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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ALL CONTESTANTS, BE SURE YOU READ THIS FIRST PARAGRAPH.

We are approaching week five of the playoffs. That is the final week for this contest. This week you only pick two players. Here’s the kicker. You cannot pick a player that anyone else has picked that week even if you haven’t picked that player yet in the playoffs. You will be able to change your pick if you accidentally pick a player that has been picked by another, but you must do so before the deadline. I will let you know if you need to select a different player in response to your comment. Before making your picks, please look at the comments to see what players have already been selected. Your picks are not locked until you see a response comment from me saying they are locked. However, you cannot change a pick if that player has not been picked.

The reason for this is because I want to prevent the first place team from waiting to see who the second place team picks and then picks the same batters so that he cannot be caught. This is not a new rule as it was clearly stated in the first week of the playoffs.

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Michael Conforto left yesterday’s game on a swing and miss that dislocated his shoulder and a posterior capsule tear.  Dude fell like he was punched in the face by the Ghost of Muhammad Ali.  Anyone know if the Ghost of Muhammad Ali was at the game?  Float like a butterfly in a sheet…  Ever hear about the three drunk ghosts?  They were three sheets to the wind.  Take it, Highlights!  It’s yours!  This doesn’t sound good for Conforto.  Reports are saying he’s likely done for the year.  Taking over for Conforto will likely be Brandon Nimmo.  Laura Holt just gave you her Brandon Nimmo fantasy, as if she had some sort of premonition about Conforto.  Oh my god, she’s a witch!  Hand her a refrigerator and she if she floats!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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…

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This year Jay Bruce was an All-Star. Technically he was Dexter Fowler’s replacement, but he was in uniform in Miami. Wait a minute! Bruce was not an All-Star this year, I’m thinking of last year. While he might not have been an All-Star this season he does have 30 home runs and he has a .263 batting average. He hasn’t batted over .262 since 2010 when he finished with a .281 average. He is a career .249 hitter that is currently on pace for a career highs in home runs, runs scored and RBIs.

As of Saturday morning Bruce was the leading points getter for the week. With 38 points he is just ahead of Manny Machado (36), Josh Donaldson (33), Edwin Encarnacion (33) and Anthony Rizzo (33). That’s a solid group of players to be lumped in with.

Here’s a quick recap of week two…

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If you hail from Central New Jersey, sorry. I didn’t mean to get your hopes up. Albert Pujols does not represent the 609. If you are a Ludacris fan, sorry. Pujols may or may not have garden hoes in different area codes, but I can neither confirm nor deny it. Rather, Pujols slugged his 609th career home run Friday night. It doesn’t matter that it came off Jeremy Hellickson, who’s allowed the 14th-most home runs this season, and is already the 439th-worst of all time. I was going to go on an epic rant about how all the stories are focused on the fact that he’s tied with Sammy Sosa for the most home runs by a foreign-born player. Who gives a flying F where he was born? Then I started thinking, I wonder which player born in Los Angeles has hit the most home runs. Yet again, I’ve managed to stymie myself. Anyways, who cares that Pujols has a triple slash of .229/.274/.374 with an ISO of .144. Let’s just celebrate the great career he’s had and send him off into the sunset after this season. My self checks to make sure this is his last year…

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?