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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It’s another of those weeks where I wish I didn’t have to pick a pitcher at all for my FanDuel lineup: tough parks, tough match-ups, or tough-to-justify pitchers. The Rockies are at home in Colorado, Cleveland heads to Minnesota and the Yankees take on the As in Oakland (one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks so far this season), and I’d steer clear of pitching in all those places. So … hitter-stacking it is! It’s a warm, breezy day in Coors, which means the ball should fly there. It’s also a particularly good day for outfielders, for some reason: After the jump, you’ll find a few cheaper options to slip in amid your obvious big plays (Charlie Blackmon [$5,000], Mark Reynolds [$4,100], Ian Desmond [$4,000], I’m looking at you … I just can’t afford you).

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!

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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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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:

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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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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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Let me start this off by making one thing abundantly clear – Do Not Play Carlos Martinez in Cash. But, winning GPPs often requires the cliched attitude of “go big or go home”. Carlos Martinez offers you a pitcher with a 25.8% K-rate for $7400. Go take a look at all the pitchers in baseball with a 25% K-rate or higher. The cheapest they run you is $9000 (which is around what Carlos normally costs). In addition to being cheap, the fact that he is pitching at Coors Field will keep his ownership quite low. Peak Carlos Martinez involves a lot of ground balls (career 54.3%) and a lot of strikeouts, and you know what doesn’t care about Coors park factors? Ground balls and strikeouts. So you have a pitcher with massive strikeout upside, at a very low price, and who will be very underowned. While it’s entirely possible he walks 6 Rockies and gives up 6 runs in 4 innings, it’s also entirely possible that he gets you 10 Ks in 7IP and puts up just as big of a number as deGrom or Scherzer, and costs $3500 less. Is it the most likely outcome? No. But it’s an entirely plausible outcome, and if luck shines on you today, you’re looking at a massive edge in GPPs.

On to the picks once luck shines on me…

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It was actually Billy Hamilton that led all batters in week 5 with 47 points, but since no one picked him, I’m moving down the list. Next up is Cody Bellinger who swatted 40 points. Guess what. No one picked him either. The first batter on the list to be picked was Matt Carpenter, but since he finished fifth I just don’t feel like he deserves to be highlighted. If you couldn’t tell by the title, I’m giving the honor to Bellinger. In 21 at bats he had 9 hits, including three home runs, and 12 RBIs. In addition, Adrian Gonzalez gave him the middle finger 37 times. Once again, only a stat you can get from us fine folk here at Razzball.

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I had the occasion to travel to Montreal this week. I live a mere two-hour train ride away, but visiting Montreal always feels like entering a different country. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by French. You can get the best bagels <looks defiantly at New York>. People are Paris-elegant. All the boys are still wearing man-buns, because dear God they are still pulling it off. Also, suddenly, there’s no Blue Jays on the telly: in Montreal, they’re (wistfully) all about the Washington Nationals. It’s partly a TV rights thing, partly a geography thing, but also partly because, of course, the Nats used to be the Montreal Expos. So all that to say (at last! The point!), this week I got to watch a fair bit of the Diamondbacks versus Nats series. The Nats ultimately ran away with it, but Arizona, second-place run leaders, were so fun to watch. I’m looking forward to tracking them in Colorado this weekend and I’m going to hoard as many Diamondbacks and Rockies bats in my FanDuel lineup as I can today (spoiler alert: not many — they’re pricey. [Shocker!]), and find ways to plug up the gaps. That said, in case you’re looking to pursue a strategy that may be a little different from mine, Boston and Baltimore bats should make for good picks versus Nick Tepesch and Dylan Covey, respectively. Without further Machado, let us unveil the crystal ball (because really this is a crap shoot, isn’t it?) and see what the future holds.

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!

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Mat Latos has been on six different teams since 2015, DFA’d three times and some how is still pitching in the big leagues. He’s actually been pitching pretty well in his couple starts this season, carrying a 3.27 ERA and has only allowed 1 HR in his 11 innings.  However, a trip to Yankee stadium on Tuesday night should change those numbers in a hurry. New York Yankees currently rank first in runs scored and HRs hit in the American league. Meanwhile, Latos FIP is 5.48, so his 3.27 ERA doesn’t tell the whole story; he is due for one of those outings where he gives up a couple long balls and 6-7 runs. Bats like Aaron Judge ($7,600), Didi Gregorius ($7,200), Jacoby Ellsbury ($7,500) and Starlin Castro ($7,200) could prove to be a nice stack for the night.

New to FantasyDraft? 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?