Try not to act so jealous, Frank Thomas. A new superstar has arrived in Chicago. After Evan Longoria hit a go ahead 2-run home run in the ninth inning last night against the Chicago White Sox, most thought the game was all but over. But not Jose Abreu. People have been telling him “No Way, Jose!” all his life. A real defector at heart, he was ready to prove them wrong the only way he knew how– with his bat. The crowd was slowly filtering out, the concessions employees were removing the hot dogs from the rollers and placing them back in the warm stagnant water for the next day, and Adam Dunn was already in the locker room, eating his post-game bucket of oats. But White Sox rookie slugger Abreu aka the Grande Dolor aka or is it el Gran Dolor? aka “I guess it doesn’t really matter, he’s just a monster” Abreu had a different idea. Chicago loaded the bases for the phenom and he promptly sent it into the stands with the grand slam and the walk off win. He finished the day 3-for-5, with two home runs and six RBI. Ay carumba! The final home run was Jose’s league-leading ninth jack of the year, and he also tied for the lead with 27 RBI and his .632 SLG% and .968 OPS are among the league’s best as well. He set the rookie record for April home runs too, and counting. Abreu is making those who gambled on him early in drafts look like geniuses, jacking homers every 10.6 at bats and rocking a sick and a 26.9% HR/FB ratio. That means he’s going to hit more home runs. Like, a lot more. And if he’s as fun to own in fantasy as he is to watch in actual real-life-not- in-a-box score-but-on-the-field baseball, then Abreu could likely find himself in the upper echelon of the fantasy elite as soon as this year.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball last night:

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It’s everyone’s favorite ‘pert with everyone’s favorite self-flagellating exercise — Hey, look at my team! The ‘Hey, look at my team!’ exercise can go one of two ways. We can either agree that my team is awesome. Or you can combat the ‘Hey, look at my team!’ exercise with your own ‘Hey, look at my team!’ exercise. I’m guessing a lot of you will opt for the second, since the ‘Hey, look at my team!’ exercise seems to go over best from the first person. One word about the “Hey, look at my team!” exercise. It works best if you tell me how many teams are in your league and arrange your team as I have done in this post. Now, prior to you looking at my team, besieging your gut with warm cozies, I first should point out this is a 5×5, 15 team league with OBP subbed in for average because fantasy baseball ‘perts like to make things complicated and turn off 85% of their readers. So, before you say Dan Uggla is a terrible pick, he’s more of a so-so pick. So-so there! Anyway, here’s my 2014 Tout Wars team:

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The debates will always rage on– the chicken or the egg, bacon or more bacon, and quality or quantity?  All are equally important discussions, I mean who doesn’t want more bacon?  But for pretend-baseball sake I am going to focus on quality vs. quantity.  Relief pitchers continue to get a bum rap, judged as useless and set to harsh shunning like dudes subjected to Megan’s Law.  Well, I’m here to learn you something, or at least completely waste your time for 10-12 minutes.  I ask you, who doesn’t want more K’s with low ratios?  Sounds like the 24-36-24 dimensions of that skin mag you “borrowed” from that zany uncle.   K/9 is the stat that people tend to light up there funky jazz cigarettes to.  They bask in it, the better… the more greedy.  So why not just stream SP and get all the K’s you want?  Well there are reasons for and against it.

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The name says it all, it’s what everyone keeps asking for,  NSVH.  It sounds like a spin-off of CSI, or Law and Order.  Except with really geeky dudes who shouldn’t really have an actual head-shot of themselves for use as their avatar.  We know who they are, and pointing fingers isn’t polite unless it’s the one that I normally get from people at the retirement home I frequent for volunteer duties.  Much love Shady Acres.  So this week we delve into the numbers game, the ones that mimic me and steal my Nutella sandwich.  These projections are highly irregular and tougher than most other stats in the pretend game.  The fluctuation of personnel by teams is mind boggling and makes me look goofy.  So in the chart below I am giving you the top-60 NSVH chaps with some pertinent stats that help all.  During the year, I’ll get into more of the sustaining stats, but since we aren’t there yet, I can’t just make them up.  Those tendency stats that I am referring to (Inherited Runners, Inherited Runners Scored, and Appearances with Lead) are my way of determining both closer and set-up guy efficiency.  How they are used and when they are used.  So those that are looking forward to that, hooray for you.   So without further adieu, here are some projections for the top NSVH guys for this year.

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First off, I would like to say Eric Sogard should be the Face of the MLB; that vote was rigged in David Wright’s favor.  Baseball needs more nerdy-looking, glasses-touting, Bernie-leanin’, jive-walking players.  But without further ado, here is the AL West Spring Training Showdown. (You can check out the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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Back on the 6th of February, I was invited to a 15-Team Expert’s Mock meant to emulate something akin to what the NFBC does. Whoa, Rudy has a Razzy sign-up on-going for this type of format?… Coincidence? NOTHING IS COINCIDENCE. Anyhizzle, I’d like to thank Paul Sporer of Baseball Prospectus and our mighty mustache’d overlord Grey for being invited to such a festive affair. I even wore my Christmas sweater. At home. In front of the computer. With no socks. Or pants. Lo-and-behold, the draft was held on a Thursday, which, if you don’t know, is a night reserved for drinking and debauchery in the Longfellow household. Then again, so is Friday. And Saturday. And, um, well, Sunday too. And Monday. Well, you get the point. ALL THE NIGHTS. I could quite possibly be an alcoholic. But I like the taste, so that means I’m not. Wait, what? Anyhow, the best part about drinking during a draft, even a mock one, is you get plausible deniability for everything. Did I need some here? That’s for you to decide…

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To answer your first question, no, I am not dead.  Secondly, sorry to disappoint you.  As we count down the days to draft and when pitchers/catchers report, it’s a virtual ‘pins and needles’ fest for some of the closer battles that could be looming.  Some of these battles are going to be very interesting, ’cause battles are awesome and make fools of everyone.  Let’s dive into some of those battles, shall we? The Cubs and their smoke-show of a bullpen is first and foremost. Jose Veras looks to be the guy, until Pedro Strop‘s me-mah gets all free paella for every manager named Sveum.  The Orioles still really don’t have a closer, and until free agency is kaput, Tommy Hunter is the guy. And the other one to keep an eye on is Colorado… I mean my name is Smokey… so I am firmly entrenched in the bumper crop going on there.  LaTroy Hawkins has been called the “closer” for now.  I have a feeling that the Rockies, at some point, get all nepotistic and gives it to Rex Brothers. The last situation I would monitor is the effectiveness and trust level that Pittsburgh has with Grilli, who is getting back into the saddle.  Mark Melancon is arguably the first non-definite closer for me that is draft worthy over some guys who are low on this list that have the job.  So stay tuned conclusionary fans, it’s early and things are always a changin’.  Like last year, I will be doing an off-week Holds post to keep all things relievers up to date.

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Oh, how we are going to miss Mariano Rivera. I’ve never owned him, but always wished I did. Personally, I’m a Yankee hater, but I always enjoyed watching him work his ninth inning magic like a smooth pick up artist. So now we are left without one of the greatest closers to ever play the game and a permanent fixture on the $12 salad menu. But like all things fantasy, we must move on and start prepping for next season by keeping our minds sharp and our cheat sheets easily accessible. The great mix up called free agency and the winter meetings are just a stones throw away and will hopefully give us some clarity into what comes next.

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Colicky Fuddruckers jumped three spots to become the third different overall leader in the last three weeks. They are running away with the title in Razz Canada, a league which includes Razzball writer Mike and yours truly. The Fuddruckers had the 6th pick in the draft and took Andrew McCutchen, followed by Adam Jones, Ryan Zimmerman, and B.J. Upton. 97 RBI from 5th round pick Allen Craig helped make up for those 3rd and 4th picks, as did the acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion for 7th and 8th picks Jonathan Papelbon and Jordan Zimmermann. With three weeks to go, the battle is heating up!

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Felix Hernandez was scratched from his Wednesday start with an oblique strain. Guys and four girl readers, you can’t be too precious with your guys. That whole credo “dance with the one who brought you” is real cavalier. You’re a real gentleman as you lounge about in sweat pants while your woman cooks you dinner. It’s honorable. Remind me to submit you to the Reader’s Digest Five Humans That Make A Difference contest. It’s also silly for fantasy baseball. Save your loyalty for your kids when they ask you, “Daddy, do you like me more than your automobile?” Or, “Daddy, how come you were hugging the mail lady for ten minutes with your hands on her butt?” Forget your loyalty for your starting pitchers (or hitters). Felix could throw this weekend to see if he can start again this year. If you’re strapped for space, I’d absolutely look elsewhere. What’s the worst thing that happens? You miss two starts from him? His last starts weren’t even great. You could find better starts off of waivers. Look at me having faith in you! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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