I have no idea if anyone at ESPN actually ranks people.  There’s talk of it.  Like, “Yo, Klara Bell, you do your rankings yet?”  “No, did you?”  Then Cockcroft makes farting noises with his armpit.  All I ever see at ESPN is consensus rankings.  I have to figure out how to do this “consensus” thing.  Talk about a nice way to avoid taking any blame for anything.  “Hey, man, sorry about Andrew McCutchen being ranked so high this year, but these are ‘consensus’ rankings.”  Let’s turn to a conversation between two random fantasy baseballers.  “Cockcroft has said he doesn’t like Cano this year.”  “But ESPN has him 34th overall.”  “Yeah, doesn’t apply when talking about Cockcroft.”  “So, when does it apply?”  “When talking about ESPN.”  “But Cockcroft is at ESPN”  “Yeah, still doesn’t apply.”  “Can you explain that?”  “Nope.”  Then heads explode.  Consensus rankings are done by committee.  Only thing ever done better by committee is jerk seasoning.  Now, while you might think ESPN’s rankings have a ton of jerk seasoning, they are just an indecipherable mess.  But why bring up all of this when I’m about to take a blowtorch to Yahoo’s 2017 fantasy baseball rankings?  Thanks for asking, clunky expositional question!  Yahoo has consensus rankings, but they also show their work.  Each ‘pert is accounted for in their rankings.  This is already much better than ESPN.  You can at least see what Pianowski, Funston, Behrens and Triple D are thinking individually.  This, of course, doesn’t mean I agree with all of their rankings, but at least I can point to how they came to their consensus.  Anyway, here’s where my 2017 fantasy baseball rankings differ from the 2017 Yahoo fantasy baseball rankings:

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Image result for rize of the prodigy byron buxton  Image result for byron buxton and jackie bradley in same picture

 

All those B’s in the title got me bobbing my head to this. Man, I can listen to that song all day. Anyways, back to the order at hand. In preseason NFBC drafts, Jackie Bradley Jr. is being selected, on average, with the 146th overall pick. Byron Buxton is going at pick 147. I thought this would be an easy and straightforward piece to research and write. If you read last week’s Bear or Bull, you know that I eschew the hackers for the more disciplined batters. Choosing between the two proved to be a far more difficult endeavor, though.

In 331 plate appearances last year, Buxton struck out 35.6% of the time and had a 15% swinging strike rate. He managed to hit .225 WITH a .329 BABIP. Bradley Jr., on the other hand, clubbed 26 home runs, scored 94 runs, drove in 87, stole nine bases, and hit .267 while striking out 22% and walking 10% of the time. The 26 home runs really stood out to me, as he had never eclipsed 10 in any professional season. While ESPN Home Run Tracker labeled 10 of Bradley’s homers as “just enough,” his average true distance (399.1 feet) was close to the  MLB average of 400 feet. The more I kept looking at the advanced stats, the more comfortable I was getting with my initial assessment of Bradley over Buxton. He was hitting more line drives, hard contact % went up, GB%, FB%, and HR/FB were all in-line, and his plate discipline numbers actually got better. Yet, like any good grasshopper, I kept searching. Why you ask? Maybe it was because I didn’t want to get type-cast into being the GET OFF MY LAWN-boring-old guy. Whatever the reason may be, I found what I was looking for. Or maybe it found me. Or maybe…

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Last season I created a list of the who’s-who to follow in the Twittersphere.  The article won many awards (none) for being the article of the year, millions (tens…maybe) hailed it as a modern day classic (or just a fairly helpful time saver).  On the back of all that success a sequel was only fitting.  I framed this mostly as a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) column at the time, but @Twitter is for more than just DFS players, Twitter is for any fantasy player that is looking for an edge.  Heck, if you’re a fan of baseball and have a smartphone, there’s no reason to not follow most of this list below.  That goes for DFS players and non DFS players alike.  There is no faster news source for lineups, weather, late scratches or other breaking stories out there (like closer changes for RCL leagues for example).  I love what Twitter has done for the game, it’s an ideal pairing I think.  I almost always have my laptop open with Twitter up while I’m watching games.  

The thing with Twitter though, is you have to be following the right people to make it worth your while.  Enter the @MattTruss guide to MLB Twitter 2017.  I’ve broken this up into different categories, so pick and chose, or follow them all, it’s your choice.  For 2017 I’ve gone through and cleared out and deadbeats that are no longer covering the team, covering different teams, retired, etc.  I hope this helps, I know it’s been an invaluable tool for me.  If nothing else, maybe it’ll save you an hour or so of Googling.  If it helps you out, say thanks by throwing a follow and a retweet my way.  Also, if there is someone I missed that you enjoy following, please add them in the comments.  Sharing is caring after all, and is what makes @Razzball awesome!

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Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you my pièce de résistance!! Yes, applaud for me, revel in my greatness. I even broke out a fancy accent marked phrase, who does that but a pretentious liberal arts major with delusions of grandeur? This is my title fight, the list for which all prospectors are measured. It’s my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Now that I’ve gotten beyond all the muckedy muck, let me explain a little about my list, and ranks. First: Yes I 100% factor in proximity, and it effects my rankings. Second: Upside is the most important factor. Third: Production in the minors matters to me. Unless it’s in a crazy ballpark (cough, cough FirstEnergy Stadium: Reading, Pa), or contradictory to batted ball data. I’ve been deep in my hole since early October breaking down every system in the minors, reviewing video on Youtube, looking at batted ball data, checking the stats, and reading any and every scouting report I can get my hands on. It’s one part eye test/ one part player profile/ one part production. I’ve been training all offseason for this, only my training involves sweat pants, a laptop, and lots of snacks. Speaking of snacks, I’m hungry let’s get into the list!! You already know who’s ranked first… It’s Top 100 Prospects day!

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Boy does it feel good to be back!  I can’t wait to be half as productive at work and start losing countless hours of sleep staying up to watch the finish of the [email protected] game  just in case there is a closer injury.  Football was a fine diversion, but I always feel a little empty without baseball.  I’m happy to be back for another season as your Razzball Commenter League (RCL) tour guide.  I love these things.  Really, they play to my strengths and offer ample opportunity to test strategy and ideas.  I love the constant ability to go for every last hit, RBI, SB.  Weekly lineups/moves have their place, I just don’t find them as fun.  The format, the League Competitive Index competition, battling hundreds of other managers for the top of the overall standings and of course, the non stop action make this a unique and fun challenge.  It’s kind of like pounding a pot of coffee every hour, on the hour for six straight months.  I’m also a huge nerd for all the numbers and data that gets collected from running so many leagues under the Razzball umbrella.  I will do my part to share some of these numbers with you along the way and try to glean some info from all that data.  VinWins was my hero back when he ran the RCL Updates, so I’ll do my best to be his protege.  In order to make the data pool even larger though, we need you, and you, and you too.  You see, what makes RCLs great is all of you.  Man that sounds mushy, but it’s true.  In an ideal world, every Razzball reader would head on over to the RCL sign-ups, pick a league and all would be right with the world.  For those of you that aren’t so eager, let’s sit down and chat it out.

First of all, if you’re on the fence about joining an RCL, that can’t be comfortable.  You really should hop down from there and just join a league already.  I get it though, back in the late aughts, when I first started lurking around Razzball I too was reluctant to join an RCL.  I kick myself now though for not joining in the fun sooner.  I’ll give you the reasons I was staying away and then explain why it was complete bunk.  Maybe I can sway another 2-3 of you to come join the masses.  If you have other reasons for keeping away, by all means, lay them on me in the comments.  I love talking RCLs and if we can be doing something better, I’ll be your voice to the big wigs.  So, here we go:

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We’re back with a fresh edition of the Razzball Pod – and shocker! – Grey starts the show by yelling at me about the intro! Bloodfeud today! We catch up on some of the news from the past few weeks including the unfortunate Alex Reyes injury, then spend the majority of the show previewing OF! I nitpick through Grey’s rankings which you can follow along with here, as we hit on some values in the earlier rounds all the way down to some NL-only sleepers. All leading up to the biggest question of all: who is ranked higher, Ben Revere or Denard Span?! Here’s the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Podcast:

Download from iTunes

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Our 2017 Razzball Commenters Leagues are in full signup mode.  I even heard there were a few people from Anonymous that signed up!  They said, “To the world, I’m Anonymous, just another white man who sits in parking lots with binoculars watching women.”  Man, that Anonymous guy is depressing!  As we always do about this time, I eviscerate the haters and complicators!  I eviscerate the not-knowers and the over-knowers!  I eviscerate the ESPN goers and the garden hoers!  I overuse a word like eviscerate that I just learned!  I am the Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it) and I’ve come for your children!  See, because blog writing doesn’t pay so well, I’ve taken a second job as a bus driver, so I’m literally here for your kids.  Like a baller!  A shot caller!  An “I’m outside of Hot Topic at the maller!”  My eviscerating (I’m conjugating my new word!) today comes at the expense of ESPN and their 2017 fantasy baseball rankings.  To the tune of Kanye’s Runaway:

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Only week 1 into Spring Training and we’re already seeing some draft altering injuries. Some predictable (Homer Bailey,) some crushing (Alex Reyes,) and some hilarious (Brian Flynn–who falls through barns in 2017?!) Expect to see this article appearing more regularly now that we’re back in baseball season.

Here are some players who are ruining people’s fantasy lives already before the calendar even turns to March.  

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As I begin to prepare my projections and rankings for the 2017 season, I like to look back on the previous season’s attempt to not only assess my work, but also to learn how I can do better next time. Projecting statistics in any sport is a tedious and arduous task. The variables, formulas and algorithms are constantly changing and if you don’t adapt with them, your results will lose their precision and accuracy. However, I’d like to make one point blatantly clear, projections are nothing more than calculated guesses. Some are better than the next, but none are even close to perfect.

Let’s see how I fared with my 2016 efforts. For all positions I will provide the following six numbers: projected points, actual points, projected rank, actual rank, projected points per plate appearance and actual points per plate appearance. I am including points per plate appearance because it helps put a player’s projections vs performance into perspective when they’ve missing time due to injury. For pitchers I’ve replaced points per plate appearance with points per start. I’ve also included a column showing the percentage by which my points projections were off. Any player with an “n/a” listed in this column is because that player spent at least 30 days on the disabled list.

Lastly, a quick note about the rankings listed in this post. These rankings are based purely on points. This season I plan to provide additional rankings that allow me to adjust them based on three important factors: intuition, gut and my sporadic conversations with Nostradumass.

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So the title is a bit of a superlative.  What was I gonna say, “The Mostly Kinda Good Fantasy Baseball Team?”  You’ll get over your scoffing; I have faith in you.  This is the best 2017 fantasy baseball team that I can put together when drafting from my top 100 for 2017 fantasy baseball and top 500 for 2017 fantasy baseball.  Honestly, I could draft another 25 teams from those lists, and they’d all be different, but equally terrific… Well, one of the twenty-five would only be sorta terrific, but it would be really hard to tell which one that is.  If I took Carlos Correa in the 2nd round, everything after would change.  If I took Arenado in the 1st round, everything after would change.  I’ve previously gone over my 2017 fantasy baseball draft prep for the first few rounds and pitchers pairings.  For this exercise, I’m taking Mike Trout first, because, well, I have him first overall.  Until pick 100, I’m taking one guy somewhere in every fifteen picks.  It would be nice if I was in a league where someone drafted Scherzer and Kershaw in the first two rounds and I was able to take Rougned Odor in the 2nd round (which is very likely), but since Trout and him are in my first 14 picks, according to the rules I’ve set up for myself, I can’t take them both.  Then, as we all know, once you get into the 100s, there’s wide gaps between ADP and where players are actually taken.  People tend to look at team need over value.  So for this exercise, once I get to pick #101, I’m going to pick two players every twenty picks.  Finally, because there is so much latitude in the last 300, I gave myself free reign to fill up my team.  Throughout the draft, I also gave myself the ability to reach to a lower draft pick, but not reach forward.  Or reach around, if you’re feeling frisky.  It should still be my ideal team… Or not.  Let’s see, shall we?  Bee tee dubya, this team is 5×5, one catcher, 5 OFs, MI, CI, 1 UT, 9 P, 3 bench, just like the Razzball Commenter Leagues (go sign up or start a league).  Anyway, here’s the best 2017 fantasy baseball team:

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