Ahh, college. What a magical time. I can still remember my roommate freshman year. He never showered, wore shoes and frequently left bowls of boiled noodles out, unrefrigerated, only to pick them back up several days later and eat a few. Ahh, yes. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think back fondly on the kid who dressed up as a bush every day so he could jump out and scare other student on their way to class. The college years truly represent a time when young minds grow and evolve, and the same goes for the college crop of baseball talent. The 2021 NCAA baseball season began just last weekend, which means many of the top names for the upcoming MLB Draft and subsequent first-year player fantasy drafts are finally back on full display. After coming out with my rankings of the Preseason Top 50 College MLB Draft Prospects at the beginning of February, several stars have already made headlines or showcased telling impressions after the first week of play. I’ll continue to follow all of these names from now until July, working towards a Complete College Top 100 in advance of the 2021 MLB Draft. But for now, let’s check in on a few key names and discuss what I saw in this week’s collegiate corner. All are welcome, so long as you don’t leave your noodles out.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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188 is a composite number with six divisors. It is also featured in the name of a main belt asteroid called “188 Menippe.” If you’re like me, you just pronounced that in your head as “many pee pee.” 150 is composite as well, and is in fact the sum of eight consecutive prime numbers ranging from seven to 31. It also represents the number of times per year in which my car’s warranty unexpectedly expires (or so I’m told). But I know you probably don’t care too much about Menippe, or my car’s warranty, and instead you’re wondering what the significance is of these two numbers. Well, to date, Cardinals third base prospect Nolan Gorman has played 188 career games in professional baseball. 150 have come above Rookie ball. That’s less than a full MLB season. For a power-first, left-handed bat drafted out of high school, that’s too small of a sample size to properly deduce what caliber of player Gorman is going to become. For a player of his prototype, it is reasonable to expect a steeper learning curve at every Minor League level along the way. Everyone needs to learn to adjust as a young player in the farm, but for a prospect with 60-grade power and no history of experiencing prolonged failure as a hitter in his life until reaching Single-A, that game of adjustments will be far bumpier. As a result, today we’re going to take an in-depth look under the hood and throw our TSA shirts on — and I’ll let you know if Gorman is a player to pack for your journey through dynasty dominance.Please, blog, may I have some more?
For a two-time World Series Champion with over 40 years of experience in MLB front offices, Dave Dombrowski gets a bad rap. The consensus on the baseball operations veteran seems to be that his only formula for success is to either ink big contracts or swap top prospects for elite talent that comes accompanied with hefty salaries. However, Dombrowski’s maneuvers have largely come as a result of the hands he has been dealt and the relative competitiveness of his various organizations at the time of his hire. He turned the 1997 Florida Marlins, a 1993 expansion team, into a World Series Champion. He built one of the greatest starting rotations in modern history in Detroit. He came to Boston in 2015 with a mandate to take the Red Sox to the top and did just that in 2018. Is he perfect? Far from it. Can he win a championship? Clearly. You should desire the same.
I say this to explain why I frequently refer to my strategy in dynasty leagues as Dombrowski-esque. It is not simply because of Dave’s suave, shiny gray hair to which I look forward to sporting myself in my mid-50s. In these formats, managers are drafting using such polarizing strategies that the key is to seek out excess value by pitting your opposition’s own intelligence (or so it may seem) against them. Seek opportunity where it presents itself, and if that means honing in on proven talent to win now, then do so. There will always be newer, shinier (but not as shiny as Dave’s hair) prospects to target in these leagues down the line. That’s why today I will be reviewing my selections in the 12 team, H2H points dynasty startup mock that fellow Razzballer Dylan Vaughan Skorish and I partook in this past week. Although I will reveal all of my selections, my focus in this piece will be to review my strategy and discuss the prospects I targeted in this mock draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you’re a fan of college baseball, then you know the 2021 NCAA season is right around the corner. Exciting! *unexpectedly, clapping begins* Right around the corner: that’s precisely what I said. Now, for some fans, that corner is well within sight. *clapping slows down, still unsure of where it’s coming from* If you’re a fan of a major Power Five team, then the 2021 campaign likely begins in just over two weeks, during the weekend of Feb. 19-21. That is, unless you’re a die-hard Big Ten supporter, in which case you still don’t even have a 2021 schedule. *clapping stops* That’s right — there is going to be a lot of variance entrenched in 2021 college baseball schedules. Some teams are starting on time and playing a full non-conference slate, while others will experience a delayed start while partaking in conference-only competition. This year, we will be comparing apples to bananas (not a big fan of oranges, plus they’re far too close in appearance) more than we ever have. But even with that, we need to move forward, and it all begins with my Preseason Top 50 Draft-Eligible College Players to Target in Dynasty Formats. Onward! *looks back to see no one following* I said, onward!Please, blog, may I have some more?
Baseball is in good hands. Look no further than Grey’s top 10 for 2021 fantasy baseball, where you can witness the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and Mookie Betts ranked ahead of the greatest player of our time, Randy Arozarena. Just kidding, I really do mean Mike Trout. Venture further into the top 20 and you’ll find Christian Yelich (No. 11), Bo Bichette (No. 12), Nolan Arenado (No. 16) and Luis Robert (No. 20). Side note: what a steal Yelich is going to be in 2021, amiright? But the point I’m trying to get to (and I really am trying), is that right now in baseball we have a beautiful mixture of established veterans performing at high levels (dare I say their prime?) at the forefront of the game and a deep group of emerging young players quickly breaking through into the top 20 talents in all of baseball. The sport, as a whole, is in tremendous hands and the picture only improves when one looks to the plethora of talent trickling down the prospect pipeline. Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez and Royce Lewis are all pounding on the door, just to mention a few names, and I haven’t even broached the subjecting of pitching talent in baseball today. Long story short: it’s a good time to be a baseball fan, but still a bad time to be short, or tell long stories.
Of the five prospects named above, all could potentially debut in the Majors in 2021. I’m excited about them all. But as I began writing this piece, I realized that despite their varying long-term outlooks, there’s one positional prospect I’m more excited about owning in re-draft leagues this year than any of them — and their name might surprise you.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Over the past 10 months, have you happened to hear Casey Stern mutter the iconic phrase, “prospects are cool, parades are cooler,” and thought, shit, prospects are waaaaaay cooler than parades now! Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good, old-fashioned homecoming float as a kid as much as anybody. But the Coronavirus pandemic has done quite a number on the attractiveness of modern parades. In today’s world, I think “prospects are cool, but watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade alone while shoveling a full tin of baked corn into your mouth that you made for yourself is cooler,” is a bit more fitting, wouldn’t you say? Well, here at Razzball with The Itch and myself, prospects are always cool. They’re cool even when they’re not, say, in July when everyone else is getting psyched for the start of the 2020 MLB season and 2020 fantasy football drafts, and I’m busy writing a Way-Too-Early College Top 25 for the 2021 MLB Draft segment, inadvertently detailing how one-dimensional my life is. Or, if you read that particular post, how frequently I crap myself on airplanes.
In my Way-Too-Early College Top 25, I took an early shot at laying out the top 25 prospects for the 2021 MLB Draft in a year that had very little spring action and a summer filled with cancelled developmental leagues. Now, as college players returned to campus over the past several months, effectively receiving some varying level of fall training, practice and game action, we have a lot more data and scouting to lean on. But, before I begin rehashing my top college prospects list and start to build it into my annual (it’s year two, can I say that?) complete college top 100, let’s discuss some early risers that I may have either previously overlooked or under-ranked. Since I’m such a Carmen Sandiego fanatic, I’ll also go rogue and add some other notes of things I’m hearing, or seeing, that I don’t really agree with, or that I simply think are worth mentioning. That, my dear friends, begins at the very top of the 2021 Draft (guess who?), then follows with the likes of Ethan Wilson and Jaden Hill.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Ahh, fantasy baseball. Coming back to writing baseball is more refreshing than a long swig of a double IPA after a day with the in-laws. It sure is good to be back, dear readers. After a seasonal hiatus during which I contributed to Razzball Fantasy Football, I’m finally back and ready to talk college draft hopefuls, prospects, rookies and beyond. Being away from you all, I felt like Pumba without my Timon. DJ Lemahieu without his chaw. Tony La Russa without someone to drunkenly yell at. You see, this is where I belong. And after reading some of Grey’s 2021 fantasy outlooks on the rookie class, there’s one debate I have been waiting and waiting to dip my Dunkaroos into: do I prefer Sixto Sanchez, Ian Anderson or Triston McKenzie for 2021 fantasy baseball? And where might be a good starting point to value each player heading into draft season?Please, blog, may I have some more?
When it comes to strategy in dynasty formats, I deploy an unorthodox approach. Depending on where you play and the roster rules that accompany your league, my method may or may not be feasible for you, but it’s simple. I do my best Dave Dombrowski impersonation, fully equipped with a suave, silver wig, a coating of Jurgen’s Natural Glow and a Palos Heights, Ill. birth certificate. What I mean by this, is I like to make win-now moves while my league-mates are busy competing for the strongest prospect pool award and salivating over the talent that is waiting in the wings, each one desperately trying to convince the rest of the league that they are the very best at identifying young talent.
If I’m in any position to win in any given year, I’ll happily dump a few prospects, even ones with top 100 status, for a veteran player with a lower career ceiling in order to help my chances. Like I said, this may or may not be a possible trade-off for you depending on your league rules, but I’ve seen all too many league-mates dwell in the cellar year-after-year, stockpiling more and more top 100 names and never getting the production they were waiting for. Win when you can win — and be willing to sell your highest-rated prospects. That is, except for the select few that you should stash and forget, and wait on no matter the circumstances. This does not necessarily mean honing in on the top 10 in the MLB 100, but rather identifying the players who are young and quickly developing skill sets you just know are going to play at the next level. The fantasy gems. They play loud. Think of Ronald Acuna during the 2017 season, before he became the No. 1 prospect in the game.
Today, I’ll go in-depth on three players you could make this type of argument for: Julio Rodriguez, MacKenzie Gore and Matthew Liberatore. I’ll provide detailed, unbiased data along the way, before providing my own brief opinion at the end regarding whether or not you should pack this player for the long haul. As a reminder, all the players I’ll go over today were previously requested in the comments section by the readers of Razzball. If there is a particular prospect you would like to see an in-depth profile for in the future, please feel free to voice such in the comments section. Now saddle up, take off your shoes and belt, and join me over at the TSA security check.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Is Ian Anderson rapidly pitching himself into top 40 starting pitcher consideration heading into the 2021 fantasy baseball season? *turns down TV volume, cups hand to ear* “Hey, what’s that sound?” If it were 2019 and there happened to be another human within ear shot, they would respond, “yes, that’s the sound of someone screaming.” To which I would reply, “did Eduardo Escobar see a cat?” “No, that’s just Madison Bumgarner wailing down the side of a mountain after tripping and falling off a cliff, subsequently opening up a spot in next year’s top 40.” Luckily, he landed on an ATV and drove safely to the top 80 starter campground, where he’ll likely preside for the next four years.
As Anderson trudges his way up the same mountain, covered in brambles from the forest floor below, there are those who might actually think top 40 consideration is a foregone conclusion — and why not top 30? After all, the 2016 MLB Draft’s third overall pick is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings of work through his first four Major League starts. Does he deserve to be drafted as a top 40, or even top 30 SP next season? Today, we’ll dive into Anderson and some takeaways from his first taste of Big League action, including a refresher of his Minor League track record. At the end, I’ll answer that question.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Of the two current Rookie of the Year front-runners, Jake Cronenworth (NL) and Luis Robert (AL), one was relatively predictable. In our 2020 Razzball Fantasy Baseball Staff Picks article, 12 of 22 writers tabbed Robert as their preseason choice for AL ROY (Kyle Lewis received one vote and remains in the race). On the other hand, none of those same 22 contributors picked Cronenworth in the NL, although current runner-up Dustin May garnered five votes. For a former seventh round pick that was on the 30-man roster bubble heading into Opening Day, there wasn’t much of a reason for him to be on anyone’s radar. But here we are with just about two-and-a-half weeks left in the unique 2020 season, and those two aforementioned names are leading the way down the stretch.
As one of Razzball’s two prospect writers, this got me thinking: 1) how have these two young hitters stacked up against other rookie bats in certain underlying metrics so far this year? 2) Does The Itch think about me throughout the day as much as I think about him? In regard to the former, the bulk of the 2020 season may be over, but there’s still useful batted ball data that can be implemented to make start/sit and add/drop decisions throughout the final two weeks. On top of that, rookie batted ball data is arguably even more important to look at for those who play in dynasty formats. Although the season is nearly in the rear-view, there are dynasty roster decisions looming for 2021, as well as the ever-present questions of “should I buy on Player A vs. Player B as part of my core moving forward?” In this post, I’ll present the top-12 rookie batters in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage and percentage of barrels-per-plate appearance through Sept. 8. If you have any further questions about any of the names that follow, I’m more than happy to discuss this topic further in the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.Please, blog, may I have some more?
No sooner did I put together a post detailing my top 15 rookie starting pitchers for the rest of the 2020 season than the Yankees decided to call up one of my favorite pitching prospects in right-hander Deivi Garcia. Now, many of you may already know about my public love affair with New York’s Clarke Schmidt, but we haven’t discussed Garcia as much as we maybe should have over here on Razzball. For that reason, I’ve graciously offered to Clarke and Deivi that I am willing to turn said love affair into a love triangle, so long as Deivi answers my calls. But here’s my number, so call me Deivi. Please. No, really. I’m begging you. Call me. No? Okay. Anywho, here’s what I saw from Garcia in his MLB debut and what I expect from the youngster moving forward.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Holy rookie starters! I swear, there are more rookies debuting on the mound in 2020 than there are jokes about dongs on this site. After hearing much conversation about rookie starters and seeing some of the love-at-first-sight that is happening in some fantasy circles, it got me to thinking: of all the rookie starters out there, how do they all stack up from now through the rest of the season? Our very own everywhereblair has already been providing you with awesome updates to Razzball’s starting pitching rankings each week, but I thought I’d take it a step further as one of the prospect gurus and hone in on the first-year hurlers. These are solely rankings for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season, although I plan to have updated dynasty rankings on these same names in the near future. Warning: my rankings do not directly translate to how everywhereblair has the top 100 starters ranked, therefore this article is not doctor approved.Please, blog, may I have some more?