any calls I’ve gotten wrong over the past few weeks… (and truthfully, I would consider Marisnick a good sell high right now, maybe you can get Brandon Moss in return if you need power).

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