Each week yours truly will be sharing various tidbits and revelations that I deem worthy of the attention of fantasy baseball managers of all formats and backgrounds. April 2022 saw the Reds go 3-18, Josh Hader challenged K-Rod’s record for most saves in April and the annual ball switcheroo to stymie offense. . So let’s see what’s happening on the down-low. Let’s find out what’s strictly hush-hush, on the QT and deserves to have a light shined upon it for Week 5!
Pero por supuesto que iba a hacer un chiste con it’s gonna be May. Todos los años lo hago. pic.twitter.com/XbXYPnglJN
— Caribú 🦌 (@CtrlAltCaribu) April 30, 2022
The Day After Yesterday
Here you will find points of reference from this past week that you need to know going forward so you can be a fantasy baseball kingpin.
- The baseball appearing to be modified isn’t anything new. With April historically being a slow month offensively, the magnifying glass exposes April more than any other month for alarming trends. That’s where Chris Bassitt came in. Bassitt was not shy at all about letting anybody with a pulse know about MLB’s lack of concern over player safety. The Mets had 3 batters (5 total when you include the Cardinals) beaned by a baseball. Combine that with Bassitt’s horrifying line drive to the head in 2022 and you have the possible impetus for change. I’m not saying MLB will listen to Bassitt by any means. Just consider the notion. Imagine if MLB contacted Chris Bassitt. It would go something like this:
“Hey Chris. It’s MLB. We saw your postgame interview Tuesday night and well…we were touched. Your comments about the baseball were so authentic and spot-on! At first we had no idea who you were until we Googled you. The video of you taking a baseball off the dome was the first time we were made aware of such possibilities with players. Originally our thought last season was to tell our people down at the Rawlings factory to tighten up the stitching and maybe jam a super ball inside of there if they could. A few months later we were up late on a Zoom call at the winter meetings comparing the prowess of our various hedge fund portfolios when someone named Rob came into the chat. He’s a major tool, but apparently, he works for us. He thought it would be a goof to do a complete 180 by increasing the drag on the ball and keep everybody guessing as to what the baseball will do next. Everybody nodded in agreement which is about as excited as MLB gatekeepers get! Isn’t that a riot, Chris?”.
- Last Thursday two vastly superior baseball talents who are both under 25 years old each stole two bags in a game. Julio Rodriguez was one such talent swiping two bags in Tampa Bay. Rodriguez gave me pause (only because there has been so much service time manipulation) when he made the Opening Day roster for the Mariners. He will likely never see the minor leagues again unless he’s on a rehab assignment. The other supernova was Ronald Acuna Jr. who surprised the masses by returning from an ACL tear before May. That stubborn know-it-all we call hindsight has me kicking myself for not drafting him more frequently when I had the opportunities. He’s young, extremely gifted and he’s not a pitcher. My lesson with Acuna for 2023 will be to create more of a disparity in my offseason rankings between hitter injuries and pitcher injuries. From Acuna to Max Muncy, hitters simply have a built-in advantage for staying on the field. Pitching requires every muscle, tendon and limb to be working in unison before there can be a chance at compiling stats. Most savvy dynasty players will tell you they would take a world class hitter over a pitcher, all things being even Steven.
Ronald Acuña Jr. had a hit and 2 SB in his first game since July 10th pic.twitter.com/0HDnjhdfZ1
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) April 29, 2022
- April was validation for many who bet their chances for success on the elite closers in the game. Unless your name is Liam Hendriks, who has battled a back issue to the tune of a 5.40 ERA with a 4.73 FIP. His velocity has been down compared to last year, but if the back is limiting him, maybe you’ll find it in your heart to forgive him? Universally agreed upon studly slammer of doors Josh Hader has 10 saves with a 14.5 K/9 rate and no earned runs allowed. That’s not news though. For me, the news of note in the upper-tier closer class is Jordan Romano. He’s cut his walks down to 1.59 per 9 while actually getting less lucky with an LOB% of 81.4 compared to 87.4 in 63IP last year. His ADP of 90 since March 1st was beyond the pale for me. I couldn’t find a solid situation for drafting him even though he locked down 13 saves from August 15 to the end of 2021. The opportunity and the trust appear to have been established during that mad dash to make the playoffs in a brutally tough (sorry O’s fans) AL East. I have always been the guy scrounging for closers at a cheap rate for most of my 20-plus years of fantasy baseball management. Yet, I try not to stay stuck in any absolutes. Flexibility and adjustment are the name of my game in fantasy baseball. Jordan Romano’s 11 saves lead all of MLB. Yet if you look at the leaderboard below it’s a mixed bag of highly drafted and undrafted RPs. When it comes to considering the best method for acquiring saves during draft season, it appears that nobody is absolutely right one way or the other. At least for this season.
- My home fantasy league (Bless You Boys or BYB) is a 14-team H2H 5×5 categories setup with OBP instead of AVG. Why am I mentioning this? Well, I left 19 RBI on my bench for the week! That has to be some sort of record, right? In that moment Sunday night when I tabulated my futility, I transferred my rage to the league’s text thread where I proceeded to chastise my opponent unfairly. I owe The Poet from the BYB crew an apology. When I think of it now, I become filled with unhealthy emotions that I justify by labeling myself as a fiery competitor. It’s not cool to rage out over fantasy baseball. Healthy trash talk built through rivalries over the years is one thing, but pouting with a dash of rage is lame. Sharing it now in print only increases the feelings of shame that consume me for acting that way about a silly game. One positive that I hope to achieve from my self-involved response is to remind all of you about the importance of lineup management. It’s a topic that isn’t mentioned frequently enough based on my experience sampling various creations from the realm of fantasy baseball analysis. Perhaps that’s due to the uncontrollable nature of day to day variation in the game? In a roto league, those 19 RBI would really come in handy for the final tally of the standings. The frustration should subside more quickly in H2H leagues since each new week presents a clean slate of statistical totals. My mission going forth is to laugh at my shortcomings regularly while finding better methods of maximizing lineups to assist fantasy baseball managers across the realm.
- I have to share this moment from Tuesday’s Tigers/Twins game at Target Field. This is an example of why seeing the game in real-time versus simply digging through the box score after the fact has merit. The Tigers were up 4-3 in the 9th after Javier Baez cranked a 3-run shot off of Emilio Pagan in the 8th to give my Tigers the lead. Then Gregory Soto came on to close it out in the 9th. Soto’s command was horrid though as he started the save opportunity by walking two batters (the closer kiss of death). He battled back with a gutsy and admirable effort displaying a mental toughness that you want to see out of your closer. Then Miguel Sano hit a bending line drive to RF. I’ll let the video below take it from there…
— JD (@j2110_) April 27, 2022
In 2000’s Boiler Room, Ben Affleck’s character said “always be closing”. In fantasy baseball “always be looking ahead”
- It’s a new month in baseball. More than any other major sport in the United States, the flipping of the calendar seems to have the greatest impact on baseball players. Now it could coincide with complete coincidence since baseball is defined by the starts and stops of the ups and downs. The list of players who turned the volume up to 11 in May of 2021 includes Adolis Garcia who had a Rangers rookie record of 11 HR last May. Trey Mancini is dealing with sore ribs at the moment, but he should return to the lineup this week. Can he replicate his .993 OPS from last May? Rich Hill hasn’t given up an ER in his last two outings. Could he be in line to reprise his 0.91 ERA in 5 starts during the month that brings Mayflowers? Also in May of 2021 Atlanta’s man at the hot corner Austin Riley cranked 7 taters while pairing that with an excellent .410 OBP. Finally, if you want to take it back to May 2019, the record for most home runs in a month was set with 1135 bombs. As this writing late Sunday night on May 1st, there was a total 602 HR this season! There was the late start to the season on April 7th, but that disparity would even shock the most trolling contrarian of all Twitter trolls.
January: okay, tons of prep time and studying. no stone left unturned. i think i’m ready to begin drafting for the 2021 season.
May: adolis garcia is best hitter on a handful of my teams.
Predicting the future is hard.
— Ray Butler (@RayButler365) May 10, 2021
- On my fantasy baseball show the Pallazzo Podcast, I present a FAAB and waiver wire show on Sunday evenings before the new week. We present hitting to feast upon and pitching to feast on. The Red are the only team that made both lists. They are horrendous! Plus Jonathan India is gone now as he re-aggravated his hammy injury. The Reds hitters are second to last in all of MLB for batting AVG and hits. Their 6.15 ERA as a team is the worst in the majors with the next closest team being the Nats at 5.08. I know that blow-up starts can exaggerate an ERA, but I think it’s safe to say the Reds have earned this distinction. This week they have 3 on the road with the Brew Crew and 3 at home against the Pirates. Load up your streamers on both sides!
- The Royals titillating catcher (can also play 3B or OF) prospect MJ Melendez got the call on Sunday to The Show. What a moment for MJ! Salvador Perez is the clear incumbent on the prairie, but Melendez can spell him so Perez can DH. Even more promising is the hope of Melendez supplanting 36 year-old also-ran Carlos Santana at first base. Santana doesn’t inspire hope and confidence anymore. The Royals are in the midst of a youth-movement. Though I admit it can be useful to have veteran players in the clubhouse as a positive example for developing youngsters, sometimes it’s best to just move on for both sides. It’s like pulling an Irish Goodbye at a great party. You may love the people you are kicking it with, but the hassle of stopping to chat while saying farewell to every single person there doesn’t seem worth it. So you make like you’re heading for the bathroom or out to you car for a moment while in reality you know that you have no intention of returning to that event. Everybody will understand. Eventually.
Royals No. 2 prospect MJ Melendez normally plays catcher but he’s looking like a defensive stud in right field too 😳
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) April 17, 2022
- One other note related to Melendez has to do with the pitching clock in the minor leagues. Benjamin Chase (definitely follow him by clicking here) is a person I respect a great deal when it comes to prospects and minor league scouting. He’s been on the Pallazzo Podcast Prospects Power Half Hour before revealing his insightful understanding of minor league development. Sunday in the Pallazzo Discord Benjamin shared the concern that many catching coaches have over the pitching clock, which is now being used in AAA. Their fear appears to be related to the bad habits the catchers pick up for holding and throwing out runners due to the time constraints associated with the pitch clock. Benjamin indicated that many coaches may prefer their catchers ride the pine at the MLB level instead. Pretty wild notion, eh? Definitely something to monitor and investigate further as the season progresses.
- There have been a lot of people asking me questions about OF Taylor Ward of the Angels. Really, the entire Angels OF situation has been a hot topic. Joe Adell has seen spotty opportunities and Brandon Marsh is a special talent as well. Between these three players, the Angels have themselves a pretty solid outfield. Yet, I haven’t even mentioned the lord of all he surveys in Mike Trout! Joe Adell needs an injury or a trade to get regular playing time now. This week the Halos tentatively face one starting LHP. The man that time forgot, Rich Hill. Adell will likely start that game over Marsh, but that might be all he gets this week beyond chances to pinch hit. I don’t dare mention Adell playing for Ward though, because that Taylor Ward is so hot right now! He is THE leadoff hitter for a potent Angels lineup. Sure, a 17.9% barrel rate won’t last forever, but his profile suggests that he is the real deal. I had someone message me about trading Ward and Miles Mikolas for Franmil Reyes and Charlie Morton. I see the logic in buying low on Reyes and Morton, but Taylor Ward seriously could be a league winner for some lucky fantasy managers this season. Manager Joe Maddon said that, “Ward has the ability to shut down bad pitches and it would be wasting his services by not putting him up higher in the order”. Ward’s 17.7% BB rate will take a hit eventually, but as I stated on this week’s edition of the Sleeper and the Bust with Paul Sporer, hitters who walk a lot still have tremendous value in leagues where batting AVG is a category because they can mitigate slumps by still being able to steal bags or score runs.
Taylor Ward appreciation post pic.twitter.com/3z4zqS4L1l
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 30, 2022
Speed Round Musings
The musings you find in this segment are just my thoughts. Assume total bias on my part in this section.
- I’m bummed about Randy Arozarena, but sticking it out even though he has 0 barrels in 53 BBE. His LA is 1.6! Easy fix.
- Andres Gimenez hit a grand salami Friday night and I about lost it. His bat is the key to unlocking his speed. Pick him up!
- Mackenzie Gore will force a 6-man rotation when Blake Snell comes back with Nick Martinez the odd man out. He’s not leaving!
- Keep a close watch, but my guy Tyler Stephenson should come back to the bigs at some point this week. The Reds need him.
- Ketel Marte has 1 barrel on 61 BBE. His HHR is down to 41% and his 50.8 GB% is up. The 2019 version of Marte is the outlier.
- Tommy Edman’s groin isn’t a big deal as of now. Could miss a day or two. Nolan Gorman’s 10 HR in 77 PA will have to wait.
- One month of Cody Bellinger is a mixed bag. Barrel rate is up 12.8%, GB% is up 42.6 and IFFB% is way up 26.3. Stay tuned…
- Since his 3 error game on April 11th, Alec Bohm owns a middling .265/.298/.388 with 2HR, 7% BB rate and 17.5% K rate.
- Until proven otherwise, I’m expecting Lou Trivino to return to the closer role so the A’s can trade him in August.
- Nick Senzel might actually stay healthy this year! He burned me badly last year, but don’t let that stop you from rostering him.
- Odubel Herrera has the CF job in Philly. He will still sit against LHP, but his power and speed are at least worthy on 15-teamers.
- My guy Jeff McNeil had some bad injury luck. Now he has a .418 OBP over the first month and I couldn’t be happier for him!
- Happy Patrick Sandoval two start week to those observing! Full credit to my Pallazzo pal Chris Deary on identifying his ascent.
- Luis Urias should make his season debut on Tuesday barring any setbacks. I’ve drafted and stashed him across many formats.
- In 12-teamers you can drop Joey Votto for Eric Hosmer. This is not reactionary. It’s about winning right now. Hosmer is hot!
- Matt Chapman’s 2019 is attainable hitting 5th in that Toronto lineup. He’s got a 50% HHR with a 53.7 FB%. I’m buying.
- Akil Baddoo went 1-3 on Sunday. Is this the beginning of a rebirth in May? No, but if it leads to more playing time, maybe?
- Josh Rojas has been playing extended spring training but might need a rehab stint still. He’s close though and worth your time.
- The Reds are horrendous, but Mike Moustakas is back on the scene playing ball everyday. Might be worth your time at 3B.
- Garrett Hampson is supposed to return to the Rockies active roster Monday. Kris Bryan is on the IL so maybe he plays a little?
- Yoan Moncada was schooled by Max Meyer at Triple-A this past week. Meyer has proven himself ready. Stash him now!
Max Meyer strikes out the side in the 3rd including MLB rehabber Yoan Moncada who loses his helmet swinging at strike three on another 92 mph slider.
— Fish on the Farm (@marlinsminors) April 30, 2022