On Razzball Radio last week, where you finally got to see my perfectly circumferenced face, that looks like almost any chubby latino catcher that you can think of (to name a couple: Ramon Castro, Josmil Pinto), I got into my win-now approach. I traded high impact prospects (Gregory Polanco and Anthony Rendon) for a more immediate influence, (Robinson Cano).

I often wind up with no top prospects by year’s end, but still wind up with a sundry of “B” prospects that turn into more i.e. Mookie Betts and Joc Pederson last year for nothing! It’s about this time of the year that I start delving into C prospects in dynasty leagues for warm bodies to displace my empty prospect slots. Often, guys that come up will have initial contact problems, so I look for guys that can elevate their BABIP through both power (ISO) and speed (SPD). An extreme example is Yasiel Puig. He had contact problems last year, but he’s a monster in the power and speed departments ensuring an elevated BABIP. This year he’s put that together with a rational HR/FB ratio and a really nice contact and discipline jump. He’s elite.

It seems like I’m always seeing current and former Mets when I do this. This year is no different thanks to Andrew Brown and Eric Campbell (current Mets) as well as Nick Evans and Mike Jacobs (former) – all on this list due to their wOBA’s and ISO. While we might find more eventual, longer-term impact in AA, for this post, let’s look at the AAA minor league leaderboard (as of 5/30), including the Mexican League ranked by wOBA combined with BABIP (weighed by ISO and SPD)… just trust me:

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I’m in three dynasty leagues that I impulsively attend to. I’m all about the win-now, so I’ll trade my top prospects for immediate impact. In all three of these leagues, I was looking to displace an empty prospect slot, and with my MLB catchers lacking value…

The following catchers were already owned in at least 2/3rd’s of those leagues: Austin Hedges, Jorge Alfaro, Gary Sanchez, Blake Swihart (be me, in one league), Christian Bethancourt and Reese McGuireTom Murphy (probably because of his eventual stomping ground, Colorado) and Stryker Trahan are also owned in at least one of the leagues.

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Earlier this week, I played guarantee fairy by marking guys likely to rebound or drop-off based on their BABIP differentials (actual vs. expected). Justin Morneau was a red flag because his expected BABIP is 34+ points lower than his actual BABIP, however this is the case for other Rockies, Brandon Barnes and Troy Tulowitzki even more-so. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado are just behind Morneau as well. What I’m saying is that it’s a generalizable (Colorado) effect, and isn’t too much of a concern in Morneau’s case. The lineup stack probably exacerbates the effect as well.

On the other hand, while Prince Fielder is likely to rebound based on expected BABIP, the ground ball increase and hitting into the defensive shift is really hurting him, meaning I think his issues will somewhat sustain all year.

For this post (using this same matrix), let’s look at some MLB catchers and corner infielders to replace Matt Wieters and Brandon Belt long-term, and who should rebound at least from an expected BABIP perspective (<10% ownership on ESPN as of 5/12). Here is how I have them ranked:

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There are so many Tommy Boy quotes that I can manipulate to start this post, so you choose which one…

a) I can get a good look at Luck by sticking my head up BABIP’s a**, but I’d rather take xBABIP’s word for it.

b) I write fantasy baseball posts for the American working man, because that’s who I am and that’s who I care about.

c)  You: Prince Fielder, Hmmmm, he should get better.”

      Me: “This guy is batting .231, which is actually backed up because of the gross groundball rate (11+% jump) and hitting into the shift with a sense of urgency, and all you can say is, Hmmmm, he should get better?”

d) The season is drivin’ along, la-de-da, woo. And you have Justin Morneau batting .338. And then you look at your team. Tires go EEEEEEEEE! Whoa, that was close.

Now let’s see what happens if you have Prince Fielder on your team… You’re drivin’ along, Tires go EEEEEEEE! I CAN’T STOP! “Oh my God, I’m burning alive! And this isn’t a fire sale! No! I can’t feel my legs!” Here comes the meat wagon. And the medic gets out and says, “Oh my God”. New guy’s around the corner puking his guts out…

…Whichever quote you go with, if you own Fielder then consider yourself the new guy puking his guts out. This post is the meat wagon.

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As I write this, it’s hump-day. Funny story… It was sophomore year of college when I learned what the term “hump-day” meant. My new girlfriend lived on the floor above me. It was a normal Wednesday until she put up an away message (yeah AIM!) that simply said “hump-day.” I thought that was an invite. I went upstairs ready to go – you know in sweatpants and socks and sandals. She was baffled.

What did the next 20 minutes (okay okay…4-6 minutes) have in common with this post? Deep Impact. And I don’t mean the long-term impact she had on me. But thanks for the Jim Thome jersey ex-girlfriend!

Here are the starters I would dwell on beyond page 4 (<.1%) on ESPN. To preface the list, all these guys were 0% owned when starting this post. You already know guys like Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley or Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. Let’s delve deeper: not hot dog in a hallway deep… think sausage in a gym. I’m talking a 0.0% ownership, which starts with the 2nd best curveball in all of the majors last year (100 pitch minimum).

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According to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater, Albert Pujols is our #3 first baseman (#17 overall) – prior to Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto, in that order, with others dispersed in between. I’m selling Pujols for any one of these guys, for sure, but I’d also accept Justin Morneau, Brandon Belt, Edwin Encarnacion, perhaps Matt Adams and maybeeee Prince Fielder, contingent on who else can be had.

Here is exactly what you can say to your league-mate(s): “Bro/Brethren, Pujols is back. Plus, look at the .240 BABIP – that is going to shoot up!”

But this post is what I really think. Feel free to comment below with the offers you see for him or request for him, and I’ll offer my feedback, which will often be “do it”, and here is why:

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Let me preface this post with the following: the next one will be much deeper. [Ed. Note — That’s what she said!] I’m talking 0% ownership. I’m talking Morgan Freeman’s deep voice in the movie Deep Impact. I’m talking real throaty [Ed. Note– Darn, shoulda saved it for that one…], but for now… Here are starters approaching 50% ownership (as of 4/28) that I’d jump on if they’re still available:

Danny Salazar
– with a dominating start this past weekend, he’s back above the 50% owned mark, so I won’t expand too much here. The swinging strike rate is down to a sustainable level and the youth/homerun propensity reminds us (me) why we (I) shouldn’t get too excited. Prior to the season I pointed to Salazar’s dominating repertoire here and here. As long as he stays healthy, I think he’ll continue to be Matt Harvey Jr. According to Baseball Prospectus’ Pitchf/x Leaderboard, he’s still got a top-15 Fastball velocity, but a -2 MPH difference and 12% less swinging strikes on the fastball relative to last year will now keep me rational. He’s got the unlucky smokescreen going i.e. an elevated HR/FB ratio, LOB% and hideous BABIP. Again, as long as he stays healthy, there is still a ton to like here with the high velocity + devastating repertoire. Pluck him off waivers or buy low sooner than later.

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I’m going to take a different approach to this week’s Deep Impact post and talk about my up-to-this-point woulda-coulda-shoulda team, and point out the surprises with whom I think will have a sustainable, deep into-the-season impact. I’m omitting the non-surprises i.e. Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez, and Jose Fernandez who are naturally in the top-20 so long as they stay healthy.

Here are thine options (within the top-100) to date with their ESPN Player Rater rankings in parenthesis as of Friday, 4/25:

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I’m all about the win-now. This means I will rarely own a top prospect, because I’ll trade them for short term MLB value and/or I just won’t spend the dough on those guys, because I can look a bit deeper for translatable prospects that don’t have as much associated hype. Therefore, I’m not going to whine about not owning and emphasizing the obvious: Oscar Tavares, George Springer, Gregory Polanco or even Jackie Bradley Jr. Instead I’ll draft sure-thing offense so long as they’re healthy (Michael Morse and Yasmani Grandal), and then go with upside starters/or solid veterans like Marco Estrada, Alex Wood, Corey Kluber, Tyson Ross, Kyle Lohse and Tim Hudson (all were available around the same time as these prospects in deep leagues). I literally own all of these guys, and the following ESPN’ers <10% owned as of 4/14:

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As of 4/10, these middle infielders are all owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues, and contingent on the context, I would conditionally own them all. And that’s how you alliterate league format dependency.

While they’re ranked by %ownership, I’ll furnish my zeal for each:

#1 – Kolten Wong (6.5%) – He’s only 23, so give him a little time. He’s already got a top-20 contact rate this year and has impressively walked more than he struck out. He’s batting .276 with a .382 OBP and 2 stolen bases. I’m not sure why he’s owned < 10%. Mark Ellis (DL/knee) and Daniel Descalso won’t consume that much time away from him. Very soon, he’ll be owned in over 10% of leagues, so make that happen sooner than later. 70+ runs near the top of that lineup with a 7HR-45RBI-20SB-.270BA is playable at MI.

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I don’t practice Santeria. I ain’t got no crystal ball. Well, if I had $6, I’d spend it all…

…I’d spend it on these Corner Infielders (owned <10% on ESPN as of 4/3)! They are placed in the order of my zeal, because my zeal smells nice and fresh. What does that even mean? Post now includes bonus CI Prospect list as well! (And maybe thermal packaging. What can I say? It’s a demand-driven commodity.) Follow me after the jump to find out what this all means… maybe.

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Make sure you check out Scott Evans’ Prospect ETA’s for a sense of potential high impact call-ups. I’m going to focus on prospects and MLB sleepers beyond the obvious list of prospects. If I list a prospect, that said prospect should have the opportunity to make an impact this year, and in my opinion, have the minor league numbers/skill to translate well enough.

My ‘translate’ for fantasy purposes is simple: do they make enough contact (how often they put the ball in play); what is their approach to putting the ball in play (balls in play mix i.e. linedrives, flyballs, groundballs, HR/FB, infield flyballs, etc.); and what power/speed potential do they have from a fantasy counting stats perspective. Speed won’t have much of a weight in this post though.

Please, blog, may I have some more?