Independence Week Update: July Outing Details, Power Rankings

Announcements: 

  • Please RSVP for both portions of the July 28 get-together on the first page of the League Spreadsheet: https://bit.ly/2pQY54s. More details below! 
  • For those with outstanding league fee balances, slide into my DM's ("direct messages" -- young people use these for sex meet-ups). 
  • If you live in Cedar Rapids and have any medium or small-sized under-performing outdoor bushes or plants you'd like to get rid of, please let me know and I'd be happy to take them off your hands. This is not a joke. 

Second Octennial Serious League Golf Outing + Kernels Game

When: July 28, about 3:00 PM
Where: (probably) Airport National Public Golf Complex and Range Ball War Zone 

  If you squint, this almost looks like a premier golf destination.

If you squint, this almost looks like a premier golf destination.

Some months ago, Inaugural Champion and treasured friend Andrew Seyfer suggested we plan a Serious League golf outing this summer. Eight (nine??) years after the first such event, the timing is right for another -- not just because of the surge in eastern Iowa-dwelling owners, but because the big bad football tough guys are now creaky old men obsessed with golf. My how the turntables. 

Airport National seems like the best location for this casual but moderately competitive event. There's some talent among us, but yours truly hasn't played in years and I'm pretty sure some of you bums are even worse. At Airport, we can play in five-somes (which will be perfect if we get ten participants), the atmosphere is more accepting of mild revelry, and there aren't a whole lot of trees or hazards to worry about. If the majority would rather take our talents to Ellis, Hunters, or even Saddleback Ridge, we can do that as well. 

The plan right now is to play nine holes of best shot with 2-4 teams, get some sun, have a few tall boys, make some trades, and finish with enough time to relax for a bit before heading to the Kernels game. Owners of all skill levels are encouraged to come, even if you just want to ride along and hang out. 

If this interests you, please confirm your RSVP on the first tab of the League Spreadsheet. (I cleared everything that was there before, so be sure to do this even if you've talked to me.) After you've confirmed, let me know how good you are these days and we'll put teams together a few days out. 

  If you stand on top of the hill at Airport National and look in any direction, you'll see at least two holes on which Mil has made a hole-in-one. (People forget he had like 9 by the time we were 15 years old.)

If you stand on top of the hill at Airport National and look in any direction, you'll see at least two holes on which Mil has made a hole-in-one. (People forget he had like 9 by the time we were 15 years old.)

Kernels vs. River Bandits @ 6:35 PM

  The Sydney Opera House. The Taj Mahal. The Roman Colosseum. New Veterans Memorial Stadium Cedar Rapids Kernels Perfect Game Field (formerly Dale and Thomas Popcorn Field).

The Sydney Opera House. The Taj Mahal. The Roman Colosseum. New Veterans Memorial Stadium Cedar Rapids Kernels Perfect Game Field (formerly Dale and Thomas Popcorn Field).

Wives, girlfriends, and kids welcome, though I won't promise good behavior on behalf of anyone ... you know how the tall boys flow at the ballpark!! (smoothly) 

If you can't make it to the golf portion of the evening, hopefully you can come to the ole ballgame. Since we'll likely have a good-sized group, please RSVP by July 19 so we can get tickets together (unless Seyf has a suite up his sleeve wink wink nod nod huh?? maybe, stay tuned). 

1_TEzfjk-ygf9Qu6pUFcPJTA.jpeg
  Will the youngest person with an unironic goatee-without-a-mustache still be on the roster come July 28? Well, who's to say,, ?

Will the youngest person with an unironic goatee-without-a-mustache still be on the roster come July 28? Well, who's to say,, ?

12. Tim (Prev: 12) 

Betts watching his fellow Douchemanzadehs warm up. 

The "Tim Puts His Team 12th Even Though He's In 6th" thing started as a half-joke, but now it's just reality. 

First-half MVP: Mookie Betts 

Keeper possibilities: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2019 price: $10), Juan Soto ($10), Aaron Nola ($21) 

At this point Vlad Jr. needs to have a Trout-level rookie year in 2019 for this ludicrous ownership tenure to have been worth it. Under our current keeper rules (::cough:: Jamie I agree let's change 'em ::cough::), I'd have to give up both Guerrero and Soto before their 22nd birthdays, should they remain worthy of keeping. Aaron Nola, who just turned 25 last month and could enter next season as a top-8 starter, is also a possibility. 

11. Bayz (Prev: 11) 

 An aging Matthew Lillard from  Summer Catch  is starting to heat up.

An aging Matthew Lillard from Summer Catch is starting to heat up.

Entering the 2012 season, Jurickson Profar was the consensus third-ranked hitting prospect behind Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. He made his debut that September at age 19, the first player born in 1993 to play in the majors. Profar missed all of 2014 and all of 2015 after two shoulder surgeries, and was an ineffective sub in less than a season's worth of big league games over the last two years. Thanks to some injuries that sunk both Bayz's and the Rangers' hopes, Profar is playing every day and just capped off the best month of his career. Since Bayz picked him up five weeks ago: 26 R, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, .259 AVG -- about as productive as Eric Hosmer was in 14 more games on Bayz's roster. Given Profar's pedigree, he could be borderline keeper-worthy on a team with an extra slot. 

First-half MVP: Jose Ramirez, who is on fire at the moment, tops the player rater as of June 5. A keeper, he cost Bayz just $14 on draft day. 

Keeper possibilities: Ramirez, ($17), Ross Stripling ($10), Edwin Diaz ($18), Elvis Andrus ($12), Profar ($10) 

Ramirez should obviously be kept for another season. He's a five-category stud who will challenge for MVP this year and enter 2019 at just 26 years old. Stripling will be worthy of consideration if he proves to be more than a rookie with a hot streak to his name, and Diaz needs just one more save to match his total from last season. (Keeping closers is risky, but $17 is the going rate for the rock-solid guys on draft day.) Elvis Andrus probably shouldn't be on this list right now, but a good second half could make him worth it at $12. 

10. Pat (Prev: 7 🢃)

 The silver for whom Pat sold his soul.

The silver for whom Pat sold his soul.

The first time I went to Pat's house was April of 2000. I know this because there was a fresh copy of the Vladimir Guerrero Sports Illustrated cover on the coffee table back when that was a big deal. Now Guerrero's son is eating up a roster spot on my fantasy team and is of the main reasons Pat will finish ahead of me this season despite owning two hurt catchers and suffering through what looks to be a lost year of Yu Darvish

First-half MVP: Tim Anderson! This former bum-ass, first-round-bust-ass, overrated-ass, barely-even-runs-even-though-he's-fast-ass nobody is finally a good fantasy player. He's already set a career high in steals with 19, and could get to 20 homers before the sun sets on 2018. 

A month ago, this distinction would have belonged to feared fireballer and known K-machine J.A. Happ. Poor guy's about to be traded to the Yankees and absolutely teed off on. More like J.A. McPartland haha thanks for reading. 

Keeper possibilities: Aaron Judge ($12), Gleyber Torres ($10), Nomar Mazara ($10), Tim Anderson ($10) 

If Pat continues his kamikaze mission of a season, we'll likely see Gleyber bumped down a spot and available for drafting next spring. But even right now, he has one of the best keeper situations in the league. Mazara is having a nice season and is still just 23 years old, and Anderson could lead the league in stolen bases. (Dee Gordon with power?? Folks Pat might be playing chess while the rest of us play ... fantasy baseball.) 

9. Nolan (Prev: 10 🢁) 

 Trevor Story, possible keeper?? Nolan has an affinity for guys with these haircuts, no offense.

Trevor Story, possible keeper?? Nolan has an affinity for guys with these haircuts, no offense.

8. Mitch (Prev: 8) 

 J.D. Martinez is a Triple Crown threat this season. (When you do good in three stats.)

J.D. Martinez is a Triple Crown threat this season. (When you do good in three stats.)

Here is a list of family baseball movies that are more believable than Little Big League

• Angels in the Outfield, where dead people help the Angels win for the sole purpose of reuniting a broken family. 
• Field of Dreams, where dead people play baseball for the sole purpose of reuniting a broken family. 
• The Sandlot, where a dead Babe Ruth gives advice to a child for the indirect purpose of reuniting a blended family.
• Hardball, where a kid dies (spoiler alert). 
• Rookie of the Year, where an arm injury drastically improves the arm strength of a 12-year-old, who then pitches for the Chicago Cubs. 
• Air Bud: Seventh Inning, where a dog plays baseball. 

Anyway, Mitch has had the same team name for three years, and just like young Billy Heywood, it took a while, but he's finally earning some respect as an owner. 

First-half MVP: 34-year-old Nick Markakis is on pace to shatter (AVG) or approach career-bests in every fantasy category. Not bad for the last non-Kyle pick of the draft. 

Keeper possibilities: Jose Berrios ($11), Marcell Ozuna ($14) 

Berrios is probably worth holding if only for the Twins angle. His strikeout rate has nudged higher for the third straight year, and his walks are way, waaaay down from that disastrous half-season in 2016. Ozuna needs a big second half to justify consideration. 

7. Maloof (Prev: 6 🢃) 

 Alex Bregman is starting to justify his draft day price tag. 

Alex Bregman is starting to justify his draft day price tag. 

It's possible that no team has ever owned as many hitters as Maloof does right now. They've got 18 bats at their disposal -- four bench players (including a minor leaguer) and a catcher on the disabled list. It's a curious midseason construction, given their relative lack of pitching starts. Two of their four starters have been god-awful over the last month, though both have favorable starts today. What's Maloof planning here? Is this a temporary setup, or should we expect nine-player trade packages once Kyle Tucker is called up? 

First-half MVP: For a time, this was Odubel Herrera. Then Jose Martinez stepped up. It would be Shohei Ohtani if not for the injuries. So it has to be Trevor Bauer, whose transformation into an ace at age 27 reminds us to maybe not call kids busts before they can rent cars. In four full seasons as a starter, Bauer has never posted an ERA below 4.18. 

Keeper possibilities: Bauer ($11), Ohtani, ($23), Ronald Acuna Jr. ($20) 

Just another unprecedented situation with Shohei Ohtani. Bizarrely, he's off the disabled list and hitting again, but Lord knows what his timetable is as a pitcher. (Thankfully ESPN treats him as one player. On sites like Yahoo, Ohtani is two players. If you own Ohtani the pitcher, you can't keep him in a DL slot anymore.) I'm no doctor, but I feel like the Angels will bite the bullet and opt for Tommy John surgery sooner rather than later, which could put him out of commission as a pitcher in 2019. But would he hit throughout his rehab? Is he worth keeping at $23 as a roster-clogging DH? Hell if I know, and I'm almost glad I don't have to deal with these questions. 

Acuna hasn't produced like a keeper yet, especially not at that price. But he's a sexy young stud on the Baby Braves so don't put it past Maloof to hold on to him. 

6. AB (Prev: 5 🢃) 

 Bryant's beautiful blues have looked forlorn most of 2018.

Bryant's beautiful blues have looked forlorn most of 2018.

The other day the Reds were on ESPN for some reason, and my guy Boog Sciambi told the story of how Ryan Joseph Gennett got the nickname "Scooter". According to Gennett, when he was five years old he would always fuck with his seatbelt. His mom said, "Listen RYAN you dumb mother fucker if you don't stop taking your seat belt off I'm going to drag your ass to the police! (under her breath) Never wanted you anyway." 

Ryan was like yeah okay bitch and kept playing with his seat belt. So his mom took his ass to the police station just like she promised because moms who are NASCAR fans legitimately do not tell lies. So they're at the police station and this cop says all right you rat bastard kid what's your goddamn name? And Ryan, who is five years old, thinks to himself shit, I gotta go with an alias here. Like most five-year-olds, Ryan was a Muppet Babies enthusiast (Muppet Babies was crack and had a catchy doo-wop theme song you just don't hear much of these days. Also Kermit was the original Terry Crews when you really think about it. [Miss Piggy stuff.]), so he went with "Scooter", his favorite character from the show. Years later (as in this year), ole Scoot actually met the police officer from that day and they laughed and laughed about the life-altering decision made by a lying-ass five-year-old in a police station. 

First-half MVP: That son of a bitch Scooter Gennett, obviously. After I dropped him for Jose Pirela, then Seyf dropped him CC Sabathia, Scoot's hitting .341 in 45 games for AB. BABIP's up there, but it's clear last season was not a fluke. He's good! 

Keeper possibilities: Blake Snell ($10), Gennett ($10), Didi Gregorius ($12) 

Three pretty good options here. Two of AB's three best players so far are just guys he got for a buck each, but we'll start with Gregorious. Didi has been equal parts scorching hot and ice cold, so while he lags behind guys like Scoot and Tim Anderson among middle infielders, we can be reasonably sure another tear is on the way. 

But yeah Blake Snell. If he weren't playing for a team that should be relocated as soon as possible in a building that should have been condemned the day it opened, Snell would be a much bigger story. When he's not smoking cigarettes under the bleachers during fifth period, Snell is striking guys out at an alarming rate. In 12 of his 18 starts, he's allowed one or zero earned runs. As of this writing, he's the only undrafted player sitting in the top 40 on the Player Rater. An average second half would make the 25-year-old worth keeping. 

5. Matt and Casey (Prev: 9 🢁) 

 Finally playing every day, Michael Taylor leads the league in stolen based -- more than prized speedsters Trea Turner and Dee Gordon. 

Finally playing every day, Michael Taylor leads the league in stolen based -- more than prized speedsters Trea Turner and Dee Gordon. 

In our last power rankings, Matt and Casey's relative inaction was justification for their poor standing. That logic is increasingly difficult to justify with each passing month. Are they contenders? Probably not. Favorable trades and risk-reward free agent pickups win championships. But Matt and Casey drafted a very good team and they deserve to be recognized for that. Points-wise, they're holding steady about where they were a month ago. Reputation wise, their tide is rising. (Not sure that even makes sense. Running out of metaphors. Point is they're having a good year. Good job guys.) 

First-half MVP: Probably Andrew BenintendiMike Trout and Corey Kluber are doing what they're supposed to do, but the $23 Benintendi isn't far behind. Also, it's his birthday today! Pretty neat. 

Keeper possibilities: Eugenio Suarez ($10), Mike Foltynewicz ($10) 

Manny Machado and Brandon Crawford for Andrelton Simmons and Eugenio Suarez. Fourteen months ago Mitch was rightfully lambasted for his short-sighted view of fantasy baseball assets, and/or was verbally intimidated by trading partner Pat. In any event, it's a deal that has already gone down in record books next to Jacob Young's masterpieces as among the worst in league history. For as long as he is relevant, Eugenio Suarez will be associated with Mitch's blunder. 

And Suarez is indeed relevant. He's currently tied with Nolan Arenado for the NL lead in RBIs with 63, and has the same batting average and one more home run than Freddie Freeman. Right now he has to be considered Matt and Casey's best keeper option. 

Robbie Ray, even when not injured, hasn't quite held up his end of the bargain. Right now he can't be considered a solid keeper prospect, even at $12. It sure would be crazy if Mike Foltynewicz turned into a keeper out of nowhere, but stranger things have happened. Like how 'bout this president am I right fellas? Or the Tide Pods. 

4. Ols (Prev: 1 🢃) 

 In a bold managerial move, Ols has joined Yuli Gurriel with Tommy Pham and Kenta Maeda, and thus far the results have been harmonious.

In a bold managerial move, Ols has joined Yuli Gurriel with Tommy Pham and Kenta Maeda, and thus far the results have been harmonious.

If this were only based on my gut feeling, I'd push Ols into the top three. But as you know these rankings are steeped in integrity and thorough research, so the current leader finds himself in the fourth spot. Why? 

Mostly the starts. Ols leads the league in strikeouts and wins, but has 13 more starts than the league average. Obviously he's not blowing away the 180-start pace, and the rest of us will probably hurt our numbers clamoring for probables in August and September, but it's still a tiny bit deceiving. He's got the second-best win percentage in the league, though Mil and AB aren't far behind. He's third in strikeouts per start. 

That's not to say Ols has a bad or even average pitching staff -- not by a long shot. It's just worth noting that his leads in those two categories are not safe in the long term. And though he has great ERA and WHIP numbers despite the high start totals, that just means there isn't much room for points gains even after he loads up on relievers down the stretch. 

First-half MVP: Probably Eddie Rosario? I don't know, this is just a classic Ols team: No high-priced megastars, no extreme value plays, just a bunch of good players at good prices. Jean Segura has been terrific as well, but Ols traded for Segura in May whereas Rosario is home-grown know what I'm saying?? (weed haha) 

Keeper possibilities: Gosh, I don't know. The guy in first place doesn't appear to have any good players, as far as I can tell. If you want to turn the ladies into Pink Panther insulation then go ahead and keep Charlie Morton ($10). Otherwise Segura ($10), Rosario ($10), and Tommy Pham's second year at $12 are all good values. Nothing gets me dripping, though, which is probably why Ols contends and I don't. 

3. Mil (Prev: 3) 

 Even after a recent cold streak, Matt Kemp is on pace for his highest WAR since 2012, the last time he was an All-Star. 

Even after a recent cold streak, Matt Kemp is on pace for his highest WAR since 2012, the last time he was an All-Star. 

Stolen bases are scary these days. They're increasingly rare and extremely volatile. After a slow start on the basepaths, Trea Turner is back among the league leaders with 22 bags. That's still about 40% off his projected 2018 total of 57! If Turner were available at the draft, he probably would have sold for $40 or $45. Dee Gordon is also lagging behind his 2017 pace. Meanwhile Ender Inciarte, Michael Taylor, and Jose Ramirez each already have at leastas many steals as they had last year. Good steals are hard to come by, and yet it's still kind of nerve-wracking to spend a lot of money on them at the draft. Anyway good team Mil, nice job so far. 

First-half MVP: Good thing the Yankees kept Luis Severino at the trade deadline in 2015. Not because the top prospect turned into a certified ace two years later (that shit's a crapshoot), but because they failed to acquire Johnny Cueto. Without Cueto, the Yankees lost to the Astros in the Wild Card game, then the Astros blew a four-run lead in the 8th inning of Game 4 of the ALDS, then Johnny Cueto threw a complete game gem in Game 2 of the World Series, paving the way for a comfortable championship for the Royals. Severino may help Mil and the Yankees win several titles but folks I'm okay with that! 

Keeper possibilities: Severino ($10), Cody Bellinger ($12), Starling Marte ($22) (Trea Turner is ineligible to be kept) 

Severino is a no-brainer -- he'll be one of the highest-priced pitchers at the 2020 draft. Even if Bellinger fails to match his rookie production this year, he still has major power potential and would be just 23 heading into next season. Mil's in a pretty good spot here. 

2. Kyle (Prev: 4 🢁) 

 The Forgotten Mega Star: With all the other big names on Kyle's roster, it's easy to forget Francisco Lindor. 

The Forgotten Mega Star: With all the other big names on Kyle's roster, it's easy to forget Francisco Lindor. 

With three recent trades, including one instant "win" (to put it mildly), Kyle put himself in position to compete in every category. Cody Bellinger and the struggling Bryce Harper are gone in favor of two big-name, reliable aces, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. This team has absolutely everything now -- it is a roster straight out of an eight-team video game fantasy snake draft in which one kid is rotating all four controllers. 

The question now becomes, is the pitching damage already done? At the moment, Kyle's not in the top half of any of those categories, and he's one of two owners ahead of the 180-start pace. So far, his team has a K/start rate down there with bums like myself and Bayz, and his W% is the worst in the league (36% compared to 62% for Ols*). The new cast of arms is fantastic -- and they'll have to be if this team is to gain major ground in the pitching categories. 

First-half MVP: Francisco Lindor is the best, but the MVP has to be Mitch Haniger. Hanigar was the last pick of the draft, the eighth consecutive Kyle pick made while the clock was ticking and everyone else was setting up for beer pong. Hanigar was a godsend for Kyle early on while some of his higher-priced hitters struggled to put the ball out of the park. 

Keeper possibilities: Almost none, by design. Hanigar ($10) is the best bet, but Lindor at $36 would make an owner feel pretty comfortable heading into draft day. 

1. Seyf

 A shockingly common sight this season. 

A shockingly common sight this season. 

Seyf's team, like the classic Seyf rosters of old, has a comfortably high floor. With Carlos Carrasco returning, his pitching staff is at full health and ready to take advantage of the starts gap between Seyf and the other contenders. Plus the Brewers are in first place, he's getting married in a few months, and the guy plays golf on a beautiful course whenever he wants! What a year so far for the inaugural champion. 

First-half MVP: Tie between Javy Baez and Gerrit Cole

After a disappointing contract year, Cole has rejuvenated his career in Houston and should easily eclipse his best strikeout season in the National League. Baez is having a monster season at the plate and could finish among the top-5 fantasy middle infielders. Not bad for a combined $21. 

Keeper possibilities: Baez ($10), Cole ($16), A.J. Pollock ($17) (Wil Myers is ineligible to be kept) 

If he had to choose today, Baez and Cole would probably be Seyf's picks, but the brittle A.J. Pollock certainly has the talent to deliver $32 worth of value. He just can't seem to stay healthy. Maybe he should do yoga like me and Seyf?? Probably not man enough. 

(* "Win percentage" takes into account all wins accrued by a roster (not just wins from starters), and divides them by total starts.) 

Thanks for reading! In the next update: 

  • Before-and-after shirtless pics from my cookie-filled holiday
  • Nolan updates us on the cryptocurrency market and how the impending trade war with China will affect the markets and stuff
  • College basketball programs for every team in the league. Ols is Villanova! 
Tim