Wednesday, March 21, 2018



While we always advise holding your fantasy baseball drafts as close to the start of the season as possible in order to steer clear of any exhibition injuries (right Justin Turner owners?), the one advantage of holding them early in spring training is that some undervalued players that could pay off big when the games begin to count could start to become pricey again.  Such is the case now with New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto, who up until his return to game action a few days ago, was being drafted in the middle rounds as he was forecasted to miss all of April recovering from serious shoulder surgery last summer.  Well don't look now but it appears as though Conforto is set to make a triumphant return to the Mets and at the same time, reward those owners who bought low on him this spring.  The latest piece of evidence was Conforto homering twice during a minor league scrimmage Wednesday and then pronouncing himself "closer" in terms of being game-ready.  With no setbacks to speak of, Conforto may need only a week or two of April to get himself ready to return to the Mets.  This is fantastic news as Conforto has a world of talent and the natural power to be a perennial 30-homer star.  The big concern with the shoulder dislocation he suffered last summer was that perhaps maybe his home runs swing would not be as potent but that doesn't seem to be the problem now.  Dive fully in now on Conforto who still can hit 30 homers with a .280 or so average even if he does miss the first week or two.  



Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is aiming to return to Cactus League action Friday despite suffering a strained hamstring on Tuesday.  The hamstring injury Abreu suffered was deemed mild and that is a very positive development with the season just a week away from starting.  Abreu is an ultra-consistent first baseman who is almost a lock for 30 homer, 100 RBI, and a .300 average.  That type of consistency is worth a little extra on draft day.


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While we always have excelled with our fantasy football and fantasy baseball coverage for the better part of ten years in this space, we also delved into scouting prospects for the annual NFL Draft during that same span as well.  On that front, our best-selling Fantasy Sports Boss 2018 NFL Draft Guide is now on sale both here ($1.00 cheaper here) and Amazon and is jam-packed with hundreds of player profiles, rankings, news stories, mock drafts, and so much more.  So click on the PayPal button below or toward the right top of the homepage to pick up yours today.



Yes him again.  While no one has been a bigger critic of Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley over the years, the fact he is now taking part in Cactus League games for the team is a positive development as he tries to make his way back from yet more surgery.  Already with pronounced shoulder woes in his past, Brantley is recovering from serious ankle surgery last Octobert and he has taken baby steps along the way in making his comeback.  Even prior to all of the injuries, yours truly has been harsh on Brantley (and rightly so) due to the fact he was very overpriced/overrated for a time before his health began to go ill.  While no one will dispute that Brantley is not one of the very best pure hitters in baseball, his light power and moderate speed made him more of an OF 3 when other were paying OF 2 prices for him.  Just like with any player in fantasy baseball however, I always say that anyone has value depending on cost and in Brantley's case, he has never come cheaper given all the missed time of late.  Brantley is in fact worth an add if he is sitting on your league's waiver wire as he can still hit .300 and contribute good counting nunbers in runs and RBI given his annually high OBP's.  The power and speed are another matter however as Brantley may only be capable of a 10/10 split there given how his body has betrayed him.  Ideally, Brantley works best in five outfield formats as he can help boost your team batting average and give you a bit of everything without excelling anywhere. 



As it was anticipated, Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy will begin the 2018 season on the DL as he continues to recover from offseason microfracture knee surgery.  While Murphy's recovery has been a bit on the slow side, he has been taking consistent batting practice and infield drills the last few weeks.  It is expected he will be able to return sometime in mid-April but there are some red flags here from a fantasy baseball angle given the seriousness of the surgery and for the fact Murphy is approaching his mid-30's.  The steals have long left the station here and so now Murphy has to continue hitting for a high average with the 25 home run power he began putting forth the last few seasons.  There is a bit of unknown with all of this and that is why we suggested avoided Murphy in drafts this spring. 


It is time to now check out the new 2018 fantasy baseball second baseman rankings as we update things before the seasons gets going.  

1.  Jose Altuve
2.  Anthony Rizzo (for those he qualifies in)
3.  Jose Ramirez
4.  Dee Gordon
5.  Brian Dozier
6.  Jonathan Schoop
7.  Daniel Murphy
8.  Robinson Cano
9.  Rougned Odor
10. Whit Merrifield
11. Ozzie Albies
12. Chris Taylor
13. D.J. LeMahieu
14. Javier Baez
15. Scooter Gennett
16. Yoan Moncada
17. Jason Kipnis
18. Ian Kinsler
19. Starlin Castro
20. Matt Carpenter
21. Paul DeJong
22. Eduardo Nunez
23. Jonathan Villar
24. Jose Peraza
25. Brandon Phillips
26. T.J. Rivera
27. Cesar Hernandez
28. Yangervis Solarte
29. Dustin Pedrioa
30. Brandon Drury
31. Neil Walker
32. Jed Lowrie
33. Joe Panik
34. Ben Zobrist
35. Yolmer Sanchez
36. Kolten Wong
37. Logan Forsythe
38. Eric Sogard
39. Chad Pinder
40. Devon Travis
41. Brad Miller

-For those leagues that have Anthony Rizzo qualifying at second base, he stands in front of everyone but Jose Altuve.  While the eligibility is a bit of a farce, Rizzo looks great at second.
-Robinson Cano's ADP has slid sharply this year but he is still productive and is now in the middle of what looks to be a tremendous lineup.
-Whit Merrifield has hit for power this spring which is a good sign as he tries to show his production there last season was not a fluke.  
-Keep an eye on Cesar Hernandez who has quietly been solid the last two years and is very cheap in terms of where you can get him in the draft.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018



The last big free agent pitching chip will finally sign on the dotted line Tuesday as multiple reports indicate that Alex Cobb will sign a contract with the Baltimore Orioles.  The deal will be for three years and around $50 million and is a nice haul considering the fact the season starts next week and Lance Lynn settled for just one year with the Minnesota Twins last week.  As far as Cobb is concerned, he has successfully made it back from Tommy John elbow surgery to once again be a very good SP 3/4 but his previously solid K/9 rate has not come all the way back to pre-surgery levels.  In addition, we would prefer Cobb not to have signed back into the AL East after previously being with the Tampa Bay Rays and so he has to stay in the SP 4 range given the tough competition he will face in the division.  Cobb is completely capable however of supplying a useful mid-3.00 ERA and solid WHIP, while posting around 150 strikeouts.  Just don't count on seeing him with the O's until sometime in late April since he will have to gear up his innings and arm after missing almost all of spring training. 



With just a little more than a week to go before the start of the 2018 fantasy baseball season, the injuries are coming fast and furious and to big-name players as well.  Just one day after Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was lost until the end of May with a broken wrist due to an HBP, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was diagnosed with a strained hamstring on Tuesday.  What becomes very crucial now is the severity of the strain as anything more than a Level 1 means Abreu will begin the year on the disabled list.  The timing of course is brutal here as Abreu is a top 5-6 fantasy baseball first baseman this season everywhere and his ultra-consistency with his offensive numbers since coming over from Cuba made him a great buy at the draft.  Stay tuned for an update here but be prepared to have a backup handy in case the DL is necessary. 



Every spring in fantasy baseball, we have a handful of unsettled closer situation that early drafts a bit of a crapshoot when it comes to handicapping which guy is likely to emerge with the gig once the games start to count.  One such place this scenario took place in was in St. Louis Cardinals camp where manager Mike Matheney refused to say who or if he even had a closer in mind.  This didn't stop those in the fantasy baseball community from speculating however, with Tyler Lyons and Luke Gregerson getting 99 percent of the attention.  Well don't look now but it appears that new arrival Dominic Leone is poised to steal the gig outright and possibly be the latest "out of nowhere" closer who could excel throughout the upcoming season.  Now as far as Leone's history, he was picked up during the offseason from the Toronto Blue Jays after posting a career-year which included a 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 81 K's in 70.1 IP.  Those certainly look like closer-worthy numbers but Leone was considered to be in line for just a setup role since he had no experience finishing games and that both his somewhat short stints for the Jays in 2015 and 2016 were horrendous.  Well, Leone has been very good this spring in pitching to a 1.80 ERA and successfully locking down 3 saves as well.  That has seemingly swayed Matheney into giving Leone a shot to be the closer when the opener arrives next week which really no one saw coming back in February.  This is the name of the game here however as closers emerge from leftfield each and every season and some potential gems always reveal themselves in this manner as well.  Yet more evidence you never need to draft a closer early. 



The regular season in Major League Baseball is only about a little more than a week away and this is always a time of angst for those in the fantasy baseball community who have drafted their teams and now are simply holding their breath hoping no one gets hurt before the openers.  Well that hope ran out for those who own Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner who saw him suffer a broken wrist due to a hit by pitch Monday and the early word is that he will be out until as long as June which of course is a brutal development so close to the beginning of the season.  The loss of Turner is certainly a bit one as he is one of the best pure hitters in baseball and he has really ramped up the power the last few seasons as well.  Last season, for example, Turner batted a scorching .322 and added 21 home runs in just 457 at-bats.  Unfortunately, Turner only received 457 at-bats due to the fact he got injured AGAIN and he is now firmly gaining a reputation of being a guy who every season sits out an extended time with some sort of health woe.  This is of no consolation to Turner's owners now however but luckily third base is quite deep and so there should be a decent enough option resting on the waiver wire in your league or hopefully, you have some good depth.  Be that as it may, there is no way to sugarcoat the fact that the loss of Turner is certainly not the way his fantasy baseball owners wanted to begin the season. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


We continue with our updated position rankings for 2018 fantasy baseball by looking at the adjusted first baseman with the season almost upon us.

1.  Paul Goldschmidt
2.  Freddie Freeman
3.  Joey Votto
4.  Anthony Rizzo
5.  Cody Bellinger
6.  Jose Abreu
7.  Rhys Hoskins
8.  Eric Hosmer
9.  Wil Myers
10. Edwin Encarnacion
11. Miguel Cabrera
12. Miguel Sano
13. Justin Smoak
14. Greg Bird
15. Ryan Zimmerman
16. Josh Bell
17. Carlos Santana
18. Ian Desmond
19. Buster Posey
20. Matt Carpenter
21. Yuli Gurriel
22. Joey Gallo
23. Kendrys Morales
24. Logan Morrison
25. Justin Bour
26. Matt Adams
27. Chris Davis
28. Yonder Alonso
29. Hanley Ramirez
30. Lucas Duda
31. Joe Mauer
32. Mark Reynolds
33. Mitch Moreland
34. Brandon Belt
35. Mike Napoli
36. Tommy Joseph
37. C.J. Cron
38. Kennys Vargas
39. Victor Martinez
40. Jesus Aguilar
41. Adrian Gonzalez
42. Danny Valencia

-It is pretty much a coin flip between Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, and Anthony Rizzo but we prefer Freeman who is sitting on an MVP campaign, is younger, and has better lineup support.  
-Joey Gallo has insane power but boy that .200 average strips a lot of the value from what he does with the homers.  
-Ian Desmond is intriguing yet again this spring due to multi-position eligibility and the fact he will play half of his games at Coors Field.  He will be much cheaper this time around as well.  
-Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso are both being knocked for what many believe were fluky 2017 campaigns and while that might be true, his decreased 2018 draft cost makes them both attractive.  


Him again?  When one peruses the title of this piece, many in the fantasy baseball community collectively would have such a response given the apathy that San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt elicits.  The reason for this is that Belt is one of those classic players who was immensely hyped as a youngster but who then put forth a series of disappointing seasons that made the majority of those who at one time were intrigued by him, instead moving firmly away in search of the next upstart.  While this is somewhat of an understandable trend given that we are still waiting for Belt to even hit 20 home runs in a given season, there is something to be said about owning the guy this year given the fact his cost has sunk so far that he now carries decent value.  We say all the time to never discount any one player in yearly fantasy baseball leagues no matter the level bias because everyone can help at the right price and Belt can certainly be of service for 2018 fantasy baseball considering he is not even being drafted in many leagues.  While it is true Belt has yet to come anywhere near posting high-end numbers, he has in fact performed very solidly the last three years for the Giants but his overall numbers each year in that span underwhelmed due to some injuries that include multiple concussions.  Over the last three seasons, Belt has hit 18, 17, and 18 home runs; while also batting .275 or better in two of those campaigns.  Better yet, Belt hit 18 homers in just 451 at-bats a year ago and so he would have sailed to 20-plus homers if not for suffering another concussion.  So as it stands now, Brandon Belt has another prime chance to hit 20-plus homers this year with solid counting stats in runs/RBI; while also posting a useful average that could hover around .280.  Belt also has run some in his career, with him stealing 9 bags as recently as 2016.  So as you can see, there are some decent numbers to be had here if the health can cooperate for Belt and so taking a very late-round stab here is certainly not a waste of a pick.  Take numbers wherever you can get them and especially when no one is paying attention to such a player. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018


When it comes to annual fantasy baseball sleepers, always a good place to look for undervalued and potentially high-impact players are on rebuilding teams.  Like with the Houston Astros before their recent World Series run or the Philadelphia Phillies the last two years, teams that look like they are destined for a rough season often have some intriguing/young talent with some upside.  Often these teams give younger players a chance to show what they can do and give them a longer leash to fight through any struggles unlike the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox of the world.  One such team in the former category for 2018 is the Kansas City Royals and they are prepared to give some unproven and young talent a chance to stick with the big club.  This includes starting pitcher Jake Junis who has had a big spring training in registering a 1.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, and striking out 14 batters in 10 innings pitched.  Just 25-years-old and a former 2011 5th round pick, Junis is opening some eyes in showcasing some potent strikeout potential which began to reveal itself in 2017 when he put forth a 10.90 K/9 rate at Triple-A.  Junis get a promotion by the Royals off his 2.92 ERA at that level but he had mixed results.  While Junis had good control with the Royals (2.29 BB/9), home runs were a big problem (1.37 HR/9) that helped balloon his ERA to 4.30.  Be that as it may, Junis has become a potential late-round upside stab given the strikeout approach he has taken this spring and so feel free to add him to your cheat sheets for your draft. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Hey gang I was getting some feedback that searching for names and certain topics was difficult on here and so in response, I have added a SEARCH feature at the top right under the page headings so that you can do so in a much easier manner moving forward.  My apologies for the previous difficulties. 


The Tommy John elbow surgery epidemic among the youthful portion of the starting pitching fraternity has kept on going with no letup this spring training; with the latest victim being the Oakland A's' Jharel Cotton who will now miss the entire 2018 season as a result of the procedure.  Just 26-years-old, Cotton made up the classic Tommy John profile of being 28 or younger and one who throws an above-average fastball.  It is that combination that makes up the clear majority of Tommy John cases and so it is yet another reminder of the risk associated with drafting pitchers who are also from this classification.  Whether it is Noah Syndegaard, Carlos Carrasco, Lance McCullers, Alex Wood, Carlos Martinez, James Paxton, Luis Castillo, Michael Fulmer, or others; investing in these pitchers is taking a huge risk when it comes to early 2018 fantasy baseball selections.  So while we have always suggested being careful when weighing a selection from this group, we also are not saying you should avoid them altogether.  Instead, focus on maybe paying top dollar for one like Syndegaard and then complement him with some more stable veterans who have a better chance of holding up based on historical trends.  Of course, every starting pitcher carries a bunch of risk given how unnatural throwing a baseball is on the arm/elbow/shoulder but playing it cautiously here is certainly the best course of action to take.  Be careful out there.  


While Justin Smoak got the majority of the post-hype sleeper breakout at the first base position during 2017 fantasy baseball, previously failed prospect Yonder Alonso had his own big coming-of-age campaign last season.  Having been a high first-round pick like his Toronto counterpart (7th overall in 2008), Alonso became a tremendous disappointment for the Cincinnati Reds as he showed virtually no power to go with decent contact skills.  Eventually, the Reds gave up on Alonso which began a stint with the San Diego Padres that began in 2012.  Moving from one of the best power parks in the game in Cincy to one of the worst in San Diego, Alonso’s power outage continued.  Alonso then moved to the Oakland A’s in 2016 where it was more of the same as his recorded season-high in home runs going back to 2010 was a pathetic 9.  Getting such little power from a first baseman is death in fantasy baseball and so Alonso went undrafted in the majority of leagues when 2017 got underway.  In the insane power outburst that the season ultimately became however, Alonso joined in on the fun by hitting 28 home runs, driving in 67, and batting .266 in a year that was split between Oakland and Seattle (having been dealt over the summer).  Clearly, the power stands out here but instantly you have to think Alonso’s production in that category was a tremendous outlier.  The fact Alonso failed to even reach double-digits in home runs previously makes trusting in the 28 long balls from a year ago an almost impossible endeavor.  With the .266 average and the 68 RBI’s not an impressive total by any means for a first baseman, Alonso’s bust potential for 2018 is very high as there will surely be a regression.  What is really telling is the fact that MLB teams weren’t exactly beating down Oakland’s door to acquire Alonso over the summer; a sign that they didn’t believe in the numbers either despite him landing with the Cleveland Indians in late winter.  

2018 PROJECTION:  .263 19 HR 65 RBI 66 R 1 SB  

Friday, March 16, 2018


With the Kansas City Royals having seen veteran bats such as Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain exit stage left during this past winter due to payroll constraints, spring training 2018 was going to be about taking a look at some of the team's more highly-acclaimed prospects with an eye toward them possibly contributing at some point during the year.  One of those prospects was first baseman Ryan O'Hearn who was originally just an eighth-round pick of the team in 2014 but who since that time has developed into a very potent power hitter in the minors leagues.  After cracking 18 home runs at Triple-A a year ago in 463 at-bats, O'Hearn took that thump to 2018 spring training as he began hitting tape-measure shots all over Cactus League fields.  The latest gem came Thursday when O'Hearn hit not one but two home runs as the 24-year-old hints that he could be a key contributor before too long.  Right now the current plan for O'Hearn is for him to begin the year in the minor leagues but not much stands in the way of the team giving him a promotion before too long.  O'Hearn has easy power that could result in 20-25 home runs right out of the gate and that would be his key fantasy baseball contribution since his average lags behind right now given some strikeout problems.  Especially in AL-only formats, O'Hearn should be someone who is placed in the middle of your prospect lists for the upcoming fantasy baseball season given the fact he has a clear path to getting onto the field at some point given the power bat he brings to the table. 



If you squinted really tightly and allowed your mind to drift back in time, you would swear it was 2015 all over again for New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey as he worked through his latest spring training start Thursday.  With a fastball that cracked the catcher's mitt with a sound not heard since that magical campaign, Harvey looked like an ace in his five inning stint as he punched out 8 Miami Marlins batters, which included the final five.  While Harvey gave up three runs in five innings, his fastball has pop and his offspeed stuff terrific bending action as there was nothing but encouraging optimism to take from the performance.  Better yet, Harvey got up to 96 with his fastball which is getting close to the 98 from his earlier heyday.  While we won't go so far as to say he is all the way back (or even close), it is fair to say that Harvey is back on the fantasy baseball radar given the positives he has put forth this spring.  It really all comes down to velocity for Harvey and that has been the biggest improvement here since he was mostly in the 92-93 range coming off TOS surgery last year and the fact he is hitting 96 now shows that his arm is starting to regain its old power.  As a result, Harvey needs to be bumped up a bit more on your fantasy baseball starting pitching cheat sheets this spring as the value meter moves upward. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


With the spring training portion of the fantasy baseball season less than two weeks from completion, let's take a look at the updated catcher rankings since we first took a look here in February. 

1.  Gary Sanchez
2.  Wilson Contreras
3.  Buster Posey
4.  Salvador Perez
5.  J.T. Realmuto
6.  Evan Gattis
7.  Yadier Molina
8.  Wilson Ramos
9.  Welington Castillo
10.Jonathan Lucroy
11. Mike Zunino
12. Yasmani Grandal
13. Brian McCann
14. Chris Iannetta
15. Tyler Flowers
16. Travis D'Arnaud
17. Austin Hedges
18. Manny Pina
19. Jorge Alfaro
20. Matt Wieters
21. Christian Yasquez
22. Russell Martin
23. Austin Barnes
24. Devin Mesoraco
25. Francisco Cervelli
26. Robinson Chirinos
27. Alex Avila
28. Yan Gomes
29. James McCann
30. Jason Castro
31. Tom Murphy
32. Cameron Rupp
33. Stephen Vogt
34. Nick Hundley

-Due to both his sliding power and injury problems this spring, we have placed Buster Posey behind the emerging Wilson Contreras.  Contreras can easily smack 25 homers and post a decent enough average this season which can't be said of Posey.
-The news that Yasmani Grandal would get the lion's share of starts behind the dish for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season put the brakes on any immediate upside for Austin Barnes.  At the very least though,Barnes should be monitored due to his ability to hit.
-Please do yourself a favor and don't sleep on the fact Evan Gattis will be an everyday DH this season.  We love any catcher-eligible player that will be out there on a daily basis and Gattis has immense power.  



Already battling a drastic reduction in velocity this spring, Arizona Diamondbacks ace pitcher Zack Greinke left his spring outing after one inning Wednesday with a strained groin.  An update is expected after the game but this is a troubling development with the season less than two weeks away and Greinke missing pretty much a complete outing where he couldn't build up his pitch count.  While I was intrigued about owning Greinke this season after his nice comeback a year earlier, the drop in velocity all the way down to just a mid-80's fastball is a HUGE red flag and brings back memories of Jered Weaver.  Stay tuned on this but Greinke continues to slide down drafts this spring. 


Would you be interested in owning an outfielder who can bat .300, score 100-plus runs, swat 10-14 homers, and steal around 15 bags?  Wow, that sounds great you immediately think.  I gather that would cost me about a 7th or 8th round pick correct?  Well in the case of Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton (who is capable of realizing all those numbers in 2018), the answer instead would be Round 14 or 15 instead based on early ADP's.  With a current ADP of 144.3, Eaton is coming dirt cheap in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts and the buying opportunity is immense here given the potential numbers that he can certainly achieve.  So why is Eaton coming this cheap in drafts?  How could a guy who can yield quiet five-category number be so overlooked? 

Well, the first reason for Eaton's slide in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts is no doubt due to the fact he is coming back from a torn ACL suffered early last year.  The injury and near-total wipeout of his 2017 campaign sent Eaton well off the radar of the fantasy baseball community since he was so out of sight/out of mind.  In addition, Eaton has never been a guy that excelled in any one category in a standard 5 x5 league; despite the fact he does contribute in every one of them.  The fact Eaton doesn't stand out in any one spot quiets the hype and causes many to look on by in drafts.  However you the astute fantasy baseball veteran knows better and sees a bargain when presented with one which Eaton is for 2018.  

Now in terms of what Eaton is capable of accomplishing this season, it needs to be stated that he may not, in fact, be ready Opening Day.  Eaton has not yet gotten into an exhibition contest as he takes his time returning to action but he is expected to get back no latter that mid-April.  That means Eaton will have 5.5 months to achieve those five category numbers barring any other injury issues.  Keep in mind Eaton has a tremendous plate approach in terms of having a high contact rate and a high walk rate which makes him a batting average asset.  While his power is not great, Eaton has shown he can pop enough homers to be competitive there.  The speed is more impressive but Eaton may not steal as many bags as he did earlier in his career after knee surgery.  Be that as it may, leading off for the massive Washington lineup almost ensures Eaton will score 100 runs.  

When you put it all together, Adam Eaton is a swell investment for 2018 fantasy baseball and his numbers should really stand out given where he is currently being picked.  Get on board here and rediscover what an asset the guy can be this season but at a very affordable price.  

2018 PROJECTION:  .295 11 HR 55 RBI 109 R 14 SB  



The writing was already on the wall for top New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres this spring once the team traded with the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Brandon Drury but the point was completely driven home on Monday when GM Brian Cashman also came to an agreement on a one-year deal for veteran second baseman Neil Walker.  As a result of Drury's and Walker's arrivals, there was no longer any room for Torres on the major league roster and so it was no shock when he was optioned back to Triple-A late Tuesday.  Even prior to the demotion, Torres was really struggling offensively as he hit under .200 all spring and so it was obvious he needs some more seasoning before he is major league ready.  There is no doubt that the Tommy John elbow surgery Torres underwent last season stalled his growth and progress and without it happening, likely would have resulted in sticking with the Yanks out of camp.  Be that as it may, Torres is still lauded as a top five prospect in all of baseball and he should be held onto in deeper fantasy baseball leagues this season given that talent.  There is no guarantee Walker can hold up physically since he has a long history of back trouble and injuries overall and so Torres could be back up as soon as May.  The talent is too great to just cast aside despite today's news.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018



A giant exhale was put forth by the fantasy baseball owners of New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on Tuesday as the disturbing early news he was scratched from his spring outing and send for testing on his hand instantly sent many in a tizzy.  Considering that Cespedes has earned the injury-prone label the last few seasons and already many were anticipating the worst.  Fortunately that did not come to bear as it was learned that X-rays taken on Cespedes' hand were negative and that he is going to be just day-to-day moving forward.  This is tremendous news obviously but it also is a reminder of how fragile Cespedes has become of late and that you must have a backup plan in place if you choose to take advantage of his reduced ADP this season.  I myself own Cespedes in the Experts League as he is still a 30-home run/4-category monster when healthy but the latter is far from a given. 



Damn.  In what can only be considered a moderate shocker, the Texas Rangers optioned top outfield prospect Willie Calhoun to Triple-A on Tuesday despite putting up good numbers in spring training.  Universally considered a top prospect in all of baseball due to his advanced for his years hitting ability, Calhoun gets squeezed out for what looks like a silly platoon involving Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson.  The Rangers could also be sending Calhoun down to delay his arbitration clock by a year as well so no need to do something rash like cutting him loose just yet.  In terms of ability, Calhoun is the rare hitting prospect who can hit .300 with 30 home run power right from the jump and he needs to be owned in all fantasy baseball mixed leagues no matter how long he spend at Triple-A to begin the season. 



The Minnesota Vikings reeled in the biggest fish of free agency when they came to terms with QB Kirk Cousins on a three-year deal, with all the money guaranteed.  While his won-loss record was not anything to write home about during his tenure with the Washington Redskins. Cousins has shown himself to be a top ten quarterback in the NFL and fully capable of bringing the loaded Vikings back to the NFC Championship game.  Coming of a 2017 campaign when he threw for 4,093 yards with 27 TD and 13 INT, Cousins will now get a dynamic set of receivers to throw to with the Vikings in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.  30 passing scores is absolutely in play for Cousins in 2018 and he should be drafted as a top 6-8 option at the position this summer. 


Some serious red flags abounded all over the Chicago Cubs starting pitching staff entering into the 2017 season given the massive workloads that were accumulated the year prior when the team won the World Series.  Included in that grouping was former consensus top-five ace Jake Arrieta who in 2015 engineered one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory (1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 236 K).  Unfortunately, Arrieta has been on a steady decline since and his past as an injury-prone hurler is becoming a topic of conversation again.  The best place to start with Arrieta concerns a leaking velocity which is a potentially big problem for any pitcher.  In Arrieta's case, he has now lost velocity on the fastball for three straight seasons; going from 94.9 in 2015 all the way down to 92.6 a year ago.  That is a big drop and is a prime reason Arrieta's K/9 has moved from above the 9.00 mark to the mid-8.00 range.  Also likely related to the velocity drop is the fact Arrieta is giving up home runs at a rate never seen before in his career (1.23 in 2017) and we all know how much of a potential negative that is for any starter.  Signing on with the Philadelphia Phillies and their launching pad of a ballpark can only exacerbate that issue.  Finally, we have the injuries and last season was a bad one on that front as Arrieta hit the DL on two occasions (the first for shoulder trouble and the second for a hand ailment).  Remember that the Baltimore Orioles gave up on Arrieta due to his rampant injury problems and the fact this is becoming an issue again is a bad omen moving forward.  So while Arrieta did finish strong in 2017 (ultimately posting a solid 3.53 ERA), he is a shell of the ace pitcher who put himself on a pedestal just a few years ago.  You get the overwhelming feeling when evaluating Arrieta that more trouble is on the horizon and so avoiding an investment here looks like a good idea.

2018 PROJECTION:  14-8 3.54 ERA 1.17 WHIP 175 K  



The Kansas City Chiefs are certainly doing all they can to make the ascension of sophomore QB Patrick Mahomes go smoothly as they reached agreement with free agent wideout Sammy Watkins on a three-year deal worth $48 million early Tuesday.  While blessed with amazing athleticism and natural talent, Watkins' career to this point has been a disappointment due mostly to injuries.  Still, Watkins has big-play potential and joins Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt to make the Chiefs offensive talent as good as any in the game.  This is a very good development for Mahomes who carries immense fantasy football upside if he can take advantage of all his weapons.  In terms of their grades moving forward, Watkins needs to be placed in the high-end WR 3 realm as Hill and Kelce will eat into a lot of potential catches.  Meanwhile, Mahomes is a top backup option in single-passer leagues; with the chance of him being starter-worthy real quick if he figures things out quickly. 



After apparently getting word that they were out of the Kirk Cousins Derby, the Denver Broncos quickly pivoted late Monday night/early Tuesday morning by coming to contract terms with free agent QB Case Keenum.  While terms are still unknown, Keenum gets his windfall after putting together a magnificent 2017 campaign for the Minnesota Vikings where he came off the bench to replace an injured Sam Bradford in September and then proceeded to lead the team to the NFC Championship Game by completing 67.6 percent of his throws for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns with just 7 INT's.  There is some risk in the deal in terms of Keenum possibly being a one-year wonder since he failed to catch on previously with the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams but his very good accuracy and ability to protect the football will serve Broncos wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and especially Demaryius Thomas well.  Thomas will see the most fantasy football-related boost from Keenum's signing as his WR 1 skills were being pushed down to WR 2 territory ever since the retirement of Peyton Manning due to the shoddy QB play in Denver.  We all saw how massive a WR 1 Adam Thielen was a year ago with Keenum at the helm in Minny and so Thomas has to go back to WR 1 consideration as well for 2018 fantasy football.  Meanwhile, Keenum should be put down as a low-end QB 1 in single-passer leagues but he makes us much more comfortable as a backup. 



With the Chicago Bears front office hellbent on getting offensive help for franchise QB Mitch Trubisky, the team wasted little time in free agency when they reportedly came to contract terms with wideout Allen Robinson late Monday night.  Coming off a 2017 season where he played all of one game before tearing his ACL, the Bears gave three years and around $42 million to the big-play Robinson who in 2015 looked like an overnight star by catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  He will turn just 25 in August and thus, is in the early stages of his prime years which makes the deal a very good one for the Bears.  Trubisky obviously will benefit as well since Robinson gives him the number 1 wideout who will be a force all over the field and especially in the red zone.  In terms of 2018 fantasy football, Robinson should be treated as a high-end WR 2 who will likely be impacted negatively at times by his QB's inexperience.  Downgrade slightly in PPR as a result. 

Monday, March 12, 2018


While the hype has not gotten anywhere near out of hand like with Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, Cleveland Indians top catching prospect Francisco Mejia is a guy who carries a lot of interest in the fantasy baseball community due to tremendous skills as a hitter while donning the tools of ignorance.  Drawing comparisons to Buster Posey, Mejia firmly put himself in the discussion for prospects to be aware of for 2018 fantasy baseball when he went out and batted .297 with 14 home runs in just 383 at-bats at Double-A a year ago at the age of 22.  With a K/9 rate of just 13.8 at that level, Mejia was already showing incredibly rare contact skills for a catcher and the look of someone who can bat .300 a the major league level with some developing pop.  Alas, the outlook for Mejia in terms of making the Cleveland Indians out of spring training was not looking good since they already have two serviceable backstops on the roster but that hasn't stopped the team from getting creative here in the hopes of finding a way to bring the kid north when the games begin to count.  Already Mejia has served a stint in the Arizona Fall League at third base (that did not go well) and Monday we learned the Indians will now have him work in the outfield as the next step in this process.  Now Mejia is far from a guarantee to make it as an outfielder given how rough the third base experiment went but at least the Indians are doing what they can to speed up the major league arrival for him.  This is potentially big news as Mejia would instantly become a top tier fantasy baseball prospect for 2018 if he can either make the team out of camp or get a promotion during the first half of the season.  We all know the bat is ready to go and so Mejia should continue to be drafted in all leagues as a proactive move in fantasy baseball.  The kid can hit so well that he would be wasting away in the minors if he had to spend another year there.  So while Mejia just carries UTIL eligibility in Yahoo Leagues, we can see him getting enough work behind the dish here or there to gain the "C" (especially those leagues that use 5-10 games as a baseline) to make him well worth drafting this spring.  


New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone made the team's fifth starter announcement on Friday but there was not much suspense leading up to the decision to say the least.  That is because the Yanks pretty much knew all along that emerging prospect Jordan Montgomery would be the guy and a 1.04 ERA and 11 K's in 8.2 IP this spring (prior to his Sunday outing) which made the decision moot.  Thus, Montgomery will get a chance to post an encore to this very impressive 2017 rookie campaign where he seemingly came out of nowhere to post the following numbers:

3.88 ERA
1.23 WHIP
144 K in 155.1 IP

Don't forget that Montgomery was a rookie pitching in the always tough AL East and so his numbers should be given even more respect based on that premise.  What is interesting is that in a farm system that is beyond loaded with high-end talent, Montgomery was not considered to be a blue-chip arm.  Be that as it may, the 25-year-old is quickly settling into a firm rotation spot with the juggernaut Yankees and so his immediate fantasy baseball outlooks seems quite promising.

When you dig into the numbers a bit, it is obvious that Mongtomery has a knack for missing bats despite a fastball that averaged just 92.1 a year ago.  The key is that Montgomery gets good movement on his pitches which generates a decent amount of swings-and-misses.  This is a crucial skill to have in operating in the AL East and Mongtomery has it.  Montgomery also really helps himself by having decent control (2.95 BB/9) to further keep batters off the bases.  A high 1.22 HR/9 is a bit of a red flag but in deeper fantasy baseball formats, Mongtomery has the stuff to be worth a late-round upside grab.

While we overall don't see Mongtomery bursting out into stardom, we do see a useful SP 5 who will be in line to win a high amount of games, while also supplying decent ratios and around 165 K's.  That will work.

2018 PROJECTION:  12-8 3.75 ERA 1.24 WHIP 165 K  

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Texas Rangers manager Jeff Bannister announced on Sunday that speedy outfielder Delino DeShields had won the leadoff spot to begin the 2018 season and so attention immediately turns to how many bases he may be capable of picking up going forward.  While no one doubts the extreme quickness that DeShields brings to the fantasy baseball realm, he has to firmly address concerns about his overall hitting ability and knack for getting on bases.  After all, as the saying goes, you can't steal first base and so DeShields is far from a guarantee going into the new season.  Be that as it may, DeShields remains quite intriguing as he could easily swipe 30 bags and more likely can go for 40 if he sticks at the leadoff spot.  Even Bannister was getting into the prediction business on Sunday as he believed DeShields can get 50.  That sounds great to us and it shows the team will be aggressive on the bases.  As a result of all this, DeShields should be added where available in mixed leagues and especially in AL-only formats.  While he is far from a lock to succeed long-term, DeShields's opportunity alone is worth looking into from a fantasy baseball ankle. 


So a year ago at this time I went on a personal mission to tell you all not to fall into the Jonathan Villar trap.  Coming of a monstrous 2016 campaign that saw him hit 19 home runs, swipe 62 bases, and bat .285, everyone wanted a piece of Villar in drafts last spring.  This casued his ADP to move into the third round and even into the late second which yours truly thought was absurd.  So once again while everyone dodged, I weaved when it came to reacting to Villar and for good reason.  I had pointed out at the time that while Villar's surface numbers were tremendous, underneath the statistical hood there was trouble. The biggest red flag as Villar's penchant to swing at everything and miss often as shown by his ugly 25.6 K/9 rate in 2016.  I also made note of Villar's insanely lucky .360 BABIP which was going to make hitting .284 again very tough.  Combined together, I wanted no part of Villar and suggested you all follow my lead.

Fast forward to the end of 2017 and I was proven to be right on point there as Villar was simply a gigantic bust.  The average sank as predicted all the way down to .241 and Villar's K/9 rate was brutal at an unfathomable 30.3.  Throw in just 11 homers and a major drop in steals to 23 and Villar went KA-BOOM!  So with all that said, why is the title not "Jonathan Villar:  2018 Fantasy Baseball Bust" for the second year in a row?  Well it's all about the price.  With an ADP of 196 as of this writing, Villar is a complete after-thought for 2018 fantasy baseball and so now all of a sudden he actually represents a good buying opportunity.  Just like I did with former enemy Mark Trumbo prior to 2016 when he hit all those home runs for the Baltimore Orioles at a dirt cheap price, I will now say that Villar looks like a decent late-round investment.  After all, the guy can still run and has some pop.  If he stays healthy, a 15/30 seasons is very likely; along with a decent array of runs and RBI.  The average will likely remain quite ugly but guys with big speed like Villar could get enough BABIP luck to not make that number gross.  So in essence, Villar has flipped the fantasy baseball investment switch based on his ADP number.

When you put it all together, Jonathan Villar looks like a good gamble in the late rounds as someone with quite a bit of tools to offer his owners.  The average again is going to be nasty but the power/speed game is still there as Villar is just 27.  Since you are not going to be investing much, the payoff is worth it.

2018 PROJECTION:  .255 14 HR 56 RBI 65 R 28 SB  

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was suspended 80 games by MLB for testing positive for a banned substance; with the drug in question being Boldenone.  Bonifacio will now be out until the summer and thus will be eliminated from contention in terms of grabbing a starting outfielder's spot to begin 2018. 

Analysis:  These guys never learn.  Bonifacio first put himself on the fantasy baseball map a year ago through his power but now we see he got some help there.  He had little fantasy baseball value to begin with however and so this is not a major story event outside of the stupidity. 


Updating and earlier item, Milwaukee Brewers closer Corey Knebel was removed from his outing Saturday after tweaking his knee on a wet mound.  Manager Craig Counsell called him day-to-day and said it was more for precautionary reasons. 

Analysis:  WHEW!  Great news for Knebel owners who got a major scare here.  All is well for now but Knebel still has to prove 2017 was no fluke and he was not the latest Derrek Turnbow.  That will be answered another day but for now Knebel avoided disaster with this. 


Milwaukee Brewers All-Star closer Corey Knebel was forced to exit his spring training outing Saturday after suffering an apparent injury and was escorted to the locker room by the team's trainer.  An update is expected shortly. 

Analysis:  Well that's not good.  Anyone who owns Knebel needs to stop reading this and run to their league's waiver wire to add Josh Hader as this didn't look good.  Hader is very capable of being a terrific closer as he punched out 68 batters in just 47.2 IP a year ago with a 2.08 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.  As far as Knebel is concerned, he was dominant himself a year ago in emerging as a monster closer for the Brewers but he is a young/hard-throwing pitcher who is always a classic Tommy John case. 


While the Minnesota Twins failed to reel in top pitching target Yu Darvish during free agency, they got a decent consolation prize Saturday in the form of veteran Lance Lynn who came aboard on for one year at $12 million.  This brings to an end the long winter wait for Lynn to find a suitor and he will help fill the void left by ace Ervin Santana who is out until May due after undergoing surgery on his finger.  In terms of Lynn and his fantasy baseball outlook, that is not looking as promising as before since he will leave the NL and the St. Louis Cardinals for the American League in Minnesota.  While Target Field is not a home run haven, Lynn will now have to deal with the DH and hope to hold off some numbers correction after he got a lucky to post a 3.43 ERA a year ago.  Coming off 2016 Tommy John surgery, Lynn's surface numbers were good a year ago but his advanced metrics are full of red flags.  The first problem centered on Lynn's lucky .244 BABIP which is as low as that number can almost go in the fortunate column.  Lynn's adjusted FIP (4.82) and XFIP (4.75) were both way above his actual 3.43 ERA and that shows he was not as good as he seemed last season.  In addition, Lynn's 7.39 K/9 was very mediocre and not being able to miss bats now in the AL is another potential issue.  Combined together, Lynn is looking like nothing but an SP 5 this season in all fantasy baseball formats.  Ideally, you may want to avoid him altogether this spring. 


Boy did that go all wrong.  When it came to the always shallow catcher position leading into 2017 fantasy baseball, one of the more trusted/stable options seemed to be Jonathan Lucroy.  Habitually hitting .280-plus with solid power and even a few steals thrown in as a bonus, Lucroy looked to be a nice investment for all those reasons and for being able to hit in an offensive haven in Texas with the Rangers.  Well it looked like all those years of catching caught up to Lucroy in 2017 as he was simply abysmal at the dish as he hit all of .242 with 4 homers in 281 at-bats with the Rangers before they shipped him off to the Colorado Rockies at the July 31 deadline.  While Lucroy's average perked up after the deal (.310), the power remained absent as he hit just 2 more home runs in 142 at-bats.  Combined together, Lucroy hit a composite .265 with all of 6 home runs despite playing in arguably two of the very best offensive parks in baseball.  Those are some scary numbers to say the least and it speaks to how Lucroy could very well be on the fast track toward decline.  Before you jump fully into that line of thinking however, it needs to be said that Lucroy's advanced numbers tell a bit of a different story.  For one thing, Lucroy's .286 BABIP was unlucky and way down from his .322 mark the year prior (hence the average hit).  Also, Lucroy vastly improved his strikeout rate in going from 2016's 18.4 K/9 to a tiny 10.6 K/9 last season.  Drawing walks at a very good 9.6 BB/9 rate further validates the notion that Lucroy was simply unlucky when it comes to the offensive side of things.  If Lucroy in fact were to be declining, his strikeout rate would rise (indicating a slower bat), and the walks would dip as well (impatience setting in).  There was none of that last season though and so Lucroy stands a decent chance of posting a comeback campaign in 2018.  Just take into account Lucroy’s new home with the Oakland A's is about as far from an offensive environment as you can get.  
2018 PROJECTION:  .278 10 HR 70 RBI 65 R 2 SB 


By Michael Wong

Fort Myers, Fla.--The Boston Red Sox are not playing around.  After a disappointing early exit from the 2017 postseason, the Red Sox made another splash in free agency by coming to agreement with slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez.  Already possessing uber-starter Chris Sale to front a potent rotation, the Red Sox figure to be neck-and-neck with the New York Yankees throughout the course of the 2018 season.  So let's get right to the main fantasy baseball-related topics as spring training continues onward.

1.  What is the next step for Andrew Benintendi?  What a talent the Red Sox have on their hands in the five-tool gem that is Benintendi as he comes off a tremendous 2017 rookie campaign where he hit 20 home runs, stole 20 bases, and batted .271.  While the average was a bit disappointing, Benintendi's arrow is pointing squarely northward as he figures to make gains hitting at Fenway Park and versus lefties.  A 25/25 campaign is very much in play this season and an average improvement to .290 or so also seems likely.  Round 3 is not too early to look in this direction.

2.  Mookie Betts remains a first-round dynamo!  Last year at this time, Betts was being picked second behind Mike Trout in 90 percent of fantasy baseball leagues and for good reason as he came off an insane five-tool performance in 2016 as he hit 31 home runs, stole 26 bases, and batted .318.  While Betts jogged back the power and average some last season, the .264 mark he put up in the latter was fueled by a fluky dip in BABIP.  Betts is being knocked unfairly for the average drop which is causing him to be picked in the middle-to-late portion of Round 1.  It would be an absolute steal to get Betts at that point or really anywhere else.

3.  Another 300 K's for Chris Sale?  It is amazing how talented Sale is as he comes off a monster 308-K/2.90 ERA campaign in 2017.  Sale did fade a bit in September as fatigue likely set in but overall he should be picked right in the same range as Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer.  And yes, 300 strikeouts is in the ballpark again.

4.  Is there another level for Xander Bogaerts to reach?  It was a mildly disappointing season for Red Sox shortstop Xander Boagerts in 2017 as he hit just 10 home runs in 571 at-bats and batted just .273. In Bogaerts' defense though, he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the year and he is just now entering in his prime.  A jump back to a .300 average with a 15/15 split in the power/speed categories is more than possible and the cheaper draft cost this spring make Bogaerts even more appealing.

5.  Is Rafael Devers the next star at the hot corner?  Devers has done nothing but hit since turning pro and that included his late-season promotion to the Sox last summer.  While his overall approach at the dish could use some work, Devers has the natural power to be an annual 25-home run bat at a position which has been a massive uptick in offensive production the last few seasons.


-Even before spring training got underway this past February, yours truly made it a point to say that New York Mets prospective closer Jeurys Familia was on very shaky ground going into the new season.  For one thing, Familia was coming off a very scary surgery to correct a blood clot and his velocity was down when he came back last summer after recovering from the procedure.  At around the same time, the Mets traded for Miami Marlins effective but wild closer A.J. Ramos which set in motion the situation that is currently at hand here.  That situation is one where Familia is looking very shaky as he just got done giving up an insane 5 earned run in just 1.1 innings during his outing on Thursday and then reported afterward that his shoulder is not responding the way he wants it to.  The Mets quickly put out that Familia was going through a "dead arm period" but we already are at the point where Ramos needs to be rostered in all fantasy baseball leagues given what we have seen from Familia so far.  While Ramos walks too many guys, he has big strikeout stuff and has shown himself to be a decent closer in the past.

-FanRag's Jon Heyman caused a stampede to the fantasy baseball waiver wire around lunchtime Friday when he reported that Cam Bedrosian and not Blake Parker was the favorite to be the Los Angeles Angels closer to begin 2018.  While Parker was fantastic last season, Bedrosian was no slouch himself closing games in 2016 and then finishing strong in 2017.  Bedrosian has the high-K stuff to be a major weapon in the ninth inning and so he needs to be added everywhere.

-Another situation that bears watching is in Chicago with the White Sox as prospective closer Joakim Soria was blasted in his first spring training outing, while the very capable Nate Jones lurks close behind.  Jones is trying to get himself up to speed after missing almost all of last season due to elbow surgery but Soria already looks to be on shaky ground.  If his struggles persist this spring, it wouldn't take much for Jones to get a chance to finish games in the ninth inning.  A hedge pickup of Jones is recommended.

-Finally, the St. Louis Cardinals have still not given any clarity on their closer situation but the consensus feeling is that veteran setup man Luke Gregerson will get first crack at the gig.  Still, keep a close watch on lefty Tyler Lyons and righty veteran Bud Norris who both could factor in the ninth inning if things don't work out with Gregerson this spring.

Friday, March 9, 2018


Well I would say the Cleveland Browns have been a bit busy today.  Having gone into free agency with an insane amount of cap room, the Browns quickly went to work on re-building the team by pulling off three significant trades Friday.  First up was the Browns acquiring slot receiving dynamo Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins for two draft picks.  Prior to the deal, Landry had proven himself to be a PPR gem in catching over 100 passes in two of the last three seasons and he will likely be a heavily-targeted slot man again with the Browns in 2018.  Which leads us to the next deal......

Which was the Browns picking up QB Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills for the number 65th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.  With Bills head coach Sean McDermott making it no secret he had no use for Taylor, the move is no surprise.  Taylor will now start Week 1 for the Browns as head coach Hue Jackson had repeatedly said he would not go with a rookie to begin the year.  While Taylor is far from a top-end passer, he has been effective as a very good runner and also not turning the ball over.  Taylor is the perfect stopgap passer for whatever QB the Browns draft this spring, whether it is with the top overall pick or later on. 

Finally, the Browns pulled off their third deal of the day by acquiring cornerback Damarious Randall from the Green Bay Packers.  Randall will help shore up what was a big weakness for the Browns last season and thus, lessen the need to spend a high draft pick on the spot this spring. 

In totality, the trade for Taylor likely signals that the Browns will use the top oveall pick on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and no one would have any reason to question the move after the insane performance the kid put on at the NFL Combine.  The Brown could use their second first-round pick on the position with someone like a Josh Rosen or a Baker Mayfield.  No matter which way they, we learned Friday GM John Dorsey is ready to shake things up. 


Proof positive that the allure of receiving a big payday in upcoming free agency can result in a major uptick in numbers was seen distinctly when it came to Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and his performance with the team in 2017.  Already considered a decent but flawed player who seemed to settle into lower-20's power, Moustakas blew way past any projection for last season as he went nuts to the tune of 38 home run, 85 RBI, and a .272 average.  While the RBI and average didn't turn many heads, the power certainly did as Moustakas was off the charts there relative to his personal career levels.  Unfortunately, those numbers failed to draw the expecred interest in free agency and Moustakas was forced to accept a one-year deal to return to the Royals in the middle of spring training.  Already into his prime years at the age of 29, the outlier police are blowing their sirens when it came to Moustakas' 2017 home run total.  While his 2018 destination is still unknown as of this writing, Moustakas could very easily slide right back to his 25-home run/85 RBI/.270 offensive output once the ink is dry on his new deal.  We always strongly encourage not paying for career years because in the majority of cases, you end up paying for declining numbers the next season.  Ultimately Moustakas is a fine player but we are not paying the freight to find out how legit 2017 was.

2018 PROJECTION:  .270 28 HR 89 RBI 72 R 1 SB


Boring veteran player who has six spring home runs anyone?  One of the more pronounced trends in yearly fantasy baseball leagues centers on how veteran hitters who don't steal bases often slide in drafts due to being handed the "boring" label.  We all want the five-tool studs or those who crack 40 home runs to proliferate our rosters but we habitually seem to turn our backs to the solid but unspectacular players that dot the fantasy landscape.  One such player who surely fell into the latter category going into 2018 sporing training was Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis who began to see his speed evaporate in 2015 and who comes off an injury-riddled 2017 that saw him put up the following numbers:

12 HR
35 RBI
43 R
6 SB

Now keep in mind those numbers came in just 90 games but at the age of 30, Kipnis fell into the boring veteran mode as exhibition games kicked off.  Fast forward to present day and it is Kipnis who leads all players in spring home runs with 6 as he is driving everything in sight and showing himself to be healthy.  The two certainly go hand-in-hand as a healthy hitter will always do his best work and this is where Kipnis is right now.  So now the question centers on whether this is what we can expect Kipnis to do in the regular season or if he will disappoint again.

Before we go any further, let's get some obvious things out of the way first.  We will begin with the steals which have been severely sliding from Kipnis the last few seasons. After stealing 30 bags in 2013, Kipnis has since seen those totals go from 22 to 12 to 15 to 6 over the last four seasons.  It would make sense that Kipnis would slide there as he is now 30 and that is an age where the steals begin to dry up like we are seeing with Charlie Blackmon.  So there is no sense grading a high amount of steals from Kipnis moving forward as that part of his game seems gone for good outside of maybe 7-10.

Next up is the average which has been a trouble spot of late as well with Kipnis hitting under .245 in two of his last four seasons.  What is interesting though is that Kipnis' approach is not terrible as he draws walks at a high enough rate and keeps his K/9 rate from the danger zone to make him someone who can hit .280 in 2018.  While he is far from a batting title contender, Kipnis is much better than his .232 from last season which was in fact dragged down some by an unlucky .256 BABIP  So grade improvement there.

As far as the power, Kipnis does have thump and hitters tend to add homers as they continue to age.  It is not out of the realm of possibility Kipnis has made gains there and he did hit 23 in 2016 before all the injuries showed up last season.  While I am not saying Kipnis will go out and crack 30 this year, 25 is possible if he again can stay healthy which seems to be his biggest problem.

So when you put it all together, Jason Kipnis looks like a nice bargain right now with an ADP in the 200 range and the payoff at that price could be sizable if the health cooperates  While I have been critical of Kipnis in the past, I always keep an open mind on useful players who see a drastic drop in price and that is where the Indians second baseman resides this spring.


Late Thursday night we learned the Colorado Rockies were very close to re-signing free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and right about the same time, fantasy baseball owners of David Dahl collectively slapped their heads in frustration.  While Gonzalez is a slipping hitter who has incredibly drastic home/road splits, Dahl represented potential and upside that we all love out of our late-round picks.  The return of CarGo though eliminates any chance of Dahl claiming a spot on the Rockies to begin the season since outfield options Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra, and Charlie Blackmon also remain.  So Dahl needs to be knocked way down cheat sheets for those who haven't drafted yet and his current owners may want to cut him loose if they operate in a shallow league.  As far as Gonzalez is concerned, we saw last year how he is beginning to fade as the average dips and the speed left the station a while ago.  He is nothing but a very low-end OF 3 and that only is for home games.  

Thursday, March 8, 2018



Yes we have our first CRISIS POINT of the 2018 fantasy baseball season and a game that counts has not even been played yet.  This feature is reserved for non-injury negative developments that hurt a pitcher or hitter's performance and cause angst to their fantasy baseball owners.  Such a scenario is likely starting to envelope the owners of Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke who should have nothing but positives attached to his name after he posted a big comeback campaign in 2017 and then learned a pitcher-friendly humidor would be installed at Chase Field.  The big negative caveat to all this however is the disturbing velocity numbers of Greinke early on in spring, with his intrasquad fastball coming in between just 84-86 mph.  Greinke addressed this with the media by saying he may "not have it anymore" but most took that as a tongue-in-cheek comment.  Be that as it may, lagging velocity is never a good thing and the hope is that Greinke will be able to build it up as the spring goes on.  What is disturbing though is that Greinke is 34 and has a ton of mileage on his arm.  Even last season when he came back with a very good 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 215 K's; his fastball average was a career-worst 91.  Want more?  With Greinke always being home run-prone, any further lag in velocity will likely cause his HR/9 to rise and thus his ERA and WHIP.  So this is really something that needs to be watched closely and one only has to think back to Jered Weaver as a case in point of how a career can completely derail once the fastball go.  Weaver was a monster 200-K pitcher himself with the Los Angeles Angels but then annual fastball dips caused him to be run out of the majors under a hail of runs.  This is not to say we expect Greinke to go this route but it does cloud his fantasy baseball outlook as drafts continue.



The sight of Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez pulling up lame as he ran out a double during a spring training game on Thursday was certainly not what his fantasy baseball owners want to see with the regular season bearing down but now the wait begins to see how severe the issue really is.  By the looks of it, Baez likely suffered some sort of a hamstring injury and if it is a strain, Opening Day is likely not going to happen here.  While Baez annually has issues with strikeouts and thus his batting average, he has developed into a nice power/speed offensive player who has eligibility at multiple spots.  His loss would be a decent one right out of the gate and so check back for the expected update soon. 


As of this typing, Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton; who is all the rage right now coming off his big second-half lightbulb going on performance a year ago; is currently 60.3.  Cleveland Indians top outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer?  Try 214.7.  Why do I bring up both Buxton and Zimmer in the same piece?  Well when you break down their games, both guys have VERY similar offensive games almost across the board but yet are being drafted in different hemispheres.  Consider that both Buxton and Zimmer are known for big base stealing ability but also contact struggles that make them batting average liabilities.  While both guys are not pure thumpers, they each have emerging power as well.  Want more?  Both guys are first-round draft picks and both are nearly the same age as well (Buxton 24, Zimmer 25).  But again they are being drafted at wildly differing spots in early fantasy baseball drafts which seems kind of foolish when you break it down and considering neither guy has fully proven himself as a consistent offensive performer.

Now in terms of Zimmer, he had a nice debut in 2017 when he put up the following numbers before suffering a season-ending broken hand last September:

8 HR
41 R
39 RBI
18 SB

Those numbers above came in just 332 at-bats and a split of 8/18 in the home run/stolen base categories look particularly impressive from the kid.  On the positive side, Zimmer can run like the wind and 30 steals should be in the ballpark if he can stay on the field consistently enough.  There also is some power as well and if he had gotten over 500 at-bats, 14-15 homers was very possible.  So in essence, we could be looking at a 15/30 campaign this season as long as Zimmer avoids injury and doesn't fall into a platoon where he sits out versus lefties.

On the negative side, Zimmer has some MAJOR contact problems as his nasty 29.8 K/9 showed with the Indians last season.  Even in the minors, Zimmer was a strikeout machine and hitting even .250 seems out of his reach if his numbers there don't improve.  That will take shine off the power/speed numbers for sure but still the overall picture is promising considering the tools that are in play with the kid.

In the end, you can say that Byron Buxton is the much more enticing and exciting investment and wouldn't get any argument from me.  However, you also can't argue that Zimmer may wind up the much better value.

2018 PROJECTION:  .235 11 HR 57 RBI 67 R 28 SB