Welcome back to the SCFE Week 20 Hot Topics column. The Fantasy Baseball playoffs are in sight, and every roster decision is a big one. No pressure, right? No matter where your team is at, however, don’t get freaked out. If you’re not having fun, you’re missing the point of Fantasy Baseball.
Speaking of fun, I’ve seen fans wearing Save Ferris t-shirts at Cubs games. If you have no idea what that means, I pity you. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a movie you have to see at least once before you die. Released in 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was basically imprinted on your DNA if you grew up during the 1980’s. Especially if you lived in the Chicagoland area.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a 1980’s teen comedy directed by John Hughes. When it comes to the pantheon of 1980’s teen movies, John Hughes is the pantheon. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science – these are all John Hughes movies. He also directed Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck. His writing credits are too numerous to list. If you watch movies, you’ve almost certainly seen one where John Hughes was involved.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the ultimate self-affirmation movie for teenagers. The movie stars Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, the most self-aware teenager of all time. Despite only being a high school senior, Ferris is already smarter and wiser than his parents, principal, and every other adult he encounters.
The movie tells the story of Ferris Bueller faking sick one last time before he graduates. It’s his ninth sick day; one more and he has to barf up a lung. Over the course of the day, Ferris drives a Ferrari, catches a foul ball at a Cubs game, and leads a parade in downtown Chicago. If you were a teenager in the 1980’s, you wanted to be Ferris Bueller.
This is how I came up with the theme for this week’s column. Seeing a Save Ferris t-shirt makes me happy. If you’ve ever played the Ferris Bueller drinking game, you’re intimately familiar with the “Save Ferris” scene. Good times. If you can remember them.
When making Fantasy Baseball roster moves at this time of year, you have to be confident. The playoffs are on the line, and you can’t hesitate. My suggestion? Picture yourself as Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. If you don’t get that, see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Right now. I mean it.
Here are the SCFE Fantasy Baseball Week 20 Hot Topics.
Week 20 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
If you think I got that quote from a pizza commercial, I weep for you. This is the signature quote from Ferris Bueller. Like that quote, if you weren’t paying attention the last couple of months then you might have missed out on Aaron Nola.
In Fantasy Baseball, as in life, sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make. A few months ago, I considered dropping Aaron Nola in my auction league because I needed to make a pitching move. I made a different move, and like Al Pacino turning down the Han Solo role in Star Wars, I’m glad it didn’t happen.
Through August 13, Aaron Nola has compiled a 9-7 record with a 3.02 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 125 Ks in 119.1 IP. Like trying to explain the plot of Dune in five minutes, however, those numbers can’t possibly tell the story.
Aaron Nola was the 2014 first-round draft pick of the Phillies (seventh overall). Scouts described him as a “polished” pitching prospect. Translation – he’s got good command, but we’re not sure about his velocity. Aaron Nola looked like the classic “better in real life than Fantasy player.” As a top prospect, however, you had to stay tuned.
Aaron Nola’s first real MLB opportunity was in 2016. It was a mixed bag, to say the least. A 6-9 record with a 4.78 ERA and 1.31 WHIP were not so good. On the other hand, the 121 Ks in 111.0 IP were encouraging.
Aaron Nola had a 2.65 ERA through first 12 starts of 2016. He went on the DL on August 3, 2016, with a strained right elbow, and he missed the rest of the season. Maybe injuries were a problem after those first 12 starts. Just maybe. The potential was there. During spring training, Aaron Nola looked healthy and the velocity was up. He became a trendy sleeper in some quarters.
If you drafted Aaron Nola in 2017, the early-season results were not exactly encouraging. He landed on the DL with a lower back strain on April 24 after only three starts. His first start off the DL on May 21 was encouraging (7.0 IP/1 ER/4 H/2 BB/5 Ks), but four out of the next five were ugly. The Ks were decent, however, and that is why I didn’t cut Aaron Nola.
Here’s why I’m glad I didn’t make that move – on June 22, Aaron Nola’s path of rage began. ECW fans will get that one. Since then, Aaron Nola has not given up more than two ERs in his last 10 starts. His stat line for those starts: 6-2 record/1.71 ERA/.99 WHIP/78 Ks in 68.1 IP. Wow.
Keep in mind that Aaron Nola put together that 6-2 record over his last 10 starts for a Phillies team with the worst record in MLB and a musical chairs bullpen. Did I mention he just turned 24 in June? Like watching Christian Bale in Batman Begins, there’s a lot to like for the future of the franchise.
Somehow, Aaron Nola is unowned in 17% of ESPN leagues and 10% of Yahoo leagues. If you need pitching help, go ahead and check your waiver wire right now. I don’t mind waiting. You back? If Aaron Nola was still available, you’re welcome.
Hot Topic No. 2: “Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, d—kheads; they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals
Mike “Moose” Moustakas was one of the picks in my preseason bounceback hitters article. Feeling pretty good about that one. If you’re a Mike Moustakas owner, the quote above probably sums up your feelings toward him.
You have to love that quote. It’s from the legendary comedic actress Edie McClurg as Grace, the high school principal’s secretary we all remember. If you’re not familiar with 1980’s slang, this quote is your Rosetta Stone. Edie McClurg is also part of the greatest f bomb scene of all time in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. That is another movie you need to see at least once before you die. Just saying.
As for Mike Moustakas, he’s been snapping necks and cashing checks in 2017. Thank you, Step Brothers. For the draft capital you spent on Mike Moustakas, you’re probably feeling like an early Amazon investor right about now.
Through August 12, Mike Moustakas has posted a .284 AVG/62 R/34 HR/75 RBI stat line in 106 games. He’s tied for third in HRs in all of baseball (one behind Aaron Judge for the AL lead). He also has the most HRs among all MLB 3B. I guess the Home Run Derby didn’t mess up his swing.
But that’s not all. Mike Moustakas is three HRs away from setting the Royals’ single-season HR record. And he’s an impending free agent at what’s become a thin position. Mike Moustakas is going to get paid in 2018 like Disney for The Last Jedi.
As I discussed in my bounce back hitters article, Mike Moustakas has everything you look for in a breakout player. The 2007 first-round pick of the Royals (second overall), he cut down on his strikeouts every year in MLB, improved his walk rate, and maintained his power. The only reason he didn’t break out in 2016 was a freak injury after colliding with a teammate that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Mike Moustakas didn’t fail to perform in 2016; he just got hurt. He’s been healthy this season, and the results speak for themselves. The Moose is definitely loose. If you took a draft flyer on Mike Moustakas or grabbed him off the waiver wire, go ahead and do the happy dance.
For some bizarre reason, Mike Moustakas is unowned in 11% of ESPN leagues and 12% of Yahoo leagues. Although the chances are slim if you need CI help in any league you should stop reading right now and check your waiver wire. Just in case. You never know.
Hot Topic No. 3: “Here’s where Cameron goes berserk.”
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
Cameron Frye’s scream heard throughout Chicago after discovering the extra miles on his father’s priceless antique Ferrari sums up the feelings of Fantasy Baseball owners after seeing the footage of Bryce Harper’s injury on August 12. Seriously; that was brutal. I really didn’t need to see it from multiple angles.
It’s been a bad few weeks for injuries, hasn’t it? In the last two weeks, Salvador Perez, James Paxton (the Mariners have nine pitchers on the DL right now!), Lance McCullers, Willson Contreras, and Michael Brantley all wound up on the DL. On August 9, Johan Camargo of the Braves hit the DL after suffering a bone bruise to his knee while jogging onto the field before a game even started. Is MLB looking for a cameo on Game of Thrones?
It’s also been a rough season for the Nationals on the injury front. They’ve already lost Adam Eaton for the season. With the Bryce Harper injury, the Nationals’ starting OF has basically gone bye-bye. Not to mention injuries to Trea Turner and Stephen Strasburg. Fantasy owners might start petitioning the Nationals to perform an exorcism.
This was a redemptive season for Bryce Harper. In 2016, he posted a .243 AVG/84 R/24 HR/86 RBI/21 SB stat line. Except for the AVG, these are not terrible numbers. The problem is that Bryce Harper was going first overall in some 2016 drafts. With that level of return, 2016 Bryce Harper owners felt like Bernie Madoff investors.
Every meaningful indicator pointed to 2016 being an aberration, however. Bryce Harper played all last season with lingering injuries, got Jedi mind tricked by Joe Maddon in May after a monster April, and had a hilariously career-low .264 BABIP (career .323 BABIP). Basically, Bryce Harper was the living embodiment of Murphy’s Law in 2016.
Bryce Harper still doesn’t turn 25 until October. Sometimes we forget he debuted as a teenager in 2012. This season, he posted a .326 AVG/92 R/29 HR/87 RBI/2 SBs in 106 games through August 12. Bryce Harper was back to being Bryce Harper.
And then the August 12 game against the Giants happened. I am not going to describe it. That was the scariest looking injury I’ve seen in a long time. But thankfully for baseball fans and Fantasy Baseball owners everywhere, it’s the best-case scenario possible. Bryce Harper miraculously avoided any ligament or tendon damage. Of course, he immediately went on the DL; but the fact that Bryce Harper is expected back in 2017 is a lifeline to Fantasy owners.
Did this have anything to do with the composition of the base? I’m guessing the cost to find out would be minimal. With the amount of money at stake for both teams and players, this is at the very least a question worth answering.
From a Fantasy Baseball perspective, injuries are the new black in baseball this year. It’s really getting old. For Bryce Harper owners, just keep telling yourself it could have been infinitely worse. Bryce Harper didn’t just dodge a bullet; he dodged a firing squad. Keep the faith.
I hope you enjoyed the Fantasy Baseball Week 20 Hot Topics. This can be a stressful time in Fantasy Baseball, but it should always be fun. Otherwise, it’s just work. Fantasy Baseball should never be work. Enjoy the playoff chase. Until next time, don’t get caught watching the paint dry.
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