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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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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Trey Mancini aka All Day Trey Bombz was 2-for-4 Friday night with his 11th home run. He was all like, “Na Na, Bottoms Up, let’s see that one in Slow Motion.” Those are Trey Songz songs for the unindoctrined.  Trey is the MAN-cini lately, for real, batting .423 in the past week, with four homers and 11 RBI over the past 15 days. With Chris Davis out with an oblique injury (it’s still a little unclear), Trey looks to see an everyday role in the stacked Orioles line up. He’s been especially hot in June, with a .333/.370/.647 slash and an 1.017 OPS. Mmmm. The 25-year old rook has also hit safely in his past seven games, with multi-hit games in three of his past five. So how is it he’s available in 75% of fantasy leagues? Sure, the .368 BABIP is a bit high, but if we’re going to cherry-pick nerdy stats why not enjoy that 134 wRC+ and a 37.6 hard hit percentage. Did I mention he leads the team in batting average? And is second in RBIs with 35 on the year? Let’s not leave out the multiple position eligibility to sweeten the pot even more. In Baltimore/Washington, they love everything named Trey, and they might be onto something here. Grey told you to BUY, and I’d grab Mancini anywhere I needed some offensive help. If he can do the kind of damage in a full time role that he’s done part time, there should be plenty of Trey bombz in the future.

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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Derek Fisher was called up by the Astros to replace the concussed Reddick.  First off, Derek needs to stop singing that jingle, “Trust the Astros Fisher, man.”  Tres annoying.  Saying tres instead of very is tres annoying, too. Fisher was hoping Reddick was some combination of reddish and haddock.  “Get that seaweed out of my face!”  That’s Nori Aoki.  Everyone in MLB is happy for Fisher except this guy.  If you thought Strickland-Harper was something… Sorry, for Derek Fisher, that was a layup.  As for fantasy, Fisher has power and speed, has had strikeout issues, but no worse than Bellinger.  He could be a difference maker if he plays 75%+ of the time.  One of the best guys in the minors this year.  Better on power than speed, inefficient as a runner.  Yes, PCL, but MLB is kinda PCL-like nowadays.  Might outproduce Brinson, though Fisher needs to stick in a job for that.  Yesterday, he went 2-for-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs with his first home run, and I think Fisher is for reel, and not just on the casting couch.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Jacob deGrom threw a complete game with 1 ER, 9 baserunners (4 BBs), 6 Ks, lowering his ERA to 4.33.  Oh, his peripherals are beautiful.  Velocity is fine, even up a tad up, and that’s not the new radar gun positioning talking.  For what it’s worth, a radar gun can’t talk.  His Ks are way up.  Walks are up too, but not quite to the point where it justifies his four-plus ERA.  His xFIP is even below where it was last year.  So, what explains his mediocre ERA besides the general answer of:  Mets gonna Mets?  He’s not throwing his cutter or change nearly as much and is almost entirely relying on a slider and four-seam fastball.  The change and cutter were never ‘big’ pitches for him, but mixing them in may have kept hitters honest like Abe Lincoln and iced tea.  His slider this year is barely a positive pitch for him.  Last year, it was a top 20 slider in the majors, right next to Sabathia, and that guy loves sliders!  As with most things Mets pitchers-related, it’s a conundrum wrapped inside a forklift of fortune cookies that is wrapped inside a turkey.  It’s called a turforkum.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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Hope everyone is ready for a sun tan today!  The Tampa Bay Rays are going to give our skins some much needed color…ok, I’m done I promise.  I’m sure you already know, but I like the Rays as a whole today.  As a team they’ve been heating up, and they’ll be facing off against a pretty unknown pitcher in Austin Bibens-Dirkx.  WHO?  I didn’t even know he existed before today, nor if he was any good or not.  I did some digging and his stats aren’t terrible in the minors with a little over 3.00 ERA this year.  Also has an ERA of just under 4.00 this year in long relief.  I’m still going to load up on bats here.  Mostly because of three things: stadium, conditions, and how often does a long reliever last more then a few innings?  The bats I’ll be targeting start with Logan Morrison at $3,500.  I think he’s a great play for the price and the potential.  I also like Evan Longoria at $3,300.  He’s had a rough time this year but I think he’s a much better hitter then what he’s shown.  Corey Dickerson at $4,200 seems obvious at this point, but he’s always in play if your stacking Rays.  Last guy I really like from this team is Tim Beckham at $2,900.  The former #1 pick hasn’t done much of anything in his career but with the injury to Matt Duffy, he’s finally getting a chance to play everyday.  Its beginning to pay off as he’s showing a power stroke and a decent average.  I expect his success to continue through today, at least.

Now on to the picks…

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I tried to re-create the magic of last week’s podcast, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t take. Instead, Grey goes full Reality TV villain mode, and not so sneakily tries to chip away at the unbreakable Halph relationship. He’s an only child, he doesn’t like to share! He then announces I will be sold off to the 16th person to sign up for next week’s Razzball Only FantasyDraft Contest (there won’t be a contest this week), in our new “Win a Date with Halp” segment. Yes, even if it’s a dude (apparently, I didn’t read the fine print in my contract). I also congratulate MattTruss for breaking through and absolutely dominating the field in last week’s tournament. On the fantasy baseball side, I point out that nobody in “the industry” (that term just bothers me for some reason) was as high as Grey in the preseason rankings on two of the bigger pitching breakouts this year, Lance McCullers and Michael Pineda, while also discussing the past and future rankings of Mookie Betts, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, and many more. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Podcast.

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I hope everyone’s Memorial Day was filled with hot dogs, hamburgers, Coorses (Coorii?), fireworks that were meant to be saved until July 4th but were blown off yesterday so close to your ear that you still have a ringing, and all the other red-white-blue American things one hears backstage at a Larry The Cable Guy concert.  My Memorial Day was filled with eating and burping and farting and wearing an American flag t-shirt, but that’s every Monday.  Eat a D, ISIS!  Someone whose Memorial Day was less than ideal is Mike Trout.  He was diagnosed with a ligament tear of his thumb, and will opt for surgery.  This will knock him to the DL for the first time in his career, and it will be a two month stay.  Just like that, he went from GOAT to goatse.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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