It might surprise you to learn that a catcher was the most added player in ESPN leagues last week. That’s right. A catcher. You’re probably thinking that it’s some hot prospect who looks like the next coming of Mike Piazza. In that case, you’d be wrong. Very, very wrong. It’s actually 30-year-old journeyman catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty’s smacked 6 homers in just 48 plate appearances this season, which has some fantasy owners dreaming of a cheap 20 homers from their recent waiver wire find. He has hit 25 homers in a season before (2012), and power has never been an issue for Salty. What has been an issue is making consistent contact. He’s one of 11 players in MLB history (min 2000 PA) with a 30+% K% in his career, and his 32.4% K% since the beginning of the 2014 season is the 3rd highest in MLB over that span (min 600 PA) behind only Mike Zunino and Tyler Flowers. This season, he has a 37.5% K% and his early power outburst is largely due to a 33.3% HR/FB (career 13.8%). Same old Salty. Enjoy the hot streak but don’t get too attached. Too much Salty will give you high blood pressure.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called a fantasy baseball season.  I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if I recommend starting a hitter vs. Jake Arrieta and pray.  I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am Bartolo Colon and you will never understand how I get on these pants.  1, 2, 1, 2, 3.  Yeah.  I was working part-time in a five-and-dime, my boss was Willie McGee.  U got the look.  Jesus, McGee, that look.  Twenty-three positions in a one night stand.  Twenty-three positions in a very deep league fantasy team.  Who’s my short-second-short-1st baseman?  Why do we scream at each other?  This is what it sounds like when David Price’s owners cry.  “Sorry to hear about Chyna,” said the ghost of Farrah Fawcett.  Arrieta, you got the batter’s fly balls all tied up!  Don’t make the outfielders chase you!  Even doves have pride.  Why do we scream at each other when we don’t own Jake Arrieta?  So, Arrieta threw a no-hitter yesterday — 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 BBs, 6 Ks.  Rather economical pitch count too (119).  Member when we were able to own him last year by drafting him in the 8th round?  Alas, he’s a Sexy M.F. and I would die 4 U.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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My pain is self-chosen
At least, so the prophet says
I could either burn
Or cut off my pride and buy some time
A head full of lies is the weight, tied to my waist

That is quite the downer, isn’t it? Makes you want to jump out of the nearest window. Welcome to the saves game! It is the river of deceit. I can’t believe I went with a “grunge” title today, but I missed Sky this offseason. [Jay’s Note: The Emo King, to rule them all!] Mad Season is the inspiration today, as the saves game is the most emotionally painful part of the fantasy season. Well maybe “can be” the most painful would be more apt for this discussion. So in the spirit of classic me and using the song titles of Mad Season’s other bands, I will say this in hyper link glory. The closer game in the shadow of the season is a state of love and trust that hopefully signals it’s over now… in a good way. I went almost full unplugged there. So friggin’ 90’s. Enough of that decade, let’s move into today.

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True Story Alert!  Socrates Brito used to pause the Diff’rent Strokes credits for Dana Plato’s title card and would argue with the screen, calling himself a Socratic method actor.  This drove his family crazy.  For many years I’ve spouted off like Tom Selleck’s sprinkler the need to ignore spring training stats.  You should only concern yourself with injuries and position battles.  With that in mind, Brito is winning a position battle with Yasmany, leaving Yasmany baffled, “Do you people just want an outfielder with a long-flowing beard?  Is that what this is about?  What’s the argument for Socrates?  Am I making an argument for Socrates by annoying you with questions?  Is this table still blue to a blind person?”  In the top 80 outfielders, I added in Socrates into the Brendan Dassey tier.  Appropriate that he’s in the Brendan Dassey tier because if there’s any justice, there will be Socrates.  In Double-A, Socrates had nine homers and 20 steals, and Yasmany looks to be headed into the same Cuban abyss as Rusney Castillo and that guy that played Tony Montana’s buddy, Manny.  For 2016, I gave Socrates the projections of 56/7/47/.264/18 in 410 ABs, and if your league counts arguments with Plato, he has added value.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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The late rounds of most fantasy baseball drafts are typically filled with mediocre veterans and low percentage lottery tickets. “Maybe Jered Weaver has another sub-4.5 ERA season left in his arm. Is Max Kepler likely to be called up before the all-star break?” That’s you weighing your options in the last round of your draft. Pretty uninspiring, aren’t they? There is another group of players that is more likely to have an immediate impact on your fake team during the upcoming season – the post-hype players. These are the guys who showed promise at one point in their careers but lost some their shine due to underperformance or durability issues. Erasmo Ramirez is the type of player who falls into this group.

When trying to identify potentially undervalued starting pitchers, there are a few key things that I always look for. Notice that I specified undervalued players, since the hard-throwing, high strikeout artists (Syndergaard, Harvey, Sale, Strasburg, etc.) and the young “sleeper” types who are generally perceived to have high ceilings (Walker, McCullers, Rodon, Iglesias, etc.) don’t necessarily fit that description. So if velocity and K-rate are de-prioritized, what’s left to focus on?

There are a few other traits/skills that are worth emphasizing as far as starting pitchers are concerned. These include the abilities to:

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If I told you this post ends our position 2016 fantasy baseball rankings, would you believe me?  What if I told you it while holding your mom’s hand while calling you son, would you believe it more or less?  Man, you got issues!  So, yes, this is the end of our positional rankings, but I’ll be along tomorrow with a top 100 and then a top 500.  That’s right, 500!  Like a baller!  There’s also our Steamer projections for all hitters and pitchers.  All of the fantasy baseball auction values are also up for over 1500 players.  There’s a ton of different formats located there too, like the 5×5 OBP rankings, 6×6 OBP rankings, 6×6 Holds and a ton more.  All of my 2016 fantasy baseball rankings are there.  My tiers and projections are noted in this post.  Anyway, here’s the top 100 starters for 2016 fantasy baseball:

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So as the two-start pitching post comes to a close, I thought I’d take a break from our usual theme based format and make this week’s edition as straight-forward as possible. But then I wrote the first draft in Old German and realized that translating it back to English was neither simple or straight-forward. There are some terms in Old German baseball vernacular that just don’t translate. Then again most of it is comparing pitchers mechanics to field work. This all gave me a great idea for a sequel to Million Dollar Arm with John Hamm. The premise is simple, upon his return from India J.B. Bernstein is driving through Lancaster County and witnesses a 16 year old Pennsylvania Dutch lefty by the name of Ezekial Miller striking out teams of grown men from a near by town. Bernstein fresh off his cricket adventure, believes he’s found his next project and wacky hi-jinx ensues. It’s one part Kingpin, One part The Natural, and one part Hoosiers. The last part only fits because there’s a lot of veiled racism that only Disney could produce. So that’s my pitch (pun point). What do you guys think, shall I kick start a Kickstarter campaign? Let’s make this happen, I have a football team of little Lifshitz to feed, or as I call them a bunch of Lil-Shitz. You like?

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The original title Rudy suggested was, Love Is To Own Lindor, but Rudy tells me that title only makes sense to people forced to watch Frozen 5+ times.  Let it go…Let it go…Let it go…  I just sang that in perfect key and it still caused a cat to screech and paint to peel.  Luckily, I don’t have a kid, a cat or paint.  Let’s count the ways I love Francisco Lindor.  *five minutes later, makes farting sound with hand in armpit*  And that’s it!  Oh, yeah, I should count the ways I love him aloud so you can hear.  Fair enough, you nitpicker, you.  Yesterday, he hit his 9th homer (3-for-4, 4 RBIs), topping off a week when he was hitting over .400, a month when he’s hitting over .340, a 2nd half when he’s hitting over .350 with 7 homers and 7 steals.  He’s only 21 years old.  At 21 years old, you fell asleep on a couch outside of your local bar waiting to talk a girl that you think might have been interested, only waking after a passing bus splashed a puddle of your own vomit onto you.  Guys and five girl readers, he has 9 homers in 82 games (essentially a half a season) and he has 30-steal speed.  I just got goose pimplies.  To emphasize them, I’m drawing little goose faces on my pimples like those psychopaths draw on grains of rice.  Yes, you should own Lindor on your teams for this year, and I can’t wait to draft him in sixteen after twenty.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It feels like only yesterday when everything was right in the world.  An animated blue bird landed on my window ledge and sung to me about boobies and other things the republicans want to make illegal, then another animated bird joined him and sung to me about foie gras and other things the democrats want to make illegal, then a centrist animated bird landed and said a lot of nothing that could neither be refuted nor approved.  Why do I have all of these damn cartoon birds but no Carlos Carrasco?!  Yesterday, Carrasco hit the DL with a sore shoulder.  This sounds to me like an early shutdown is not too far off.  “Hello, shopping mall ear piercer, can you put a diamond stud in the hole in my heart that Carrasco left?”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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They’re the world’s most fearsome fighting team, they’re heroes in the half shell and they’re green. When the Evil Shredder attacks these turtle boys don’t…. Oops sorry I got lost for a minute in quite possibly the greatest theme song of my childhood. Say what you will G.I. Joe fans, and followers of He-Man but the Turtles were killing the game back in the early 90’s. Maybe you’re not familiar with a little ditty called “Ninja Rap” by the God emcee Rakim Vanilla Ice! Is it bad that after watching that video I’m reminded that Ice was 100 times more legit hip-hop than Drake or Meek Mill? Seriously some solid scratches in the intro there. But that’s all besides the point, today’s post is dedicated to those down with the Turtle Power since Day One. Welcome to the sewer…Riggidy Raow! Oh snap who invited Das Efx? Sorry guys you disappeared faster than Chris Shelton’s short lived power surge. Go back down that man-hole cover. Now back to the lecture at hand, this week the tiers are all about the Turtles boi! Oh yeah and two start pitchers, because anyone reading this is in one of two positions. A. You’re in the playoffs, don’t have a bye and are loading up on the double dippers. or B. You’re making that last push to make the playoffs or lockdown that all important bye. Doesn’t matter what type of league you’re in this time of year, even roto players like myself are looking to stream and load up on starters to reach our limits after being patient boys and girls all year. So this is for y’all. Two Start Pitchers, Week 21!

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