Happy Bryce Harper Replacement Week! :::sobs into the couch cushion I have been carrying around since watching the video of Harper tumbling over that base:::

The cruel baseball gods took Harper away from us just after we got Trout back. As of this writing, there is no timetable for his return from what they are calling a “significant bone bruise.” I’m no doctor (sorry to peel back the curtain), but how the heck did that non-contact injury get a bone bruise diagnosis? I thought for sure he tore every CL in his body. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that he tore his UCL from reaching for his knee so fast. But a bone bruise? Interesting. Let’s just hope he wasn’t evaluated by the Mets’ training staff because “bone bruise” is going to very quickly become “Oh crap, his knee actually isn’t there anymore. We can’t find it anywhere.”

Now, there is no replacing Harper’s production on your fantasy team, especially in the middle of August. That much is obvious. If you’re lucky, you took Grey’s advice about selling a superstar to heart and cashed in at the deadline. I have Harper in a keeper league where I currently sit in first place, so I have to decide if I want to deal him now to make a playoff push, pray he comes back this season and helps me, or just accept the fact that he is done for the fantasy season but still keep him for next year. I am probably going with option B/C, if we’re being honest with each other here.

I’m removing him from our beloved 100 while we wait to see how he looks this week. Hopefully, the baseball gods decide to heal him from his mystery bruise quickly and we can have him back. But it seems more likely we are going to be without him for most, if not all, of the fantasy season. Now, enough crying about Harper (at least publicly). Anyway, to the notes…

The Razzball Commenter Leagues for Fantasy Football are now open! Take on your favorite writers and other readers of the site for a chance at prizes!

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Yesterday, Joey Votto went 2-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs with his 30th homer as he hits .314 with a .438 OBP.  Not only is Votto hitting for a high average, but he’s also hitting for power, and, you kinda get the impression, if he wanted, he could hit for a higher average with no power, or a lower average with more power, or no average, no power and pitch.  Personal Anecdote Alert!  Fast forward a blurb if you’re not interested.  When I was in my teens, I went to baseball summer camp.  The guy who ran it was a Yankees’ scout, so he’d have players come in to teach us fundamentals.  One guest was Mike Pagliarulo.  I know, I know, this is like the opening monologue before someone sings Springsteen’s Glory Days at karaoke.  Any hoo!  Pags was the best hitter I ever saw within three feet of me.  One kid there was a minor league pitcher, and Pags was so dramatically better than him, it was obvious the kid would never go anywhere.  If Pags wanted to hit a home run to right against this kid, he did.  Up the middle?  No problem.  Home run to left?  Sure, why not?  So, my point (!), against this minor league pitcher, Pags did what I imagine Votto does against major leaguers.  Votto is my Pags of the majors.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Player A:

  • .301 / .353 / .455
  • 11 home runs
  • 16 stolen bases
  • 55 runs scored
  • 49 RBI
  • 2nd Half: .352, two home runs, 14 runs scored, 10 RBI, three stolen bases
  • PR15: 10.69 (4th in MLB)

Player B:

  • .273 / .353 / .471
  • 13 home runs
  • 12 stolen bases
  • 58 runs scored
  • 38 RBI
  • 2nd Half: .343, five home runs, 18 runs scored, 11 RBI, four stolen bases
  • PR15: 9.21 (7th in MLB)

Pretty scary how similar those numbers are, right? A is Andrelton Simmons and B is Alex Bregman. The only big difference when you dive a little deeper is that Simmons has been consistently producing for pretty much the entire season, while Bregman has been a bit more streaky and pretty much disappeared in June.

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Now that we are a few weeks into the second half, we are able to take a look at players and their rest of season rankings a little differently. For starters, we can see how players are starting the second half. Even though it is only a few days off (or not off, for those who participate in the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game) and is not even technically the real halfway point of the season, the All-Star break seems to hit the reset button for some players.

Some players get off to a hot start in the second half and ride the wave for a hot August and September, while others seem to lose their momentum and start off ice cold. You could write a book on the different explanations and theories about why it happens or whether or not the Home Run Derby messes up your swing or the All-Star Game schedule itself is exhausting, but we all know as fantasy owners that we have to really pay attention to our squads coming out of the break.

Players who had unreal, otherworldly breakout first halves like Aaron Judge have come back to earth a little bit, while players we had come to rely on in previous years who had disappointing first halves like Christian Yelich have gotten hot. If those disappointing players don’t get off to a good start to the second half, though, we have to make the tough decision about whether or not it is time to move on.

And that is the other way we have to look at these rankings, with time in mind. Depending on your league and format, you probably have roughly two months left in your season and about a month and a half or less until the playoffs in leagues that have them. Carlos Gonzalez is the 600th ranked player in Razzball’s year-to-date player rater, but he is still owned in 93% of RCLs and 67% of ESPN leagues as apparently, Razznation is still waiting for CarGo to turn back into the hitter he has shown he is over the year.

And while Gonzalez has been somewhat better in the second half and has sown signs of life, at some point time is going to run out. I gave up on him weeks ago and have not looked back. In the leagues where I had him I am in first or second place and am clawing to either stay there or overtake the top team, and I just don’t have any more time to wait on him. Granted, I gave up on him when it looked like he wasn’t going to have regular playing time anymore, and that is no longer the case since the Rockies can’t stay healthy, but I don’t regret the decision. Even after showing he can still hit a little in the second half, he still only has a 0.02 PR15. That isn’t enough to make me regret the decision or convince me he is going to get hot.

For Gonzalez this season, his Hard%, FB%, and HR/FB% are all down, while his AVG, OBP, and SLG are all well below his career averages. Most troubling to me is the SLG, which is currently sitting at .341. It would not be surprising to find out that he has been playing through injuries all season because 1. He is pretty much always injured and 2. These numbers are awful. You know I love creating these graphs, so check out this one:

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Last week, we added Tommy Pham and his pal (unconfirmed) Marwin Gonzalez to the realm of the 100. This week, we’re feeling so good that we’re moving them on up the rankings. Pham has the second best PR15 (ESPN leagues) right now (13.01), behind only the respected Coors Field masher Nolan Arenado. Marwin, while he has a respectable 5.26 PR15 that is good for 34th overall, is moving up because he suddenly has an inside track to playing time.

Someone ask Grey if I get any bonus points for running it back on players in back-to-back weeks AND rolling with a double player reference headline. I was going to go with a Gregory Polanco reference but decided Matt Adams was both more ridiculous and had the added bonus of allowing me to use former teammates (kind of). More bonus points? Let me know what Grey says.

As for Carlos Correa, well, you guys know already, right? I’m dropping him from the Top 100 because he is going to miss most of the rest of the season. He could potentially return and help you for fantasy playoffs or the last couple weeks, but we won’t know for sure for a few more weeks. This IS good news for Marwin Gonzalez, who I focused on last week, as there is suddenly another opening in the lineup for him. Obviously, hold Correa for now, but I’m dropping him from the ranks of the beloved and pouring out some Coors Light for him.

I never thought there would be a week where I would be adding Matt Adams and removing Carlos Correa. 2017 is bumming me out, but I promise to make it one full article without mentioning Super Balls (this doesn’t count!). Screw it, let’s add Steven Souza, too. He’s got 20 home runs to go with a .272 average, .239 ISO, an increased Hard%, and what looks to be an increased approach at the plate. He has been on the fringe, but I managed to make room for him this week. I give up, 2017. You hear me? I give up! You win!

Anyway, here are some other notes on the additions and subtractions for this week…

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2017 has been a weird season for baseball. Not only are baseballs leaving ballparks like super balls, but players like Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison are winning fantasy leagues for people. Before the season started, I never thought I would be writing those names on this website. Now, I write them every week (Okay, usually I just have to copy/paste).

While doing some research over the All-Star break, I found more than a dozen players who had already hit more home runs in the first half of 2017 than they ever had in any other full season. That wasn’t even really what I was looking for. I just kept finding more and more of them. One of those players, as you may have guessed because of the title of this article and the number of professional baseball players named Marwin, is Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is a player I have been keeping an eye on all year and is someone commenters have been asking about a lot lately. Until recently, he still wasn’t playing every day and was moving all over the field. When he did play, though, he was mashing. Son wrote about him in his Bear or Bull series last week, and I recommend going and giving that a read. I’ll wait here while you do.

Like Son goes over in his piece, the biggest difference for Gonzalez this season has been his approach at the plate. His BB% is way up, his K% is way down, and his O-Swing% is down. That all indicates an improved approach at the plate. For proof, here’s a chart!

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Aaron Judge baffles me. Is he a beefy version of early 2000s Richie Sexson, or he is something more legit? No offense to early 2000s Richie, of course. His (we’re back to Judge, now) numbers in the minors (albeit a relatively small sample size of) suggest more of the former, but his 2017 insists on the latter. Strikeouts aside, he seems to have combined a complete and nearly flawless approach at the plate with a compact swing and elite power. In March, we weren’t even sure if he was going to be the everyday right fielder for the Yankees. Now, he is a lock to win Rookie of the Year, the clear favorite to win MVP, and could very well win the Triple Crown.

He has 30 home runs to only 13 doubles (big boy has three triples, too), which means nothing except that when he connects he CONNECTS. Lifting power, my friends. The fly ball revolution is upon us, and only 50 years after Ted Williams told us all about it. And with Judge’s superhuman power, a willingness and ability to drive (and lift) the ball to the opposite field, a right field porch in Yankee Stadium that is a few feet behind first base (roughly), and juiced baseballs that are leaving parks like they’re golf balls, what is a popup behind second base for most batters is a home run to the upper deck in right field for Judge. That was a very long sentence. Let’s pause to catch our breath here.

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First Mike Trout and now our beloved Trea Turner (and a bunch in between, but we’ll focus on baseball’s young heartthrobs for the time being). The baseball Gods are clearly punishing us all for the use of juiced baseballs this season. Major League Baseball has denied any kind of change in the balls despite some mounting evidence, but I bet it is something that gets looked at and adjusted in the offseason. Which leads me to wonder whether this will be something we will be talking about come March…

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One of the things I love most about baseball, but particularly covering prospects, is when a guy I totally missed on pops up, and exceeds expectations. Sure, I could become obsessed with my own reputation, and shoot down any suggestion that I missed on a player. But what fun is that? So, when it comes to Nick Pivetta, I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t see this coming. Hell, I wrote up 15+ Phillies prospects, and name dropped another 7-8, and didn’t even mention Pivetta. Fangraphs covered 33 Phillies prospects, and Pivetta ranked in at 27! All this to say, that the “out of nowhere” label is somewhat appropriate when it comes to the Phil’s righthander. After an outstanding outing vs the Red Sox at home a few weeks ago, the strikeouts, and numbers in general seem to be trending in the right direction. So why not check him out, and see if we in fact have a breakout bubbling. Before we begin, big shouts to Oaktown Steve, who’s been hyping up Pivetta in the comments the past few weeks like a Sabermetrics Flavor Flav. Only he turned in his giant clock (read that fast), for an abacus, which I’ve heard can get a bit bulky when worn as a necklace. Anyway, let’s get into Pivetta’s last start vs the Cardinals at home, the second time he’s faced the Redbirds in four starts. He’s going today in Arizona, so maybe we’ll see if he’s worth rolling out… Actually no rookie pitcher with a heavy fly-ball approach should be started in Arizona, but that’s just common sense. On to the profile!

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The theme of the Top 100 hitters this week is triumphant returns. Carlos Gomez is back from his latest trip to the disabled list and is mashing. Ab-so-lute-ly mash-ing. Keon Broxton, left for dead just a few weeks ago, is the hottest power-speed combo hunk in all the land. Even Cameron Maybin has returned to our ranks, though his return has been more gradual over the last few weeks since we lost our beloved Mike Trout.

I have not been overly kind to the newcomers since taking over this series. Perhaps that is my way of initiating them and making sure they belong among us Top 100ers. This week, though, my heart is filled with warmth. Perhaps it is because I am looking ahead to a mini 4th of July vacation, or maybe I am just getting soft in my old age :::pause here and smirk as you slowly look around the room:::.

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