Last week there was an unfortunate hiatus from the Top 100 Hitters column as I was deep in the woods of Central New Jersey for my annual camping trip. Does Central Jersey exist? I was there — so I guess so.

I took a lot of time going player by player on these rankings so there are a lot of shake-ups in the rankings. I took a real close look at everyone’s numbers and tried my best to compare players 1 to 1 to see who I preferred. It can get rough comparing two players side by side. Do you prefer Player A with 60 runs, 5 HRs, 30 RBI, 20 SBs and a .285 average? Or Player B with 45 runs, 20 HRs, 50 RBI, 0 SB and a .245 AVG? In the end, unfortunately for this column — beauty is in the eye of the beholder — and I don’t mean the amazing MS-DOS dungeon crawler from 1991. Beauty is also in your roster construction — Player A might be really useful to you if you’ve got a bunch of slow-footed boobies out there.

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Ryan Tepera (RP, Elbow Inflammation), the league leader in blown saves finds himself on the DL after blowing the save in his last two appearances. All ribbing aside, since Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was placed on administrative leave after allegations of assaulting a woman, Tepera has been pretty reliable with 7 ERs allowed over 22.2 IP and those two recent blown saves were the only two he’s suffered. Stash or Trash: Tepera wasn’t a top flight closing option and he doesn’t really have a timetable so you can trash him. Replacement: Diego Castillo (1.0%.) I know you’re expecting Tyler Clippard or Seung-hwan Oh, but the Blue Jays closing gig seems to be snake-bit this year and I’m sure as soon as Tepera went down people gobbled up Tyler Clippard in your league. So, Diego Castillo: he’s made 12 appearances for the Rays this season and has only allowed 3 ERs with 19 Ks. In AAA this year he also made 19 appearances and also only allowed 3 ERs. Castillo has a stereotypical lights out closer pitch selection of a high-90s fastball and a slider. He has multiple varieties of slider that he can mix in different situations. The Rays current closer, Sergio Romo, has had mixed results since Alex Colome was traded to the Mariners. In his first three appearances after the trade he let up 5 ERs in 3 IP. After that he has settled down a bit allowing only 3 ERs in 14 IP. However with Romo being 35 years old and clearly not part of the Rays long term future — they could turn to Castillo to see if he can live up to the title of closer-of-the-future.

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Poor Aaron Sanchez (SP, Index Finger Contusion) probably hurt his finger on the latest episode of Chopped: All-Stars! The boring old baseball version of Aaron Sanchez has yet to rediscover his Cy Young caliber abilities after missing most of 2017. Sanchez rebounded nicely after a 5 inning, 7 ER performance at the end of May with three quality starts in a row in June. Hopefully this injury won’t derail his progress too much. Stash or Trash: I’d stash. If he can come back quickly he could provide some solid value in the second half. Fill In: Rather than force myself to find five starting pitchers who I might not even fully believe in — I’m going to give you three solid options at the bottom of this article who could fill in for the five injured starting pitchers this week.

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Not a lot of us saw this major league breakout coming from Jesus Aguilar. We were all expecting an awkward OF & 1B battle in Milwaukee between Eric Thames and Ryan Braun. Then here comes Jesus walking on the waters of Lake Michigan from Cleveland to Milwaukee to become an All-Star with the Brew Crew (he should be — stay tuned.) Maybe we all should’ve seen this coming — in 655 minor league at-bats in 2016 Aguilar hit 40 HR and 114 RBI. The average was only .261, but in the Indians minor league system he has some high average seasons (2011: .288; 2013: .291; 2014: .304.) Aguilar has already dropped his strikeout rate from 30% to 24.6% and if that number continues to go down while his contact rate continues to climb — Jesus’s ascension could continue.

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Well, you can’t fix this malady. After blowing a save on Monday night, Hunter Strickland punched a wall and broke his hand. He’s expected to go 6 to 8 weeks without blowing another save.. Stash or Trash: I’m in a 14 team league and I’m trashing him. Replacement: Yoshihisa Hirano (4.9%.) With Brad Boxberger looking far from perfect, expect the Diamondbacks to start switching things up. I have a feeling that they’ll leave Archie Bradley as the set-up man because “he’s good in that role” or whatever BS the manager wants to say which could leave Hirano as a major option for saves in the desert. Hirano hasn’t allowed a run since May 5th and has 18 Ks in 17.1 IP over that time. Don’t forget that Hirano averaged 28 saves over the last 5 years he was pitching in Japan.

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Slight format change going forward with this column — I’m going to be leaving short term DL candidates near where they were ranked previously. It was become too hard to remember who and when players were coming back. (Yes, I do write the injury column — but I don’t write the healthy column.) This is what happened with Starling Marte — I don’t own any shares of Marte so I didn’t notice his return from DL so he was an unfortunate oversight the past few weeks in these rankings. If someone is looking like they’ll be out for a longer period of time — they might drop a bit more in the rankings or be removed entirely (as is the case with Jorge Soler and his broken foot.) Due to these new additions we’ve got a Top 110 hitters this week with guys like Josh Donaldson, Mookie Betts, Wil Myers, Yoenis Cespedes, Ronald Acuna and others making their surprise reemergence. Next week 10 of these hitters will probably work themselves off this list. Also, as a side effect to these new additions a lot of players will look like they’ve fallen really far in the rankings — again, this should normalize by next week. 

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This one just came across my desk in the Razzball news room. Apparently Walker Buehler suffered this injury (rib microfracture) three starts ago (!) but he’s a hockey player who fought his way through it. Conflicting reports about whether he’ll just miss one start or more in case they want to manage his innings. Stash or Trash: Stash. Kid’s looked great and a worthy heir to the Clayton Kershaw crown. Fill In: With another six starting pitchers going on the DL, I’m going to make my starting pitcher replacements at the bottom of this article.

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I can’t deny Brandon Crawford a spot on this list any longer. After a putrid April that saw the month end with his average under .200 — Crawford has turned it on more than any other player in the league. From May 1 to June 28 — a span of 34 games, 127 ABs — Crawford is hitting .425. Say whaaaatt?! Sure, 20 runs, 5 HRs, 25 RBI and 2 SBs as well — but .425 in over 30 games? That easily ranks #1 among qualified hitters over that span. The difference between Crawford and the player with the 3rd ranked average over that period (Jean Segura) is the same difference between Segura and Buster Posey — the hitter with the 20th ranked average. Included in this streak are 18 multi-hit games. Crawford is getting punches in bunches and needs to be owned in more than 65% of leagues.

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Has anyone started calling David Dahl (OF, Broken Foot) China Dahl yet? If not, let me be the first. ANOTHER major injury for China Dahl that will see him miss 6-8 weeks. Stash or Trash: Trash. He wasn’t getting consistent playing time and now two months on the shelf? You deserve better! Replacement: You know who will never let you down? Leonys Martin (17%.) Oh god, what did I even just type? Oh well, let’s commit to the bit. Martin actually has been downright ownable in 12 team mixed leagues. 34 runs, 7 HRs, 20 RBI — only two steals which is what we all wanted — really not bad. The athleticism was always there with Martin but he never seemed to be able to get out of his own way. Well he’s out of his own way now and hitting pretty well. Leonys more than anyone else on the planet has committed to the launch angle revolution — he’s hitting a staggering 51% of balls in the air. I don’t know how sustainable that is with only a 16% line drive rate — but we’re not going to find gold on the waiver wire — only pyrite.

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Falling:

  • Didi Gregorius, SS, NYY: As a Yankee fan, nothing made me happier than to strap a rocket to Didi’s back and have him climb through these rankings. However, we all should’ve seen this decline coming. Since seeing his batting average peak at .368 with 10 HRs on April 27th — no one has seen a steeper fall-off than Didi. In the 25 game since that date he is hitting .135 with only 1 HR in 104 ABs and just destroying your team’s offensive numbers. I still think there will some course correction in his numbers in the coming weeks. His average and HR total has risen every year over the past three years so he might just be in a prolonged slump right now.
  • Buster Posey, 1B/C, SF: Posey isn’t necessarily having a bad season — he’s still hitting close to .300 — but 3 HR and 19 RBI is definitely not what you want from someone with an ADP of 54.1. A closer look shows that Posey is still hitting the ball with authority — he has a 39% hard hit rate. However, he’s hitting a high percentage of his balls into the ground (47.9%.) If he can start getting under the ball a bit more and turning some of those hard hit grounders into line drives and fly balls — he could reach 15 HRs again. However, as of right now it’s looking like he might see a declining HR total for the 4th season in a row.

 

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