This draft was so slow that I lost half my starting rotation before the draft ended. This draft was so slow that when it started Minnie Minoso was still alive. This draft was so slow when it started Tupac was still dead. I didn’t enjoy my time last year in the 15-team NFBC slow draft. I drafted Mark Trumbo, Prince Fielder, Cliff Lee, Anibal Sanchez and Patrick Corbin and my only chance was a big year from Nadir Bupkis, who gave me just that. See, there’s no waivers and the league is 50 rounds deep, so if you’re hit by injuries, you’re done. So, I was talked into doing the league one more time, but knew I had to draft starters early and often, and, of course, prior to the draft even completing I lost Zack Wheeler and Tony Cingrani. Many will disagree with me, but I’m under the firm belief that it’s a lot harder and more fun to win a league like a Razzball Commenter League, than it is to win a super-deep league. With super-deep leagues, if you’re hit by injuries, you’re done. That’s neither fun nor challenging. That’s just shizzy luck. You can say I should’ve known Wheeler and Cingrani weren’t safe, and I’d say to you that neither are any of the pitchers that are healthy all year. They just happened to stay healthy. It’s not like the guy that drafted Alex Cobb is any smarter than the guy who drafted (insert pitcher that is healthy right now that may not be healthy by the time you read this). How’s dem grapes? Sour! Anyway, here’s my 15-team, 5×5, roto, NFBC slow draft team and thoughts:

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Some people consider it a made up stat, I say hogwash or peeee-shaw.  For the people who play in the leagues where the stat matters, it matters.  That’s about as devout as I can get since I had to sell my soapbox to pay for my addiction of collectible thimbles.  Now, I get it, the Hold stat isn’t for everyone. The basis of actually being a stat is wonky at best. These guys do more than just come in for one inning or one batter, they hold your periph numbers in check.  If you don’t believe, that’s fine, I don’t believe myself half the time.  Heck, I have no reading comprehension, so it’s more of a “in one ear out the other” type thing.  See, I already forgot what I was discussing here.  So this year, some of the top options that are going to be the go-to-holds guys are actually jumping up and taking the starring role for their teams due to injury. So I will delve into a few situations to monitor from a Holds perspective, as well as a nice handy chart with some predictions on the side of caution for the top-20 middle relievers, in terms of them garnering the coveted stat of the Hold.

Want to take me on in a Razzball Commenter League? Join my league here!

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Does anything feel as comforting, yet restricting as a pair of fuzzy handcuffs? They just lack the masculinity that a normal grown man would like to admit…But you sprinkle in the testosterone laced excitement of fantasy baseball, and BOOM.  The fellas that we will be examining this week should be drafted in all leagues that speculate in the save department. Note to you, that is every league.  You are basically looking for these few outliers to light your path to save endearment.  First, pick a closer situation that has one clear cut guy as the fall back option. Second, find a team that looks to be on the right side of standings, which in theory is the left side, because that’s where wins go.  Third, you want a team that utilizes a keen sense of relief inevitability, vis-à-vis a manager that likes guys in certain situations; for us, that’s the guys that will be the best shut down reliever not named “closer” in the bullpen.  It’s pretty simple math there, no helmet needed or safety strapping cabinets, so you don’t pinch your digits.  So let’s have at some of Smokey’s smorgasbord of top guys you should wanna be sniping from other purveyors of the save.  Oh and by the way, I am ignoring guys like Wade Davis, Andrew Miller , and Ken Giles because if your league doesn’t draft them, then you should skip baseball and focus on Fantasy Soccer.

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I wish filling out your fantasy roster with middle relievers was as easy as plop-plop, fizz-fizz.  But I’m sure it isn’t, because not everyone is using the same model of success.  I can dig that, I mean, I come from a long line of Smokeys that like the art of shoveling.  Listen, I get it if you don’t wanna help your team-rates and ratios by adding guys that are stout in production for basically free at the end of your draft.  Streaming relievers is a real thing, I didn’t make it up.  It does exist, and it lives in the house between Nessy and Sasquatch.  It’s not for the faint of heart and is probably not for everyone.  It is about optimizing your free innings (very useful in RCL leagues that have games started limits, which everyone wants to win).  It’s a basic theory and the patent is pending, so stick around as I get into the art of streaming relievers. And as an added bonus, I have broken down the MR corps into four separate groups.  These groups are broken down by usefulness.  We have one for straight cuffs, one for rates and holds, a straight holds, and then some stone cold sleepers for you deep-leaguers.

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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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