Greetings and welcome back to the Mike Maher end of summer backyard bash, where we talk about our beloved top 100 hitters. I will be taking a one-week hiatus after this post as I pack up my apartment and drive 1,200 miles north from Fort Lauderdale, FL up to Pennsylvania. That’s right, the true King of the North is returning home to his roots. No more tank tops in January for me for a little while. After my one-week absence, though, I will be back to tell you how good Rhys Hoskins is. You may have heard of him by now. We focused on him last week, so we don’t have to go over him again, even though he has pretty much homered in every game since we talked about him. And for once, that isn’t even an exaggeration. Check out his game log:

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

I really wish Rhys Hoskins pronounced his name “Riz” so that I could use a “Nobody Beats The Rhys” headline, but it is apparently pronounced “Reese.” Who do I talk to about making that change? Does anyone have the phone number for his parents or, better yet, his grandparents? This is important stuff here.

Anyway, added Rhys to our beloved 100 because chicks dig the long ball. While you probably haven’t had to search hard to find home runs in 2017, neither has anyone else, so it’s always good to have some more. Hoskins has big boy power, which he displayed in the minors the last few years (where he was stuck for way too long thanks to the Phillies). After hitting 38 home runs in 135 games in hitter-friendly confines in Double-A in 2016, he backed that up with 29 home runs in 115 games in Triple-A this season.

But his game isn’t all power. As a somewhat older prospect, Hoskins actually has a pretty nice approach at the plate. In Triple-A in 2017, he posted a 13.5 BB% against a 15.8 K% while slashing .284 / .385 / .581. Through his first two weeks in the show, his average is down, but everything else looks about the same. And a .154 BABIP helps explain the .237 average he woke up with on Monday morning.

So, the real bonus with Hoskins is that the power numbers come with some above-average peripherals. He might not hit .280+ the rest of the way in the bigs, but would it surprise anyone if he did? If you are in OBP or OPS leagues, even better, since he has shown that he is not afraid to take a walk. Plus, that power…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

James Shields has given up a home run in 11 of 13 games this year. Outside of the first 2 games when he gave up 2 each, he’s given up at least 5 hits a game (he’s gone more than 6 once this year and that was 6.1). He’s walked someone in every single start. This is a more flavorful way of saying what you already know – Shields is terrible and won’t have his option year picked up in 2019 (that’s right, we’re going to have another year of James Shields to pick on). The other plus about this game is it’s in Texas and it’s going to be hot. Also, Shields’ splits this year are hilarious. When a left hander is in the box, he strikes them out 15.7% of the time and walks them 12% of the time (with a normal .313 BABIP), gets a ground ball 35.7% of the time and allows a home run on 23.6% of his fly balls. All of which is leads to an unfathomable 9.17 FIP and a 6.86 xFIP. Yes, loyal readers, James Shields has a FIP over 9 vs lefties. The worst FIP I can find vs lefties is Jose Lima’s 6.14, including an 8.29 in 2006 and Lima’s 8.29 was in only 7 innings. James Shields is having a legendarily bad season vs lefties (he’s actually relatively decent vs righties with 21.2% strikeouts and 8.2% walks for a 4.14 FIP and 4.73 xFIP). So given all of this information, here’s what I would do: play Texas Rangers lefties as much as physically possible, with Mazara and Gallo being the top ones, but all of them are good plays. As for the righties, they aren’t nearly as good as the lefties, first, because each Rangers righty you play is one less Rangers lefty to play if you’re going to have four Rangers, and second, a lot of the Rangers righties are expensive. That said, in a vacuum, the righties are still good plays as it’s hot, James Shields is on the mound and when he’s out of the game, the White Sox gas can of a bullpen will come in and suck. Beltre leads the righties since he hits righties pretty well over his career (113 wRC+) and has hit them well this year (.382 wOBA). Basically, play all the Rangers you can.

On to the picks once James Shields allows another home run to a lefty…

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Yesterday, Phillip Ervin went 3-for-4, 3 runs, 4 RBIs and his 2nd home run and 2nd in as many games.  This blew my mind:  there was no mention of Phillip Ervin on this site since 2014, when then-prospector Scott Evans said, “We’ll have a much better feel for (Ervin) after he’s had a chance to settle in at a full-season assignment, but on the surface, Ervin looks like a potential 20/20 outfielder who’ll also help in AVG and OBP.   I hope Grey reads this in three years…IN HELL!”  Damn, some animosity there.   Now, the real puzzler maker, as they say in the Haus of Rubik, Prospector Ralph hasn’t spoken about Ervin once.  So, I took it up with Endorphin Ralph on text, and he said, “He’s a 25-year-old, slugging fourth outfielder that’s Quad-A.  RUSNEY IS BETTER!!!”  So, Ervin’s a former 1st rounder, who might not be anything, due to weak contact he makes too often.  In Triple-A, he did have 7 HRs and 23 SBs with a .256 average.  He might just be a schmotato, that cools off and vanishes, but a speed/power combo plays in fantasy if he plays, which he is.  Better than Rusney Castillo?  WE SHALL SEE.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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That’s right DFSer’s, you read that correctly, it’s Discount Double Check time!  I’m not too thrilled with the pitching slate tonight, so instead of payin’ top dolla’ for some so-so matchups, I’m going grab a couple under the radar guys and lots of offense.  First up on the Blue Light Special, we have Jake Junis, SP $11,100.  Last Week, he came out of nowhere and threw up 31.60 points against a strong Seattle Mariners team.  He went 8 IP, 1 ER and 7 Ks, not too shabby for a guy who is going for a little more than my top offensive picks for tonight.  He’s facing an Oakland team who is one of the worst in the AL and they lead the league in K’s vs RHP.  He doesn’t have the home cookin’ on his side, but he is in a very good pitchers park.  Let’s hope this Blue Light Special goes all Blue Streak and delivers a gem for us at a discount.  Matching up nicely with JJ is Jerad Eickhoff, SP $15,600.  J-Rad has the lowly Padres in San Diego tonight, Yes, Please and Thank You.  He threw up a juicy 27 points against them last month in Philly, so I’m hoping he can surpass that tonight in pitcher friendly Petco.  Now that we’ve scrapped the bottom of the barrell for our starting pitching, let’s have some fun and spend some cash on offense.

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I’m going to break this down to you nice and simple like Minnie Pearl would’ve liked it.  Guys that bust and you don’t want next year, you should be rooting for in the 2nd half.  That’s guys that bust, not guys with a bust.  Please, Billy Butler, stop pretending to lactate by dripping milk on your shirt.  The reason you want them to succeed in August and September, because A) They’re prolly on teams that have checked out and are checking on our fantasy football content (Football RCLs sign up today; smooth transition), so no harm, no foul.  B) You want people to get excited about them next March because of their 2nd half, while you ignore them, because you know they’re not good.  Then the cycle starts again.  They draft players that were good in the 2nd half, those players are not good in the 1st half next year, and they check out again.  Rinse, repeat.  C) There’s no C.  Yesterday, Josh Donaldson (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) hit his 14th and 15th homers, and has four homers this month.  Here’s to him helping all of those tenth place teams move up to ninth and exciting everyone again next year!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Baseball’s parity is better than any other sport.  You can go into the season like, say, the Rockies.  No chance at all of the playoffs with no closer, no pitching, an injured offseason acquisition and be a favorite for the playoffs in July, without that offseason acquisition doing anything, not getting anything from your returning superstar shortstop and defying gravity with a pitching staff keeping a team above water even at one mile high.  Then, on July 31st, parity goes out the window and all teams doing well get much better and teams struggling sell off everything.  Speaking of “I’m rich bitch,” the Dodgers traded for Yu Darvish.  The deadline was mostly, “Well, there goes a middle reliever,” and, “Another middle reliever?  Snooze,” then, at the last moment, the Dodgers swooped in and grabbed Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani, two more middle relievers.  Just like LA to want two Tonys, like  Oscars aren’t enough.  Oh well, nothing big this year.  When, thirty-five minutes after the trading deadline, the Dodgers announced, “Psyche, fake-out, we got Darvish too.”  Los Angeles is about the best landing spot a fantasy owner could hope for Darvish.  He has a 9.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 3.81 xFIP, but was pitching in the 5th best offensive park.  Hello, NL West, Dodger Stadium and facing the Giants and Padres.  Now you see LA brewin?  Yu sexy, get me some Trojans.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?