Welcome back to SCFE’s 2018 Week 21 Hot Topics. My apologies to the readers out there for my recent two-week hiatus. Sometimes work takes over everything else in your life. That’s why they call it work. But now I’m back for what really matters. That’s right; the Fantasy Baseball playoffs are almost here.
With only a few weeks left before the Fantasy Baseball playoffs, every roster decision takes on added significance. The right moves can be the difference between competing for Fantasy Baseball glory or finishing the season in the consolation bracket.
At that this time of year, everyone’s looking for that roster add that will shore up their team or give them the spark they’re looking for. Every year, players come out of nowhere in the second half and run roughshod like Thanos in the last ten minutes of Infinity War. Don’t worry, Marvel fans. Most everyone will be back. They’re still under contract. Which is more powerful than an Infinity Gauntlet.
When I think of pleasant surprises that come out of nowhere, I think of The Other Guys. Released in 2010, The Other Guys is a buddy cop action comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The two stars play police detectives who are partnered up because they’re the joke of the department.
Will Ferrell plays Allen Gamble, a forensic accountant who drives a Prius and seeks to avoid action at all costs. Marky Mark (without the Funky Bunch) plays Terry Hoitz, nicknamed the “Yankee Clipper” because he mistakenly shot Derek Jeter during the World Series. Hence the title for this week’s column. Derek Jeter is actually in the movie and has a classic line. “You d***! I’m Derek Jeter! You shot me!” This leads to the following quotes from other characters: “He’s a biracial angel!” and “You should’ve shot A-Rod!”
You also have Michael Keaton as the beleaguered police captain. He doesn’t want to be called “Captain Gene” because he doesn’t have a kiddie show and it sounds creepy otherwise. He also randomly quotes TLC lyrics without knowing it. Trust me; you’ll laugh when you see it.
Like late-season Fantasy Baseball stars who rise from obscurity, The Other Guys basically came out of nowhere. The movie resulted from Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg randomly having dinner together. It also happened because movie studios weren’t interested in making Anchorman 2 at the time.
The great thing about The Other Guys is that everyone involved appreciated what it was. It was a movie that just came together, and nobody was trying to win an Academy Award. Everybody just had a good time. If you’ve never seen The Other Guys, it’s one of the most secretly hilarious and quotable movies of all time.
To bring this back to Fantasy Baseball (I really did have a point); it’s those players who come from nowhere that can make the difference down the stretch. Like watching The Other Guys, you just need to identify them and have fun with it. For this week’s column, I’m taking a look at a couple of players who fit that bill.
Let’s get to it with the 2018 Week 21 Hot Topics. Please refrain from any desk pops or apartment pops. Watch The Other Guys; you’ll get it.
2018 Week 21 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “I’m like a peacock! You gotta let me fly!”
Harrison Bader, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Actually, peacocks can fly. Just not very far. But you get the point. One of the many things I enjoy about The Other Guys is how Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg take ridiculous dialogue and treat it like it’s Hamlet. They’re basically channeling Adam West and Burt Ward from the 1960’s Batman show.
The quote above describes the recent surge of Harrison Bader. Sometimes, teams just need to give a player an opportunity and see what they do with it. In the case of Harrison Bader, he’s certainly making the most of it right now.
Harrison Bader was a third-round pick of the Cardinals in 2015. He made his MLB debut on July 25, 2017, and put up a .235 AVG/10 R/3 HR/10 RBI/2 SB stat line in 32 games.
Although his first MLB cup of coffee was unimpressive, the minor league numbers were solid. Heading into 2018, however, Harrison Bader was blocked like a 1990’s point guard driving the lane against Dikembe Mutombo. Between Dexter Fowler (signed a big contract in 2017), Marcell Ozuna (acquired from the Miami Marlins over the offseason), and Tommy Pham (coming off a breakout season), the Cardinals looked pretty set in the OF.
Like the reaction to Dave Bautista returning at the 2014 Royal Rumble, however, things did not go exactly as planned for the Cardinals. Tommy Pham went from breakout to breakdown, and was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Dexter Fowler demonstrated the danger of giving big money to players in their 30’s. Marcell Ozuna looks more like he did in 2016 than 2017.
Enter Harrison Bader. After putting up solid AAA numbers in 2017 (.283 AVG/74 R/20 HR/55 RBI/15 SB), he was called up on April 3, 2018 and started the year as the Cardinals’ fourth OF. He received semi-regular playing time due to his knack for making highlight-reel defensive plays, and the Cardinals decided to give him an extended look after cutting bait with Tommy Pham.
Through August 20, Harrison Bader has posted a .281 AVG/47 R/9 HR/25 RBI/12 SB stat line in 102 games. He’s also hitting .333 with 3 HRs and 3 SBs so far in August. He can hit and he can run. His defensive wizardry will also keep him in the lineup.
Harrison Bader is also part of the latest Cardinals’ resurgence in the standings. As a Cubs fan, I know that the Cardinals are like Jason Voorhees; you have to blow them up into pieces and then mail the pieces separately around the world to truly get rid of them. And I mean that with the utmost respect.
Harrison Bader is currently owned in 32% of Yahoo leagues and 42% of ESPN leagues. If you need OF help down the stretch, you should be checking your waiver wire right about now. Go ahead; I’ll wait.
Although the NL Rookie Of The Year race basically features Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna vs. everyone else, other rookies actually do exist. For all your rookie information, head over to SCFE’s Rookie Report provided by Dennis Sosic.
Hot Topic No. 2: “I was so drunk last night. I thought a tube of toothpaste was astronaut food.”
David Bote, 3B, Chicago Cubs
If you’ve never heard this quote before, I dare you to tell me you didn’t laugh out loud when you read that. If you said at the beginning of this season that David Bote would be a contributor for the Chicago Cubs, people would’ve laughed and called you crazy. Or drunk. Probably both.
In fact, if you had even heard of David Bote before this season you’re probably a relative. David Bote was not just off the Fantasy Baseball radar to start the season. He wasn’t even in the Fantasy Baseball universe. He might as well have been trapped in the Phantom Zone.
David Bote was drafted by the Cubs in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB draft. David Bote only found out he was drafted second-hand because he was on a religious mission in Africa at the time. That’s right; David Bote was on a mission from God. Whenever I can work in a Blues Brothers reference, I have to do it.
To say David Bote was not a heralded prospect is like saying there was some mild displeasure about Michael Keaton (keeping with The Other Guys theme) being cast as Batman for the 1989 movie. That was so controversial among the fanboy crowd that it caused internet backlash before there even was an internet.
Prior to 2017, David Bote had never hit more than 7 HRs in any season in the minors. The Cubs’ organization decided to make an adjustment to his swing, and then the power began to emerge. This is a big part of the reason for the Cubs’ success. It wasn’t just the high draft picks and top prospects acquired in trades; it was also about investing in a player development system. For more details about Theo Epstein’s awesomeness, check out my victory lap column from the Cubs’ 2016 World Series win.
Even though he improved, you can understand why David Bote wasn’t making headlines coming into 2018. At 3B, he was blocked by some guy named Kris Bryant. Not to mention the Cubs already had a pretty solid roster.
Due to injuries, however, David Bote was repeatedly called up for short MLB stints in April, May, and June. Even though he went back down each time, he made an impression. When Kris Bryant hit the DL with recurring shoulder problems and no recovery timetable, David Bote got the call on July 26 for an extended look.
If you follow baseball at all, you’ve heard of David Bote by now. On August 12, David Bote became part of baseball history with an “Ultimate Slam.” A walk-off grand slam HR (as a pinch hitter with two strikes, by the way) in the bottom of the ninth. The only thing he didn’t do was hit the ball into the lights. If you don’t get that, you’re not a baseball fan.
This also wasn’t David Bote’s first brush with the dramatic. He had a game-tying HR in the bottom of the ninth on July 26. Overall, he’s put up a .303 AVG/14 R/3 HR/18 RBI/3 SB stat line in 89 ABs through August 18. Not too shabby.
Stories like David Bote’s are the reason sports resonate with so many. It’s why movies like Rudy never get old. Everybody loves an underdog story. Except for Joe Montana apparently. He’s not much of a Rudy fan.
Because sports are fundamentally competitive and widely watched, they present perhaps the most visible opportunity for the underdog story to play out in real life. USA 4/USSR 3; Villanova over Georgetown; Buster Douglas; UMBC over Virginia; Average Joes over Globo Gym. You don’t have to say anything else; people automatically know what you’re talking about.
Is David Bote the future at 3B for the Cubs? Absolutely not. David Bote would be the first one to tell you that. As long as he’s playing, however, he’s flashed Fantasy-relevant skills. Even after Kris Bryant returns, he’s made a strong case to stick around. David Bote is everything Joe Maddon loves; he can play multiple positions (he’s also 2B-eligible in ESPN leagues), he’s solid defensively, and he’s a “gamer.”
David Bote is currently owned in 5% of ESPN leagues and 2% owned in Yahoo leagues. He’s really a deep league consideration at this point, but if you really need help you may as well ride the hot hand for as long as it lasts. No matter what else happens, it’s still a fun story.
There are your Fantasy Baseball 2018 Week 21 Hot Topics. Although the home stretch of the Fantasy Baseball season can feel stressful, never forget this is supposed to be fun. If it feels like work, you’re doing something wrong. Watch The Other Guys if you need to relax. Look for players out of nowhere on the waiver wire, and have some fun with it. Just don’t try aiming for the pool. It won’t work.
Until next time, always never forget to check your references.
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