Welcome to SCFE’s 2018 Week 11 Hot Topics. The weather has finally heated up, and Fantasy Baseball trends are being established. Some players have turned a corner; while others have turned a corner but fallen down the stairs. It’s amazing how Fantasy Baseball can be fun and frustrating at the same time.
I’m going back to the 1980’s comedy well for this week’s column. If you’ve never heard of Real Genius, you’re missing out. Released in 1985, Real Genius stars Val Kilmer before he was Iceman, Jim Morrison, Doc Holliday, Batman, or Dieter Von Cunth. Huh; one of those things is not like the others.
Real Genius is where my “always never forget to check your references” sign-off comes from. I think the young people enjoy it when I “get down” verbally. It’s a 1980’s comedy with brains, which lets you think while you laugh. It still features standard crude humor, but it’s done in an intellectual way.
This makes sense because the movie is about genius-level college students. Val Kilmer stars as Chris Knight; a top student who does everything possible to avoid responsibility. He wears t-shirts that say “I Love Toxic Waste” and “Surf Nicaragua” to job interviews. He also uses liquid nitrogen as a substitute for coins in vending machines. You get the idea.
The title for this week’s column is a quote from Real Genius when a student explains to his professor that he’s been giving himself shock treatments to stop stuttering. You can see the response above. There aren’t many movies that can make particle physics and electroshock jokes.
It’s important to maintain a sense of humor when it comes to Fantasy Baseball. If your team is buried under the latest avalanche of injuries, a sense of humor keeps you sane. Real Genius lets you chuckle while thinking. That’s probably the best way to approach Fantasy Baseball.
Here are the 2018 Week 11 Hot Topics.
2018 Week 11 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “You’ll rue the day! ‘Rue the Day?’ Who talks like that?”
Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
It’s a rarity when you can work the phrase “rue the day” into casual conversation. The only other movie example I can think of is “extreme rue-age” from Twister. I’m also guessing Fantasy Baseball owners who ignored Javier Baez during draft season rue the day. I guess it can work.
Although Theo Epstein is rightfully credited with vanquishing the Curse of the Billy Goat, Javier Baez was the final first-round draft pick (9th overall) of former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in 2011. Jim Hendry also drafted and signed Javier Baez knowing he was about to be replaced. Gotta give the credit where it’s due.
Javier Baez was called up as part of the first wave of Cubs prospects after the rebuild; and made his MLB debut on August 5, 2014. He crushed an HR as part of his debut but also went 1-6 with 3 Ks for the game. He finished 2014 with a .169 AVG/25 R/9 HR/20 RBI/5 SB stat line in 52 MLB games. The power and speed were legit, but they came with a whopping 41% K rate. Yikes.
Javier Baez spent most of 2015 in the minors, and there were questions heading into 2016 whether there was even a roster spot for him. The Cubs kept the faith, however, and Javier Baez put up a respectable .273 AVG/50 R/14 HR/59 RBI/12 SB stat line for a World Championship team. He also starred in the playoffs and was the 2016 NLCS co-MVP.
He followed up his 2016 exploits with a .273 AVG/75 R/23 HR/75 RBI/10 SB line in 2017. Heading into 2018, Javier Baez was somewhat lost among the big names in the Cubs’ lineup when it came to draft season. Through the first 61 games of this season, he’s commanding attention with a .254 AVG/37 R/14 HR/46 RBI/11 SB stat line.
Javier Baez is currently fourth in the NL in HRs, fourth in RBI, and sixth in SBs. So what’s not to love? Well, there is the fact that he still sports a 25% K rate, although he has improved in that department. The bigger issue is that Javier Baez draws a BB about as often as a redshirt survives the first five minutes of a classic Star Trek episode.
So far this season, Javier Baez has a total of 8 BB, including only one during the entire month of May. Did I mention 4 of those BB were intentional? Javier Baez might become the first player in the modern era to have twice as many HRs as BB, and might also become the sixth player since 1955 (when it became a stat) to have more intentional BB than unintentional. As Steve Stone once said, “if a pitch is in the ballpark, he’s probably swinging at it.”
Based on the above, you shouldn’t be shocked to find out that Javier Baez has a career MLB .298 OBP to go along with a career .255 AVG. In today’s chicks dig the long ball MLB environment, however, you can live with this outside of OBP leagues. Javier Baez is eligible at 2B and SS in most leagues, and he also has CI eligibility in Yahoo leagues. While his plate approach will make him streaky and BABIP-dependent, there’s a lot to like here.
You can take basically anyone in the Cubs’ lineup and say “this guy’s going to have a big year.” This looks like one of those years for Javier Baez, and it could be a breakout season. There’s 100 R/40 HR/100 RBI/20 SB potential here. While the AVG may never be spectacular, there’s not a whole bunch of across-the-board talent out there. If you need MI help (or even CI in Yahoo leagues), maybe there’s an owner in your league looking to sell high.
Hot Topic No. 2: “There was what, no one at the mutant hamster races, we only had one entry into the Madame Curie look-alike contest and he was disqualified later. Why do I bother?”
Alex Reyes, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie. I think it sums up the intellectual goofiness of Real Genius quite nicely. If you drafted Alex Reyes and hung on through the first two months of the season, you’re probably asking yourself, “why did I bother?”
Among Fantasy Baseball owners, Alex Reyes’ 2018 debut was as eagerly anticipated as the release of Green Lantern was by the comic book crowd. Let’s just say neither lived up to expectations. At least with Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds worked out his superhero kinks before he got to Deadpool. That’s probably not very comforting to DC fans, however.
Alex Reyes was signed by the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in December 2012. He features a 100 MPH and a nasty slider that makes hitters look sillier than contestants on SNL’s Will Ferrell-era Celebrity Jeopardy. In 357.1 career minor league IPs, he generated 493 Ks for a ridiculous 12.4 K/9 ratio.
His progress was slowed somewhat by a 50-game suspension for “herbal” pursuits to start the 2016 season. Despite the suspension, however, Alex Reyes made his MLB debut on August 9, 2016. He finished his initial big league cup of coffee with a 4-1/1.57 ERA/1.22 WHIP/52 K stat line in 46.0 IPs.
Heading into 2017, Alex Reyes was talked about as a potential Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear before the hype train could really get going in February 2017. He had Tommy John surgery, and missed the entire season.
Although Alex Reyes started 2018 on the DL with a projected June return, he was still widely drafted based on potential alone. He dominated his minor league rehab starts with a mind-bottling (thank you Chazz Michael Michaels) 3-0/0.00 ERA/0.61 WHIP/44 K stat line in 23.0 IPs.
If you were waiting on Alex Reyes this season, you not only waited on the injury rehab. There were also questions whether the Cardinals were going to use him in the rotation or the bullpen. On May 30, however, it seemed owners’ collective patience would be rewarded when Alex Reyes made his first 2018 MLB appearance as a member of the rotation.
What turned out to be Alex Reyes’ only 2018 MLB outing was like Willie Mays Hays’ action movie Black Hammer, White Lightning in Major League 2. It was only out for about two and a half hours, but I was told that it was in focus. After 4 IPs against the Brewers, he experienced a drop in velocity and was removed from the game.
After being placed on the 10-Day DL the next day with a lat strain, Alex Reyes was diagnosed with a torn tendon in his lat muscle. On June 6, he had season-ending surgery. His total Fantasy Baseball contribution for 2018: 0-0/0.00 ERA/1.25 WHIP/2 Ks in 4.0 IPs. Ouch. That’s a Ron Burgundy punch to the ovary. At least it wasn’t another arm injury. So that’s something. I guess.
Alex Reyes might be turning into Fantasy Baseball’s version of Fred Taylor. A perpetual injury risk who you can’t rely on, but you keep drafting anyway because of sheer potential. The payoff can be immense. The downside, however, is holding a roster spot for two months and then having a grand total of 4 IPs to show for it. That’s almost as bad of a deal as Bret Hart got at Survivor Series 1997.
Although Alex Reyes’ 2018 value is nil in redraft leagues, he still has value in keeper/dynasty formats. He should also be on draft radars for 2019. He’s still only 23-years old and had no significant injury history prior to 2017. It’s still too early to give him Fred Taylor status, but the risk is there. Hopefully, this is just a bump in the road. Pitching phenoms are tough to find.
Those are your Fantasy Baseball 2018 Week 11 Hot Topics. If all hope seems lost, just take some advice from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. DON’T PANIC. There’s still over two months before the Fantasy Baseball playoffs, and we’ve all gotten hot before. Just keep your sense of humor handy.
Until next time, always never forget to check your references. Now you know where I got that. And knowing is half the battle. Yo Joe.
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