Category Archive: Fantasy Baseball

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2017 Fantasy baseball rankings top 250 overall

The top 250 players reveal loads of talent available in fantasy baseball.

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5 Potential MLB September Call-ups

by Jessica Kleinschmidt
Fan Duel

September call-ups are the time of the season where a ball player gets his chance to help teams in playoff contention. Sometimes when a team can’t see their future in postseason play, a guy can get his moment to shine in the bigs, even for a little bit.

There are a lot of players who have made the trip from their minor league teams to the big show multiple times this season. Let’s take a look at some of the minor league ball players that could make one final trip to the 25-man roster in September.

Yoan Moncada, Boston Red Sox

It’s a no-brainer to call up a guy who is already sitting on the 40-man roster. Yoan Moncada may not hold that status, but the Red Sox proved that didn’t matter when they called up Andrew Benintendi from Double-A.

When it comes to Moncada, he could help the Red Sox a great deal even if he just comes off the bench with just his speed.

He’s currently on the Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A Affiliate) hitting with a .299/.405/.520 slash line.

Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets

Brandon Nimmo has made his way back and forth from the Mets to the Las Vegas 51’s this season, and he’s been relatively successful wearing both hats. With Triple-A Las Vegas, Nimmo has accumulated a .340/.413/.533 slash line with nine home runs. One of those home runs recently came from a walk-off bomb he hit in the 12th inning against Round Rock.

Jessica Quiroli of Baseball Prospectus has covered Nimmo throughout his career and says his makeup is probably the best of any prospect she’s reported on.

“He’s a solid contact hitter and has been working on his fielding a lot,” explains Quiroli. “He wanted to get to the ball quicker.”

His .237 average with the Mets doesn’t show the type of hitter the outfielder really is, and with New York sitting in third place in their division, it could be a scenario of giving Nimmo a chance to help the team.

Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres won’t make the playoffs. This isn’t news. But that doesn’t mean some moves won’t be made.

One of the power hitters in their organization is outfielder Hunter Renfroe. Even though he’s hitting in the Pacific Coast League, there’s no question Renfroe has power. His 6’1″ frame is held up by 220 pounds of pure muscle. Renfroe is currently hitting .315 in the minors this season with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas. At one point he was leading just about every hitting category in the PCL.

He’s my biggest question mark in regards to getting his time in the bigs, but there’s still a chance to see him sporting a Padres jersey in September.

Lucas Giolito, Washington Nationals

Pitcher Lucas Giolito has just 11 innings this season pitching for the Nationals. In his 28.1 innings pitched with the Syracuse Chiefs, he accumulated a 2.86 ERA.

He struggled in his second major league start at the end of July when he gave up seven hits and four earned runs in a little over three innings. He was quickly optioned to Triple-A following the outing.

He did what was asked of him in each outing, so the pitches are there, but general manager Mike Rizzo mentioned in an MLB Network Radio interview that a few more rotation spots would benefit him.

Expect him to be back soon.

Evan Marshall, Arizona Diamondbacks

Another player who has been back and forth between teams is pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks Evan Marshall. With the recent move of Zack Godley to the bullpen (and then eventually as a starter) the 26-year-old was recently optioned back down to Triple-A Reno. This was also after Zack Greinke was activated.

This is far from becoming Marshall’s permanent home. Even with an 8.80 ERA in the majors, he will probably make one more trip. He struggles against lefty hitters. Lefties are hitting a career .342 off of him so expect the D-Backs to hold off when it comes to a lefty-heavy lineup.

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Despite Missing Month, Clayton Kershaw Is Still The Best MLB Pitcher

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

Despite Missing Month, Clayton Kershaw Is Still The Best MLB Pitcher

It’s been a while since Clayton Kershaw took the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers. June 26th, to be exact. That was his sixteenth start for the team before a back injury sent him to the disabled list. The injury took people by surprise because Kershaw had been the best pitcher in the major leagues.

Even missing a month, Kershaw still is.

Using FanGraph’s WAR statistic, Kershaw remains the top pitcher, with 5.5 WAR. That’s a half win better than the next closest pitcher, Noah Syndergaard of the Mets. The full list can be seen here, but let’s unpack the stat a bit. We’ll keep the comparison to the NL, where the top five pitchers are Kershaw, Syndergaard, Jose Fernandez, and two Giants, Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.

Of those five pitchers, Fernandez has 22 starts, but each of the other three has 24 starts, compared to Kershaw’s 16. Taking it a bit further, Syndergaard has gone 140 innings, Fernandez 139, Cueto 166, and Bumgarner 171. The difference is stark and that “six starts” can mean vastly different things. Kershaw’s 121 means that he was going 7 2/3 innings on every outing, while Syndergaard is only going 5 2/3. That’s a lot of pressure on the bullpen and a lot of outs that Syndergaard isn’t getting for the Mets when he’s the starter.

Kershaw was placed on the DL with a disc herniation. Sources tell me that it is the so-called L5/S1 disc and that Kershaw was fighting pain and weakness in his leg, which made the Dodgers worry that he would change his pitching mechanics. Kershaw was making progress during his rehab, but when he got back on the mound for the first time, the pain recurred. He was pushed to the 60-day DL at the trade deadline, which was a roster move and not an indication of setback. The team knew he wasn’t going to be back before the 60-day clock ran out in late August.

In fact, the team is not sure Kershaw will be back at all. Kershaw hasn’t been on the mound again and at this point, he’d need a couple rehab starts to get his innings back up. The minor league season is drawing to a close and Kershaw won’t be back on a mound until next week. It will be very tight for him to get any innings at all, though the team could use simulated games or send him to the spring training complex in Arizona for work.

However, the slightest setback would probably end his season and perhaps send Kershaw towards a surgeon’s table. Kershaw is dealing with the same issue at the same anatomical placement as J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans’ defender. Watt had surgery last month and would have about six weeks to heal up before Week 1 of the NFL season. All is moving along pretty well, but there’s almost no track record for pitchers coming back from this surgery.

The long term outcome is even worse. Prince Fielder was forced to retire after needing a second fusion in his cervical spine (neck), but no player – and especially no pitcher – has returned from a fusion in the lower back. Matt Harrison of the Texas Rangers is the only player to come back at all, but he’s had no success and has been on the DL in most of the time he’s been back. This is just a small reason of why Kershaw is trying to avoid even the lesser surgery that could help his symptoms.

Kershaw’s value is clear. Even with his missed time, he’s still statistically the best pitcher in the game. I doubt that he’ll get the Cy Young Award without coming back – durability and availability does factor in to many voter’s process – but if he can get in a couple starts and help the Dodgers get to the playoffs, the voters could be impressed by the comeback and the production. Right now, Kershaw’s not just the best pitcher in the big leagues, he has a chance to be the best story.

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Are These 6 MLB Rookies the Real Deal?

by Jessica Kleinschmidt
Fan Duel

Are These 6 Rookies the Real Deal?

A rookie season is typically hit or miss. Whether we never hear from them again or we are configuring every possible trade to snag them, the scenarios seem to be the same.

This season, the rookie class has gone above and beyond the call of duty giving each and every one of us something to watch. Yankees’ Aaron Judge dominated his job to take over Alex Rodriguez’s spot and already has two home runs in four games. Alex Bregman has had a slower go at it in the bigs, but just recently picked up his first major league home run Tuesday night.

Here are six rookies that have made their presence known, but are they the real deal?

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Well the easy answer at the moment is “yes.” Aaron Judge is the real deal. Like I previously mentioned, he already accumulated two home runs and is batting with a .357/.438/.857 slash line. He wasn’t known for having a very high batting average in the minors, but he did hit 19 home runs in Triple-A. He was originally supposed to participate in the Triple-A Home Run Derby before being sidelined by an injury.

Safe to say that injury is in the past, and Judge is the future of the Bronx Bombers.

Lucas Giolito, Washington Nationals

Right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito has made a few trips back and forth between the Triple-A Syracuse and the Nationals this season. When it comes to his time in the bigs, he’s come up small. He’s tossing a 4.91 ERA with five strikeouts in three games with the Nats. Two home runs and 12 hits off of him could make for a case he’s not ready. Or it’s just a small sample size.

There’s hesitation to say if Giolito is coming to the big show as one of the top rookies.

Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

Trea Turner has an interesting story. The utility player has dominated at every position in Triple-A that he was assigned, and we were unsure which position he was going to take over once he got the call this season. At this point, it doesn’t matter. Any position the 23-year-old plays at, he does well.

Turner is currently hitting a .309 batting average in a tough division. He has accumulated three home runs and 38 hits. He also has one of the best stolen-base percentages in the league.

He’s definitely the real deal.

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

Alex Bregman had a fast journey throughout the Astros minor league organization. A small stint in both Double-A and Triple-A where he averaged a .309 batting average. He was even hitting around .400 at one point with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. Needless to say everyone was anticipating his call-up to the bigs.

But it was a short-lived anticipation.

He had his first major league home run Tuesday night, but that’s on the same side as a current .183 batting average. This could very well be the scenario where the Pacific Coast League is your best friend. It seems anyone with a bat can dominate in that league, it’s a matter of what they do in the majors that separates the boys from the men.

At this moment in time, I can’t say Bregman is the player we all wanted him to be, but he certainly has the potential.

Tyler Austin, New York Yankees

Another young guy on the New York Yankees up and coming list is 24-year-old first baseman Tyler Austin. He joined Aaron Judge on the recent call-ups when A-Rod bid his farewell with the pinstripes. Him and Judge are doing everything they can to make sure Rodriguez is nothing but a distant memory. Austin has played in just two major league games, but in those games he tallied a home run and three hits to be sitting at a .375 batting average.

Small sample size perhaps, but he was hitting a .323/.415/.637 slash line with Triple-A Scranton.

Real deal.

Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins

Right fielder Max Kepler is one of the guys you need to watch. He doesn’t have the highest batting average (.253) but he’s a rookie on everyone’s radar. He’s certainly improved from the three games he played in last season with the Twins when he sported a measly .143 average across the board.

He was recently named American League Player of the Week so he’s on the road to something great. Kepler’s not going to be known for being a power hitter necessarily, but the numbers continue to grow.

He’s the real deal for now, but he could truly go either way in the next few years.

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6 MLB Players Who Have Been Fantasy Baseball Busts Since the All-Star Break

by Matt Musico
Fan Duel

For those struggling through the season’s first half, getting a few days off can help spur a hot streak, as we discussed yesterday. It doesn’t always work that way, though. Fantasy baseball players are constantly looking for opportunities to capitalize on, whether it’s a buy-low situation or hanging on to someone with a solid track record in hopes they figure things out.

The following six players haven’t been able to use the midseason break to their advantage, leading them to be nothing but busts for both season-long and daily fantasy players over the past month.

Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets

The entire 2016 season has been a struggle for Granderson, but not because of his batting line. While his .226/.317/.420 triple slash isn’t great, it’s not much different than what we’ve seen him produce over the last five seasons. However, what is dumbfounding is his inability to drive in runs — the man has hit 18 homers, but has collected just 31 RBI.

It was bad in the first half, but it’s gotten even worse in the second half. Grandy is hitting just .186/.250/.304 in 102 at-bats since the All-Star break, with only three homers and four RBI. No, that’s not a typo. Basically, if Granderson doesn’t homer, he doesn’t drive in runs. And his homers are normally of the solo variety.

Posting a .127/.228/.165 line in 79 at-bats with runners in scoring position will make it hard to be a productive fantasy commodity.

Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have had plenty of ups and downs this season, especially in the starting rotation. Adam Wainwright struggled mightily out of the gate and Michael Wacha hasn’t been the hurler St. Louis needs in 2016. Martinez was superb in the first half, though, with his 8-6 record, 2.85 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 107.1 innings.

His solid season hasn’t exactly continued after missing out on the All-Star game. In 30 innings of work since the break, he’s posted a 5.10 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, with his biggest problem being a spike in walks allowed — after walking 36 in 107.1 innings, he’s proceeded to hand out 14 free passes in his most recent 30 frames.

Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Spring training stats don’t count, but when someone like Franco appears to put it all together by hitting nine homers and riving in 23 runs, fantasy players take notice. While the Phillies are in a rebuilding year, the young third baseman posted a solid .813 OPS with 18 homers and 52 RBI through his first 316 at-bats.

His production has proceeded to fall off a cliff for the time being, as he’s sputtered to a .180/.242/.279 triple slash in his last 111 at-bats. His only saving grace to fantasy players is he’s at least still produced runs (17 RBI, 12 runs scored) during a horrific slump.

Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians

Talent hasn’t been the question with Bauer since debuting in 2012. The problem has been harnessing his ability enough to keep his BB/9 rate under control and be an effective starter. He began the year on the outside looking in with regard to Cleveland’s solid rotation by getting sent to the bullpen, but made most of an opportunity to show what he’s capable of.

The 25-year-old right-hander became a valuable asset to manager Terry Francona with Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar dealing with injuries, as he compiled a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 101 innings en route to posting a 7-3 record. Those good feelings have been nonexistent in his most recent 30.1 innings of work, pitching to an unsightly 6.23 ERA with a 1.71 WHIP…and allowing too many walks is becoming a problem again (18 BBs allowed in the second half).

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

The 2016 All-Star game MVP was one of the few bright spots for Kansas City in the first half given all the injuries they’ve dealt with, but he’s taken a complete nosedive since being the brightest star in San Diego.

Hosmer was on track for a career year in his age-26 season after hitting .299/.355/.476 through his first 334 at-bats, but he’s followed that up by slashing just .190/.246/.267 in his most recent 116 at-bats. Like Franco, he hasn’t been a complete waste of time during this slump since he’s still driven in 17 runs, but it’s getting tougher for fantasy owners to hold on and wait for him to come back around.

Fernando Rodney, RP, Miami Marlins

In 28.2 innings with the San Diego Padres, Rodney surrendered a total of one earned run, and the Marlins jumped the market to bolster their bullpen by acquiring him. Since he brought his talents to South Beach, it hasn’t been nearly as sunny — the right-hander has allowed 12 earned runs in 21.1 innings pitched.

This is a crucial time for Miami, who must play without Giancarlo Stanton for the remainder of this season and are without their young closer, A.J. Ramos. If the Marlins want to make the playoffs, they’ll need Rodney to recapture some of the magic he had in San Diego. Fantasy players wouldn’t mind it, either.

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8 MLB Players Who Have Been Fantasy Baseball Studs Since the All-Star Break

by Matt Musico
Fan Duel

We’ve officially reached the dog days of August in the MLB regular season schedule. And just because we’re not actually on the field playing doesn’t mean we don’t feel it in both daily and season-long fantasy baseball leagues.

Now that players have built up enough statistics where we can’t use the “small sample size” excuse anymore, some people tend to favor players with superior cumulative stats instead of taking advantage of those who are enjoying a hot streak. It’s been about a month since the All-Star break happened, and the following eight players have either continued what’s already been a stellar season or have been successful in helping us forget about their slow starts.

Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

Fresh off a year in which he produced a 7.4 fWAR, many were expecting big things (although probably not quite as big) from Votto despite entering his age-32 season. Well, things didn’t start off on the right foot. In fact, he was so bad that the word “retirement” was thrown around by the first baseman.

After struggling through the first couple months, Votto is back to being himself:

Those numbers are even more impressive since the All-Star game, as he’s slashing an insane .463/.558/.726 in 95 at-bats after getting a breather. This run has included five homers, 20 RBI, 24 runs scored and more walks drawn (23) than strikeouts (14).

If you know Votto well, you might’ve had a hunch this was coming — he hit .362/.535/.617 with 14 homers and 38 RBI in 235 at-bats following the All-Star break last season.

Danny Duffy, SP, Kansas City Royals

A year after everything fell into place for the Kansas City Royals, almost nothing is going right for the defending champs. Their starting rotation has struggled to a 4.75 ERA (22nd in MLB) and a 1.37 WHIP (19th in MLB), but Duffy has been a bright spot. It hasn’t been just that 16-strikeout gem he put together a couple weeks ago, either.

The southpaw has put together a career year by going 9-1 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 124.1 innings of work. As good as he was to start the year, he’s been better since the midsummer classic and is taking advantage of exclusively being in the rotation. Through 42.2 innings in the second half, he’s 5-0 with a 2.32 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 44 strikeouts, while opposing hitters have posted a .195 batting average against him.

Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers continued their sell-off prior to the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, so they’re now pretty much fully focused on the future since they no longer have many tradable players on the roster. Despite getting his name thrown around in rumors, Braun hasn’t let it bother him en route to experiencing his best year since 2012.

The .881 OPS he posted before the All-Star game was already impressive enough, but he’s gotten even better in the second half, slashing .381/.465/.762 in 84 at-bats. And for fantasy players, the biggest difference is a spike in power: he’s hit nine homers and collected 21 RBI in those 84 at-bats, while it took him 282 at-bats to hit 13 bombs and drive in 44 before the All-Star game.

Jason Hammel, SP, Chicago Cubs

Of all the things that have gone right for the Cubs so far in 2016, the most surprising one has to be the overall performance of the starting rotation. We knew they’d be good with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta leading the way, but who expected them to have the best rotation ERA in baseball (2.87) by about half a run? Bringing on John Lackey helped this group, but it’s been the stellar performances from Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel that have put them over the top.

The 2.90 ERA Hammel owns through 127.1 total innings this year is great, and he’s done it by posting a microscopic 1.16 ERA and 0.94 WHIP through 31 innings in the second half thus far. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys (106 strikeouts this year), but he’s won all five of his decisions since returning from the All-Star break. Many people talk about “killing the win” as a statistic, but as long as it’s around, it’ll be an important one for fantasy players.

Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins

Here’s another classic case of someone getting off to a slow start and making it a distant memory. Check out the two different seasons Dozier has experienced in 2016:

Dude could barely get off the interstate to start the year, and now his .266/.341/.530 line is on track to being the best he’s produced in a single season. It’s easy for him to get lost in the shuffle because fellow second baseman Jose Altuve is doing pretty insane things, but Dozier is on track for the first 30-homer season of his career.

He started heating up before the All-Star break, but his post-ASG triple slash of .317/.356/.732 is still pretty impressive. Like Braun, Dozier has produced a huge spike in power — he hit 14 homers and drove in 43 runs through his first 313 at-bats, and has hit another 12 dingers to go along with 27 RBI in just 123 at-bats since.

Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers

If the Tigers wanted to contend this year, they desperately needed Verlander to be the ace of their staff. Michael Fulmer is challenging him for that particular distinction, but they’ve both been pitching like it.

The right-hander has started another game since this tweet went out, and while he didn’t get a win, his ERA was lowered to 1.67 in the process.

Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox

When you’re mentioned in the same breath as Ted Williams, you know you’re doing something right. Betts putting up his second three-homer game of the year isn’t the reason why he’s on this list, though. He’s been doing it every single night. Boston’s lineup has been relentless and it starts with Mookie, who’s played virtually all his games out of the leadoff spot in 2016.

Since heading to his first All-Star game in San Diego, he’s turned things up a notch by hitting .346/.385/.692 with eight homers and 27 RBI in 107 at-bats in the second half.

Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles

If you look up the word “automatic” in the dictionary, there’s probably a picture of Britton next to it. He’s already matched his single-season career-high with 37 saves, but it’s the way he’s gone about his business that’s made everyone drop their jaws. In 50 innings of work this year, this guy has only allowed three earned runs.

And although we didn’t think he could get much better, he’s done just that in the second half by posting an eye-popping 0.00 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and has converted all 10 of his save opportunities in 12.1 innings. Just ridiculous. But then again, all of these guys have been pretty ridiculous over the past month.

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Severe Groin Injury Raises Questions for Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

Severe Groin Injury Raises Questions for Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins announced on Sunday that slugger Giancarlo Stanton would miss the remainder of the season after suffering a groin strain while on the bases. It raises a lot of questions so I’ll do my best to answer them here:


Stanton has a severe groin strain. A source with knowledge of the MRI tells me it is a Grade III strain. In many cases, a severe strain will be near the insertion of the muscle, where tendon connects to bone. Stanton’s is in the ‘belly’ of the muscle, closer the middle. That’s a very difficult surgery, so for the next four weeks, Stanton will undergo treatment in hopes the muscle will heal itself without needing the difficult and often problematic surgery.


This is a relatively rare injury, especially for a player of Stanton’s type. While he’s not a speed player, he does need to range in the outfield and he needs to have full hip control and range of motion at the plate. He should have plenty of time to heal before next spring, so the Marlins will have plenty of time to adjust if needed. While there’s some early speculation that he may need to shift to 1B, the fact is if he’s limited, it’s likely to affect him at the plate more than in the field. Doctors and therapists I spoke with are cautiously optimistic Stanton can return to his previous level with only minor lingering effects.


Stanton might not be that tough to fill in for. This season, he’s been worth 1.7 wins (fWAR) or just slightly more than Derek Dietrich in 150 more at-bats. Dietrich should be able to shift to the outfield once Justin Bour is healthy again, keeping his bat in the lineup. Bour is a 1.5 win player as well, so there’s no loss in value.

I’ll admit this feels like it’s selling Stanton short and his value is in the long ball, something Dietrich doesn’t have in his game. The Marlins could also elect to use Ichiro Suzuki more. The minors don’t offer any solutions, with no ready prospects with plus power.


GM Michael Hill admitted Sunday that Alex Rodriguez was on the list of players they would look at. The downside is Rodriguez doesn’t appear healthy enough to play in the field. At best, he could play 1B, but that would push Dietrich and/or Bour to the bench. With Bour not due back, Rodriguez could be a short-term fill in, but Rodriguez has been a -1.2 fWAR player this season. He’s not the answer.


Yasiel Puig is currently at Oklahoma City (AAA) and has the kind of contract that would get through waivers. With his power and upside, he’s exactly the kind of player the Marlins are looking for. The downside here is everything else. The combination of Puig and the distractions of Miami seems like a nightmare. His relationship with Don Mattingly is not positive. And he’s been bad this season, at 0.4 fWAR.

The Brewers explored trading Ryan Braun before the deadline and his large contract would keep him from being claimed by most teams. Braun has Miami connections – stop it – and does not have the Marlins on his no-trade list. The downside is Braun has four more years left on his deal and it will be expensive. It could work if Stanton needs to move out of the outfield, but it’s unlikely due to the cost.

If Hill and his staff want to get really creative, they should be looking at productive Triple-A players that could be available. There are a lot of “Quad-A” or “journeyman” types that could fill in. In the International League, Jesus Montero has a .788 OPS and isn’t in the long term plans of the Blue Jays. Mike Freeman, now in Tacoma (AAA), is a high average, low power 1B that could fit.

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The New Look Yankees: Why 2018 is Like 1995

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

1995 seems like a long time ago. Joe Torre was still a failed manager. Joe Girardi was a catcher, not a manager. Derek Jeter was a fresh faced rookie who was taking New York (and starlets) by storm. It was Buck Showalter and Stick Michael, not Joe Torre and Brian Cashman. Everything was a year away, but at that point, it was just another losing season in a game that had yet to have the McGwire-Sosa summer or even the Cal Ripken moment.

The Bronx wasn’t burning, but Rent hadn’t even hit the stage. That was the last time the Yankees were this bad. The season started late, giving them a 79-65 season, with a late season run giving the fans hope. Those who understood just how good Jeter, Posada, Williams, and Rivera were going to be knew good things were happening.

Twenty years later, those four players are (or soon will be) monuments in the outfield, not star players. The big contracts that eventually ended up weighing the team down were just wild ideas in George Steinbrenner’s head. It was the end of Don Mattingly and we’ve seen that played out again this season with Mark Teixeira. Alex Rodriguez will be pastured against his will on Friday, but the hope is that this sell-off and the prospects it brought will bring a new look and start the cycle again.

The plan is now in place, but the tear down is not quite complete. In the recent deals and retirements, only Andrew Miller was a player that the team will miss in 2017. The team has kept two big-dollar pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, not just because they don’t have ready replacements, but because the innings they put up protect the pitchers that aren’t quite ready.

On the player side, Jacoby Ellsbury remains the build-around piece, for now. He hasn’t played up to his contract or even his projections, but over the next three years, he can be expected to be stable. Nothing else on the team will be, save for maybe the manager. Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, and the rest are simply there until someone else is ready.

So when will this next core be ready? That varies. Like the “Core Four” – really five, if you include Andy Pettitte, the latest of the prospects will be coming in waves. Gary Sanchez is ready to at least get a taste of catching at the major league level and will try to absorb Joe Girardi’s game plan. After that, Clint Frazier in September to remind fans of what they got for Miller and what’s going to be there next year.

In 2017, Sanchez and Frazier should start the season with the big club. If nothing else, the Yankees’ checkbook allows them to ignore Super Two if they want. Aaron Judge will push to unseat Brett Gardner. By the end of the season, Jorge Mateo could get a look, probably at second base, and the first of their pitching prospects, perhaps Justus Sheffield or Ian Clarkin. Another name to note is Dietrich Enns. Enns has what’s been called the best change up in the minors, but not much else. He could end up a Trevor Hoffman type in the pen.

2018 is where this should really start to pick up steam. Gleyber Torres, the chief return for Aroldis Chapman, should be ready to play at short no later than midseason. Torres, Mateo, and Korean youngster Hoy-Jun Park could end up in a shortstop logjam, but that’s a nice problem to have. One will shift to second and all have the bat to play third as well, though Miguel Andujar looks to be solid enough to lock that one down.

The pitching is the question mark, with lots of prospects, but none of the “can’t miss ace” variety. That means that the team will be looking in the 2018 and 2019 off-seasons for the kind of pitching that money can buy. Maybe Jake Arrieta shifts away from the Cubs for big bucks. Jose Fernandez in ’19 is precisely the kind of pitcher that usually comes to the Yankees.

There’s options and don’t forget that ’19 is also when Bryce Harper is due to become a free agent. If anyone can spend the money that Harper wants — it starts with a “5” — it’s the Yankees, looking to put themselves back into World Series contention.

Which leaves one other piece: Joe Girardi. Girardi was a perfect fill-in for a late-winning cycle team. He was calm, prepared, and steady. He’d played with many of the players, specifically Derek Jeter, who truly ran the clubhouse and at times the team. Is Girardi the right manager to integrate the young players into a lineup, all the time dealing with the fact that ’17 and ’18 might be seasons where the team struggles and falls out of contention? There are many inside baseball who don’t think so, though Girardi’s ability to deal with the New York media help him.

The change over the next two seasons will be gradual, but the plan is clear. Develop the talent acquired in the sales, hope a couple pitchers develop and buy the rest, while trying to win enough to keep the ad rates on YES stable. By the time we reach the end of the 2018 season, just two years from now, we’ll have a very good idea whether all of this worked.

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5 MLB Teams Who Have Been Colossal Disappointments in 2016

by Matt Musico
Fan Duel

5 MLB Teams Who Have Been Colossal Disappointments in 2016

Watching MLB teams report to Spring Training each February is always the best time of year for baseball fans. Not only is the cold, long winter months without it officially over, but everyone gets a clean slate. Whether your team hoisted the World Series trophy last fall or finished with baseball’s worst record, they’re 0-0 again.

The following five teams started 2016 with that clean slate, but the rest of this season hasn’t gone as planned.

Tampa Bay Rays

You can take those preseason PECOTA projections with a grain of salt, but the Rays were projected to win the American League East division and post a 90-win campaign under second-year manager Kevin Cash. Instead, they’re sitting in the AL East basement with a 46-67 record and 18 games behind first place.

What’s been the biggest issue? The offense hasn’t been awesome, but it’s better than the 2015 version. Tampa Bay’s biggest problem is the lack of production from the starting rotation. A group led by Chris Archer, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi was supposed to be one of baseball’s best, but they’ve produced just a 4.03 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

Chicago White Sox

Similar to the Rays, the White Sox had a pretty clear issue to correct — they needed to hit more in order to take advantage of a solid starting rotation. Everything was rolling on the morning of May 9, as Chicago had a 23-10 record and a comfortable lead in the AL Central.

The wheels have come off, though, as they’re 54-59 entering action on Thursday and are fighting with the Royals for third place (we’ll get to them in a minute). It got so bad right before the non-waiver trade deadline that the front office even considered dealing ace pitcher (and scissor-cutter) Chris Sale. They didn’t, but still.

Kansas City Royals

They were crowned World Series champions last October for the first time in 30 years, so they can probably get a pass in 2016. That doesn’t mean it’s still not frustrating for Royals fans to watch. Kansas City has been bit by the injury bug, leading to Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain missing large chunks of this season, along with Mike Moustakas’ season ending because of a torn ACL.

The bullpen has been productive again, but the starting rotation hasn’t been nearly as good as everyone expected them to be. And for the first time in what feels like forever, those projected standings from the winter are somewhat accurate when it comes to the Royals’ performance.

New York Mets

The Amazins are still very much in the National League Wild Card race, but it’s more because the rest of their competition is letting them stay in it. Entering their afternoon series finale with the Diamondbacks on Thursday, they’ve posted a 10-15 record since the All-Star break, are only one game over .500 for the first time since April 22 and haven’t won consecutive games in quite a while:

Simply put, if New York doesn’t start providing some kind of offense, they’ll waste a year of what’s supposed to be a historically good rotation.

Arizona Diamondbacks

This whole process would be rigged if the Dbacks weren’t included here.

They were the darlings of the offseason, making a huge splash to sign Zack Greinke to a $206.5 million deal and trading about half their farm system to get Shelby Miller in order to support what was a pretty good offense in 2015. Greinke has pitched like himself after a slow start, but the rest of the rotation hasn’t been up to snuff and losing A.J. Pollock before the year even started took the wind out of their sails — whether they admit it or not.

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5 Underrated Rookies to Start Paying Attention To

by Jessica Kleinschmidt
Fan Duel

Remember when you were in your early 20’s? Not only was the recovery after a night of drinking easier, but you remember what it was like to still have a lot to learn about life. These guys are still waiting to blow out major birthday candles on their cakes and they each have a shot at being some of the big, younger names in the game.

We know who the main headliners are when it comes to the rookies this season, but what about the guys who don’t have that much attention? Here are five underrated rookies you should pay attention to as the season goes on.

Ryan Schimpf, IF, San Diego Padres

We know where the San Diego Padres are in regards to rankings and mentality. The “rebuilding” of a team may cause a lot of fans to shudder, but there is a few reasons Padres fans can be a tad bit more optimistic. Ryan Schimpf is one of those reason.

The infielder just received Rookie of the Month honors and after making his spot at second base he’s been solid on defense as well as hitting in a .211/.335/.534 slash line.

They’re comparing him to former Padre Jeff Gyorko in regards to his range. Not a bad comparison, but I think Schimpf will make it on his own.

Tyler Naquin, OF Cleveland Indians

A 25-year-old hitting a .313 batting average for one of the best teams in baseball right now? Yeah that’ll do.

Tyler Naquin is being talked about for Rookie of the Year after being named Rookie of the Month for July. He’s been a huge asset for the team after dealing with Michael Brantley’s shoulder injury and hasn’t stopped his hot streak.

With 35 RBI’s and 13 home runs in 76 games, Naquin is definitely a front runner for ROY honors. The entire Indians team has been something to watch and Naquin has just made it much sweeter.

Nomar Mazara, OF Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers have become one of the favorite teams to watch this season. Even with Prince Fielder calling it quits, the team manages to be one of the best in the American League.

Nomar Mazara is a part of that reason.

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated mentioned Mazara as being the “centerpiece” of the Rangers now that the production of the Yu Darvish isn’t quite what we all expected. And he’s doing well with the pressure.

A .284/.337/.421 slash line with 108 hits and 13 home runs proves that he’s hitting well and making a case for himself to be under the radar of rookie favorites.

Socrates Brito, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

If you’re a baseball obsessor like me, you pay attention to all of the minor league transactions. If that’s the case, you’ve probably seen Socrates Brito’s name pop-up on your mobile notifications a time or two. Probably more.

The outfielder is constantly making the trip back and forth between Reno and Arizona, but only for good reasons. Brito has 14 games in the bigs and is currently hitting at a .205. Those numbers don’t really characterize a guy who has a phenomenal glove and power bat.

He currently hits a .280/.305/.432 slash line with Triple-A Reno and will be well-known to the TSA agents at the airport soon. He will get plenty of chances with the big club.

Jose Berrios, P, Minnesota Twins

A guy I have been following closely this season is Jose Berrios. In the minors he’s been dominant and at one point hitters were hitting just 1.80 off of him. He struggled when he was brought up earlier in the season and tossed a 10.20 ERA in four games then was ultimately sent back down to Triple-A where he strived.

He was given another chance at the beginning of the month and that ERA dropped to an 8.31 average overall for the 22-year-old. He’s still with the Twins and since the team isn’t working towards a playoff push he will have plenty of time to prove himself on the team.

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