Please see our player page for Dinelson Lamet to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

A lot of pitcher fantasy analysis centers around pitcher quality: Velocity, stuff, BABIP, Statcast, recent performance…balancing out all of the available metrics to determine cost (draft slot, $ value) is the name of the game. Today we’re going to look at a metric I rarely see discussed in the pre-season: strength of schedule (SoS).

In-season, starting pitcher matchups are gold, whether you’re playing the streaming game or DFS. But pre-season, I rarely see analysis go any deeper than AL-vs.-NL comparisons. At the individual-SP level, this makes sense: projecting out specific full-season matchups for an SP is impossible.

At the team level, however, we can get get a pretty good handle on who may have advantageous matchups and who has a tough road. More specifically, we’re interested in the extremes: How frequently will each team face really tough matchups, or really easy ones? The middle 60% will be mostly based on pitcher quality; at the margins, we have actionable start/sit decisions.

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Howdy, folks!

Thanks for tuning in for my next weekly project: tracking all them ding dang injuries. I’m transitioning from transactions to trauma. From moves to maladies. From signings to sickness. From business to band-aids. From…that’s all I got.

Don’t we all love injuries? What would fantasy sports be without all those cute lil’ red “DTD”s and “IL”s and “O”s and “Q”s sprinkled all over our lineup pages?

I jest, of course. F*** injuries. Nothing sours your fantasy GM mojo like freakin’ injuries. Last year was banonkers (bananas + bonkers = banonkers) with COVID, and we’re already getting some of that fun as Spring Training kicks off. I keep seeing stuff about this wild California strain, and if there’s any proof in that pudding, then we could very well be in for a lot more COVID fun in 2021. I mean, we will be anyway, but this could compound it further. Joy.

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I feel like I say this every year around this time — but I LOVE keeper leagues. Especially all the crazy rules and context to them. “If you drafted him in the 13th round, he becomes a 10th round keeper next year, then a 4th round keeper the year after that, then a 1st the year after that. And if you keep him in the 1st you can’t keep anyone else with a 1st.” or “If you bought him for $5 his inflation becomes $18 in 2022. Then in 2023 he’ll be $31.43” or “You can’t keep anyone in the first 5 rounds, because one year Smitty somehow kept Miggy, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay and broke the league.” And let me tell you — I love ALL of it. Your league’s crazy rules are what make it unique and interesting. Navigating this craziness is part of the fun. So these are just my rankings for your standard, vanilla 5×5 roto league. But my favorite part of this article — is always in the comments helping you guys breaking down your crazy keeper rules and making the best choices. So get down there and tell me your league’s crazy keeper system and how I can help you make your best decision! 

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Pitch Arsenals. Tunneling. X-Stats. Exit Velocity. Spin rate.

The number, and complexity, of new stats to evaluate pitchers is amazing. No doubt, there are edges to be found by parsing this data. Some of the sharpest minds in baseball are assessing this mountain of information to better describe & predict player performance.

There is one pitching stat that captures the majority of what we fantasy players care about, is infinitely more accessible than all the new metrics, and has existed long before Statcast: K-BB% (strikeout % minus walk %).

Yeah, I’m not exactly revolutionizing baseball analysis here. 10 years ago, sharp fantasy managers were using this stat. K-BB% is simple. The more batters you strikeout, and the fewer you walk, the better. Outs are good, on-base is bad, and you’re wondering why you’re still reading. Can one metric (one that we’ve had for a long time) really encapsulate the complexities of pitching?

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Hello, all you brave, courageous, adventure-seekers, you’ve found the wrong website. This is fantasy baseball, not fantasy role playing, unless it’s fantasy roll-playing and this is Stratomatic, but that’s still not right. Still, fantasy baseball. Good, now that we got rid of all those people wearing fedoras and shopping from the Indiana Jones collection at Eddie Bauer, we can get down to the bidness. The Auction value bidness? Not quite, but you can find all auction values in Rudy’s rankings — one example, 12-team mixed league auction values. This is a top 100 for 2021 fantasy baseball.

One word about this top 100 for 2021 fantasy baseball, before I give you another 5,000 words. I’m going to avoid repeating myself from the position rankings in the 2021 fantasy baseball rankings. If you want to know my in-depth feelings about a player, then you need to go to his positional page, i.e., the top 20 1st basemen for 2021 fantasy baseball, the top 20 outfielders for 2021 fantasy baseball, the top 20 Patterns In Queso That Look Like Messages From Another Planet for 2021– Okay, but I almost got you. This post is meant to give you an idea where guys from different positions are in relation to each other. Since this post is only the top 100, there’s more players where this came from. 458 more, to be very exact. Next up, there will be a top 500 that will go to 562. Then, after that, there will be a top 7,500 that will go to 8,602, then a top 25,000 that will go to 28,765, then a top 600,000 that will go to 892,121, until we end up with a top kajillion in April that will go to a kajillion and one. Or maybe I’ll stop at the top 500. Yeah, that makes sense. Not to get all biblical on you, but this is the gospel. Print it out and take it to Mt. Sinai and it will say, “Win your 2021 fantasy baseball league, young prematurely balding man.” Projections were done by me and a crack team of 100 monkeys fighting amongst themselves because there were only 99 typewriters. Somebody please buy Ling-Ling his own typewriter! Razzball Subscriptions are also now open. Early subscribers get Rudy’s War Room, and you can go ad-free for a $9.99, because ads suck. Anyway, here’s the top 100 for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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For a two-time World Series Champion with over 40 years of experience in MLB front offices, Dave Dombrowski gets a bad rap. The consensus on the baseball operations veteran seems to be that his only formula for success is to either ink big contracts or swap top prospects for elite talent that comes accompanied with hefty salaries. However, Dombrowski’s maneuvers have largely come as a result of the hands he has been dealt and the relative competitiveness of his various organizations at the time of his hire. He turned the 1997 Florida Marlins, a 1993 expansion team, into a World Series Champion. He built one of the greatest starting rotations in modern history in Detroit. He came to Boston in 2015 with a mandate to take the Red Sox to the top and did just that in 2018. Is he perfect? Far from it. Can he win a championship? Clearly. You should desire the same.

I say this to explain why I frequently refer to my strategy in dynasty leagues as Dombrowski-esque. It is not simply because of Dave’s suave, shiny gray hair to which I look forward to sporting myself in my mid-50s. In these formats, managers are drafting using such polarizing strategies that the key is to seek out excess value by pitting your opposition’s own intelligence (or so it may seem) against them. Seek opportunity where it presents itself, and if that means honing in on proven talent to win now, then do so. There will always be newer, shinier (but not as shiny as Dave’s hair) prospects to target in these leagues down the line. That’s why today I will be reviewing my selections in the 12 team, H2H points dynasty startup mock that fellow Razzballer Dylan Vaughan Skorish and I partook in this past week. Although I will reveal all of my selections, my focus in this piece will be to review my strategy and discuss the prospects I targeted in this mock draft.

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The royal we already went over all the hitters for 2021 fantasy baseball rankings. That’s not the “royal we” as that term usually implies. It was me writing it alone while wearing a Burger King crown. I refuse to draft a top starter where they are usually drafted. Unlike hitters, you need six starters, depending on your league depth. Simple math tells us there’s plenty of starters to go around. Simple Math also says, “Stop putting words in my mouth!” Simple Math has an attitude problem. Simple Math says, “Try counting on your fingers without me!” Yo, eff you, Simple Math! In most leagues, there’s a ton of pitchers on waivers that can help you — all year. Not just in April. With the help of the Stream-o-Nator, you can get by with, say, three starters while streaming the rest. (By the by, Razzball Subscriptions are now open. Early subscribers get Rudy’s War Room, which I haven’t drafted without in about five years, and it’s worth the price of a subscription.) There’s also the fact that three stats by starters are difficult to predict due to luck. Wins, ERA and WHIP are prone to change, depending on which way the ball bounces and whether or not the guys behind the pitchers can score runs. Finally, the best starters can give you four categories. The best hitters can give you five categories. So, here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. As always, where I see tiers starting and stopping are included with my projections. Anyway, here’s the top 20 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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All the final 2020 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters are done. For those that skipped today’s title, this starts the top 20 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball. This is NOT for next year (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. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. Not entirely. Entirely. Like when you had a knee replacement, this is a recap! To recapitulate the recap, 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 2020 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

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Someone had his white Vans on! Daniel Ponce de Leon had another strong start Friday night pitching 6.1 innings allowing just three base runners (1 hit, 2 BB) and one run while striking out six for his first win of 2020. He had a no-hitter going through the first six innings until an Orlando Garcia home run, the only hit he surrendered, ruined his bid. Damn Daniel, 2016 called–they want their meme back. I touched on PDL (can I call him PDL? sounds like a bad light beer) last week and concluded he was too risky to touch, but his 3.15 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 28/6 K/BB in September tell me something has definitely clicked. Considering he was rocking a 7+ ERA at the start of the month that gives you a sense of the strides he’s made in just a few short weeks. Perhaps he discovered the dot, dot, dot…fountain of youth? I’m sorry! I had to. Regardless the win was his first as a starting pitcher in 20 tries–that’s right 20! And yes, that is the record, albeit a fairly depressing record to hold. Maybe its these Brewers’ hitters, who he’s struck out 15 times this month to pad his 12.6 k/9 in 20 IP in September, or maybe it was finally getting the run support he needed (Cards scored zero runs for him in half his starts this year). More likely he started consistently locating his elevating fastball which allowed him to mix in breaking balls and keep opposing hitters off balance. Whatever it has been, his 4.96 ERA and 1.32 WHIP don’t tell the full story here. I’m going to choose to believe his 31.5 K% and .221 BABIP are more indicators of the pitcher DPdL is and he’s a player I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this postseason even if he’s just pitching in a middle relief role. So grab your white Vans and make sure they’re cleaner than the “WAP” radio edit because I’m telling you Daniel Ponce de Leon could be a a 2021 sleeper to watch!

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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I’m freshly back from The Hotties, which is the annual Razzball award ceremony for the “hottest taeks” in fantasy baseball. With the sharp-toothed piranhavirus in full swing, Grey called for a “Mask-erade” ball, but the Eventbrite invitation auto-corrected it to a “masquerade” ball. Everybody showed up with the wrong parts of their face covered. I thought Grey would be upset but he seemed to take everything in stride, saying that he had been waiting for this day since “Eyes Wide Shut” was released. Is that a movie or a novel or a contact delivery service? Anyway, Grey started giggle-whispering “Fidelio!” at everybody. Hey, Grey, I get it. Fidel Castro liked baseball. Let’s get with the times!

I did manage to record Grey’s speech to all the writers and Instagram models who attended. Here’s the transcript if you want to read it:

“I’ll get right to the point: I’m proud to announce a new partnership between Razzball and the San Diego Padres. 2021 will be known as STAN DIEGO around here, and all hot taeks will involve Padres players. The top 10 pitchers? Lamet, Davis, Clevinger, and Paddack [audible hissing from the crowd]. The top 10 hitters? Tatis, Machado, Grisham, and Myers. Trevor Rosenthal is a top 30 pick. You will all write sleeper articles on Joey Lucchesi, Adrian Morejon, and yes, Eric Hosmer. [pause while Grey dodges thrown masks] Fear not, for STAN DIEGO comes with perks! You will all get a free hot dog with a purchase of an annual pass to Sea World, and you’ll get a personal tour of the tiger enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. Now, writers, start hyping Jake Cronenworth!”

At that point, all the people Grey whispered “Fidelio” to disappeared into Grey’s private grotto, which he named “50 Shades of Play” because of the underwater mini-golf course he installed. Myself? I was left standing in the foyer with a mysterious note that only said, “MacKenzie Gore, 2021 hot taek.”

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