Consistent greatness in sports is incredibly difficult to achieve. There are off years and injuries and aging and all sorts of other factors conspiring to keep athletes from remaining at the very top of their sport for long stretches. And yet in the rare instances when someone comes along and actually does it, they’re often taken for granted eventually. Michael Jordan won “only” five MVP awards despite most media, fans, and players agreeing that he was the best player for perhaps twice that many seasons, because on some level a fatigue set in. The best player in the world being the best player in the world became monotonous.
Gavin LaValley isn't merely a rejected character name from The OC. He's a prospect too.
Hitter of the Day:
Gavin LaValley, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (High-A, Daytona): 4-5, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K
Once a prominent football recruit, LaValley instead followed the diamond where he was a fourth-rounder in 2014. Featuring more hit than power, LaValley has good bat speed and an all-fields approach. The over the fence power is playing more than it has before, which is good. He will need that as he is confined to the cold-corner.
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Bo Bichette continues to look like the real deal. Others, such as Yeyson Yrizarri, look to be in trouble.
Ah, late May, one of the more awkward times in the dynasty calendar. If your team is good, you’re likely trying to prey on would-be contenders who are realizing they need to pack it up. If your team is awful, you’re likely getting a head start on scouting the 2017 crop of prospects. If you’re stuck in the middle, well, you know you have about 6-8 weeks left to make some big decisions.
Because we’re sort of in no-man’s land, it is be a good time to look in on a few of my favorite dynasty sleepers from the “next 112” list I published in mid-March. Are the samples too small to draw super-meaningful conclusions? Of course. But since these guys were sort of on the periphery of fantasy relevance in most leagues anyway, we can be a little quicker to cut bait or invest than we would be with more-established names.
Anthony Alford gets a chance with the Jays and Jared Hoying gets one with the Rangers.
The over-under for the number of starting pitchers featured in the Deep League Report each week is 0.5. This week, we have 3.5. Hope you pounded the over. On the offensive side, we have a couple of players on opposite sides of the same platoon trying to take playing time from each other, and a veteran infielder with a good-glove, no-bat reputation tearing the cover off the ball. This game, it’ll make you cry. Seriously. There’s a link to some sincere tears in the NL-only section. Let’s get going.
Is the dominant Jake Arrieta from 2015 and part of 2016 still lurking, underneath an ugly ERA?
It’s been a grotesquely uneven start to the season for Jake Arrieta. From mid-2014 through the end of last season, few pitchers were as consistently tough to hit as Arrieta. The Cubs could send him to the mound knowing he would work deep into the game, miss bats (or at least the barrels of them), and put the team in a position to win, even if he lacked the sharp command that made him (for a year or so) one of the most brilliant pitchers the game has ever seen.
This year, though, he’s having problems he hasn’t had in years. There are pitches elevated in a way they haven’t been, first within the strike zone, then into the bleachers. There are far fewer swings and misses, which is leading to long at-bats and short outings. This isn’t happening every time, and indeed, he got more ground balls in his latest outing—an easy win over the Brewers in which he surrendered just one unearned run over six innings, with six strikeouts and one walk. However, even then he threw 111 pitches in order to get through those six frames.
Koda Glover has a firm grip on the Nationals closer job—for now. Keep your eyes on Brad Hand in San Diego in case Brandon Maurer falters. Be patient with Edwin Diaz in Seattle; he'll soon be closing again.
It was something of a quiet week in reliever land, which has been a rarity in 2017. There were still a few notable happenings, of course, and the quiet does give me a chance to highlight some situations that would otherwise be put on the back burner. Before we get to that, though, another reminder that you can keep up with bullpen changes at the Closer Grid. As always, recent changes are highlighted in yellow. Now, on to the fun stuff.
Notes on Cionel Perez, Miguel Andujar, Brett Cumberland, and more.
Hitter of the Day:
Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, 1B, Washington Nationals (Double-A, Harrisburg): 5-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI
The Nationals Minor League Player of the year for both the 2015, and 2016 seasons, Jose is a natural hitter with a smooth left-handed stroke. While the power might not play to what you would expect it at 1B, his ability to hit and get on-base will surely find a way to the big leagues.
Ian Happ finds playing time in Chicago. Bradley Zimmer is given a chance in Cleveland. Matt Adams finds a lifeline (for a while) Atlanta. Don't look now at Whit Merrifield. Just don't. His name is Rio and the bid is $82.
Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at free-agent bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free-agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL.
As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with $1 minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with $0 minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday's games.
One team's brilliant discovery eventually becomes the entire league's status quo.
Baseball is a game of secrets and half-truths. All 30 teams employ a man whose entire job (well, most of it) is to stand there and dance around in code to relay instructions to the batter and runners. The pitcher and catcher have their own gestural language. After the game, players usually speak in a strange code in which they appear to be speaking English and answering questions, but they somehow don’t manage to say anything coherent at all. Then there’s the front office, where the secrets run so deep that depending on the day of the week, you might not be able to get the people there to admit that they are running a baseball team.