Closer news is nice, but how much fluctuation is really happening in the first eight games of the year?  Zero is the answer… but what about Kenley Jansen?  If you drafted him, you are riding that gondola to closer purgatory as his draft slot is an inexcusable smorgasbord of devilishness.  In layman’s terms?  You are burnt.  So like closers, I also cover their well being of your local neighborhood holds guys too.  Early season patterns of usage are a key to early season effectiveness.  Managers stick with guys early that have had a good spring and can be relied on to get tough outs. It is no different than later in the season, but some of the faces change because of poor spring, injury returns, and dreaded attrition factors that all relief pitchers battle.  The role of the relief pitcher is completely expanding,  as more former starters are being used in multi-inning appearances.  Would it completely blow your mind if I said there have been more multi-inning appearances of four strikeouts than there have been starts with seven-plus innings?  Boom, mind blown.  The Peacock effect is in full bloom.  Following the Devenski Effect of a year ago, the multi-inning reliever is going to become a hot commodity fantasy-wise… hopefully by Wednesday.  The K-factor, the “free inning” factor, and the way you can time a relief pitcher on a down starting pitcher day is the exploitation factor that can vault your rates into the next level.  It happens subtly and takes diligence on the wire, but two-3 K’s and rates per day at the cost of merely a few innings (as compared to a starter maybe going 5 innings and throwing 85 pitches) makes me wanna puke.  Thanks Gabe Kapler.  So keep an eye out for multi-inning relief cave dwellers and the goodies that they supply.  Or just stick around here and learn about everything else that is happening around the bullpens around fake baseball!

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Note: The season has started, but we’ll have a couple more previews to release this weekend for your viewing pleasure!

Welcome to Razzball’s 2018 team previews. As we’ve been doing the last few months, we’ll be previewing all of the teams and talking to writers who represent those teams around the web. We want to provide the best and most in-depth fantasy projections to go along with the asking the most useful questions to those who know their teams best. We want to talk about the players in the first half of your draft and also the deep sleepers that make you log into google and start watching Midwest Single-A ball for hours. Just kidding, don’t do that, hopefully we don’t go that far…

Did you know that the Arizona Diamondbacks are putting baseballs in a humidor?…. The humidor has been the talk of the fantasy baseball community this off season. How will heavier baseballs affect Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb’s power numbers? Should we roster a plethora of Diamondback pitchers? The Diamondbacks made the playoffs last year! Arizona was a great story in a stacked division. The Diamondbacks are bringing back all of the same talent and should also feature some pretty decent bullpen arms especially if Archie Bradley works out in the closer role. The top half of this lineup is just as dangerous as any in the National League and the rotation features 5 pitchers who are capable of sub-4 ERAs. I chatted up Scott Bogman of In This League to talk about his favorite team. You can also check out the player debate book he wrote with The Welsh.

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Earlier in the preseason, I delved into the holds tiers for fantasy bullpens.  It exists right here in the Fantasy Relief Pitchers for Holds.  That was more a broad brushstroke of fantasy bullpen goodness that goes on here at Razznation.  Now that we are thumbs deep in draft season and the players being more prominent in roles are starting to show their purpose we can get a better grip on who to won and who to covet for the ugly step sister of saves the hold stat.  In more cases than not, following a “drafting for holds model” holds true, but holds are such a fluid stat… more fluid than the closer role.  So drafting the elite guy every year looks like a great idea, but name the guy who lead the league in holds multiple years in a row or, hell, twice in their career?  It’s a short list, whose names are not that awesome or even around anymore.  So for drafting for holds, whether it be in a straight holds league or a saves+holds league having the edge up on bullpenery is key.  The strategies for each of those leagues is basically the same as the elite holds category earners and they should be drafted after the last “donkeycorn” closer to come off the board.  If you draft an elite closer, always cuff your closer with the top holds candidate on that team. Next, do what I just said twice and grab your second closer’s backup/holds guy.  That will give you two closers, their back-ups for the “just in case” moments and holds.  Then your last pick for your bullpen will be an independent guy that has a K/9 rate over 9.  That is my finite strategy for drafting holds in any league. It gives you five guys that you can bank on every day in a “set it and forget it” type situation.  Don’t fall in love with your options, as like I said, bullpen fluidness is blah and you can find a hot hand on an off day.  So now that strategy is out of the way, let’s look at the more finite tiers of holds!

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Holding off on info during the height of draft time is just not my M.O.  So I am bringing the goods and the reliever rankings a week earlier than anticipated.  Why go into battle with a water pistol when you can go with the boomstick?  At this point in the preseason, having a few teams with committee situations is normally a bad thing, except when you get to grab the right guy in that committee.  Having multiple draftable options from one team is more of a benefit than a detriment on draft day, because inevitably one person is going to be wrong in that selection process and it is usually the guy who gets drafted higher.  So looking at the situations with the White Sox, Rangers, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks as they sit today committee’s exist.  Whether we want to believe it or not, each team has no clear cut closer and if you are skimming, this is still a good thing.  Let someone else draft Gregerson, Soria, Parker, and Claudio.  While you can sit back and wait a few picks or even rounds and scoop up Leone, Jones, Bedrosian, and Kela.  As the season draws closer, this advantage will dwindle down to nothing, but for now use it to your advantage.  Miss out on a top 8-10 closer, no worries, load up on the maybe’s and possibilities and if they don’t pan out than you can easily pivot to a more useful option on the waiver.  So when someone says a committee is a bad thing, laugh and agree.  Then drop the quartet of save possibilities into your team and see what happens.  At worst they will cost you four out of your last seven picks.  At that point in the draft, you should have an established team with all starters in place and you would be gambling on reliever talent anyways.  Now you have the knowledge in your corner and a little bit of rankings goodness from ole’ Smokey.  The initial installment of the Closer report with rankings is here, get excited!

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Besides pooping, every fantasy baseballian needs to do prep work.  Whether that be reading a publication of your choosing or doing a ton of mock drafts. Well, I am going to do you one better than using a mock draft to help steer your hand.  I am using actual drafts that people do for money to lend you an ADP hand in the terms of closers.  What else would I be doing?  After all, I am Smokey, where only you can prevent fantasy bullpen fires.  That public service announcement was brought to you by my own personal sponsor of Fischer pillows.  Not everyone uses or believes in ADP as a source because some people in mock drafts are crazy, like legitimately Tehol-type crazy.  That mock draft data is basically useless, but what if you had a list of drafts that were for actual dinero, and possibly some American money also?  The NFBC is a great contest that we here at Razzball take part in and several of our writers have challenged readers, just like you, in these contests.  They draw everyday Joe’s and experts from around the deep spaces of fantasy and all compete for money on varying levels of dramatics.  Sounds fun?  Cool, let me borrow 150 bucks so I can do one too.  So I took that data from the past 35 days for a 12-team based ADP and broke it down into two fun categories.  Drafts between February 1st and February 20th, and February 21 to March 6th.  Just so they sound more legit, the first group had 88 drafts of ADP values to use and the second had 106.  The number of ADP resources to draw from will increase by the time we get closer to actual game times, but for now 194 total drafts with data is at your discretion below.  Only the closers side of it.

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

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Creep with me as I cruise through Wakanda where all the kids in the jungle call me: Don Beddict Benihana. Ah yes, that they do my goodmen, that they do. WAIT, JUST A MOMENT! Oh, I’m sorry, I must apologize, for many of you may not have the slightest idea of who it is I actually am. Yes, that was a double apology. No, I didn’t succumb to the Syphilis that turned into my junior pogo stick into something resembling a rotting Pacific geoduck corpse. [Jay’s Note: Probably don’t Google that.]

TIS’ I, the enlightened and compelling intercontinental fantasy sports Magus, follower of the Gods of Eld, sexual liberator of nations, father to chickens and Chinese Crested’s alike, the adopted son that Grey and Rudy never wanted, thee greatest showman TEHOL BEDDICT! I am the reaper and death is my shadow! (Is that too dark?)

Anyhow, I’m assuming most of you either have already seen Black Panther or are planning on seeing the Black Panther in theaters, unless of course you’re in the Ku Klux Klan. If that’s the case, I’d recommend you stay home, for your brain might explode. If you truly cannot afford it and you have a child you’d like to take, please write to me below in the comment section and I will take care of you.

Most of you will come to know and love Wakanda through the comic books (like, three of you) or most likely, the record-breaking phenomenon that just hit theaters last weekend. I, on the other hand, have actually traveled there. Tis’ true, I swear it on my dead step-uncle’s soul.

As an honorary Wakandan, mostly due to my Razzball affiliation, I was immediately allowed entry. Did I have an immense longing to dine, drink, and dance the night away, doing Bobby Brown push-ups with some of the most superb female specimens on the planet? Well, yaaah, I almost tore a hole through my chinchilla man thong just thinking about it. I’m only human…. but yet, more. Anyway, I said: “NO!!!! I must speak with T’Chaka, the fallen king at once, for we have extremely important business to discuss! Bring me the Heart-Shaped Herb, IMMEDIATELY.” You know how the rest of the process unfolds, and soon enough, the former King and myself were in an intense smoke session, digging dangerously deep into these year’s MLB breakout fantasy superstars! My goodmen, you haven’t lived, until you smoked Vibranium dipped blunts with royalty! You simply have not lived! The King and I, not to be confused with that lovely film from the 1950’s, broke down who some of are faves were for this upcoming season, and even got into a couple duds. Vibranium takes your mind to strange places, so we compared these chosen players to other Wakandans, and even a couple outsiders, just because we found it humorous. Below, you will read about what we discussed. Take Heed!

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Now to finish out the positional rankings for 2018 with my favorite: the relievers!  I may have went a little crazy here, 3000 words on closers and one stat fellas is just bonkers to think about.  I could have just used “save potential” and “hard hit percentage in medium leverage situations” about 40 times in my rankings, but I didn’t.  Ranking relievers is an ever changing game of robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario.  There are always going to be injuries and attrition, which lead to relievers getting changed and making the preseason rankings look stupid in hindsight.  Last year there were 40 relievers that garnered 10 saves or more.  Now, if you are keeping track, there are still only 30 teams so my previous sentence about replacement value in relievers is very true.  That is why handcuffs and secondary bullpen pieces on draft day are important, not only for saves but to help your cranky ratios that creep up from day-to-day.  This ranking is just based on relievers with potential for saves and how they will stack up in that department.  Holds post will be something separate and should be forthcoming, though you sure as hell aren’t getting 3000 words on Holds because I’d rather blow my brains out.  Still love the Holds game as much as, or even more than any other fantasy writer, just gotta temper expectations as not many other sites give you so much bullpen love as we do.  So enjoy the rankings of 2018 fantasy relief pitchers.  (It says 50 but I went ahead and did a little extra.)  Enjoy!

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When you start drafting fantasy baseball teams on New Years Day, as I did this year, it feels like you’re in a vacuum. There aren’t a bunch of rankings out, ADP doesn’t exist yet, and there are usually several players (more so than ever this year, as it turned out) who are sitting around in real-life free agent limbo. It can be invigorating feeling like it’s just you and your draft cheat sheet against the world, but it’s also a little scary sometimes, especially wondering if you’re grabbing players several rounds earlier than you need to.  I always like to put together my own rankings in January, and keep that list to refer to as the pre-season progresses. Sure, my opinions will change, perhaps significantly in many cases, but I like to revisit my initial thoughts, seeing what my lists looked like before countless outside influences crept into my decision-making process. In a deep league, it’s particularly tricky to figure out which of these outside influences to buy into, since things like spring training battles for fifth starter gigs, meaningless in a standard league, take on actual importance in AL/NL-only or other deep formats.  Trying to separate helpful information from irrelevant pre-season chatter can be difficult, and I find it impossible to be completely immune from the impact of reports on who’s in the best shape of his life, who swears he’s going to run more this season, or remembering how cute Nick Williams looks in his uniform.

Back to the present —  with January in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for me to come up with version 2.0 of my 2018 fantasy baseball prep, even though we’re still a couple weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting.  I have a couple real, money-league drafts under my belt and we all finally have a few outside sources to consult to see what other drafters and experts have been thinking (including Grey’s 2018 rankings, which are coming at you fast, fun, and furious).   I’m going to concentrate on NL players for this list since I just finished an NL-only draft, but stay tuned for an AL version in the not-so-distant future. Based on my January drafts, early expert analysis, the limited amount of news we’ve actually been getting from major league baseball teams, a close look at early NFBC ADP, and plain old gut instinct, here are some players who I already think I’m more or less likely to draft than I would have been a month or two ago:

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As I sit here and awake from my winter’s hibernation, I search for and do only the essentials.  Gold chain, check.  I also tell myself that the transition from Fantasy Soccer to Fantasy Baseball will be as easy as riding a bike.  But you forget, I’m a bear.  Nonetheless, here we are fantasy folks and four female folkers.  Baseball 2018 is already in high gear with posts from the usual gaggle, and as always my contribution is at the back-end of ball games.  Namely saves, holds, and relief pitchers that have intrinsic mixed league value and individual league value heading into the draft stages of this new and bright year. So keeping it simple, I formed a chart that will be included it in every week’s post that will have the bullpen pictures of all MLB teams, updating it with every sleeper or bullpen post… because I am a giver.  That and who knows what will happen in the forthcoming weeks that may skew the dynamics of the bullpens around the fantasy world?  Once Grey starts doing his pitcher rankings, I will then drop my own rankings in  proper fashion.  Til then, sit back relax, ask questions about almost anything relating to bullpens or closers, as I will gladly be here as always for my ninth season here at Razzball.  So it is with pleasure that I can bring you the first bullpen related post of the year.  Individual closer and reliever posts are on the way. Enjoy!

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Much like the famous Doors song that shares it’s name, bullpens are drawing near.  (Minus the Oedipus complex that the song explores.)  I mean, it may… but that is gross and I don’t wanna associate my bullpen goodies to that.  Moving on, shall we?  This year has been the SAGNOF-fest that we always come to expect.  Closers up, closers down.  Trades and attrition.  It happens every single year and it is the reason why the waiver wire is what it is: So we can get the new third closer for the Twins.  The chase for saves never ends, well, I mean it ends for season-long leagues, but for dynasty and keeper leagues, the times never change.  Saves are a category.  A deeply hated and often cursed at category that will always be debated about.  Whether or not to invest earlier picks then normal to get a stud, or just fill in with hope-so’s and also rans.  There unfortunately is no right or wrong answer because both strategies work as long as you are a waiver goblin.  So with the final post of the year, much like the other years that I have done this, we look to next year…  This year’s counting stats and information don’t matter, we want to know what lies on the horizon. So let’s find out!

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