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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SAGNOF has a new Daddy! Or I guess technically Step-Daddy — this will always be Grey’s baby. That’s right — this year I’ll be slipping into those SAGNOF slippers each week to tell you who will be doing the saving and who will be doing the stealing! 

“So like good guys and bad guys?” asks my wife as I explain to her what I’m writing about this year. 

*Sigh* “Yes…like good guys and bad guys…” I wept.

Let’s get this SAGNOF off to a great jump-off. Lo! Below are my top-30 closer rankings! 

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Inspired by JKJ’s recent lament on the St. Louis Cardinals, combined with my First Year Player Drafts informed by The Prospect Itch and Hobbs, as well as noted scout John Sickels’ “Shadow Twins” series of articles, I wanted to reveal my own mourning process for my beloved tolerated local sports team, the Minnesota Twins. More than just an elegy to the Midwest Monsters that could have been, the Minnesota Twins stand as an example of a team that dynasty fantasy managers might want to avoid, and the reason is rooted in the “real world” dynamics of the Twins’ ownership and management over the past century.

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We know spring training is fully underway when a bunch of arms break. We’re sure to see more as soreness becomes less general and more devastating to our early drafts. The four-tier format is back for our closer report. This week, pandemic foodstuff themed tiers. I’d laugh but for fear that might cause me to cough resulting in those nearby turning mob justice on me. Let’s get to some news and notes on the reliever front first.

  • Emmanuel Clase – He of the hardest cutter in baseball is starting his Cleveland career off on a sour note. A back strain will likely sideline him for 8-12 weeks. This opens the door for fellow reliever wunderkind James Karinchak to solidify a leverage role. If you want a job relieving for Cleveland just have a hard to spell name, throw gas, and be in your early 20’s.
  • Jose Alvarado – Don’t look now but Alvarado looks sharp as ever. But Roto-Wan, Nick Anderson is *the* it closer of draft season?!? I have no issue with Anderson’s stuff, just his role. He factors into their ninth inning, no doubt. Let me ask you this, though. He saved some games for them last year since they’re a team that’s the most progressive in leverage roles, right? No? Ok, well he came over from Miami, who’s bullpen was a collection of molding leftovers. He racked up a bunch of saves there, surely? How about one save. Well, at least he’s a young prospect? Turns 30 in June. I don’t mean to rain on your Nick Anderson parade, and by “don’t” I mean I do, but he’s far from a lock. I’m betting on Alvarado seeing some of their saves as the lefty side of a committee in every league I draft that uses RPs.
  • Brandon Kintzler – Things are not off to a great start this spring for the presumptive Marlins closer. Like, walking four straight batters bad. I’d consider a spec play on Ryne Stanek early on.
  • Ryan Helsley – I’m not the Helsley guy but some people I respect (see: Matt Thompson, Nick Pollack) have made it a point to draft the young Cardinal in the late rounds. Their ninth inning is a mess to predict, as usual. Helsley also has an outside shot at the rotation it seems, depending on the health of their assumed starters.
  • Trevor Rosenthal – Rosie is the latest zombie reliever. He’s always been able to light up radar guns. He just has zero command at times, as in most of the time. The command seems to be there this spring, however. KC would love to add any talent it can to baseball’s most mediocre bullpen.
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We close out the American League bullpens with the AL West. It feels like all of these teams have something to offer either in closer speculation or high wattage non-closers. Remember the golden rule of the saves chase: don’t overpay for closers. Opportunities come if you’re active on the wire.

I didn’t realize how upset I was about the sign-stealing scandal until I started writing this. If you’re an Astros fan and I’ve offended your delicate sensibilities below, you can go and discard them along with your stolen championships.

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This year the Razzballies are going without a host. I, Grey Albright, Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it) am merely a long-form presenter. Remember, you can’t spell ghosting without host. You also can’t spell hostage, but no one is forcing you to stay for the award show. You’re going to want to, though, because without these awards, you’ll have no idea who was the best and worst hitters and pitchers this year, and you’ll be left giving out your own awards and no one cares if your “Low sodium tomato soup in a sourdough bowl” won your “Whitest Lunch Of All-Tme” award. Stop making up fake awards! For all of you winners and losers, I ask that you please keep your acceptance speeches down to a minimum. As a hero once said, “I’m going to thank everyone in private.” So, before I’m talking to no one but a room full of seat-fillers, here’s the year-end awards for the best and worst of fantasy baseball:

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We’ve reached the All Star break. That’s a little more than halfway through the fantasy baseball year. Since there was no real baseball yet this week, we’re going with a Closer Report/SAGNOF mash up. Bullets are freestyle and rankings are below. Tiers are HR Derby themed with some of my favorite moments in Derby history…

  • The All-Star break also serves as a time for teams to take stock of where they stand and consider whether the should be trade deadline buyers or sellers. The interest in Will Smith is heating up. That means there’s a stash opportunity. Pick your favorite between Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, or Reyes Moronta. There’s something in my gut telling me Moronta might be the guy long term.
  • Greg Holland and Craig Kimbrel both gave their owners a bit of solace going into the break with a save each just prior. Holland is the shakier own with the Diamondbacks minimally invested in him. Let’s see what a few days off do for two aging arms.
  • Grey told you to roster Liam Hendricks. I told you not to drop him. Hope you listened because, surprise, rushing Treinen back was probably a mistake and it’s showing. Treinen may never be a guy cut out for the solo closer mantle. He’s likely an elite fireman with multi-inning capability.
  • The top of the stolen base leaderboard isn’t particularly surprising with Adalberto Mondesi and Mallex Smith at the top. It gets interesting from there. Christian Yelich is third, Elvis Andrus is fourth, and Jose Ramirez is fifth. They’re likely matchup based with pockets of steals coming in the first half. It’s an interesting top 5 nonetheless.
  • Right behind them in sixth is Kevin Kiermaier. If you’re after steals, check the wire for him. He’s been a popular add but could be there. KK gives you some of everything.
  • Joey Wendle, another Ray, is right behind him. Wendle’s had about the worst injury luck you can have. He’s back now and sporting a solid .257/.341/.371 with 3 steals in the last two weeks. His playing time has some risk with Brandon Lowe’s return. Wendle can play all over the diamond, though.
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The album Electric Ladyland by the Jimi Hendrix Experience gave us two of the all-time great guitar riffs. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) was decades ahead of its time in 1968. All Along The Watchtower may be a Bob Dylan cover but Jimi owns that song now. It’s opening lyrics are fitting for this column, “There must be some kind of way outta here, said the joker to the thief. There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.” Are you rostering a joker or a thief with your spec add? It’s certainly confusing and there’s little relief in sight. Nevertheless, we press on.

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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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