I’ve already gone over the top 20 catchers for 2015 fantasy baseball, the top 20 1st basemen for 2015 fantasy baseball and the top 20 2nd basemen for 2015 fantasy baseball. Last year, I thought the top 20 shortstops for 2015 fantasy baseball looked a whole lot better than the 2nd basemen. I said that’s not usually the norm, but you gotta be malleable in this fantasy baseball game. Then going on to say I’d give a free car to a brother and sister who were named Norm and Malleable. No one won the car and I was pretty off with where I thought shortstops had depth. They showed up last preseason in a librarian’s outfit with red-rimmed glasses and seemed interesting. Then they turned around and it was Sally Jessy Raphael and we should’ve ran the other way. As with the other top 20 rankings, I point out where tiers start and stop and my projections. All the 2015 fantasy baseball rankings can be found under that thing that says 2015 fantasy baseball rankings. Unsuccinct! Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, but he did much to popularize it, according to Wikipedia. Crapper owned the first toilet showroom and due to his name being on a large number of toilets, U.S. servicemen would see it and say, “I need to go to the Crapper.” Hopefully, this adds a bit of context when I say Jean Segura spent 2014 in the crapper. The legacy of Crapper doesn’t end there. Up until Crapper’s time, the inventor and biggest proponent of the flush toilet was John Harington. He was also a popular writer and provocateur who spoke often about the toilet, beating it into people’s brains to call it “The John.” With that in mind, we can also say the Brewers shortstop for 2014 was “In the John” Segura. In 2013, Segura’s 2nd half fell off, and it led people to think his 2014 would be putrid. Those people were proven to be correct. I still don’t buy it. Yes, I don’t buy Segura is bad even after he had a terrible 2014, which was hinted at by a terrible 2nd half in 2013. Yes, I am excited about Segura even though he has a good three months to his entire career. I’m throwing last year out. He had a sub-par April, was moved down the order, and never bounced back. Things really went pear-shaped for him in June and July (.196 and .179). We don’t know his state of mind while his child was sick and then after losing the child. This had to affect him in some way. Perhaps he wanted to be back with his wife and ailing child, maybe he couldn’t concentrate. I have no idea; no one does but Segura. If we’re to throw out his June and July, then he hit .276 on the year. So, just like everyone wants to throw out his huge 1st half in 2013, can’t we also throw out those two months? Go ahead and answer under your breath, I can still hear you. Anyway, what can we expect of Jean Segura for 2015 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

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Robert Downey Jr. and Phil Hughes have more in common than you might think. Both dealt with notoriously weak starts to their careers in The Big Apple. Hughes in pinstripes had four straight years of a 4+ ERA, and Downey on SNL. Both had to deal with brace-faced divas, Joe Girardi and Anthony Michael Hall. One was scouted by Gene Michael, the other Lorne Michaels. One wanted to impress Pettitte, one wanted to avoid petting Randy Quaid’s pet squirrel. One had to wait for A-Rod to finish frosting his hair before he could use the bathroom, one made frosting out of cocaine. But once they were out of New York, the world opened up to each. Yesterday, Hughes won his 16th game, going 8 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 5 Ks, and lowering his ERA to 3.52. His K-rate is 8 and his walk rate is 0.7, as he set the all-time strikeout-to-walk ratio at 11.63. Think about that walk rate for a second. Okay, the second is up. He walked 16 guys in 209 2/3 IP. That’s as terrific as 186 Ks, which is what he had. His ERA doesn’t look amazing in today’s day and age where everyone has a sub-3 ERA, but Hughes was actually unlucky and had a 3.15 xFIP. Everything together has me excited about Hughes for 2015 fantasy baseball. I could see him being relegated to 2nd fiddle status with some other 3rd or 4th fantasy starters, but outperforming his draft spot. Circling back to AMH, any time a guy like Hughes strikes out as much as Anthony Michael Hall and walks less than Uncle Buck, color me excited. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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There are some tempting (and ‘spensive) names on the SP menu tonight, but as always, my eyes gravitate to my boy, Mat Latos ($8,800). He draws the Brewers at Miller Park tonight, a place where he has failed to earn a W in 6 career starts. That comes to an end tonight. Latos is due to pop his cherry at the home of the beer makers. He has pitched well against Milwaukee this season, registering a 2.57 ERA and .184 BAA in 21 IP. The Brewers also look like they are going into choke mode as the season winds down. They haven’t scored more scored more than 4 runs in their last 6 games, and they now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in. Latos is going to spin a gem on the cheap, and if you want to find some other undervalued options to pair with him, look no further than beyond the sales pitch below.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 team league of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to check the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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Shields’s season proves one thing. He doesn’t answer to you, he doesn’t answer to anyone. Not today, not tomorrow, not even on Cinco de Mayo. Then Shields steals a knot of hundreds from a drug dealer, nurses a drug addict mother back to health and then kills a criminal only to cover it up. Shields, the anti-hero. Oops, I was watching a best of The Shield, and Vic Mackey had me feeling dirty, like a renegade cop! The renegade cop — fun on TV or movies; pain in the ass in real life. In September, James Shields has a 0.00 ERA, rolling off of yesterday’s 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 8 Ks with his ERA down to 3.13. His season has really been all over the map from month to month. On the bad side of things, May ERA 4.69 and June ERA 4.88. On the good side of things, July ERA 2.63; April ERA 1.60; August ERA 2.95, and the aforementioned September. Maybe the Royals knew something when they traded away Wil Myers. Or maybe we can at least pretend they did for this year. “I got short term eyes, not to be confused with short eyes like Elmore Leonard.” That’s Dayton Moore. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Quick! Before Rudy completely makes my column obsolete with great new tools like the Hitter Planner, let’s get in another Lineup Maximizer. Sometimes there are players I want to highlight as pickups, but don’t have a game on Thursday, so they don’t fit the criteria for this article. Nate Freiman, the A’s regular at first when facing a lefty, is one such player. Over the past week, he’s been in Single-A Beloit because of arcane rules regarding MiLB playoffs and the September roster expansion. Despite that, Freiman is back with the big league club and will continue hitting the ball hard and being tall. Before the demotion, Freiman was 5 for his last 14, with three homers and five RBI. Alas, Freiman doesn’t play on Thursday so I can’t recommend him for the next stretch of games in when the A’s face three lefties in their next five. What a damn shame.

Anyhoo! Here’s who I can recommend for Thursdays games:

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As I mentioned in my first/intro OPS post, we’re looking at OPS differential by using expected (x)Homerun and expected (x)BABIP differentials. If you like Captain Planet or laser beams, or want to understand my general approach, then I recommend a gander. If you provide your email below, I can furnish the full list that you can sort. Wordpress doesn’t allow me to copy and paste it all pretty for you.

Let’s start with my xHR formula (PA*Ct%*OFFB%*HR/OFFB%). Here are the top 10 guys likely to drop off from a HR perspective: Albert Pujols, Adam Jones, Justin Morneau, Alexei Ramirez, Mark Reynolds, Charlie Blackmon, Ian Desmond, Brett Lawrie, Hunter Pence and Salvador Perez.

Here are the top 35 guys likely to drop off from a BABIP perspective that you actually might own (meaning I’m excluding the Martin Maldonados of the world): Josh Rutledge, Justin Ruggiano, A.J. Pollock, Josh Hamilton, Stephen Vogt, J.D. Martinez, J.J. Hardy, Eugenio Suarez, Hunter Pence and Matt Adams.

Looking at both xHR and xBABIP differentials, here are guys you might own that I would consider selling in OPS leagues based on their expected vs. actual OPS (the differential is in parenthesis just like this statement. See what I did here?):

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Oh man, did the Crew need that win yesterday!  Even up 11-1, I thought K Rod might blow the lead.  The way things have gone…

But it’s not all about me and the Brewers!  At least, that’s what the girlfriend keeps telling me… Yesterday, Wily Peralta showed some exceptional stuff in easily the biggest game of 2014 for Milwaukee, but the day before, high-profile prospect Jimmy Nelson looked to make a statement as the newly entrenched starter.

Anddddddddd… It didn’t go so hot.

Sporting absolutely stupid numbers in the PCL (1.46 ERA 0.92 WHIP 114 K in 111 IP), Nelson also shined in his 2014 debut, a 5.2 inning spot start allowing no runs on 8 base runners with 6 Ks for a W.  But the mightily cold Brewers squared off against the red hot Redbirds to spoil his encore.  How much was his atrocious start impacted by wrong guy, wrong place syndrome?  Should you still be holding on if you picked him up?  I decided to take an uncomfortable (for me) walk down memory lane to really break down how Nelson looked pitch-by-pitch:

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As soon as you’re finished with this post, I want you to close your laptop, step outside and look at a bird in flight. Pick up a flower, breathe in its fragrance, sneeze from your allergies, wave to a neighbor and close your robe because you’re not just waving with your hand. How does that feel? Exhilarating? Then your dedication sucks. It should be a total bore. You should be more interested in whether or not I’m going to have a top 100 for the 2nd half of fantasy baseball tomorrow than what your significant other has been doing for the last three and a half months. Luckily, I will have a top 100 tomorrow, guys and four girl readers. Clay Buchholz didn’t make the top 100, but with a game like yesterday — 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 12 Ks — he could be better than some guys that are on there. I’ll go over this in detail tomorrow, but in only two and a half months, anything can happen. Even something good with Buchholz because there is upside, right? Check. Downside? Check? Waitress? Check please. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

PSYCH! Before we get into the post, I just wanted to say our TV on the Radio host, Nick, wants to cover some live fantasy football drafts in the following cities: Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincy and Detroit. We’re currently airing our show on cable in 22 million homes in the New York area, so if you want to make an ass of yourself on a bigger scale than you can imagine, now’s your chance! Leave your email address in the comments or over at our TV/Radio side of things, and Nick will hit you back. Anyway II, the roundup:

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The Oakland A’s have been the team to beat in the first half of 2014. They own the best record the majors, their offense, which is comprised of a ragtag bunch of misfits from the other side of the tracks, ranks second among all teams in RBIs and total bases. They lead the league in ERA and WHIP, and they just upgraded their rotation with the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, all without the help of fat Jonah Hill. You don’t need Andy Serkis’ acting school to show you you’d be a real monkey to doubt these guys. They’ve been just as good from a fantasy perspective. Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Sonny Gray have carried over their success from 2013, and Jesse Chavez, Sean Doolittle and the two-headed catcher platoon of John Jaso and Derek Norris have all been first half surprises. So which A’s can you hitch a ride on for some second half fantasy glory? Jed Lowrie (2-for-4, RBI) can get real hot, real quick, and is currently on a seven game hitting streak, with multi-hit performances in six of those games. You might want to scoop him up before he explodes, or gets injured again. Similarly, Stephen Vogt (3-for-3, HR (4)) has been excellent since receiving everyday at bats and is slashing .435/.480/.652 over the past two weeks.  He’s got an 11 game hitting streak (six multi-hit games in that span) and two homers in his past three days, and that catcher eligibility makes him extra valuable. P. Diddy says Vogt or die, so you should grab Stephen while he’s still just under 30% owned. We may be through a little over half of the fantasy season so far, but there’s still plenty of time to ride the Oaktown bandwagon to some fantasy glory, at least until they get to San Antonio. #keeptheAsinOakland!

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night (*All-Star Edition*):

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