This is the end. Beautiful friend, the end. We’re at the end of our 60 game sprint and I hope this finds you in the championship game. This is going to be a tough week to sift through to find viable streamers – both hitters and pitchers – that also have something to play for. Let’s start with Mr. Happy himself, Drew Smyly (3% ESPN, 9% CBS). The Giants lefty has thrown 16 innings and has posted an eye-popping 39.1% strikeout rate. Granted, he’s only gone a max of 4 IP in any start so far, but Smyly should help out in strikeouts and ratios. The Giants are still in the playoff fight and get a matchup at home against the Rockies tonight. Colorado currently has a 1.7% chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN and just placed slugger Nolan Arenado on the IL with a shoulder injury. Over the last 14 days, the Rockies have posted a team wOBA of .286 against lefties. During that time they’ve walked just 1.3% of the time. Check that out. Over 155 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, they’ve walked just 2 times. There might be one more play against the Rockies, but we’ll get to that soon. Let’s take a look at some other under the radar options to help you win your fantasy championship.

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As we head into the final week of the season, it seems like a good time to look back — well, back a few days or weeks anyway.  Even with only 60 games, many players who started the year as deep leaguers were able to prove they belong in a much shallower stratosphere in 2021.  Take Luke Voit… I told you in my post way back on January 14th of this year that I’d already drafted as my first baseman in a league, liking his value at the time, which was around #200 in terms of NFBC ADP.  Let’s just say that I don’t think any of us will be getting Voit with anything close to a 200th pick next spring.  I’m also pretty sure Alec Mills’ no hitter will keep me from being able to scoop him up at the end of an NL-only draft next year the way I did this year.  So let’s move on and look at a handful of players who have very recently — and a little more quietly — been playing well, with an eye not only on last minute help in 2020, but also potential consideration in 2021.

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I consider myself a fairly optimistic person. Take this whole coronavirus thing. I don’t have it (or maybe I do — or maybe I do and don’t know it — or maybe I don’t and do know it and now you have it just from reading this article.) It’s a scary time, but I’ve tried to remain looking on the bright side that we’re all washing our hands, self-isolating, and wiping our butts so well that this thing will pass quickly. Then I started looking at the Mariners projected lineup, rotation and bullpen for 2020. Now I’ve covered the Tigers, the White Sox and the Royals to prove you can mine for fantasy gold in the darkest of baseball caves. But the Mariners might be my hardest task yet. It’s hard to be optimistic about this team.

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Who else got victimized by Nelson Cruz last week? In his last 75 ABs here’s his line: 19/14/26/0/.333. That’s more than some guys had in the entire first-half. Oh wait — that’s almost more than the 16 Cruz put up the first half. The Twins are going to be battling for the AL Central with the Indians until the bitter end and clutch Cruz should keep them afloat the rest of the way.

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Who would’ve thought little D.J. LeMahieu would be the best free agent signing of the past decade? Yeah, I said it! Mainly because I have an awful memory and suffer from extreme recency bias! He’s definitely the best signing of this preseason though. He’s 3 HRs away from setting a new career-high, already has a new career-high in RBI and is again leading his league in batting average as he did with the Rockies in 2016. His disappointing, injury-plagued 2018 caused his stock to dip a bit, but Brian Cashman is looking like a genius again for this signing. And oh yea, not that it matters to us, but he’s playing Gold Glove defense again at both 2B and 3B. Does defense matter to you? Do you use any defensive stats in any of your leagues?

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I’m not even sure I can imagine how angry I would be if I lost a perfect game in the ninth inning. Over the years I have broken my fair share of tennis rackets, thrown golf clubs and smashed video game controllers. One might say I have a tiny bit of a temper when things don’t go my way. If I were an MLB pitcher I’d prefer to lose my perfect game bids in the first inning, getting it over with early. I’m no math genius or anything like that, but I’ve got to imagine that the odds of pitching a perfect game are about the same as finding a needle in Josh Hamilton’s haystack. Wait, that’s not how it goes. Those are the odds for getting a base hit. Last night Mike Leake took a perfect game into the ninth inning only to have Luis Rengifo leadoff with a single. I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of this guy who’s 53rd career hit crushed Leake’s dreams. Leake also walked a guy in the ninth, but held on to finish off his complete game shutout, striking out six. A week after being no-hit by the Angels, this would have been quite the reversal of fortunes had they been able to pull of the perfercto. The last Mariners perfect game was pitched by King Felix. I remember that game vividly as I earned over a one hundred points from that performance which saved my week and was the reason I ended up in the playoffs. Long life the king.

Go ahead and tell me this wouldn’t drive you mad.

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It’s been a few weeks since I ranked the top 100 fantasy hitters and a lot has changed! Stranger Things season 3 has dropped, Josh Bell broke the record for most extra-base hits in the first half of an NL season, my wife had our first child, and Giancarlo Stanton got injured and hit the DL! Only one of those is the real reason I haven’t written an article in a while and yea, maybe I took Stanton getting hurt too personally.

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There are those who would call for Yordan Alvarez to be a top-50 player already. With 27 combined HRs this season and 78! 78! 78! RBI in 60 games between AAA and the big leagues — I get that. I’m just a little hesitant due to his playing time. When George Springer comes back and the rest of the Astros get healthy will he stay up? I hope so because he is crushing the ball right now — but he has minor league options left and is still only a 22-year-old kid. Age is just a number though as this kid’s potential has MVP written all over it in one of the best lineups in baseball.

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Well, I did it. I removed Jose Ramirez from my top 100 hitters rankings. He played another 5 games and only managed 2 hits. 2 runs? Sure. 4 RBI? Sure. 1 SB? Sure. But when he is hurting you this bad he is permanently in the limbo that is ranking #101. I am fully prepared to rocket him up the rankings if he turns it around — but right now? He is the wonderful 101.

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Last week here’s what I said about Austin Riley: “A lot of people were calling for Austin Riley to make his rankings debut after hitting 5 HRs in his first 9 games, but I’m a little wary of rookies. Especially rookies who have a 15:2 K/BB ratio in their last 33 ABs. Pitchers are already starting to figure him out.”

Well, another 3 games played since last week’s rankings and he’s crushed another 2 HRs — however — with another 3 Ks. In his 15 games played so far he’s only not struck out in 2 games. Riley was a top 30 prospect heading into this season and so far the power potential (three 19+ HR seasons in the minors) is showing up, but so is the strikeout potential (8 consecutive minor league seasons with a 20+% K/rate.)  Look, he’s 22. He can crush, but he can also miss. I’ve put him at 99 for now — one spot above Jose Ramirez — and I’ll be watching his progress.

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