Some people are just good at farting.
In the comedic sense.
If we can be objective about it.
Which of course we can’t.
Our own farts are the best farts.
Not necessarily in the comedic sense.
But also definitely in the comedic sense.
If we can be objective about it.
Nobody has ever farted as funnily as I have, from my perspective, is all I’m saying.
I keep trying to avoid the subject of confirmation bias as an intro for this piece, but here we are, talking about my farts, and your farts, and I’m sorry it got so intimate so quickly. You didn’t come here for this. Probably.
And I don’t even mean to besmirch the thing itself. Confirmation bias can be a blast. Few phenomena match the thrill of that you’re-goddamn-right-I’m-right feeling riding astride a fantasy baseball win.
Which is precisely what makes it self-insulating and self-isolating, which is precisely what makes it toxic. The second we stop looking for reasons we might be wrong, we invite bad mental processes.
Thus I try to remain video-rich in my research process to counteract confirmation bias in small but continuous ways. A box score will show me what I want to see. An 0-for-4 with two strikeouts is a bad night from a player I don’t like. The at bats themselves might tell totally different stories. An 11-pitch battle might end in a long fly ball caught up against the wall. Even in the age of expected barrels and exit velocities, nothing matches eyes on the field, though eyes on a video feed combined with all the hustle the internet can provide is a strong substitute.
In building my new Top 100 this week, I’ve been putting in the work, seeing these guys in action and keeping my mind limber to the possibilities.
The question circling me, the reason I’m still writing through this jog of an introduction: when does confirmation bias end and trusting I was right begin?
One thing I knew I was wrong about right away this year: Alek Manoah. I tend to avoid top-end pitching prospects, but Manoah displays unique off-speed command for a high-velocity giant. Even in the AL East on Toronto’s traveling circus, he’s a must-watch, must-add, buy-high pitcher. Maybe he’ll be more hittable than I’m thinking and this will be wrong too. Then maybe I’ll have been right to rank him where I did in Toronto’s prospect rundown.
Here’s what I wrote on December 16, 2020:
“7. RHP Alek Manoah | 23 | A- | 2022
A two-way player throughout his baseball life, Manoah could always rake, and he could always throw gas. Good skill set for yard work and baseball. Toronto likes its pitchers large, and Manoah is 6’6” 260 lbs., so you’d notice him waking into a room. He dominated low A across six brief starts after being selected 11th overall in 2019, but that doesn’t matter much. I suspect his plus plus fastball slider combination will go basically unchallenged until he reaches AA.”
I guess I was right in the sense that he skipped straight over AA, but I was definitely wrong to rank him seventh. It’s like I didn’t even read my own blurbs. I mean look how I talked about the guy I ranked sixth: 3B Jordan Groshans.
Here’s what I wrote in the *Top 10 Toronto Blue Jays Prospects for 2021 Fantasy Baseball. (*click to read full article)
“6. SS Jordan Groshans | 21 | A | 2022
Groshans has a lot going on in the batter’s box. His load involves a hitch (timing mechanism in the parlance of our times) in both his hands and his lead leg. So, two separate timing mechanisms. Maybe I’m nitpicky, but his profile doesn’t have a ton of room for error. He’s been snake-bitten by difficult injuries and lost a lot of at bats along the way. The raw power is plus, but I’m concerned he’ll need truly elite hand speed to fight through all the moving pieces, or he’ll need to eliminate some extraneous movement, which can make a hitter feel uncomfortable, especially as he’s getting extended run in pro ball for the first time in his life. It’s kind of a wild thought. This 2018 draftee out of high school will get a chance for his first real season in pro ball in 2021. The most he’s played at any level is 37 games in rookie ball in 2018.”
So that’s me quoting me being kinda wrong and kinda right even though it might look like a classless victory lap now that Groshans is sitting out with lower body soreness. Hate to penalize a guy for injuries, but sometimes we’ve gotta look reality in the face and say “No sir, this ain’t the gift horse for me.” Groshans is always hurt, and when he’s not, he’s got about nine moving parts to sync up just before he dives in for a swing. The talent he would need to make his swing mechanics work is unfathomable–Gary Sheffield roided up in his prime type stuff–and Groshans is not that gifted. It’s possible nobody is. It’s only been 11 games, but Gross hands is slashing .244/.354/.293. He looks as slow as ever in the box, but perhaps he’s nursing that lower body and sapping some bat speed. Patience can only take you so far in the upper minors.
Some quick news hits and commentary before the commercial:
Texas RHP DeMarcus Evans got the call and made his season debut with four strikeouts over two shutout innings. He’s the most gifted pitcher in the Rangers’ bullpen and my pick to be closing by season’s end.
Tampa Bay RHP JP Feyereisen picks up a tick of redraft value by joining the vaunted Rays closer committee. Good bet for about ten slow-roasted saves if you’ve got the roster space for them.
Since being featured in this space last week, St. Louis 1B Alec Burleson has slashed .368/.455/.632 in his first five AA games. Sample sizes don’t get much smaller, but this is a 2020 draftee succeeding in AA just a couple weeks into his career. Smart target in dynasty leagues.
Cincinnati RHP Vladimir Gutierrez will be promoted to start Friday against the Cubs in Chicago. I dropped him in a 30-teamer during a roster crunch, thinking he’d be easy enough to buy back as he completed his 80-game suspension early this season. I was right on one count: he would’ve been cheap to buy back, but wrong in the sense that I was still under a crunch and did not bid the $3 I would’ve needed from the $200 budget. Farts on fire, he’s gonna be great now, isn’t he? Will be especially irritating to me as I’ve been high on him for a long time. He was ranked #146 on my Top 150 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball, published Oct. 13, 2019.
He was also featured in my Spring Training Sleeper Watch: NL Central Edition published on February 26, 2020.
I’ve still got him in a few leagues but retched a little this morning when I saw Grey snag him for $1 in the NL Only Donkey Dom League over on CBS. I need to get a better process going for that league. Most of my leagues are on Fantrax, so I live there and keep up okay with the Yahoo home league, but I find my CBS and NFBC check-ins are waning already, so I need to set up my schedule a little better on those fronts. Still have one ESPN league dangling, but that’s a pretty low-maintenance free league with friends.
CBS struggles from a four-man IL. NFBC struggles from the zero IL. Both feel kind of silly these days. What’s the game if everyone’s hurt? I have 14 players on my IL in my main 30-teamer, and none of them were added while hurt. When someone goes down, my investment in the team doesn’t change at all. I can move Hunter Dozier to the IL and spend $3 on Rob Refsnyder. Might be better for it. Maybe it’s the dynasty-heavy focus I bring to the game these days. Just don’t care as much as I used to about any redraft league, even if it’s costing me some serious coin. Major League teams don’t have to cut players when someone gets hurt. The idea of an IL limit in the real game is immediately preposterous. I know people don’t only play fantasy to replicate the experience of being a real General Manager, but that will always be the spine of successful fantasy sports, from my perspective.
Thanks for reading.
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.