First Mike Trout and now our beloved Trea Turner (and a bunch in between, but we’ll focus on baseball’s young heartthrobs for the time being). The baseball Gods are clearly punishing us all for the use of juiced baseballs this season. Major League Baseball has denied any kind of change in the balls despite some mounting evidence, but I bet it is something that gets looked at and adjusted in the offseason. Which leads me to wonder whether this will be something we will be talking about come March…

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Julio Urias is this week’s gut-punch injury of the week. The 20-year-old uber-prospect is about to miss a year and a half (at least) after undergoing anterior capsule surgery in his throwing shoulder. Urias has had some bad luck throughout his life. As a kid in Mexico, Urias underwent three surgeries on his eye to remove a non-cancerous mass. In 2015 he had cosmetic surgery to repair the drooping eyelid caused by this mass. Hopefully Urias will come back strong from this current surgery, but there is cause for concern any time there is a major surgery on a pitcher’s throwing shoulder. I’d recommend dropping him even in dynasty leagues as his successful return is not a given. As for his replacement you can trade one J-U for another: Jose Urena (17.7%.) Over his last 4 starts Urena has 3 quality starts and 16 K’s in 23 IP. He’s allowed 23 base runners which isn’t phenomenal, but Urena’s throwing shoulder is in one piece so he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.

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Uh-oh, the double lede!  This is more spectacular than the double rainbow.  WHOA, DOUBLE LEDE!  Alex Cobb threw a gem yesterday — 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners (2 Hits), 4 Ks, ERA at 3.73, but his brother from another mother and father, Alex Colome blew the game, going 1 IP, 2 ER, and now has given up seven earned — sevearned? — in his last three appearances.  Alex Cobb carried a no-hitter into the 7th and was so good yesterday that Robert Wuhl is writing the screenplay to Cobb 2:  More Corn.  However, do the Rays play Blondie “Call Me” when Colome comes in?  If so, stop!  If not, give it a try because we need to shake things up.  I grabbed Danny Farquhar before the game even ended.  Lord Farq could get a few saves if Colome remains dreck.  …Cause somebody once told me that Farquhar is an ‘own me,’ and I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed!  Colome was looking kind of dumb with a crooked number on the board and an L shape hanging on his scorecard.  Well, the years start coming– Okay, I will stop now.  In the end, Tommy Hunter got the save after the blown save, so he could also be in the mix if Colome needs a little rest.  In one league, I grabbed Farquhar; in one league, I grabbed Hunter for ye ol’ hedge.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Y’all better be ready.  (Gotta love some fantasy baseball puns that involve some Cypress Hill.)  Well, even if you didn’t like it, I did.  So there’s that.  So A.A. Ron Hicks hit the DL with an oblique injury… but I have to ask: Why is it so oblique if we actually know what it is?  If anything, it’s an un-oblique injury because we know what the injury is.  Regardless, and I am dropping the “ir” because it is not a word, though it should be.  Jacoby Ellsbury has returned like a stallion on a white stallion. Unfortunately for fantasy, Jacoby hasn’t been such since dunkaroos were still a cool snack.  As a Yankee rooter, Hicks’ injury hurts because he is versatile and Ellsbury is just a DL nightmare.  The rewards that you reaped from the waiver wire add of Hicks aren’t lost though, because it is a substitute by substitute principle.  It’s like walking through the store and finding a 20 dollar bill.  Only to realize that a month later it was your money to begin with.  So reinvest that sorta found money to the waiver wire and keep digging.  The expectations for Ellsbury should remain limited, but are boosted by where he bats in the Yankee lineup.  Though in his SAGNOF defense, he did have 8 steals in just 149 plate appearances, so he does have some value as it relates to steals and such.  And with the scuppering Yankees in a fall from fantasy grace, minus Judge, he could ease out some OF 4-5 value.  Stay glued to that chair, more goodies after the jump on swipes, thievery and save-dom.

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The theme of the Top 100 hitters this week is triumphant returns. Carlos Gomez is back from his latest trip to the disabled list and is mashing. Ab-so-lute-ly mash-ing. Keon Broxton, left for dead just a few weeks ago, is the hottest power-speed combo hunk in all the land. Even Cameron Maybin has returned to our ranks, though his return has been more gradual over the last few weeks since we lost our beloved Mike Trout.

I have not been overly kind to the newcomers since taking over this series. Perhaps that is my way of initiating them and making sure they belong among us Top 100ers. This week, though, my heart is filled with warmth. Perhaps it is because I am looking ahead to a mini 4th of July vacation, or maybe I am just getting soft in my old age :::pause here and smirk as you slowly look around the room:::.

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Every year, there are surprises in fantasy baseball. Some players come out of nowhere and breakout or, in the case of Aaron Judge, absolutely dominate. Other players regress after a breakout season the year before. There are even the players who have long track records of mediocrity who, all of sudden, appear to have figured something out en route to becoming legitimate contributors both in fantasy and in, you know, real baseball. I like to call these players Justin Smoak-Logan Morrison-Yonder Alonso. The more popular terms among Razzballers for these players are Schmohawks and Hot Schmotatos.

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I use a number of different tools, sites, and metrics every week to adjust my rankings and to determine exactly who I should focus on each week. I usually try to focus on players owned in less than 60% leagues, players who are rising or falling and who you should probably buy low or sell high on, or players who are new to the Top 100 or on the cusp of joining the ranks. It has only been a few weeks since I took over these rankings for the legendary [email protected], so I am still working on creating the most efficient system (I spend wayyyyyy too much time agonizing over these rankings every Sunday).

I start by going over my notes and spreadsheets from the previous week, then take a peek at Razzball’s Player Rater and look at the current rankings and the Rest of Season Projections. Once I jot down some notes from those, I take a look at ESPN’s PR15 Player Ratings for the last 15 days. Lastly, I check FanGraphs with a focus on the best wOBA for the last 14 days and the last 30 days. Usually, once I am finished with that process, I have an idea of who I am going to write about and a starting point for adjusting the rankings.

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I start this week’s podcast by wondering if JB still listens to the show and/or reads the website, but based on the nugget of information Grey passes along, I’m going to assume the answer to that question is no. I also thank everyone for the awesome podcast reviews this week, while Grey is unsatisfied and unimpressed. On the fantasy baseball side of things, our main focus is middle infield, kicking things off with the surprise of Elvis Andrus being the current #1 SS in fantasy, and Zack Cozart being the current #1 SS in real life. We also talk about if Grey is coming around on Daniel Murphy, how real the Whit Merrifield breakout is, and debate Carlos Correa vs. Trea Turner in Dynasty Leagues. Finally, I get excited for the return of the Razzball Only FantasyDraft Contest today, so make sure to sign up and join in on the fun. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Podcast:

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Let’s begin by having a moment of silence for the fact that we will be without Mike Trout for two months. I dropped him to 23 in the rankings below, which are considered ROS trade value. I know it is hard to justify Trout over some talented players who aren’t going to miss two months, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop him much lower. The Razzball Player Rater has him all the way down to 71 for ROS projections. Personally, if I were to trade Trout, I would hold out for the highest bid and make someone overpay. Otherwise, I’m not moving him. And in keeper leagues, I would still have him at number 1 and wouldn’t entertain offers.

Now, for the players who are playing right now. The two players I moved up and want to focus on this week are Justin Bour and Justin Smoak. I received some questions and comments on here and on Twitter last week about Smoak, so let’s take a look at him first. He has looked great this season, but I have my doubts.

While Smoak’s slash line and counting stats look great right now, unless he finally figured everything out at 30 years old, I have my doubts. Yes, he is currently on pace for almost 40 home runs. Yes, he is striking out 17.9% of the time, which is almost half as much as he did last season and is well below his career average of 23.5%. Through 55 games and over 200 plate appearances in 2017, the metrics back up what he is doing.

But here’s the thing.

Smoak has been in the league for eight seasons and has over 3,000 plate appearances. He’s a career .227 / .311 / .402 hitter. His previous high for home runs in a season is 20, which he did back in 2013. Take a look at his wOBA by season:

Translation: Smoak isn’t this good. This probably isn’t going to last, and a regression is coming.

Now, as far as Justin Bour goes, I am still skeptical but am less skeptical. Bour is 29 but has just over 1,000 plate appearances at the MLB level. He has displayed this kind of power before, both at the major league level and in the minors, so it is easier to believe that his current power stroke is real. Will he continue to hit up around .300? No, but it is reasonable to expect him to hit in the .250-.270 range and offer up 30 home runs, as long as he can stay healthy (which he can’t always do).

The main point here is that, while Bour is only a year younger, he doesn’t have as much of a negative track record that we can hold against him. He has also displayed plus-power in the past, while Smoak has always struggled to fulfill his potential in that department. Bour is likely to regress a bit as well, but I don’t think his regression will be as extreme as Smoak’s. If I had to pick between these two first basemen as a guy I value higher ROS I am taking Bour every time. Maybe I’m just biased now that I live in South Florida, or maybe their track records are telling us everything we need to know about them…

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If I was a betting man I would guess Chris Sale was an art major in college. Not only does he have a gift of designing uniforms he has a real craft around the plate. Scouts have labeled him a modern-day Picasso. There are some good options at the pitcher spot today however there is only one elite pitcher going. Sale looks to bounce back from a rough outing against his old team. Despite the 5 earned runs he was tagged for in that outing, he still managed to strike out 9. This is Sale’s 2nd appearance against the Orioles this year and he looks to repeat that outing. Sale already has 8 starts with 10 or more k’s including his last start against the Orioles where he had 11. The Orioles have hit lefties hard this year but they have the 5th highest K percentage against them as well. FantasyDraft is making you pay up for the best arm of the day. Expect Sale’s ownership to be high in the cash games and low in the GPP games given his price tag of $24,800.

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