Every year, there are surprises in fantasy baseball. Some players come out of nowhere and breakout or, in the case of Aaron Judge, absolutely dominate. Other players regress after a breakout season the year before. There are even the players who have long track records of mediocrity who, all of sudden, appear to have figured something out en route to becoming legitimate contributors both in fantasy and in, you know, real baseball. I like to call these players Justin Smoak-Logan Morrison-Yonder Alonso. The more popular terms among Razzballers for these players are Schmohawks and Hot Schmotatos.Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s Father’s Day weekend, y’all! Get out and watch some baseball with your dad! Or if yours is like mine, they don’t like baseball at all. I bet my dad couldn’t name Mike Trout. So for me, I have to go back one generation as it was my grandfathers who got me into baseball. One, a diehard Cubs fan. The other, a diehard Royals fan (with a place in Tampa so I’ve seen way more (Devil) Ray games than I’d like to admit, though…I guess I just did, so just don’t tell anybody, okay?). They took me to games as a kid and I was lucky enough to get to take them both to games as an adult.
I love that I still get to talk baseball with my Royals grandfather (as the Cubs grandfather has passed) who was so pumped they won in 2015 and then the Cubs won last year; it’s really been a good last couple years for my family’s baseball teams. So thank those people who got you into the game (especially if its your dad/grandad on Sunday), invite them to a game, be it the majors, minors, or even beer league softball, and celebrate!
Top OPS past 14 days (min 35 ABs as of this writing):Please, blog, may I have some more?
I use a number of different tools, sites, and metrics every week to adjust my rankings and to determine exactly who I should focus on each week. I usually try to focus on players owned in less than 60% leagues, players who are rising or falling and who you should probably buy low or sell high on, or players who are new to the Top 100 or on the cusp of joining the ranks. It has only been a few weeks since I took over these rankings for the legendary M@, so I am still working on creating the most efficient system (I spend wayyyyyy too much time agonizing over these rankings every Sunday).
I start by going over my notes and spreadsheets from the previous week, then take a peek at Razzball’s Player Rater and look at the current rankings and the Rest of Season Projections. Once I jot down some notes from those, I take a look at ESPN’s PR15 Player Ratings for the last 15 days. Lastly, I check FanGraphs with a focus on the best wOBA for the last 14 days and the last 30 days. Usually, once I am finished with that process, I have an idea of who I am going to write about and a starting point for adjusting the rankings.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Cameron Maybin returned from the disabled list last night after a minimum stay and got right back to business. Leading off, Maybin went 3-for-4 scoring four runs, and stole four bases to bring his total to seventeen for the year. That’s right, folks. FOUR STEALS! Sweet sassy molassy! Killer Cam already has more steals than he did all of last year in Detroit (15), and he became the first player since 2013 to steal four bases in a game, and just the 12th player in EVER to steal four bases and score four runs. Have a day! Setting records! Making history! Years ago I wrote a lede pleading with my readers to pick up Cameron Maybin in April and he ended up having one of his most productive seasons ever. So here’s hoping lightning can strike twice, and by lightning I am of course referring to Maybin’s speed. He stole 10 bases in May in 89 at bats hitting .270 with two home runs. Basically, if you got a need for speed, you’re not going to do much better than Maybin, who is available in a little over 80% of ESPN leagues at the moment. With the Angels outfield decimated by injuries, Cam should have ample opportunity to play, and leading off can only help his stolen base numbers. He’s capable of putting up big speed numbers for your team (he stole 40 for San Diego in 2011) if he can stay healthy, which of course with Maybin is a huge Aaron Judge-sized “if.” Still, Cameron is worth riding while he’s leading off, and hitting, and stealing and healthy and I’d add him everywhere I had a need for speed. Let’s hope Maybin this time will be different.
Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Something struck me the other day. Luckily, not a bus. No, it was a thought. Bus-sized thought! I was looking at Rob Neyer’s Twitter account, and he’s almost completely stopped talking about baseball and it’s all about politics. It’s like he’s taken “stick to sports” as a directive of what not to do. Occasionally, I’ll make a joke about Trump, but no more than I joke about being married to a Cougar, being a Jew who thinks he’s black, Mike Napoli’s mom’s breasts, hating C**nt Hurdle or an array of things. Honestly, I miss baseball Rob Neyer. His hot takes on politics are fine. Personally, I agree with his politics, but at a certain point doesn’t he miss baseball? He was the one person who I read religiously at ESPN. Might be the last person I’ve ever read at ESPN. The grand game misses you, buddy, come back from the MSM hot takes. Any hoo! Rudy’s title inspired me to talk on that topic, but Joe Ross. He’s why we’re here. Yesterday, he went 7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners (0 BBs), 12 Ks. Is it a Mirage or is the Circus, Circus back in town and he’s a Treasure Island of Wynn (I don’t know why I’m in Vegas now.) His peripherals can go either way. His 9.7 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 3.48 xFIP are gorge, but his velocity is way down. Down to the point where his Hard Contact is up nearly 10% to just under 40%. The absolute worst of the worst allow Hard Contact at that rate. Yesterday was a great sign, and I’d hold or grab him, but I want to see another start before saying he’s back. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Did the Pirates trade for Brian or James McCann? Because every time Tony Watson pitches, I feel butt sore and shake my head questioning, “Watson McCann?” And then I soothe the irritation with some aloe Rivero. Before yesterday’s 2nd meltdown by Watson in two games (1 IP, 2 ER, and yet another blown save), C**nt Hurdle said Watson will remain the closer. This is like when you have pimples in high school and you go to your dad, and he’s like, “Everyone’s got pimples at your age, I’m not paying for you to get rid of them, you’ll be fine.” Then you go into your closet and chew on your 4-year-old baseball card gum until your mom comes into the closet and tells you she’ll take you to the doctor, using her bingo winnings she’s saved. I don’t want a vote of confidence for Watson, I want mom to talk to C**nt! I’d continue to hold Felipe Rivero (1 IP, 0 ER, ERA at 0.58), it’s only a matter of time. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Let’s begin by having a moment of silence for the fact that we will be without Mike Trout for two months. I dropped him to 23 in the rankings below, which are considered ROS trade value. I know it is hard to justify Trout over some talented players who aren’t going to miss two months, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop him much lower. The Razzball Player Rater has him all the way down to 71 for ROS projections. Personally, if I were to trade Trout, I would hold out for the highest bid and make someone overpay. Otherwise, I’m not moving him. And in keeper leagues, I would still have him at number 1 and wouldn’t entertain offers.
Now, for the players who are playing right now. The two players I moved up and want to focus on this week are Justin Bour and Justin Smoak. I received some questions and comments on here and on Twitter last week about Smoak, so let’s take a look at him first. He has looked great this season, but I have my doubts.
While Smoak’s slash line and counting stats look great right now, unless he finally figured everything out at 30 years old, I have my doubts. Yes, he is currently on pace for almost 40 home runs. Yes, he is striking out 17.9% of the time, which is almost half as much as he did last season and is well below his career average of 23.5%. Through 55 games and over 200 plate appearances in 2017, the metrics back up what he is doing.
But here’s the thing.
Smoak has been in the league for eight seasons and has over 3,000 plate appearances. He’s a career .227 / .311 / .402 hitter. His previous high for home runs in a season is 20, which he did back in 2013. Take a look at his wOBA by season:
Translation: Smoak isn’t this good. This probably isn’t going to last, and a regression is coming.
Now, as far as Justin Bour goes, I am still skeptical but am less skeptical. Bour is 29 but has just over 1,000 plate appearances at the MLB level. He has displayed this kind of power before, both at the major league level and in the minors, so it is easier to believe that his current power stroke is real. Will he continue to hit up around .300? No, but it is reasonable to expect him to hit in the .250-.270 range and offer up 30 home runs, as long as he can stay healthy (which he can’t always do).
The main point here is that, while Bour is only a year younger, he doesn’t have as much of a negative track record that we can hold against him. He has also displayed plus-power in the past, while Smoak has always struggled to fulfill his potential in that department. Bour is likely to regress a bit as well, but I don’t think his regression will be as extreme as Smoak’s. If I had to pick between these two first basemen as a guy I value higher ROS I am taking Bour every time. Maybe I’m just biased now that I live in South Florida, or maybe their track records are telling us everything we need to know about them…Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Astros exploded for 17 runs yesterday, and it was the second game in the last three where they scored at least 16 runs. Twins pitching, “Hold my beer…” Am I doing that right? The hero of the Astros’ offense, and a man that is widely known as George Jefferson Springer led the way with 4-for-4, 4 runs and his 12th homer and 13th homers, hitting .265. The only thing missing from George Springer‘s game is saving a baby that is stuck in a tree and/or figuring out a way to ensure future babies don’t get stuck in the same tree (and maybe some steals). Serious question, why is Springer hitting leadoff and Jose Altuve (1-for-4, 2 runs, hitting .319) in the two-hole? It’s not hurting the Astros, but it is hurting my fantasy teams’ RBI totals! Evan Gattis (4-for-6, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and his 4th homer) needs to hit cleanup? How about Alex Bregman (2-for-6, 2 RBIs and his 6th homer) hits cleanup, Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-5, 3 runs, 2 RBIs and his 12th homer) hits fifth, Gattis sixth and Yulieski Gurriel (1-for-5, 1 run, 2 RBIs) hits eighth or lower? Is that the most obvious thing I’ve ever said in my life? Okay, after the time I said, “I’m not going up in any hot air balloon.” All right, also not as obvious as the time I said, “I’m lost,” after driving around for two hours pretending I knew where I was going. Fine, also after the time I said, “I can’t bench press 55 pounds.” After those things, this is the most obvious thing I’ve ever said. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Over the past few weeks, Yasmani Grandal has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Despite being a pinch-hitter who sometimes wears the wrong helmet, he has been hitting .345 with a .392 wOBA over his last 30 days. Part of that has to do with an unsustainable .409 BABIP during that span, but most of it has to do with Grandal being locked in and being more aggressive at the plate. While he has a history of being frustrating to fantasy owners who aren’t utilizing him in OPS or OBP leagues, Hot Yasmani has been very different this season.
Regular Yasmani is a patient hitter who posts OBPs 100 points higher than a mediocre AVG, who walks 15% of the time and strikes out 25% of the time. He can hit home runs but hurts AVG in standard leagues. Last season, he rewarded fantasy owners with 27 home runs, which is great, especially at the catcher position. But, again, he hit just .228, struck out 25.4% of the time, and recorded just 86 hits. That means a third of his hits went for home runs. With 116 strikeouts and 62 walks, it also means that he either struck out or walked 50% of the time. Other than the home runs (which, again, are great to get at the catcher spot), those numbers are fine for OBP/OPS leagues but are not ideal for your standard leagues.
Hot Yasmani, 2017 Yasmani, is a different story. Hot Yasmani has no time for patience at the plate. He wants to eat. HY’s BB% over the last 30 days is less than 6%, and it’s below 10% on the year. He already has 42 hits and is on pace for well over 100 for the first time in his career. He his hitting around .300 after hitting below .235 the last four seasons. The home runs are down, for now, but he is making up for it with career marks in nearly every other offensive category (except walks, of course). I included HY in this week’s Top 100 because he is no longer just posting good numbers for a catcher; he’s one of the hottest hitters not named Charles Cobb Blackmon (full name, look it up) right now.
Now, for a few guys who are not so hot right now…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Cincinnati Reds are squaring off vs. the measly Ty Blach of the San Francisco Giants, stacking the Reds could prove to have a good return on investment. Blach is carrying a very pedestrian 2.18 K/9. Meanwhile, the Reds are one of the hardest teams to strikeout in the MLB. He already got lit up against them last week (3 IP, 11 hits ,8 ER), so batters like Joey Votto ($4,500), Zach Cozart ($3,300), Adam Duvall ($3,700) and Eugenio Suarez ($3,300) should all be on your radar. Now lets take a look at the rest of the picks.
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