It feels like just the other day the baseball regular season started.  You wrote “I heart baseball” in permanent marker on your arm, then you met a girl who wrote “I heart guys who heart baseball” on her arm, then, during sex in July, you screamed out, “Give it to me, Giancarlo!” and now you don’t have baseball or a girlfriend.  C’mon, calendar, make like a soldier and turn to March.  The only cure for the post-baseball season blues — recapping the preseason top twenty lists and being hand-fed Doritos.  First up, Cool Ranch and our preseason Top 20 Catchers for 2017.  It’s important to look back before we look ahead to 2018.  To paraphrase the one and only B-Real, “How do you know where you’re at, if you don’t know where you’ve been? Understand where I’m coming from?”  (If you missed it, I interviewed B-Real last year on our podcast, though that might not have been as good as our Jose Canseco interview.)  It wouldn’t be fair for me to preseason rank the players, then rank them again in the postseason based on my opinion, so these postseason top 20 lists are ranked according to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater.  It’s cold hard math, y’all!  Please, for the love that all is holy, don’t ask me if this is for next year.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2017 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

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Who loves irony?  Did you just answer your mom?  I said irony, not ironing.  As the British will tell you, irony is not a well-pressed shirt.  Though, now that I think about it, if I had a well-pressed shirt, and I said, “This thing is real irony,” I wouldn’t be wrong because I was saying it.  Any hoo!  The irony I speak of is Alex Gordon hitting the major leagues’ record 5,694th home run on the year, while there was less offense around the league last night than I could remember in some time.  Granted, from around September 11th to 14th is a bit of a blur.  A true highlight (building shizz up now!) was Kevin Gausman and his dismantling of the Sawx (really overselling) with the line 8 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 7 Ks, ERA at 4.61.  This year, like a case of lice, Gausman is a real head scratcher.  Looking at his perfs (kids say this; think it’s short for perfumes), Gausman is having a garbage year.  Velocity is there, so doubt it’s a hidden injury.  The walks are way up, Ks are down, and the culprit appears to be his fastball.  Went from a near-10 in pitch value on his speed ball to a negative.  FS shouldn’t abbreviate fastball, it should be for “F**k’s sake.”  The good news is this sounds like a mechanics problem, and might’ve been fixed already.  Thanks, Pep Boys!  His 1st half vs. 2nd half:  5.85 ERA vs. 3.44; 7.7 K/9 vs. 9.6 K/9; 4 BB/9 vs. 3.2.  Yeah, sadly enough, it’s going to be hard to avoid him in 2018 again.  Now, that’s real irony (no, it’s not).  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Michael Conforto left yesterday’s game on a swing and miss that dislocated his shoulder and a posterior capsule tear.  Dude fell like he was punched in the face by the Ghost of Muhammad Ali.  Anyone know if the Ghost of Muhammad Ali was at the game?  Float like a butterfly in a sheet…  Ever hear about the three drunk ghosts?  They were three sheets to the wind.  Take it, Highlights!  It’s yours!  This doesn’t sound good for Conforto.  Reports are saying he’s likely done for the year.  Taking over for Conforto will likely be Brandon Nimmo.  Laura Holt just gave you her Brandon Nimmo fantasy, as if she had some sort of premonition about Conforto.  Oh my god, she’s a witch!  Hand her a refrigerator and she if she floats!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Because I am always late to the writing party, I figured why not just add another Bryce Harper column, but with a Michael Taylor happy ending.  So what’s-his-face got hurt and now Mike Taylor returns from the DL to save the day.  Gone one day and BH is now what’s-his-face.  It sucks, but injuries happen.  That is why waivers and free agent pools exist.  So before Taylor inured his oblique in early July, he was on a torrid pace that was making him an asset for fantasy.  Now what capabilities will he have with that injured oblique?  Since this is the SAGNOF report, we only care about one thing.  Increasing his SB total from 10.  The thing in his favor is that the Nationals lineup is going to change slightly.  Because of the absence of “some guy”.  Small ball and base-to-base stuff still wins and it may have to happen without a middle of the lineup thumper (besides Zimmerman).  I can’t believe I just called him a thumper, well… suspend disbelief for a minute and just assume I didn’t mean it.  Taylor may take a few days to get into the swing of things but Bryce isn’t walking through the door anytime soon, so at-bats and top of the order stuff are coming. Happy SAGNOF’n!

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Francisco Liriano best protect his neck on Thursday as he takes on the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are an enticing stack as they face Liriano, who lasted just two innings his last time out with neck tightness. Liriano has a 6.04 ERA this year with a 5.01 BB/9, which is high even for his standards. Hanley Ramirez ($3,200) is a huge bargain as the Streamonator’s fifth-highest ranked player, while Mookie Betts ($4,100) takes the top spot by a large margin. Lefty-killer Chris Young ($2,600) is a fantastic play in the outfield, as he should be batting fifth in the Red Sox order. Just about any hitter who makes it into Boston’s lineup is worth looking at with such a favorable matchup.

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Since it seems like the rest of the Razzball “professors” (notice the quotes) are putting out their second half rankings I feel overwhelmed by the pressure of doing the same. Even if there are only twelve points league readers I still owe it to them to put a little elbow grease into this and generate a solid set of rankings and rest of season projections. Speaking of the people’s elbow, it looks like The Rock is moving forward with plans to run in 2020. Ok, well maybe these aren’t exactly his plans, but there is a committee that is standing behind him. Will Dwayne Johnson become the most electrifying president in American history? Is he going to “rock the vote”. Ha! I can’t wait for the debates.

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The fastest answer to the title is that no, you can not just fix what Trea Turner was giving you and the lack thereof for the next few weeks.  Dude was a man among spatulas.  Twenty two steals in the month of June alone was more then four teams in the entire majors.  For fantasy, he was the only person over 20 in the last 30 games, only person in double digits in the last 15, and now he will get you zero for the next, presumably, six weeks…  So where do you turn?  The answer is: I wish I knew, because the waiver wire is not going to give you that type of production.  Trade?  Sure, if you have the assets, or you can just plain ignore the stat.  Interestingly enough is that if he is gone from the league, it kind of evens the playing field for steals across the board.  Billy hasn’t been Billy in some time, Dee is probably the most prestigious thief left right now is universally owned, and the waiver wire is littered with 2-3 steal guys every 10-game types.  I am not saying that losing Trea Turner is a good thing… it is an excellent thing for everyone that doesn’t own him.  If you are the sad owner of him, replacing Turner is not the biggest need.  In reality, you just need to maintain the fort ion the steals department.  That’s where me and this column come in.  SAGNOF to your wildest content.  The waivers are now your oyster at the SS, OF, or wherever you had TT employed.  Moves a plenty should be made and don’t be afraid to play match-ups versus catchers or pitchers or both.  Luckily for you, I have supplied one after the bump.  Happy post-Independence day.  Cheers!

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Since it was an afternoon game, Ted and I settled in to watch Max Scherzer vs. the Marlins.  First inning and the slider was working.  2nd, 3rd, 4th innings and the Marlins had no chance.  5th inning and Ted demanded I take him out and play catch with him.

115 degrees in the shade and we’re back in for the 6th inning, and Scherzer hasn’t missed a beat while missing the bats.  Everyone knows everything there is to know about Scherzer.  He is at least the 3rd best starter in baseball, and likely second best, though who’s first?  Sale?  Then Kershaw and Scherzer?  I don’t know, Kershaw’s looked pretty human at times this year.  Sale, Scherzer then Kershaw?  Sounds about right, but need to search for other things to talk about with him.  Hmm…Well, there’s always his android eyes.

Now back for the 7th inning and it’s more no-hitter, and, Jesus Christopher Ramirez, the Nats announcers are a bore.  Let’s go mute for the 8th inning, and Dietrich gets, uh, diet rich of sliders.  Now, Ellis and goodbye no-hitter.  Of course, that was the point Dusty should’ve lifted Scherzer since even the announcers said Scherzer says he doesn’t want to ever throw past 120 pitches.  You guessed it, he went past 120 pitches, and lost the lead, but, once again, a dazzler — 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners (2 hits), 11 Ks, ERA at 2.09.  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 [email protected], 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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