Looking back and projections for Justin Bour, Mike Moustakas, Kevin Kiermaier, Daniel Norris, Yadier Molina, Daniel Murphy, Aledmys Diaz, Aaron Judge.
It is difficult to believe, but we are almost halfway through the 2017 season. While a lot will change in the second half, enough of the season has been played so that some assessment can be offered of how well (or poorly) some of our preseason predictions have played out. While it is easy to make preseason calls and never bring them up again, it always is worth looking back at what we got right—and what we got wrong, and why.
I’ll start with the players I told fantasy players to target, and then finish with the players I advised fantasy managers to avoid.
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There's another Zack G. in the D-backs rotation, and while he's not an ace like Zack Greinke his teammate, Zack Godley has been quite a welcome addition.
It took 118 years before the first “Zack G.” graced Major League Baseball. We all know about Zack Greinke. He’s good at pitching, and has admirably represented Zack G.’s everywhere. However, now there’s a new Zack G. stealing some shine, and he just so happens to share a rotation with Greinke. If getting ground balls is divine, Zack Godley has been downright heavenly this season and has emerged as a key member of the Diamondbacks rotation. While the start has certainly been impressive, his intervention has been anything but expected.
Garcia continues to produce well beyond his career norms at the plate. What should you do with him? Maybe just sit tight.
Even for a sport that revolves around unpredictability, this has been a weird fantasy baseball season. There have been complete collapses from fantasy mainstays, unfathomable performances from rookies, and breakouts from players we’d written off years ago. One member of the latter group is Avisail Garcia.
A Kafkaesque look at how to approach the trading season in fantasy baseball.
It’s that time of year: time for the fantasy scribes to put together their annual trading columns. More so than with auctioning, drafting or player analysis, trading is a difficult topic because there is so much variability from league to league and even from fantasy manager to fantasy manager. What works in my 12-team AL-only keeper league probably will not work in your 15-team mixed redraft league.
One constant that does exist across leagues is that you will have to interact with other people. “To write prescriptions is easy, but to come to an understanding with people is hard.” Franz Kafka wrote in A Country Doctor. Kafka died 56 years before Daniel Okrent’s fantasy baseball league had its initial auction at La Rotisserie Francaise in Manhattan in 1980, so we may never know what Kafka would have thought of fantasy baseball, but I suspect that he would have found the frustration with the difficulty of trading extremely relatable.
In a new season, don't be haunted by old ghosts. Try fresh tactics.
There’s an old saying that “generals always fight the last war.” The origin of the saying is unclear, but the idea behind it is not. During their current engagements, people tend to do the things that has worked well and avoid the things that didn’t work well during their previous engagement, rather than choose their course of action based on the current circumstances. And it’s not limited to war—a variation on the statement insists that “economists always fight the last depression.”
In my deep AL-only league keeper league, I’ve had the same issue the past few times I’ve had a contending team. I didn’t trade away my prospects and/or cheep keepers to the teams that dumped early because I didn’t like the prices I was paying. Each time, I felt like the contenders who made those deals overpaid and that I would overtake them when I made subsequent deals at better exchange rates. Each time, I was wrong.
Middle relievers with big strikeout totals are gaining in value, which has fundamental implications for how fantasy baseball should be played.
A large portion of the conversation in fantasy circles has revolved around how the spike in home runs has altered the landscape—and with good reason. Home runs have increased from 4,186 in 2014 to 4,909 in 2015 to 5,610 in 2016. Entering action Wednesday, major-league hitters were on pace to hit 6,133 home runs in 2017. It is with good reason this has been analyzed ad infinitum. But since this fertile soil has been properly tilled, we can look at a different trend that is slipping under the radar somewhat.
Table 1: Major League Baseball Starting Pitchers, 2013-2017
Going deep, deep, deep undercover to find prospects (or non-prospects) for your deepest of leagues. Bring your diving bell!
Do you play in a deeper or mono league and wish the Stash List had some names that weren’t already owned in your league? You’ve come to the right spot. Last time I did this, I gave you Dinelson Lamet and Eric Skoglund, both of whom are in the majors and have flashed a little something. On the other hand, I also gave you Ryan O’Hearn, a first base prospect who’s hitting .214/.308/.317 in the month-plus since that piece ran. Such is the nature of deep speculation. I’m not deterred. Let’s do some more.
If you rely on sports radio or shouty talking heads, David Price’s first year in Boston was an unmitigated disaster. Another playoff struggle led to so many fun, informative, well-reasoned, inspired...oops sorry, blacked out for a second...I meant mind-numbing rants about clutchness and #thewilltowin. However, if you dug a little deeper and rely on the numbers, he was, well, very David Price.
Felipe Rivero, Archie Bradley, Joe Smith, David Phelps and Will Harris deserve your attention.
Last week, our fantasy team handled the task of re-ranking every position for fantasy for the rest of the season. I handled the reliever rankings, which can be found here. In them, I ranked the top-40 relievers, which gives a good base of all of the closers around the league with a few primary setup men thrown in there. That covers most fantasy leagues, but a few of the deeper leagues could be looking for more names. So with that in mind, and with another week of baseball in the books, let’s look at the top five relievers for fantasy purposes who did not make last week’s list.
Andrelton Simmons has been getting results—and showing other signs—that he's having a career season in fantasy.
For years, baseball fans have been in awe of Andrelton Simmons’ defensive ability at shortstop. However, for fantasy purposes, there never were many reasons to pay attention to him given his production at the plate. Hardly anyone came into this season expecting Simmons to be an option for their fantasy roster. Baseball Prospectus didn't even list Simmons on its initial “Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Shortstop,” and he went undrafted in most leagues.
As we sit here in the first week of June, something interesting has been happening with Simmons. He’s been a fringe top-15 shortstop, and he’s slowly raising his fantasy profile. Simmons is providing owners with positive value, if minimal, in every standard fantasy category.