I become obsessed with things. Sometimes it can be a particular food or an album (this Jimi Hendrix “vault cleaning” as Rolling Stone describes currently has my ear). Other times, as my mind is often tuned to baseball topics, I incessantly think about a concept from the diamond or evolution of a new statistic. Pitch tunneling is the recent topic earning a spot in my head.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gravitated towards pitch tunneling. Last year I wrote a column about Dylan Bundy’s cutter-slider, it’s usage, and why that pitch is one reason I irrationally like his volatile arm. As I’ve rekindled my interest in the concept, it was time for a refresh after Baseball Prospectus’ recent update. My motive was simple: combining what we know about a pitcher and what we can learn from tunneling might provide us with reasons for optimism.

I’ll admit, this post might get a little bit convoluted, so if you’re not in the mood to try and understand pitch tunneling and determine how much you value it, feel free to hop to one of my last three Razz articles – there’s something for everybody (On Scott Kingery; On ADP discrepancy; On Michael Wacha). Or just skip down to the heading for Patrick Corbin. I’ll try my best to keep things as simple and concise as possible. Teaching a concept is often a great form of learning, so I’ll admit that writing this post, in a way, helps me to understand the topic and its associated statistics better.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Learn more about our 2017-2018 Fantasy Basketball Subscriptions!

Player projections for each of the next 7 days. A kick-ass DFS lineup optimizer and projections for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo!.

I don’t have enough spam, give me the Razzball email newsletter!

Weekly Razzball news delivered straight to your inbox.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Two years ago, this post and the 2nd basemen to target were necessary evils like changing underwear.  Whether you wanted to or not, it was a good idea to take a flyer on a late middle infielder, and you were still expecting to get crapped on.  Then last year, I got goofy with myself and thought there were a ton of early, sexy-AF middle infielders.  You know what they say, “When you think, you make a think out of you and me.”  This year, I’m back to punting MI and there’s about a dozen 2nd basemen/shortstops that are going to make this possible, so let’s get in there like swimwear.  This is a (legal-in-all-countries-except-Lichtenstein) supplement to the top 20 shortstops for 2018 fantasy baseball.  The players listed have a draft rank after 200 on other sites.  Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2018 projections.  Anyway, here’s some shortstops to target for 2018 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Psst!  This post is gonna list 2nd basemen that you should target in your 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.  I’m whispering because you don’t want everyone to see this post.  No, I can’t whisper louder, then it WOULDN’T BE WHISPERING!  Okay, gig’s up (or maybe that’s jig’s up), the love I’m about to reiterately (Made Up Word of the Day!) confirm is on these guys I love later in drafts.  I’m not going to mention Ian Happ other than this one mention of him where I say I’m not going to mention him.  I’m not mentioning Happ other than this mention of not mentioning him because these are players that you’re looking at later and all of them have ADPs after 200.  Some could be the 2nd baseman on your team, they are more than likely MIs.  This is a (legal-in-all-countries-except-Croatia) supplement to the top 20 2nd basemen for 2018 fantasy baseball.  Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2018 projections.  Anyway, here’s some 2nd basemen to target for 2018 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

How long should we wait for prospects that hit the majors to become fantasy relevant? At what point do we give up and move on? Every season we get so hyped up about guys we’ve never seen throw or hit a ball in the MLB and yet for some reason we get so excited about these names that are rumored to hit rosters in mid May. Sometimes these players become superstars and are even better than we could have imagined and sometimes they keep dropping in the batting order until there back in minors a few weeks later. Its not the players fault that we expect way to much out of them so quickly as fantasy players we are not a patient bunch! We give them three at bats before we start dropping them in our ranks and they haven’t even had time to learn their teams celebrations yet. Sometimes we just give up on these guys to soon but every player is different and some need years to adjust in the majors to actually become fantasy relevant.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My prior, uber, hard-line stance has been that you with that one hair wrapped around your head acting as a hairstyle don’t want to draft a sleeper 1st baseman.  By the by, I tried to replace Uber with Lyft in the previous sentence, but it didn’t make sense.  Previously, I’d tell you to go to my top 20 1st basemen for 2018 fantasy baseball (not clickbait at all) and draft some top guys and stop fooling around with sleepers at this position.  Of course, I’m malleable like Gumby and this year I could see drafting a sleeper first baseman, though at my corner infidel or utility slot.  Yes, I still want a top 1st baseman.  No, ‘utility slot’ doesn’t have multiple meanings.  Yes, even for fantasy.  As with other positions like the catchers to target (again, not clickbait), these are 1st basemen that are being drafted after the top 200 overall.  I love Rhys Hoskins, but he’s not going to appear here.  Dear, steer clear–*short circuiting internal rhyming dictionary*  Anyway, here’s some 1st basemen to target for 2018 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here, friend, are some catchers that I will be targeting at my 2018 fantasy drafts after the top options are gone.  I’m not going to get into the strategy of punting catchers.  Been there, half-drunkenly wrote that years ago.  Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2018 projections.  This is a (legal-in-most-countries) supplement to the top 20 catchers of 2018 fantasy baseball.  Now, guys and five girl readers, I am not saying avoid catchers like Salvador Perez if they fall, but to get on this list, you need to be drafted later than 200 overall, and, to preemptively answer at least seven comments, yes, I will go around the entire infield, outfield and pitchers to target very late.  Anyway, here’s some catchers to target for 2018 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Michael Wacha holds a special place in my heart. When Albert Pujols left the Cardinals for the west coast during December of 2011, I partially disowned the player I was most fond of in my childhood; the reason I became a Cardinals fan back in 2001. (Hopefully I didn’t just lose a lot of readers…)

Having a vague understanding of compensatory draft picks, I paid attention to the 2012 MLB Draft. When the 19th pick came up, and St. Louis selected the tall righty from Texas A&M, I associated some of my fleeting distaste for Pujols with the gift given due to his departure. The logic of disowning a player for nothing more than assuming his blind loyalty, which no player should have, in retrospect, was terrible. But the product of my now-distant bitterness was admiration for Wacha.

That affinity soared when he broke out during the 2013 Postseason, mowing through the Pirates and Dodgers before collapsing in Fenway during the final game of the World Series. Wacha then evolved into the low hanging fruit of regression candidates when 2015 finished, fulling that tag a year later when the product didn’t match his peripherals. But an aggregated look at last season stands out for the 26-year-old. A noticeable jump in strikeouts, coupled with usage tinkering, results in an intriguing starting pitcher who lasts into the 20th round of drafts on average.

Rudy has Wacha 175th overall on Razzball’s Player Rater for 15-team NFBC leagues, a solid five rounds ahead of his current NFBC price tag.  Grey is even more aggressive on Wacha, ranking him as a viable SP3, inside his top 40 pitchers and inside his top 125 overall. There is love for Wacha on Razzball and I support the aggression.

It’s hard to think of Wacha without citing his injury history and his ADP may be a tangible result of his unfortunate doctor visits. I alternate my perception of Wacha’s injuries between two categories of thought: development and mechanical.

Development is all eye-test or feel based. I hold a space in my mind, with every young arm, that aging and growth can help mature one’s body out of recurring injuries. Others are simply just injury prone. If that doesn’t quench your thirst for understanding – it shouldn’t – then the folks over on Top Velocity‘s YouTube channel might help.

I’ve cited their expertise multiple times with Ralph on the Razzball Prospect Podcast, and do so again here to fulfill the “mechanical” portion of my thoughts on Wacha’s injuries. One of the things they point out is the lack of engagement in Wacha’s lower half. It might look like he’s driving off his back leg after you observe his toe drag away from the rubber, but that’s a deceptive trick of the eye when you compare his lower half to a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ian Happ doesn’t even have a starting job, but I’m crazy excited about him.  I think he’s the first player I’ve ever written a sleeper post about without a guaranteed starting job.  He’s going to lack runs and RBIs, because Joe Maddon is so smart he needs to outwit himself to stay one step of himself.  Make sense?  It’s not supposed to.  Last year, he had 24 HRs, 8 SBs and .253 in only 364 ABs.  *fighting urge to prorate*  Ugh!  I’m not mentally strong enough to avoid the Prorating Monster.  Last year, he had 65% of an everyday player’s at-bats, so with a full-time job he would’ve had 32 homers, 11 steals in his rookie year.  *eyes roll up in top of head, faints, Giancarlo catches me in his arms, wiping my brow with his handkerchief*  “Thank you, Giancarlo.  Wait, that’s not your arm you caught me with?”  You might be thinking, as a rational person would, that Ian Happ was platooned because of his huge platoon splits.  Haha, yeah, no.  He’s a switch hitter with no real splits.  Also, you might be thinking he is stuck behind someone who absolutely has to play every day.  Yeah, nope.  He played 145 games last year across five positions.  The Cubs are just kinda stacked and Happ played everywhere.  Last year, he played the most games at center field.  Right now, he’s still projected to see the most time in center.  Guess who’s in front of him.  Go ahead, I won’t laugh if you say the wrong name.  Did you just say Crash Bandicoot?  That’s the worst guess I’ve ever heard.  In front of Happ is Albert Almora Jr.  I’m sorry, Maddon does bonkers shizz, but there’s no way Almora moves Happ to the bench more than a few times a week, and those times Happ can just play another position.  So, what can we expect from Ian Happ for 2018 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Me don’t like focusing so much on AL East starters for sleepers.  Me do like talking like a leprechaun.  Kevin Gausman is stealing me Lucky Charms!  Last year, Gausman’s record was 11-12/4.68/1.49/179 in 186 2/3 IP.  Here’s what I said towards the end of last year, “This year, like a case of lice, Gausman is a real head scratcher.  Looking at his perfs (kids say this; think it’s short for perfumes), Gausman is having a garbage year.  Velocity is there, so doubt it’s a hidden injury.  The walks are way up, Ks are down, and the culprit appears to be his fastball.  Went from a near-10 in pitch value on his speed ball to a negative.  FS shouldn’t abbreviate fastball, it should be for ‘F**k’s sake.’  The good news is this sounds like a mechanics problem, and might’ve been fixed already.  Thanks, Pep Boys!  His 1st half vs. 2nd half:  5.85 ERA vs. 3.44; 7.7 K/9 vs. 9.6 K/9; 4 BB/9 vs. 3.2.  Yeah, sadly enough, it’s going to be hard to avoid him in 2018 again.”  And that’s me quoting me!  So, what can we expect for Kevin Gausman for 2018 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Patrick Corbin will be only 28 years old for half of the 2018 season.  I know, surprised me too.  How did I know that would surprise you?  I read your mind, man.  What’s that?  You’re now thinking string cheese would make a good tampon for a mouse?  Hmm, all right, you shouldn’t share that with anyone.  What is that you are thinking now?  Why not take one McRib and make a McEve?  Okay, I think I’m going to stop reading your mind now.  Seriously *motions to your head*  things are going on up there we don’t need to talk about.  Last year, Patrick Corbin, or as a serial killer would call him Pat Rick Corbin, went 14-13/4.03/1.42/178, and I fell asleep in the middle of that stat line.  1.42 isn’t a WHIP it’s my college GPA.  Four-oh-three isn’t an ERA, it’s an ate-testant’s starting weight on The Biggest Loser.  178 isn’t strikeouts it’s–Actually that’s not bad.  As a male porn actor once said, it’s about time we went under the hood.  So, what can we expect from Patrick Corbin for 2018 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
Page 1 of 3123