Here we are, everyone! And by everyone, of course I mean the few souls out there who still have something to play for in a deep league over the next week and a half. And by here, I mean my last NL/AL only column of the season.
It’s been quite a year. I have much more to say about it, and I probably will over the next few months. While everyone is off playing fantasy football, enjoying the holiday season with family and friends, and generally braving the long winter months ahead, I’ll be hunkered down, obsessively thinking about and occasionally sharing my thoughts on the fantasy baseball season that is behind us, as well as the shiny new one that lies ahead of us in 2018.
But for now, I need to clear my head a bit. I’m still having trouble processing the fantasy seasons that Ryan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez have had, and am not sure when I will be able to move on from the burn I’m feeling, as I think this is literally the first year in the last five or six that I haven’t owned both of them in at least one NL-only league. Thinking about the way they treated me in the past, all while watching them wine and dine their current owners with more home runs and quality starts than they know what to do with – well, as with any nasty breakup, it has not been easy. But, it’s time to move on… and if nothing else, I can spend the winter daydreaming about who my 2018 imaginary fantasy baseball boyfriends will be (look out, Zack Godley, I may be coming after you!)
And, if you are one of the lucky ones soldiering on in a deep NL or AL-only league over the next ten days or so, here are some fellows that are owned in only a few percent of leagues… but who, if all the stars somehow align correctly, could end up giving you that magic stolen base or 3-RBI game that puts you over the top.
The suspense must be killing you. Yolmer Sanchez is the first MLB player to what? There are times when a wham, bam, thank you ma’am or sir are in order. You’re on the run and you hear sirens? Perfectly acceptable. You’re at home chillin’ like a…..You hear someone pull into the driveway? Gotta knock it out real quick. Now, I try not to be a selfish person. I like to please. Sometimes it turns into a wham, bam, what the hell was that? But, at least I tried.
Anyways, Sanchez’s full name is Yolmer Carlos Javier Sanchez Yanez. I’m guessing he went with Carlos, as that would make it easier to transition in the USA. I’m kind of curious as to the Sanchez Yanez part? Is his last name Sanchez or Yanez? Now, I’m thinking five pieces of paper were thrown into a hat and then….the magic happened.
So, when the White Sox drafted him in 2009, his name was Carlos Sanchez. At 5′ 10″ 175 pounds, he projected as a utility infielder that would make a living playing solid defense and making contact. Which basically translates to “meh.” Over an eight-year career, he played in 788 games. He never hit more than 10 home runs in any season and often had an average in the .250-.260-ish range. 201 of those games have been at the major league level.
Then, a funny thing happened in 2017. He changed his name to Yolmer. He’s now 195 pounds. And he’s hit 11 home runs in 465 plate appearances. Ok, he’s probably weighed 195 pounds for a while now, but 11 home runs? If that’s not evidence for funny balls, then I don’t know what is. There’s a non-zero chance that it could be the magic of the name hat, though.
Hello? Anyone out there? With just two and a half weeks left to the major league baseball/standard rotisserie season, it’s starting to feel like there are just a few of us left, stranded in a deep, dark cave. If you are still grinding out these final games and fighting for a money finish, good luck and congratulations. If you are completely out of it in your league but are still actively tinkering with and setting your lineup for the good of the fantasy game, you are a better man than many, and I hope the fantasy gods reward you with future spoils. And if you are just killing time at work or trying to distract yourself from a disastrous week one in fantasy football and reading this even though you don’t currently own a deep-league fantasy baseball team that you are actively managing, thank you and welcome!
I shall open this column by quoting September 1st Grey: “I’m not enthused by the guys headed to the majors this September.” I agree completely – I thought there would be a lot more intriguing under-the-radar call-ups to discuss, both for NL or AL-only help over the next few weeks, or to grab with an eye on next year in keeper leagues. Instead, I’m reminded that keeping one’s head in the fantasy baseball game can be less fun and more chore-like with each passing day as we inch towards October.
In September, there’s a lot more inventory, but less of value. Veteran players on non-contenders are getting rested more often, as are young studs on playoff contenders. Starting pitchers are hitting innings limits. And since expanded rosters mean that there’s often no need to officially DL players, it can be hard to tell who is going to get at bats at all, and who is pretty much done for the year. If you’re still actively managing a fantasy team in a deep league at this time of year, there may be more names than ever to choose from on waivers… the tricky part is finding anyone who might actually help your team over the next three and a half weeks.
Now, just since I started writing this, news has arrived that J.P. Crawford and Luiz Gohara have reached the show, so things are getting at least a little more interesting. Meanwhile, here’s this weeks handful of guys who may still be floating around in the deepest of leagues:
I get it. With that freaking lunatic in North Korea doing lunatic things, it’s only natural for the negativity to permeate to all Koreans. But Shin-Soo Choo? Grey wrote in last week’s Buy/Sell column, “Hey, it’s Willie Calhoun’s prospblock! Hey, Willie Calhoun’s prospblock, say hello to your mother for me.” Why Grey why? Why can’t it be Delino DeShields? No need to answer that. How about Nomar Mazara? Carlos Gomez? I’m sticking up for Choo, but what can he do for you?
Since returning to action after a three-month layoff due to injury, Kevin Kiermaier is batting .357/.650/1.007 with two doubles, one triple, three home runs, eight RBI, six runs scored, and one stolen base in 40 at-bats.
Prior to the start of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays extended Kiermaier with a six-year, $53.5 million contract. They believe in him. Should you?
So, I thought the ridiculously garish nickname jerseys over “players’ weekend” were going to be the lamest thing ever (side note: Huh? Don’t the players get 100% of the attention every weekend? Isn’t that kind of like when you asked your parents why there was Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, but no Children’s Day, and they told you EVERY day was Children’s Day?) Maybe the uniforms were kind of silly, but I’m going to have to admit that I actually enjoyed them. Of course, we have to remember that the comedy bar in professional sports is, well, comically low… but still, the jerseys were pretty entertaining. My three personal favorites:
Back in 2012, Byron Buxton was the Louis Vuitton of baseball, as he was rated the best prospect in all the land. After the 2013 minor league season, Buxton proved that he wasn’t some Chinese knock off, as he was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Things were going swimmingly until he got his first taste of big league experience in 2015. All good. Mike Trout struggled his first time too. After spending some time in Triple-A the following season, he got another shot, when he continued to be overmatched. After a brief stint in Triple-A again to start 2017, Buxton got another call up. Wouldn’t you know? He continued to struggle. But….there’s always a but.
Put down that Fantasy Football magazine!! (Do they even make fantasy sports magazines any more? Man, I miss walking to the mailbox in late February and seeing my beautiful new fantasy baseball magazine sitting there. Damn interweb! Wait, if it weren’t for reading about fantasy sports on the internet, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Hmm, may need to rethink my position on this). Anyway, I know it’s hard to pay attention to fantasy baseball at this time of year, even if your teams are hanging in there, and it’s emotionally and mentally grueling to follow along if your teams have already crashed and burned. I get it… another weekend of one step forward (Colin McHugh) and two steps back (Jake Odorizzi and Roberto Osuna – thanks, guys!) had me so frustrated in a deep AL-only league where my team is fading fast, that I barely remembered to set my lineup this week. I’ll also admit that when I sat down to write this article, I was almost immediately distracted by all of the pretty pictures of NFL players, and spent about twelve minutes thinking about whether to rank Bilal Powell or Carlos Hyde higher in a football draft that isn’t happening for another week and a half.
But even if it’s only a few minutes each week, check in on your poor, neglected friend, your old pal fantasy baseball. Even if you don’t have a team vying for a money spot, keep your head in the game. Do it for your league-mates, and do it for yourself… even if it doesn’t make a difference this year, maybe it will impact your 2018. You may uncover a hidden gem of a player, or a piece of information that will percolate in your brain over the winter, and turn into a late-round steal or early waiver wire pick up next year. Those of us who missed the Ryan Zimmermans, Justin Smoaks, and Scooter Gennetts, of the world in 2017 know just how big a difference a couple of these fellas can make.
For now, though, we remain in 2017… with another handful of players who may be available in your NL or AL-only league to assist you in getting through the season’s remaining weeks:
Kolten Wong (14.2% owned – increase of 9%) was far from being the most added player over the past week. In fact, he barely made the list, but the fact that he made the list at all is amazing. It would be Wong of me to not at least dig into him further, no?
Ok, I apologize. That was bad. Anyways, since the start of the month, Wong has a triple-slash of .375/.458/.583 with one home run, five doubles, one triple, 12 runs scored, 10 RBI, and one stolen base. Remember, back in 2014 Wong hit 12 home runs and stole 20 bases, so there’s some potential here. Let’s break it, break it down. He’s walking 10% and striking out 14% of the time. Those are nice numbers and an improvement from his 2014/2015 numbers. BUT…they are very close to his 2016 numbers when he hit .240. The swinging strike rate hasn’t changed but the chase rate has improved by 5%. In addition, his contact on pitches outside the strike zone has increased 6%. He’s also hitting left-handed pitching very, very well so far (.333 average vs .258 career mark). Now, to the portion of the show that you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your seats for…..We are not Wong to be overlooking Kolten. The BABIP is a sky-high .353. That batting average is going to come back down to the .260-ish range. That batting average against lefties is fueled by a .385 BABIP. Nothing in the peripherals shows a drastic change that motivates me to think that his recent success is sustainable. Looks like a lot of luck. TRASH
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