Welcome to the lucky SCFE Week 13 Hot Topics column. Am I worried about the possible karmic repercussions of a Week 13 column? Maybe, baseball is all about superstition. But for the readers, I have to take the risk. I will be avoiding ladders, construction sites, and anything that looks like a scenario from a Final Destination movie for the next few weeks, however.
Summer has officially begun, and the MLB All-Star break is on the horizon. For Fantasy Baseball owners, it’s time to take stock of our teams. Once the All-Star festivities are concluded, the stretch run for the Fantasy Baseball playoffs begins. Roster decisions will be made, hunches will be taken, and Fantasy Baseball seasons will be determined.
Heavy stuff, huh? Always keep in mind that you’re supposed to enjoy this. Even though it takes effort, Fantasy Baseball should never feel like work. That’s why for this week’s column, I decided to stick with a comedy. After last week’s Happy Gilmore-themed column, Tommy Boy seemed like a natural follow-up.
Tommy Boy is part of my frat house theory of movies. Kind of like the Caine/Hackman thesis from PCU. If you walk into any frat house, you can find one or more of the following movies playing somewhere: Billy Madison; Happy Gilmore; Tommy Boy; Dumb and Dumber; Animal House; and/or Revenge of the Nerds. I was in a fraternity in college, and I found this to be true from personal observation. One of these movies was always on. And porn.
But here’s the thing – I find those movies just as funny now as I did back then. No matter how many times I’ve seen them, they still make me laugh. Maybe that’s why movies like Tommy Boy are enduring in their own way and will always have an audience. Sometimes you just need gold old-fashioned crude humor. It may be devoid of intellectual merit, but you feel better from watching it. So relax and have a laugh with your Fantasy Baseball, and here are the Week 13 Hot Topics.
Week 13 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “No, wait. It’s gotta be your bull.”
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
Watching Tommy Boy butcher (pun intended) his sales pitch is like contemplating the possibility of Freddie Freeman playing 3B to keep Matt Adams’ bat in the Braves’ lineup. You get really confused. Who could imagine those words being uttered when this season started?
When Freddie Freeman hit the DL on May 18 with a fractured wrist, you may have felt light-headed. That was oxygen depletion caused by Freddie Freeman owners collectively gasping in horror. With a .341 AVG/35 R/14 HR/25 RBI/4 SB stat line at the time of his injury, Freddie Freeman was in the midst of cementing himself as a first-tier 1B.
Freddie Freeman owners got some comfort that the injury occurred relatively early in the season. Eight weeks was the recovery estimate, so a July/August return looked probable absent any setbacks. Fast forward to this week, and it sounds like Freddie Freeman could be back early.
But why on Earth would the Braves have Freddie Freeman come back to play 3B? Because Matt Adams has gone off like the internet reacting to a cat video. Nobody saw this coming. When he was traded to the Braves on May 20 after receiving no playing time with St. Louis, the back of Matt Adams’ jersey may as well have read “Placeholder.”
It’s amazing how things can change so quickly. Now Matt Adams is the hottest hitter in baseball. No matter how hot he is at the plate, however, defense is not Matt Adams’ particular idiom. So to keep Matt Adams’ bat in the lineup (I still can’t believe I said that), Freddie Freeman is working out at 3B.
Does Freddie Freeman have any 3B experience? He actually does. Of course, it was 2007 in the Gulf Coast League; but it’s still experience. From a Fantasy Baseball perspective, however, does it really matter if Freddie Freeman can play 3B? Not really, unless he struggles in the field and that carries over to the plate, which can happen. The positive far outweighs the potential negative.
And what is the positive? Dual position eligibility. If a player, especially a first-tier player, can give you roster flexibility with added positions, you likey like Tommy Boy likes wingies. Keep in mind, however, that the Braves are still in the “rebuilding” phase of the “tanking/rebuilding” franchise strategy. The Braves may be keeping Matt Adams in the lineup to showcase him for a trade. If that happens, the experiment ends and Freddie Freeman goes back to 1B.
Life is full of surprises; Freddie Freeman’s potential early return from injury and future 3B eligibility are among them. Whatever happens, however, Freddie Freeman owners will be glad just to see him back.
Hot Topic No. 2: “You have a window! Any why shouldn’t you? You’ve been here ten minutes.”
Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
You can never go wrong with the contempt-laden sarcasm of David Spade as Richard Hayden. Some might say this about Cody Bellinger being anointed the Dodgers’ savior after two months in the majors. Dodger haters might be reminding Dodger fans about Joc Pederson in 2015.
Heading into this season, Cody Bellinger was the Dodgers’ top position prospect. A power-hitting lefty 1B who could also play OF would normally start a riot among Fantasy Baseball owners like Black Friday owners being told there was an extra discount for the first 10 people in the store. The problem, however, was that he was blocked everywhere.
The Dodgers’ free-spending ways resulted in a packed roster. There was simply no spot for him without putting a multimillion dollar contract on the bench. In addition, Cody Bellinger is just 21 and had only three games at Triple-A going into 2017. The Dodgers wanted to let him develop.
A plague of April injuries, however, forced the Dodgers’ hand. On April 25, Cody Bellinger got the call. Like Mr. T at the beginning of Rocky III, Cody Bellinger exploded out of the gate and destroyed the competition. You probably don’t hear Dodger fans anxiously discussing when Adrian Gonzalez is returning from the DL.
Through 57 games, Cody Bellinger has a put up a .268 AVG/45 R/24 HR/56 RBI/5 SB stat line. Like Derek Zoolander unleashing Magnum, there are no sufficient words to describe that. Cody Bellinger is going to Wally Pipp somebody.
Keep in mind, Cody Bellinger will struggle. He’s already had a .157 AVG with a 39% K rate in a 15-game stretch during early June. It happens to all young players; just look at the discussion regarding Kyle Schwarber below. The 28.7% overall K rate is troubling, and Cody Bellinger struck out 150 times in 2015 while in the minors. Unless he craters, however, expect him to stick around. The mammoth potential also far outweighs any negatives.
Like Aaron Judge in the AL, Cody Bellinger is turning the NL Rookie of the Year race into a victory lap. You probably shouldn’t expect the same level of production to continue, but Cody Bellinger looks like the real deal. If you grabbed him off the waiver wire, especially in a keeper league, go ahead and do the fat guy in a little coat dance.
Hot Topic No. 3: “Did anyone see Scanners?”
Kyle Schwarber, OF, Chicago Cubs
Another quote from David Spade’s Richard. If you’re a Kyle Schwarber owner, you probably feel like your head is going to explode. Hence the Scanners reference inside the Tommy Boy reference. How many walls did I just break?
With the draft capital expended on Kyle Schwarber this season, owners were expecting a breakout. Instead, they got a breakdown. On June 22, Kyle Schwarber was demoted to Triple-A to “clear his head.” With a .171 AVG, .295 OBP, and 28.7% K rate, maybe he can work on hitting lefties and making some contact while he’s clearing his head in Iowa.
Kyle Schwarber was drafted by the Cubs in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2014 draft. By July of 2015, he was already in the majors. By November of 2016, he was a Cubs legend. Hitting .412 in the World Series after missing the last 160 games of the regular season with an injury will do that.
But here’s the thing – despite two seasons of playoff heroics, Kyle Schwarber really had no track record. When it comes to human memory, primacy and recency are important concepts. Basically, people best remember the first and last things they hear, and stuff in the middle tends to get lost along the way.
Going into this season, what’s the first thing people remembered about Kyle Schwarber? His mammoth home run in the 2015 playoffs. The only reason we’re sure that ball landed is because it wound up on top of the right field scoreboard at Wrigley Field. What’s the last thing people remembered about Kyle Schwarber heading into this season? His mind-blowing performance in the 2016 World Series.
Granted, it’s hard to ignore stuff like that. The problem, however, is that there was essentially nothing in the middle. There was no real MLB body of work from which to draw any accurate conclusions. Heading into 2017, Kyle Schwarber had played in a grand total of 71 regular season MLB games. Not only that, he had only played 147 total minor league games, with less than 60 games at every level.
In some ways, Kyle Schwarber is a victim of his own success. He rocketed through the Cubs’ farm system in basically one year, then was promoted early due to injury, and stuck around because he displayed big time power. Maybe this is the real problem; Kyle Schwarber was never given time to properly develop because he never struggled until now. You can’t learn from your mistakes until you actually make some.
The leg injury last year that caused him to miss 160 games is also a factor. If he had stayed healthy, he probably would have struggled at some point and dealt with it in 2016. Young players struggle; everything just happened so fast for Kyle Schwarber that he never struggled before now.
So should owners cut bait on Kyle Schwarber? I say no. I would even say that even if I wasn’t a Cubs fan. His minor league stay should be short, and the power is still ridiculous. He has good patience, and if he can cut down on the Ks he has the ability to terrorize major league pitching. Unless you’re in a shallow league with great OF options on the waiver wire, you should hang on to Kyle Schwarber at least for the short term.
I hope you enjoyed the Fantasy Baseball Week 13 Hot Topics. If things haven’t been going well for you, Fantasy Baseball or otherwise, take some time and watch your favorite silly comedy. You may not learn anything, but you’ll feel better afterward. I always do. Until next time, remember that knowing is half the battle.
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