Greetings and welcome back to the Mike Maher end of summer backyard bash, where we talk about our beloved top 100 hitters. I will be taking a one-week hiatus after this post as I pack up my apartment and drive 1,200 miles north from Fort Lauderdale, FL up to Pennsylvania. That’s right, the true King of the North is returning home to his roots. No more tank tops in January for me for a little while. After my one-week absence, though, I will be back to tell you how good Rhys Hoskins is. You may have heard of him by now. We focused on him last week, so we don’t have to go over him again, even though he has pretty much homered in every game since we talked about him. And for once, that isn’t even an exaggeration. Check out his game log:

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

I really wish Rhys Hoskins pronounced his name “Riz” so that I could use a “Nobody Beats The Rhys” headline, but it is apparently pronounced “Reese.” Who do I talk to about making that change? Does anyone have the phone number for his parents or, better yet, his grandparents? This is important stuff here.

Anyway, added Rhys to our beloved 100 because chicks dig the long ball. While you probably haven’t had to search hard to find home runs in 2017, neither has anyone else, so it’s always good to have some more. Hoskins has big boy power, which he displayed in the minors the last few years (where he was stuck for way too long thanks to the Phillies). After hitting 38 home runs in 135 games in hitter-friendly confines in Double-A in 2016, he backed that up with 29 home runs in 115 games in Triple-A this season.

But his game isn’t all power. As a somewhat older prospect, Hoskins actually has a pretty nice approach at the plate. In Triple-A in 2017, he posted a 13.5 BB% against a 15.8 K% while slashing .284 / .385 / .581. Through his first two weeks in the show, his average is down, but everything else looks about the same. And a .154 BABIP helps explain the .237 average he woke up with on Monday morning.

So, the real bonus with Hoskins is that the power numbers come with some above-average peripherals. He might not hit .280+ the rest of the way in the bigs, but would it surprise anyone if he did? If you are in OBP or OPS leagues, even better, since he has shown that he is not afraid to take a walk. Plus, that power…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Taijuan Walker, $15,000, is an absolute steal against the Quad A Mets in Citi Field tonight!  Granted, he’s been scuffling a little bit as of late, but it’s the dog days of summer and I guarantee he’ll dominate tonight.  The Mets were one of the biggest sellers during the trade deadline and basically they have Yoenis Cespedes as their one sole major league hitter.  The rest of the team is a mish mash of Quad A talent and they’ll post big strikeout numbers vs a strikeout pitcher.  I encourage you to take a walk on the wild side tonight because it will pay off big time!  My other SP for tonight is Chris Stratton, $13,600, vs the strikeout prone Milwaukee Brewers.  The Brew Crew ranks numero uno in Ks versus RHP.  Stratton isn’t anything special, but he’s at home in a pitchers park vs the top K’ing team in the league.  I’ll take my chances, especially with his discounted salary. Now that we have our pitchers in place tonight, let’s throw some cash towards our offense.

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

On the ones and twos, it’s not DJ Khaled, with a cigar in his baby’s mouth, dropping another one in a major key.  It’s yo’ boy, DJ LeMahieu (4-for-5, 4 runs, 1 RBI), the French-sounding EDM mixmaster, spinning his wheels around the bases.  Yo, DJ LeMahieu, what you got to say about that?  “Pouvez-vous chicken francaise?”  Yo, you sound like me pretending to be French!  Next up throwing down, it’s Mark Reynolds (3-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs and his 25th homer), the man, the myth, the Mini Donkey.  All brays to you!  Then how about Trevor Story (3-for-4, 6 RBIs and his 17th and 18th homers) finding his way into back-to-back home run games, like succinylcholine finds its way into back-to-back Forensic Files.  Then there’s Carlos Gonzalez…Actually, you still suck!  So, the Rockies, scored (fill-in-number, too high to count) last night, and Jon Gray did all he had to do — 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 baserunners, 6 Ks, which in Coors is all you can ask.  His peripherals are gorgeous — 8.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.59 xFIP, but something I failed to remember this past preseason, it’s still a struggle to start him in Coors.  I mean, shizz gets ugly fast like a reality TV person at a reunion show.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Happy Bryce Harper Replacement Week! :::sobs into the couch cushion I have been carrying around since watching the video of Harper tumbling over that base:::

The cruel baseball gods took Harper away from us just after we got Trout back. As of this writing, there is no timetable for his return from what they are calling a “significant bone bruise.” I’m no doctor (sorry to peel back the curtain), but how the heck did that non-contact injury get a bone bruise diagnosis? I thought for sure he tore every CL in his body. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that he tore his UCL from reaching for his knee so fast. But a bone bruise? Interesting. Let’s just hope he wasn’t evaluated by the Mets’ training staff because “bone bruise” is going to very quickly become “Oh crap, his knee actually isn’t there anymore. We can’t find it anywhere.”

Now, there is no replacing Harper’s production on your fantasy team, especially in the middle of August. That much is obvious. If you’re lucky, you took Grey’s advice about selling a superstar to heart and cashed in at the deadline. I have Harper in a keeper league where I currently sit in first place, so I have to decide if I want to deal him now to make a playoff push, pray he comes back this season and helps me, or just accept the fact that he is done for the fantasy season but still keep him for next year. I am probably going with option B/C, if we’re being honest with each other here.

I’m removing him from our beloved 100 while we wait to see how he looks this week. Hopefully, the baseball gods decide to heal him from his mystery bruise quickly and we can have him back. But it seems more likely we are going to be without him for most, if not all, of the fantasy season. Now, enough crying about Harper (at least publicly). Anyway, to the notes…

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Yesterday, Phils’ manager, Pete Macktheknife, said, “Everybody wants to see (Rhy Hoskins‘) bat but Tommy Joseph has done well enough where there’s enough games left for him to show even more improvement.  It’s hard. You don’t want to put Tommy Joseph on the bench so maybe (having Hoskins play outfield) is a way to do it.”  Hey, quick question, anyone got a participation trophy for Joseph?  Sounds like he could really use one!  “I accept this participation trophy on behalf of all the players who are at positions where the club has a better prospect in the minors, but is too cheap to promote them.  Especially to my runner-up, Shin-Soo, way to keep down Willie Calhoun!”  A bunch of prospblockers, the lot of you!  Don’t even get me started on the absolute craziness that you risk putting your top prospect in left field just to keep playing Tommy Joseph.  Hoskins should be okay out there, but there’s a ton more risk with injuries in left field than standing on 1st.  I grabbed Hoskins in all leagues.  He was top 30 for Prospector Ralph’s top 100 fantasy baseball prospects, and might be the last big name to come up that can make a difference.   For this year, I’d say Hoskins = Mark Reynolds with way fewer Ks.  Long term, well, I won’t say Votto, but his OBP is insane for a kid.  Scouts call players kids, did I sound like a scout?  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Player A:

  • .301 / .353 / .455
  • 11 home runs
  • 16 stolen bases
  • 55 runs scored
  • 49 RBI
  • 2nd Half: .352, two home runs, 14 runs scored, 10 RBI, three stolen bases
  • PR15: 10.69 (4th in MLB)

Player B:

  • .273 / .353 / .471
  • 13 home runs
  • 12 stolen bases
  • 58 runs scored
  • 38 RBI
  • 2nd Half: .343, five home runs, 18 runs scored, 11 RBI, four stolen bases
  • PR15: 9.21 (7th in MLB)

Pretty scary how similar those numbers are, right? A is Andrelton Simmons and B is Alex Bregman. The only big difference when you dive a little deeper is that Simmons has been consistently producing for pretty much the entire season, while Bregman has been a bit more streaky and pretty much disappeared in June.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Book of Job says, “We will send out at least one email a day to all your contacts whether you like it or not.”  Shoot, I immediately see what I did wrong there.  I Googled for a Bible quote, and accidentally got an employee handout from LinkedIn.  Big bad on me.  Yesterday, Zack Godley went 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 5 Ks, ERA at 2.86, with this start coming in Wrigley.  *gulps*  Maybe Godley isn’t an overstatement.  His peripherals are gorge too — 9.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.23 xFIP.  Throwing 92+ MPH with a mix of four pitches, and mostly going to Dazzletown with the curve being the pony killer (totally a saying!).  “I made you glue!” which is what I shout trying desperately to make “pony killer” a saying.  Oh, and all of it is coupled with a 56% ground ball rate.  That would be the third best in the majors if he qualified.  When there’s nary a starter in sight with a decent ERA, Godley’s otherworldly.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Now that we are a few weeks into the second half, we are able to take a look at players and their rest of season rankings a little differently. For starters, we can see how players are starting the second half. Even though it is only a few days off (or not off, for those who participate in the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game) and is not even technically the real halfway point of the season, the All-Star break seems to hit the reset button for some players.

Some players get off to a hot start in the second half and ride the wave for a hot August and September, while others seem to lose their momentum and start off ice cold. You could write a book on the different explanations and theories about why it happens or whether or not the Home Run Derby messes up your swing or the All-Star Game schedule itself is exhausting, but we all know as fantasy owners that we have to really pay attention to our squads coming out of the break.

Players who had unreal, otherworldly breakout first halves like Aaron Judge have come back to earth a little bit, while players we had come to rely on in previous years who had disappointing first halves like Christian Yelich have gotten hot. If those disappointing players don’t get off to a good start to the second half, though, we have to make the tough decision about whether or not it is time to move on.

And that is the other way we have to look at these rankings, with time in mind. Depending on your league and format, you probably have roughly two months left in your season and about a month and a half or less until the playoffs in leagues that have them. Carlos Gonzalez is the 600th ranked player in Razzball’s year-to-date player rater, but he is still owned in 93% of RCLs and 67% of ESPN leagues as apparently, Razznation is still waiting for CarGo to turn back into the hitter he has shown he is over the year.

And while Gonzalez has been somewhat better in the second half and has sown signs of life, at some point time is going to run out. I gave up on him weeks ago and have not looked back. In the leagues where I had him I am in first or second place and am clawing to either stay there or overtake the top team, and I just don’t have any more time to wait on him. Granted, I gave up on him when it looked like he wasn’t going to have regular playing time anymore, and that is no longer the case since the Rockies can’t stay healthy, but I don’t regret the decision. Even after showing he can still hit a little in the second half, he still only has a 0.02 PR15. That isn’t enough to make me regret the decision or convince me he is going to get hot.

For Gonzalez this season, his Hard%, FB%, and HR/FB% are all down, while his AVG, OBP, and SLG are all well below his career averages. Most troubling to me is the SLG, which is currently sitting at .341. It would not be surprising to find out that he has been playing through injuries all season because 1. He is pretty much always injured and 2. These numbers are awful. You know I love creating these graphs, so check out this one:

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When I saw Dunkirk last weekend, I realized how important a great score and sound editing can be to a movie. Similar to how anxious moments in horror films are set up with ominous chords lingering in the background, Hans Zimmer’s infamous ticking and ability to build suspense fit Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster to a T. As I walked out of the theater, ears ringing and heart filled with lust for Tom Hardy, I gave a quick call to my man Zimmer, and asked if he’d be willing to drum up some music for each of Bradley Zimmer’s at bats in 2018. You won’t be surprised to discover that Hans never answered, which is due in part to me never actually calling, but hey, a boy can dream right?

Right around the All-Star break, analysts have a tendency to reflect on what happened in the first half. For those with an ear to the ground for rotisserie leagues, a lot of focus lingers on players who contribute in both home runs and stolen bases. Arbitrary thresholds are placed at double digits in each, as we feverishly search for hitters that we never expected to see there. At the time, to find players with this double-digit contribution in each category, you’d venture to studs like Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts, and Jose Altuve, later incorporating surprises like Elvis Andrus, Brett Gardner, and Chris Owings. As stolen bases are often a buck-shot statistic – attempting more usually means producing more – it’s important to realize each of those players mentioned played 80 or more games in hitting that mark…

Please, blog, may I have some more?