Please see our player page for Will Smith 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.

The best haircut I ever received was from a bald man. I don’t usually get anything fancy — just a trim here, a buzz there. Throughout my life I went through all the same generational hair trends of men currently in their mid-30’s. As a pre-schooler in the early-90’s my Mom spiked my hair straight up a la Bart Simpson because who was cooler than the Bart man? Then in the mid-90’s, I transitioned to the Jonathan Taylor Thomas Home Improvement middle part because all the girls thought he was so cute. In the early 2000’s  I jumped on board the ‘Caesar’ bandwagon popularized by George Clooney in his ER/From Dusk Till Dawn days and that’s pretty much where I’ve remained. Low maintenance, good enough, it was “The Rachel” for men! Back to the point of this story — the bald man. Who better to appreciate hair than a bald man? I got out of his chair looking like a million bucks and the bald man was proud of his work. 

What does this have to do with fantasy baseball, you ask? In my 14-team home league, I’m punting saves. Correction — I’m punting saves + holds. 

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Fernando Tatis Jr. went down in a heap after a swing, and I fell off my couch, rolled three feet and laid there for twenty minutes until Ted, my dog, placed his butt on my face, the sign we mutually agreed on for “he needs to be walked.” Outside, we spotted two pigeons teaching a third how to fly again with broken wings. I stood by that hopeful scene signing Mr. Mister, “Take these broken wings…and learn to fly again, learn to live so free,” and I was briefly uplifted. Then, the branch they were perched on fell, and deposited all three in front of traffic. Feathers blew up in my face, triggering my allergies and I told Ted, “Let’s go home and sob under some blankets.” It’s impossible to know fully, until the Padres say one way or the other, but you’d have to think that Tatis only injures himself on a swing if he was playing hurt already. As of this writing, the Padres are saying a partial dislocation, which would mean weeks vs. months, and would be relatively good news. Also, if you can even think about next steps, I grabbed Jurickson Profar, and Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim should see an increase in playing time. I await further news while securely under these blankets. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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With Eugenio Suarez apparently the new Reds shortstop after they tried and failed to acquire every garbage shortstop this offseason, Jonathan India has been added to the top 20 3rd basemen. Now…we dance! *long involved Bollywood dance with me somehow sitting on a floating carpet* Yelling into the distance, “I love you, Pashmina!” Was about time that I gave India his due. What, am I British now? My teeth would tell you no, but my love for Olivia Colman and Earl Grey would tell you yes. Which ya gonna believe? I just recently discovered India, while standing in The Bahamas and saying, “Hey, cool, this is America and who wants to open a casino?” Was talking to Podcaster Ralph, who knows a thing or two about prospects, and he gassed my head up on Jonathan India, and I think he can now go 40/10/.260. Then, we deflated ourselves back to earth, and realism took us south, and now I’m in Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka is better than a cup of Sanka!” That’s me just before getting dirty looks in Sri Lanka. India is a pull-heavy, fly ball hitter. How’s that sound in Cincy? Seriously, take a moment and think about it. You see how I came away with a 40/10/.260 line? Gonna put him down for realistic projections in the top 20 3rd basemen, but looking for a guy who could be 12-team mixed league relevant by May? Look no further than India, Magellan. For now, if your starter is out, outsource to India. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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Since we’re talking closers, I just want to expand a bit on my closer strategy. I mentioned in part 1 of this article that my plan at closer is to wait and grab two of the tier 3 closers and then just try to play the FAAB game. Some may scoff at that idea and think it’s too risky but I think it’s the best play in this format. I get it, it’s human nature to crave safety and security. We come out of the womb and one of the first things we do is try and latch on to our mom’s boobs because that’s comforting. Similarly, many of us want to grab an early closer and feel that warm comfort of knowing that we have 30 saves locked up. Is grabbing a closer like sucking on your mom’s nipples? Somewhat. While there’s really not much downside to breastfeeding (at least according to my lactation consultant), there is a huge downside to taking a closer in those early rounds.

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And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones who start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart

 

What? You didn’t know that Toronto-based prog rock band Rush were huge roto baseball fans? That song was released in 1977 — the same year the Toronto Blue Jays played their inaugural season. It’s actually about their love for under-appreciated closer Pete Vuckovich who saved 8 games for the blue birds that year. A lot of us have that same love for certain closers and when it comes to draft time we think with our hearts rather than our heads. 

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Being a former junior-varsity back-up catcher with a pop time of about 5 and a caught stealing percentage of 0% — I have the perfect qualifications to write this column. 

Pop time for the un-initiated is another in a long line of new-age states that we nerds are using to quantify the game of baseball. The long and short of this stat is quite simple: it reflects how quickly a catcher can grab the ball from his glove and whip it to a certain base to catch the stealing runner. The lower the number, the better! However — that doesn’t tell the whole story of a catcher’s success rate at throwing out a runner. You can have a pop time of half a second and throw it over the second baseman’s head every single time and you quickly realize why you never made it to the varsity back-up catcher level.

For the purpose of this article I took a look at each team’s projected starting catcher (or catchers) and ranked them via their 2019 pop time (couldn’t find 2020’s data — sorry!) and paired this with their caught stealing percentage from 2019 and 2020 combined. There are some guys (like Ryan Jeffers) who didn’t record a pop time in 2019 so they’re only being judged on their caught-stealing rate. Unfair? Maybe. Happening anyway? Oh you betcha! 

Below I’ve grouped these guys together by the division they’ll be playing in so I can point out who benefits/suffers based on who they’re playing their most games against. I could’ve ranked and tiered them — but what fantasy info is there to glean from that if you’re not using defensive categories? At least this way, maybe you’ll see that a certain team/division has strong or weak catchers in it which helps certain runners or hurts certain pitchers.  

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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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“Jiggy” is a term meaning to be cool and trendy. It’s often associated with a style of dress, and in the context of this song means dancing effectively and also making a name for yourself. It also became a term for sex. 

According to the website Songfact, this is the meaning behind Will Smith’s 1997 smash hit “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It.” I hope this isn’t true because that means I’m one of the least “jiggy” people around, as I was never cool and I could never dance effectively. While Songfact’s statement may or may not be accurate, I do know that Will Smith and his album Big Willie Style played a huge role in my life. See, I grew up in a VERY religious household and profanity was absolutely not tolerated. I couldn’t listen to music or watch movies with profanity in them and God f***** forbid a curse word slipped out of my mouth. So anything that could help me fit in with my peers that didn’t also make me feel like I was going to spend an eternity in hell was really welcome in my life. Enter Will Smith. He was hip, popular, and most importantly, he didn’t use profanity in his songs. He was also the star of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which was one of the few TV shows that my Mom approved of. Will Smith was my connection to pop culture in the 90’s but there’s a new fresh prince in LA who fantasy drafters are hoping will connect them with a championship in 2021.

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*KICKS DOWN DOOR* (Loud non-descript 80s metal plays; a man steps to the mic). Are you ready? *Crowd Cheers* Are you ready for… *Crowds cheers more loudly* Are you ready for 2021 catcher ranks? Everyone stops cheering, looking at each other with bewilderment, turns away sadly and leaves. Except one man, the hero America needs. Position scarcity man, stands there unshaken by the thought of ranking catchers, for he remembers the hey day of position scarcity, he owned Mike Piazza and he’s never letting go. We’re ranking catchers this week. Enjoy!

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