I have waited a very long time to say this, Happy Opening Day! Now, with that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Your H2H league has drafted, we have an 11-day Week 1 (in most formats), and I am here to help you tighten up those categorical needs to help you win every week. In this weekly segment, I am going to give you some players that can help you win your categories. Contrary to ROTO, you need to strike while the iron is hot on a week-by-week basis! While I would love to help you out in your 6-team 15×15 with caught stealing and crotch grabs, I am simply going to look at Runs, RBI, HR, Wins, and Saves. The Ratios will get some love here and there! Without further ado, let’s get started!
Brandon Nimmo, OF, NYM-29% rostered Yahoo- Nimmo is scheduled to leadoff for a powerful Mets team. Nimmo owns a career .390 OBP and has had a strong spring. If the schedule holds, it would appear that he should only have to face Corbin and Matt Moore that could serve as a potential platoon with Kevin Pillar, but Nimmo has been in the majority of spring lineups vs LHP. If last year is an indicator of future growth, Nimmo cut down his k% under 20% for the 1st time and kept the elite BB% in the mid-teens. Health hasn’t been his best friend, but it’s only Week 1….what can happen?
Mark Canha, OF, OAK-47% rostered in Yahoo-Canha grabbed the leadoff role in Oak. and has the OBP to be solid in run production for 2021. Canha has increased his BB% year over year since 2017 and has solid production behind him. Once he secured the leadoff spot, his season-long outlook definitely got a lot brighter. But let’s be honest, I am not here to promote a season-long approach, it’s the long Week 1 that we are all interested in. So why am suggesting Mark Canha? Easy! The A’s play 10 games.
Honorable Mention: Kolton Wong, 2B, MIL-Leading off for the Brew Crew.
Joc Pederson, OF, CHC-56% rostered Yahoo-Chances are that by the time you are reading this, Joc has been one of the most added players. If he is available, go get him now. I can wait…Ok, welcome back. Joc has probably hit another HR by now and has Cubs fans bringing up what Jason Heyward should have been, for $17M less. Forgive me while I laugh a little at the ridiculous Heyward contract (memoirs of a scorned Cardinals fan). Joc has been blistering hot in spring and will look to continue that against the lowly Pirates and Brewers over the next 9 games. If you are worried about a lefty platoon, don’t fret, he is likely to face LHP’s Tyler Anderson and Brett Anderson…
Jay Bruce, OF, NYY-3% rostered Yahoo-Luke Voit apparently has a children’s book named after him named “Luke’s Baseball Story”. Rumor has it that it is a “choose your adventure” style book and Jay Bruce flipped to Chapter 5 and picked the “Voit tears his meniscus” option. A wise move for the crafty lefty, who is locked into a role with the Bronx Bombers. Bruce looks to take advantage of the short porch in right and get some scintillating matchups against the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Rays. 2020 was a complete waste, but Bruce did hit 26 HR across 98 games in 2019. The average won’t be something to write about, but Bruce has historically hit homers in bunches, so it could be worth the start.
Cesar Hernandez, 2B, CLE-23% rostered Yahoo-Not exactly the ideal candidate to lead the league in stolen bases after having zero last year, but as with all players, 2020 is going to be taken with a grain of sand. Before 2019 tho, Hernandez had 4 straight seasons of double-digit steals and a speed score of 4.5 or greater. This is not a ringing endorsement of Hernandez’s ability to replicate years past, more so a recommendation based on the backstop who is going to be tasked with stopping the Indians on the basepath. Wilson Ramos!! Ramos has allowed the most stolen bases of any catcher over the past 2 years, and by a hefty margin. (122 allowed…2nd most is Yasmani Grandal with 80)
Raimel Tapia, OF, COL-29% rostered Yahoo-Tapia appears locked and loaded to hit atop the Rockies lineup. The OBP gains last year were definitely supported by an outrageous BABIP (.390), but the speed is legit. With speed being so coveted in drafts, it is extremely rewarding to find a legit SB threat at under 30% rostered. Let’s not forget this also, but the Rockies play 10 games over this stretch.
Honorable Mention: Jose Iglesias, SS, LAA-This is most definitely a deeper league plug and play, but there is reason to like the potential for some steals. The key reason is a little foreshadowing from the previous entry. Yasmani Grandal! The Angels play the Sox and Grandal, followed by the Blue Jays and Danny Jansen and his poor success against base thieves, and then finally against the Astros and Martin Maldonado. Iglesias had a great 2019, an amazing 2020, and has slashed .300 so far this spring.
Jake Arrieta, SP, CHC-6% rostered Yahoo-Go back in time 6 months and I would have wagered 12 bottles of hand sanitizer that Jake Arrieta would not make my introductory Razzball article. Well, here we are! And just like that, it might be my last Razzball article. So why Jake Arrieta? Simple! The AAAA Pittsburgh Pirates. Arrieta and Cubs will face off against the rebuilding Pirates twice over the first 11 days. Jake has had some decent success this spring to the tune of 17 2/3 innings, 8 ER, and a 14:5 K:BB ratio.
Adam Wainwright, SP, STL-39% rostered Yahoo-Am I sipping from the Fountain of Youth? Hell no, I am straight chugging it like a tween on Tik-Tok. Wainwright had proved many of us wrong in 2020 by delivering a 3.15ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 54k’s over 65 innings, and after a strong spring (2.42ERA, 21:4 K:BB), is poised to be a supportive starter in 2021. He will have his ups and downs, but I like his chances for multiple wins vs Cin and Mil. The start at Great American Smallpark isn’t the best matchup, but Waino has dominated the Brewers over his career (18-11, 2.50ERA, 1.044 WHIP).
Honorable Mention: Logan Webb, SP, SFG-Webb has had a remarkable spring and enters as the #3 starter in SF. He is lined up to face the Mariners in Seattle and then the Rockies at home. Both are plus matchups, but his ability to go deep into games has yet to be seen.
Alex Reyes, RP, STL-13% rostered Yahoo-2021 ERA and WHIP category aids are most likely going to come in the way of long relief/setup guys vs spot starters. With innings being at a premium, building a weekly baseline in ratios will be key, and Alex Reyes is just the guy to help build that support. The Cardinals enter the season with both Mikolas and Kim on the shelf and will turn to Gant and Ponce De Leon to fill in the 4th/5th starters. This will most likely lead to bullpen getting in a lot of work, and the Cardinals have already said they want to get Reyes 100 innings (never gonna happen). Reyes could easily pitch his way to 6-8 innings of solid ERA/WHIP and might fall into a couple of wins along the way.
Tejay Antone, RP, CIN-18% rostered Yahoo-Similar to Alex Reyes, Antone is going to find himself being counted on to fill some important innings for the Reds this season. While he hasn’t appeared in a Spring game in 2 weeks, he has been throwing to hitters and is set to make his appearance in the middle/late innings. With Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman and Jose DeLeon set to be the 3/4/5, there is a very good chance that he will be called upon early and often. Antone was quickly becoming the “new hot thing”, and could easily produce similar numbers to what I mentioned about Reyes. If you could roster them both, you might just have as solid a 2-start pitcher as there is!
Honorable Mention: Brent Suter, RP, MIL-Same reasoning as the above names. Houser, Anderson, and Peralta will not go deep into games, leaving Suter and his 25.6 k-bb% set to inherit some valuable innings.
Nick Wittgren, RP, CLE-31% rostered Yahoo-Back in November when I started my Bullpen journey, I had James Karinchak firmly in my top 5. Most of it was his ability to miss bats, but a portion of it was his demeanor. I just wanted to roster this dude on my teams! Fast forward to March and the Indians have decided to curb his arbitration figures, and possibly pay attention to the 6.52 ERA and 10 BB’s across 11 innings during Spring. Effectively wild is another term (for the optimists at least). All the while, Francona has stated that there is no direct line to close out games for any of the 3 (Clase, Karinchak, Wittgren). That being said, Wittgren would be my most likely candidate to get saves.
Hector Neris, RP, PHI-48% rostered Yahoo-The 2020 Phillies bullpen was so bad, they went out and brought in Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Brandon Kintzler. Joe Girardi has pretty much boiled it down to Bradley or Neris for saves, leaving Alvarado for the middle innings. Neris is still only 31 innings removed from a remarkable 2019. If the Spring is any indicator, it appears that Neris has regained the control that he had lost in 2020, evidenced by his 14:2 K:BB this spring.
Honorable Mention(s): Tanner Scott, RP, Bal-It’s Baltimore, and the save opportunities may be few and far in between. Daniel Bard, RP, COL- I am avoiding the Rockies bullpen but in true Razzballian fashion (SAGNOF). Ian Kennedy/Matt Bush,RP, TEX-LeClerc is off to TJ land, and Woodward has said that both Kennedy and Bush will get save chances…flip a coin…