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Maybe the real-life baseball season has stopped, but that doesn’t mean fantasy baseball has to. It’s all we have these days, really. Fantasy sports while we fantasize about real sports coming back. I feel bad for my fellow fantasy hockey folks – I get the feeling it ain’t coming back, even if regular hockey does. I’m not about that fantasy basketball life (I dabbled in my younger years – Tracy McGrady anyone? Had to have him on all my teams), but I fear it’s the same fate. Only fantasy football is unscathed…so far. Wild stuff happening on that front, too. Brady to the Bucs? Da BUCS?! DAFUQ! Gurley and Newton RELEASED?! Hopkins TRADED?! Maybe Watson, too?! Madness, I say!

Anyway. This is a fantasy baseball article. Almost forgot. It’s an important year for the fine ladies and gents here at Razzball: the inaugural season of RazzSlam! Big shoutout to the NFBC peeps for hosting it. Give ’em a follow on the Twitter at @TheNFBC. I had the honor of being accepted into League 2 (of 18). Some scrub ass writer for CBS is in it. Big deal. I’m kidding, he’ll probably whoop my ass.

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“It’s day 127 of the quarantine and all pitchers have already had Tommy John surgery. Now our first manager is going under the knife.”

“I was reaching for a toothpick and I heard something pop,” said Dusty Baker.

For those who have resorted to wiping their butts with baseball news for lack of toilet paper, Noah Syndergaard has a torn UCL and is kaput for 16-ish months. If only someone told you to avoid Noah Syndergaard, huh? What’s that, Voice In My Head? I told everyone to avoid Noah Syndergaard? Aw, jeez, I think you’re right. Voice In My Head, can I ever be as smart as you? Voice In My Head, “No. Shut up.” Wow, graciousness has left the chat. In my top 40 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball, I had a tier of guys to avoid, that tier had in it Noah Syndergaard, Luis Severino and Chris Sale. Gosh darn it, fellas, I might be as smart as the Voice In My Head. Can you even imagine it? This Syndergaard news is terrible. Dot dot dot. For all the people who wanted to draft him but got off easy because their drafts were delayed until MLB stops washing its hands of the season. Seriously, the only thing that sucks in all of my absolute genie-ness psychic ability is everyone not getting a chance to draft these pitchers before it’s too late. People tend to hate when people take victory laps over injuries, but I have on my Fitbit and I’m going for a jog! I’ve been saying to avoid Syndergaard for so long (two years), due to funky things going on in his peripherals. Maybe I didn’t know 100% he was injured, but I 100% knew something was wrong with him, and have been saying it. Not sure why people are thinking he tore his UCL just this week. This is the Mets and their doctors. Syndergaard was likely injured for the last two years. Okay, I’m out of shape from too much quarantining, so pulling the victory lap into the depot to freshen up with some hand sanitizer. On a side note, all of these guys going for Tommy John surgery might be signaling something else. No, not that they have no porch that needs repair like you during the Corona timeline. It means we might have more baseball this year than next year. If there’s a lockout to start the 2021 season, and baseball returns in June for the 2nd year in a row, how many starts do these guys miss? Not to answer, but to ruminate until our next full season in 2022. Anyway, here’s what else I saw for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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The thing about now is that writing about anything feels like writing about nothing. Thus is the nature of fantasy sports in a global crisis. The nature of sports themselves, we’re seeing. 

I’m supposed to be on Spring Break, man.

Or my students are. I never do much with it, if I’m honest. Just baseball stuff, really. I’ll watch last year all winter and try to see as much as I can in Spring, which is typically a lot over Spring Break. Used to play some video games. These days it’s just Fifa 16 because it only takes about ten minutes to pop in and finish a game. Think I just won the 2022 World Cup with Portugal. Just a fluke they offered me the job all those years ago.

Still had time for a draft with CBS around noon Friday. 15-team roto. First one post-shutdown for me, and though it was just a mock, it felt like pretty serious. I’m not sure why. I think it’s the fourth mock I’ve done with them this off-season, and I’m very thankful to Scott White and the crew for inviting me, but the previous ones were very clearly mocks while I was in the room, if you know what I mean. Maybe it was just me feeling like everything is serious. My wife can’t stop coughing and can’t get tested. Our daughter is around her a lot. It’s hard to avoid. 

Anyway here’s the team: (overall pick number in parenthesis)

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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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Los Angeles is such an eco-friendly city that when a recent EPA report cited jet fuel as accounting for 17% of air pollution, the Dodgers went out and traded for Mookie Betts. See, this year’s All-Star Game is in Dodger Stadium, and now eleven of their players don’t have to fly anywhere for the All-Star Game festivities. Always giving, my great City of Angels, that’s not actually the city of the Angels, that’s Anaheim, but they call themselves Los Angeles and it’s nowhere near Los Angeles. Not confusing at all! Let’s just drool for a second at the Dodgers’ lineup:  Betts, Muncy, Turner, Bellinger, Pederson/Pollock, Seager, Will Smith and Gavin Lux. If they trade Austin Barnes to the Astros for a trash can, then their 2020 title hopes will be sealed! Before you laugh, the Astros could use a catcher. So, Betts’s best will be in the starry skies of Los Angeles, and Rihanna might just start liking baseball again. “You’re cute with that silliness.” “Nah, seriously, I want to go bowling.”  That’s Mookie and Rihanna on their first date. Betts is in the prime of his career, and I can’t see any chance a move to Los Angeles slows him down, however–Don’t do it, Grey! Don’t be negative here! Well, Fenway to Dodger Stadium isn’t the best move. Some of those doubles off the wall might go for deep outs to the left fielder. The Dodgers didn’t steal a lot in 2019 either, but that could be from a lack of threats. Justin Turner is running? Muncy? Bellinger did run, because he can. Betts should still be a lock for 15-20 steals, but I’m knocking his power down a tad with the park change. While his projections will change a bit, his ranking is staying the same in my top 10 for 2020 fantasy baseball. For what it’s Werth, Rudy’s auction rankings changed dramatically for Betts, knocking him way down, but Betts’s projections are even better than mine, as seen at the hitter projections. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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Oh, hello random blog reader. I didn’t see you there. Don’t mind me, I’m just doing early offseason fantasy baseball research while listening to Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” on a loop. It gets me in the proper mindset to tackle bullpens. I generally find few fantasy positions that elicit more angst than relievers. Nevertheless, I’ve hit the double-digit mark on BoP and am feeling all kinds of weird. It’s the perfect place to dip a toe into choppy reliever waters. I’ve broken down the roles while unveiling my new “Razzers” rating system (base 1-5). Is this a ploy to trick search engine’s into redirecting users searching for Brazzers? Yes. Yes, it is.

Ok, now that you’ve returned to this tab from your incognito browsing session, the Pens!

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Now that we’re finally down to the final weekend of the regular season, here’s hoping you’ve already locked up a fantasy title or two (or, like me, have a couple of leagues that are going to excitingly but excruciatingly come down to the final at bats and pitches of the year).  But if you haven’t had much to play for recently, you may have missed some of the less splashy guys who have been performing well at the major league level over the last month of two of 2019.  And whether or not you’ve achieved fantasy baseball glory this year, as far as I’m concerned, it’s never too late to look forward to 2020.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at a handful of players, in no particular order whatsoever, who are relatively under the radar, but have ended the season on a high note and might be of interest to us deep-leaguers (and maybe even some medium and shallow-ish leaguers) next spring.

Garrett Hampson. Hampson was a pre-season sleeper due mainly to his (mostly speed-related) impressive minor league numbers, but he didn’t exactly pan out early on for anyone who invested in him on draft day.  But those of us who gave up on him months ago might be interested to hear just how impressively he’s finishing up the season:  over the last two weeks, he’s put up some fairly ridiculous numbers, hitting .400 with 5 homers and 7 steals.

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There haven’t been any big callups and there may not be again this year. The cards are mostly on the table. Best of luck in your final push for fantasy greatness. Hopefully you’re flush with Yelich’s and Lindor’s but a Moore or Rojas may do in a pinch. Like Billy Idol said, and I think it was in reference to September steals in fantasy baseball, we need “More, more, more. More, more, more.”

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Perhaps you’ve read or listened to Grey Albright over the years and thought “Is this the Larry David of Fantasy Sports?” If you have, then my friend you were 100% correct, and this week’s opening will only further cement that thought. Grey Albright our fearless leader of SAGNOF was banned from his favorite Crab+Boba establishment. I know what you’re saying “Ralph, it’s Crab+Boba spot?!?! Does Grey own this joint?” Surprisingly no, Grey does not own this anomaly that seems like it was birthed in the recesses of Grey’s brain. Not only did he not create it, he can’t even go there any longer. Oh and we talk about fantasy baseball too. Actually most of the time we discuss baseball, topics like 2020 predictions, Schmotatoes to add, and some of the recent callups we’ve got the monocle on. It’s the latest episode of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Podcast, now 17% more dangerous.

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