Please see our player page for Paul Blackburn to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

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I don’t pay much attention to Spring Training Statistics.  You never know who the statistics are coming against.  Baseball-Reference did, however, have an amazing tool last year that attempted to quantify the quality of opposing pitchers or batters faced during spring training games on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being MLB talent and 1-3 being high A to low A level.  This tool is great, but it averages all the Plate Appearances or batters faced.  You would still need a deeper dive to see if your stud prospect smacked a donger off of Chris Sale or off of your kid’s future pony league baseball coach.  So what should we watch for in March when we’re starved for the crack of the bat?  Ignore “best shape of their life” stories and Spring Training statistical leaderboards.  Pay attention to injuries and lineup construction and position battles!

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Since we’re slowly but surely inching forward to the halfway point of the baseball season, I’m going to toss out a friendly reminder to pay attention to your categories. In standard format leagues, you probably know by now where you can gain points and where you just need to maintain your numbers. In one of my shallower leagues, I was looking at 2-start pitchers heading into the week in a standard attempt to pad my stats, and realized I hadn’t closely checked the standings in a while. Lo and behold, I have a rather comfy lead in both wins and strikeouts in that league (but could use a little help in ERA and WHIP), so at this point it makes no sense for me to go for quantity over quality. I’m leaving Jake Odorizzi and his 2 starts on my bench this week so that I could get Hector Rondon in my lineup, since I do need saves and I don’t trust Odorizzi to do enough in the ERA/WHIP department this week where I’m comfortable he’ll help me rather than hurt me in those categories.

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Did you hear about this Joc working overtime?  He was too uptight!  Take it, Highlights, it it yours!  One guy whose completely uptight in the forbidden Fruit of the Looms is Joc Pederson.  Yesterday, he went 3-for-5, 3 runs, 3 RBIs with his 5th and 6th homer.  That gives him five homers this week.  Yabba dabba drool!  “So, I was hoping to buy a screw in this hardware store, but I’m having lustly feelings about a Joc.  Will you serve me?”  That’s me walking into a hardware store in Tennessee.  Some of my hotter buys — buys I make while wearing a thong — are owned in more than 50% of leagues — Rendon, Desmond, etc. — but Joc is pretty sexy if he’s going right and available in a multitude of leagues.  By the by, someone who changes attitudes frequently has a multitude.  The royal we are talking about a guy in my Joc who could sneak into a 30+ homer, 7-steal season, and he’s not even hitting for a bad average this season (.272).  Giddy up on this Joc!  And that’s not the first time I’ve said that!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Greetings from beautiful New Jersey. If you say otherwise, as someone born and raised in New Jersey I am legally obligated to fight you with my shirt off. I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules. Even though I am just here visiting, these laws are still binding. Strange, I know. But true. Very true. Ask Grey if you don’t believe me.

Given how the first 20 weeks have gone, putting two Dodgers pitchers at the top of this list just seems like a tease. We know what is going to happen by Monday, so why do we torture ourselves? If we have learned anything this season, it’s that Dave Roberts hates every single one of us and does not want us to be happy. Luckily, both are owned in 100% of RCLs, so we can safely ignore them without feeling too guilty. 

As for value choices this week, Streamonator likes three starting pitchers who are owned in less than 75% of Razzball Commenter Leagues for a positive value. The value choices for this week are:

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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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It’s just like old times, as we here at Razzball are profiling a Brewers starter this week. I can’t put my finger on what that means, but I digress. The familiarity doesn’t just end there my friends, oh no, we just happen to be covering the MLB debut for one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, Brandon Woodruff. On the heels of a somewhat out of nowhere breakout in 2016, Woodruff exploded onto the dynasty league radar, and squarely into the ranks on several top prospect lists. After leading the minors in strikeouts last year, the righty credited an increased pace, thanks to the direction of AA pitching coach Chris Hook. After a solid showing in the challenging confines of Colorado Springs earlier this season, Woodruff was called up in mid-June to make a spot start. Unfortunately he was injured warming up, was scratched from his debut, and did a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Recalled Friday to face the contending Rays in Tampa, Woodruff might be an interesting stream down the stretch in re-drafts of all sizes. Let’s see how the highly touted rookie looks vs a seasoned AL East lineup. Not a bad litmus test.

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There is a decent chance that the MLB Trade Deadline throws some wrenches into our list this week. Yu Darvish is currently on the list and could very well get traded. He got absolutely rocked his last time out, though, so some owners might be a little shy about throwing him out there for two starts this week. Depending on your team and league format, though, the chances are you should probably send Darvish out there for his two turns this week. He is going to start at least once even if he gets traded, and August is not the time to start second-guessing your squad.

Our focus for this week is Charlie Morton. He is only owned in 49% of RCLs, and Streamonator likes him for a $13.60 value that is partly due to favorable matchups against the Rays and Blue Jays, both of whom are in the bottom eight in team wOBA over the last couple weeks. In his last start out against the Phillies (who are surprisingly in the top eight for team wOBA over the last two weeks), he tossed seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts on just three hits and a walk.

The main difference in Morton this year that has increased his fantasy value is he is striking out batters at a much higher rate than he ever has in his career. His career K/9 is 6.66, but his K/9 in 2017 is up over 10/9:

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So, this legit blew my mind.  As you know, I’m busy getting my top 100 for the 2nd half ready for next week, and I was looking at our Player Rater.  So, Domingo Santana?  He’s top 50 on the season!  No, not for outfielders.  For all players!  Seriously!  For all hitters and pitchers.  Digest that for a second.  What are you swallowing?  I was speaking metaphorically.  What does this mean?  Invest in players with home games in domestic swill parks.  Rename PNC Park to Iron City Park and I want me some Jordy Mercer!  Busch Stadium is the exception that proves the rule, whatever that means.  This also means fantasy value is about filling out five categories.  All your Miggys and Edwins are purdy, but you get a guy that hits 15 homers and steals bases, and you’re getting value.  Yesterday, Domingo went 4-for-5, 3 runs, 2 RBIs with his 9th steal, as he hits .288 with 14 homers on the year.  That’s how you get fantasy value.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Here we are halfway through the season – still a small sample size of games in the grand scheme of things, but I’m finally willing to admit that some of this year’s most surprising breakout hitters may continue to help fantasy teams as the season progresses. Just looking at the All Star starting lineups, each team has several pretty huge surprises (unless you correctly predicted back in April that Ryan Zimmerman, Zack Cozart, Justin Smoak, and Corey Dickerson would all be starting). In the outfield, I certainly didn’t see Marcell Ozuna and Aaron Judge getting the starting nod.

With all of these guys, I feel like the tendency from a fantasy perspective would be to sell high while you can, and avoid trading for them at all costs when their value is sky-high (and if you own any of them and you can, say, get a king’s ransom for Aaron Judge in a re-draft league, go for it). But if you find yourself on the other side, getting offered a guy like Ozuna by an owner who you suspect might be desperate to sell him when his value is as high as possible, making a deal to add a perceived over-performer may not be the craziest thing in the world.

Last year, I traded for Daniel Murphy right around this time of year, even though I knew I was getting a player who was most likely at the peak of a career year. But I knew that even if his batting average came down substantially (amazingly, it didn’t) and the power evaporated somewhat (it did, to about the extent I expected), he would still be a huge asset to my team in terms of helping me in a couple categories that would, and did, lead me to gain a few points in the standings. It never feels good to buy high on a player, but I don’t like to discount it as an option if I feel it might ultimately help my team over the long haul – especially in very deep leagues where you know the waiver wire pickings are always going to fall into the slim-to-none category. And speaking of slim pickings on the waiver wire, let’s get to some names who might be relevant in AL and NL-only leagues.

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Whenever I write a post about Oakland, I open with a shout out to the King Of Hyphy, and fallen solider Mac Dre. I know he’s from the Valley-Jo, but the man gets a great deal of Oakland love. It’s only a half hour north after all. Or maybe all this is just a poor excuse to link to this video. So put on your best Thizz Face, and let’s get into some Moneyball A’s talk. You ready? After unloading eventual MVP, and mullet superstar Josh Donaldson, the A’s have been in full on rebuild mode. Of course treadmill hero extraordinaire Billy Beane is still pulling the strings behind the scenes, but the sort of prospect crop needed for the A’s to compete has alluded them for the better part of a decade. However, things changed last July, spearheaded by the signing of Cuban Hype Machine Lazarito. The A’s then became heavy players in an active trade deadline, settling on a solid trade with the Dodgers. Unloading the aging Rich Hill, and impending free agent Josh Reddick for three solid prospect arms with some upside. All three Jhael Cotton, Frankie Montas, and Grant Holmes should factor into Oakland’s rotation in the next few seasons. With Cotton the closest to the O.Co, followed by Montas, and Holmes bringing up the rear. They then followed both of those moves with the savvy December signing of Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz for $2 million; a player many think was the best arm in the 2016 international class. Saying the rebuild of the once prospect and pitching rich A’s began this July is a little disingenuous, as they did swing a trade for 2016 breakout rookie pitcher Sean Manaea at the 2015 deadline. Unloading Ben Zobrist to the future World Series champion Royals in the process. With a crop of young hitters, and pitchers matriculating to Oakland over the next few years, we could be looking at an up and coming organization.  Time will tell if that holds true. It’s the Top Oakland Athletics Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.

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