Welcome to Razzball’s 2018 team previews. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be previewing all of the teams and talking to writers who represent those teams around the web. We want to provide the best and most in-depth fantasy projections to go along with the asking the most useful questions to those who know their teams best. We want to talk about the players in the first half of your draft and also the deep sleepers that make you log into google and start watching Midwest Single-A ball for hours. Just kidding, don’t do that, hopefully we don’t go that far…

Baker finally hit the dust…y. Dave Martinez now takes over as the National’s manager as they try to bring Washington D.C. a World Series title. This lineup remains an offensive machine and still boasts a top half of the rotation that causes a lot of whiffs. There are still a couple of new faces to talk about and also a highly touted prospect who is sure to see at bats in the majors this season. I talked to Drew Douglas from District on Deck.

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It’s not often a team makes the playoffs and picks at the top of the draft in the same year, but the Twins have done a good job of syncing up their rebuild. With a core of some nice homegrown talent, the Twinkies have plenty more on the way. An exciting mix of five tool athletes, power hitters, power pitchers, and hit tool middle infielders, make this system one of the top to follow for fantasy purposes. With players like Royce Lewis, Wander Javier, Brent Rooker, Akil Baddoo, and Brusdar Graterol there’s some potential stars in the mix. Maybe it’s just my perception, but this feels like one of the more underappreciated systems. There’s a few diamonds in the rough to uncover, so let’s get this shindig started! It’s the 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects for Fantasy Baseball.

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I want you to take some deep breaths and clear your mind. Now, I want you to fill in that blank space with the MLB’s most boring baseball player. He’s a bit older, has been in the league a while but hasn’t done anything too notable. He’s more than likely a utility infielder that doesn’t have great speed. He hits reasonably well but can’t get past 20 home runs and can’t hit too close enough to .300. Nothing terrible though. He holds his own. He definitely doesn’t play for a contender, the A’s perhaps. His name doesn’t stand out nor does his number. He’s no Rougned Odor. In your mind’s eye, you have conjured Jed Lowrie, the MLB’s most boring baseball player.

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A week after covering two of the less exciting systems in baseball, the Broshitz train keeps on rolling. Running on nothing but the pure excitement the Angels top 5 prospects bring. We don’t spend much time chit-chatting on this one, we dive right into Shohei Ohtani, his impact, outlook, and potential value in 2018. We spend a good chunk of time digging into the swings of Jahmai Jones and Jo Adell. Debating which Angels outfielder should rank higher, and what the finished products will look like. We discuss Kevin Maitan’s market correction, Brandon Marsh’s back hip coil, and which MLB player his swing reminds us of. There’s some discussion of the back end of the Angels top 10 and a couple of hidden jewels. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 20% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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Analyzing the Jefe’s work in the top-500 and finding things you disagree with is difficult business. Not many come at the king, unless summoned to do so, and survive the fall.  I almost feel like some kind of twilight zone GOT episode where instead of medieval type barbs, we argue over swinging strike percentage and spin rate.  Loser walks down Second Avenue to get the freshest matzo ball soup.  No matter, here I sit looking over Razzball Top-500 for 2018 to see where rankings may be off for the good and the bad.  For other positions it may be an easier exercise, as the rule of thumb with relievers and closers is SAGNOF and Grey’s rankings show that his approach to that acronym hold true.  Drafting closers to me is always a value-type drafting situation.  Don’t be last, but don’t be first scenario.  Unless the value is too deeming and obvious that when it’s time to jump, you ask how high.  The second rule of the reliever fight club is don’t get sucked into a run on closers.  Wait your turn and get value at other positions and than if you get stuck, SAGNOF is always in your back pocket. Every year the closer market is a fluctuating beast that tempts you with fruit and flowers to jump on the next hot waiver wire add.  So be patient in your closer endeavors and the stat will run its course as long as you stay proactive on the free agent market.  So here is my stab at the King and who is underrated and overrated in his eyes.

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Welcome to the 2018 season of Razzball Fantasy Baseball OPS! I’m back as your host for the third straight season of OPS fun and right off the bat I’m challenging my intelligence. Same as it ever was, maybe that’s why I fit in so well here. Before I address the title, here’s a quick intro for those of you uninitiated. We talk On Base Percentage PLUS Slugging percentage and that gives us the magical OPS. Chicks dig the long ball and all that, but OPS isn’t just about hitting homers, because if it was, Rougned Odor would have been an OPS All Star last year withh 30 homer but a putrid .649 OPS.

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The Fantasy Baseball War Room is back!  I’m not saying the Fantasy Baseball War Room is back, as in, is a butt.  So, if Sir Mix-A-Lot is reading, I’m truly sorry for the confusion.  Our Fantasy Baseball War Room is one part draft tool, one part fantasy team evaluator, one part fantasy junkie’s s’s and g’s tool, one part holy, two parts smokes, three parts… How many parts is that so far?  Cause it’s only really seven parts total.  I think there’s one part kill-your-day-with-this-war-room-thing-a-maboob-as-a-pinwheel-spins in there too.  Essentially, this helps you practice building a fantasy baseball team.

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Draft This: Cesar Hernandez, PHI ~ Not That: Chris Taylor, LAD

I can’t wait to break this one down for y’all. The last paragraph is gonna be a real slap in the face! Chris Taylor played the majority of his games at OF last season (and will do so this again in 2018,) but he logged 22 games at second and for the most part that’s what I think people will be drafting him to play on their teams.

Let’s get this one out of the way. From the time he was drafted in 2012 until the end of the 2016 season Chris Taylor hit 24 HR over 1,948 ABs between the Mariners and Dodgers major and minor league systems. That is about 81 ABs between HRs. In 2017 he hit a career high 21 HR in 514 ABs. That’s 1 HR every 24.5 ABs. That is over a 300% improvement. This is where I’d insert the emoji of a guy scratching his chin. Hernandez missed 36 games in 2017 with the dreaded strained oblique. However, even in only 128 games Hernandez also crushed his career high HR in 2017 with a Ruthian 9. With those extra 36 games played, it is reasonable to believe he would have reached at least 12 HR. With Taylor’s HR expected to come down and Hernandez healthy for a full season I think a reasonable expectation is for both guys to hit about 12-15 HR.

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Last time we chatted, I talked about some National League players who, even this early in the pre-season, had already gained or lost value for me in terms of how likely I was to draft them. This time, we’ll look at a handful of AL guys. Free agents are finally signing and we’ll soon be getting all kind of reports from spring training, so player values are likely to fluctuate greatly over the coming weeks. But for now, I’m just looking at a few players who my opinion has changed on since the end of last season. I am taking into consideration anything I’ve read, or stats I’ve looked at more closely, and am paying particular attention to early NFBC ADP to see how the rest of the fantasy world’s opinion is affecting how likely I am to draft certain players. Sometimes, by the way, “bad” news on a player might, weirdly enough, make me more likely to draft him. For instance, last time out I mentioned Archie Bradley as someone I wouldn’t reach for due to several factors, including the presence of Brad Boxberger. Since then, D-Backs GM Mike Hazen has said he expects a “competition” for the closer job this spring. So while there’s no way I’d touch him at his current NFBC ADP, if others heed this warning and start to steer clear of Bradley, I’ll happily take a flyer on him if his price falls low enough. In the meantime, here are some AL guys who I’m feeling a little differently about now that I did last November:

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As the big market maxim goes, if you can’t draft ’em, sign ’em.  The Cubs have struggled to produce major league-ready pitching, and rather than rely on a solid, if unspectacular pitching staff, they signed Yu Darvish for a shizzton of money, though likely his going rate.  Speaking of which, have you heard all the whispers of collusion?  This one doesn’t involve Russians, unless Scott Boras has Russian ancestry.  Have to check 23 and Me for that.  This offseason seems to be dropping breadcrumbs towards a work stoppage in 2021.  Hopefully, I’m wrong.  However, when teams are making hundreds of millions of dollars, then refusing to pay free agents things start to look suspicious.  Not to mention, Derek Jeter seems to have shorted Marlins stock.  When you sell off the whole team to make $60 million in revenue sharing, eyebrows are raised.  Unfortunately, for Jeter, it wasn’t his eyebrows, because his forehead seems to be losing hair by the day, and he could use some raised eyebrows to cover that shiny dome.  Any hoo!  As I said in the top 20 starters for 2018 fantasy baseball, “Yu signed with the Cubs for $126 million.  If you just had Siri read that off to you, stop celebrating, and get off the phone with the Lambo dealer.  It’s not you you, it’s Yu Darvish.  Not saying this is everything, but I just looked at the park factors for Wrigley vs. Dodger Stadium.  I mean, I knew they were grossly in favor of Dodger Stadium for pitchers, but I just wanted to confirm.  And, what do you know, I confirmed it.  Darvish had a 3.44 ERA in Los Angeles in 49 2/3 IP, and, while Wrigley won’t be as gentle, it won’t be any worse than Arlington, where he played previously with success.  He feels like a richer Archer.  Call him, Robin Hood: Prince of Ks.”  And that’s me quoting me!  I also updated Darvish in the top 100 for 2018 fantasy baseball, the top 500 for 2018 fantasy baseball and the pitchers’ pairings.  Finally, Rudy updated his fantasy baseball rankings and Darvish moved up about 30 spots.  That reminds me of the DJ Khaled song produced for the Huffington Post called, Clickbait Drop.  I upped Darvish’s projections, and moved him into a more favorable tier, realizing I had been too harsh on him previously.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2018 fantasy baseball:

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