How is it that every year I’m so money that the U.S. Mint calls me up and asks if they can put my head on the hundred dollar bills, then I receive a follow-up call from P. Diddy asking if he can remix All About The Benjamins into All About The Albrights?  How so?  Only you mumble ‘How so’ to make it sound like a Pujols.  “Tell me how this is possible!” you scream into the abyss.  It’s easy, prematurely balding man.  I’m up here thinking about 2019 when most people are regurgitating what happened last year.  Even the best projections systems are so timid about pushing a guy’s projections for 2019 much past what they did last year.  For instance, Harrison Bader — a great example since this post will be about him at some point — Steamer projects him for 17/15/.245.  Can’t a guy at 24 years old, going into his third year in the majors, break out?  This is, of course, a rhetorical question so stop answering it.  Don’t even nod.  Do you have candy coming out of your neck like a Pez?  No?  Then stop nodding!  If you followed others, you’d think 24-year-olds all plateaued.  Players get better as they come of age, and they get worse as they get older.  Simplistic and there’s examples disapproving this?  Yes, but it still more or less holds true.  So, what can we expect from Harrison Bader for 2019 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Last year in 379 ABs, Bader went 61/12/37/.264/15 in his first full year in the majors at the age of 23/24 (HBD in June).  If you were to simply prorate that, it’s better than what he’s being projected for.  So, where’s the fear?  His strikeouts skyrocketed last year (29.3%), and he relied on a high BABIP (.358).  However, he is more of a .330 BABIP (more on this in a moment), so it’s not like he’s about bottom out in that department.  Speaking of departments, he’s not a minister in the Department of Getting Silly Amount of Walks, but he should hover around a 8% walk rate with barely any progress, and, again, 24-year-olds often progress.  His eyes aren’t crossed, sloppily swinging at terrible pitches; his O-Swing% was 30.6%, that’s top 100 around that of Xander Bogaerts. A slightly bigger concern is how few pitches he swings at inside the strike zone (64.6%, 54th overall). Not in itself bad like halitosis — he just needs to be more aggressive!  Back to the BABIP point and, yes, this is more about average than I usually write, but Steamer’s projecting him for .245, so I think it needs to be addressed.  Bader had a 26.8% line drive rate — that’s 14th in the league. Line drives aren’t everything, but you’re hard-pressed to find bad averages there.  Hard-pressing baseballs with his bat, to be exact.  Everyone has a good average on line drives, so I don’t want you falling off your seat when I say this, but his batting average on line drives was .691.  So, he was 14th in the league in line drives, and he’s going to hit .245?  C’mon.  Also, regarding his BABIP, it’s higher than average, because he has speed.  Not the fastest guy in the league, but the 15 steals were not a fluke, or hirame if a sushi chef is reading. There is a strong indication here that he can be more aggressive and lower his strike outs.  If he gets 500 ABs, I see no way he doesn’t have a 20-steal, .270 season.  Finally, the power.  This is the biggest question mark.  Imagine The Riddler wearing Juicy Couture sweatpants and instead of question marks all over, he just has a big question mark on both butt cheeks.  That’s Bader. In his last full season of Triple-A, he hit 20 homers (431 ABs).  That feels conservative to carryover to the MLB.  He develops a little power and he hits 30 homers.  Though, I just don’t know if that’s going to happen because we want to wish it into existence.  Maybe there’s 30 homers in his bat.  Someone just needs to enroll him in the Ramada Inn seminar for launch angle, so he can change some of those line drives into homers.  A guy who can go 30/20/.275 is an easy sleeper and flyer for where he’s going.  Right now, I see him hitting eighth in the Cards’ lineup, but it’s early and he could be hitting third by May.  For 2019, I’ll give Harrison Bader projections of 78/24/83/.268/17 in 531 ABs with a chance for much more.

  1. Brian says:
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    As a cardinal fan I would take those numbers from bader and be ecstatic.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      You’re gonna get them and more, Brian!

  2. LenFuego says:
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    About the notion that Bader needs to be “more aggressive” by swinging at more pitches inside the strike zone: that can be a mistake for a hitter with a high line drive rate.

    Until a hitter has two strikes, a hitter should be looking to swing only at pitches of a type and at a location he can drive and hit hard, and should let other pitches go, even if they are inside the strike zone. The best evidence that a guy is doing a good job at this type of pitch selection is a high line drive rate – that means he is choosing to swing at pitches he can do damage with and laying off pitches he cannot. Hader’s level of aggressiveness seems just fine to me.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @LenFuego: That works for me too as long as he breaks out!

  3. Ante Galic says:
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    Grey!!!

    Great inaugural sleeper report, keep ’em comin’ as I’m sure you will so do I have to say keep ’em comin’? I guess so, keep ’em comin’!

    a. Like Bader a lot, he looks like Yelich 3.0 right? Could be minus the walks but hopefully he gets smarter rather than dumber on the strike zone recognition.

    b. God willing, please don’t let LaStella get to 200 ABs less Grey has to do a projection for him!

    c. Mark Twain quote of the day for December 4 (have to up the ante, Ante (stutterer) so I present 8 quotes)

    1. How sad it is to think of the multitudes who have gone on to their graves of this beautiful island (Hawaii), and never knew there was a hell!

    2. Mark Twain, (Honolulu Correspondent of the Sacramento Union) will deliver a lecture on the Sandwich Islands

    A splendid orchestra is in town, but has not been engaged. Also, a den of ferocious wild beasts will be on exhibition in the next block. Magnificent fireworks were in contemplation for this occasion, but the idea was abandoned. A grand torchlight procession may be expected; in fact, the public are privileged to expect whatever they please. Doors open at 7 o’clock, the trouble begins at 8.

    3. Before I well knew what I was about, I was in the middle of the stage, bewildered by the fierce glare of the lights and quaking in terror with every limb that seemed likely to take my life away. The house was full. Aisles and all. The tumult in my heart, brain and legs continued a full minute before I could gain any command of myself. Then, little by little, my fright melted away and I began to talk. [This inaugural speech was huge success, earning Twain 400$. So he decided to take the show to the road.]

    4. There was a little difference of opinion between us, nothing more. They thought they could have saved Sodom and Gomorrah and I thought it would have been unwise to risk money upon it.

    5. Is a tail absolutely necessary to the comfort and convenience of a dog?

    6. We wish to learn all the curious, outlandish ways of all the different countries so that we can show off and astonish people when we get home.

    7. We wish to excite the envy of our own untraveled friends with our strange foreign fashions which we can’t shake off.

    8. The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad. I speak now of course in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad and therefore is not already a consummate ass.

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Ante Galic: A. I don’t think anyone thought Yelich had as many homers as he hit in his bat, so Bader has a higher power upside if we’re talking Yelich from prior to ASB last year B. Haha, 5 and 8 are great

      • Ante Galic says:
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        @Grey: Grey!!!

        a. So I didn’t hit the pay load!! Damn, you can cut a guy a break by just faking ‘Oh, yeah! That’s the one! Well done, son!’ But no, you have to add to my agony!

        b. J/k, am up for the challenge. Will continue like I said until December 15.

        c. Also, happy you thought 5 and 8 are great!

        Cheers,
        Ante

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          A. Haha, you’d want that? Cmon!

          B. Yeah!

          C. They are!

  4. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Sign me up! Waiting with . . .

    . . .

    . . . BADER’d breath to draft him. (OOF).

    Also, I think we can finally celebrate the return of Rhys Hoskins to 1B. Not always the case, but I feel like the move will only help his hitting, now that he doesn’t need to keep thinking about how bad he was in the outfield.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: I think Bader’d breath is what some creepers get in the library… Hoskins as a 1B could help his hitting too, he doesn’t need to worry about routine fly balls anymore

  5. Hot Corner says:
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    I hope that you don’t plan to give away all of my sleepers. Right now, you are 1-for-1, as I have already traded for him this off-season.

    I think Bader is what we want Kevin Kiermaier to be.

    Good stuff.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Hot Corner: Nice! You already traded for him, so it’s fine, no?

      Thanks!

      • Hot Corner says:
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        @Grey: Yes, all good for now. I got two of my sleepers in one trade – Bader and Andrew Heaney (gave up Will Smith and Austin Hedges). Feel free to write about Heaney next. Take away his starts @Col, @NYY, @Bos and @Hou and he looks like this in 2018:

        8-8 / 155.2 IP / 155 K / 3.94 ERA / 1.134 WHIP

        As a former top prospect, I will put that in the back of the rotation for cheap on every one of my teams.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Damn, I hate to say it, but I love Heaney too… But that’s good, you already have him!

          • Hot Corner says:
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            @Grey: Hope we are not in the same Razzball Draft Champions League next year. I am going to stay quiet with the rest of my guys just in case!!!

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Haha, you’d be scooping me as much as I’m scooping you!

  6. Juan says:
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    Grey,
    do you like Bader as a keeper over Sano, Mazara, and Newcomb? He would be my 10th keeper.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Juan: Have no faith in Sano and maybe Newcomb, I’ll have to look at the latter

  7. Pochucker says:
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    Question -my h2h 12 team league allows us to keep one player the following year that we drafted in 10th round or later or picked up as FA. We get to keep only the one year.

    My choices are basically Corbin (Thk You Grey)
    Buehler (yay me)
    Rosario (Thks Grey)
    Haniger

    I kept Castillo last year and got burned so little shaky on Buehler
    Corbin probably safest
    Rosario nah
    Haniger I would like more if Mariners weren’t disintegrating before are eyes

    Whats your preference?
    Thks

    • LenFuego says:
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      @Pochucker: I am hoping that Haniger disintegrates to another roster too, but I fear it will not happen.

  8. RonSwanson says:
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    Hey Grey,
    I’m in a dynasty league where we keep 15 players per year for a max of 5 years (then they go back into the draft). I have Trout (2), JD(2), Acuna(4) Peralta (4) and Khris(2) at OF where we have only 3 slots plus 3 utility positions.

    I have no 3B to keep, so I’m looking to trade an OF for Eugenio Suarez who has 4 years of control left

    First, who do you value more, Khris Davis with 2 years or Peralta with 4? And in Khris for Suarez, how even is that? Would I need a lot more in your opinion? Or should I push Peralta, and if so how even is that?

    Thanks man!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Davis

      Eugenio and Davis are pretty even — you don’t need a lot more — trade Peralta if you can

  9. primetime says:
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    Grey,

    Next season, who are the early keepers on my team? Who should I trade?

    Realmuto
    Freeman
    Adames
    Arenado
    Story
    Bellinger
    Cain
    Hicks
    Cruz

    Villar
    Tatis
    Haniger
    Mazara
    Robles
    Ozuna
    C Seager

    Happ
    Kershaw
    Nola
    Strausburg
    Wheeler

    Castillo
    Rodon
    Tailon

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      How many do you keep?

      • primertime says:
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        @Grey: sorry. either 4 hitters. 3 pitchers or 4 pitchers, 3 hitters.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Arenado
      Story
      Bellinger
      Freeman

      Kershaw
      Nola
      Strasburg

      • primetime says:
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        @Grey: if I wanted to move Kershaw and Strausburg, what type a younger pitcher would I look at? Kershaw 3 years of injuries, think the wheels are falling off.

        Story makes me nervous, even though I like Steamers projections, plus he’s at Coors, but the arm injury last year, may be Seager all over again.

        I do appreciate the advice.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Hmm… A Bauer type plus a smaller piece maybe?

      • LenFuego says:
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        @Grey: If it is a 2 catcher league, I would keep Realmuto over Bellinger.

  10. Harley Earl says:
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    As a Cardinals fan who has watched Bader play in Triple-A Memphis 15-20 times and seen him in The Show in STL 4-5 times, I do not believe in any way in your wildest dreams that he will hit 30 HR. The .270 average, the 20 steals, I can definitely see. But this sudden power stroke feels like a reach. Not a reacharound, Grey. Just a reach. Ok, maybe a reacharound, too.

    Mabye I’m all wrong. You’ve definitely been right about some of these “Sleepers’ before. But I see a more speed/defense guy who plays CF exceedingly well, steals bags and scores run. I don’t see Bader as a 5-tool guy with a power bat that can launch 30 boppers.

    Let’s lay some change on this. Then we’ll see how committed you are to this forecast!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      What kind of change are we talking? Actual change? I might have some to ‘spare’

      • Harley Earl says:
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        @Grey: How about a $10 McDonald’s or Wendy’s or Starbucks or whatever place you want gift card. Can’t send cash through the mail.

        Either way, 30 Bombs aint happening.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Wait, I gave Bader projections for 24 HRs, how did this become 30 HRs? I mean, I think he can get there if he shoots for the fences more, but I didn’t give him 30 HRs

          • Harley Earl says:
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            @Grey: OK, my bad. I guess I misread what you were saying. I think 20-22 HR is quite reasonable and possible so 24 HR isn’t a wild assumption.

            I just got fired up when you said something about him hitting 30 HR. I don’t think he’ll ever get to 30 HR if he changes his launch angle and does PEDs. He’s just not that kind of player.

            Guess the bet is off. I was looking forward to taking you to school on that one lol.

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Well, I do think 30 HRs is possible for anyone if Yelich can hit 36 — I mean, have you seen his ground ball rates?

              • Harley Earl says:
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                @Grey: You make a very fair point.

                I would never have thought Yellich could hit 36 bombs before this season. I think the ballpark helped with about 4-6 of those but that’s still 30-32 bombs and he’s a groundball machine.

                So, yeah, maybe Bader could do it. But I’m not not a believer until I see it. One thing for sure, you sure a Master Bader fan.

                See what I did there? :o)

  11. Primetime says:
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    I feel Jesse winkler will make this list.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Of your keepers or my sleepers?

      • Primetime says:
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        @Grey: your sleepers

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Not sure he has the power to interest me

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            ..or speed… Do like his contact, tho

  12. F5 Torenado! says:
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    HI Grey,
    Great stuff as always!
    I’m in a roto keeper. I can keep 7 players. Offensive Cats are: runs, hits, RBIs, sbs, k’s, tbs, and BA. Pitching Cats are: W, saves, ERA, WHIP, kk:bb.
    I won the pool last year but think it was due too depth as opposed to high end keeper strength. Which 4 would you keep from the following list. The no brainer keepers that I have excluded are JD Martinez, Kluber and Blackmon.

    Matt Carpenter
    Buster Posey
    Jose Peraza
    Adalberto Mondesi
    Scooter Gennett
    Eugenio Suarez
    Ender Inciarte
    Michael Conforto
    Didi Gregorius
    Edwin Diaz
    Jameson Taillon
    David Price

    Thanks a lot.

    Cersy

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks!

      How many teams might change things… But probably:

      Adalberto Mondesi
      Eugenio Suarez
      Matt Carpenter
      Then I’m between Peraza, Conforto and Diaz

  13. Cersy says:
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    Hi Grey,

    Which 4 would you keep from the following:

    Scotter Gennett
    Eugenio Suarez
    Didi Gregorius
    Buster Posey
    Matt Carpenter
    Ender Inciarte
    Jose Peraza
    Adalberto Mondesi
    Edwin Diaz
    Jameson Taillon
    David Price
    Michael Conforto

    It’s a keeper roto format with the following cats:

    Offensive – runs, hits, rbis, sbs, tb, BA, k’s
    Pitching – wins, ERA, WHIP, saves, K:BB

    Thanks a lot

    Cersy

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      See answer above

  14. Dave D says:
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    Better late than not at all: Well, good read, although he is not falling too far into “sleeper” territory in NFBC drafts, at least by my definition. His ADP is 169 though 15 drafts with a range of 128-195. I would compare him to other players taken in his range and imagine his value there. I thought about him and passed on him at 172 and he went at 178. I picked Chris Taylor there. Will he outperform my pick? Possibly. I’d likely do the same again (as I really like Taylor’s dual SS/OF eligibility). I do think he may outperform many other players being drafted in that range (Moncada, Moustakas, McCutchen, Miggy). I thought he might go later in draft but he seems to be pretty fairly valued so far IMO.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Depends on how your team is set up with him vs. Taylor, but they’re likely around the same area in drafts… I think Bader has more upside than Taylor… Sleepers come in all sizes, there’s gonna be some sleepers who are not sleepers at all in some leagues, then some sleepers who won’t even be drafted in 12 team leagues, like my Trevor Williams sleeper last year…

      • Dave D says:
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        @Grey: y

        Yes, Trevor Williams was a grand slam! I’m guessing Bader is a ground rule double. I have learned to never doubt a Cardinal, while they are still a Cardinal at least… but always when they leave the Cards.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Yeah, I love the Cards from a fantasy perspective but mostly their random SPs who they turn into gold

      • @Grey: Yes, Trevor Williams was a grand slam! I’m guessing Bader is a ground rule double. I have learned to never doubt a Cardinal, while they are still a Cardinal at least… but always when they leave the Cards.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Yeah, I love the Cards from a fantasy perspective but mostly their random SPs who they turn into gold

          • Dave D says:
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            @Grey:

            My phone is haunted. Poncedeleon anyone?

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              I’m not counting out anyone in the Cards’ staff, even the founder of the FOY

              • Dave D says:
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                @Grey:

                Me neither. There’s something in the gatorade there.

                Even the lost Weaver? Ken Forsch Jr?

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Haha, the world’s not ready for another Weaver yet

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    Poor Luke, got caught up in the bad juju of Jered and Jeff

                    • Dave D says:
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                      @Grey:
                      Yeah, Maybe there is bad karma when an Angel falls and becomes a Padre, afterall. Perhaps Jered should have warned Garrett.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Haha

                    • Dave D says:
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                      @Grey:
                      Maybe there is bad karma when an Angel falls and becomes a Padre, afterall. Perhaps Jered should have warned Garrett.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Haha, yup!

                    • Dave D says:
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                      @Grey: Maybe there is bad karma when an Angel falls and becomes a Padre, afterall. Perhaps Jered should have warned Garrett.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Haha, yup!

  15. Crime Dog says:
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    And so it begins, 2019. Great post Grey, love it.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks, Dog!

  16. eric kesselman says:
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    Hi all, sorry to hijack comments but Rudy said it was ok :)

    I have a couple of home leagues which we are looking to round out with some sharp owners. They are outstanding, slightly (ok a bit more than slightly) complicated keeper leagues. Buy ins range from low to medium stakes.

    Seriously, I think our format is ground breaking. Please let me know if interested. I can pretty comfortably address any scam/security concerns.

    Email is erickesselman at gmail

    Thanks!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I’m going to yell at Rudy right now for this, how dare he! Kidding, it’s all good… Weren’t you at Cardrunners?

      • eric kesselman says:
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        Yesssssss……send me some peeps!

        Our format is so good. For seriously.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Tweet at me, and I will retweet

          • eric kesselman says:
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            Done, thanks!’

            Also you should play! Best Keeper League Ever (BKLE)

  17. Bill Lumbergh says:
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    Grey: Life-long Mariners fan who is looking forward to 2022…LOL. On a serious note, trade offer in my 20 team 5×5 mixed keeper. My Kershaw, Freeman and Baez for his Trout and Abreu. My 10 keepers would be the 2 acquired players plus J. Ramirez, Altuve, Blackmon, Peralta, McCutcheon, Bauer, Stripling and LeClerc… Whatcha think? Thanks man!!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Sorry about your M’s, they were close last year, not sure why they decided to blown it up… That is a tough trade, think I’d take Trout, but it’s fair

      • Bill Lumbergh says:
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        @Grey: Thanks Grey. Owner pulled deal and took another team’s offer of Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Correa and Kenley Jansen for Trout. Guess that settles that! ?

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Oh well, no big loss, it was super close

  18. Harley Earl says:
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    The Cardinals finally gave me a reason to go watch a couple games in St. Louis next summer. We got Goldy!!!!!!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Haha, nice!

  19. FrankGrimes says:
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    AuShit!

  20. Jason says:
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    Grey, Walker Buehler and Yusniel Diaz for Lindor. Is that crazy to do for a Lindor owner?

  21. Tommy Herr says:
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    Now this is what im talking about. I traded wacha for bader 2 days before wacha went down in my nl only. Now i need $2 bader to have a javi baez type of breakout. Obviously baez is supper greedy. Ill be happy with 260/20/20 and 500 ab. But if he can do .285/25/25 and 550+ abs? If they bat him like 2nd infront of goldy? Could be some big upside this year.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Agreed! I like him a lot!

  22. Jack Straw says:
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    Love the post – I’m a Bader believer. Keeper query:
    Standard 5×5 10 team NL only – Bader or Nelson?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Jimmy Nelson? I’m going Bader

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