The Brewers outfielder has a 1.132 OPS since the All-Star break, but how much of that surge can he sustain?
Rebuilding teams are too often overlooked in fantasy leagues. Their competitive situation brings about inherent obstacles—such as low win totals for starting pitchers or lower-than-expected RBI totals—but their ineptitude also affords them the freedom to experiment with fringe players in hopes of uncovering an unexpected contributor for the following campaign.
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Notes on first-rounders Hudson Potts, Taylor Ward, and others.
Hudson Potts, 3B, San Diego Padres (Complex Level AZL)
Selected 24th-overall in June out of a Texas high school, the artist formerly known as Hudson Sanchez has already earned his first professional promotion after a solid debut, especially for a kid won’t be 18 until October. A tall third baseman with very soft hands and fluid motions on the field, Potts swings right-handed, gets the barrel to the ball quickly, and shows the ability (and willingness) to use the whole field. He has good balance at the plate and a swing tailored to hit line drives, but he has the frame to develop power as he progresses. I expect his defensive ability to carry him early on, and there’s a reasonable chance the power eventually comes around to league average. —Matt Pullman
Winston Lavendier, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire)
Lavendier's "windup," if you can call it that, basically consists of him lifting his leg into a tucked coil, tensing every muscle in his body, and hurtling every part of it towards the plate as hard and fast as he can. It is among the highest of high-energy delivery you'll see, and it creates some good (moderate deception and quality extension) along with some bad (I just can't see a reliable command profile coming out of that delivery). He controlled the stuff pretty well, though, generating quality plane and driving the ball into the zone. He was all fastball in this look, piling up three outs on just nine pitches with some electricity and finish at 91-94. He apparently has a relatively deep complimentary arsenal, as well, showing a slider and what appeared to be a splitter in warmups, with both moving at a similar vertical trajectory. —Wilson Karaman
Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
It was something of a slow week in the closer world, with a couple of (former) closers returning from injury but not getting their jobs back. Besides that, the only storylines are clarifications (or a lack of clarity) in some of the most miserable bullpens in the league. Sounds fun! As always, you can keep up with the changes on the closer grid. Now, to the news!
The Mets, on the brink of being out of it, have the most attractive player on the August trade market, and a reasonable path to trading him.
Sunday night complicated things, a little. One can never talk about what the Mets should do without talking about the disconnect between that and what the Mets will do, and the gulf between those two things grows out of both the bizarre ownership situation and the even more bizarre fan culture that surrounds the team. Thus, when Yoenis Cespedes cracked a game-winning, two-run homer to beat the Giants on national TV and bring the Mets back to .500 Sunday night, he made it excruciatingly hard for the Mets to consider trading him. Still, if we can (hypothetically) bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be for a moment, the fact is that they ought to explore it.
Keeping the baby, throwing out (with maximum speed and efficiency) the bathwater.
One of the virtues of baseball is its harmlessness. Particularly in the summer, when teams have grown comfortable into their rosters, when seasons aren’t yet won or lost, the game relaxes. Unlike football, with its constant climax and its unending, wearying significance, even the greatest accomplishments and worst mistakes of a baseball player can only do so much; another game waits tomorrow. Summer baseball does not enervate, it does not demand. It’s an old person’s game, not because there is a certain demographic who grew up once loving baseball and will die off, as is often assumed, but because its pace matches the preference of a certain mindset. That demographic, however, still terrifies the men charged with profiting off it.
A look at how the wise guys spent their money in expert leagues this week.
Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL every week in an effort to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR Mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insight on the bids and the reasoning behind them. LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while the Tout Wars leagues use a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. I will also be including Bret’s winning bids in Tout Wars mixed auction league where applicable.
LABR and Tout Wars both use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET.
Robert Gs... Gsell...Gonna pitch out the bullpen so it doesn't really matter.
The Situation: The Mets face what amounts to a do-or-die three-game set with St. Louis, the second wild card leaders, this week. One of those games will be started by Jacob deGrom. That is good. The other two are scheduled to be started by Jon Niese and Seth Lugo. And now that Steven Matz is headed to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, it isn't a huge surprise that they called up their best upper-level starting pitching prospect to...uh...well...pitch out of the bullpen?
The Background: Gsellman was the Mets 13th-round pick in 2011 out of Westchester High School in Los Angeles. A multi-sport athlete, he was also only 17 when drafted and proceeded through the system slowly, spending a Summer at each of the organization's three short-season affiliates. He's been on prospect radars for a while but only cracked the Mets top ten for the first time this past offseason off a strong campaign between St. Lucie and Binghamton. Gsellman struggled to miss bats in his first taste of Double-A, but the addition of a slider this Spring has helped him find more success in the upper minors in 2016.
Despite the obvious strategic benefits, teams never tactically surrender. Why that should give you faith in the game.
The first season of the Toronto Blue Jays’ existence was 1977. It didn’t go particularly well, as is true of most first seasons, and they began play on September 15 with a 48–96 record. Baltimore was their opponent that evening, owners of an 87–58 record, second-best in the American League. The Orioles had won seven straight games and 15 of their previous 18, and were looking to narrow the gap between themselves and New York in the pennant race and leave Canada with a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays behind them.
By the third inning of that night’s game, a steady drizzle had begun to fall over Exhibition Stadium. The temperature that day was in the 50s, so drizzle probably wasn’t the end of the world, but Exhibition was not a pleasant place to play. Originally built for football, the Blue Jays would spend their first 12 years in the park as it became renowned for dismal seating, bad weather, and seagulls. On this day, however, Exhibition’s important feature was its on-field bullpens, squeezed tightly into the sparse foul territory of the oddly shaped stadium’s outfield.
As the rain continued, the grounds crew placed tarps over the bullpen mounds, and weighed them down with bricks. Presumably, this had happened before, but perhaps never against the Orioles, and more importantly, never against Earl Weaver. The famously combative Hall of Famer was in the 10th year of his hugely successful tenure as manager of the Orioles, and he protested the deployment of the tarps vociferously, citing the risk of slipping and injury to his players. Crew chief Marty Springstead ordered the removal of the bricks, but wouldn’t order the tarps removed or declare them out of play, as Weaver wanted. In response, the Baltimore manager removed his players from the field, and refused to have them return while the tarps remained. As a result, midway through the fifth inning, with the Blue Jays leading 4–0, Weaver’s Orioles performed the first, last, and, to date, only voluntary forfeit since integration.
Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.
The Deep League Report featured a lot of big names over the last two weeks as high-end players switched leagues at the trade deadline. This week’s edition is a return to normal: minor leaguers who didn’t make any prospect lists prior to their promotions, middle relievers, and back-end starters. Let’s dive in.