The value of Michael Taylor is that he can play centerfield better than anyone else on the Nationals roster.  I get that defensive metrics are not a fantasy stat, but it keeps players like him in the lineup from day-to-day.  With the emergence of Juan Soto and the impending return of Adam Eaton, it causes a luxury that most teams don’t offer.  Four decent to great outfielders that all offer a different set of skills but all rosterable in most fantasy formats.  I think the biggest question we have to ask is: Is Juan Soto going to stay up when Adam Eaton returns from the 60-day DL on the 8th?  Given what we have seen from him based on on-field merit, absolutely.  Making Eaton or Taylor the fourth man on any given day is the right choice, but I am leaning that Eaton or Soto form a nice rotation based on what the skipper has said about Taylor: “He wins games with his play on the field” is the truncated version of what he said.  He isn’t wrong, and basically Taylor is the Nationals version of Keirmaier. Similar skill set, maybe a bit more speed for Taylor, but their main asset is their propensity for great glove work.  Listen, I get and hear all the prospect thumpers saying there is no way that Soto comes out of the lineup, but to think that he doesn’t sit occasionally upon Eaton’s return is just plain naive. Eaton won’t play everyday, because he is about as durable as a street watch bought in Chinatown. So if you are a Taylor owner, be semi-nervous he should be owned for SAGNOF appeal, but not a pillar that is in your lineup for any other counting stats.  Even if the are getting better over the past 14 games to what they have been over the course of the year so far. So to summarize on the SAGNOF love, Eaton coming back, Soto, Taylor and Eaton will all lose 4-6 at bats a week, all is well and all are ownable.  SAGNOF Monday starts off your week with class and style.  Cheers!

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Forget about raising the Jolly Roger, let’s just salvage the poor thing.  The closer there, Felipe Vazquez, or the artist formerly known as “One Inning Willy” is struggling.  Which sucks for me personally because I tabbed him and the suspended one preseason to be the valued goods in the ranks of relievers.  Welp, you can’t predict injury, criminal activity, or attrition.  Judging that one closer is bad compared to if one is good, the eye test always wins out.  But Vazquez has been bad, and with an injury asterisk.  Blowing 4 saves in the last 10 games is just bad karma regardless of if your name is Mariano or not.  Bad luck, sure.  Injured…?  More likely, which is bad.  The propensity for him to be a every day or two out of three closer may be changing within the near future, not only to ease his pain with the stress of pitching the ninth, but to get a second look at one of the viable arms that has the look on paper of a closer.  That triumvirate of Michael Feliz, Edgar Santana and Richard Rodriguez have pitched spotty the last few times out, but should be owned in deeper leagues where saves are like the Sahara.  Cuffing yourself, even though the news on Felipe has come back clean, is the best advice I can give as a bullpen junky.  Just in case is better than a dollar short.   Other bullpen and closer bits of tid on the way.  Cheers!

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Last week we touched on the Mariners and the propensity for steals in a post-suspension world.  Since then, the navigators of the sea have acquired Denard and Colome, making more SAGNOF situations.  The scorching hot filterless hitter I wanna concentrate your gaze on this week is from the same team with ample speed to be used.  That hitter is Ben Gamel.  The addition of Span to the outfield mix is a bit of a head scratcher fantasy-wise, because someone has to sit and three outfielders have to play.  Gamel over the last 7 games is going streaking across the quad and down the street to On Base Percentage-ville.  His batting average alone is a nice coup for a short term pick-up.  Hitting .381 and an OBP of .458 is a nice end of the OF problem to have.  He is getting his fair share of AB’s and is putting his on base skills to good work too, stealing 3 bases in the past week.  That may seem like small potatoes, but in the world of steals that is a lot by its own standards.  So if you are surfing the waiver wire looking for outfielders with small potatoes to offer, take a long hard look at the Marines outfielder.  On to better and pressing news in SAGNOF-dom, we got charts and snippets of joy for this Memorial Day.  Cheers!

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Tap on the shoulder, now tap on the other shoulder.  Swords and knights yadda, yadda.  Pun joke and title inclusion over.  I could probably draw it out to upmost degree, but I’ll just end it and rip the bandaid off and jump into the welcome back Kotter bullpen of Philadelphia.  If the collective bullpen in Philly isn’t called the Sweathogs, they are doing something wrong.  The Vinnie Babarino that is emerging as the future leader is most definitely Seranthony Dominguez.  Dude set a record with hitless streaks to start the year for a rookie and is now the go to, end all be all holds guy for the Phillies.  His arsenal screams future closer, but Kapler’s fear of commitment and Neris owning pictures of some relative of his.  Dominguez is the guy, for now and for later.  With 5 holds and 1 save in his last 6 appearances, he is involved in almost every winning game the Phillies are.  He checks all the proverbial boxes that we have previously discussed when looking for a reliever to roster.  Plus he has the save appeal, which is similar to curb appeal, minus the fact that you don’t need shrubs or a Chinese maple tree to accent how dominant he has been. Holds for now, saves for later for the Sir of the Cheesesteak. Roster with confidence as his results are great, but be patient as Kapler is a mad scientist with his bullpen decision making skills.  Holds week brings the best out of all of us, because you play in a league with holds.  That’s why we are fake internet friends.

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For all intents and purposes, Jean Segura was a flopapotamus last year, failing to get to any of the previous year’s stats across the board.  That includes the all loving steals category.  He has gone from 33 in 2016, to 22 last year, to already having 11 in just over 200 plate appearances, which is a phenomenal pace for anyone that bought into him a his ADP in draft season.  Eleven steals already leads to a projection of right around 40, and 40 steals is fantastic, as it has only been eclipsed 10 times in the last few years.  Which brings back my old standby statement: that steals are a dying breed except for the select few.  I fully expect that the Mariners, who currently sit top-6 in MLB in steals, to keep the running game as a a major cog now that Robbie Cano isn’t around showing his elite speed.  With Dee Gordon and Segura, the Mariners have a duo of speed that really is unrivaled by other MLB teams.  The past week for Jean has seen his total jump from 5 to 11 steals overall. (Coincidence that Cano isn’t in the lineup that he is taking the base rather than trying to get hit over?  I think not.)  Nothing about that screams coincidence, it would be more of a coincidence for me to casually run into my ex-girlfriend outside the church on her wedding day.  So with a slash line of .414/.419/.655 since the removal of Cano, he looks primed to be an even more of a steal threat moving forward.  That is also a nod for Dee because the re-invention of lineup changes is the way a team plays.  I read that in a fortune cookie just now.  So welcome to SAGNOF day, kinda like Rusev day, but with less Bulgarian influence.

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Nothing is worse than owning a closer you drafted… you get comfortable and things are going well.  You’re sitting pretty, a dalmation on the beer cart.  Then poof!  The dreaded word that for fantasy players and save connaisseurs is worse than the “I’m pregnant” line; That word is a “group”, from singular to plural.  It isn’t fair.  These guys don’t know the hours of time we devote to drafting a team and then getting pimped to the waiver wire for the next dude up.  Well, that is where we are currently sitting with Atlanta and Philadelphia.  Adding more names to the donkeycorn factory at the end of the chart.  Joining the fray are now Tommy Hunter, A.J. Minter, Seranthony Dominguez, Dan Winkler, and a slew of other candidates that are all in bathrobes in a line by height down the hallway.  Save orgies are good for one thing and one thing only, diversifying the stat and keeping you closer to the leader by expanding the save universe.  But we all live in “a one man, one save” lifestyle like the Puritans.  So what do we make of all this mess, besides getting a waiver wire mop and roster as many as possible? Stay calm if you own the old closer.  There was a reason they had the job initially, and they are still in the running.  Dropping a potential save candidate to the wire is never a good idea, unless you are upgrading and getting a better save option that has the job outright.  This savey save advice is keen when you are middle of the pack, but if you are chasing saves and falling behind by the day, trading for one of a higher caliber is the tact to go.  Let us see what else is happening in the end game of fantasy…

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The theory of SAGNOF is capitalizing on the chances in front of your face.  The “polish sausage” king of steals has returned from the minors and re-established his presence in the stead of others.  Travis Jankowski started the year out of favor, not just based on ability, just on talent.  With Manuel Margot struggling and injured and Hunter Renfroe basically doing the same exact thing (but getting Pipped by Franchy), Travis has jumped from AAA and shown his best SAGNOF face.  Hitting .368, with 2 steals and OBP of .455 over 12 games since his return.  We all know of his one sided ability in the SAGNOF game because that is what makes him the prince of this and basically the west coast Rajai.  His availability in leagues is less than 5% owned across most formats and should steadily climb until the outfield situation is a muck.  An OF of Margot, Franchy, and Travis is of the extremely light-hitting variety.  It is using Travis now before the likes of Wil Myers, whose return is the question.  With Myers eventual return a few weeks off to possibly 10 days, using Jankowski now for the steals affect isn’t a bad idea as his stats say that he can hit, get on base and effectively get on base. The 30-steal year just two years ago shows that he has a penchant for the swipe, just has to avoid attrition, replacement and the inevitable return of better talent.  He has the gig for the next week to 10 days so now is the time to see if you can steal, pun intended, a few bases to pad your stats and move along.  That is what SAGNOF is, hit and move.  Don’t fall in love.  get what you want out of it and than throw it to the waiver wire dogs.  It is a sad world we live in and there is no cuddling in the quest for steals world.  I don’t care how great the big spoon feels.  More saves and steals ain’t got no face goodies after the bump.

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I mean, who doesn’t like a good old Kenny Rogers reference?  I appreciate it, but was more keen on Islands in the Stream, which in reality still works for this post.  This week, I wanna focus y’alls attention on when to keep relievers of hold value or when to fold them and grab someone new.  I wanted to bring this up because the near-leader in holds currently is Juan Nicasio.  (Who for all intents and purposes is a fantastic Holds pitcher when you just take into account the hold total of 12.  Which trails only Archie.)  The hold total is great for holds leagues says captain obvious.  The peripheral stuff is absolutely poop though. Commander Poop, for the full nautical theme.  He checks none of the boxes from the non-hold league boxes, his  K-rate is just a tick above 9, HR/9 at 2.0, a BAA over .300 and an ERA over 6…  Those are not the four checks that I was referring too.  So for mixed leagues, the guys you want to own are all over these standards: The K-rate has to be at or above 11 K/9, which includes over 60 relievers in baseball. HR/9 has to be tiny, think under 0.50, BAA against has to be anything at or below league average of .243.  And lastly, the ERA has to be respectful, but not the end-all-be-all of determinations, because unluckiness does happen with relievers.  So when doing your homework for reliever adds, make a checklist of those three stats and let the ERA be the tie-breaker in determining your add.  In holds leagues, quantity does matter, but if you are only going to eat one banana why buy the whole bunch and let them ruin all the other categories?

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SAGNOF info is the best way to get a leg up on the SAGNOF trade.  (I challenged myself to use that anagram twice in the same sentence.) Challenge accomplished, and in the first line too! Wish I had longer arms than those baby T-Rex arms because the pats on the back wouldn’t stop.  As I continue the back lauding, the week upcoming is a bear market in steals.  The year is mimicking the previous year’s steals downward trend, as it is down almost 8% of the pace from last years total to date.  So if you have a valuable piece of steals bait that isn’t doing so great, let’s say his name is “Billy Hamilton” and you are having trouble getting ample trade value for him…  read this post so it can be explained that despite his sub-200 average and lower than expected 5 steals to date, he still has stolen base value.  Yes, you are going to have to trade for 75 cents on the dollar, but explain this to someone looking for steals and are down on Billy that he is still top-20 in steals and with that 5 steals total, he would be at 20% of most teams total steals on the year in fantasy.  That number obviously changes by league type and such, and I took an average of all the leagues I myself compete in (median is 31).  So while I sit here and let you either figure out how to sell high or buy low on Billy Hamilton, continue the read and learn about the steals that will come, have happened, and the week’s thievery to be.  Cheers!

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Closers wear many hats, many outfits, and work their way up to that garnered closer spot.  Now that Hunter Strickland is there, established and doing work, what will become of him if/when Mark Melancon returns… eventually?  Melancon is scheduled for a bullpen session this weekend and he was previously scheduled for a throwing session a few days before, but instead played catch.  Was his dad in town and they wanted to reminisce about the days of yore?  But back to the guy in the seat in Strickland, him of the plus 9 K/9, 7 saves in 9 chances and .170 BAA.  Those are all numbers for a closer that makes you comfy and cuddly in a “set it and forget it” kinda way. Though in all fairness, you should never remove your closer from your starting roster.  So how long, or better yet, do we trust that Melancon just walks in like Wooderson from Dazed and Confused with ‘This is the story of the Hurricane’ playing behind and retakes his job?  I am leery that he even makes it through his bullpen session.  Kinda serious, but… kinda serious.  The people that drafted Melancon aren’t losing anything but a DL slot.  The people that own Strickland via FAAB or waiver wire pick up deserve him keeping the job.  I am fighting for the common man here!  The everyday waiver wire warrior.  So rooting for Strickland now is a thing, I am going to get some foam fingers made that have some catchy quote on them.  So if you are a Strickland owner, it is a firm hold and hope the MM never makes it back.  For the Melancon owners… sorry.  Hope he falls down and breaks his crown.  Closer report, rankings, and musings heading your way.  Cheers!

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