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Friday, January 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: A.J. POLLOCK OUTFIELDER ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Yes him again.  Anyone who has been a habitual reader of this site knows the love yours truly has for Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock.  After all, Pollock was one of our best sleeper calls in recent memory when we tabbed him as a major value play prior to the 2015 season.  Major value Pollock was as he put forth a blockbuster five-tool campaign that included 20 home runs, 111 runs, 76 RBI, 39 steals, and a .315 average.  With a past as a former first round pick, Pollock was the new star OF 1 on the block who would go in Round 2 of most fantasy baseball drafts as visions of a 25/25 campaign popped with regards to 2016.  Well as often happens in fantasy baseball, the gods had other ideas as Pollock didn't even make it out of spring training before suffering a broken elbow and when he finally did come back later in the year, it was for just 12 mostly meaningless games. 

In terms of 2017, Pollock had some buy low appeal as the broken elbow was looked at as a fluke injury and so he was highly sought after once again.  Well the injury bug got Pollock again as he played in only 112 games and eventually was moved out of the team's leadoff spot.  The latter is just as significant as the injury problems as Pollock's runs and steals potential take a major hit when not leading off and his overall 2017 numbers underwhelmed:

.266
14 HR
73 R
49 RBI
20 SB

On the surface, a 14/20 campaign is very fantasy baseball-friendly but the steals really started to dry up when Pollock was moved down the order.  Keep in mind half of those 20 steals came in April before a groin issue propped up.  Also Pollock has now missed significant time in four of his last five seasons which means there is a clear trend with him getting hurt which needs to be factored into his draft cost. 

Now in terms of what the D-Backs will do with Pollock this season, they have Chris Owings coming back and Ketel Marte could also be a leadoff option.  If Pollock does get the call, he can be an easy 15/20/.280 guy at the very least and that is with some injury time mixed in.  This is always a tough call given the risk but Pollock remains in his prime at the age of 30 and capable of being an OF 1 on talent alone. 

2018 PROJECTION:  .290 16 HR 57 RBI 89 R 24 SB  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: BYRON BUXTON OUTFIELDER MINNESOTA TWINS

After a few false starts, it appears as though we finally are seeing the arrival of Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton if his 2017 production can be believed.  The former number 2 overall pick in 2012 has been a fantasy baseball sleeper hound’s obsession since right after his name was called in the MLB Draft; with some early projections predicting he would be the next Mike Trout-like superstar five-tool player.  As almost always happens in overhyped situations such as this, Buxton disappointed his loyal followers when given a chance to stick with the Twins both in 2015 and 2016.  Clearly being rushed to the majors, Buxton showed he was far from ready to tackle top tier pitching as he batted just .209 and .225 during those first two forays into the big leagues.  The holes in Buxton’s swing were gaping as he topped the horrid 30.0 K/9 mark in both of those campaigns as well (31.9 and 35.6 respectively).  While no one was ready to give up on Buxton just yet, all was quiet on the sleeper front as 2017 drafts got underway.  It was at this point where the always profitable post-hype sleeper theme took center stage and the talent began to bubble to the surface.  The much-ballyhooed tools that earned Buxton such hype in the first place began accumulating as well since he went on to hit 16 home runs, steal 29 bases, and batted .253 in 511 at-bats.  We all need to be reminded that Buxton will be just 24 when the 2018 season gets going and so there can be no surprise that it took him awhile to get his game in order given the lack of minor league seasoning.  Be that as it may, Buxton’s potential as a 20/30 guy could very well be in the cards this season and a graduation to OF 2 status would then result.  Now Buxton still needs to do a ton of work on the strikeouts as his 29.4 K/9 a year ago remained hideous and the batting average will never become a help if he doesn’t start making inroads there.  Overall the elevator is rising steadily here and so Buxton can be put down as just the latest post-hype sleeper to make good on their talent. 

2018 PROJECTION:  .267 19 HR 63 RBI 79 R 34 SB  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT PRIMER: FIRST BASEMAN

The first baseman are up next as we continue to preview the upcoming 2018 fantasy baseball season in leaving no stone unturned.  Let's check out who yourrs truly likes, hates, and how to address those who man the power-packed position.

Draft Strategy:  It is fairly obvious that first base in fantasy baseball is the most potent power-packed spot in the game and despite possessing good depth, it is imperative you get one of the top guys so as to keep pace with the rest of your league.  I always try to do my best to have my first baseman by the end of Round 2 and at worst the end of Round 3.  In addition, it always is a good idea to come back here for your UTIL or CI guy. 

2018 FIRST BASEMAN I WILL TARGET

Paul Goldsschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, Cody Bellinger:  I put all of these guys in the same group due to the fact that I want to have one of them by the end of Round 2.  If I were to rank them by personal preference, I would go:

1.  Goldy
2.  Votto
3.  Rizzo
4.  Freeman
5.  Bellinger
6.  Abreu

I have no problem with any of these guys outside of a tiny bit of worry about Bellinger's average but that is about it.  Get one of these studs and you are looking good early in your draft.

Rhys Hoskins:  Also having eli.gibility in the outfield, Hoskins is going to be a big-time target of many.  Truth be told, I am anticipating not getting Hoskins due to the hype and the high price that always goes with it but I love the power and the fact the kid has a tremendous eye that draws walks.  That should allow Hoskins to hit .280 soon enough to go with 40 homer.  Look out. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  Yes the average is slipping and Encarnacion is getting long in the tooth but you still can get nearly 40 homers, 100-plus RBI, and 90-plus runs here for a declining price. 

Ian Desmond:  Desmond was never right physically last season as he dealt with constant injuries and so he deserves somewhat of a mulligan.  The versatility will be nice right off the bat and Desmond can go right back to his 20/20 days for a vastly discounted price this season if he can stay healthy. 

Justin Bour:  Always have a soft spot for the powerful Bour who can hit 25-30 home runs but yet no one ever wants him.  Market inefficiency such as this is how you win fantasy baseball leagues if you strike.

Josh Bell:  Would take Josh Bell on as a UTIL or CI buy as his power really took off last season, albeit with a hit to his average.  If Bell can start merging the two, then things get really intriguing.

2018 FIRST BASEMAN I WILL AVOID

Eric Hosmer:  There is no denying Eric Hosmer was tremendous in 2017 but he remains a heavy ground ball rate guy who at his optimal can hit 25 homers and almost nothing more with that approach.  Of course, I would likely change my mind on Hosmer if he signs in Boston but the guy has made a history of driving his owners crazy. 

Wil Myers:  It is not that I hate Myeres but I do dislike the annual average hit he brings to the table and the ballpark as we all know is tough.  Yes 20/20 is entirely possible which you can never sneeze at but I want less injuries (Myers has struggled there as well) and a better average.

Matt Carpenter:  Man this guy is physically falling apart and the average has taken a tumble with the ill health. 


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 NFL PROSPECT DRAFT GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE FOR SALE

With USC QB Sam Darnold gracing the cover, The Fantasy Sports Boss 2018 NFL Draft Guide is now available for sale on Amazon at the follwing link:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Boss-Draft-Guide/dp/1983925713/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1516287109&sr=8-3&keywords=2018+nfl+draft

This year's guys includes the following features in addition to the hundreds of players we analyzed and ranked:

-Ten Burning Questions
-Feature on Saquon Barkley and ugly history of Penn State running backs moving into the NFL.
-Team-By-Team Needs
-2018 Mock Draft
-First Round Log
and much, much more.  Be sure to get your copy today! 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: MICHAEL CONFORTO DOWN/JIMMY NELSON UP

Some key injury issues leading into the first batch of 2018 fantasy baseball drafts need our attention in order to stay on top of the latest news that can move a given player up and down the board.  Two that are currently rehabbing from surgery in New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson are right a the top of this list with some interesting updates on each worth mentioning.

Michael Conforto:  Speaking with reports on Wednesday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson admitted that he doesn't expect to see Conforto on the field with the team until May 1 due to his very serious surgery last summer after he tore the posterior capsule on a hard swing.  The surgery was expected to keep Conforto down for much of the winter and with February approaching, his timeline has not changed much at all.  That means already Conforto is down one month of prospective fantasy baseball numbers and this is a real shame considering he busted out in a major way in 2017 before getting hurt to the tune of 27 homers, 68 RBI, and a .279 average.  The top outfield prospect really came through on his talent and he would have been an easy call for 30 homers this season if he had not had the surgery.  So what we do have now is a top OF 2 who can be had for the price of an OF 3 as the fantasy baseball community always lets guys who are not going to be ready for Opening Day slide quite a lot in drafts.  Despite the fears of any shoulder injury, we suggest you take advantage of any discount.

Jimmy Nelson:  On the more positive side, 2017 breaking starter Jimmy Nelson is expected to begin a throwing program on Friday which is a good month ahead of time schedule from his shoulder surgery last summer.  Shoulder surgeries for a pitcher are extremely scary and often they don't come back as the same type of player but the fact Nelson is already rehabbing a month ahead of schedule suggests he is feeling good and there are zero complication.  This is a nice development and a potentially exciting one since Nelson really came on last season as he pitched to a 3.49 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and struck out a massive 199 batters in just 175.1 IP as he vastly improved BOTH his control and HR/9.  While there could be some FLUKE involved given the fact Nelson has never approached numbers like this, the guy was always a good strikeout artist in the minors and has talent that made prospect hounds trail after him.  Again, shoulder surgeries are a major deal and it is possible Nelson is lacking some velocity upon his return but his ADP was never expected to go that high anyway so the risk is minimal.  We would be buyers here if Nelson slips to being your SP 4/5.


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: JON GRAY SP COLORADO ROCKIES

If it feels like we are in a time warp to this same point going back to last year, that is because we generally are when it comes to Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray and his standing as a fantasy baseball sleeper.  It was at this time last year when we profiled Gray as a prime fantasy baseball pitcher for the 2017 season and then watched as he broke his left foot in April and only wound up making 20 starts.  Thus, Gray simply did not have the required volume to make a firm call on his season and his outlook going forward as well.  Despite this, we are back on the Gray bandwagon this spring despite the home ballpark due to the fact the talent is just way too potent to ignore. 

Now in digging in more on Gray and his standing as a 2018 fantasy baseball sleeper, let's revisit those 2017 number more:

10-4
3.67 ERA
1.30 WHIP
112 K in 110.1 IP

In terms of approach, Gray is a power pitcher personified as he has always racked up the strikeouts at a very high rate and his K/9 bears this out as he has been above the 9.0 mark each of the last two years.  Gray's average fastball velocity came in at a scorching 96.4 mph last season and 200 strikeouts seems to be his destiny if he can just stay healthy.  Tackling the other numbers, Gray's ERA dropped sharply from 4.61 in 2016 all the way down to last season's 3.67.  In addition, Gray's control continues to get better as his BB/9 of 2.45 last season was the second straight year it was under 3.00.  This is a big deal since Gray really struggled with walks earlier in his career and so he is gaining control if his stuff as he further develops.  Finally, Gray's 0.82 HR/9 was down from 0.96 the year prior and this is a crucial drop since he calls Coors Field home. 

Yes the Coors Field issue is enough to give anyone pause but consider that Gray pitched BETTER at home with a 3.13 ERA compared to 4.06 on the road.  All very good signs here and when you also consider Gray's always affordable draft price, he makes for an even better sleeper hedge this spring.

2018 PROJECTION:  14-9 3.51 ERA 1.27 WHIP 197 K  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ELVIS ANDRUS SS TEXAS RANGERS

What the hell was that?  We still have few answers when it came to the ridiculous offensive performance of Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus during the 2017 season.  Having failed to hit more than 8 home runs in any of his previous 8 major league campaigns, Andrus somehow figured out how to crack 20 last season which became the highlight of what became a career year.  Along with the homers, Andrus also logged career-bests in runs scored with 100 and RBI with 88.  Throw in 25 steals with a .297 average and Andrus was likely the cheapest 5-tool stud in 2017 fantasy baseball.  The reason Andrus had become so cheap was due to the indifferent attitude the fantasy baseball community rightly developed around the veteran given the fact he mostly was an overrated two-category guy (steals and runs) the previous 8 years.  Clearly in uncharted waters in terms of the overall numbers, the only way to treat Andrus in 2018 drafts is to bank on his outlier performance the year prior not being repeatable.  It is entirely possible Andrus simply tapped into some more power as he reached the age of 29 last August but we have seen too many fluky upticks in numbers too many times to go overboard here.  Be careful but also don’t automatically ignore Andrus either as he will still be quite valuable if he even gives back 15 percent of his numbers from last season.

2018 PROJECTION:  .288 17 HR 86 RBI 98 R 23 SB  
*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: NICK CASTELLANOS 3B DETROIT TIGERS

Sometimes in fantasy baseball, certain players grow on yours truly.  While I often am firm in my like or dislike with various hitters or pitchers from around the game, there are instances where I will change my opinion on a guy based on such factors as being a late bloomer, a sagging draft price, or a change in location.  One such player who fills this heading for me in regards to 2018 fantasy baseball is Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos.  Yes the same Nick Castellanos that I have criticized on a number of occasions on this site and showed little interest in owning previously.  Alas, that line of thinking has changed and now I am actively looking to bring Castellanos aboard my fantasy baseball rosters this spring.  In fact, when everyone else is chasing Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant in Round 1 of drafts, I will be stocking up elsewhere and look toward Castellanos in the middle rounds.  Here is why:

First off, it needs to be said that Castellanos was once the 12th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft which means he has carried some big pedigree with him to the majors.  It also needs to be said that Castellanos was rushed to the majors in debuting at the age of 21 in 2013.  That is very young for a hitter who often has a longer learning curve than a pitcher and it showed early on as Castellanos struggled badly with strikeouts (K/9 above 24.0 each year from 2014-16) and the power capped at a modest 18 homers in 2016.  It seemed Castellanos was destined to be more of a backup third baseman in mixers and a starter just in AL-only formats going forward as a result of his mediocre hitting.  Well that all changed in 2017 as Castellanos improved almost across the board in piling up the following numbers:

.272
26 HR
101 RBI
73 R
4 SB

The power really stands out there as Castellanos was especially hot in the second half (.299-16-55) which seemed to hint that the proverbial light bulb had gone of in a major way.  Castellanos also checked out nicely in the advanced realm as his 21.4 K/9 was a career-best by far and way down from a 24.8 mark the year prior.  Finally, Castellanos carried a 43 percent "hard hit" rate that was fifth in all of baseball and further suggests a run to 30 home runs is very much in play this season.  All for the cost of a middle round pick.

In looking ahead to 2018 fantasy baseball, Castellanos will only be 26 when the games get underway and so he is really just reaching his prime years now.  With the average likely heading for a .280 mark given the declining K rate, Castellanos could be in line for further improvement across the board this season.  Highly recommended.

2018 PROJECTION:  .279 28 HR 95 RBI 75 R 4 SB  


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: J.A. HAPP SP TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Previously a below-average journeyman pitcher prior to landing in Toronto via free agency prior to 2015, lefty pitcher J.A. Happ proceeded to engineer one of the more impressive late-career renaissances in one of the most unforgiving ballparks in baseball.  Happ’s 2016 campaign (where he won 20 games and registered a 3.18 ERA) was one of the more unbelievable seasons in recent memory considering how downright bad he had been in previous stops and the outlier police were screaming at the tops of their lungs in response.  It was for that reason we strongly advised ignoring Happ in 2017 fantasy baseball drafts as the regression fairies were likely licking their chops to get at the guy.  What happened next was yet a second straight surprise from Happ as he survived any major statistical correction to post another impact season for the Blue Jays.  While Happ’s ERA did rise as expected, his final 3.53 mark was more than acceptable.  For good measure, Happ also added another trick in the form of a career-best K/9 of 8.79.  So in the end, Happ got the last laugh on his critics and he has earned the right to be trusted a bit more heading into 2018 fantasy baseball.  While we won’t go to town suggesting you avoid Happ again this spring, we will only point out that he turned 35 this past October and any regression would be magnified in Toronto’s launching pad ballpark.  Do yourself a favor and grade Happ as an SP 4 in order to protect against any erosion.  

*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1981820833/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513627262&sr=1-3&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball





Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ANDREW McCUTCHEN LANDS IN SAN FRAN, STILL PRIME OUTFIELDER FOR FANTASY

The San Francisco Giants made it their mission to find any sort of hitting help this winter after enduring what was a pathetic offensive display by the team throughout the 2017 season.  While it took a bit longer than they anticipated, the Giants finally pulled off a big one by acquiring All-Star outfielder and former MVP Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.  While the return package is unknown as of this writing since McCutchen has to first pass a physical for the deal to become official, the move is a perfect opportunity to dig back in on the former first-round fantasy baseball stud.

Now in terms of McCutchen and what he could provide to his fantasy baseball owners this season, a quick trip down memory lane is needed.  As mentioned earlier, McCutchen is a former MVP and he thrust himself in to the first round of most fantasy baseball drafts for a few years through some blockbuster five-tool numbers.  Combining 25-home power with a .300 average and 25 steals, McCutchen was the guy we all wanted to have to anchor our lineups.  Well McCutchen went through a rough period as he hit just .256 in 2016 and saw his speed almost vanish completely in swiping on 6 bags.  This was a watered-down version of McCutchen and it caused his draft stock to slip badly for 2017.  In looking back, that drop in ADP was a clear overreaction as McCutchen stormed back in 2017 to post the following numbers:

.279
28 HR
94 R
88 RBI
11 SB

In looking at those numbers, they were not far off his former MVP pace and the 28 homers stood out in particular as it was his most since the 31 he cracked in 2012.  Better yet, McCutchen ran a bit more with 11 steals and at the age of 31, he is still technically in his prime years (but on the later side of that).  So in looking ahead to 2018, McCutchen should be graded as a low-end OF 1 after his nice season the year prior.  He will go to a bit of a more pitching-leaning park in San Fran but 25 homers and 90 runs and RBI are very much in play.  Now McCutchen's days of hitting .300 and stealing even 15 bags are likely gone to history but .289 and 10 would be perfectly acceptable as he begins to age a bit.  The fact that McCutchen earned some wrath in 2016 has still caused his ADP to slip more than it should and so he should be targeted as a value play this spring.  Either way, McCutchen is safe to trust again.

2018 PROJECTION:  .280 26 HR 90 RBI 95 R 10 SB  


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER RANKINGS

The closers are last up on our first tour through the 2018 fantasy baseball position rankings and as always this group is filled with volatility.  Also there will likely be some changes from now until then so take this early list with a bit of a grain of salt.

1.  Kenley Jansen
2.  Craig Kimbrel
3.  Aroldis Chapman
4.  Wade Davis
5.  Cody Allen
6.  Corey Knebel
7.  Felipe Rivero
8.  Sean Doolittle
9.  Ken Giles
10. Brad Brach
11. Raisel Iglesias
12. Brad Hand
13. Edwin Diaz
14. Alex Colome
15. Roberto Osuna
16. Brandon Morrow
17. Jeurys Familia
18. Archie Bradley
19. Hector Neris
20. Kelvin Herrera
21. Arodys Vizcaino
22. Mark Melancon
23. Blake Parker
24. Shane Greene
25. Joakim Soria
26. Luke Gregerson/Tyler Lyons
27. Alex Claudio
28. Blake Treinen
29. Fernando Rodney
30. Brad Ziegler

 -Right now it is an open competition in St. Louis where Tyler Lyons and Luke Gregerson will likely battle it out unless the team signs Greg Holland which makes too much sense not to happen.
-Reason I have Alex Colome a bit lower than you would expect is that he figures to be traded at some point and it could be into a setup gig.  Also his numbers/rates did slip last season.
-Watch the New York Mets situation closely as Jeurys Familia has lost some bite off his stuff and a very capable A.J. Ramos is waiting to take over at a moment's notice.
-Mark Melancon was simply brutal last season, his K/9 continues to be mediocre, and his stuff is overall lacking bite.  Avoid.


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BUSTER POSEY CATCHER SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

One of the more captivating players in annual fantasy baseball drafts is San Francisco Giants All-Star catcher Buster Posey.  The dilemma for many each spring centers on the wisdom of using a very early draft pick on the rare catcher that can be a positive force offensively or whether the injury risk/inferior numbers to the players who are drafted at other positions in the same round make it a foolish effort.  Other than New York Yankees backstop Gary Sanchez, the only other catcher who elicits such a debate is Posey who once again showed tremendous pure hitting ability by batting .320 with 12 home runs in 568 at-bats in 2017.  The .320 average was Posey’s highest since 2012 and any catcher that can challenge for a batting title like he can is a huge plus in fantasy baseball.  However, when you look past the average, Posey left a lot to be desired elsewhere.  The 12 home runs were a very mediocre number and it is the FOURTH straight season Posey saw decline there.  In addition, Posey’s 62 runs and 67 RBI were way down from the 82/80 he put forth respectively just the year prior.  While Posey clearly can hit as well as anyone in the game, we need to keep in mind there are already a lot of innings piled onto his body as he turns 31 in March.  It may not be a coincidence that Posey’s power continues to erode as he ages given the wear-and-tear of the position.  So while the case can be made for Sanchez to be selected as an early round catcher in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts, the argument falls flat when the subject changes to Posey’s worthiness.

2018 PROJECTION:  .310 14 HR 75 RBI 77 R 5 SB  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSITION PRIMER: CATCHERS

We are jumping the gun just a bit beginning our next phase of our coverage of the upcoming 2018 fantasy baseball season by moving into the Primers before the position rankings are done but we keep hearing your requests.  So without further delay, here is our 2018 catcher primer:

Draft Strategy:  One of the more tried-and-true strategic methods we have always espoused here is to avoid using a high draft pick on a catcher.  The reasons are numerous and remain the same to this day:  frequent days off hurting counting stats, very high injury risk, and perhaps most often overlooked; a big negative when compared to the other players your league mates are scarfing up in the same round.  Well, we once again stand by that decision this season with one giant exception and that is when it comes to New York Yankees slugging backstop Gary Sanchez.  Having come off a 2017 campaign where he slammed 33 home runs and collected 90 RBI while hitting .273, Sanchez is the one exception to this rule this season given that his power game is on par with other sluggers who will be picked in Round 2 which is his ADP.  Think Mike Piazza without the .315 average here as Sanchez really has taken off with his power.  Failing to get Sanchez, we go right back to our method of looking for value-play catchers which really paid off last season in tabbing Wellington Castillo and Wilson Ramos.  In addition, the prospect way is also a good strategy to use in searching for those who are on the cusp of making it the major leagues this season.  So with this established, let's see the five catches we will target and avoid this season, followed by a look at the prospects.

5 CATCHERS WE WILL TARGET

Gary Sanchez:  Already touched on why in the above paragraph.

Yadier Molina:  No one wants the future Hall of Famer but all he keeps doing is going out and hitting.  Molina was a free agent add in many leagues last season as everyone keeps anticipating he will fall off the statistical cliff but then he goes out and hits 18 home runs, drives in 82, and bats .273.  Yes please for one more year.

Welington Castillo:  Going back to the well here as Castillo remains very underrated and signing with the White Sox keeps him in a great hitter's park.

Wilson Ramos:  Like with Castillo, our pick of Ramos worked out for those who waited for his return in 2017.  Ramos cracked 11 home runs in just 208 at-bats with a .260 average and all he has to do is avoid injury to make a run at 20 homers.

Austin Barnes:  This one is interesting as Barnes has been a line-drive machine going back to his minor league days and he carries catcher eligibility to go with second base.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to find ways to keep Barnes' bat in the lineup and that is a smart move since the guy can really hit.  Major upside.

5 CATCHERS WE WILL AVOID

Buster Posey, Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto:  Sorry but not going to use a high pick on a catcher other than Gary Sanchez.  Keep in mind though that Realmuto was a huge success sleeper pick for us back in 2016.

Mike Zunino:  Yes the power is immense here but I can't stomach a .200 average.

Travis D'Arnaud:  Someone will always chase the potential here but not me given how Travis D'Arnaud can't ever stay on the field in one piece.

PROSPECTS

Francisco Mejia:  Sorry but I am reaching for this smooth-hitting catcher as Francisco Mejia is the top prospect at the position by a mile.  Look for a debut sometime in May or June and then look out.  I will be patiently waiting.

Jorge Alfaro:  The star has dimmed here somewhat as Alfaro really struggled to hit in the minors in 2017 but there is some big-time power to be had here.

Chance Sisco:  With Welington Castillo off to Chicago with the White Sox, look for the .280-hitting Sisco to get a long look.


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Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: GERRIT COLE KEEPS GRAVY TRAIN GOING IN HOUSTON

The rich get richer.  The World Series champion Houston Astros picked up an ace pitcher Saturday when they finally completed a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates that included them surrendering reliever Joe Musgrove and top third base prospect Colin Moran.  As far as Cole is concerned, he faces a tough move to from the AL to the NL which will hurt his ERA/WHIP outlook a bit and his K rate will also dip in moving to the DH league.  Cole can no longer be graded as a fantasy baseball ace and now is more of a low-end SP 2.  Meanwhile Moran is the jewel get for the Pirates and the former sixth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft has the bat/skill to carry value this season.  The Pirates will give Moran every chance to break camp with the team and he comes off a 2017 where he batted .308 with 18 home runs in just 338 at-bats last season at Triple-A.  Add Moran to your prospect lists and bump down Cole some in your pitching rankings. 


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ADDISON REED COULD CHALLENGE FERNANDO RODNEY FOR SAVES IN MINNY

It has been a busy day at Closing Time as first the San Diego Padres re-upped closer Brad Hand with a new three-year deal and hours later the Minnesota Twins inked free agent reliever Addison Reed to a two-year deal.  Earlier in the winter the Twins had signed longtime veteran closer Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal and the fantasy baseball community collectively groaned since it looked like the guy who just won't go away will get the save chances for the team at least for the start of the 2018 season.  Well the signing of Reed may change that as Reed has been a dominant setup man the last few seasons, which include 2017 when he registered a 2.84 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in a year split between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.  Now Reed, of course, has been a failed closer in Chicago with the White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks but added offspeed stuff has turned him into a much more effective pitcher the last few years.  Combine that with the fact Rodney has been posting ugly ERA's for a few seasons now and we have the making of a spring training situation worth watching.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: NEW DEAL FOR BRAD HAND MAKES HIS STATUS MORE SECURE

In surprising move, the San Diego Padres handed a three-year extension to closer Brad Hand on Saturday worth between $18-$20 million and the move has decent ramifications for 2018 fantasy baseball as well.  Prior to the extension, Hand was viewed as one of the more likely 2018 prospective closers to be on the move during the year and that made investing in him somewhat dicey given the likelihood he would only yield about four months of saves instead of six.  Now with Hand re-signed, his fantasy baseball stock will rise by more than a bit since he already was one of the better relievers in all of baseball.  With Hand missing bats at a high rate (104 K in 79.1 IP) and having pitched to a 2.16 ERA last season, all of a sudden he could be moving close to top 10 status for 2018 fantasy baseball. 


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS: FINAL BATCH

Finally end is here as we finish our last batch of 2018 fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings.  Honestly if you are looking here for help, take up fantasy golf.

121. Zach Davies
122. Andrew Cashner
123. Kyle Gibson
124. Reynaldo Lopez
125. Brent Suter
126. Andrew Heaney
127. Matt Andriase
128. Vince Velasquez
129. Eddie Butler
130. Jakob Junis
131. Antonio Senzatela
132. Scott Feldman
133. Robert Stephenson
134. Andrew Triggs
135. Alex Meyer
136. Nate Karns
137. Adam Conley
138. Kendall Graveman
139. Brandon McCarthy
140. Matt Moore
141. Bryant Mitchell
142. Martin Perez
143. Tyler Glasnow
144. J.C. Ramirez
145. Anthony DelScalfani
146. Chad Bettis
147. Tyler Chatwood
148. Seth Lugo
149. Matt Garza
150. Jeremy Hellickson
151. Brandon Finnegan
152. Garrett Richards
153. R.A. Dickey
154. Sal Romano
155. James Shields
156. Tyler Mahle
157. Nathan Eovaldi
158. Adam Wainwright
159. Joe Ross
160. Wei-Yin Chen
161. Drew Smyly
162. Jordan Zimmerman
163. Robert Gsellman
164. Phil Hughes
165. Cody Anderson
166. Shelby Miller
167. Michael Pineda
168. Edinson Volquez
169. Derek Holland
170. Steven Matz
171. Homer Bailey
171. Brandon Woodruff


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Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MATT CARPENTER 1B ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter has been a very interesting fantasy baseball case over the last few seasons for a myriad of reasons.  The first talking point centers on the fact Carpenter’s early years with the Cards as the team’s second baseman included high batting averages with very little power. A move to third base a few seasons later made Carpenter alter his plate approach to maximize power output but at the expense of the previously impressive average.  Now exclusively the Cardinals’ first baseman in 2017 (thus losing second and third base eligibility for 2018), Carpenter endured an injury-marred campaign that included some sliding numbers.  While Carpenter fought through the injuries (ranging from early season back trouble to end-of-the-year shoulder pain), his .241 average was a career-worst by a mile.  Still, that number was of the fluke variety as Carpenter’s .278 BABIP was clearly in the unlucky territory and he still managed a very good 23/91 split in the HR/run columns. What seems apparent here however, is the fact that Carpenter’s early years as a second baseman seem to have taken a physical toll on his body.  There are numerous cases of star second baseman that went through early-career declines such as Carlos Baerga, Juan Samuel, and more recently Dustin Pedroia due to the wear-and-tear of manning the position.  We are not saying this is 100 percent what is going on with Carpenter but it is likely no coincidence he is dealing with an uptick in health woes at the age of 32.  The power is still holding steady for sure but Carpenter looks like a somewhat risky investment for 2018 fantasy baseball given the health trouble and loss of position flexibility. 

2018 PROJECTION:  .273 22 HR 67 RBI 90 R 2 SB  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: J.D. MARTINEZ OUTFIELDER FREE AGENT

Boy talk about driving a hard bargain.  With the MLB Hot Stove season acting more like a Cold Stove campaign, the remaining top free agents are starting to get a bit antsy.  Not so outfielder J.D. Martinez as he proclaimed on Thursday that he is willing to wait until spring training to get paid what he thinks he deserves.  COming off a truly monster 2017 campaign where he smacked 45 home runs, Martinez certainly has a point in terms of his anticipated compensation.  Still those who are interested in owning Martinez for 2017 fantasy baseball are hoping he ends up with the Boston Red Sox and their offensive haven of a ballpark which has been the hot rumor all year.  Until then, let's dig in a bit more on his OF 1 standing.  First let's look at those 2017 digits:

.303
44 HR
104 RBI
85 R
4 SB

Wow what power.  Martinez has always had very good power but not great like he had last season.  His previous career-best in home runs was 38 back in 2015 and that was playing half his games in a spacious ballpark in Detroit.  So Martinez has power that will be potent no matter where he is playing but he got a boost to 44 last season by playing the last two months of the year in Arizona and their launching pad park Chase Field.  Thus, it stands to reason that if Martinez signs into another offensive park, he could very well be back at 40 homers and 100-plus RBI.  Add in 80 RBI and Martinez has the power numbers down pat.

In terms of the batting average, Martinez has now hit over .300 in three of the last four seasons and so he clearly has established a baseline of being an asset there as well.  What is interesting is that Martinez is a hacker who strikes out a lot (26.2 K/9 last season) but he offsets that some with a lot of walks (10.8 BB/9).  So again Martinez should be around .300 once again and with that extreme power, he absolutely makes the OF 1 grade this season.

So all in all, J.D. Martinez makes for a great anchor to your outfield who could be had in Round 3 this season.  Also the longer he holds out, the more his price will drop which will help you at the draft table even more.  Flat in his prime, Martinez will surely be here awhile as a monster slugger.

2018 PROJECTION:  .298 39 HR 111 RBI 86 R 5 SB


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Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS: 91-120

The last few batches of starting pitchers are all that is left before we touch on the closers and call it a day with our initial batch of 2018 fantasy baseball position rankings.  Here are numbers 91-120 on our very big starter list. 

91. Steven Matz
92. Hisashi Iwakuma
93. Randall Delgado
94. Dillon Peters
95. Mike Minor
96. Milos Mikolas
97. Frances Martes
98. Jharel Cotton
99. Daniel Norris
100. Ben Lively
101. Tyler Skaggs
102. Matt Shoemaker
103. Luiz Gohara
104. Brad Peacock
105. Sean Manaea
106. Jake Odorizzi
107. Lucas Sims
108. Parker Bridwell
109. Zach Wheeler
110. Jake Thompson
111. Jhoulys Chacin
112. German Marquez
113. Patrick Corbin
114. Mark Leiter
115. Mike Fiers
116. Trevor Cahill
117. Clay Buchholz
118. Aaron Blair
119. Zach Davies
120. Andrew Cashner

-More busted prospects and fading veterans here.  This crowd is mostly on the streaming radar and even more so for NL and AL-only leagues.
-Boy has New York Mets lefty Steven Matz hit the ground with a thud.  He can't seem to ever kick the injury bug and it seems we have reached a disturbing point where all these health woes are taking bite out of his once-potent stuff.
-I still have some faith in Daniel Norris who has a big fastball capable of missing bats but it just hasn't happened yet.  Give him one more whirl.
-Dillon Peters is a name to keep in mind early in the season.  The Marlins will likely give him a chance and he was originally a top prospect talent who had to go through some injury struggles.
-Zach Wheeler is another young Mets pitcher who has flashed talent but he also can't ever stay healthy.  Also Wheeler's ongoing struggle with control has been a major issue.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: DON'T FORGET NATE JONES FOR POSSIBLE SAVES IN CHICAGO WHITE SOX LAND

With the Chicago White Sox fully immersed in a massive rebuild and thus expected to one of the worst teams in the majors in 2018, counting on saves from whoever closes for the team is not a good strategy if you are looking for a high tally of handshakes from here.  With save opportunities likely being few and far between, 30 saves may be all that is available here.  However we still need to find saves wherever we can and the correct assumption right now would be to assume veteran Joakim Sorua is the favorite for the ninth inning after the former All-Star stopper came over via trade last week.  Soria still misses bats at a very high level and while he is not as dynamic as he once was earlier in his career, he has health going for him right now as well.  That can't totally be said for Nate Jones who is the other possible contender for saves with the White Sox this season.  Jones currently is recovering from elbow surgery where a nerve was repositioned in he joint in 2017.  Having only thrown 11 innings last season, Jones has fallen well off the radar.  However like Soria, Jones is capable of missing a high number of at-bats and at one time he seemed like a future closer candidate who had a lot of potential.  So Jones at the very least should be placed back into your consciousness in terms of your fantasy baseball closing cheat sheets and this is a situation that bears watching during spring training.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JAY BRUCE OUTFIELDER NEW YORK METS

For the fifth time in the last seven seasons, power-hitting New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce surpassed the 30-home run mark in 2017 with a career-best 36.  In a year where Bruce spent time both with the Mets and Cleveland Indians (heading to the latter in a summer trade), he fully reaffirmed his power-centric approach by collecting 101 RBI and also scoring 82 runs.  Three category production has been the hallmark of Bruce's career and that won't change no matter after re-signing with the Mets on Wednesday.  Still in his prime as he turns 31 in April, Bruce once again struggled in the average department last season with a .254 mark and for his career is now at a shoddy .249.  With the speed having left the station completely (1 total steal the last three years combined), Bruce is a effective but limited overall player who fits squarely into the lower-tier OF 2 range.  While you would assume Bruce's terrific power should be graded out higher, the explosion of homers all-around baseball in 2017 has knocked down the value of those whose biggest skill comes with the long ball.

2018 PROJECTION:  .257 32 HR 103 RBI 77 R 1 SB
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: 2017 REVISITED

So there are some certain yearly fantasy baseball publications out there that like top put their previous season's projected successes on the back covers of their books/magazines.  We don't do that in our annual draft guides but we do in fact like to take a look back at those we selected as sleepers and busts in those pages a year ago.  So with that said, here are the actual sleeper write-ups from last season's guide and an updated result analysis:

2017 SLEEPERS REVISITED

Wilson Contreras:  Still carrying catcher eligibility for 2017 fantasy baseball, the smooth-swinging Wilson Contreras has an immense amount of potential value attached to his name.  With good power that seems to translate to 20 home runs and with expected daily playing time as he also can start in the outfield, Contreras should be squarely on all your sleeper lists. 

Tommy Joseph:  While he was not much of a power hitter in the minors, Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph added that skill to his game during his 2016 debut with the team.  Overall Joseph swatted 21 home runs in just 347 at-bats and he makes for a nice upside play for your CI or UTIL spot. 

Jose Peraza:  This kid should be right at the top of your sleeper list this season as the Cincinnati speedster has potential five-tool ability at second base or the outfield.  Right out of the gate Peraza can steal 25 bases and hit .300.  He also is adding power as he develops which checks almost all of the offensive columns going into the season. 

Devon Travis:  We have already seen glimpses of upper-level ability from Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis over the last two seasons.  That is when he was not sidelined by ongoing shoulder trouble.  While Travis has had trouble staying on the field, his bat seems capable of 20 home runs and some steals for a dirt-cheap price tag at the draft. 

Whit Merrifield:  The Kansas City Royals will open up a battle for the second base job in spring training this February and the speedy Whit Merrifield has a good chance to come out on top.  Having stolen a ton of bases in the minors, Merrifield has hit as high as .340 while coming up the Royals minor league ladder. 

T.J. Rivera:  All New York Mets second base prospect T.J. Rivera has done in the minors leagues is hit for a .300-plaus average at every stop and he has a chance to be the team’s starting second baseman for 2017 if Neil Walker is not re-signed. 

A.J. Pollock:  The draft price will come down by a sizable margin for 2017 fantasy baseball but Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock’s ability remains second round-worthy.  2016 was a complete throw out for Pollock given the fact he missed most of the year with injury but his blockbuster 2015 numbers should be a reminder that he can be an outfielder 1. 

David Dahl:  Any young hitter coming up in the Colorado Rockies system is automatically a sleeper and this is especially true for the team’s former first round pick.  Outfielder David Dahl already began to show a burgeoning power/speed game last season in his cameo debut for the team and 20/20 is not out of the question for 2017. 

Michael Brantley:  Like with A.J. Pollock in Arizona, a decent price tag suddenly attaches itself to Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley.  An outfielder 1 on ability, Brantley will come cheaper this season after dealing with shoulder problems for almost all of 2016.  The guy is one of the best pure hitters in baseball and he has 15/15 ability as well in his power/speed game. 

Hector Neris:  The Philadelphia Phillies should have gone with the hard-throwing Hector Neris and not the mediocre Jeanmar Gomez to close games from the start of 2016.  After Gomez eventually got exposed, Neris got the much-deserved promotion to the ninth inning where he did well.  Capable of big-time strikeouts, Neris will be a high ceiling and solidly priced closer this season. 

Robbie Ray:  While Robbie Ray’s 4.90 ERA was far from impressive, 218 K’s in 174.1 innings certainly caught the attention of the fantasy baseball community.  Ray looks like he is on the verge of stardom and once he gets his ERA down into the 3.00-range, ace-level could be possible. 

Aaron Nola:  While Nola’s composite 4.78 ERA last season looked quite ugly, the underlying numbers pointed to a young pitcher that is capable of being a top-of-the-rotation arm soon.  Nola looked like an ace the first two months of the year before going into the tank due to injuries and fatigue but a 9.81 K/9 rate as a rookie is very impressive.  Don’t forget that Nola was also a 2011 first round pick (7th overall) of the Phillies so there is a lot of pedigree here.  Look past the ERA. 

David Phelps:  A very good setup man for the Miami Marlins in 2016, the interest meter went up by more than a little when he moved into the rotation down the stretch of the season.  Phelps pitched great in that role, averaging a K/IP and his stuff seemed to play well there.  We don’t know if Phelps will stay in the rotation or move to the bullpen for 2017 but if he ends up in the former, there is a decent amount of upside to work with. 

Lance Lynn:  Having missed the entire 2016 season after falling victim to Tommy John surgery, many in the fantasy baseball community will forget about St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn.  Keep in mind Lynn was a 200-K power pitcher who came close to ace status before the surgery.  While his always shaky control will be more of an issue in coming back from the Tommy John, Lynn is shaping up as a swell value.  

Edwin Diaz:  Boy do the Seattle Mariners have a closing talent on their hands.  Right from the start of his 2016 rookie season, Edwin Diaz began collecting strikeouts by the boatload (mammoth 15.33 K/9) which made him the easy choice to replace the struggling Steve Cishek in the ninth inning.  Turning just 23 this March, Diaz has the dominant K rate and overpowering stuff to be a top closer for years. 


HITS
Lance Lynn, Robbie Ray, T.J. Rivera, Hector Neris, Whit Merrifield, Wilson Contreras, Aaron Nola

MISSES
David Dahl, Michael Brantley, Devon Travis, Tommy Joseph

NEUTRAL
Jose Peraza, David Phelps, A.J. Pollock

We nailed it big with Ray, Lynn, Merrifield, Contreras, and Nola.  To a lesser extent, we hit on Rivera and Neris as well.  Also on the opposite side, Dahl never suited up but we were far from alone there.  Also Travis and Brantley couldn't stay healthy; while Joseph was mediocre.  Overall this was a good batch and we we especially proud of Nola, Ray, and Merrifield.  


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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS: 61-90

The next batch of starting pitching rankings are on deck as we make our way through our initial 2018 fantasy baseball rankings before going onto other pertinent matters.

61. Michael Wacha
62. Luis Castillo
63. Julio Urias
64. Ivan Nova
65. Sean Newcomb
66. Jason Vargas
67. Jordan Montgomery
68. Mike Clevinger
69. Eduardo Rodriguez
70. Carlos Rodon
71. Marco Estrada
72. Kevin Gausman
73. Chase Anderson
74. Rick Porcello
75. Jerad Eickhoff
76. Colin McHugh
77. Hyun-Jin Ryu
78. Mike Leake
79. Ian Kennedy
80. Jimmy Nelson
81. Blake Snell
82. Julio Teheran
83. Dan Straily
84. Mike Foltynewicz
85. Mike Montgomery
86. Chris Tillman
87. Jose Urena
88. Matt Harvey
89. Dinleson Lamet
90. Jack Flaherty

-We are getting into the walking wounded here as there are quite a few pitchers in this tier recovering from surgery and may not begin the season on time.  There is still value to had though as guys who come back later in season will be fresher in September when many other starters are on fumes.  Looking at you Jimmy Nelson and Carlos Rodon.
-Matt Harvey showed better velocity as the season went on for the New York Mets but overall he looks like another pitcher whose career was ruined by TOS surgery.  In fact TOS is more deadly than Tommy John and by a wide margin.
-Blake Snell has a ton of potential but his walks are insane.  If that can get under control though, look out.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ERIC HOSMER 1B FREE AGENT

                                                                Related image

Is any big name MLB free agent going to sign a deal this winter?  We are already well past the point where the winter market should have already seen the top pitchers and hitters secure new deals but this is a seemingly new age now in baseball where most teams are playing the waiting game in order to try and get a better deal on their end.  One such player caught up in this game of "who will blink first" is free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer.  While it has been widely reported that Hosmer has a standing seven-year offer on the table from the rebuilding San Diego Padres, the fact he has not inked the pact tells you that there is not a strong desire on his part to go there and spacious Petco Park.  Hosmer apparently is waiting on what the Royals will do as that is his preferred destination but anyone possibly interested in owning him for 2018 fantasy baseball would love nothing else but to see the Boston Red Sox get involved given the offensive leanings of Fenway Park.  Until we get clarity there, it is best to judge Hosmer on his current level of production and on that front, he timed free agency perfectly as he comes off a 2017 campaign that saw some career-highs:

.318
25 HR
94 RBI
98 R
5 SB

Looking at those numbers, the power and average quickly jump out.  The power is particularly interesting given the fact that Hosmer's ground-ball heavy tendencies since becoming a Royal back in 2011 perhaps indicated he would not be a big weapon in that department in his career.  While Hosmer still hits a bunch of balls on the ground, he has now hit 25 homers each of the last two seasons and so that needs to be his baseline going forward.  Of course it is likely foolish to expect much more power given Hosmer's current spray chart in terms of fly balls/ground balls and 30 long balls usually is a benchmark to a higher tier in the fantasy baseball first baseman rankings.

As far as the average is concerned, Hosmer set a career-high with his .318 mark last season but this needs to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt given his VERY lucky .351 BABIP.  There is little chance of Hosmer having such a lucky BABIP two years running and so a job back to .300 is more likely for 2018.  That is still a very good number though and paired with the 25 homers and 90-plus runs and RBI, Hosmer absolutely makes the grade as a top 8 fantasy baseball first baseman this season.  Finally, it is time to forget about the steals here as Hosmer has swiped just 22 total bases in the last four years combined and so his earlier days of teenage numbers there are looking like history.

When you break it all down, we are looking at a very good offensive player in Hosmer but one who is a tear below Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, and Jose Abreu.  Once those sluggers are drafted, Hosmer is right there as the next option worth of hearing his name called.  Again we are talking about a four-category asset who is just a bit lighter in the power department than those mentioned prior.

2018 PROJECTION:  .305 24 HR 95 RBI 97 R 6 SB  


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS: 31-60

The next batch from the very deep starting pitching rankings are up next as we continue unabated with our initial 2018 fantasy baseball position rankings.

31. Dyland Bundy
32. Gio Gonzalez
33. Sonny Gray
34. Michael Fulmer
35. Jon Gray
36. Danny Salazar
37. Danny Duffy
38. Lance Lynn
39. Jacob Faria
40. Ervin Santana
41. Alex Cobb
42. Kenta Maeda
43. Alex Reyes
44. David Price
45. Cole Hamels
46. Drew Pomeranz
47. Jose Berrios
48. J.A. Happ
49. Trevor Bauer
50. Jameson Taillon
51. C.C. Sabathia
52. Jeff Samardzija
53. Aaron Sanchez
54. Tanner Roark
55. Felix Hernandez
56. Lucas Giolito
57. Taijuan Walker
58. Zach Godley
59. Luke Weaver
60. Charlie Morton

-This group is filled with injury question marks and some major 2017 fantasy baseball disappointments.  I for one am not overly enamored with many of these names, outside of some of the youngers (Taillon, Berrios, and especially Faria); along with underrated veterans Cobb and Lynn.
-A huge annual mistake in the fantasy baseball community is going with name brand pitches or hitters despite clear evidence they are on a major decline.  In this case, avoid both David Price and Felix Hernandez who looked terrible last season and are likely on a sharp downward dip in their performance given their age and high career inning total.
-Speaking of youngsters, the St. Louis Cardinals have two terrific ones in the comebacking Alex Reyes and the power-armed Luke Weaver.  Reyes should be cheaper since he is returning from Tommy John surgery but both are tremendous sleepers this spring.
-Be very careful of New York Yankees veteran Sonny Gray who saw all his numbers go upward last season once he was traded from the Oakland A's.  Clearly, the downgrade in ballpark for a pitcher was a big reason and the AL East will not be a picnic either for Gray.




*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: MICHAEL WACHA SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

                                                        Image result for michael wacha pics

Those in the fantasy baseball community who are familiar with our work know how strongly we recommend on a yearly basis avoiding making an investment in St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha.  While we were once big fans of Wacha when he first reached the majors with the Cards back in 2013, a bout of shoulder trouble that cropped up in 2015 had us running for the hills.  One of the biggest fantasy baseball pitching sacraments we fully subscribe to is that once a pitcher comes down with shoulder trouble, they are never the same and prone to further injury.  Any pitcher will admit that a shoulder injury is so much worse to the health of their stuff than anything to do with the elbow and clear cases of promising arms that saw their careers get flushed early due to similar injuries such as Josh Johnson or Tommy Hanson were clear proof of this.  So it was with Wacha who after gutting out a 3.38 ERA in that 2015 season, sank all the way to a 5.09 mark the following year to add validation to our concerns.  Thus there was no good reason to recommend a play on Wacha given all that we had seen.  Well in terms of 2017, it was pretty much more of the same as Wacha's solid start (2.55 ERA in April) dissolved into three of the final four months posting a number in that category above 5.00.  While Wacha still has the talent to start strong, the increase in innings always lead to trouble eventually as we saw when 2017 continued.  A final 4.13 ERA was not terrible but Wacha's 1.36 WHIP certainly was.  Also Wacha has failed to throw more than 170 innings in each of the last two years; further enhancing his injury-prone label.  Another guy you can place in the "headache" bin.

2018 PROJECTION:  12-9 4.33 ERA 1.33 WHIP 155 K  
*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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