Howdy Razzballero! I hope you all had a great Independence Day, and I’m not referring to the movie sequel that was released about a decade and a half too late. Doesn’t Hollywood have any original ideas anymore? Why are there so many mediocre sequels and remakes/reboots in the theaters at any given time? I briefly considered making a rare trip to the movies during the holiday weekend, but since the thought of dropping $20 a person on tickets, popcorn, and drinks while settling for the new Tarzan flick or another crappy sequel (Independence Day, The Purge) didn’t seem all that appealing to me, the decision was made to stay home and watch the old Dolph Lundgren flick I Come in Peace (also listed as Dark Angel in some places) instead. It’s a cheesy late 80s/early 90s sci-fi/action movie about an alien drug dealer who induces heroin overdoses in humans and then harvests their endorphins. And it features Ivan Drago kicking ass. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds. Kind of like a cooler version of Independence Day. So I guess the moral of the story is to save your money and watch old Lundgren movies. But I digress. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, fantasy baseball! That brings us to this week’s most added player in ESPN leagues, Washington Nationals pitching prospect Lucas Giolito (54.5% owned; +46% over the past week). Giolito has long been a coveted commodity in fantasy circles due to his mid-high 90s fastball and 80 grade hammer curveball. His buzz died down a bit following mediocre results in his first eight Double-A starts this season (18% K%, 13% BB%, 4.08 FIP, 3.82 ERA), but that was mostly due to early season mechanical adjustments that were made to his delivery. Over his last six Double-A starts, Giolito was much more effective (28% K%, 8% BB%, 2.39 FIP, 2.52 ERA). His control has been iffy at times, but he clearly has swing and miss stuff and the natural sinking action on his fastball tends to keep the ball in the park (13 HR allowed since his professional debut in 2012). A couple of popular current comps for Giolito are Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Strasburg, but he also reminds me of a couple of big righties with the hard fastball/hammer curve combo from their early Marlins days (Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett). Strasburg’s DL stint prompted his call up, and Joe Ross’ current one has allowed him to extend his stay in the majors. The upside here is obvious. If he’s still somehow available in your league, Giolito is a must add.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Johnny Cueto has been a controversial player in Major League Baseball for quite some time. There was that ugly Jason LaRue incident during a Cardinals/Reds on-field brawl in 2010 in which Cueto repeatedly kicked LaRue in the head and ultimately forced the former catcher to retire prematurely. Of course, there’s also the issue of his extremely unorthodox windup that has been compared by some to that of former Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant, the legality of which has been questioned in recent years. However, one thing that hasn’t been questionable is Cueto’s results this year. In his first season with the Giants after signing a six-year, $130 million deal last offseason, Cueto has been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the first few months of 2016. His 11 wins are more than any pitcher in MLB outside of Chris Sale and Jake Arrieta. His 2.42 ERA is the 8th lowest among qualified starting pitchers. His 1.79 BB/9 rate is the 11th lowest in baseball. He’s giving up fewer home runs (0.31 HR/9) than any other starter. The question is: can Cueto maintain this impressive production?

Let’s take a look at Cueto’s profile to determine what can be expected from him during the remainder of the 2016 season. Here are a few observations:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s been awhile since there’s been any Trevors of note. In 1986, professional boxer Trevor Berbick became the first (and only) person to fight both Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. If you’re a fan of the Castlevania series of video games, the name Trevor Belmont might ring a bell. Most fantasy baseballers are undoubtedly familiar with Trevor Hoffman’s dominance from the mid 90s through the end of his Padres days (and with apologies to Mariano Rivera, it’s hard to forget the coolest entrance in baseball history). Lately though, there haven’t been too many newsworthy Trevors out there. Perhaps Trevor Noah would qualify, but longtime fans of The Daily Show would probably insist that it’s for all of the wrong reasons. In fantasy baseball, however, there’s been no shortage of relevant Trevors in recent weeks. Let’s start off by highlighting this week’s most added player in ESPN leagues, Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (69.3% owned; +32.1% over the past week). Known mostly for his extreme training techniques and inconsistency throughout his MLB career, Bauer had been notoriously unreliable from a fantasy perspective entering the 2016 season. Since making his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks in 2012, Bauer has posted solid strikeout numbers (8.45 K/9) but has been a ratio killer along the way (4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP entering this season). These poor ratios have been largely a result of shaky control (4.2 BB/9) and an inability to consistently keep the ball in the park (1.1 HR/9). This season, Bauer ditched his mediocre slider in favor of a cutter, and reduced his reliance on his fourseam fastball while leaning more heavily on his sinker, terrific curveball, and vastly improved changeup. The results have been impressive. Bauer has managed to maintain his solid K-rate (8.37 K/9) while drastically cutting down on his walks (2.99 BB/9) and homers (0.7 HR/9) allowed. His new pitch mix has resulted in a career high 50.0% GB% as well. Over his last five starts, Bauer has been downright dominant (37.2 IP, 37/9 K/BB, 1 HR, 1.67 ERA, 0.93 WHIP). If he can maintain his newfound control, you’re looking at a top 30 starting pitcher the rest of the way.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Carlos Correa is a star. A heavenly body. Out of this world. I know what you must be thinking. No, I don’t have an unhealthy obsession with him. It just says so right on his uniform. According to the internet (so it must be true), the term astro is defined as a prefix that means “star,” “celestial body,” or “outer space.” The city of Houston decided to make a noun out of this prefix and call their team the Astros in order to have a team full of “stars.” Egomaniacs! In Correa’s case though, this term would seem to be appropriate. At 17 years old, he was the #1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Last season, just three years after being drafted out of high school, he made his MLB debut. In his ninth MLB game, Correa became the second youngest player in the last century to steal three bases in a single game (trailing Rickey Henderson by 21 days). He set a franchise record by hitting 12 homers in his first 46 games. He had more homers (13) through his first 50 games than any other shortstop in MLB history. Power, speed, plate discipline, solid defense. Correa looked like the total package. His 22 homers, 14 steals, and .279/.345/.512 slash line in his first 99 games had fantasy owners dreaming of a .300/30/30 encore. The A-Rod comps started to get circulated around various fantasy circles. Correa quickly became a consensus first round pick in 2016 fantasy drafts. Just 21 years old, and all of the skills in the world. Upside through the roof. So what’s the problem?

A player’s second season is usually one filled with adjustments, especially for one as young and inexperienced as Correa. In his first two games against the Yankees this year, he came out of the gates smokin’ hot (5/9 with 3 homers and 2 steals for a 2.111 OPS). In his next 60 games (April 7th – June 14th) however, Correa managed just a .240/.338/.371 triple slash with 5 homers and 6 steals. Ouch. That’s Brad Miller kind of production. He’s rebounded nicely over his last seven games though (.360/.484/.800). Is Correa’s recent surge a sign of things to come or a good sell-high opportunity for his owners?

Let’s take a look at Correa’s profile to determine what type of production can be expected from him during the remainder of the 2016 season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With the exception of a few dependable options like Jonathan Lucroy, Wilson Ramos, and Buster Posey, the catcher position has (somewhat predictably) been one of the least offensively productive positions in fantasy baseball this season. Yasmani Grandal and Yan Gomes currently have sub-.200 batting averages. Yadier Molina and the recently injured Francisco Cervelli have combined to hit one home run. Arizona backup Chris Herrmann has been a top 10 player at the position thus far this season. I suppose that the term dumpster fire would be a more apt description to characterize the catching landscape. It should come as no surprise, then, that recent Chicago Cubs call-up Willson Contreras (30.5% owned; +27.4% over the past week) is this week’s most added player in ESPN leagues. Considered by many to be the top offensive catching prospect in the game, the 24-year-old rookie slashed .353/.442/.593 in 55 Triple-A games this season and launched a homer in his first MLB at-bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday night. His ability to make contact (13.3% K%) while hitting for power (.240 ISO) in the Pacific Coast League this year displayed a rare combination indeed, especially for a catcher. Miguel Montero and David Ross are the incumbents in Chicago, but they shouldn’t provide much resistance for playing time if the rookie hits the ground running. Contreras is certainly worth adding if available. There’s massive upside here at a thin position.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Over the past decade, Cole Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. Many of his key statistics, such as strikeout and walk rates, ERA, WHIP, total wins, and innings pitched per start, compare favorably to other aces like Zack Greinke, David Price, and Jon Lester over that span. He’s a three time All-Star, a former World Series MVP, and he even threw a no-hitter in his last start with the Phillies before being traded to the Texas Rangers last July. He purposely drilled a young Bryce Harper with a pitch during Harper’s rookie season to warn the kids to stay off of his lawn. Old school! Hamels was a key player in helping the Rangers reach the postseason last year, and is one of the main reasons that his team is currently in first place in the AL West this season. His Bugs Bunny changeup has been one of the most dominant pitches in the game throughout his career. This is all fantastic, so why does it sound like there’s a “but” coming? That’s not necessarily the case. No need to be so negative. However, as great as Hamels has been, his 33rd birthday is just around the corner, and he’s thrown almost 2,200 combined regular and postseason innings throughout his MLB career. That’s a lot of wear and tear. At this point in his career, a fair question to ask would be: Is Hamels still the same dominant pitcher that he’s always been? Or is age and/or all of the wear and tear starting to catch up with him?

Let’s take a look at Hamels’ profile to determine if he’s still capable of producing at an elite level. Here are a few observations:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Megadeth is one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time. The group, which was formed and fronted by lead vocalist/guitarist (and Metallica castoff) Dave Mustaine, quickly made it’s mark on the thrash metal scene in the mid-80s and became one of the most influential bands of the genre. What does this have to do with this week’s most added player, Texas Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar (51.6% owned; +28.4% over the last seven days)? I’m certainly not implying that Profar is into, uh, “pharmaceuticals” like Mustaine was in those days. He either wouldn’t be able to walk onto the field or would quickly pack thirty pounds of muscle onto his frame if that were the case, depending on the substance in question. This is more about their respective career arcs. Megadeth’s third studio album, the conveniently titled So Far, So Good… So What!, was a solid offering. Low budget, raw, and not widely considered to be among their best work, but it was, and is, a bit of an underrated gem. It’s kind of where Profar is at this stage of his career. Young, raw, talented. A player on the rise. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the top prospects in the game, but injuries and a crowded Texas infield (Odor, Andrus, Beltre) pushed him to the back burner entering this season. However, Odor’s suspension following his recent Floyd Mayweather impression against the Blue Jays opened the door for some unexpected playing time for Profar, and he’s taken advantage of his opportunity. Through 73 plate appearances since May 27th, Profar has produced 13 runs, 2 homers, 4 RBI, and a .343/.370/.514 slash line. However, as good as he’s looked thus far, his batted ball profile (22.2 IFFB%, 25.9% Soft%) suggests that his current .393 BABIP is likely to drop significantly in the coming weeks. That would make him more of a .275ish hitter than a .300+ one. His power is still developing, and when factoring in his lack of steals (2 career MLB steals; 5 steals over the last two seasons across all levels) and mediocre on-base skills (4.1% BB%), the breakout might have to wait. Megadeth reached their peak with their fourth studio album (the brilliant Rust In Peace), and I believe that Profar is likely a year or two away from reaching his peak as well. In other words, he should be able to help your team in it’s darkest hour, but he’s not quite ready to set the world afire just yet.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has been a model of consistency throughout the majority of his MLB career. This has been especially true in terms of his disciplined approach at the plate. From 2012 to 2015, he led MLB in walk rate (18.8%) by a comfortable margin and was one of only two qualified players (A.J. Ellis being the other) with an O-Swing% under 20%. Simply put, if a pitch was out of the strike zone, Votto rarely swung at it. This impressive strike zone awareness resulted in him being one of only four players (including Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, and Paul Goldschmidt) to produce a .300+ batting average as well as a .400+ on base percentage during that span. This season, however, his walk (13.9%) and strikeout (26.6%) rates have regressed, hurting his usually stellar batting average (.230) and OBP (.348) in the process. The man with the precise, almost robotic approach at the plate is suddenly about as effective as R.O.B. was for the 8 bit NES back in the day. Are the 32-year-old’s skills starting to erode? Is it time to say sayonara to Mr. Votto?

Let’s take a look at Votto’s profile to see what, if anything, has changed for him this season. Here are a few observations:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Despite my best efforts, I can no longer avoid writing about this week’s most added player, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Duvall (68.9% owned; +45.8% over the last seven days). It’s not that I don’t like him. I actually considered writing about him a few weeks ago. After deciding to go in another direction, that opportunity came and went quicker than a patron at a pay by the hour hotel. Everyone seemed to jump on the Duvall bandwagon, and for good reason. Over his last 14 games, he’s smashed 9 homers to go along with 14 runs, 19 RBI, and a .268/.293/.786 triple slash line. If you want to go back a bit further, he’s produced a 24/14/30/1/.292 line since May 3rd (31 games). Those are numbers that’ll have his fantasy owners frequenting the hourly hotels on a regular basis. While he’s unlikely to maintain this blistering power pace for the rest of the season, Duvall hit 35 homers between AAA and MLB in 2015, and 30 homers across those same levels in 2014. The power is very much for real. The strikeouts (29.7% K%) are likely to keep his average in the .250 range, and while his on-base skills (.327 or lower OBP at every stop but one since 2012) and speed (10 stolen bases since 2013) are severely limited, 35 homers appears to be in his wheelhouse. Think of him as the NL version of Mark Trumbo. In competitive leagues, Duvall is likely long gone, but if his owner is interested in “selling high,” it’s worth exploring a trade if you’re looking to add some power.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Justin Upton was one of this offseason’s prized free agents, and with good reason. He’s shown the ability to hit for power (.200+ ISO and 26+ homers in each of the last three seasons), get on base (.348 career OBP), and even steal a few bags (18 or more SBs in five out of the last seven seasons). At 28 years old, the odds were pretty good that there were still a few productive seasons left in the tank. The Detroit Tigers pounced on the fresh meat and decided to lavish a six year, $132.75 million contract upon Upton in January. Thus far, the carcass of this Upton has been more rancid than the ones described by Upton Sinclair in his novel The Jungle over a century ago. J-Up has managed to produce a measly .213/.259/.319 batting line with just 3 home runs, 1 stolen base, 22 runs, and 11 RBI through the first two months of the season. Eduardo Nunez and Coco Crisp have hit more homers. Renowned speedsters Buster Posey and Mike Napoli have swiped more bags. Backup catchers David Ross and Bobby Wilson have driven in more runs in a fraction of the at-bats. Umm… what in the blue hell is going on here? Is Upton washed up already? Is there any hope for a turnaround?

Let’s take a look at Upton’s profile to see if there’s hope for a rebound. Here are a few observations:

Please, blog, may I have some more?