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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Clap your hands everybody, and everybody clap your hands. We’re Lambda Lambda Lambda and Omega Mu. We come here on stage tonight to do our show for you. We got a rockin’ rhythm and a hi-tech sound that’ll make you move your body down to the ground. We got Jake Lamb on the violin, and Mark and Aaron will be joining in. We got Mike Moustakas on the mean guitar and a rap by little ol’ me Nomar. We got Schebler beating on his gong, the boys and the Mu’s are clapping along. And just when you thought, ya seen it all, along comes a Lambda four foot tall. So Altuve come on out here on the floor, so we can move our bodies, like never before. Break!

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After homering in his fourth straight game, Matt Davidson (2-for-4, 2 runs) is halfway to Dale Long’s record of home runs in eight straight games.  A record I didn’t think would ever be matched, aside from it being matched twice previously by Ken Griffey Jr. and Don Mattingly.  Dale Long was mostly remembered for that record and getting to first base with his bat.  Good year for no-names whose last name ends in son:  Davidson, Morrison, Alonson.  The book on Davidson previously was a AAAA player, which is different than Mickey Mantle and David Wells.  That’s two AA players.  Sadly (for him), Davidson is playing so over his head that giraffes be like, “Yo, come down from there.”  In Triple-A, he was a 30% strikeout guy and is striking out at a 38% rate now, so he will hit .200 for the season and be an only-occasional home run guy.  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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Okay, full disclosure. This post was planned for last week, but after Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Quintana‘s sh!t shows of a performance I decided I’d rather chug beers and yell racial slurs at online images of those two bastards. I was actually planning to title this post Smoak and Mirrors, but in Saturday’s Hey Batter³ Contest post Larry Chip 10 picked Smoak ‘n Mirrors as one of his three batters. Once that happened I realized I was going to have to either shift gears or throw him a footnote. It didn’t help that Mike Maher titled his most recent Top-100 Hitters post Full Bour Or Smoak And Mirrors? So here we have a slightly modified title for today’s points league post.

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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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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:

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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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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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Okay, this is weird, but Sonny Gray and I are complete opposites.  Sonny Gray is in Bay Area, and it’s Grey Albright in Los Angeles.  Weather you like it or not, that’s weird!  Pun noted too!  Grey Albright plays fantasy baseball; Sonny Gray plays reality baseball!  It’s freaking me out!  Grey Albright’s face is mustachioed; Sonny Gray’s is not.  Sonny Gray is athletic; I am not.  He works for a newspaper called Ballrazz, which is super-terse and serious.  It’s uncanny!  Yesterday, Gray (him) went 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 11 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.34.  Okay, time to take a new look.  I did like him at one point in his career, before everything went sideways.  His velocity and two-seam fastball are back.  Right now, his two-seam is his best pitch, however, his curve is not back to where it was in 2015.  Watching some video on him showed a guy that can get swings and misses, but had a bit of a favorable strike zone yesterday.  I’d be careful in shallower leagues, but he looks closer to his breakout from two years ago than he has in a while.  Now, if he’s married to a younger woman, I’m gonna plotz over all of our opposites.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday for fantasy baseball:

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