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Week 15 Hot Topics: Jobu Needs A Refill Edition

Impact prospects in July are like quality Summer tv shows. If you find one, you better grab on like grim death because there’s not much to look forward to until September.

2018 Week 15 Hot Topics
Photo Credit: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office

Greetings from SCFE’s 2018 Week 15 Hot Topics. I hope everyone had a great July 4th. When you think about it; isn’t Wednesday the worst day for a holiday? You really can’t turn it into a long weekend unless you want to look like a total slacker. I try to look at it like only having two work days and then a break. It’s just like when things look bleak in Fantasy Baseball; you have to look at the positives.

Since we’re in the heart of baseball season, I figured it’s time to go with a classic baseball movie. While Major League is probably a comedy disguised as a baseball movie, baseball is what makes it a classic. It also features an impressive cast when you think about it. You’ve got 1980’s stars Tom Berenger and Corbin Bernsen as well as “look at how young they are” versions of Dennis Haysbert, Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen, and Rene Russo. Not to mention Bob Uecker as play-by-play announcer Harry Doyle. He was Brockmire before there was Brockmire.

For me, Major League is especially nostalgic. Major League was released in 1989, which the was the same year the Cubs made the playoffs for only the second time since 1945. For the youngsters out there; there really was a time the Cubs weren’t very good. I’m serious about that. The Cleveland Indians were also in the middle of their own stretch of futility in 1989. And to think those two teams played in what might be the greatest World Series ever in 2016. Life is a funny thing.

The Cubs team that made the playoffs in 1989 pretty much came out of nowhere. Just like the Cleveland Indians in Major League. In fact, the Cubs’ closer in 1989 was Mitch Williams, who got the nickname “Wild Thing” straight from Major League.

Mitch Williams pretty much was a real-life combination of Ricky Vaughn and Nuke LaLoosh. I still remember Mitch Williams’ (or as Harry Caray called him, “Mitch William”) first regular season game with the Cubs. On opening day of the 1989 season, he walked the bases loaded and then struck out the side (including Mike Schmidt) for the save. It was pretty much like that every time Mitch Williams took the mound. Good times.

Of course, Major League is not only one of the most well-known baseball movies of all time; it’s also one of the most quotable. Lines from Major League have not only become part of the pop culture lexicon, but part of baseball as well. It’s a standard-bearer for my Citizen Kane/Independence Day theory of movies. If you’re flipping through the channels, how can you not watch Major League if it’s on?

If the Fantasy Baseball season hasn’t been treating you well thus far, a viewing of Major League might be just what you need. You can’t help but laugh, and it shows you can always finish the season strong. I guess Major League is inspiring in its own way. Or maybe I just want an excuse to watch it again.

Let’s head just a bit outside (tried the corner and missed) with the 2018 Week 15 Hot Topics.

2018 Week 15 Hot Topics

Hot Topic No. 1: “No way. No way. Too high. Too high.”

Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals

I actually got to use this quote in real life, and someone actually got the reference. If you’ve never seen Major League (and shame on you if you haven’t), this is what an Indians fan in the bleachers says as an HR is leaving the yard. I was at an Indianapolis Indians game a couple of years ago, and I said this as an HR for the opposing team was heading over the fence. The timing was perfect, and someone a few rows down recognized the quote. It’s the little things that make life worth living.

This is probably what Marlins fans were saying watching Trea Turner hit his second HR of the game on July 5 when the Nationals came back from a nine-run deficit to win the game 14-12. That’s assuming there any Marlins fans still watching after the latest off-season fire sale. The Marlins have now had their roster gutted by Wayne Huizenga, Jeffrey Loria, and Derek Jeter. Marlins fans probably feel like the tech staff at Xerox when Steve Jobs and the Apple folks were invited in for a look around.

Back to Trea Turner. On July 5, he put up a 3-5/3 R/2 HR/8 RBI performance, which included his first career grand slam. Trea Turner also tied the MLB record for the most single-game RBI by a leadoff hitter. Not too shabby for a speed guy.

Trea Turner’s status as a consensus first-rounder in this year’s drafts was one of the most galvanizing topics in Fantasy Baseball. Some believed he was overrated due to an overemphasis on the lack of SBs in MLB. Others believed that the scarcity of SBs enhanced the value of players who could provide them, and adjust their rankings accordingly. Like Whovians divided over the first female Doctor (I’m rooting for Jodie Whittaker), the debate raged.

I was in a sort of middle ground. I considered Trea Turner to be a first-round talent, but not Top 5 worthy. The dearth of SBs in modern-day MLB is an undisputable fact. SBs have decreased 30% in the last 30 years. In 2017, there were 117 MLB players with 20 or more HRs, but only 29 players with 20 or more SBs. 34 SBs led the AL in 2017, which was the lowest league-leading total in either the NL or AL since 1962. There’s no way to ignore this when evaluating players for draft purposes.

At the same time, you can’t elevate one category to the point it completely skews your decisions. After all, Billy Hamilton was second in MLB in 2017 with 59 SBs but basically gave owners nothing else. This is why I was ok with Trea Turner as a first-round pick; he can provide more than just SBs.

Even though Trea Turner never reached double-digit HRs in the minors, he has now hit at least 11 HRs in each of his first three MLB seasons. If that’s not proof that it’s easier to hit for power in MLB than it is in the minors, I don’t know what is. Despite missing two months in 2017 with a broken wrist after being hit by a pitch, Trea Turner finished the season with a .284 AVG/75 R/11 HR/45 RBI/46 SB stat line in 98 games. He also returned from the injury and posted a .284 AVG/29 R/4 HR/12 RBI/8 SB line in September, which undoubtedly helped deliver some Fantasy Baseball Championships.

Through July 7, Trea Turner has put up a .282 AVG/54 R/11 HR/37 RBI/22 SB stat line in 88 games. He’s currently tied for third in SBs among all players (only one SB behind the leaders), and his July 5 fireworks demonstrate that the power isn’t a fluke. Did I mention Trea Turner also has a career .352 OBP? Unlike some others, he doesn’t have to worry about the old baseball expression that you can’t steal first.

Some have labeled Trea Turner as a disappointment so far this season; I respectfully disagree. If his production holds steady, he projects to a .270-.280 AVG/15-20 HR/60-70 RBI/40-50 SB season. Considering that SBs are now MLB’s version of Unobtanium, Trea Turner looks like a first-rounder to me.

If there’s an owner in your league who’s somehow disappointed in Trea Turner; make them an offer. It could be your version of Theo Epstein acquiring Jake Arrieta (and Pedro Strop) for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Sorry if that was too soon for Orioles fans.

Hot Topic No. 2: “I think you can go get him now.”

Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

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You can never go wrong with the deadpan wisdom of Lou Brown. I still wonder if Lou sold those Whitewalls before the took the job as the Indians’ manager. I suppose that will be an unanswered question for the ages. As for Kyle Tucker, the quote above describes what Fantasy Baseball owners should be doing right about now.

Impact prospects in July are like quality Summer tv shows. If you find one, you better grab on like grim death because there’s not much to look forward to until September. When it comes to prospects, service time and Super Two deadlines have come and gone by July. If a player hasn’t been called up yet, it typically means the team is waiting until rosters expand in September or might be keeping a player in the minors for the rest of the season.

Of course, this assumes that MLB teams use financial considerations to make decisions regarding player promotions, which doesn’t really happen. Kris Bryant really needed that week in the minors in 2015 to work on some things. I completely believe that. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

Anyway … we’re talking about Kyle Tucker. He was the Astros’ first-round pick (5th overall) in the 2015 MLB draft. From 2011-2015, the Astros’ first-round picks also include George Springer, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Lance McCullers Jr. Wow. Seems like the Astros won the MLB draft this decade. Like the late 1980’s/1990’s Saturday Night Live cast, it’s a freakish collection of talent.

As a 20-year old in 2017, Kyle Tucker posted a .274 AVG/.346 OBP/70 R/25 HR/90 RBI/21 SB stat line in 120 games between Single-A and Double-A. He was one of only 10 minor leaguers with a 20 HR/20 SB in 2017. He was also the youngest player to accomplish this feat since Javier Baez in 2013, and Javier Baez is pretty good.

Heading into this season, Kyle Tucker wasn’t really a factor on draft day because there was no spot for him on the MLB roster. After all, the Astros were the defending World Series Champions; not to mention they already had a loaded lineup. Why would they take a chance on a player who had never played above Double-A? While this wasn’t a factor in dynasty leagues, the lack of draft day attention in redraft leagues was understandable.

In Spring Training this season, Kyle Tucker posted a .409 AVG/13 R/5 HR/21 RBI/2 SB stat line in 20 games. Like the late Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, you could say he made an impression. In 80 games at Triple-A, Kyle Tucker put up a .306 AVG/62 R/14 HR/66 RBI/14 stat line. Not quite Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson; but still video game numbers.

On July 6, I decided it was time to add Kyle Tucker to my rosters. On July 7, he got the call. Maybe I’m becoming psychic. Or maybe I was just really lucky. Either way; I’ll take it.

You really can’t picture a better opportunity for Kyle Tucker. He’s in a ridiculous lineup, so he doesn’t have to worry about protection in the batting order or carrying the offense. The playing time is also there. Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch put it best: “We did call him up to play regularly.” Considering his main competition for playing time is Marwin Gonzalez and the recently demoted Jake Marisnick; Kyle Tucker can expect an extended look from the Astros. And the Astros really need the help on offense. Hopefully, you can detect my sarcasm.

Fantasy Baseball owners should be looking at Kyle Tucker like Shawn Bradley as The Fugitive. “There he is; go get him!” That was just for the Bob and Tom fans out there. If you need OF help, or just have an open roster spot, you should be sprinting for the waiver wire. Five-category prospects don’t show up every day. Just saying.

For the latest news on Kyle Tucker and other promising rookies, check out the SCFE Rookie Report provided by Dennis Sosic.

Those are your Fantasy Baseball 2018 Week 15 Hot Topics. The All-Star break is almost here, and the Fantasy Baseball home stretch is on the horizon. Use the break for roster evaluation and to plan your strategy for a run at the playoffs. Like the Cleveland Indians proved in Major League, you’re never really out of it. If you think a sacrifice would help, feel free to pick up a bucket of fried chicken.

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

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