Happy Bryce Harper Replacement Week! :::sobs into the couch cushion I have been carrying around since watching the video of Harper tumbling over that base:::

The cruel baseball gods took Harper away from us just after we got Trout back. As of this writing, there is no timetable for his return from what they are calling a “significant bone bruise.” I’m no doctor (sorry to peel back the curtain), but how the heck did that non-contact injury get a bone bruise diagnosis? I thought for sure he tore every CL in his body. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that he tore his UCL from reaching for his knee so fast. But a bone bruise? Interesting. Let’s just hope he wasn’t evaluated by the Mets’ training staff because “bone bruise” is going to very quickly become “Oh crap, his knee actually isn’t there anymore. We can’t find it anywhere.”

Now, there is no replacing Harper’s production on your fantasy team, especially in the middle of August. That much is obvious. If you’re lucky, you took Grey’s advice about selling a superstar to heart and cashed in at the deadline. I have Harper in a keeper league where I currently sit in first place, so I have to decide if I want to deal him now to make a playoff push, pray he comes back this season and helps me, or just accept the fact that he is done for the fantasy season but still keep him for next year. I am probably going with option B/C, if we’re being honest with each other here.

I’m removing him from our beloved 100 while we wait to see how he looks this week. Hopefully, the baseball gods decide to heal him from his mystery bruise quickly and we can have him back. But it seems more likely we are going to be without him for most, if not all, of the fantasy season. Now, enough crying about Harper (at least publicly). Anyway, to the notes…

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Player A:

  • .301 / .353 / .455
  • 11 home runs
  • 16 stolen bases
  • 55 runs scored
  • 49 RBI
  • 2nd Half: .352, two home runs, 14 runs scored, 10 RBI, three stolen bases
  • PR15: 10.69 (4th in MLB)

Player B:

  • .273 / .353 / .471
  • 13 home runs
  • 12 stolen bases
  • 58 runs scored
  • 38 RBI
  • 2nd Half: .343, five home runs, 18 runs scored, 11 RBI, four stolen bases
  • PR15: 9.21 (7th in MLB)

Pretty scary how similar those numbers are, right? A is Andrelton Simmons and B is Alex Bregman. The only big difference when you dive a little deeper is that Simmons has been consistently producing for pretty much the entire season, while Bregman has been a bit more streaky and pretty much disappeared in June.

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The Book of Job says, “We will send out at least one email a day to all your contacts whether you like it or not.”  Shoot, I immediately see what I did wrong there.  I Googled for a Bible quote, and accidentally got an employee handout from LinkedIn.  Big bad on me.  Yesterday, Zack Godley went 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 5 Ks, ERA at 2.86, with this start coming in Wrigley.  *gulps*  Maybe Godley isn’t an overstatement.  His peripherals are gorge too — 9.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.23 xFIP.  Throwing 92+ MPH with a mix of four pitches, and mostly going to Dazzletown with the curve being the pony killer (totally a saying!).  “I made you glue!” which is what I shout trying desperately to make “pony killer” a saying.  Oh, and all of it is coupled with a 56% ground ball rate.  That would be the third best in the majors if he qualified.  When there’s nary a starter in sight with a decent ERA, Godley’s otherworldly.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Now that we are a few weeks into the second half, we are able to take a look at players and their rest of season rankings a little differently. For starters, we can see how players are starting the second half. Even though it is only a few days off (or not off, for those who participate in the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game) and is not even technically the real halfway point of the season, the All-Star break seems to hit the reset button for some players.

Some players get off to a hot start in the second half and ride the wave for a hot August and September, while others seem to lose their momentum and start off ice cold. You could write a book on the different explanations and theories about why it happens or whether or not the Home Run Derby messes up your swing or the All-Star Game schedule itself is exhausting, but we all know as fantasy owners that we have to really pay attention to our squads coming out of the break.

Players who had unreal, otherworldly breakout first halves like Aaron Judge have come back to earth a little bit, while players we had come to rely on in previous years who had disappointing first halves like Christian Yelich have gotten hot. If those disappointing players don’t get off to a good start to the second half, though, we have to make the tough decision about whether or not it is time to move on.

And that is the other way we have to look at these rankings, with time in mind. Depending on your league and format, you probably have roughly two months left in your season and about a month and a half or less until the playoffs in leagues that have them. Carlos Gonzalez is the 600th ranked player in Razzball’s year-to-date player rater, but he is still owned in 93% of RCLs and 67% of ESPN leagues as apparently, Razznation is still waiting for CarGo to turn back into the hitter he has shown he is over the year.

And while Gonzalez has been somewhat better in the second half and has sown signs of life, at some point time is going to run out. I gave up on him weeks ago and have not looked back. In the leagues where I had him I am in first or second place and am clawing to either stay there or overtake the top team, and I just don’t have any more time to wait on him. Granted, I gave up on him when it looked like he wasn’t going to have regular playing time anymore, and that is no longer the case since the Rockies can’t stay healthy, but I don’t regret the decision. Even after showing he can still hit a little in the second half, he still only has a 0.02 PR15. That isn’t enough to make me regret the decision or convince me he is going to get hot.

For Gonzalez this season, his Hard%, FB%, and HR/FB% are all down, while his AVG, OBP, and SLG are all well below his career averages. Most troubling to me is the SLG, which is currently sitting at .341. It would not be surprising to find out that he has been playing through injuries all season because 1. He is pretty much always injured and 2. These numbers are awful. You know I love creating these graphs, so check out this one:

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When I saw Dunkirk last weekend, I realized how important a great score and sound editing can be to a movie. Similar to how anxious moments in horror films are set up with ominous chords lingering in the background, Hans Zimmer’s infamous ticking and ability to build suspense fit Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster to a T. As I walked out of the theater, ears ringing and heart filled with lust for Tom Hardy, I gave a quick call to my man Zimmer, and asked if he’d be willing to drum up some music for each of Bradley Zimmer’s at bats in 2018. You won’t be surprised to discover that Hans never answered, which is due in part to me never actually calling, but hey, a boy can dream right?

Right around the All-Star break, analysts have a tendency to reflect on what happened in the first half. For those with an ear to the ground for rotisserie leagues, a lot of focus lingers on players who contribute in both home runs and stolen bases. Arbitrary thresholds are placed at double digits in each, as we feverishly search for hitters that we never expected to see there. At the time, to find players with this double-digit contribution in each category, you’d venture to studs like Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts, and Jose Altuve, later incorporating surprises like Elvis Andrus, Brett Gardner, and Chris Owings. As stolen bases are often a buck-shot statistic – attempting more usually means producing more – it’s important to realize each of those players mentioned played 80 or more games in hitting that mark…

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Lately, Eric Hosmer has been living up to his nickname, Mini Joey Votto.  Hmm, that’s a bit long for a nickname.  How about Mini Joey?  Oh, I know, Embryonic Kangaroo!  That rolls off the tongue!   *Grey puts on a terrible Aussie accent* “Embryonic Kangaroo is a fair dinkum chockers!  What a ripper!  I need a sickie, a slab and a barbie on the back of the ute!  Or just watch that Toni Collete movie where she’s in the wheelchair singing ABBA.  That gets me knickers on the soddy poop schmear!”  Yesterday, the Embryonic Kangaroo went 5-for-6, 5 runs, 6 RBIs and a slam (16) and legs (5), hitting .319.  He has four homers post-ASB in 50 ABs, and seems to finally have the chockers on dinkum.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last week, we added Tommy Pham and his pal (unconfirmed) Marwin Gonzalez to the realm of the 100. This week, we’re feeling so good that we’re moving them on up the rankings. Pham has the second best PR15 (ESPN leagues) right now (13.01), behind only the respected Coors Field masher Nolan Arenado. Marwin, while he has a respectable 5.26 PR15 that is good for 34th overall, is moving up because he suddenly has an inside track to playing time.

Someone ask Grey if I get any bonus points for running it back on players in back-to-back weeks AND rolling with a double player reference headline. I was going to go with a Gregory Polanco reference but decided Matt Adams was both more ridiculous and had the added bonus of allowing me to use former teammates (kind of). More bonus points? Let me know what Grey says.

As for Carlos Correa, well, you guys know already, right? I’m dropping him from the Top 100 because he is going to miss most of the rest of the season. He could potentially return and help you for fantasy playoffs or the last couple weeks, but we won’t know for sure for a few more weeks. This IS good news for Marwin Gonzalez, who I focused on last week, as there is suddenly another opening in the lineup for him. Obviously, hold Correa for now, but I’m dropping him from the ranks of the beloved and pouring out some Coors Light for him.

I never thought there would be a week where I would be adding Matt Adams and removing Carlos Correa. 2017 is bumming me out, but I promise to make it one full article without mentioning Super Balls (this doesn’t count!). Screw it, let’s add Steven Souza, too. He’s got 20 home runs to go with a .272 average, .239 ISO, an increased Hard%, and what looks to be an increased approach at the plate. He has been on the fringe, but I managed to make room for him this week. I give up, 2017. You hear me? I give up! You win!

Anyway, here are some other notes on the additions and subtractions for this week…

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2017 has been a weird season for baseball. Not only are baseballs leaving ballparks like super balls, but players like Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison are winning fantasy leagues for people. Before the season started, I never thought I would be writing those names on this website. Now, I write them every week (Okay, usually I just have to copy/paste).

While doing some research over the All-Star break, I found more than a dozen players who had already hit more home runs in the first half of 2017 than they ever had in any other full season. That wasn’t even really what I was looking for. I just kept finding more and more of them. One of those players, as you may have guessed because of the title of this article and the number of professional baseball players named Marwin, is Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is a player I have been keeping an eye on all year and is someone commenters have been asking about a lot lately. Until recently, he still wasn’t playing every day and was moving all over the field. When he did play, though, he was mashing. Son wrote about him in his Bear or Bull series last week, and I recommend going and giving that a read. I’ll wait here while you do.

Like Son goes over in his piece, the biggest difference for Gonzalez this season has been his approach at the plate. His BB% is way up, his K% is way down, and his O-Swing% is down. That all indicates an improved approach at the plate. For proof, here’s a chart!

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And how did you spend your All-Star Break? Rocking and crying in a corner, like I did? Thankfully, baseball is back and my twitching has even just about subsided. Today, for our first over-the-halfway-hump Saturday on FanDuel, there’s a ton of good pitching (discussed below), but my focus turns to one game in particular: the sweet intra-state match-up as Madison Bumgarner (at a not-so-sweet $11,000) squares up against the San Diego Padres in Petco Park.

This is, of course, Mad Bum’s return from the DL after leaving his dirt bike shoulder-first (ouch). I know, normally I too would be leery of starting a returning pitcher immediately, but this is Mad Bum. This start’s in Petco; it’s not quite the pitcher’s mecca it used to be, but still pitcher friendly. The Padres can’t hit lefties, to the tune of a .214 average. And in his last rehab start, Bumgarner struck out 8. So I’m paying up for him and finding ways to fill up my lineup around him as cheaply (and probably badly!) as possible. Mostly by picking on Derek Holland, to be honest: Mariners hitters offer a definite stack possibility today.

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Aaron Judge baffles me. Is he a beefy version of early 2000s Richie Sexson, or he is something more legit? No offense to early 2000s Richie, of course. His (we’re back to Judge, now) numbers in the minors (albeit a relatively small sample size of) suggest more of the former, but his 2017 insists on the latter. Strikeouts aside, he seems to have combined a complete and nearly flawless approach at the plate with a compact swing and elite power. In March, we weren’t even sure if he was going to be the everyday right fielder for the Yankees. Now, he is a lock to win Rookie of the Year, the clear favorite to win MVP, and could very well win the Triple Crown.

He has 30 home runs to only 13 doubles (big boy has three triples, too), which means nothing except that when he connects he CONNECTS. Lifting power, my friends. The fly ball revolution is upon us, and only 50 years after Ted Williams told us all about it. And with Judge’s superhuman power, a willingness and ability to drive (and lift) the ball to the opposite field, a right field porch in Yankee Stadium that is a few feet behind first base (roughly), and juiced baseballs that are leaving parks like they’re golf balls, what is a popup behind second base for most batters is a home run to the upper deck in right field for Judge. That was a very long sentence. Let’s pause to catch our breath here.

Please, blog, may I have some more?