I’m going to keep this brief, because it’s more or less an intro in the middle of a post. Or maybe it’s because I’m lazy. Or maybe the W is ruined on my computer? Then again you saw that perfectly healthy W, so that’s not going to work as an excuse. But I’m too lazy to come up with another. Blah, blah, blah, stuff, stuff, oh yeah! I released the Top 25 First Year Player Draft Rankings on Wednesday, because I wanted to take your work week bathroom reading to the next level. Can’t have a newcomer just show up and steal the show. Not that there’s a new comer, but Lance has been known to steal the show. That’s if by “the show” you mean “my pants” (heart eyes emoji). But in all seriousness, Lance stole my pants. Okay, I’m done with the buffoonery I pinkie swear! Below is the next 25 players on my big board for first year player drafts. Keep in mind, every league’s scoring can be slightly different, so adjust accordingly, and use my words to guide you. I’m Prospect Mufasa. Onto picks 26-50!

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I debated Victor Robles or Ronald Acuna for my number one rookie for 2018.  It was quite heated debate that one bystander claimed, “Are you talking to me or yourself?”  And another bystander said, “Are you asking for the directions to Paso Robles?”  Those people don’t know obviously about the juicy rookies that I speak of, and don’t end a sentence with of — dah!  By the way, don’t ever say “…that I speak of” in real life, or you will likely get punched.  Any hoo!  Victor Robles was called up for a cup of coffee this past year, which, I guess, made Dusty Baker a barista.  Would’ve taken Baker more for a pastry guy.  Let’s get to the elephant in the room first, or if you’re a college freshman and the word elephant upsets you, let’s address the large mammal in the free-range zoo.  Robles was called up, Werth and Taylor may leave this offseason, and Robles is ready.  Those are all points in his favor for playing time.  Against him is we don’t know how the new manager in Washington is going to use him.  Will Robles be used more than he would’ve been with the toothpicked barista?  Hard to say.  I’ll get to my projections below, but Trea played, Taylor played, I think Robles can play in 2018.  Maybe at least two-thirds of the time.  Anyway, what can we expect from Victor Robles for 2018 fantasy baseball?

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It’s been a month since I last posted about a set of four industry mock drafts the honorable Justin Mason wrangled experts together for. While more complete mocks likely exist on the seas of the internet, these hold a special place in my heart, as they contained myself, good friends of the Razzball universe, and Prospectus Jesus himself. I’ll save you from the self-reflective intros that have lined my last few columns – but really, you should read them – and hastily prime our readers who prefer a longer digestion cycle with info, for 2018.

Partial results of these mocks can be found here, and instead of sifting through the first few rounds, I’m only looking at players with ADPs among the four mock drafts that exceed 100 overall. These players range in potential and my confidence in attaining that potential, but I think each should occupy a small place in your mind for the coming season.

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It’s my favorite time of the year, the time when I start to research the first taste of pro-ball for all recent draftees, and prepare for the first year player drafts in several of my leagues. Depending upon the league the rules can vary, but by in large, you’re picking players from the recent draft, the July 2nd International class, and the remaining players on the free agent pool. I’m going to be breaking this post into two parts, first the Top 25 today, followed by the next 25 on Sunday. If my math is right I’m ranking 50, but I had to use my hands three times, and my toes twice. Plus I have to double count my fourth toe, because I lost my pinkie toes after starting Kevin Gausman early in the season. So toe math aside, if you’re in a 12 team league with limited minors (5-10 per team), this is the only post you’re going to need. Ya dig? Moving on, I have to say, now that I’m finished with the top 50, and I’ve researched each team’s draft class from top to bottom, this year’s crop is far more interesting that I thought. There’s tons of talented hitters with combinations of power, and speed, high end power arms from all levels of amateur ball with ace upsides, and  some talented bats in the middle infield. These rankings are subject to change, but it’s unlikely, as all of these players are done with competitive baseball for the season. Feel free to chime in with players you love, players you think will bust, and the players you hope to see in the next 25. Thanks for reading, and good luck in all your first year player drafts this off-season.

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Ayo whaddup, it’s ya boy Grey Albright aka the Fantasy Master Lothario aka White Chocolate aka The Ladder You Use To Reach New Heights aka The God Particle aka Trump’s Next Supreme Court Nominee Judge Reinhold aka Paid Overtime aka A Close Parking Spot When You’re In A Rush aka Al Swearengen’s Swearing Dictionary aka Teacher, We Don’t Need No Education aka The Weird Guy That Latches Onto The Main Character In Oscar Films I Think His Name Is Paul Dano aka The Butcher, The Baker and The Candlestick Maker aka The Stinging On Your Pinkie Toe When You Clip Too Close aka Paul Anka aka Forget How You Spell My Name And Just Get Me My Coffee!  I just spent thirty minutes looking up Mindy Cohn and whether or not she’s a lesbian.  Ah, the offseason.  You are a soothing mistress that touches my naughty bits with idle hands.  She’s apparently not a lesbian, but a confirmed friend of the gays, and she wanted to lose weight in the 80’s, but the producers asked her to avoid it for the character of Natalie.  They finally agreed to let her wear baggy clothes.  No comment, except the “no comment” comment has the weight of a thousand eye rolls.  A quick preamble about the 2018 fantasy baseball rookie series that is coming from me over the next few weeks.  Rookies could get a post if they meet MLB eligibility requirements, less than 130 ABs or 50 IP.  That means no Yoan Moncada, no Rhys Hoskins, no Rafael Devers, and finally no Amed Rosario.  In 2012, the first player I highlighted was Mike Trout.  That wasn’t an accident.  I said in the Mike Trout post, “He’s ranked number one for me. Numero uno. The Big Mahoff.  He’s the big Statue of Liberty in New York, not that girly one in Paris!”  Since then, I’ve attempted to make the first rookie post about a prospect that will be the top rookie for fantasy the following year.  Two years ago, that honor went to Corey Seager.  Yes, it’s an honor, don’t be so condescending.  Last year, it was Yoan Moncada. (But the 2nd rookie post was Aaron Judge!  If this were horseshoes, I’d be so money.)  This year the top fantasy prospect isn’t no ordinary man, this is the prospect I be seeing in my sleep.  Ronald Acuna will be your number one 2018 fantasy baseball rookie.  Will Acuna be named to the All-Century Team in 85 years or edged out by a robot with grabby hands named the Hitter-Tron that my great-great-nephew will sue due to trademark infringement only to find out it’s the same Hitter-Tron that once graced this little fantasy baseball blog called Razzball?  Can Acuna be a top ten outfielder in 2018?  So many questions and so little time to look up Mindy Cohn info!  Anyway, what can we expect of Ronald Acuna for 2018 fantasy baseball?

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So, how’s everyone holding up without baseball every day?  I don’t know what to do with myself!  Yesterday I wandered into a Starbucks and told the coffeerista about Marcus Stroman for 2018.  Then I sobbed into a cheddar scone until someone asked me to leave.  We’ve gone over the final 2017 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters and the top 20 starters.  This is different than Final Fantasy rankings where you rank Final Fantasy 1 thru Final Fantasy 15.  That’s hardcore nerd shizz!  This is simply fantasy baseball, we’re softcore nerds like Emmanuelle is to porn.  So, there’s no more of these godforsaken recap posts left.  You’re welcome.  I, my over-the-internet friend, will be talking next about 2018 rookies.  Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2017 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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According to Whitney Houston the “Greatest Love of All” had something to do with children’s laughter or something like that. I however, Ralph Z. Lifshitz, Prospector for Hire, Prospect Jesus, Bringer of Light, Master of his Domain; believe the ‘Greatest Love of All” is the satisfaction I gain from combing through scouting reports, end of season statistics, used garbage cans at minor league complexes, and sleeping with the wives of scouts for information. Some of those women aren’t handsome, or maybe they are. I usually get rather “engulfed” in the Olde E before I make it through the door. I’m jumping around aren’t I? Sorry, I started drinking early today. I actually was trying to explain how much I like sleepers but really got caught up in the Whitney analogy, and the Mother of Dragons name thing. So, to my original point, every off-season I build a list, usually starting around mid-August, of under the radar names to target in the later rounds of my 30 team dynasty draft. Last year my list included Sixto Sanchez, Jose Albertos, Jesus Luzardo, Seuly Matias, and Ty Blach, nailed my pitching, but hitters either didn’t pan out (Ramon Laureano), or are still too young to be blowing up (Eguy Rosario). This year however, I feel my list is full of strong hitters that just might be difference-makers. I’m a giver, so I decided to share a few of the names I’m going to be targeting this offseason. You won’t see the 50 plus names down there, but you will see 8 players I’ve highlighted from my list that I hold in the highest regard.

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Willie Calhoun vs. Gleyber Torres. Nick Senzel vs. Willie Calhoun. Willie Calhoun vs. Michael Kopech. These are just a few of the Willie Calhoun centric conversations Ralph Lifshitz and I engaged in during this week’s prospect podcast. We also got to a few of the other guys in our 2017 end-of-season top 20 prospect rankings, debating how high Scott Kingery’s upside is, is Ryan McMahon worthy of a top 20 ranking, and if Royce Lewis could be the next Victor Robles. We discuss everybody from Ronald Acuna, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Eloy Jimenez, to Taylor Trammell, Juan Soto, and Alex Reyes. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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All the final 2017 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters are done.  For those that skipped today’s title, this starts the top 20 starters for 2017 fantasy baseball.  This is NOT for 2018 (caps for those who can’t read titles; supposedly it’s easier to read caps, I have my doubts).  This is a recap.  Will these affect next year’s rankings?  Sure.  But not entirely.  To recapitulate, these rankings are from our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater.  We’re (me’re) using it to fairly gauge our (my) preseason rankings.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 starters for 2017 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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This is an extremely tall task.

Picking entrants into the “elite four” starter tier as we coast towards 2018 and beyond is a punishment that really isn’t a punishment. Take this story as an example. (It’s the fantasy offseason, I can start columns with stories like the true millennial that I am!).

Listening to an episode of the SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch – *nerd alert* – an entrepreneur candidly dropped this phrase in regards to his Pittsburgh-based sports blog: “Hope sells…”

Local beats are often a way to build up a following as a aspiring writer, and as many are saturated with talent, the prospect of covering a team that doesn’t have a “face” on the national scene and possesses some hope for the future intrigues me.

Right about now is the time you’ll realize how absolutely insane I am – the San Diego Padres came to mind.

Tatis Jr., Baez, Morejon, Gore – Ralph loves them and so do I. Yeah, they suck, but abiding by that entrepreneur, once hope starts to accumulate, all those Padres-centric blogs – well, all two of them – will see an uptick in views.

This is a beautiful example of a punishment that isn’t really a punishment.

It may seem dismal that I’d have to write about a team that has hovered around the 70-win mark for all of eternity, but when you’re obsessed with baseball – and possess the lunacy gene – I see it as a treat.

Here, I’m speculating on pitchers who can not only become good, but excel into the echelon of objectively elite; the absolute studs that perennially cost a top pick. Let’s first look at three names that I think can transcend in 2018 – a much smaller crop – before busting the door wide open with the overly-generic “Beyond” timeframe.

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