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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One of the best pieces of DFS advice I can give is that it’s always helpful to look at the slate on a macro-level first before turning to micro-level decisions. The reason why this is often helpful is that some slates have obvious cash plays who have such juicy matchups, or are so grossly underpriced, that it’s hard to justify pivoting off of them in your GPP lineups.  This, in turn, makes playing GPPs quite tough as you’re likely looking at lineups that are chalky and not very unique. Other times, there are very few obvious cash plays, as everyone who would be considered for cash has some sort of a wart. In such a case, the slate is better geared for playing GPPs, as no one is likely to be high owned, and there’s an incredible amount of variance. The idea of a “GPP-only slate” becomes even more apparent when it’s the pitchers who are the ones where there is simply no obvious play. This is one of those slates. The high-end pitchers include one facing a top-5 offense (deGrom), one who is not pitching at the level he was at even earlier in the season (Bumgarner), one on a team that doesn’t let their pitchers go deep and facing a low-strikeout team (Darvish), and one who is a touch overpriced for what he brings to the table (Paxton). The best mid-range option is the single most upside-capped pitcher around (Nova), and while he makes great sense as a cash SP2 on two-pitcher sites, on a one pitcher site, it’s always tough to roll with him no matter how safe he is. Now, all of these pitchers have the upside potential to do very well (or just well in Nova’s case). I’m even going to tell you which of them I prefer today. But they all have warts, so it makes cash on FanDuel today icky, for lack of a better word. Offensively, it’s also fairly icky beyond Coors Field, although there are a few no-brainers in the outfield, leaving the “ickiness” to the infield. If you feel comfortable with one of the pitchers, then by all means, plug him in and fire up as much cash as you want. But if you don’t, then find a core of hitters you like, build that hitter core, and then play mix-and-match with a bunch of pitchers and the final few hitters.

On to the picks once this slate gets less icky…

New to FanDuel? 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!

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True story, I was minding my own business in my backyard recently — mowing the lawn, wiping my brow with the bottom of my shredded Hulk-a-Mania t-shirt, sipping a real super cheap beer.  Just being at one with the sun that Al Gore hasn’t yet taken from us, and bronzing my calfs because they look better bronze, when I got to thinking.  Not super deep thinking like if I were a sushi chef, I’d make a maki roll with hamburger and Doritos and call it an “Eye roll.”  Just surface level thinking, and it hit me.  How rare is it that a guy is top five for fantasy value on our Player Rater and he doesn’t have one insanely huge game all year to warrant a lede.  That was the case with Paul Goldschmidt, before yesterday.  Then, as they say, Au Shizz went shizzy all up in Rizzy’s hizzy — 3-for-4, 4 runs, 6 RBIs and his 23rd, 24th and 25th homers, and now hitting .320 on the year.  This should finally put him on top of the Player Rater for the first time all year, after sniffing the Judge’s robe for the first three months of the season, in the number two slot.  And there were people who didn’t want to draft him in the top three spots in the preseason.  Haha, oops.  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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last week, we added Tommy Pham and his pal (unconfirmed) Marwin Gonzalez to the realm of the 100. This week, we’re feeling so good that we’re moving them on up the rankings. Pham has the second best PR15 (ESPN leagues) right now (13.01), behind only the respected Coors Field masher Nolan Arenado. Marwin, while he has a respectable 5.26 PR15 that is good for 34th overall, is moving up because he suddenly has an inside track to playing time.

Someone ask Grey if I get any bonus points for running it back on players in back-to-back weeks AND rolling with a double player reference headline. I was going to go with a Gregory Polanco reference but decided Matt Adams was both more ridiculous and had the added bonus of allowing me to use former teammates (kind of). More bonus points? Let me know what Grey says.

As for Carlos Correa, well, you guys know already, right? I’m dropping him from the Top 100 because he is going to miss most of the rest of the season. He could potentially return and help you for fantasy playoffs or the last couple weeks, but we won’t know for sure for a few more weeks. This IS good news for Marwin Gonzalez, who I focused on last week, as there is suddenly another opening in the lineup for him. Obviously, hold Correa for now, but I’m dropping him from the ranks of the beloved and pouring out some Coors Light for him.

I never thought there would be a week where I would be adding Matt Adams and removing Carlos Correa. 2017 is bumming me out, but I promise to make it one full article without mentioning Super Balls (this doesn’t count!). Screw it, let’s add Steven Souza, too. He’s got 20 home runs to go with a .272 average, .239 ISO, an increased Hard%, and what looks to be an increased approach at the plate. He has been on the fringe, but I managed to make room for him this week. I give up, 2017. You hear me? I give up! You win!

Anyway, here are some other notes on the additions and subtractions for this week…

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Yesterday, Rafael Devers was called up by the Red Sox.  Meh, if he’s anything like Danvers, Mass., I’m good.  Somewhere, Prospector Ralph just Hulk-smashed his computer.  Say something bad about Rafael Devers and Prospector Ralph goes full Clubber Lang at the Rocky statue.  “You want a real man to play third base with your wife?”  Devers’ minor league numbers (20 HRs, near-.310 across two levels this year in 85 games) look like yet another Benintendi, but with more power.  The Sons of Sam Horn will go legit Sophie’s Choice if you try to get them to choose between Benintendi and Devers.  “I’d prefer to eat at a Wahlburgers every day for the rest of my life than choose between those two.  Oh, and Yankees suck!”  After owning Benintendi for the past four months, I think I might prefer Devers next year, if he’s all that he’s cracked up to be.  Not to get too crazy, but can anyone say a lefty Miggy?  If you can’t say it, you might need to see a speech therapist.  Devers is absolutely a grab in all leagues to see how looks.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

2017 has been a weird season for baseball. Not only are baseballs leaving ballparks like super balls, but players like Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison are winning fantasy leagues for people. Before the season started, I never thought I would be writing those names on this website. Now, I write them every week (Okay, usually I just have to copy/paste).

While doing some research over the All-Star break, I found more than a dozen players who had already hit more home runs in the first half of 2017 than they ever had in any other full season. That wasn’t even really what I was looking for. I just kept finding more and more of them. One of those players, as you may have guessed because of the title of this article and the number of professional baseball players named Marwin, is Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is a player I have been keeping an eye on all year and is someone commenters have been asking about a lot lately. Until recently, he still wasn’t playing every day and was moving all over the field. When he did play, though, he was mashing. Son wrote about him in his Bear or Bull series last week, and I recommend going and giving that a read. I’ll wait here while you do.

Like Son goes over in his piece, the biggest difference for Gonzalez this season has been his approach at the plate. His BB% is way up, his K% is way down, and his O-Swing% is down. That all indicates an improved approach at the plate. For proof, here’s a chart!

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Matt Grace picked up his 2nd save in as many games on Saturday for the Nationals, and Ben Zobrist’s wife started to work on a song titled, “Saving Grace,” and requested Ben’s trade to Washington.  Then, first thing on Sunday, the Nats traded for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, and Saving Grace became a B-side for “Halleberrylujah, A Catwoman Licks Herself (Rated PG).”  When asked if the trade makes his team better, the Nats’ GM said, “That’s right,” and, “I’m Mike Rizzo.”  Picture this:  Dusty and Rizzo looking at a book called, “Baseball Strategy.”  Rizzo looks at Dusty, and Dusty says, “I got the baseball part,” and Rizzo nods his head.  Finally, Rizzo chimes in, “I don’t know the 2nd word and I don’t think it’s worth investigating.”  Dusty agrees, and that’s the Nationals.  So, who will close between Madson and Doolittle?  Your guess = my guess.  I’d want to say Madson, but it could be either, both or neither as they trade for David Robertson or someone else.  By the time the calendar turns to August, the Nationals might have five closers from teams not in the pennant chase.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yes, I know that title doesn’t really make sense, but my mind is clouded by the lack of meaningful box scores. I normally like to be on vacation during the All Star Break, especially ever since Major League Baseball cruelly lengthened it from three to four days. In my opinion, the only thing worse than having no baseball for four days in the middle of the summer is having fake baseball and something called the ESPYs on for three days in the middle of the summer, and I’d rather be as busy as possible during this time.  Sure, every once in a while something interesting will happen during the Home Run Derby, and occasionally the actual game is watchable, I suppose.  But seeing Yadier Molina hit a bomb that doesn’t count for any of the fantasy teams I own him on just makes me, well… sad.

Basically, watching baseball the last two days was just a few hours of waiting for things NOT to happen. It was worrying that a player crucial to one of my teams would screw up his swing trying to hit pretend homers, or pull a hammy running out an infield hit that wouldn’t even help his own batting average, let alone my fantasy team’s. It was also a painful reminder of why I’m not doing well in certain leagues – namely, having to watch the players I don’t own anywhere who came out of nowhere (and by nowhere, I mean the late rounds of a fantasy baseball draft) to become bona fide 2017 all stars, often leading their fantasy team owners to the top of the standings.

Drafting players in the middle and late rounds who outperform their draft position or auction cost is important in any fantasy league regardless of structure, but it is absolutely crucial in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. I’m sure Clayton Kershaw and Jose Altuve are on plenty of first place fantasy teams, but I suspect the real names you’ll find over and over again when looking at the top of the standings are more like Ryan Zimmerman, Ervin Santana, and Jason Vargas. With that in mind, and with no fringey deep league player playing to talk about picking up, I thought I’d use the break to take a look at the players who are some of the first half MVPs in deep fantasy leagues: those that have outperformed* their 2017 pre-season ranking** by the widest margins. We’ll also take a look at their second-half futures via Steamer projections for the rest of the season (with some completely unscientific, woman’s intuition-style guesses from me as to whether or not I agree). Obviously none these guys is likely to be available in a shallow league, let alone deep formats, but with most of us facing a fake baseball trading deadline around the same time the real one hits, we’ll need to be thinking about whether any of these players are worth buying… or selling, at the right price.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Aaron Judge baffles me. Is he a beefy version of early 2000s Richie Sexson, or he is something more legit? No offense to early 2000s Richie, of course. His (we’re back to Judge, now) numbers in the minors (albeit a relatively small sample size of) suggest more of the former, but his 2017 insists on the latter. Strikeouts aside, he seems to have combined a complete and nearly flawless approach at the plate with a compact swing and elite power. In March, we weren’t even sure if he was going to be the everyday right fielder for the Yankees. Now, he is a lock to win Rookie of the Year, the clear favorite to win MVP, and could very well win the Triple Crown.

He has 30 home runs to only 13 doubles (big boy has three triples, too), which means nothing except that when he connects he CONNECTS. Lifting power, my friends. The fly ball revolution is upon us, and only 50 years after Ted Williams told us all about it. And with Judge’s superhuman power, a willingness and ability to drive (and lift) the ball to the opposite field, a right field porch in Yankee Stadium that is a few feet behind first base (roughly), and juiced baseballs that are leaving parks like they’re golf balls, what is a popup behind second base for most batters is a home run to the upper deck in right field for Judge. That was a very long sentence. Let’s pause to catch our breath here.

Please, blog, may I have some more?