Bryce Harper is clearly no Jon Snow. Perhaps I should say that Harper is no Jaehaerys Targaryen. If you have no desire to read about my Game of Thrones theories, I suggest you skip down to the line that reads “I’m done with my Game of Thrones theories” and ignore what comes before it. By now most have come to the conclusion that Jon Snow is a Targaryen. I’m not going to go into the details, but the short of it is that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Lyanna, Ned Stark’s sister, died giving birth to Jon. Ned claimed him as his own to save him from being killed by Robert Baratheon.

Ok, so maybe I am going to go dive into the details. Bran is one of the few living people that know Jon’s true identity. He learned this in one of his visions where he traveled back in time to the Tower of Joy, when he followed his father up the tower in which he found Lyanna who had just given birth to Jon. Before she died she begged him to raise Jon as his own. Obviously Ned obliged.

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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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Atlanta Braves top prospect/hot shot rookie/middle infielder/the “New” Georgia Peach Ozzie Albies hit his second career major league home run in just his ninth career major league start going 2-for-4 with the 3-run bomb. Albies has basically been doing what we expected/wished/hoped/prayed Dansby Swanson would do all season: hit baseballs. Well, luckily for us there’s plenty of young middle infielders in the sea. By the way, were you impressed by my Shelley reference in headline? You didn’t think I’d miss a chance to mention one of my favorite non-Shakespearian sonnets, Ozymandias, did you? Speaking of English romantic poets (killer segue, I know!), the 20 year-old Albies was slashing .285/.330/.440  at Triple A Gwinett, and the kiddo’s got some game-changing speed with 21 steals in 91 games. If those numbers aren’t romantic or poetic enough for you I don’t what it is you’re looking for. Funny enough, I said the same thing to my real life human girlfriend. He hit just nine home runs in the minors but its pretty clear the power is on the way, with two dingers already in just nine major league starts. Friday night was Ozzie’s first multi-hit game in the bigs, and with the homer and 3 RBI he seems to be adjusting well to his new surroundings and getting plenty comfortable at the plate. Grey told you to BUY this week, and he gushed about him here. In keeper/dynasty formats you should own him already, but I think he’s worth a flier everywhere else based on his potential to help with speed/average. The .214/.313/.464 in just nine games is too small to take away from, but the two homers and 6 RBI are certainly an exciting sign for the young infielder and fantasy owners alike. This kid’s gonna be a star! Ha-cha-cha!

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Phils’ manager, Pete Macktheknife, said, “Everybody wants to see (Rhy Hoskins‘) bat but Tommy Joseph has done well enough where there’s enough games left for him to show even more improvement.  It’s hard. You don’t want to put Tommy Joseph on the bench so maybe (having Hoskins play outfield) is a way to do it.”  Hey, quick question, anyone got a participation trophy for Joseph?  Sounds like he could really use one!  “I accept this participation trophy on behalf of all the players who are at positions where the club has a better prospect in the minors, but is too cheap to promote them.  Especially to my runner-up, Shin-Soo, way to keep down Willie Calhoun!”  A bunch of prospblockers, the lot of you!  Don’t even get me started on the absolute craziness that you risk putting your top prospect in left field just to keep playing Tommy Joseph.  Hoskins should be okay out there, but there’s a ton more risk with injuries in left field than standing on 1st.  I grabbed Hoskins in all leagues.  He was top 30 for Prospector Ralph’s top 100 fantasy baseball prospects, and might be the last big name to come up that can make a difference.   For this year, I’d say Hoskins = Mark Reynolds with way fewer Ks.  Long term, well, I won’t say Votto, but his OBP is insane for a kid.  Scouts call players kids, did I sound like a scout?  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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 injury bug bit HARD this week. Every player on this list is a player whose absence will have huge fantasy implications. The playoffs are right around the corner and the smartest owners will be able to manage their injuries and still come out on top. Use my advice to help take you there. With another six outfielders on the disabled list I’m going to make my outfield recommendations at the bottom of this article.

As always, leave a comment below if you have any league-specific injury questions…

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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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On the podcast coming later today, I felt a reverb.  Luckily, I do everything while standing in a doorway because who has time to run to a doorway in the event of a earthquake?  This reverb wasn’t God practicing his spinning of tectonic plates.  Oh no.  This reverb wasn’t Dr. Dre messing with Technics either.  No siree, Bob.  This was the Padres trading Brandon Maurer and Trevor Cahill to the Royals for Matt Strahm, Travis Wood and Esteury Ruiz.  Damn, San Diego, save some of the trading deadline hype for other people.  Okay, I’m laying it on too thick.  This trade is okay for both teams.  Royals appear to have playoff aspirations, and get bullpen depth that they should never use in Maurer and Cahill, who has some of the most extreme splits I’ve ever seen.  In Petco:  0.72 ERA; elsewhere:  5.75 ERA.  Goodbye, my old friend!  Of course, this means Brad Hand officially officially becomes the closer.  Wouldn’t totally shock me to see Hand dealt — to who?  Phil Ivey? — and Maton become the closer, but that’s more for NL-Only.  Matt Strahm is an interesting name for NL-Only leagues for next year.  As of now, he’s out after knee surgery, and he’s from the crazy Ks and crazy walks variety show, Krazy BBs.  By the way, I believe Esteury Ruiz is Rio Ruiz with a badly thought out new name in the Witness Protection Program.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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Fredo, you’re my older brother and I love you, but don’t ever pick up Cameron Maybin again over Tommy Pham. If you do, Maybin will find himself on the disabled list and you’ll take a one way row boat ride out on the lake. If you think I’m kidding watch the movie. Tommy is the future of this phamily. In the past thirty days he has been a top ten batter in points leagues, scoring 96 points. Here are the seven hitters that are ahead of him. Jose Ramirez (98), Carlos Correa (98), Mookie Betts (102), Jose Altuve (102), Anthony Rendon (102), Bryce Harper (105) and George Springer (113). That’s quite the company he’s keeping. Looks like the heads of the five families and two of their captains if you ask me. Pham has score more points than every other hitter not mentioned in that sentence. That includes Joey Votto (93).

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