From the land of Pilgrims, Cranberries, Sachems, and Ocean Spray, it’s Middleborough, Massachusetts’ own Sean Newcomb. A true Masshole through and through, over the course of his time in the minors, he’s refused to throw strikes with any regularity. This all changed last week, as Newcomb crushed two XL Great One’s from Dunks, and a marble cruller, before crushing the souls of the Mets. I’ve long followed Newcomb’s career dating back to his high school days at Middleborough. As he’s the rare professional sports product from my corner of the world. After some ups and downs, mostly due to control, or lack there of. Newcomb made his triumphant major league debut a little over a week ago, and in the process looked phenomenal. Flashing control and command he never possessed before. So today, we dig into the second start from the young lefty, at home vs Miami, and Giancarlo. A tough task for the rookie… Oh yeah, then we rank some pitchers.

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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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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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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:

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Yesterday, Jose Berrios went 7 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 11 Ks, bringing his two-game ERA to 0.59.  Hi ho the Berrios, snitches!  Here’s what I said previously on Jose Berrios (because this is instructive, and not out of laziness), “In Triple-A, Berrios threw 75 2/3 IP and had a 2.62 ERA with a 9.9 K/9 and a 1.7 BB/9.  That’s Sizzlean that you leave on top of your camel’s head as you gallop through the Sahara heat.  You don’t usually see that kind of sample size — that’s what she said! — in Triple-A.  You know why?  Most major league teams promote guys who are as good as Berrios.  Most teams also don’t tie a player’s paycheck to a string then drag said check right in front of the player’s feet, just out of their reach.”  And that’s me quoting me!  Here’s the kicker.  That was from two years ago!  I’ve loved this guy for a long time — that’s not what she said!  His first two games I’d describe as ‘a little difficult’ to pretty easy.  His next start at Baltimore will be the true test.  If you’re in a competitive league, you need to own him now before he goes out and throws a gem in Balty-more (they call it that, right?).  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I’m a tad worried about the comments this headline may generate, so maybe I should explain: this isn’t a Classified ad, but an ode to Chris Sale. Because today The Condor, a.k.a. the Jersey Slasher, takes the mound with his stupid-low 1.92 ERA and 73 Ks in 52 IP. If this were any other pitcher, I might offer a caveat that this start versus the Rays takes place at Fenway, but Sale’s been better at home (1.50 ERA in 4 starts at home versus 2.49 in 3 starts away). And Tampa has not: their road BA is .210, versus .265 at home (apparently they’re the only team that knows how to play at the bloody Trop). This is also tasty because Tampa does not do well against lefties. I expect them to go quietly against Sale. That said, on FanDuel today, we’re pretty much going to have sell ourselves on a street corner to be able to afford Sale (especially if you’re earning Canadian dollars!).

So if you’re not into what Chris is selling, it’s also a Rockies-at-home weekend, Fact Fans! If I were a lazier girl, I’d say “if you don’t want to pay up for Sale, just stack every Colorado bat you can” and cut this post short, but that would just not be cricket (if it were cricket, I’d be watching a five-day-long game involving men wearing white trousers with red smears on their crotches, which… You know, I kind of miss cricket). And there are several tasty Miami-Atlanta match-ups today, too, so I’m gonna try squeezing some Dodgers, Mariners and Marlins into my lineup. Let’s see how I got on…

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If players are going to break out in a season, they don’t always break out the first week of a season.  I’m reminded of another Phillies player, Dominic Brown.  The year he broke out, it didn’t happen until June of that year.  Of course, in subsequent years, his swing got long like Don Johnson’s in The Harrad Experiment and rather than working his way back in the cages, Brown was preoccupied with avoiding his stalker, Tehol.  This brings us to another potential breakout, Aaron Altherr.  Or as Mystikal calls him, Altherr.  You don’t have to be scurred, he’s doing his thang.  Altherr hit two more homers yesterday (2-for-4, 4 RBIs, hitting .351), and is one of the hottest players in the majors this week.  Of course, this won’t continue, but to what degree will this tail off?  By the way, I want to be a judge at a twerking competition called a Tail Off.  In the minors, he’s shown speed (20-ish) and power (teen-ish).  With his Ks and BABIP, his average will come down a long way (maybe .250), but I see no reason why he can’t be a 17/20/.250 hitter on the year, and definitely a must own.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Today’s slate is chalked full of horrible pitchers and the launching pad we know as Coors Field.  This is the worst kind of situation…you have Colorado/Washington in Coors who everybody wants to stack.  Adding two trashy starting pitchers going – Tanner Roark and Tyler Chatwood – makes this a nightmare situation for DFS players.  In cash games this seems simple, you just play them and move on.  In GPP this isn’t so easy, everyone is going to have a piece of this game.  You can differentiate yourself by doing the opposite, I personally will be doing that.  Do this 10 times and you may only be right a few times,  but your probability of winning big money goes WAY up.  So fair warning, I won’t be covering Colorado or Washington guys in my picks.  Obviously you can play them, and should play them (especially in cash games) but I’m here to try and win you all a GPP!

Now onto the picks…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care! 

Please, blog, may I have some more?