It’s been a month since I last posted about a set of four industry mock drafts the honorable Justin Mason wrangled experts together for. While more complete mocks likely exist on the seas of the internet, these hold a special place in my heart, as they contained myself, good friends of the Razzball universe, and Prospectus Jesus himself. I’ll save you from the self-reflective intros that have lined my last few columns – but really, you should read them – and hastily prime our readers who prefer a longer digestion cycle with info, for 2018.

Partial results of these mocks can be found here, and instead of sifting through the first few rounds, I’m only looking at players with ADPs among the four mock drafts that exceed 100 overall. These players range in potential and my confidence in attaining that potential, but I think each should occupy a small place in your mind for the coming season.

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This is an extremely tall task.

Picking entrants into the “elite four” starter tier as we coast towards 2018 and beyond is a punishment that really isn’t a punishment. Take this story as an example. (It’s the fantasy offseason, I can start columns with stories like the true millennial that I am!).

Listening to an episode of the SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch – *nerd alert* – an entrepreneur candidly dropped this phrase in regards to his Pittsburgh-based sports blog: “Hope sells…”

Local beats are often a way to build up a following as a aspiring writer, and as many are saturated with talent, the prospect of covering a team that doesn’t have a “face” on the national scene and possesses some hope for the future intrigues me.

Right about now is the time you’ll realize how absolutely insane I am – the San Diego Padres came to mind.

Tatis Jr., Baez, Morejon, Gore – Ralph loves them and so do I. Yeah, they suck, but abiding by that entrepreneur, once hope starts to accumulate, all those Padres-centric blogs – well, all two of them – will see an uptick in views.

This is a beautiful example of a punishment that isn’t really a punishment.

It may seem dismal that I’d have to write about a team that has hovered around the 70-win mark for all of eternity, but when you’re obsessed with baseball – and possess the lunacy gene – I see it as a treat.

Here, I’m speculating on pitchers who can not only become good, but excel into the echelon of objectively elite; the absolute studs that perennially cost a top pick. Let’s first look at three names that I think can transcend in 2018 – a much smaller crop – before busting the door wide open with the overly-generic “Beyond” timeframe.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about four analyst mock drafts currently taking place at the benevolence of Justin Mason. With so much to digest, content ideas swirl around as I determine what would be most beneficial to the masses of Razzball. Ironically, this wavering over what to highlight in the mock drafts has delayed my reaction to what has unfolded so far. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this great community of fantasy baseball nuts, it’s the power Twitter has to spur ideas. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Farnsworth:

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With the majority of my roto leagues signaling their solidarity, I’ve found myself enamored with 2018, more so than any other year of my fantasy baseball playing career. There is a point – in most leagues – where the tides of 2017 halt their shifty tendencies. No longer is that seventh place team making a four-spot jump over one weekend; no longer are you running to MLB.com’s shop to buy a shirsey of a player who just tagged three homers for your squad.

In these moments you no longer think of a player like Byron Buxton, Zack Godley, or Hunter Renfroe with wonder for his next two weeks, but instead fix keen eyes on any adjustments that might stick when the new year comes. Figuring out your level of trust with players like this is essentially mock drafting… with yourself… in your own head.

My last two columns on Razzball covered some guesses for hype-laden players and their 2018 ADP (here and here). Natural progression suggests that it’s now time for some mock drafting. Justin Mason of Friends with Fantasy Benefits wrangled some analysts and poof, we currently have FOUR mock drafts running. At the writing of this, each sits different pick intervals, with about 60 spots worth of picks between the freshest and most antique .

Follow the action as it unfolds. Notable participants include…

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Second edition of a post where I take a player’s potential 2017 stat line, sprinkle in a bit of Lance bias, and determine where said player might fall come early 2018 ADP.

To read the first edition of this column, and for a slightly better breakdown of my simple methodology, follow this link. In that post I covered: Anthony Rendon, Luis Castillo, Alex Bregman, Josh Bell, and Zack Godley. Below I’ll touch on four more players; two hitters and two pitchers.

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Thursday night marked the beginning of 2017-2018 concussion football season. If your fantasy baseball league lacked waiver activity prior to kickoff, I can only imagine the subsequent days will be as lively as this fan falling asleep in the fourth inning of a Yankees-Red Sox game back in 2015. Those who stick around care; they flaunt their championship around friends, family, pets, significant others, potential significant others – just kidding, please don’t do that – while their league mates consult countless websites wondering whether this stupid kicker, or this other stupid kicker is the better play. Don’t be that friend asking about a kicker, put your time into something more valuable.

Remember in high school when teachers preached earlier time investment for projects leading to better results? This column is the child of benevolence you sat next to who saw the test, and filled your study-less void five minutes prior to the start of the exam. It’s tough to become that kid unless you are a baseball nut like myself, so in the spirit of all that is Razzball, I’ve taken it upon myself to spur some early interest in 2018.

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Take everything you know about Byron Buxton’s defensive prowess and throw it out the window. It means nothing in his fantasy valuation.

I’ve avoided even mentioning all-encompassing phrases for the majority of my time writing about baseball, but this theme of defensive value permeating fantasy esteem has emerged from the depths of the internet to catch my intrigue; Buxton has rekindled that curiosity.

Fantasy sports deal so much with numbers, the latent reasons why we make some decisions are never actually recognized. I traded Xander Bogaerts and Michael Conforto for Francisco Lindor after a month of baseball in a redraft categories league. For a short period of time, I felt duped by the name value of “Mr. Smile,” attributing my fault to the wizardry he has displayed at shortstop. But I was wrong. Lindor has quietly produced a season good for 61st overall in roto leagues, a rare contributor in each of the five hitting categories. Conforto left that fantasy team of mine with the hopes of all Mets fans acutely pressed on his shoulders. Reflecting on the only healthy individual on the Mets season – jk lolz – I’m surprised the outfielder still sits as a top 100 player (85th overall). With Bogaerts struggling mightily in the second half, I’d give the advantage to myself in the deal, with the extra credit that Lindor’s production right now is vital to my title run chances.

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Rhyses Pieces. Rhys Lightning. Hoskdongs. Whenever a prospect comes up, dominates, and produces a platter of prospective team names to stash for 2018, the triangle of fantasy happiness is complete.

We all know you – yeah, you – should’ve added Hoskins a while ago, yet due to something called “fantasy fooseball,” “fantasy football,” all your league mates think they’re too cool to add one of the hottest, non-Stanton dongers – new word – in the game. That might leave you with the messiah of mashing still lingering on your waiver wire.

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In case you can’t tell from my dull, unoriginal title, I really tried to find a way to open this column with Saberseminar 2017 in Boston.

Yesterday and today, the most analytically inclined minds in the baseball industry gathered in a college lecture hall on Boston University’s campus to mull over the most finite details in the game. Rick Hahn (White Sox GM) spoke candidly about his club’s rebuild and how he and his staff emotionally deal with “teardowns” – he even spilled some beans that Reynaldo Lopez might be called up for a start Friday (#LanceTheBeatWriter) – while Tom Tippett, Red Sox Senior Analyst, dove into all the details unaccounted for in dollar-per-WAR retrospective contract valuations. There was even a chemist by the name of Stephanie Springer – unrelated to George Springer – who closed her powerpoint with an ominous bullet-point implying players might have an advantage in PED screening (yowzas indeed). I plan on detailing my experience in a post for my brainchild BigThreeSports, but let’s get to the matter at hand.

We need to talk about Aaron Nola…

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When I saw Dunkirk last weekend, I realized how important a great score and sound editing can be to a movie. Similar to how anxious moments in horror films are set up with ominous chords lingering in the background, Hans Zimmer’s infamous ticking and ability to build suspense fit Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster to a T. As I walked out of the theater, ears ringing and heart filled with lust for Tom Hardy, I gave a quick call to my man Zimmer, and asked if he’d be willing to drum up some music for each of Bradley Zimmer’s at bats in 2018. You won’t be surprised to discover that Hans never answered, which is due in part to me never actually calling, but hey, a boy can dream right?

Right around the All-Star break, analysts have a tendency to reflect on what happened in the first half. For those with an ear to the ground for rotisserie leagues, a lot of focus lingers on players who contribute in both home runs and stolen bases. Arbitrary thresholds are placed at double digits in each, as we feverishly search for hitters that we never expected to see there. At the time, to find players with this double-digit contribution in each category, you’d venture to studs like Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts, and Jose Altuve, later incorporating surprises like Elvis Andrus, Brett Gardner, and Chris Owings. As stolen bases are often a buck-shot statistic – attempting more usually means producing more – it’s important to realize each of those players mentioned played 80 or more games in hitting that mark…

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