Since Corey Kluber returned from the DL, he’s been lights out.  Then lights on.  Then off.  On.  Off!  Nothing but glow sticks.  The sweet smell of body odor, ganja and herbal ecstasy rises.  An Asian man with pigtails walks by with a Red Bull and you see he’s wearing a diaper that reads “Change me.”  And…the…music…DROPS!  What?  He is a Kluber.  Yesterday, he went 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 hits, zero walks, 11 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.58.  Shin-Soo Choo-Choo, next stop 3.25!  Kluber has had some great years, says Private Obvious.  “You’ll never replace me!” says Captain Obvious.  Kluber’s great years are looking up at this season’s peripherals thus far.  He has his highest K/9 (11) and his best xFIP (2.98) since his Cy Young year, which happens to be the fifth best xFIP in the majors before Clayton Kershaw.  I’d guess Kluber comes up short of his Cy Young season’s 2.44 ERA, but there’s little reason why he can’t be a top five starter for the rest of the season.   Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Every year, there are surprises in fantasy baseball. Some players come out of nowhere and breakout or, in the case of Aaron Judge, absolutely dominate. Other players regress after a breakout season the year before. There are even the players who have long track records of mediocrity who, all of sudden, appear to have figured something out en route to becoming legitimate contributors both in fantasy and in, you know, real baseball. I like to call these players Justin Smoak-Logan Morrison-Yonder Alonso. The more popular terms among Razzballers for these players are Schmohawks and Hot Schmotatos.

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I use a number of different tools, sites, and metrics every week to adjust my rankings and to determine exactly who I should focus on each week. I usually try to focus on players owned in less than 60% leagues, players who are rising or falling and who you should probably buy low or sell high on, or players who are new to the Top 100 or on the cusp of joining the ranks. It has only been a few weeks since I took over these rankings for the legendary M@, so I am still working on creating the most efficient system (I spend wayyyyyy too much time agonizing over these rankings every Sunday).

I start by going over my notes and spreadsheets from the previous week, then take a peek at Razzball’s Player Rater and look at the current rankings and the Rest of Season Projections. Once I jot down some notes from those, I take a look at ESPN’s PR15 Player Ratings for the last 15 days. Lastly, I check FanGraphs with a focus on the best wOBA for the last 14 days and the last 30 days. Usually, once I am finished with that process, I have an idea of who I am going to write about and a starting point for adjusting the rankings.

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Kinda ridiculous that Odubel Herrera is the first player to get two ledes this year, but this is because they both came on short schedule days and I’m the only one that likely knows this, so let’s just move on!  ODB’s hot like Mariah’s fire.  Mariah’s fire is the dragon breath she breathes right before her morning ritual of firing a staffer.  “Who sprinkled my slippers with gold dust?  It’s Tuesday!  Tuesday’s slippers get sprinkled with powdered sugar so the squirrels follow me like it’s a Disney movie!”  That’s Mariah TCOB.  Ooh, idea!  I’m gonna do the rest of this in acronyms.  ODB TCOB SAGNOF UB40–Ugh, I failed at that exercise.  Grey does not equal a 14-year-old girl texting.  I told you yesterday if you take nothing else from the roundup, take away that you should grab Odubel.  And that’s me reiterating me!  Seriously, he’s 8-for-13 over the last three games with two homers.  Grab him!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Let’s begin by having a moment of silence for the fact that we will be without Mike Trout for two months. I dropped him to 23 in the rankings below, which are considered ROS trade value. I know it is hard to justify Trout over some talented players who aren’t going to miss two months, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop him much lower. The Razzball Player Rater has him all the way down to 71 for ROS projections. Personally, if I were to trade Trout, I would hold out for the highest bid and make someone overpay. Otherwise, I’m not moving him. And in keeper leagues, I would still have him at number 1 and wouldn’t entertain offers.

Now, for the players who are playing right now. The two players I moved up and want to focus on this week are Justin Bour and Justin Smoak. I received some questions and comments on here and on Twitter last week about Smoak, so let’s take a look at him first. He has looked great this season, but I have my doubts.

While Smoak’s slash line and counting stats look great right now, unless he finally figured everything out at 30 years old, I have my doubts. Yes, he is currently on pace for almost 40 home runs. Yes, he is striking out 17.9% of the time, which is almost half as much as he did last season and is well below his career average of 23.5%. Through 55 games and over 200 plate appearances in 2017, the metrics back up what he is doing.

But here’s the thing.

Smoak has been in the league for eight seasons and has over 3,000 plate appearances. He’s a career .227 / .311 / .402 hitter. His previous high for home runs in a season is 20, which he did back in 2013. Take a look at his wOBA by season:

Translation: Smoak isn’t this good. This probably isn’t going to last, and a regression is coming.

Now, as far as Justin Bour goes, I am still skeptical but am less skeptical. Bour is 29 but has just over 1,000 plate appearances at the MLB level. He has displayed this kind of power before, both at the major league level and in the minors, so it is easier to believe that his current power stroke is real. Will he continue to hit up around .300? No, but it is reasonable to expect him to hit in the .250-.270 range and offer up 30 home runs, as long as he can stay healthy (which he can’t always do).

The main point here is that, while Bour is only a year younger, he doesn’t have as much of a negative track record that we can hold against him. He has also displayed plus-power in the past, while Smoak has always struggled to fulfill his potential in that department. Bour is likely to regress a bit as well, but I don’t think his regression will be as extreme as Smoak’s. If I had to pick between these two first basemen as a guy I value higher ROS I am taking Bour every time. Maybe I’m just biased now that I live in South Florida, or maybe their track records are telling us everything we need to know about them…

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Do you know the difference between Anthony Rendon and Kris Bryant? Well if we are comparing them from a points league perspective, the answer is “very little at all”. The two have posted extremely similar numbers so far this season. To be more precise, Rendon has 145 points and Bryant has 146. And while we’re comparing, Bryant has had 16 additional plate appearances. While I’d obviously prefer to have Bryant, I just wanted to point out how much of a return Rendon’s owners are getting on their draft day investment.

Anthony Rendon led all batters with 43 points in week 8. Sadly, no one in the contest picked him. Next was Lucas Duda with 39. No one picked the Duda either. Then Charlie Blackmon (35 and Unpickable), Adam Duvall (35), Anthony Rizzo (33 and Unpickable) and Jordy Mercer (30). It’s not until Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera, each with 29 points, do we find a batter that was picked by someone in week 8.

You Know Nothing, J.T. Snow picked Melky, but he was not the week’s winner. That honor goes to Smallwine who selected Jose Abreu, Jose Bautista and Michael Conforto for a total of 71 points. After finishing second in week 7, Smallwine jumped right back in the saddle and took care of business. Nice work! Don’t under do it finished second with 64 points.

Here are the top 5 from Week 8:

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Over the past few weeks, Yasmani Grandal has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Despite being a pinch-hitter who sometimes wears the wrong helmet, he has been hitting .345 with a .392 wOBA over his last 30 days. Part of that has to do with an unsustainable .409 BABIP during that span, but most of it has to do with Grandal being locked in and being more aggressive at the plate. While he has a history of being frustrating to fantasy owners who aren’t utilizing him in OPS or OBP leagues, Hot Yasmani has been very different this season.

Regular Yasmani is a patient hitter who posts OBPs 100 points higher than a mediocre AVG, who walks 15% of the time and strikes out 25% of the time. He can hit home runs but hurts AVG in standard leagues. Last season, he rewarded fantasy owners with 27 home runs, which is great, especially at the catcher position. But, again, he hit just .228, struck out 25.4% of the time, and recorded just 86 hits. That means a third of his hits went for home runs. With 116 strikeouts and 62 walks, it also means that he either struck out or walked 50% of the time. Other than the home runs (which, again, are great to get at the catcher spot), those numbers are fine for OBP/OPS leagues but are not ideal for your standard leagues.

Hot Yasmani, 2017 Yasmani, is a different story. Hot Yasmani has no time for patience at the plate. He wants to eat. HY’s BB% over the last 30 days is less than 6%, and it’s below 10% on the year. He already has 42 hits and is on pace for well over 100 for the first time in his career. He his hitting around .300 after hitting below .235 the last four seasons. The home runs are down, for now, but he is making up for it with career marks in nearly every other offensive category (except walks, of course). I included HY in this week’s Top 100 because he is no longer just posting good numbers for a catcher; he’s one of the hottest hitters not named Charles Cobb Blackmon (full name, look it up) right now.

Now, for a few guys who are not so hot right now…

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I’m not a religious girl, but when I was sitting down to write this post and saw the magic words “Stephen Strasburg versus the San Diego Padres” and [email protected] (mmm, strudel), I raised my hands and gave up a “hallelujah.” Which caused some raised eyebrows in the coffee shop I was sitting in, let me tell you (ugh, whatEVer, Man Yelling Into Skype About His Deck Repairs).

So it’s fair to say I’m reasonably excited about Stephen’s match-up today. Even if he does cost me $11,100 (gulp). Collectively, the Padres are hitting .221 at time of writing. They’re the third-worst team in MLB (and I hate pointing all this stuff out — I do root for the Padres). I have some worries: so far this year, Strasburg’s K/9 is a little down (8.80) and his ERA at home is not ideal (4.00 at home versus 2.70 away), but I gotta have faith. I also want to stack some Rockies and Cardinals bats. Trying to squeeze all this into my FanDuel salary cap is gonna hurt like kneeling too long at church when you’re as old as I am, but I’ll make it work.

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Yesterday, Dirt McGirt, Dirty Nasty, Tha Ol’ Dirty Chinese Restaurant, Big Baby Jesus, Odubel Herrera went 0-for-5 with 5 Ks.  Last Phillie to do that was Pat Burrell.  Burrell remembers wistfully, “Ah, yes…’Slump Buster September 2008.’  That was Jamie Moyer’s granddaughter’s friend.  She was like a keg with two arms.  She looked like Matt Stairs with longer hair.  I believe Brett Myers introduced us.  Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why she was always flinching.”  Odubel’s average is down to .226 and his OBP is .275.  M-E-T-H-O-D MAN that is bad.  Shame on a Herrera.  Ooh, baby, I like it raw, but that’s filled with salmonella.  He swings at the third most pitches outside the strike zone and his strikeout rate is up 4% while his walk rate has fallen 4%.  Put it all together and you have one of the worst hitters in the majors right now.  So, can he come out of it?  Future:  Cloudy.  He’s more of a .265 hitter, but swinging at balls outside the zone can quickly spiral and shove him further into his slump.  Before last year, he had a full season of 8 HRs and 16 SBs, couple that with .265 and you’re not looking at the guy you thought you were getting in March.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Okay, this is weird, but Sonny Gray and I are complete opposites.  Sonny Gray is in Bay Area, and it’s Grey Albright in Los Angeles.  Weather you like it or not, that’s weird!  Pun noted too!  Grey Albright plays fantasy baseball; Sonny Gray plays reality baseball!  It’s freaking me out!  Grey Albright’s face is mustachioed; Sonny Gray’s is not.  Sonny Gray is athletic; I am not.  He works for a newspaper called Ballrazz, which is super-terse and serious.  It’s uncanny!  Yesterday, Gray (him) went 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 11 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.34.  Okay, time to take a new look.  I did like him at one point in his career, before everything went sideways.  His velocity and two-seam fastball are back.  Right now, his two-seam is his best pitch, however, his curve is not back to where it was in 2015.  Watching some video on him showed a guy that can get swings and misses, but had a bit of a favorable strike zone yesterday.  I’d be careful in shallower leagues, but he looks closer to his breakout from two years ago than he has in a while.  Now, if he’s married to a younger woman, I’m gonna plotz over all of our opposites.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday for fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?