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?
So loyal readers of mine are probably thinking – why the switch to Monday, and why the switch to FantasyDraft? Well, simply, the editors asked me to, and I said yes. Now, FantasyDraft and FanDuel have a lot of differences in gameplay, but one of those differences far outweighs all the other ones – the use of a second pitcher in your lineups. All the other differences are cosmetic.
Therefore, it makes more sense for those new to FantasyDraft to compare it to other two-pitcher sites – such as DraftKings. And when you look at it, the two sites are very similar in scoring systems and in salaries (FantasyDraft is almost always double DraftKings, with a few exceptions for what I like to call “pricing buckets”). But there is one major difference between FantasyDraft and DraftKings/FanDuel/most other DFS site that I know of – positional requirements. FantasyDraft requires you to have 3 Infielders, 3 outfielders, and 2 utility players. You do not need to roster a shortstop specifically – you can have Thames, Goldschmidt and Rizzo in a lineup, or for that matter, you could have a lineup of Alcides Escobar, Andrelton Simmons and J.T. Riddle (in which case, send me your FantasyDraft screen name so I can challenge you to a h2h match).
FantasyDraft’s different roster requirements, flexibility and pricing buckets can create a whole host of issues, but there is one noticeable consequence that pops up frequently and it has to do with being able to roster several outfield punts and not have to use punts (or pay up for subpar high end) at very weak positions. For the most part, value plays on DraftKings at every position except outfield are the glove-first, bat-second (or glove-first bat-never) players. Only in the outfield do you get value plays who actually can hit – Gregory Polanco and Billy Hamilton are both very affordable (and yes, I know Billy Hamilton can’t hit, but if you’re reading a DFS article, you know that stolen bases are important). Just to illustrate my point – today, Alcides Escobar is $6,000 and Gregory Polanco is $6,800. There is not a single scenario that does not involve Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale where I would voluntarily play Alcides Escobar over Gregory Polanco were it not for positional requirements.
More on this and today’s picks once I find a reason to play Alcides Escobar on Fantasy Draft…
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Kenley Jansen over his career has thrown 436.1 innings, has struck out 40.1% of batters faced, walked 7% to go with a .64 HR/9. He’s been worth 15.4 WAR over his career, which is pretty good for a reliever. His last 2 years, he’s basically done away with those walks, walking 4% and 4.4% of batters. And this year, he’s down to 0%. Yes, that’s right, he’s walked no one this year. Yes, I know he’s a reliever and he’s only thrown 27.2 innings this year, but it’s still pretty impressive. His 45% K-BB% would be the best since 1946, except Craig Kimbrel this year exists with his 49.5% K-BB%. But, the thing that makes Kenley Jansen so amazing is that unlike pretty much everyone else, he really only throws one pitch over and over again (Kimbrel throws fastball, curve). Once Jansen mostly junked his slider earlier in his career he’s thrown his cutter nearly 90% of the time, which is similar to the great Mariano Rivera. Kenley Jansen is able to get Major League hitters out throwing one pitch over and over again and is one of the main reasons why the Dodgers pen is so good. Now I know you’re saying – this is a DFS article, why is Kenley Jansen being discussed? Well, first of all, you actually can play relievers (just unclick the “Show Probable Pitchers Only” button), and there actually are some theoretical situations where you can justify it (2 or 3-game slates with a juicy Coors matchup is the most obvious one). But more importantly, with baseball (correctly) moving more and more to the “starting pitcher goes 5-6 innings, 7 innings tops, and the bullpen handles the rest”, bullpens become more and more relevant for analyzing whether or not a hitter has a good matchup. If the hitter is going to get 2 at-bats against the starter and then 2 at-bats against relievers, a batter facing a weak Dodgers starter becomes less attractive if half of his at-bats will be against Ross Stripling and Kenley “I Just Get Hitters Out With One Pitch, Man” Jansen. Meanwhile, facing the Twins becomes that much more attractive when their best reliever is Chris Gimenez. So while your main focus when analyzing a hitter’s matchup should always be on the starting pitcher, the bullpen is absolutely part of the equation so ignore it at your own peril.
On to the picks once Kenley Jansen walks a batter…
New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays. Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!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?
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?
Ty Blach threw his first career complete game shutout Friday night surrendering seven hits and striking out four enroute to his fourth win of the year. If he were Jewish you could say yesterday was his Blach Sabbath. *crickets* It was Ty’s fifth straight quality start and his fourth straight win. He even walked three times and scored two runs to help his own cause. He’s been an excellent replacement for Madison Bumgarner so far and the best part is he’s terrified of motocross. Sure it was the Phillies last night and anyone can shut out the Phillies, but he’s gone at least seven innings in his past five starts including some tougher lineups such as the Cubs, Dodgers and Reds. Over the past two weeks, Blach has a 1.90 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 23.2 innings pitched. The strikeout numbers won’t impress but those ratios certainly put him in the streaming conversation. By the way, if you’re looking for good convo topics at your next dinner party, fantasy pitcher streaming is always a solid choice. Blach’s .250 BABIP and 4.64 xFIP could suggest some regression is coming but he’s certainly worth an add while he’s on a roll. Ty has a tough test in Milwaukee next week but he’s available in about 75% of leagues and worth a look if you’re in need of a solid streaming option before he fades to Blach.
Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The title is referring to 24. I never saw 24. Well, I’ve seen the number. I never saw the show. No interest really. Not my sorta thing. I do have a Kiefer Sutherland story though. I think I recapped it in my book, Who Is Grey Albright? Long story short, at my first job ever in Boston (and really only job ever where I collected a weekly paycheck), I was working in a film production office and someone called for the producer and I asked them who they were. “Tell him, it’s Kiefer,” and I was like, “Kiefer? Kiefer who?” “It’s Kiefer Sutherland, you jackass!” I wasn’t made for answering phones, apparently. Y’all gotta admit; you hear the name Kiefer out of context and it’s a bizarre name. Though, it wasn’t fully out of context, I suppose, since it was a film office. Any hoo! Whatever Trevor Bauer did prior to yesterday’s game, do it again! Was it the pre-game chucking of a softball three-quarters of hectare? Then do that! Yesterday, he went 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 baserunners with 14 Ks. Well, hello, there. Can you stay a while? Maybe I can make you a Cuba Libre and some Brazilian cheesy bread? His peripherals are gorge too — 11.5 K/9, 3 BB/9 and a 3.03 xFIP. Of course, his opponent, Sonny Gray went 4 2/3 IP, 7 ER, and thus illuminates the problem. Gray was solid too, a game ago, and now look at him. I’d grab Bauer for some Ks, but the risk is enormous. He doesn’t just happen to have a 6.00 ERA even after yesterday’s game. 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?
Let me know if you can tell what song I’m listening to while I write this. Scott Schebler hit his 13th home run; it was the third straight game with a homer. Whoa, make me sweaty (Bam-ba-Lam)! I’ve mentioned before (numerous times) that Schebler was always loved by Razzball/Steamer projections, but why? He’s so rock steady (Bam-ba-Lam)! Whoa, Dave Righetti (Bam-ba-Lam)! Schebler took a while to catch on, but he’s still only 26, and, as a 23-year-old in the minors, he hit 28 HRs and stole 10 bases while hitting .280 in Double-A, and continued that in Triple-A, always hitting for power and getting some steals. He’s not from Birmingham (Bam-ba-Lam)! Way down in Alabam’ (Bam-ba-Lam)! Well, he’s shakin’ that thing (Bam-ba-Lam)! Boy, he makes me sing (Bam-ba-Lam)! Whoa, drop confetti (Bam-ba-Lam)! Across the board now, ROS projections are singing Schebler’s praises and I’m done fighting him. If you combine his ROS projections and what he’s done so far, they have him down for a 30 HR, 10 SBs, .255 guy. Whoa, pot of neti, (Bam-ba-Lam)! At this point, there’s no reason to not own Schebler until further notice. Whoa, sometimes I dress my dog up like a yeti, (Bam-ba-Lam)! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?