We have our first big call-up of the major league season!!!  “Yoo-hoo!”  You want chocolate milk, Cody Bellinger?  “I was drawing attention to myself, since I was called up first.”  Oh, yeah, but you feel like you were always here.  “Oh, well, that’s nice of you to say–”  Shut up, Cody Bellinger!  Bradley Zimmer, now this is a call-up!  “I’ll be up soon!”  Shut up, Amed Rosario!  This is about Bradley Zimmer.  Zimmer is a guy who is a speed-first, power-second, average-third guy.  Actually, on base percentage second in leagues that count that sorta thing.  In Triple-A, he had five homers, nine steals and a 30% strikeout rate.  He looks like Keon Broxton who should be platooned out of the lineup against lefties.  I will call him, Right-on Broxton.  I grabbed him in all leagues where he was available, you don’t want to miss out on the first big call-up.  “Seriously, are you just ignoring me?”  Bellinger, you’re getting on my last nerve!  For 2017, I’d give Zimmer a line around 45/10/40/.235/20.  That could be the best call-up of the year.  “Seriously?!”  Shut it down, CB!  Oh, and I’m aware that Zimmer went 0-for-3 with 3 Ks out of the nine hole, but Bellinger looked lost thru a whole two starts too when he was first called up. “Keep my name out of your mouth!” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s that time of year again when Ralph and Halp enter the Grey area and talk about Major Leaguers on the Prospect Podcast. It somehow felt more subversive when Ralph wasn’t writing the Top 100 Pitcher Ranks and I wasn’t co-hosting the Baseball Podcast, but them’s the breaks of going mainstream I guess. We start by discussing the value of slow starters such as Alex Bregman and Byron Buxton, before moving on to the power hitting breakouts of Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Eric Thames, and Yonder Alonso. On the pitching side, we debate just how good Michael Fulmer is, and if Marcus Stroman can be anything more than a solid fantasy starter. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Prospect Podcast.

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I had the occasion to travel to Montreal this week. I live a mere two-hour train ride away, but visiting Montreal always feels like entering a different country. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by French. You can get the best bagels <looks defiantly at New York>. People are Paris-elegant. All the boys are still wearing man-buns, because dear God they are still pulling it off. Also, suddenly, there’s no Blue Jays on the telly: in Montreal, they’re (wistfully) all about the Washington Nationals. It’s partly a TV rights thing, partly a geography thing, but also partly because, of course, the Nats used to be the Montreal Expos. So all that to say (at last! The point!), this week I got to watch a fair bit of the Diamondbacks versus Nats series. The Nats ultimately ran away with it, but Arizona, second-place run leaders, were so fun to watch. I’m looking forward to tracking them in Colorado this weekend and I’m going to hoard as many Diamondbacks and Rockies bats in my FanDuel lineup as I can today (spoiler alert: not many — they’re pricey. [Shocker!]), and find ways to plug up the gaps. That said, in case you’re looking to pursue a strategy that may be a little different from mine, Boston and Baltimore bats should make for good picks versus Nick Tepesch and Dylan Covey, respectively. Without further Machado, let us unveil the crystal ball (because really this is a crap shoot, isn’t it?) and see what the future holds.

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“The top prospect of 2013 is Byron Buxton.  Anyone that says anything different– What’s that, you like Jurickson Profar?  Damn, he’s good too!  Okay, Profar, Buxton and maybe Travis d’Arnaud– What?  Reid Brignac?  Oh, man, you got me!  Wanna play Dominion?  No, I didn’t hide any Victory cards under my couch cushion again!”  That’s Keith Law talking to his buddies over a Coq au vin.  One name they didn’t mention back in 2013 was Tim Beckham, because he was more of a 2009 prospect stud.  That was the same year, Keith Law said, “Matt Wieters will be as good as Yogi Berra, and when I get out of my Prius and shut off this Dizzee Rascal, I will tell you why.  Talking and driving is very dangerous, especially since I’m wearing Crocs.”  Tim Beckham had it all, and the Rays produced all those can’t miss prospects.  Unfortunately, they became ‘can miss’ and Beckham faded to obscurity.  Here we are in 2017 (*checks calendar*  Yup!), and Beckham is only 27 years old and breaking out a little bit.  Yesterday, he went 2-for-4, 4 RBIs with two homers (5, 6) as he hits .278.  He still strikes out too much (33%), and he has more ‘okay’ power and speed, than blazing speed or huge pop, but, for an MI, I think you do worse.  Orlando Arcia, for unstints.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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All judging aside, Yankees’ right fielder, Aaron Judge, is loudly (opposite of quietly) making a name for himself. As if his 6’7″, 282 pound frame wasn’t enough to garner attention, how about a league leading twelve home runs in just 99 plate appearances. Having played in all but one game this season, Judge has granted his owners 107 fantasy points in 24 games. During that span he has 26 hits, 12 of which were long balls. That sounds like the name of a porn starring six old men. While Aaron also has 24 strikeouts, he is still sporting a .313 batting average. Personally I have a soft spot for Yankees right fielders as Big Dave Winfield is my favorite player of all time. Well it seems the Yankees have found an even bigger dude to man right field. I think Judge might project to Winfield-like stats, and considering he was a 12-time MLB All-Star, that’s a considerable comparison. He should be owned everywhere. I realize that’s a obvious Captain Obvious statement, but his ADP was greater than 200, so he was likely available for the pickings in most leagues earlier in the season.

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Corey Kluber left yesterday’s game with lower back discomfort, before giving up five earned in three innings to the Tigers.  In every game, the Tigers look like John Jaso, just dreadful.  I mean, you ain’t got no alibi.  U-G-L-Y.  Then Kluber makes them look like The Ghost of Charley Lau is gliding each bat from beyond the grave.  “Don’t worry, Alex Avila, I will help you hit .400 and don’t forget to buy your mother a gift for Mother’s Day.”  “Hey, Ghost of Charley Lau, you help with the hitting and let my iCal do the rest!”  That’s so ungrateful, Alex Avila!  Looking at Kluber’s peripherals, there’s some cause for concern, but cause for optimism too, assuming his back will be fine (maybe a large assumption).  His velocity is down a hair, but his Ks, walks, and xFIP are not saying he should be pummeled like a gymnast’s horse.  His Aprils have been terrible for the last two years (yes, I know we’re in May), so I’m hoping Kluber comes out of it.  At worst, he’s a 3.70 ERA guy with 200+ Ks.  At best, it all still comes together. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I’m picturing Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz, coiffing his hair (gorgeous hair) chipping away with his pickaxe.  I’m seeing Andy Dufresne also beautiful hair and a pickaxe.  Now that I think about it, you don’t need jail cells, just take away all prisoners’ blow dryers.  Any hoo!  Why am I seeing these great prison movies?  Because they are about breakouts.  Breakouts come in different shapes and sizes.  Some would say Cameron Diaz’s complexion is a breakout.  For a baseball breakout:  James Paxton.  Yesterday, Paxton went 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 9 Ks, ERA at 1.39.  His K/9 and BB/9 are now 10.7 and 1.8, respectively.  That’s about as ace-like as you’re gonna find.  Okay, now for one small step back from the ledge of crazy excited.  In his last start, he did give up five earned in four innings and I don’t think he’s going to avoid all wonkiness, but there’s no one throwing as well as him right now.  Okay, maybe Kershaw and Ervin Santana.  Someone get these guys blow dryers.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Sign says, ‘Don’t stay away, fools,’ cause Cody Bellinger rules!  No?  Okay, go to sleep.  “Go to sleep” is my new favorite thing I say that my Cougar can’t stand.  She’s like, “Why are you excited?”  Rather than saying, “I’m excited because Cody Bellinger was called up,” I say, “Go to sleep.”  Is that bad?  I feel like her reaction is like the step before divorce.  “Baby, we’re good, go to sleep.”  “It’s 4 o’clock on a Tuesday.”  “Yeah, go to sleep.”  And then we’re divorced.  You know who isn’t divorced?  Cody Bellinger!  Okay, I’m talking crazy, but I’m excited, you get it.   In 18 games of Triple-A, he was hitting .343 with five homers and seven steals.  I will now cackle maniacally.  Who is this guy, Justice Eric Ruth Thames but with speed?  I can’t even.  *puts handkerchief to forehead, and faints*  Oh, thank you for catching me in my dream state, Giancarlo.  This is funny (not funny), Bellinger had three homers last year in Triple-A.  Guess how many games?  Oh, three.  Three games!  I wanna project him over five months for 17 HRs, 20 SBs, and .280, but feel like that is too conservative, that’s how crazy I am for him.  Yes, you should absolutely grab him.  Where will he play when Pederson returns from the DL?  Not sure, but worth grabbing him now to see how the Dodgers handle it.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Wait, what? The Mariners got Jean Segura AND Mitch Haniger for the continually underachieving Tai Walker? The same Haniger who’s third in offensive WAR in the AL (through Friday), first in the AL in runs scored with 16, leading the AL in times on base, fourth in the clubhouse in jersey-chaser takedowns, and first in my heart for being part of the heist that was the Taijuan Walker trade. Coming off a year where he masta-donged 25 and 94 with a .321 BA in AA/AAA last year, the D-Bags felt the urge to dump another diamond in the rough, a la Max Scherzer. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that trade all those year ago. I couldn’t believe at the time and couldn’t believe they weren’t making a bigger deal about it.

I may be going too far as I’m a Walker fan, but Haniger clearly has All-star capabilities and hitting in this loaded lineup is going to keep him relevant all season long. Much unlike myself, it’s really easy to be a fan of this dude.

Here’s what else intrigued me this past week… Take heed!

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Image result for jason

It’s been seven years since we last saw Jason Voorhees stalk and slaughter in a Friday the 13th movie. As we all know, it’s impossible to kill him, so it only makes sense that he may have reincarnated in the form of Jason Vargas (57.6% owned; +54.5%), the Kansas City Royals pitcher. In 13 2/3 innings, Vargas has an ERA of 0.66, a K/9 of 9.22, and a SwStr% of 13.1%. Those numbers would be akin to the other Jason wielding an AR-15 and mowing down his slow-running prey. Let’s delve into the KC iteration of Jason and see if anything can get unmasked. Vargas has been in the major leagues since 2005. Prior to this season, he never had a K/9 over 6.54 and a SwStr% over 9.2% (2016 was 10.1% but he only pitched 12 innings). There has been no velocity uptick, as the fastball remains in the 87 mph range. So, what can we attribute this early success to? Early in his career, Vargas was primarily a fastball, sinker, and change pitcher. In 2015, he really started to incorporate the curveball. This is when he started throwing the four-seam fastball more and sinker less. So far in 2017, he’s decreased usage of the four-seam fastball, increased the sinker usage while still throwing the curveball and changeup.

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