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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Scooter Gennett had the game of his life yesterday.  Well, isn’t he Vespecial?  You say to me, “Unkie Grey, can I sit on your lap metaphorically and you tell me why Scooter hit so many homers?”  Sure, Nephew, it’s simple.  A story of my Scooter in two tweets:

I am the first person in the history of fantasy baseball to bench two hitters for games with at least three home runs in the same season.  *opens oven, sticks head in oven, opens The Bell Jar to read*  Ugh, could someone check on the pilot light?  You might be asking yourself why I had Scooter on my bench, while you coyly bat your eyelashes.  I’ll explain, you coquettish bastard!  He was hitless the entire previous week!  WHAT THE EFF?!  Any hoo!  Scooter had a big game, and will now be invited to all the same parties as Mark Whiten, but Scooter is not much more than a hot schmotato.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The title is referring to 24.  I never saw 24.  Well, I’ve seen the number.  I never saw the show.  No interest really.  Not my sorta thing.  I do have a Kiefer Sutherland story though.  I think I recapped it in my book, Who Is Grey Albright?  Long story short, at my first job ever in Boston (and really only job ever where I collected a weekly paycheck), I was working in a film production office and someone called for the producer and I asked them who they were.  “Tell him, it’s Kiefer,” and I was like, “Kiefer?  Kiefer who?”  “It’s Kiefer Sutherland, you jackass!”  I wasn’t made for answering phones, apparently.  Y’all gotta admit; you hear the name Kiefer out of context and it’s a bizarre name.  Though, it wasn’t fully out of context, I suppose, since it was a film office.  Any hoo!  Whatever Trevor Bauer did prior to yesterday’s game, do it again!  Was it the pre-game chucking of a softball three-quarters of hectare?  Then do that!  Yesterday, he went 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 baserunners with 14 Ks.  Well, hello, there.  Can you stay a while?  Maybe I can make you a Cuba Libre and some Brazilian cheesy bread?  His peripherals are gorge too — 11.5 K/9, 3 BB/9 and a 3.03 xFIP.  Of course, his opponent, Sonny Gray went 4 2/3 IP, 7 ER, and thus illuminates the problem.  Gray was solid too, a game ago, and now look at him.  I’d grab Bauer for some Ks, but the risk is enormous.  He doesn’t just happen to have a 6.00 ERA even after yesterday’s game.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The fantasy baseball roster you could make out of the current disabled list would easily be in first place in many rotisserie leagues. If you left your draft with all of these players healthy you would probably be pretty confident of your trophy chances. Granted, if you left your draft with these players I’d question the skills of your league mates.

Fun story, I once joined a friend’s new fantasy baseball league and one of the members had never done fantasy sports before. He drafted every offensive position in order starting with catcher in round 1. This was my actual reaction when I realized what was going on in about the 3rd or 4th round… Needless to say his pitching was a disaster.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday was a bad day to quit being young with A.J. Pollock and Carlos Gomez both hitting the DL.  Together!  In a non-gay way.  But it would’ve been totally cool with me if it was in a gay way.  Let’s start with Pollock since he is the less ethnically sensitive of the two.  Pollock has a Grade 1 groin strain.  When the strain happened, Pollock was reading Groin Strains for Dummies.  Chapter 1:  Don’t Move Your Leg In A Normal Manner.  “Go to a trampoline, but don’t jump on it with your feet, fall on it sitting criss-cross apple sauce.”  Pollock will likely be out for two to three weeks, and in his place the Russian Game of Thrones character, Gregor Blanco, and Reymond “You Can’t Not Think Of Daisy” Fuentes.  Fuentes is the more interesting of two, since he should be on the stronger side of a platoon, and has speed.  Outside of NL-Only and deep mixed leagues, I’m passing on both.  As for CarGomez, he will miss four to six weeks.  That’s too bad, he used to be good three years ago.  Replacing him on the roster will be Jared Hoying, who looks like a Motter-fodder.  Then, we have Carlos Carrasco, who is affectionately known as Cookie, and I am a Cookie Monster for him, so this one hurts me.  In yesterday’s game, Carrasco had a huge lead, when he squandered that and left the game with a trainer.  All you had to do with cruise to the W on the Ivictory Coast!  Apparently, that’s the way the Cookie crumbles.  He was diagnosed with left pectoral tightness, which doesn’t sound bad.  Which, Part 2:  The Return of the Which, will still likely mean a DL stint.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the old expression goes, you can count on three things in life, death, taxes, and Mets pitchers ruining your week/month/season with an injury of some sort. This is a slight update on the late 80’s iteration of this expression, death, taxes, and Mets pitchers at a snowstorm. If you’re a Noah Syndergaard owner you might want to hit up Doc’s medicine man, because the mighty righty was skipped in the rotation due to a sore bicep. Apparently curls are for the girls, and the DL too. Seriously how does Bartolo stay healthy eating like Kristie Alley on a bender, while Thor spends his free time living like Schwarzenegger in the beginning of Twins? Nothing makes sense, I’m writing the Notes! Riddle me this, Does that mean Colon was birthed from his poop? Or is it the other way around. Yes, I was an odd child. As for Thor, and his right arm, he’s headed for an MRI today. After first experiencing pain between bullpen sessions, and playing catch. He said he “felt great” playing catch, two things, “who doesn’t feel great playing catch?” and as far as I know “felt great” doesn’t mean I couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulder. But Syndergaard is from Texas and a Viking, so he may speak a different language. Oh, yeah, that’s not a joke. He actually said I “felt great playing catch”, but his bicep “stiffens up when it gets cold”. Funny, mine does the opposite when it gets cold. The worst part is that gem of a comment was followed with “I couldn’t really lift my arm above my shoulder at that point”. However, the Mets and Terry Collins assure us that Thor isn’t hurt. In fact, he showed up to the park ready to pitch! But old cautious Terry pulled the plug, because as he so eloquently put it, “when you are talking about anything that runs into the shoulder to where he changes his delivery and other things happen.” Damn, the man has the vocabulary of Sling Blade! Not going to lie, I’m intrigued about these “other things” happening in Syndergaard’s bicep. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Lots of little piddly injuries this week that don’t seem to be of much consequence. Self-proclaimed MVP candidate Yoenis Cespedes missed a few games with hamstring soreness, but seems ready to return. Stephen Strasburg must have had a great time on his July 20th birthday, because here we are nine months later and he is missing a start to be with his wife as they have their second child. Lil’ DP, Dustin Pedroia, has missed a few games after getting taken out by a Manny Machado slide that would make Ty Cobb proud until Cobb looked at a picture of Machado. And Justin Upton injured his forearm hustling into second base trying to outrun all the lofty hype and expectations we’ve heaped on him for a decade now.

Please, blog, may I have some more?