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2018 Week 18 Hot Topics: Summer Binge Watch Edition

Before being named to the AL All-Star roster as an injury replacement, Blake Snell was looking like this year’s “deserving player who gets screwed out of the All-Star Game because of the ‘every team gets an All-Star’ rule.” Although Blake Snell was spared the injustice when Corey Kluber dropped out with an injury, it should not have come to that.

2018 Week 16 Hot Topics
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Greetings from SCFE’s 2018 Week 18 Hot Topics column. We’re a few weeks out from the All-Star Break, and I hope everyone enjoyed the All-Star festivities of their choice. MLB basically has something for everyone during All-Star week. You’ve got the Futures Game (for the prospect watchers); the Home Run Derby (for the pre-Festivus feats of strength crowd); and the All-Star Game itself (for the purists). It’s like a dessert buffet. Just look around; you’ll find something you like.

The All-Star break is also a time for Fantasy Baseball owners to rest and recharge the batteries. It’s the first time since April that Fantasy Baseball owners can go for a day without checking their lineups or the box scores. That’s right; we’re over three months into the baseball season. Time flies.

With no baseball for a few days, you might have engaged in another Summer tradition over the All-Star break. I didn’t mean going outside. It’s hot out there. I’m talking, of course, about good old-fashioned summer binge-watching. This also comes in handy after the All-Star break if you just need a pause from baseball. Trust me; it can help clear the mind.

Personally, I go for tv shows I haven’t seen in a while for my binge-watching experience. When selecting a tv show to binge, however, you need to find a show that lasted for more than a few episodes. It’s no fun if the show runs out just when you really start getting into it. The worst are shows that got cancelled after the last episode ended in a cliffhanger. I really hate that.

If you’re looking for a binge-worthy experience, Stargate SG-1 is what you need. Yes, it’s a sci fi show. Did you really expect anything else from me? That being said, Stargate SG-1 ran for ten seasons. They must have done something right. There was also a spin-off (Stargate Atlantis) that ran for five seasons. We’re talking over 300 episodes of quality tv here. I’m not going to talk about Stargate Universe. Pretend I didn’t even mention it.

For the non-sci fi crowd (it’s ok; sci fi might be my thing but I get it’s not for everyone), Stargate was originally a 1994 movie starring James Spader and Kurt Russell. In 1997, the movie was adapted as a tv show called Stargate SG-1. Ten seasons later, Stargate SG-1 finished as the longest-running North American sci fi tv series in history. One theatrical movie; three live-action tv series; one animated tv series; and two direct-to-DVD movies. Not bad for a franchise not named Star Wars, Star Trek, or Marvel.

The All-Star break is a good time to evaluate your Fantasy Baseball roster and plan for the home stretch. It’s also a good time to partake in something that has nothing to do with Fantasy Baseball. Give yourself a chance to relax and look at things with a fresh mind. Stargate SG-1 can give you that distraction. It’s not just a good sci fi show; it’s good entertainment. There’s also enough content to keep you engaged until there’s new tv in the fall.

Let’s head off-world with the 2018 Week 18 Hot Topics.

2018 Week 18 Hot Topics

Hot Topic No. 1: “Now, I suppose this is the time for me to say something profound . . . Nothing comes to mind.”

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Houston Astros

If you’re not familiar with sci fi, Stargate SG-1 is probably the best thing you can watch to cover everything sci fi. Interplanetary travel, time travel, extraterrestrial species (human and non-human), robots/cyborgs/androids, alternate realities, body/consciousness swapping, space battles, and doomsday scenarios. Stargate SG-1 has it all.

What makes Stargate SG-1 quality entertainment (and not just quality sci fi), however, is its sense of humor. Stargate SG-1 is not only willing to make fun of itself, but also sci fi conventions in general. It’s major self-awareness when a character facing an alien invasion fleet says sarcastically that “we’ll just upload a computer virus into the mothership!” This is why everyone should have at least some sci in their lives. Everyone can use some escapist fun.

The quote for this Hot Topic applies to Alex Bregman. He’s a young player with across-the-board skills who gets off to slow starts. Nothing profound there. If you panic-traded Alex Bregman early in the season, you’re probably feeling like Ron Burgundy in his glass cage of emotion. Sorry about that. Maybe you’ll feel better after a bear fight.

Alex Bregman was the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Astros. As I previously discussed, the Astros’ first-round picks from 2011-2015 include George Springer, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers Jr, and Kyle Tucker. Like Doctor Who crushing it with the selections of David Tennant and Matt Smith as the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, the Astros can identify talent.

After putting up a .300 AVG and .388 OBP in 1½ seasons in the minors, Alex Bregman got the call on July 25, 2016. For his MLB debut, he posted a .264 AVG/31 R/8 HR/34 RBI/2 SB stat line in 201 ABs. Not bad for a 22-year old rookie with basically one year of professional baseball experience.

But here’s the thing; Alex Bregman starts slow like Rogue One. Not much happens in the first half; but then things take off.  After going 1-for-34 at the plate to start his MLB career, Alex Bregman hit .311 for the rest of 2016.

Like his 2016 MLB debut, Alex Bregman did not exactly come roaring out of the gate to start 2017. The .250 AVG in April and .215 AVG made some owners worry that he’d been promoted too quickly. The rest of the season, however, was a different story. Alex Bregman hit .329 in July; .345 in August; and .277 in September.

For the 2017 season, Alex Bregman finished with a .284 AVG/.352 OBP/88 R/19 HR/71 RBI/17 SB stat line. That’s five-category contribution from a player in his first full MLB season. And to think his ownership was barely 50% in June of last year. He was probably responsible for numerous Fantasy Baseball championships in 2017 when savvy owners grabbed him off the waiver wire.

Heading into season, the biggest question about Alex Bregman was which skill would develop. Would he show more speed? Would the power continue to develop, but would he sacrifice AVG for power? I think whatever was expected, Fantasy Baseball owners are universally happy with results.

Like 2016 and 2017; Alex Bregman started 2018 slow. I think there’s a pattern here. After a .278 AVG in April and a .265 AVG in May, the Path of Rage began. Alex Bregman hit .306 in June and .358 so far in July. Heading into the All-Star Break, he’s posted a .288 AVG/.389 OBP/67 R/20 HR/64 RBI/8 SB stat line. He’s also sporting a 56 BB/53 K ratio; and went on a power surge with 11 HRs in June. Maybe a few more SBs were expected; but who’s really going to complain. In today’s speed-starved MLB environment, 15 SBs per season can be a difference-maker.

Alex Bregman was also named the MVP of the 2018 All-Star Game with a go-ahead HR for the AL. The 2018 All-Star Game also featured a record-breaking 10 HRs. Maybe the All-Star Game is the real Home Run Derby.

Keep in mind that Alex Bregman just turned 24 in March. He’s still developing. There’s a scary thought. Unless you’re a dynasty or keeper league owner who feels like doing the happy dance. Go ahead.

With 3B/SS eligibility, Alex Bregman’s got MI and CI covered. And I think that Astros’ lineup will score a few runs. He also looks like a slow-starter; but that’s just the way it is with some players. If you traded Alex Bregman early in the season, you did not learn from history and were doomed to repeat it. But instead of kicking yourself, you can learn from it now. Something to keep in mind for next year.

If you need help with lineup strategies as you make your run for the Fantasy Baseball playoffs, check out SCFE’s Hitting Planner provided by Aaron Hinckley.

Hot Topic No. 2: “The clowns? Oh yeah, the clowns. We fight them too. Entire armies, spilling out of Volkswagens. We do our best to fight them off, but they keep sending ’em in.”

Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Embed from Getty Images

This quote is from Stargate Atlantis; and is another example of quality sci fi humor. If you say clowns are scary to an alien (actually a human being born on another planet) who has no idea what clowns are, you may as well run with it. Blake Snell probably relied on his sense of humor when he was initially left off the AL All-Star roster.

Before being named to the AL All-Star roster as an injury replacement, Blake Snell was looking like this year’s “deserving player who gets screwed out of the All-Star Game because of the ‘every team gets an All-Star’ rule.” Although Blake Snell was spared the injustice when Corey Kluber dropped out with an injury, it should not have come to that.

The same thing happens every year. Worthy players get left off All-Star teams because every MLB team has to have at least one All-Star. For a sport that prides itself on history and dedication to statistics, leaving some of the best performers out of the All-Star Game for non-statistical reasons does not compute.

Here’s an idea; the team hosting the All-Star Game is guaranteed at least one All-Star, and that’s it. Baseball fans will not abandon the game because their team doesn’t have an All-Star. If people don’t watch the All-Star Game, it’s not because their team isn’t represented. It’s just not their thing.

If Blake Snell isn’t a 2018 All-Star, then the term is meaningless. Heading into the All-Star break, Blake Snell has posted a 12-5/2.27 ERA/1.07 WHIP/134 K stat line in 119.0 IP. That’s good for second in the AL in W; fourth in ERA; eighth in K; and eighth in WHIP. And that’s not an All-Star without an injury to someone else? Maybe I’m venting a little bit. It’s cathartic.

Blake Snell was drafted by the Rays in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft (52nd overall). He racked up the Ks in the minors; and tore through the Rays’ farm system in 2015 with an overall 15-4/1.41 ERA/1.02 WHIP/163 K stat line in 134.0 IP across three levels.

He made his MLB debut on April 23, 2016 in a spot start, was sent back down the next day, and was called up for the rest of the season on June 16, 2016. His first MLB season featured decent overall numbers with one glaring problem. Overall, Blake Snell finished 2016 with a 6-8/3.54 ERA/1.62 WHIP/98 K MLB stat line in 89.0 IP.

Anyone see the problem? That 1.62 WHIP is not so good. Along with 98 Ks in his 89.0 IP, there was also the 51 BB. For me, it’s the danger zone any time a pitcher’s BB/9 ratio is above 3.0. Cue Kenny Loggins. In 2016, Blake Snell’s BB/9 ratio was 5.16. Forget danger; that’s impending doom. The career 4.3 BB/9 ratio he had in the minors was probably an indicator.

Heading into 2017, Blake Snell was moved into “dominant stuff but has command issues” territory. The command issues continued, he took a couple of trips to the minors, and overall finished 2017 with a 5-7/4.04 ERA/1.33 WHIP/119 K MLB stat line in 129.1 IP. He showed improved control in the second half, but a 4.18 September ERA was not exactly inspiring.

For 2018 drafts, Blake Snell was still on the radar but had moved into flyer status. The potential was there; but there was still the control issue. Not to mention having to pitch in the AL East. If you took a draft flyer on Blake Snell, go ahead and take a bow.

So what’s the secret to Blake Snell’s meteoric rise? He got some command. His BB/9 ratio this season is 3.55. That’s still not great; but it’s improving. Blake Snell also doesn’t turn 26 until December. He’s got time to learn. Although he’s currently on the 10-day DL with shoulder fatigue, he should be back shortly and there’s no structural damage. There could also be some rest considerations involved with that move.

There’s going to be bumps along the way, and there’s still a learning curve. Command doesn’t happen overnight. He will have a few clunkers (there’s already been 5 BB and 7 BB outings), but the stuff is real and it’s nasty. If the command continues to improve, the sky’s the limit. It looks like the Rays have done it again with a young pitcher. If only they could hang to them. Was that too soon (cough, Chris Archer, cough)?

 

There are SCFE’s Fantasy Baseball 2018 Week 18 Hot Topics. The Fantasy Baseball home stretch has begun; things are getting real. Your team might seem out of it, but if you’ve seen Stargate SG-1 you know all about succeeding in impossible situations. Don’t be afraid to binge watch so you can recharge mentally and make the best moves down the stretch. If all else fails, try blowing up a star. It worked on Stargate SG-1.

Until next time, always never forget to check your references.

David Rubin

Dave started playing fantasy sports during the dark ages of pen and paper. He is also an avid reader and watcher of sci fi, fantasy, horror, and other escapist pursuits. He cannot be found on social media, and he is proud of that.

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