When looking at the standings, it is usually a great indicator of how well a team is doing by looking at the Hold leaders.  It doesn’t tell you all or is the end all be all of indicators, but when you have three guys in the top-4, it speaks volumes.  It shows the team is ahead, but not by so much that they are blowing people out, have a great set of flow through the bullpen with set jobs, and they are successfully in-sync.  Not that “in-sync”, but yeah, sorta because something that included J.T. can’t really be all that bad.  So what is making the Chicago White Sox so good at what they are doing right now?  First, it starts from the last inning back.  David Robertson has the goods of what you want from a closer, he has the K-rate and decent control to limit base runners.  What I am noticing is he is keeping the ball away from the upper part of the zone, which was his buga-boo from the past; that he gives up too many homers.  In front of him, he has a trio of relievers with different mindsets.  Nate Jones is basically a closer in front of the real closer, but with a better approach of pitching to contract then K’ing everyone.  Zach Duke is by far the sexiest LOOGY in the business right now and Matt Albers is an all effort pitcher with tons of movement on his pitches.  Add in the fact that they have Putnam and Petricka as sub pieces that can fit into anyone’s role, and they have what looks like in the early stages of the season the best bullpen in baseball. That is not to say that it will last but the investment level from a fantasy level, especially from a holds league, but it is very stout.  So check out the other tidbits and bits tids that I have for you after the bump.  (Plus a chart that monitors usage and runs given up by relievers that usually lead to them losing or gaining spots in the pen.)

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It’s 2016, and that means that most of us will have to make some moves throughout the year to address the catcher position. Long gone are the glory days of 2004 when the top 10 catchers could all be counted on for double digit home runs and an average above .280. In 2004, an already aging Mike Piazza rated as the 10th best catcher with 20 home runs and a .266 average (See: Doping in Baseball). This year, in this sad world that we live in, Travis d’Arnaud was the second catcher taken in many leagues because it was thought that he had the POTENTIAL for 20+ long balls and a .240 average.

So, the chances are that unless you drafted Buster Posey early or were able to keep Posey in a keeper league, you’ll be at least flirting with the waiver wire catchers at some point this year. Perhaps you drafted d’Arnaud and now have his .196 AVG and zero home runs on your DL. Maybe you’re in my league and you traded for Kyle Schwarber on draft day and are now ready to kill yourself. It’s even possible that you drooled over his 2014 stats (25 HR, .273 AVG) and  drafted Devin Mesoraco, but now his .152 AVG and frequent days off have you ready to move on.

The bad news is that catchers in fantasy baseball have become crapshoots, and many owners choose to chase categories instead of trying to find balance. The good news is that you’ll get to pick a new catcher and feel hopeful every few weeks!

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Sean Manaea

 

I’m not the first to pander to our Muppets roots with Sean Manaea and I’m sure I won’t be the last. I mean, when Russian Trololo went viral, I thought to myself ‘how did Mahna Mahna not win this role first? This is America! *Salutes flag, eats apple pie, cheers for individuality while getting ticked at hipsters*. That said, if I AM the first to pander, you know I’m totally patenting and suing at will to make money of this. Yay American again! Sean Mahna Mahna has a strikeout dream matchup to start his career going against the ‘Stros. Houston sports the highest K rate of the league on the year at 27.2% and the 14 and 7 day numbers don’t shine a pretty picture either. If you’re not ready to do a trust fall just yet just cuz the K’astros strike out a lot, let’s look at Mahna Mahna’s numbers down on the farm…yup, they look good! Oh, you wanna know what they are? Well ok then, his lowest K/9 in the minors to this point came just last year (obligatory ‘that’s what she said’) at 10.07. That’s a pretty high low, IMHO. Now not to get nit-picky but I want to point out that Sean could be mighty chalky today AND you have some lefty killers in the ‘Stros lineup so let me preface this pick by simply saying: go against the grain. If I’m the grain today, ignore what you’ve just read and if vice versa, join in and enjoy the Muppet show. But enough of Manaea Manaea, let’s talk about the rest. Here’s my Swedish Chef hot dog taeks for this Friday DK slate…

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 15 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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In what seemed like a meaningless spring training game, Dee Gordon bunted and it landed 12 feet from home plate.  The announcer said, “Wow, didn’t think that was going to make it out of the batter’s box”  And an investigation began.   Dee Gordon, unaware, of the investigation continued to use exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, two performance-enhancing substances.  Later in spring, he knocked a single that fell just out of the 2nd baseman’s reach.  That ball, it was said, looked like a 47-footer.  It went 57 feet.  Another shot, sailed just over the pitcher’s mitt, and just before the 2nd base bag.  Gordon raced to 1st, and everyone looked around, “That was a half-a-pede.”  That’s baseball jargon for a 50-footer.  So, Dee Gordon will be out for the next 80 games, call him The Suspended Splinter.  Sure glad I bought him in my Tout Wars draft.  Super!  What the hell was this schmohawk doing?  Who thinks they can possibly get away with using in today’s game?  It’s just stupid.  This is a break for Derek Dietrich; he should be the 2nd baseman on most days.  He has 15-homer pop, and is worth a grab in NL-Only leagues.  Look forward to seeing Gordon return in August when his 28-footers go 28 feet again, and he’s back to a .215 hitter.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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El Grande Dolor. The Cuban Barry Bonds. Oso or Yogi. All of these are phrases and nicknames that have been used to describe Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu in recent years. I’m not really sure where those last couple of ones came from, but they’re listed under his profile at baseball-reference, so we’ll roll with it. Side note: can those profiles be edited by the public á la Wikipedia? Perhaps I could just go in and change his nickname to, say, Boo-Boo. Would that make listening to Hawk Harrelson tolerable if he started using random meaningless terms to describe the Sox players? Hmm… probably not. But I digress. Abreu has looked anything but a Cuban version of Barry Bonds or Frank Thomas in the early going. Maybe more like the current version of Thomas, but that’s not exactly what was expected of him coming into this season. We’re almost a month into the 2016 campaign, and Abreu’s been outhomered by the likes of Aledmys Diaz and Scooter Gennett. He obviously brings no speed to the table, and his batting average currently resides under the Mendoza line. In other words, he’s been pretty awful thus far. What’s going on here? Why has Abreu been so terrible this season?

Let’s dig into Abreu’s profile to see if we can figure out what’s causing these early struggles. Here are a few observations:

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REL baseball logo newA month is in the books!  We’ve made it [mostly] through April in our inaugural season without too many issues in our rules-set, while amending our constitution with a few new minor rules as we go along.  It’s been awesome starting up a complex league and figuring out what rules need to be tweaked as we go with feedback from everyone!  In the standings, the Cubs/Nats rivalry up top looks like the easy front-runners to win the NL, with the Cubs a mere 0.5 Pts in the lead.  In the AL, the Orioles keep on trucking, but I’ve been impressed with the run by the Indians, who have moved into a strong second place.  Here’s how week four has gone down in the 2016 REL League, plus a look-in at the REL 2 League with how it’s shaping up:

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Thursdays often feature small slates of games, and this time is no exception. There are only four games in the nightly slate, and that is what I will focus on here. In case you’ve never seen a Marlin, it’s a very big fish… We will have a bunch of those featuring in our lineups today as we look to end Kenta Maeda’s hot streak on the hill. I don’t have much to say about marlins other than that you should look one up; they are pretty fascinating creatures… I’ll even feed you one fun fact now! The blue marlin can reach 16.4 feet in length; four of those would get us to homeplate from the mound! Without further ado, here are your DraftKings picks for the day.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“‘I need a bouncy C.  Not a bouncy castle!’  Billy Beane screams into his headset, when an intern interrupts him and his daughter, practicing her guitar, while they are both on a treadmill.  The intern tells Beane that Jesse Hahn has a blister.  The intern turns and it’s Jonah Hill.  Fat Jonah, not “He doesn’t look right skinny” Jonah.   Beane then looks at the camera to establish empathy and says, “Get me Sean Manaea.”  Only he adds three extra syllables to Manaea’s naeame.   And…scene!”  The producer smiles, “That’s a great pitch.  If only Manaea looks that good.  High-five!”  So, Manaea has been called up to start on Friday.  He’s looked downright fantastic thus far.  Upleft fantastic too.  He’s a six-five Samoan, but he doesn’t weight 475 pounds.  He could be the Rookie of the Year; his stuff is that TNT with SVU reruns.  I also think there’s more downside here than, say, Berrios.  He’s had moments where his command leaves him, and he becomes a 5+ IP, 4 ER guy.  His delivery looks to me like he could get wild very easily.  Wide range of possibility here, could be a #1 or could be a #4-5 that you only own in AL-Only leagues.  Of course, I’m taking the flyer in all leagues for the chance he comes up and wows upsides our fantasy heads.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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One of the most common questions I encounter on a semi-weekly basis is “Ralph, who’s this year’s Victor Robles/Francis Martes/Cody Bellinger”. It’s a question that’s difficult to answer, but especially difficult to answer during Spring Training or the week following. Why? Well, it’s easy, we don’t have anything to base it off. No real games, no real at bats, no real stats. Unfortunately I have a day job, and Grey is yet to hand me a six figure salary to jet-set around the country to scout amateur and minor league baseball. Instead I’m paid in Helluva Good Cheese coupons and asked to scout little league games on a black and white TV with broken bunny ears. No matter because between games at the Taunton West Little League complex I have time to watch a few AAA and AA games a week while scouring through loads of leaderboards of all minor league levels. So through this deep data collection, I’ve developed the below list of players that are flashing promise, while simultaneously boosting their prospect status. Below are 20 or so names that have caught my interest in the early going.

Now that the intro is out of the way I’d like to acknowledge a personal milestone here on the baseball side of things, my 100th baseball post……Yeah! Thanks for reading all this drivel.

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Two weeks ago I said that 2016 was not the year to own Byron Buxton and that in non-dynasty formats he was droppable. Some of you applauded my position, while others second guessed their decision to even read my post. One reader went as far as sending me an email letting me know that I was an idiot and that he wished I was in his league because his league could use more bad players. I accepted his invitation, but have yet to hear back. On Monday Buxton was optioned to Class AAA Rochester. Game. Set. Match. Fantasy tennis anyone?

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