Wednesday, May 23, 2018


The magical age-27 season bears fruit yet again!  Whether it concerns a hitter or a pitcher, the general consensus is that an MLB player's prime years begin around the age of 27 and that the age also becomes one where the previous rough edges get ironed out to a degree.  Take the case of 27-year-old Cleveland Indians power pitcher Trevor Bauer who through two months of the 2018 season has been one of the very best pitchers in baseball with the following numbers:

2.35 ERA
1.15 WHIP
.212 BAA
10.11 K/9
3.18 BB/0
0.42 HR/9
.290 BABIP

Now in his fifth full season in the majors after two initial cup of coffee appearances the two years prior to that stretch, Bauer's previous performances made him one of the most frustrating players to own among all pitchers in fantasy baseball.  The reason is that for all of Bauer's massive strikeout ability, he also infuriated his owners due to incredibly high walk rates and some trouble with the long ball.  As you can see by the numbers above however, Bauer is in the midst of a career-year and the totality of his work so far has him in ace fantasy baseball territory.

Taking the numbers apart some, the ERA and WHIP are easy career-bests to this point and the .212 BAA shows that Bauer is as hard to get a hit off of as any pitcher in the game.  With incredible movement on his offspeed stuff generating a ton of swings-and-misses by itself, Bauer's average of 95.5 on his fastball (a personal best so far) have him an impossible chore for opposing hitters this season.  A 10.11 K/9 has been the tremendous result and other than a still-high 3.18 BB/9, Bauer has been terrific no matter where you look.  Now the question is whether he can keep it up and on that front, I think there is a bit of slight giveback on the way.  For one thing, Bauer' s 0.42 HR/9 is in outlier territory compared to his career standards and his walks are still somewhat of an issue.  Still, Bauer's FIP ERA of 2.71 is sparkling and even his less bullish 3.53 XFIP would still mark a career-low ERA if the season ended today.  So if you hold stock in Bauer, this is a hold all the way around.


Unbelievable.  While 2018 fantasy football drafts don't begin getting underway in earnest until at least July, the news on Tuesday that Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry suffered a season-ending torn ACL during OTA's was simply devastating.  With Antonio Gates finally out of town after serving as a sizable roadblock to TE 1 production, all the planets were aligned for Henry to have a truly big breakout year as a big target of QB Philip Rivers.  Prior to the injury, we were forecasting a potential 80-catch year for Henry given his terrific combination of size, speed, and receiving ability but obviously this all goes out the window now.  Simply put, this is a brutal loss for the game of fantasy football altogether and it removes one key tight end from a position that is always lacking decent options. 


Jose Ramirez:  1/2 with his 14th HR while hitting .297.  Just like with Joey Votto, Ramirez could be hitting .200 on May 15 but will be at .300 by June 30.

Trevor Bauer:  6 IP 7 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.35.  Again, this is the best I have ever seen Bauer throw and even on a day with a lot of baserunners, he bore down and didn't let any score which speaks to the mental development as well. 

Caleb Smith:  6.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.83.  Don't pick him up outside of NL-only as Smith did this against a New York Mets lineup that is so limp right now that signing Atlanta Braves trash (Jose Bautista) was considered a good idea.

Franchy Cordero:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .254.  Honestly, this is the same type of production we would see from the contact-challenged Cordero five years from now.

Bryce Harper:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .238.  I said the other day Harper's average will push up dramatically given his insanely unlucky BABIP and so we are on our way. 

Ozzie Albies:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .286.  When you also consider all the doubles Albies has, there is actually room for some more power growth which is unfathomable. 

Vince Velasquez:  4.1 IP 6 H 1 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.18.  Make him a closer, make him a closer, make him a closer. 

J.A. Happ:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.97.  The Blue Jays should highlight Happ to potential pitching free agents that you can, in fact, succeed in Toronto. 

Austin Meadows:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .400.  I told weekly lineup people on Twitter to use Meadows liberally given how hot he is out of the gate and the onslaught continues.  Gregory Polanco is on watch.

Scooter Gennett:  2/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .324.  This guy has truly become a hitting monster right out of the blue with no one believing it legit going back to last season. 

Jameson Taillon:  6 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.56.  I had preached being patient here given the pedigree and good raw stuff but that has run its course. 

Matt Harvey:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 5.49.  As an admitted Mets fan, I fully believe Harvey will rally to win the NL Cy Young Award this season. 

Mookie Betts:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .368.  If Betts keeps this up, there will be a realistic and legit debate about him going over Mike Trout at the top of 2019 drafts. 

Rafael Devers:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .239.  Like how Devers is still hitting for power despite the ugly average as pitchers adjust to his rookie tendencies.  Still, overall he has been a slight letdown given the all-or-nothing results. 

Willy Adames:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .250.  The trend of rookies coming up and clubbing home runs in their first start continues which is uncanny.  Also, this is Adames telling Kevin Cash, "To hell with me staying on 2-3 days" as per reports. 

Chris Sale:  7.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.17.  The Boston Red Sox really need to stop Sale pitching past the eighth as he was brutal last September no doubt due to fatigue. 

Miguel Andujar:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .285. Boy does this kid have a beautiful swing. 

Gleyber Torres:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .330.  Ridiculous.  Simply ridiculous. 

Cole Hamels:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.38.  Only about two more months until Hamels is in a Yankee uniform. 

Gerrit Cole:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 1.86.  Cole is steaming toward 300 K but in the back of my mind I wonder if he won't get there due to health.  He is throwing real hard and with full intensity which often leads to trouble with the guy. 

Luke Weaver:  7 IP 7 H 3 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.31.  Weaver seems to have found his comfort zone so I expect a big June and July before he levels off some in August due to rookie fatigue. 

Mike Zunino:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .214.  One hit of course for the bomb. 

Trevor Cahill:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.75.  Yeah I have him to you as an under-the-radar pickup as well last month.  Working out nicely. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


May is always holiday time for prospect hounds as the Super 2 deadline has passed and the needs of the various teams around MLB start realizing the need to get reinforcements from the minors.  Tuesday the trend continued as the Tampa Bay Rays promoted top shortstop prospect Willy Adames who will immediately slot into the sixth spot in the order for that night's game.  Long considered one of the more talked-about prospects, the 22-year-old Adames was hitting .311 with 4 home runs and 3 steals in 40 games at Triple-A and so the Rays felt he was ready to show what he could do at the major league level.  Now in terms of fantasy baseball, Adames should be picked up in all leagues but in deeper mixers he may not yield as much value as his defense is head of his offense despite the very good batting average on the farm.  Keep in mind Adames only had a 10/11 split in the HR/SB categories a year ago at Triple-A and his 22.5 K/9 was not great considering it will surely go up against major league pitching.  


It has been a bad week to be a toe across Major League Baseball.  Just days after New York Mets outfielder Juan Lagares was lost for the remainder of the season due to suffering a torn plate in a toe, Seattle Mariners outfielder Dee Gordon was placed on the DL Tuesday with a fracture in his big right toe.  The move was backdated to May 21 but don't count on seeing Gordon until sometime in late June or early July.  His loss is a significant one as Gordon commanded a premium price tag at the 2018 fantasy baseball draft table as the premier stolen base weapon in the game but unlike Billy Hamilton, he is not a one trick pony since he can hit .300-plus and score a ton of runs out of the leadoff spot.  Gordon was doing just that as he was hitting .304 with 25 runs scored and 16 steals going into the injury but reaching 60 again in the latter category is going to be a chore given all the missed games.  As far as replacing Gordon's speed is concerned, start with looking to see if Travis Jankowski is available and then work your way through Jarrod Dyson and other steal specialists. 


Coming into the 2018 fantasy baseball season, one of my personal favorite undervalued pitchers when it came to drafts was the Los Angeles Dodgers' Kenta Maeda.  Despite coming off what many described as a disappointing 2017 when he pitched to a 4.22 ERA, I instead saw the positives when it came to Maeda of which there were many.  For one thing, his 9.38 K/9 was terrific and showed swing-and-miss stuff that was even more pronounced in the States than it was when he was in Japan.  On top of that, Maeda's continued good control (2.28 BB/9) added up to a pitched who performed much better than his surface ratios suggested.  Fast forward to present day and as a Maeda owner, I am pleased so far with what I have seen as he takes the following numbers into Monday's action:

3.89 ERA
1.21 WHIP
11.05 K/9
.342 BABIP
2.66 BB/9
0.82 HR/9

Digging into the numbers, Maeda's ERA is decent but I did anticipate a better number there.  Truth be told though, Maeda has had some bad BABIP luck as seen by his high .342 mark and so when adjusted, his FIP (2.82) and XFIP (3.11) ERA's are downright sparkling.  Then there is the 11.05 K/9 which blows out of the water what Maeda has done his first two years in the majors.  He is really ramping things up on that front and so it can only be described as an added bonus.  The walks have crept up slightly but Maeda is keeping the baseball in the park which offsets that completely.  So when you add everything up, Maeda has pitched like an ace whose ratios don't show it only due to some poor luck.  He has been a great buy no matter how you look at him and there should be a whole bunch more of this the rest of the season.


Bryce Harper:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .231.  The average has really become an issue on paper but a .196 BABIP is all you need to see to understand why.  Everything else checks out such as Harper's personal best 16.7 K/9 and of course he is drawing a ton of walks.  The luck will even out so don't even bother worrying about the overrated average category.

Juan Soto:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .400.  Well I would say Soto is off to a nice start as a 19-year-old big leaguer.  Kid has a golden opportunity with Adam Eaton down forever to make his name a fixture in the lineup and boy that awesome power should give him a great chance to get there. 

Mark Reynolds:  3/5 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .444.  Different uniform but same impact from Reynolds who is becoming a timeless piece in the fantasy baseball world.

Jason Vargas:  5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 9.87.  Vargas was stealing money prior to this outing so he finally did something good of note here.  Be that as it may, you never want to even look at this guy for a second in the deepest league there is.

Nick Pivetta:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.23.  Said the other day in his Trend or Mirage piece that Pivetta is completely "Legit" and my goodness he has been as dominant as can be his last three outings as well.  While there was reason to be cautious early on, take the training wheels off completely here and use Pivetta liberally. 

Jake Lamb:  1/2 with his first HR while hitting .250.  I have never been one to chase (or even own for that matter) Jake Lamb but the guy has a power swing that does damage.  Still, he was the one who was supposed to be impacted more by the humidor then Paul Goldschmidt so there is that to worry about considering how bad his teammate has been.

Travis Shaw:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .246.  I still say if you can talk up the low batting average, try and steal Shaw from his clueless owner. 

Lorenzo Cain:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .276.  When you talk up a guy so much like I did with Lorenzo Cain this season, you take extra pride in any homers he hits. 

Domingo Santana:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .255.  It has been criminal the way Craig Counsell has handled the playing time of Santana this season as the guy was terrific a year ago and has 30/15 ability on a yearly basis.  That said, injuries have opened up a clear path to daily action so check the wire to see if Santana is out there. 

Chase Anderson:  6 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.86.  Boring but effective.

Zack Greinke:  6 IP 5 H 4 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.71.  While Greinke has overall pitched surprisingly very well despite the scary dip in velocity, the latter problem does reveal itself through the long ball of which he gave up three in this one.  The damage could have been worse but it is a reminder of the perilous tightrope Greinke walks in any one outing. 

Aaron Judge:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .286.  The Yankee lineup is the "unfair" comparison to the Houston starting pitching.

Aaron Hicks:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .250.  If Brett Gardner continues to slump the way he has all season, Hicks could move up to leadoff which would make things even sweeter. 

Gleyber Torres:  2/3 with 2 home runs (6 for season) while hitting .321.  As if the Yankees didn't have enough star hitting, they get what looks to be an immediate top-tier infielder added to the mix in-season. 

Joey Gallo:  1/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .201.  Standard operating procedure for Gallo which is not good considering that all his great power is neutralized by that disgusting average. 

Rougned Odor:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .173.  The Joey Gallo of second base is back to torture his owners and those who forecast players for a living. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  5 IP 3 H 4 ER 4 BB 3 K with an ERA of 4.95.  The guy is one big pitching roller coaster. 

Bartolo Colon:  6 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 3.51.  This had disaster written all over it from the start and the law of averages are also catching up here as well. 

Adam Jones:  1/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .268.  The numbers always speak for themselves here.

Mark Trumbo:  1/4 with his second HR while hitting .273.  With the average not being a killer as of yet, I would jump on board here to see if Trumbo can go on one of those home binges he is known for.

Manny Machado:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .343.  Could be the one player who puts all of his fantasy baseball owner straight through to their league titles and at the same time the real-life team that acquires him in July. 

Nick Castellanos:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .316. Castellanos is really ramping things up with the power now after a slow start in that category and since he was always hitting over .300, good times are fully here. 

Jose Berrios:  8 IP 3 H 2 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.82.  My Darkhorse AL Cy Young Pick should have an ERA a bit lower based on the advanced metrics but dominance to this level is starting to happen more frequently on a per start basis. 

Matt Carpenter:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .210.  I guess this qualifies as "heating up" when it comes to Carpenter. 

Tyler O'Neill:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .368.  Hey the rule has always been that if a young Cardinals prospect comes up from the minors, you pick him up whether it is a pitcher or hitter. O'Neill is no different. 

Miles Mikolas:  9 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.24.  So remember when I said two weeks ago that the strikeouts would start coming around to go with the rest of the excellent package?  Here we go.  Right now Mikolas might be my top value pick recommendation of the season. 

Monday, May 21, 2018


When the Washington Nationals promoted 19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto on Sunday, it gave the notion that a major league team bringing up a player who still has a "1" in front of their age is something that is no longer automatically tossed out of the discussion.  Thus, one has to wonder how much longer the Toronto Blue Jays will wait before calling up their own 19-year-old stud in third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who has done nothing so far at Double-A to dispute his reputation as the very best hitting prospect in all of baseball.  Looking just like his Hall of Fame father, Guerrero Jr. is showing incredible pitch recognition skills and an extreme high-contact approach that has him hitting an insane .407 with 7 home runs and 41 RBI in just 41 games.  It is truly ridiculous the fact Guerrero Jr. has a K/9 rate of just 8.8 as I can't ever remember such a low number in that category at any level.  Add in a decent 8.8 BB/9 rate and Guerrero Jr. should be up already with the Blue Jays who could use a spark as they try to keep up with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox this season.  By now Guerrero Jr. should be owned in all leagues given his insane ceiling and we can certainly envision him being as high as a second-round pick in 2019 fantasy baseball drafts if he comes up soon enough.  This is truly a can't miss guy in every sense of the word.


Sometimes a hitter or a pitcher can qualify as a 'Crisis Point' candidate based not entirely on their disappointing numbers but also a bit on a combination of where they were drafted as well.  This is a paradox that is encompassing Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins two months into the 2018 fantasy baseball season as everyone's favorite March sleeper has let down his owners just a bit if they were all given truth serum.  After lighting things up to the tune of 18 home runs in just 212 at-bats as a rookie in 2017, expectations for the hulking Hoskins entering into 2018 centered on 40 home runs being the FLOOR and if all broke right, a shot at 50 given the immense natural power.  While yours truly is always leery of paying top dollar for sudden star rookies going into their second year, I admit to being on board with the third round ADP given the high walk rate and of course the insane power.  Fast forward to present day and Hoskins just smacked his sixth home run of the year on Sunday and we are now moving closer to the start of June.  The assumption was that Hoskins would have 6 or more homers in April and another 6-plus in May but that obviously has not happened as he goes into Monday's action with the following numbers:

6 HR
27 RBI
25 R
3 SB
28.6 K/9
17.3 BB/9
.341 BABIP

A few things quickly jump out here outside of the drop in power on a per game basis to 2017.  Clearly, opposing pitchers are being more careful with Hoskins and also are exploiting some weaknesses they picked up watching film on him all winter.  That would explain the sizable rise in Hoskins' K/9 which went from 21.7 a year ago to its present day mark of 28.6.  The latter is a very high number and alone helps explain the slight dip in batting average (.259 to .250).  The walks have been phenomenal again at 17.3 BB/9 but there are some apparent holes in Hoskins' swing that are now being taken advantage of on a consistent basis.  Add in the that opposing pitchers are not giving Hoskins' the pitches that he drove over the outfield wall with regularity last season and we have a guy who so far has let down in terms of the overall numbers.

Now in terms of moving forward, there is a good chance Hoskins will fall into one of those classic power grooves where he goes yard 7 times in 10 games like we see out of other similarly-skilled players.  The average should come up a bit too given all the walks as well but nothing crazy above the .270 mark.  In the end, it is looking like Hoskins may not yield the monster home run totals anticipated but there is still plenty of time for him to have a big season regardless.


Andrew Benintendi:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .285.  Another lesson for the impatient that eventually the talent always wins out. 

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (15 for season) while hitting .343.  Martinez' last ten days have been insane and 40 home runs seems like the floor right now the way he is going.

Eduardo Rodriguez:  5.2 IP 9 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.13.  Told peeps on Twitter to go with Eduardo today as the matchup was good against a struggling Baltimore lineup.  Overall though, Rodriguez is still a bit tough to pin down in terms of what he will do in any given start. 

Marcus Semien:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .276.  I can't pick him up for you but I would if you would let me. 

Yangervis Solarte:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .260.  There is the strong chance Solarte will be moved at some point by the Jays which would be a bummer for his power impact in fantasy baseball so try and include him in a deal with someone else before that happens. 

Daniel Megnden:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.30.  The strikeout rate is abysmal which is always a major red flag in the AL and so that alone makes Megnden a streamer only in the right matchups. 

Kyle Schwarber:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .248.  If you give it enough time, Schwarber's average was destined to fall. 

Javier Baez:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .268.  It is tough to remember that despite it feeling like he has been around forever, Javier Baez is just 25 and still a year or two from his prime.  While he is still allergic to walks (pathetic 3.5 BB/9 rate), he has successfully lowered his previous sky-high K/9 of 28.3 in 2017 to 23.1 this season. 

Yu Darvish:  6 IP 2 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.95.  As a Darvish owner, I was gun shy and didn't start him considering how bad he has performed this season.  Maybe the proverbial light bulb went on but still very leery here despite planning on using him the next time out.

Miguel Rojas:  3/3 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .264.  Solid option on NL-only no doubt but I won't go any further. 

Julio Teheran:  6 ER in 5 IP with a 4.17 ERA,  Just when you begin to trust Teheran for the first time since 2016, he craps all over us again.

Yasmany Grandal:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .270.  Yeah you totally wasted that draft pick on Buster Posey.

Yasiel Puig:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .215.  Sorry I am not falling for this again.

Trea Turner:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .267.  Still getting the feeling Turner is not cutting it as a first-round pick?  Your not alone.

Alex Wood:  6 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.32.  Wood left early with what looks to be a cramping issue.  The K's are down a bit but Wood has also improved both his home run and walk rates which is nice to see.  The flash has not been there compared to last season but Wood has been well worth his investment cost. 

Christian Villanueva:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .250.  Props to Villanueva for coming out of a massive slump with a big power surge.  Be that as it may, Villanueva has settled into a .250 hitter with the good power which doesn't stand out. 

Austin Meadows:  3/4 with his first HR while hitting .455.  Meadows already looks like he belongs so Gregory Polanco (.224) better get his head out of his rear end. 

Mike Minor:  5 IP 6 H 3 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 5.59.  The K's were nice no doubt but consider it came against the Chicago White Sox and any minimal attraction goes out the window. 

Reynaldo Lopez:  8 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.98.  Pure dominance from Lopez who is off to a tremendous start to the season but his advanced metrics are much less bullish given the lucky BABIP and just all right K rate beyond this one start.  Also consider the fatigue factor which turns all young pitchers to mush in August.  Enjoy the ride while it lasts. 

Jesus Aguilar:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .333.  Fourth home run in three games for Aguilar who seems right at home at first base.  Honestly this team doesn't need Ryan Braun to play another game. 

Jake Odorizzi:  5.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.17.  There were strikeouts all over the game Sunday and Odorizzi got in on the fun. He remains locked in as a strong SP 4 and has been for a number of seasons. 

Tyler Austin:  2/4 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .261.  Good timing for Austin with Greg Bird coming back but he is likely minor league bound when that happens.

Miguel Andujar:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .286. Aguilar is never going back to the minors. 

Sonny Gray:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 5.48.  Didn't think Gray had it in him.  Still would avoid him like the plague. 

Rhys Hoskins:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .250.  Would be willing to deal with the average hit with Hoskins if the home runs were flying out at a high rate but that has not happened.  Disappointing so far. 

Jack Flaherty:  7.2 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 13 K with an ERA of 2.31.  Holy smokes.  Flaherty literally blew the Philadelphia Phillie hitters away and obviously he should be owned everywhere.  I can't wait to see what the next outing brings. 

Shohei Ohtani:  7.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.35.  I was not even sure it was humanly possible that Ohtani would be able to exceed expectations on BOTH sides of the game but he has done it.  Amazing. 

Lance McCullers:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.20.  Best I have ever seen of McCullers over an extended time period and health has a lot to do with it.  Almost unfair what the Houston Astros have going for them with regards to pitching.