Once upon a time in March, while ramping up to the previous start to the regular season, I put out this article on late-round hitters to target for specific categories. While some of it still applies to our shortened season, *cough* Adam Eaton *cough*, there are some players who have emerged as contenders. Next week, I’ll attempt to wade through the sh!t-show that is pitching categories. As more and more news emerges that indicates most starters will be throwing about 60 pitches per start to start the year, things will certainly be hairy. Let’s get to the hitters!

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Awwwwwww yeah!! Baseball is on like Donkey Kong! Real talk, I was really pessimistic once we got through May with no plan in place. But here we are, with baseball on the horizon. It’s a summer miracle. Back in the day, before all this nonsense started up, I was focused on winning your head-to-head categories leagues. I promise we’ll get back there, but first I want to discuss logical options of how to alter your head-to-head categories leagues to adjust to the shortened season. With the altered schedule, it looks like we’re going to have 10 weeks of regular season baseball. In most of my head-to-head leagues, the playoffs last between 4-6 weeks, which means we’d have 4-6 weeks for the regular season. That’s not enough weeks to face all of your opponents and certainly not enough time to establish fair records for playoff seeding. So, just like when I tried to fit into my 10-year old suit, alterations need to be made – major alterations. Let’s take a look at a couple of options to keep your head-to-head categories leagues both fun and competitive.

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We’re heading into month three of quarantine and my wife and I are running out of shows to binge. So we’re revisiting one of our favorites in Lost. Secret time – we got our son’s name from the show, not from the Mark Twain novel. We’ve watched the full series at least four times through and the thing I love is how well they developed the characters. Sure, by the end there are plenty of unanswered questions, but I love the ensemble and I love how flawed every character is. Since my mind is back on “The Island”, I decided to look into The Smoak Monster himself, Justin Smoak. Entering his age-33 season, is a return to fantasy relevance in the cards for Smoak who batted a paltry .208 in his final season with the Blue Jays, or will he be scratched off Jacob’s candidate list?

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With the world continuing to be in dumpster fire mode, I figured I’d write about things that I love. No, not my kids (although this week we learned to ride a bike without training wheels, flew a kite, lost a tooth, and watched The Sandlot for the first time – pretty epic week), but two players that I’ve fallen hard (phrasing) for – Marcell Ozuna and Nick Castellanos. Both players have similar ADPs, with Castellanos being at 83.4 and Ozuna landing at 88.6 (average ADPs from ESPN, NFBC, Yahoo, and CBS). Both players also have new homes that feature good lineups in hitters parks and the sum of the parts has my pants feeling a little tight….oh wait, that’s just the quarantine-15 that I’ve put on. Let’s dive into both players and see if we can find a clear winner.

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These are some strange days that we’re living in. Alexa – play the album Strange Days by the Doors. Nothing like a little mood music. For the past 28 days, I’ve been stuck in a house with my wife and twin five-year-old boys. Since my wife is a teacher, she’s spent half of the time teaching remotely. For me, that means I’ve been dadding-so-hard. I’ve become an expert obstacle course builder, an expert in all things monster trucks, and unlocked that special part of my brain that has to do with Pokemon. Secret time – my favorite thing to do while playing hide and seek is to pretend I can’t find them and get five minutes of quiet. UPDATE – I found that if I hide in my bed, under my comforter, they can’t find me. This is a game-changer! In other words, send help. I need sports so badly.

In my fantasy drafts that have already taken place, I’ve ended up rolling the dice on Yasiel Puig a lot. Like, we’re at an alarming rate. If you want to consider this a puff piece on Puig, that’s fair, but this is also a time for me to dive into Puig and reflect. We’ll dive into Puig for fantasy purposes, as well as take a look at why the 29-year old outfielder – one that’s averaged 25 homers over the last three years – is still without a team.

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By now, we were supposed to be talking about what was happening on the field. We were supposed to be over-reacting to this year’s Matt Davidson (3 HRs on Opening Day 2018), but alas, nothing is right in the world. In an effort to push on, we’ll continue to do draft research until the game we love returns to the field.

Since second base falls off into the abyss, we’ll take a look at the top four off the board – Jose Altuve, Ozzie Albies, Gleyber Torres, and Ketel Marte. We’ll go through the pros and cons of each with our focus being on H2H Categories leagues. After checking out my opinion, let’s keep the debate going in the comments section!

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Over these next two weeks, we’ll be focusing on late-round category targets. This week we’ll touch on hitting categories and follow it up next week with pitching categories. While these will be geared towards the standard 5×5 categories, feel free to leave a comment if you have a more specialized category.

For this exercise, I limited my player pool to hitters projected to get at least 350 plate appearances (with a handful of exceptions). I tried to stick with players being drafted beyond pick 175, but in my mind, the later a player’s going, the better. With that in mind, let’s get to it.

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Last week in H2H Categories Strategy we discussed the merits of punting. This week, I want to talk about what I look for in hitters once we get past the early rounds – consistency. Since we play a game that resets every week, we want to roster players that will fluctuate less. Hot and cold streaks will happen even with the best players, but there are certain qualities we can look for in hitters that should minimize our risk.

Growing up, my dad was the coach of my little league team. He would tell us, get on base and good things will happen. While it seems really simplistic, I still follow my dad’s advice when I’m looking for consistent hitters – high contact rates and a low K-BB%. Basically, we’re looking for players with good plate skills. These might not be the sexiest names in the draft, but grabbing a handful of these players in the mid to late rounds will provide your team with an ample floor. Without further ado, let’s get to the list:

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Head-to-head fantasy baseball encompasses some of my favorite parts of fantasy – rivalries, strategies, and ties. Okay, maybe not that last one, but overall, it’s my favorite format to play. Like in roto leagues, you’re focused on compiling stats in your scoring categories (homers, runs, steals, strikeouts, etc.), but your matchup resets each week and you’re on to the next opponent.

Punting is one of my favorite strategies in H2H Categories, mostly because it allows me to not pay a premium for saves or speed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a) punting both or, b) fully punting either, but I do recommend a version of punting that I feel gives you an advantage over your opponents.

Here’s our disclaimer – This is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. You know your league and your in-season management ability. If you’re an owner who is excellent at scooping up new closers, then punting saves is a reasonable strategy to explore. These strategies are also not meant to be half-assed. If you’re leaving your draft knowing you need to find steals on the wire, take the time to find those steals. Now that you’ve been warned, enter the punting dungeon……if you dare.

 

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

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We’ve come to the end of the fantasy season and I hope it was a good one for you. For this final FanDuel Friday, we have a 15-game slate. Baseball’s an extremely fluky sport, to begin with, but come late-September it’s just a mess. I’m going to focus on the teams that still have something to play for since, in theory, they’re putting forth full effort. Unfortunately for us, that means one of my top pitching recommendations is Mike Fiers ($8,300). Currently, the Athletics are in the lead for the first Wild Card spot, with the Rays a half-game behind them and the Indians a game and a half behind the Rays. After three regression-filled starts in which Fiers gave up 16 earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched, he had a get-right start against the Rangers, going eight-scoreless innings pitched. Today, Mike Fiers gets a matchup against the Mariners, who have gotten worse against right-handed pitching as the season wore on. Since September 1st, the Mariners have put up a 73 wRC+and struck out 28.9% of the time against righties. Let’s take a look at the rest of today’s FanDuel slate.

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