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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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…

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Allow me to paint a visual metaphor.  A vetaphor.  The entire league’s pitching is cornered on the grounds of a wildlife preserve.  A tiger, we’ll call him Blister, stalks towards the league’s pitching.  There’s no way out, but the league attempts to urinate on Blister to keep him away.  Then, out of nowhere, Nat Gio, dressed as Lord Beasley, a world famous butterfly collector from Gilligan’s Island, rides his Eddie Bauer jeep into Blister’s den, and befriends the beast, saying, “I slay pussy,” then off everyone’s look, “…cats.”  Yesterday, Gio Gonzalez had yet another great start — 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 4 Ks, ERA at 2.49.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Gio hears people talking about the new baseball and how offense is up.  Maybe he’s the one pitcher who likes a tightly-sewn baseball.  Up until this year, he must’ve been like, “Geez, is this ball going to unravel when I throw it?”  Of course, his outlook for 2018 fantasy doesn’t look anywhere near as optimistic.  Besides his ERA, there’s nothing promising in his peripherals.  He has left 85.7% of men on base.  That’s more than a wife with a headache.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

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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, Joey Votto went 2-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs with his 30th homer as he hits .314 with a .438 OBP.  Not only is Votto hitting for a high average, but he’s also hitting for power, and, you kinda get the impression, if he wanted, he could hit for a higher average with no power, or a lower average with more power, or no average, no power and pitch.  Personal Anecdote Alert!  Fast forward a blurb if you’re not interested.  When I was in my teens, I went to baseball summer camp.  The guy who ran it was a Yankees’ scout, so he’d have players come in to teach us fundamentals.  One guest was Mike Pagliarulo.  I know, I know, this is like the opening monologue before someone sings Springsteen’s Glory Days at karaoke.  Any hoo!  Pags was the best hitter I ever saw within three feet of me.  One kid there was a minor league pitcher, and Pags was so dramatically better than him, it was obvious the kid would never go anywhere.  If Pags wanted to hit a home run to right against this kid, he did.  Up the middle?  No problem.  Home run to left?  Sure, why not?  So, my point (!), against this minor league pitcher, Pags did what I imagine Votto does against major leaguers.  Votto is my Pags of the majors.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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.

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And suddenly, it’s August. Week 18 of the season. Ahhh, I remember the good ol’ days of April, when former World Series contenders (*cough* Blue Jays *cough*) still had hopes of surfing their wave of 2016 success into 2017. I also remember the very first post I wrote for you lovelies, on April 8th, because here we are again, on a new go-around on the great Monopoly board of life (do pass “Go”; do collect $200), with the Phillies facing the Rockies in Colorado. The last time this match-up happened on a Saturday, poor old Jeremy Guthrie gave up 10 runs—on his birthday, to boot. I don’t wish that on anyone, but I do want all those runs again! A platter of relatively slim pickings on the pitching front has me wishing I didn’t have to start any pitchers today in my FanDuel slate, but we do what we must: fade (just a little) on pitching while paying up for hitting. Luckily, there are a couple of reasonably priced pitchers today — Gerrit Cole and Drew Pomeranz, I’m looking at you — around whom we can build our lineups.

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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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My dislike for catchers in DFS is well documented.  Thankfully, FantasyDraft has an awesome format that doesn’t require me to waste money or a roster spot.  IMO, catchers in fantasy are an absolute waste of time and I’ll never understand the two catcher formats.  That said, I’m throwing out the playbook for the day because today is the Ultimate Zig Day.  Yep, I’m rostering not one, not two, but three catchers for tonight and I’m hoping their stats are sweeter than a Tres Leches cake.  Brian McCann, $7,200 is my numero uno because he mashes against Alex Cobb posting a solid 8/15 with 2 HRs.  At $7,200 he’s solid value as he’s back at home in Minute Maid Park and he’s got 2 HRs over his last four games.  Salvador Perez, $7,600 is my number two because he has an excellent matchup against Ubaldo Jimenez in hitter friendly Camden Yards.  We all know about Baltimore’s pitching woes, but Ubaldo is rocking an extremely hitter friendly 8.42 ERA at home.  WOW!  I’ll be adding a few more Royals to the roster tonight, K.C. Stack anyone?  Rounding out catcher heavy lineup is J.T. Realmuto, $7,200.  He’s facking Gio Gonzalez who has been pitching well this season, but he’s giving over 1.50 ER more when pitching on the road.  Now that we’ve got our infield set, let’s see who’s going to rack up our Ks for the night.

New to FantasyDraft? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays. Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

Please, blog, may I have some more?