Welcome to the SCFE Week 6 Hot Topics column. If you had a pitcher go down with an injury this week, take a drink. If you had two pitchers hit the DL this week, take another two drinks. I could keep going like playing the Ferris Bueller drinking game. Let’s just say it was an ugly week for pitchers. If you want all the gory details, check out the Injury Report provided by Dylan Tully.
So how do we cheer ourselves up after a soul-crushing week? A trip to a galaxy far, far away works for me. May 4 is the formerly unofficial, now official, Star Wars Day. This month also marks the 40th anniversary of the premiere of A New Hope. Of course, back then it was just called Star Wars. Yes, I am old enough to remember that (sigh).
At any rate, Star Wars is more than a collection of films. For some, myself included, Star Wars defined our childhood. The Star Wars movies may also be the most influential films of all time in terms of cultural impact. Even if you’ve never seen any of the movies (and if you haven’t, congratulations for waking up from the coma), you have either heard or even used quotes from them numerous times in your life.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Star Wars is that absolutely no one saw it coming. In 1976, George Lucas was a young director with only one major movie studio picture under his belt (American Graffiti). After he filmed what he called a “space opera,” he screened the film for a group of movie studio executives. They hated it, and told George Lucas it would bomb at the box office. Not only that, they told him the movie was so worthless that he could just keep all the merchandising rights. They also told him he should replace the now-iconic John Williams orchestral score with a disco soundtrack. Yes, all these things actually happened.
This is not just a tale of a once-in-a-generation multibillion dollar screw up (I’m guessing several people got fired for that one), but might just sum up what Star Wars is all about. No matter what anyone else says, you must believe in yourself. How else could a farm boy defeat a Galactic Empire? Fantasy Baseball is just like Star Wars: You have to believe. Let’s make the calculations for the jump to lightspeed, and get ready for the Week 6 Hot Topics.
Week 6 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “Let the hate flow through you.”
Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets
This quote from the Emperor in Return of the Jedi pretty much sums up the feelings of Mets fans and Fantasy Baseball owners towards the Mets organization. The saddest thing about this is you could see it coming. Kind of like the “mystery” of Darth Sidious’ identity in the prequel trilogy. When the same actor who played the Emperor in the original trilogy showed up as Senator Palpatine in The Phantom Menace, we kinda figured it out.
As for Noah Syndergaard, we’ve seen this scenario play out before. Pitcher X doesn’t feel right during a workout or bullpen session, but convinces the team to start him anyway. We all know what happens next. I am a Syndergaard owner in my auction league, and I actually said to myself before that last start, “I just hope he doesn’t get blown up in the first inning and then leaves the game with a serious injury.” Maybe I should’ve bought a lottery ticket, because I apparently turned psychic.
The fact that Noah Syndergaard refused an MRI and the Mets let him is mind-bottling (thank you Chazz Michael Michaels). Unless a player has the initials “M.D.” after their name, they should not be diagnosing their own injuries.
As an aside, my auction league team saw Noah Syndergaard, James Paxton, Ian Kennedy, and Greg Bird hit the DL this week. Aaron Nola and Steven Matz were already on the DL for my team. To the Fantasy Baseball gods – whatever I did, I’m sorry. If you want me to sacrifice a chicken Pedro Cerrano style, I will.
Back to Noah Syndergaard, at least it’s a not an arm injury. He will not throw for six weeks, and will need time after that to ramp up his throwing. An early August return is probably the most optimistic estimate. Unless the Mets announce he is done for the season, you have to hang onto him in redraft leagues. Even two months of Noah Syndergaard is still two months of Noah Syndergaard. You can’t walk away from the draft investment. In keeper and a dynasty formats, it’s a no-brainer; he stays.
Let’s be real; no one you find on the waiver wire is going to replace Thor. But like Luke Skywalker getting his hand cut off and finding out Darth Vader is his father in The Empire Strikes Back, you have to deal with reality and move on the best you can. To find out the best options, head over to the Waiver Wire column by Dennis Sosic.
Hot Topic No. 2: “Don’t get cocky.”
Antonio Senzatela, SP, Colorado Rockies
Han Solo’s remark to Luke Skywalker from A New Hope should be the watchword for Antonio Senzatela owners. If you’ve never seen it, you should also check out the Peter Griffin variant on this quote from the Family Guy Blue Harvest episode. Funny stuff.
The NL Rookie of the Month for April, Antonio Senzatela has posted a 4-1 record with a 2.84 ERA and 1.03 WHIP through his first six major league starts. If you snagged him off the waiver wire, you probably are doing the Ewok celebration dance from Return of the Jedi. Ian Desmond also nicknamed him “Little Prince” because he’s from the same town as Felix Hernandez. According to Ian Desmond, “he’s the next king in waiting.”
Let’s pump the brakes here. Although the ERA and WHIP look good, Antonio Senzatela only has 20 Ks in 38 IP. He also never pitched above Double-A before this season. Let’s see about this; a rookie pitcher who doesn’t strike guys out with half his starts at Coors Field? What could possibly go wrong here? As Nicholas Cage said in Con Air describing Steve Buscemi’s Garland Greene, “my first guess would be . . . a lot.”
Here’s what is truly concerning. Antonio Senzatela is currently sporting a .235 BABIP. That is hilariously low. Basically, he has been as lucky as Harrison Ford when Al Pacino turned down the Han Solo role and then Tom Selleck turned down Indiana Jones. What I just said is something else that actually happened.
If you’re an Antonio Senzatela owner, expect to see the cherries and berries when the regression police show up. Even if he continues to perform, expect an innings limit. You can continue to ride him until things blow up, but expect the Death Star when it happens. To borrow another ubiquitous Star Wars line: “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Hot Topic No. 3: “The Force is strong with this one.”
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
Another quote from A New Hope, Darth Vader’s statement during the Death Star trench run sums up Freddie Freeman’s start to the 2017 season.
After two relatively down seasons in 2014 and 2015, Freddie Freeman appeared to be headed down the solid but unspectacular career path. Of course, injuries and a Braves team in tanking/rebuilding mode may have been a factor.
Like Luke discovering that size matters not, 2016 was a revelation for Freddie Freeman. With a .302 AVG/102 R/34 HR/91 RBI/6 SB stat line, he entered 2017 as a borderline first tier 1B. After putting up a .349 AVG/26 R/11 HR/19 RBI/4 SB line through May 7, I’d say he crossed the border.
As for concerns about moving to a new home park, Freddie Freeman has hit .438 with four HRs through the first 10 games at SunTrust Park. It’s a small sample size to be sure, but it looks like Freeman is going to enjoy the new digs in Atlanta. A 13% BB rate in 2016 and a career-high 41% flyball rate demonstrate both patience and increased power potential. If the Braves’ prospects develop and the lineup around him improves, he should also see increased counting stat opportunities.
Like the Jedi getting bushwhacked by Order 66, the lack of quality depth at 1B happened fast. At age 27 and entering his prime, Freddie Freeman is becoming a major star at a thin position. I guess you could say he’s taken his first step into a larger world.
Hot Topic No. 4: “IT’S A TRAP!”
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Admiral Ackbar’s warning in Return of the Jedi is for any panicky Kris Bryant owners out there. If you’re a Bryant owner, you may have been approached by someone in your league with a trade offer. Maybe they’re telling you he’s started off slow, he’s a sell high candidate, and he doesn’t hit in a good RBI lineup spot.
These nefarious individuals are just trying to Jedi mind trick you. Follow Jabba the Hutt’s advice and don’t be a weak-minded fool. This is Kris Bryant we’re talking about. The first player in the history of baseball to win the Collegiate Player of the Year, Minor League Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and MVP awards in consecutive seasons.
As for his “slow start,” Kris Bryant is hitting .409 for the first week of May with a .311 AVG/22 R/6 HR/16 RBI/4 SB stat line heading into May 7. Do not even consider trading him. He is the chosen one who will bring balance to the Force. Did I mention the fact he is OF eligible this year?
If you’re lucky enough to be a Kris Bryant owner, just enjoy the show. Forget about slumps or alleged slow starts. You drafted him with complete confidence for a reason. Don’t let someone swindle you into trading him. As master Yoda said: “Do or do not, there is no try.” Kris Bryant will be just fine.
There are your Fantasy Baseball Week 6 Hot Topics. If you’re feeling down about a recent rash of injuries, watch some Star Wars. There’s still a long season ahead, and Star Wars will always make you feel better about Fantasy Baseball and life in general. Until next time, may the Schwartz be with you.
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