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.

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Holy cow! Somebody call Phil Rizzuto because scooter pies are on this week’s menu. I’ve never even seen one of these, let alone eaten one, but from what I gather they are very similar to moon pies. Can anyone confirm said statement? Personally I was more of a Devil Dog, Ring Ding and Yodels kind of guy. I was a staunch supporter of Drake’s Cakes back in the day. I used to love collecting the baseball cards on the back of the boxes when they ran that promotion. I still have a bunch of them buried in some box in my baseball. I’ll have to dig them suckers up one of these days.

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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.

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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…

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Sometimes, baseball can be that game we all fell in love with *covers mouth so you can’t hear number* years ago.  Whether it’s Paul O’Neil hitting a triple with an error to score a home run for a child in the hospital or that minor leaguer who crashed through a fence to make a catch or Bryce Harper tossing a foul ball to an actual clown to silence his questions or Reggie Jackson thinking about someone other than himself for a moment after Thurman Munson’s plane crashed or Lou Gehrig’s speech or Kirk Gibson’s fist pump or Saturday.  It would’ve been Yordano Ventura’s 26th birthday.  Obviously Edinson Volquez was very close to him when they were both on Royals.  According to Volquez, they shared everything, even constantly having to tell people, “No, I’m not Johnny Cueto.”  Edinson posted a pic of Ventura on his Instagram page Saturday morning, then went out and pitched the game of his life that afternoon, a no hitter — 9 IP, 0 ER, 2 walks, 10 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.79.  For one day, Edinson was able to say, “No, I’m not Johnny Cueto.  I’m better.”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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If I was a betting man I would guess Chris Sale was an art major in college. Not only does he have a gift of designing uniforms he has a real craft around the plate. Scouts have labeled him a modern-day Picasso. There are some good options at the pitcher spot today however there is only one elite pitcher going. Sale looks to bounce back from a rough outing against his old team. Despite the 5 earned runs he was tagged for in that outing, he still managed to strike out 9. This is Sale’s 2nd appearance against the Orioles this year and he looks to repeat that outing. Sale already has 8 starts with 10 or more k’s including his last start against the Orioles where he had 11. The Orioles have hit lefties hard this year but they have the 5th highest K percentage against them as well. FantasyDraft is making you pay up for the best arm of the day. Expect Sale’s ownership to be high in the cash games and low in the GPP games given his price tag of $24,800.

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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:

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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…

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Yesterday, Dirt McGirt, Dirty Nasty, Tha Ol’ Dirty Chinese Restaurant, Big Baby Jesus, Odubel Herrera went 0-for-5 with 5 Ks.  Last Phillie to do that was Pat Burrell.  Burrell remembers wistfully, “Ah, yes…’Slump Buster September 2008.’  That was Jamie Moyer’s granddaughter’s friend.  She was like a keg with two arms.  She looked like Matt Stairs with longer hair.  I believe Brett Myers introduced us.  Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why she was always flinching.”  Odubel’s average is down to .226 and his OBP is .275.  M-E-T-H-O-D MAN that is bad.  Shame on a Herrera.  Ooh, baby, I like it raw, but that’s filled with salmonella.  He swings at the third most pitches outside the strike zone and his strikeout rate is up 4% while his walk rate has fallen 4%.  Put it all together and you have one of the worst hitters in the majors right now.  So, can he come out of it?  Future:  Cloudy.  He’s more of a .265 hitter, but swinging at balls outside the zone can quickly spiral and shove him further into his slump.  Before last year, he had a full season of 8 HRs and 16 SBs, couple that with .265 and you’re not looking at the guy you thought you were getting in March.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Jeurys Familia has been diagnosed with a clogged artery in his right shoulder.  Do the Met doctors have Waze?  Try the Van Wyck Artery.  You know what’s happening here, right?  This is Metsferatu, the evil spirit who haunts Mets pitching.  Metsferatu was not happy about the Taillon news, only he sidelines pitchers!  Metsferatu looks at back cover of the Post and Daily News, plotting his next move, “What if I give Gsellman a third testicle?  Or two horns that pop out of his forehead so people can call him Gazelleman?  Maybe I go hitter and turn Neil Walker into a zombie.  Will anyone notice?  I mean, I had them replace a guy with Valley Fever with a guy named dude-a and no one said a damn thing.”  So, Jeurys Familia could be out a while, or not at all.  Still early to say, but I would absolutely grab Addison Reed.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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