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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After homering in his fourth straight game, Matt Davidson (2-for-4, 2 runs) is halfway to Dale Long’s record of home runs in eight straight games.  A record I didn’t think would ever be matched, aside from it being matched twice previously by Ken Griffey Jr. and Don Mattingly.  Dale Long was mostly remembered for that record and getting to first base with his bat.  Good year for no-names whose last name ends in son:  Davidson, Morrison, Alonson.  The book on Davidson previously was a AAAA player, which is different than Mickey Mantle and David Wells.  That’s two AA players.  Sadly (for him), Davidson is playing so over his head that giraffes be like, “Yo, come down from there.”  In Triple-A, he was a 30% strikeout guy and is striking out at a 38% rate now, so he will hit .200 for the season and be an only-occasional home run guy.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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Okay, full disclosure. This post was planned for last week, but after Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Quintana‘s sh!t shows of a performance I decided I’d rather chug beers and yell racial slurs at online images of those two bastards. I was actually planning to title this post Smoak and Mirrors, but in Saturday’s Hey Batter³ Contest post Larry Chip 10 picked Smoak ‘n Mirrors as one of his three batters. Once that happened I realized I was going to have to either shift gears or throw him a footnote. It didn’t help that Mike Maher titled his most recent Top-100 Hitters post Full Bour Or Smoak And Mirrors? So here we have a slightly modified title for today’s points league post.

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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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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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In just his first full week back J.D. Martinez topped the charts in week 7 coming in with 40 points and doing what he does best, hit dongs. I freaking sound like Casey Kasem with that opening line. Is he still doing top 40 countdowns? I haven’t heard him in quite some time. But then again I pretty much only listen to the Howard Stern Show. En route to those 40 points, J.D. smacked four home runs, drove in nine and walked ten times. Owners that have been stashing him until now must be pretty happy with themselves. Have yourself a shot of JD! Jake Lamb fell one point short of Martinez with 39.

The winner for week 7 is the contestant that picked Nelson Cruz (21 points), Corey Seager (23 points) and Jose Bautista (33 points). That person is Peter guigli with a total of 77 points. Coming in at second on the charts was Smallwine who scored 76 points by picking Nelson Cruz (21), J.D. Martinez (40) and Buster Posey (15). With both selecting Cruz, it came down to Seager and Joey Bats versus J.D. and Posey, with just one point separating them.

Here are the top-5 from Week 7:

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Mookie Betts led all hitters in week 6 with 45 points. Unfortunately, if you placed your bets on Betts, then you earned yourself 0 zero points since he is an Unpickable. Next was Buster Posey with 37 points. Unfortunately no one picked Buster. After Posey was Carlos Correa who scored 36 points. Again no one picked Correa. As it turns out no one picked the top 22 highest scoring batters. The first batter that was actually selected in week 6’s contest was Mark Reynolds who scored 24 points. So the question remains, who deserves this week’s honors, Buster Posey or Mark Reynolds? How about Buster Reynolds?

It’s not Posey’s fault that no one picked him. Last week the San Francisco backstop hit four home runs en route to his 37 point performance. He now has 7 homers on the season is on pace for a career high 27. With 102 points on the season, Buster is once again leading the way at the catcher position. Surprise, surprise!

Week 6 brings us our first tie of the year. There was actually a three-way tie for first place. Who doesn’t love a good three-way! With 57 points, DonSlaughtOnslaught, Thor da Man and MattH didn’t exactly light up the high scorers list. But there can be only one winner. And that winner is the contestant that picked Ian Desmond (15 points), Mark Reynolds (24 points) and Cody Bellinger (18 points). That contestant is Thor da Man. For those unfamiliar with the rules, a tie goes to the runner. I mean a tie goes to the contestant that submits his/her entry first.

Here are the top 5 from Week 6:

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Usually I start my day eating breakfast while reading Grey’s excellent daily posts (suck up alert!).  I’ve been doing this for god knows how many years, at least a decade it seems.  Anyhoo, I usually look through the comments and see this comment (in various forms), “Player A for Player B.  Who wins?”  and part of that just bugs me. Not the asking for advice of course, because that’s the main point of the site.  I’m talking about the winning part.  Maybe it’s the current American winning obsession because to some we’re winning too much, others not at all (and that’s as far as I’ll dip my foot in the political pool).  I think it goes back to the idea that trading, in the minds of some, is a zero-sum game. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Can’t a trade help both teams so they both win? Absolutely.

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Hopefully we are as happy as Ray Liota was in the movie Goodfellas when he was screaming JIMMY in the shower after Jimmy Nelson ($15,200) is done taking the mound against the Padres. The San Diego Padres are a great matchup almost every night in DFS, they rank 28th in the MLB in Runs, have the worst team batting average in the league and they are in the Top 5 in Strikeouts. Nelson is coming off a start were he allowed 0 earned runs and struck out 8 Boston Red Sox hitters. He should have a chance to match those number tonight and have a chance at the win, with the way the Brewers are swinging the bat.

There are some nice arms taking the mound tonight with Zack Grienke ($21,300) going up against the banged up New York Mets, and Dallas Keuchel ($22,800) facing the struggling Miami Marlins. I don’t need to tell you to pick those two guys who are on fire right now, so lets take a look at some other plays that could be worth the pick…right after the editor hops in and provides you all with a linky clicks for the FantasyDraft Razzball Exclusive Listener’s League.  It’s $5 which is about the cost for 16 oz of freedom in my neighborhood.  I hate missing out on a beer, but I hate missing out on playing this game even more.  Join us, won’t you?

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