The fantasy world is buzzing with a guy with a tilde in his name, a name that not need speaking.  Because all the prospects analysts have been walking around like freak cases of Cialis gone wrong.  I hear that if you point your juggs gun at it for 30 seconds, it will subside.  Sticking with the Bravos though, I am intrigued by the possibilities around the ever in the lineup presence of Ender Inciarte.  (Him of the 8 steals in his last 14 games.)  When thinking about that total in the past fortnight, it’s more than six whole teams have all season.  I wish that was made up, but there are some slow of foot teams who like the one bag at a time approach.  Batting a crisp .339, getting on-base with an even crispier .369, and has only not hit in the leadoff spot one entire time all year.  Coincidentally, it was yesterday. Uncoincidentally, he still produced.  He is a fixture (at the peak of that blossoming before our eyes) in the lineup, and the best thing about it is that his defense will keep him on the manager’s card to play every single day.  Defensive ability may be the sleepy fantasy stat that has no measuring stick.  Although his counting stats maybe a tad slight on the runs/RBI’s, you want him for his SAGNOF appeal, that and he plays next whats his face.  Stay cozy, my friends as we round the first month out of fantasy in style, and by style I mean with no pants and a tub of ice cream.

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The Miami Jeters are currently cruising on a sub-60 win pace.  Nice if you look at the investment value in terms of dollars and the amount of talent on the field.  Now the once or semi-reliable closer, Brad Ziegler, has puked up another save chance and seen his ERA climb a blood alcohol level of 8.44.  That is a Cherynoblian level that usually results in a quick change, minus Bill Murray dressed as a clown. In the wings are two decent enough options that in most leagues should be owned for their K prowess.  They being Drew Steckenrider and Kyle Barraclough.  A change is coming, as the soft-tossing Ziegler can’t rely on sorcery and garbage to will him through save chances, no matter how few and far between they are.  The Marlins, from a standpoint of we are only winning X amount of games, and can’t afford to lose Y because of a closer who can’t shut the door is just bad for business. I am grabbing Steckenrider before Barraclough just based on games and position of appearances of date.  It is really tough to say though because they have 7 wins, and neither guy has featured more than 4 appearances when the team has been leading.  But Steck has seen more 8th innings, and I like him better because he has a closer makeup. So add accordingly if save speculating is your bag, but with success in closing comes success in the setup game.  And don’t ignore Barraclough either, because he will be in elevated positions as well and since this is the Holds portion of the week, go get him if free.

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I have gone over the preseason, in-season, and shortly in 5-6 months, the postseason love for all things Tim Anderson.  No, the another SB dude from the other, other side of Chicago.  Which in my mind is a triangle, or from the angle that I am drinking at, it’s a complete hypotenuse.  Yoan Moncada over the last 11 days has proven that the Go-Go Sox are in full affect, or flavor.  Whatever the millennials wanna call it.  Is rad still a thing?  Never the who, he has 4 steals over the last 11 games and the propensity, which we thought was potential in the preseason for a lot of the southsiders, is totally a legit thing.  The license to steal (like an opposite version of Bond, or a Fredo Bandido of steals) has the Sox players that hit towards the top of the lineup, when on base, gives them full autonomy to take it.  And by it, I mean the steal of a bag.  Not only do I love it, I would condone a trade for Yoan at some expense that is a sort of overspend.  His hit rate screams breakout, and I mean who doesn’t like a screamer.  Lets everyone know who is laying down the law.  Gives us all a little extra wink-wink.  Extra is right!  He has hit near the top of the order for days and it should continue.  The one thing that bad teams are good at is ulterior fantasy goodies, and steals is definitely one of those stats. So do yourself a favor, go propose to the Yoan owner and say would you have and hold me forever, and ever, and trade me him for a slightly over pay.  Your stats won’t hate you in the morning.  Let’s see what else is hopping on the good foot and stealing the good things in the saves and steals department.  But with charts for her pleasure…or yours.

Picking on catchers in daily roster moves is fun.  Here are the SV leaders for steals against this season. Not ever stat is a good stat, especially when you have catchers and the frequency of steals against.  It isn’t always their fault, but it is not, not their fault.  Ya dig?

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Not only is it bad for marriage, but it is  doomsday for fantasy baseball.  Rostering three relievers from one team, all who accrue saves is just a blight on society.  No one has the ability to carry three separate relievers from one team.  Unless… naw… it’s just stupid to even think about. Two, I can be on board with.  Definitely two.  So you and two guys from one bullpen can have a save-a-trois.  This is the good/bad problem right now with fantasy baseball.  When do we say when for owning relievers from one team.  We almost need a safe word, and even then we wanna over-rosterbate and leave lineup chafe marks.  The current situations in Houston and Milwaukee are both good and bad.  The good are Chris Devenski and Josh Hader.  The semi-good is Jacob Barnes and Brad Peacock.  The bad is bringing in and rostering Matt Albers and Ken Giles.  I say they are bad only because it brings back the too many hens in the savehouse-type scenario.  Plus, Ken Giles has basically been phased with high-end stuff lately and he of the high draft choice are just wasting away like Dick Gregory on the Bohemian diet.  It is an impossible pill to swallow, that he’s a drop just 15 games into the season, but at what point do you look at your losses and start accruing stats that matter from a coveted relief spot?  (Stats that actually matter.)  No, Greg Holland walks don’t count, ya donkey. So when rostering relievers, think two max.  The only other fourth guy that should be looking at the save circle jerk is if you are comfortable enough having a cameraman.  Stay tuned kiddies, more tidbits of closer-dom after the bump… plus the first in-season 12 Buck Salads, Donkeycorns, Employed, and Freezes!

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The stolen base department is always a tough sledding affair.  It is filled with guessing and presumptuous displays of picking the right guy in the right situation.  Steals are very hard to come by on a regular basis currently so the steals are a “trending downward” property. So hitting on one SAGNOF flyer for the week or via the waiver wire for immediate returns is just a hard thing to predict.  At best, the wire fellas will net you one steal a week, and that is being generous.  So looking at the trends “against teams, by teams that steal” is the best model for the stolen base business. Upcoming matchups for the week are the way to go if you wanna guess, but guess with style and maybe a better idea of who is stealing on who and how often.  Taking not only advantage of a catcher skill set but a team skill set for their propensity to give of the thievery.  So here is the SAGNOF report for this week with a scheduler forecaster for the 10-most frequent base stealing teams and their schedule for the week…

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Speed kills. Whether that be by the arm or legs. But this isn’t no SAGNOF post, this is the weekly look at strictly bullpens.  At what point do we stop looking at velocity and its effectiveness being a correlative?  Probably never, as the statcast era has never looked stronger as geeks type in the square roots of derivatives to figure out the best angle of deflection for them to walk down the stairs in their parents basement.  It’s a tale as old as time, and people like me mock math and numbers because, well… I am lazy.  Numbers always existed, but now they are so finite that you can get a feet per second drop of a the pin that no one can hear.  So maybe I should delve into the fray here and take a look at the early season velocity for closers and how they compare to last year and how they correlate to K success. Velocity isn’t the end all be all of reliever success, but is fully in the forefront when studs like Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen are teetering on slow-pokes compared days of yore.  So I made a hand dandy chart, comparing last years average fastball velocity, K/9 and Swinging strike % to this years to see where the relationship between success, worry and full on panic in the closer realms exist.

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If all the experts in the world had baby T-Rex arms, no one would be able to pat themselves on the back. I am lumping myself into the SAGNOF love fest that the grand master Lothario himself, Grey,  was part of and preached in the preseason on why Tim Anderson was the mac.  Or the PC, whatever your preference in lapputers is. I not only loved the guy two months ago, I love him more now that he is living up to the steals hype and maintaining other stats that make him basically a eight-games-into-the-season stud. Looking over his stats and nothing jumps out as a SSS type thing… Is the OBP higher than it will be in 20, 50, or 80 games?  Maybe, but are we certain that he can’t maintain a .350 OBP moving forward? Looking at the back of his baseball card, speed has always been there. As he develops into his body, considering that he is only 24, the power was going to develop from what we saw in the minors.  His high total for any other season besides last year was 13 combined for 2016 that encompassed AAA and 99 games with the Sox. But this is the SAGNOF corner of the world, taters are good, but swipes are delicious.  He has 5 steals in eight games, and is on pace for a whole lot more if he can keep that vital OBP to a respectable number.  He has the license to steal and should continue to do so…but it could get better.  He hasn’t hit anywhere but the bottom-half of the order.  This has eerie similarities to what we saw last year from Merifield.  Sustain great number from the bottom and then boom, move up the order and become an even better kleptomaniac.  So while the steals now are fantastic and a boon to his draft day value (thanks Grey!), keep an eye out for if/when he moves up the order and his numbers could from what they are now to even better.  SAGNOF rant over, let’s get to the tidbits, and the bits of tid that keep all the girls squirrely.  Cheers!

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Closer news is nice, but how much fluctuation is really happening in the first eight games of the year?  Zero is the answer… but what about Kenley Jansen?  If you drafted him, you are riding that gondola to closer purgatory as his draft slot is an inexcusable smorgasbord of devilishness.  In layman’s terms?  You are burnt.  So like closers, I also cover their well being of your local neighborhood holds guys too.  Early season patterns of usage are a key to early season effectiveness.  Managers stick with guys early that have had a good spring and can be relied on to get tough outs. It is no different than later in the season, but some of the faces change because of poor spring, injury returns, and dreaded attrition factors that all relief pitchers battle.  The role of the relief pitcher is completely expanding,  as more former starters are being used in multi-inning appearances.  Would it completely blow your mind if I said there have been more multi-inning appearances of four strikeouts than there have been starts with seven-plus innings?  Boom, mind blown.  The Peacock effect is in full bloom.  Following the Devenski Effect of a year ago, the multi-inning reliever is going to become a hot commodity fantasy-wise… hopefully by Wednesday.  The K-factor, the “free inning” factor, and the way you can time a relief pitcher on a down starting pitcher day is the exploitation factor that can vault your rates into the next level.  It happens subtly and takes diligence on the wire, but two-3 K’s and rates per day at the cost of merely a few innings (as compared to a starter maybe going 5 innings and throwing 85 pitches) makes me wanna puke.  Thanks Gabe Kapler.  So keep an eye out for multi-inning relief cave dwellers and the goodies that they supply.  Or just stick around here and learn about everything else that is happening around the bullpens around fake baseball!

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When the most logical thing isn’t just that, that is the argumentative side to fantasy baseball.  The Royals, and most importantly Ned Yost, are outsmarting all us fake baseballers.  In turn, he is sapping the value from one of the favorites of SAGNOF-dom. Through three games, the uber Razzball fan favorite Jon Jay has hit leadoff in all three affairs.  Negating the leadoff value of Whit Merrifield. I touched briefly this offseason on the importance of hitting in the ultimate spot in the order and how it correlates to the outcomes of stolen bases. The interesting case with Merrifield? It’s that last year he hit in the top spot 111 times and also the final 101 games he played in the season from that top perch. That was last June, and I hate bringing up old stuff but I feel like it is pertinent to the here and now… he basically blossomed when he was left there to think for himself and made Whit Merrifield what you drafted Whit Merrifield this year to be. He amassed 28 steals, batted .282/.313/.449 with great counting stats from a middle infielder.  Now he has emerged as a second-in-the-order cog in the Royals order.  This is what happens when you are too good of a baseballer, but struggle in comparison to the more superior on-base percentage maven in Jon Jay.  (Never thought I would write that last sentence, ever.)  So if you drafted Merrifield this year, be afraid…very afraid.  the steals may not be there as much as you hoped for until he regains that penultimate spot in the batting order. The Royals approach here isn’t wrong. Jay is a better get on-base player.  Merrifield is a better fantasy player though, and batting second is sapping his value right now and basically the gist of this whole thing is JOHN JAY HAS VALUE.  I am not saying go into full-on punt formation, but backing yourself up with a MI option is a good idea. Maybe not for tomorrow, but forward-thinking type stuff.  There, after all, have only been 11 stolen bases from the leadoff spot this year and 64 totals steals across all of the stolen base universe.  Patience is not really the SAGNOF way, but exercising it may be the right thing to do right now…

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Bullpen situations, speculations, and basic wherewithal are always a conundrum.  Much like trying to figure out the size of Bruce Bochy’s head.  Quick answer? It is bigger than normal, and not in an intelligence-type way.  It is more of a cro-magnon way.  Manager decisions aren’t always made by choice, but by no other better outcome.  Hence why we have Hunter Strickland as the interim closer for the Giants.  This is only because Melancon is injured.  Dyson is just abysmal, and Watson has that whole lefty moniker attached to him (plus he hasn’t looked spectacular either leading up to opening day).  Here’s the thing that worries me about Strickland being the guy whether it be temporary or more of a permanent basis; he has problems getting the left-handed hitters out.  Like, it’s really bad.  Just go ask Bryce Harper about that.  Lefties hit .333 last year and for his career, hit almost 50 points higher against Hunter.  Now this is sort of a normal occurrence with opposite handed hitter/pitcher splits, but not for pitchers who are uber successful in closing situations for a long period of time.  The time table for Melancon to return is spotty with arm inflammation, so he could be there for a few weeks or until he falters.  Regardless, saves are saves and he should be owned universally.  Don’t show a blind eye to Dyson or Watson though if the waiver wire show their faces, because this situation is going to be a fluid one if and when Melancon returns for most of the year.  Hunter Strickland rant over. Let’s see what other bullpen and closer news is on the docket for this week…

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