Travis Jankowski was called Fred, by his older brother and sister, because he loved watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a kid. Mister Rogers was in fact Fred Rogers. Mind blown. Hey, I thought he was one of the neighbors. I wasn’t a big MRN guy, but I do remember the “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Anyways, Mister Rogers’ neighborhood was a place for children to learn and grow. “To foster the social and emotional ‘tools’ for learning self-esteem, curiosity, self-control, the ability to pay attention, to handle mistakes, and deal with anger.” Maybe I should have been more of a MRN guy. I’m not sure Mister Rogers would approve of Jankowski’s main professional skill, though: stealing bases. But check out what Mister Rogers would say before the end of each episode: “You always make each day a special day. You know how. By just being yourself. There’s only one person in the whole world that’s like you, and that’s you. And people can like you just the way you are. I’ll be back next time. Bye bye!” And then I realized…Mister Rogers would have bunted to break up a perfect game and given no shits about it.

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About a year ago, I started seeing more people riding electric scooters around Los Angeles. Then, I’d see groups of scooters parked on sidewalks. My first thought was, “Scooter gangs!!! Ride-bys!!!” Alas, I did a little due diligence and learned that the company, Bird, was responsible for this new concept. It makes sense. Los Angeles is so spread out and mass transit kind of sucks, so the scooters have been a hot trend to be that “last-mile” of transportation. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. Up in San Francisco, residents have been complaining about “disorganized parking and hazardous sidewalk usage.” Which side of the scooter rage are you on? The same question can be posed for Scooter Gennett (69.1% owned – increase of 35.7%). This Scooter has been the most added player in ESPN leagues over the past week. Rightfully so, as he’s gone 12-for-23 with 4 runs scored, 2 home runs, and 6 RBI over that span. For the season, Scooter is batting .323 with 19 runs scored, 6 home runs, 24 RBI, and 1 stolen base. We’ve been here before, as Scooter was often written up last season, when he finished with 27 home runs and a .323 batting average. I’m a Scooter Gennett guy. Low strikeout rate (18.8%), utilizes the whole field (38.4% oppo rate), 82.4% contact rate, and 8.7% swinging strike rate. He also has a 42.4% hard hit rate!!! Now, that will probably come down, as will the batting average that is supported by a .373 BABIP. With that said, a .270-ish batting average with a .170 ISO seems feasible with upside. Great American Ballpark is a great place to hit and Scooter is batting cleanup in the Reds lineup. The most encouraging thing for me has been the success against left-handed pitching: .343 average with 1 home run in 37 plate appearances. Keep in mind that the sample size has been small and that he’s a career .221 hitter against lefties in his career. With that said, even if he regresses against lefties, there’s still plenty to like with Scooter. As for the other scooters? I’d be scared shitless riding those things around. Too many people with road rage in Los Angeles. I’d imagine sidewalk rage could become a thing with riders getting clotheslined soon. TREASURE

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Christian Villanueva made his debut last season and clubbed four home runs in 32 plate appearances. Can I get an amen? They came with a 31.3% strikeout rate and 0.0% walk rate, though. Only God is perfect. So, with that knowledge, many took solace in knowing they had a strong Christian and….Their faith was rewarded, as he smashed three home runs in his second game to start the 2018 campaign. Coincidence that Passover was March 30th to April 7th this season? Fine, don’t answer that, you party pooper. Let me enjoy my Ancient Aliens show in peace. For the non-believers and infidels, the plate discipline numbers and limited track record had them dancing to Milli Vanilli tunes. Sorry, tune. But then, he had an 11-game hitting streak in which he homered in three straight games and amassed a total of five home runs. Now, he’s mired in a 10-game bagel streak, in which he’s walked twice and struck out 13 times. Will this Christian be saved?

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I rarely see the owner of the house next door. He inherited the house, renovated it, and is now renting it out. So, it was surprising when I saw him in the front yard one day. I went out and asked him what was going on and the response was that he was looking for a new gardener because the present, or shall we say former, crew was not doing the job they were being paid to do. Skimping on the raking, the cutting, and not coming when they were supposed to. I believe he was hiring them to come every two weeks. Anyways, as a gardener, I guess you could always play off the work that you did by saying, “I raked the leaves. The wind must’ve started blowing more leaves back right away” or “I cut the grass. It must’ve grown much faster this month.” The gardener’s, the dog ate my homework, excuse I guess. Well, Brett Gardner (69.8% owned – decrease of 9.7%) has not been raking lately as well. Is he playing us or is this the case of the baseballs? For full disclosure, I had Gardner as my sleeper coming into the season, so there may or may not be some bias in this evaluation. Before you throw internet tomatoes at my internet head, Gardner went 21/23 last season and was super cheap in drafts. Anyways, currently, he’s batting .198, has hit 1 home run, and stolen 2 bases in 150 plate appearances. Digging into the numbers, Gardner is hitting more ground balls, fewer fly balls, but has an elevated infield fly ball rate. The strikeout rate is up, but so is the walk rate. Other than that, everything else looks the same. In fact, the plate discipline numbers have been better. The swinging strike rate and O-Swing% are lower than the last few years. The BABIP is .256. The only other time it’s been below .300 is way back in 2008. The ISO is at .050. The last time it was under .1 was back in 2012. Now, Gardner is 34 years old, so there’s the chance that Father Time is flexing. With that said, I just don’t think this is the end. I expect some positive regression to the ISO and BABIP numbers. The Yankees are still batting him lead off against both righties and lefites and he’s only sat 3 games so far this season. Will he go 20/20 like last season? Probably not, but 15/15 with a ton of runs scored? I can dig that. You may not think that is sexy, but there were only 25 players in all of baseball to go at least 15/15 last season. TREASURE (This blurb will self-destruct if Gleyber Torres becomes the Yankess leadoff hitter)

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Last week, an official member of the Razzball Commenter Crew (It’s free to join!) asked if I could do a Bear or Bull on Jorge Soler. I immediately responded with “Bareback?” and “Are you Japanese by chance?” Ok, I lied. My first response was “Sure,” but that doesn’t get clicks!!! Plus, my jokes come out as fast as a sloth takes a dump, but hey….eventually both come out. Anyways, Soler has been a hot topic recently. I’ve seen headlines circulating all over the internet, but like a psycho child that doesn’t take a peek at the hidden Christmas presents, I refrained. I wanted an unadulterated look. So, here it goes…

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“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” – Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects. I disagree Mr. Kint. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing 22.4% of ESPN owners that Jarlin Garcia was worth a pickup. 1.09 ERA is the juicy apple. But hidden in plain sight is the 6.27 K/9, 3.55 BB/9, and .151 BABIP. Want me to continue? How about a 95.2% strand rate and 4.57 xFIP? Go farther you say? 36.4% hard contact rate and 8.6% swinging strike rate. More? Damn, no wonder the devil be one productive mofo. Paul Sporer of Fangraphs broke it broke it down last week HERE. Maybe Jarlin is a magician. Maybe Jarlin is a Jedi master. When I look at FanGraphs, the data says that Jarlin is throwing his fastball more, slider less, and changeup more than last year. On Baseballsavant, though, the data says that Jarlin is throwing the fastball more, slider more, and changeup less. He’s even got the internet flabbergasted! Anyways, I’m in agreement with Sporer. I’m not going to write what he said, though. Go back and click on the link. Don’t be a lazy mofo. That’s when the devil pounces. TRASH

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J.A. Happ is the 16th pitcher on the Razzball Player Rater. Bet that went in one ear and out the other. Grabs head. Shakes it up and down and side to side. Uses one of those thingamajiggies with the light on the end that the doctor uses to inspect the inside of your ear. Throws head down after being satisfied that there is more than air in there. J.A. Happ has 50 strikeouts in 36 innings for a 12.50 K/9! Wha…wha….whaaaaat! Mount Kilimanjaro just surfaced between your legs. J.A. Happ is 35 years old. Click HERE. So, what’s Happening?

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Two days ago, Justin Bour hit 2 home runs against the New York Mets. Prior to that game, though, Bour had 6 hits in 37 at-bats with 1 run scored and 1 RBI. As a result, my inbox was inundated with questions regarding Bour and the ownership percentage in ESPN leagues went down 13.4% to 59.1%. My inbox wasn’t inundated with questions regarding Bour. That honor goes to the Nigerian prince that continues to profess his willingness to help out society by giving everyone money. The decrease in ownership, though, was indeed real. Is it warranted? The plate discipline numbers seem fine. Bour is swinging a little less than normal, but the contact rates are in line. The batted ball profile is where things are out of whack. More ground balls, fewer line drives, more infield pop ups, less hard contact, tons of soft contact, and more hits to the opposite field. No surprise then that the BABIP is .200 and batting average is .190. The strikeout rate of 22.2% is close to the career average, but the walk rate of 6.7% is well below the 10% career average.

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If you thought this was a post on Aaron Judge, I don’t blame you. We here at Razzball always like to word play with the titles, but today I’m taking it next level by bringing it back to the literal. Got it? Yeah, me neither. Anyways, society is always espousing that we not judge a book by its cover. Sage advice and, since I’m a part of society, I shall pat myself on the back. In the early days of man’s existence, instantaneous judgements needed to be formulated for survival. Is that furry animal with big teeth friend or foe? As time progressed, life got more complicated. Are those breasts real or fake? Is it you or me? Taste great or less filling? No longer was life simply about eating or being eaten. Mankind has reached a certain level of consciousness to tap into the brain power that has allowed us to manipulate and/or be manipulated. Translation: not everything is what it seems. For this week’s edition of Bear or Bull, I will look at Chris Owings and Logan Morrison, two players at opposite ends of the production spectrum to begin the season. A 2-for-1 special! Who’s better than me??!! Don’t answer that.

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Mahle is pronounced mahl-EE. So, if the headline seemed a little off, there you go. Now go back and read it again. I thought it was maul myself, so thank goodness I caught it before I wrote the title. Anyways, this is such a great time of the season for fantasy. The hormones are still pulsating, the optimism is still flowing, and the scrutiny from every action on the diamond is simply amazing. It’s as if everyone is on Ritalin. As a result, the emotions are high and perceptions are warped. Overreaction Theater is sold out. For better or for worse, enjoy this blessed time before the grind and dog days take over. In this weekly piece, I’ll take a look at one player that has performed above or below expectations and provide a verdict for his future prospects. This week will be none other than Tyler Mahle.

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