Sequels are rarely better than the original. Caddyshack II and all the Karate Kids come to mind, but there have been many instances when the new surpassed the old. The Dark Knight, Godfather Part II, Toy Story 2, and X-Men United are but a few. The same dynamic has played out in the baseball world as well. Pudge Rodriguez was a Hall of Fame catcher. His son Dereck? Not so much. C’mon? There’s a reason it’s named the Hall of Fame. Vlad Guerrero and Craig Biggio were both Hall of Famers and have sons in the big leagues now. Cavan and Vlad Jr. have just started their baseball careers, but the probabilites are low that they surpass their father’s exploits. But, but, but….that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, as Ken Griffey Sr. was a three-time All-Star, but Griffey Jr. was elected to the Hall of Fame. So what can we make of Mike Yastrzemski‘s hot start to the Rona-infested season of 2020? Will he be but another run-of-the-mill sequel or are there signs that he’s on his way to eclipsing grandpa Carl’s 3,419 hits, 452 home runs, and Hall of Fame career?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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I was cruising down the Razzball Player Rater streets last night. Aaron Judge. I am standing. Dansby Swanson. Delicious. Trevor Story. An enjoyable read. Then my head swiveled to the tv, as Wheel of Fortune returned from commercial. D_n_van S_lan_ was the puzzle. Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel. I’d like to buy an O. Yes, Donovan Solano is the numero nueve player on the rater! .484/.500/.710 slash with a home run, 13 RBI, and .226 ISO. Where did the O come from? And can it continue?

Solano is 32 years old, 5′ 9″ 195 pounds, and bats from the right side. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent back in 2005, which feels like six months ago, and spent seven years in their minor league system. He clubbed a total of 10 home runs in 2382 plate appearances. D_n_van S_lan_ indeed. He stole a few bases each season, the batting average fluctuated from .209 to a high of .317. The ISO surpassed .100 only two times. The walk rate never exceeded 8.3% while the strikeout rate was always good, routinely in the 10-15% range.

In 2012, the Marlins invited Solano to spring training as a non-roster invitee. He played 93 games for the big club that season and had a .295/.342/.375 slash with 2 home runs, 29 runs, 28 RBI, and 7 stolen bases. The walk rate was 6.6% while the strikeout rate was 18.4%. The ISO was .081, while the BABIP was .357. Hmm, not bad, but I think we are beginning to see what kind of player Solano is Mehlano.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

When I was a young pup, say around eight years old, my pops entered me into the Mt. SAC Relays, which was and still is to this day an annual track and field festival. I had never run before. I didn’t have cleats. I was dressed in a freaking izod polo shirt for goodness sakes. I still remember it being the red one. Later in life, I asked my pops why he did it. He answered, “I wanted to see how fast you could run.” LOL. For full disclosure, my pops was not a degenerate gambler. Anyways, it was actually a cool experience running in a stadium with people for the first time. And I held my own, which meant not coming in last place. My most distinct memory of that race, though, was a fellow who jetted from the starting line and galloped his way around the track. We ran the 800m race, which is two laps around the track. And said fellow almost lapped us. I’ve never been in awe of someone running before. Which brings me to this fantasy baseball season. It’s not the marathon we are accustomed to, but it’s not a 100m dash either. It’s going to consist of a few laps around the track. Normally, I would eschew hot starts because of the length of a normal season and the fact that the rest of the league would have time to figure out and humble hot player, but these are not normal times. 60 games. That’s it. A player could get hot and remain hot for the entire season! One player who’s sprinting out of the gate is Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners. In 13 plate appearances, Lewis has clubbed two homers with a slash of .364/.462/.909. The sample size is obviously small, but I’ll dig into the data and try to find nuggets that will show whether or not the hot streak is sustainable.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I usually have FOMO when it pertains to Japanese imports: cars, video games, sushi, anime, toilets, and baseball pitchers. I just learned that there’s a concept called JOMO, which is the joy of missing out. L. O. L. Well, I get JOMO when it comes to Godzilla, radioactive fish, and baseball hitters from Japan. But, but, but….there are always exceptions to the rule. Hideki Matsui, coincidentally nicknamed Godzilla, was amazing and so was Ichiro, but the rest of the list is the aftermath of eating that five-eyed fish. So, where will new import, Shogo Akiyama, fit into the spectrum?

Akiyama is 31 years old, 6′ 0″, 190 pounds, and bats from the left side. He played nine years in the JPPL and put up some impressive numbers. In 2015, he had 216 hits in 143 games and, over the past five years, has always produced over 170 hits per season. Over the last three seasons, he’s clubbed over 20 homers, stolen at least 10 bases, had a batting average over .300, and OBP hovering close to .400. He has five-category skills, but it’s the JPPL, so that sort of production is unrealistic to expect his first season in MLB. So what can we expect?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so the Doyers, not the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, are my team. My first memories were of Fernandomania. What a glorious time it was. Ever since then, it’s been the pitchers that have captivated my attention. From Orel Hershiser to a young Pedro Martinez. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! For Delino DeShields! I digress. The Hideo Nomo no-no in Coors. Eric Gagne and his roids running out from the bullpen to “Welcome to the Jungle.” Man, we would all get so freaking amped. For much of my adult life, though, it’s been about Clayton Kershaw. From 2009 to 2017, Kershaw had one of the most dominant stretches ever for a starting pitcher. In 1827.1 innings, Kershaw struck out 2020 batters. In the history of the game, only Chris Sale’s 2007 strikeouts in 1629.2 innings is better. Coincidentally, we are mired in a most unforgettable year of 2020. Is it time to move on from Kershaw for fantasy? Especially since he’s being drafted as the 10th pitcher off the board and 37.53 overall player in NFBC drafts from 6/1 to 7/12?

We’ve known the fastball velocity has been declining for years now, but man….90.5 mph last season isn’t good. Yet, the brilliance that is Kershaw still managed a 9.54 K/9, 2.07 BB/9 and 3.5 xFIP. Amazing. Most impressive was the 12.9% swinging strike rate.

How’d he do it?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

There was a period of time in my life when I was a brand name snob. It was not a time I am proud of, but it happened. Fortunately, it didn’t last long, as I became woke. Why am I spending more money on something that is essentially for others? F that! I ain’t spending $10 on a Hanes white t-shirt when I can stroll on down to the swap meet and get 5 for $10. My life became more about comfort and utility, which suited me much more. The same concept applies for fantasy baseball. Sometimes, you pay for the name brand and you receive the luxurious benefits. There are times, though, when a swap meet special emerges that performs similarly to a more well-known name. Dylan Bundy is being drafted as the 84th pitcher and 217th overall player in NFBC drafts from 5/1 to 7/5. Steamer has his projections similar to a pitcher that is being selected 50 slots higher and 100 spots in the overall rankings. Let’s dig in.

Bundy is a 27-year-old, 6′ 1″, and 200 pound right-handed pitcher. He was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the fourth overall pick back in 2011. He dominated Single-A and even made a MLB appearance his rookie season. Unfortunately, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013 then missed time in 2015 due to a shoulder injury. It wasn’t until 2017 that Bundy pitched over 150 innings in a season. Over the last three seasons, the numbers have been meh: 4.83 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 1.7 HR/9. The walk and strikeout rates have been decent, though at 2.9 BB/9 and 8.9 K/9.

So, why Bundy?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I tried to open my eyes, but the sun was beaming death rays directly into my pupils. It was hot and sticky, like September in NYC hot and sticky. Yuck. My head was groggy and my body was aching. With my eyes no longer melting, I was able to survey the land. Trees. Lots of trees. Mud, bushes. What the hell had happened to me? Just as the synapses in my brain were starting to fire, I began to hear something in the distance. Boom da da. Boom da da. Boom da da. I reluctantly rose from the ashes and set forth towards the drum beat. I was thirsty as hell. Hopefully, there was water. Lots of water there, as nothing would be more satisfying and refreshing. After trekking for what seemed like days, which was in actuality more like 10 minutes, the Boom da da, Boom da da, Boom da da turned into BOOM DA DA, BOOM DA DA, BOOM DA DA. I had arrived. My thoughts of water all but dissipated, as the discovery of Niko Goodrum, a 15/15 player during a normal season at pick 239 in NFBC drafts, quenched the thirst for all facets of my life.

Goodrum is 28 years old, 6′ 3″, 218 pounds, and bats from both sides of the plate. He was selected by the Minnesota Twins back in 2010 with the 71st overall pick. In eight minor league seasons in the Twins organization, Goodrum produced a .250/.333/.379 slash with 42 homers and 122 stolen bases in 2796 plate appearances. The walk rate was routinely above 10% while the strikeout rate was in a palatable range of 25%.

In 2017, Goodrum elected free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. He made the opening day roster and became the super-utility player for the major league club, playing all four infield positions along with the corner outfiield spots. His two seasons with the Tigers had been remarkably consistent.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Canned foods are good to have…..in the event of a nuclear holocuast, zombie apocalypse, and/or global pandemic. Usually I would not include the “and” in the above sentence, but we live in strange times that not including it would classify this piece as fiction. Anyways, back to canned foods. You buy lots of them, stack them on the shelves, then pray that you never have to open them. I get their utility. What I don’t get, though, are the canned foods that have NO PRESERVATIVES written on the label. How? One of life’s great mysteries. Another enigma I stumbled upon the other day was that Dansby Swanson was being drafted as the 224th player in NFBC drafts from 5/1/2020 to 6/20/2020. <insert Nancy Kerrigan sobbing why?>

Last November, Grey wrote a sleeper article on Swanson. That Grey guy is a wise, young, fella. To show that I don’t just parrot Grey and ride his coattails….Who am I kidding? Have you ever ridden coattails? It’s a glorious experience, especially when you can grab Grey’s mustache and use them as handlebars. I digress. I wrote a Bear or Bull article on Swanson back in June of last year, so I’ve been bullish on his prospects for a while now.

So, why is his ADP so low?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

….I sort of Long for him. How this website remains free is beyond me. Anyways, here’s a thought experiment for you. Say you were out shopping for shoes and you see a pair of Nikes for $150, while the Mikes are right next for $15. Which do you buy? Even if the quality of the two products are similar? For those who buy shoes for the status symbol, then the Nikes are the obvious choice, but for the practicality-inclined, the Mikes are the no-brainer. For fantasy baseball, there are some who draft players on name value, which is fine, but sometimes the name becomes a blinder which prohibits the eyes from identifying similar, yet cheaper players. Shed Long of the Seattle Mariners may be just that player, as he is being selected as the 418th overall player in NFBC drafts from 3/1/2020 to 5/24/2020. You won’t believe who the Nikes to Long’s Mikes is.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

From 2015 to 2017, Chris Archer threw over 200 innings in each season and racked up 252, 233, and 249 strikeouts respectively. Then, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the All-Star break in 2018, and was wheeled down into the basement lab of Ray Searage. When he resurfaced, Archer produced the highest xFIP, homerun rate, and walk rate of his career. Hip hip hooray for Ray Searage! Entering the Rona TBD season of 2020, Searage is out and Oscar Marin is in as pitching coach. Is there value with Archer, as he is the 67th starting pitcher and 244th overall player being drafted in NFBC drafts from 3/1/2020 to 4/26/2020?

During the three-year span when Archer was slicing and dicing American League East batters, he was primarily a fastball, slider, and changeup pitcher. So, of course, when Searage got a hand on him in 2018, he broke what was successful and incorporated the sinker/two-seamer into his arsenal. After not throwing the pitch for three years, Archer started throwing it over 10% of the time. Why do you ask? Well, throwing low in the zone and pitching to contact was an organizational philosophy, which neutered both Tyler Glasnow and  Gerrit Cole in the past. Good times.

Please, blog, may I have some more?