2021 Razzball Videos

On my teams with Juan Soto, Trevor Story and Cody Bellinger, there’s been very little to celebrate. I paid $15 for Tom Arnold to send me a Cameo video telling me it would be okay. You remember Tom Arnold: Guy who is famous for sleeping with Roseanne Barr. Honestly, that should make someone famous. That and getting your junk Ginzu’d are valid reasons for fame. More so than your sister was in a sex tape. If I were ranking them for fame, 1A) Marrying Roseanne, 1B) Getting Junk Ginzu’d, Z) Sister was in a sex tape. Any hoo! Trevor Story (2-for-4, 3 RBIs and his 7th and 8th homer) had a big game — on the road! — and maybe finally there’s light at the end of the tunnel. As Geoff and I discussed on this week’s podcast, Story’s Launch Angle hasn’t been great. He’s hitting way too many ground balls, and pulling everything. The result: Pitch on the outside corner, and he rolls over it to the shortstop. Maybe there’s a fire lit under him with the thought of getting out of Colorado. Think this could be a boon for his value:  If trading for Story, the team will be contending, so the lineup will be better. Not all stadiums are bad. You telling me Story in Yankee Stadium is bad? Are you telling me this? Don’t tell em this. Also, the reinvigoration of a pennant chase can activate him like charcoal. Either Coors or elsewhere, he needs to correct his Launch Angle, and hopefully yesterday is the right direction. My other solution is spitting blow darts into his ribs while he’s at-bat, so he lowers his back elbow and it forces him into an uppercut swing. But that might be illegal. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Been hearing mostly conservative takes about Wander Franco the past couple days, but can we just set the hedging aside for a moment and ponder Wander’s potential?

When an incomparable player comes along, like Shohei Ohtani for instance, the tried and true path of downplaying possibilities and leaning into what’s come before just falls short. 

Wander Franco can exceed our imaginations, especially those of the people predicting the worst because it’s typically the right way to play it when a prospect comes up. We might forget that Mike Trout slashed .326/.399/.564 with 30 HR and 49 SB as a rookie. People often site his previous season, where 135 plate appearances as a 19-year-old didn’t pan out great: .220/.281/.390. 19-year-old. 

I’ve often mentioned Trout in discussing Wander because he’s a player with few physical comps, and Mike Trout left a powerful impression on me the first time I saw him in Cedar Rapids. I saw him play a lot there that year, making my escape for 380 South every chance I got.  Even badgered my wife to join me for one, as I would later do again when Byron Buxton suited up in CR. 

I didn’t get down to see Wander the one time he came through my corner of the flyover. I’d helped organized a home league trip that fell apart last second, and I didn’t wind up going. Still, I’ve seen him play on MiLB.tv a lot more than I saw those guys in person, and I feel confident saying we haven’t really seen his type. He is unique among all the prospects I’ve watched. 

I’ve heard .265 with 6 home runs and 4 stolen bases. That’s not happening.

We heard on the Razzball podcast, The Wander Years, that it could be about .305 with 13 homers and a handful of steals. That sounds plausible. 

One factor that’s tough to build into the Wanderlust is he’s rarely (if ever) seriously studied his opponents. It’s just not feasible on the minor league schedule. The six-game series setups this year have created the first genuine chance for intraleague familiarity among competitors. In Tampa, Franco will have all the hitting resources he can imagine and several he hasn’t even considered. When a prospect plays better as a rookie than he ever had in the minors, this homework-based edge is one of the primary drivers of that leap. Wander is a worker. 

The only outcome that would surprise me is failure because this guy has never failed. More likely he hits .350 with 20 homers than ends up back in Durham. I’d also be surprised if he ran a whole lot. That’s gonna take time. He’s gonna hit even without a lot of high-level reps, but base running against elite players is a different learning curve entirely, and his Olympus-level hand-eye coordination doesn’t help him there. I don’t care though. I don’t have Wander for the steals in 2021. Wish I had him in more leagues, but I do have him in that home league, which has ten hitting categories and rewards extreme plate skills. Michael Brantley is a mainstay in the top 20 overall finishers. Wander will soon join him. Which means he’ll soon be leaving Prospect World forever. 

So who’s the number one prospect now, or next, we should say, after Wander’s truly gone from the prospect list collective? Who’s the king of the mountain on Day One A.W.? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

One of the first articles that I wrote when I began my writing “career” was in 2019 about my love for Eugenio Suarez. That year he did not let me down, mashing 49 taters and batting .271. Yes, there was the “please don’t look over here” 28% strikeout rate, but my man mashed. In the shortened 2020 season, he continued to mash, but his .202 batting average reflected his 29% strikeout rate. Anyone who has Suarez on their team knows the struggle that we’ve gone through this year – sub .200 batting average, albeit with power. He’s currently on pace for 34 homers and 100 RBIs and yet, he doesn’t feel close to a turnaround in the average department. Since the 2019 season, Suarez has been selling out for power. Swinging out of his shoes trying to hit a home run on every swing. While that’s fun in theory, the reality is it’s not a path that leads to consistency. I’ve finally dropped Suarez down this list as I’m probably one of the last people that thought a turnaround would come. Despite the struggles, I had a tough time sliding him down significantly, because frankly, I’d still rather have his upside over guys like Kyle Seager. Let’s take a look at the list and then we’ll talk about some movers.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

As the weather turns hot so do the seats of shaky relievers. It can be risky to jump ship early on someone that’s been good to you but a shrewd move can pay off big time in the summer. I often tell myself, “Carl, live in the future, dammit!” Don’t ask me why “Carl” is how I refer to myself in the third person.

  • Mark Melancon remains a step ahead of the league. He ditched spider tack weeks ago and is now using beetle spunk. It’s the only explanation for a guy that projected to be mediocre, yet leads the league in saves. In actuality, he’s likely locating his stuff as well as ever with a near career high in GB% and career low in FB%.
  • The Reds are optimizing the adage if you many of something you really have none. Their bullpen is filled with quality arms. Without that clear-cut go-to closer, things have been messy. Lucas Sims is starting to show the strain of the role. Tejay Antone just returned from the IL but also blew a save (and poached a win).
  • Tampa Bay can’t catch a break in their back end either. Name a reliever for them and they’ve blown a save or took a loss in the past week. Nothing like some extra ambiguity in the murkiest of bullpens.
  • Richard Rodriguez continues to be a sharp closer. That almost certainly means he’ll be relocating prior to the trade deadline. Two possible paths exist here. He could go to a contender that needs a clear closer and earn many more save opps. He could also go to a team with an already strong closer and become a setup man, which seems the more natural fit for him.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

It’s hard to believe that the All-Star break is less than 3 weeks away. Maybe it’s just me but this season is flying along. Hopefully, you’ve had a fair amount of success to this point and you aren’t feeling the grind. Tonight, we have 7-game slate with a hodge-podge of pitching options. We’ll see the return of Danny Duffy, Kyle Tucker, and Michael Conforto from the IL. Reports are the Tucker has lost over 10 pounds and Duffy will be a pitch count. I would be cautious and fade both of them till they show they’re up to full strength.

 

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Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Okay, there won’t be a Wander Franco (2-for-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) lede after every game he plays. It’s like when FTJ, Acuña, Vlad Jr. and others were called up. You need to bask in the GLORY. Yes, capitalized. When the game started, I was like, “If Wander Franco doesn’t homer in his first at-bat, is he still a 1st ballot Hall of Famer?” I questioned that deeply, like a monk. Then when he walked in his 1st at-bat, I questioned him. “Who does Wander Franco think he is, Jackie Bradley Jr?” Then as Ryan Yarbrough (2 IP, 5 ER, ERA at 4.59) stretched the third inning into a two-hour affair, I thought, “Wander Franco, began his career on June 22nd, 2021, then ended his career 20 years later, during the very same game.” Finally, Yarbrough was yanked, er, um, Red Sox’d, and we went to at-bat number two and I was eating dinner. So, no report on that. Then, came his first major league home run, a golf shot without a Tiger Woods fist pump. I’ll always remember where I was when I saw Wander Franco’s 1st home run: the toilet. God bless Wander, and chicken parm sandwiches. The Rays calling up Wander Franco was worth it just so I could look at the left side of their infield and say, “Anyway, here’s Wander/Walls.” So, on actionable fantasy advice: A top five team — one that made the World Series — calls up their top prospect, plants him in the most important slot in the order, according to analytics. What does that say? It tells me Vidal Brujan (and/or Josh Lowe) are coming up very soon. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Omaha! Omaha! Either Peyton Manning just put together a quick game of pick-up flag football in my backyard, or the College World Series is officially underway in Nebraska. *editor buzzes into my earpiece* Manning is in fact in Canton learning how to properly construct a Super Bowl trophy out of a Wheaties box for the next incredibly average Peyton’s Places segment, so it must be the latter — which is good for him, because my backyard is currently infested with slime mold and being treated for turf diseases, so that simply wouldn’t be advised for the local neighborhood youths. But alas, the CWS is here, and we have the luxury of scouting an excess of 2021 MLB Draft talent from June 19-30. Six players in my top 30 were able to advance to college baseball’s ultimate event, but countless others such as Arizona’s Ryan Holgate, Vanderbilt’s Isaiah Thomas and NC State’s Luca Tresh made the Omaha cut as well. This not only means that these rankings are fluid and will undoubtedly change prior to the July 11-13 draft, but also that I recommend taking the below intel and doing some of your own personal scouting over the course of the next week-plus. So, who has made the cut as we inch closer to the release of the complete college top 100? Check it out below, as there are a handful of new names previously excluded from the preseason list that utilized excellent 2021 campaigns to springboard their stock — such as Washington State’s Kyle Manzardo and Florida State’s Matheu Nelson. Where they’ll ultimately fall in the draft, nobody knows! For that reason, I like to refer to such players as this year’s “unsupervised children flying off trampolines at the annual Memorial Day reunion.” There’s always bound to be one or two.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Is Grey my Winnie Cooper? Perhaps. The truth is how many of you even understand that reference? Probably not too many. As you can likely take away from the title of the podcast we talk about Wander Franco’s promotion to begin the show. We then follow that with more prospect talk as we discuss Matt Manning, Jesus Sanchez, and others. We briefly discuss potential trade deadline movers like Trevor Story before finishing the show with a handful of waiver wire adds to make in your leagues. It’s another glorious episode of the Razzball podcast.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Hello friends, and welcome once again to the deep league corner of Razzball.  As our teams continue to get hit by injuries, demotions, and inconsistent play, it gets harder to plug those lineup and rotation holes, but plug away we will.  While I actually saw a fantasy site suggest that you might want to check your waiver wire to see if Wander Franco is still available in your league after news of his call up broke a couple of days ago, most of us, of course, will have to get a bit more creative than that.  In my leagues the free agent pool is as dried up as I’ve seen it all year, but let’s see if we can manage to stumble upon a player or two that could be of interest to those of us in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

With so much talk of sticky stuff, the state of the game of baseball, and how many runs are or aren’t being scored these days, I thought I’d take a look at our very own data sample and see what our average ERA in the Razzball Commenter Leagues looks like this year versus years past.  One of my favorite things about keeping all the RCL data over the years is being able to look back at it for things likes this.  Let’s start with 2016 where our average ERA was 3.72.  Not too shabby.  2017 saw a bump to 3.88 but 2018 fell back down to 3.79.  2019 got ugly and we had an average team ERA of 4.07.  A shortened 2020 season was even worse with an average of 4.18.  We’ve been slowly creeping up over time.  So, how are we looking this year?  As of right now, we’re looking at an average team ERA of 3.51.  I’d say they sure deadened the ball alright.  What will the hot, humid summer months and umpires patting pitchers down do to these numbers?  I’m going to guess we end up somewhere right in the 3.85 ERA range, in other words, get ready for some offense.

Please, blog, may I have some more?