Pictured: Jacob deGrom
Source: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images North America

Miami Marlins

Let the process continue. After 24 rookie-eligible players saw time in 2018 for the Marlins in the first year of a rebuild, Miami aims to see progress from its core in ’19. CEO Derek Jeter has preached building a sustainable winner by infusing young talent into all levels of the organization. Some — like former top prospect Lewis Brinson — are hoping for bounce-back seasons, all while rocking a new look. The Marlins have ditched the former ownership’s rainbow color scheme for a more Miami feel.

But what matters most is what happens on the field. The Marlins avoided a 100-loss season by going 63–98. In the process, they saw Brian Anderson blossom into a National League Rookie of the Year candidate. Starting pitchers Trevor Richards and Pablo Lopez showed promise after being called up. Time will tell whether they take the next step in their development.

Atlanta Braves

Anyone who has ever done a long highway drive has had that moment. You realize that, somehow, you have driven 20 miles from where you last remember being, but you have no recollection of how you got there. It felt like that in Atlanta. The Braves, who were coming off three consecutive 90-loss seasons, are suddenly good again, winning 90 games in 2018, and it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. The Braves enter 2019 as not only one of the best teams in the National League, but also the veterans of a surprise playoff appearance last fall.

The problem with “prospects” (and Atlanta has plenty of them) is that they are like bread in an old toaster. You’re pretty sure that they’ll eventually pop up, but sometimes they don’t, and even when they do, you’re not entirely sure what the results will be. Fortunately for the Braves, there was a lot of good toast to go around at SunTrust Park, and there’s likely to be more popping up soon.

New York Mets

The Mets went looking for a new general manager last season, and some candidates recommended a roster teardown. That’s not what the Wilpon family wanted to hear, so they hired Brodie Van Wagenen, a charismatic agent who promised he could make the Mets a winner, both now and for years to come. We’ll have to see it to believe it with this offense, but the Mets’ pitching talent, that includes 2018 Cy Young recipient Jacob deGrom, at least gives them a shot.

Philadelphia Phillies

Despite an inconsistent offense and the worst defense in the majors, the Phillies put together four good months — followed by two horrendous months — and improved by 14 wins in 2018.

Management promised a busy offseason as it looked to take the next step in 2019, but vaulting from 80 wins into the playoff picture will depend largely on the improvement of a returning core that surrounds a few newcomers. The Phillies do have a star in right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola and a couple of potential stars in Rhys Hoskins and Seranthony Dominguez. But unless they add another one before Opening Day, the Phils are probably a middle-of-the-pack club in the National League East.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals thought they needed big changes after their 97–65 first-place finish in 2017, firing manager Dusty Baker following the NLDS flameout and replacing him with Dave Martinez. But after the Nats finished 15 games worse in 2018 and lost their stranglehold on the NL East, we can definitively say the manager wasn’t the problem.

This offseason was focused on a central question, with a corollary: Could the Nationals afford to keep Bryce Harper? And did they really want him? Even as those questions were playing out, GM Mike Rizzo continued building a roster meant to contend again in 2019, with or without Harper. And with a rotation headed by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and newcomer Patrick Corbin, they’re a good bet to do so. 

Posted in MLB, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking the National League East in order of watchability

5. Miami Marlins

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
64-98 65-97 J.T. Realmuto (2.8 WAR)

 

Oof. This is … going to be a shame. An unwatchable, contemptible shame. Without Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon – each of them liquidated in Derek Jeter’s barbaric offseason teardown – the Marlins are the baseball equivalent of the second season of “True Detective,” or anything starring Kevin Hart. Assuming he isn’t traded by the time you finish this sentence, their best player is J.T. Realmuto, who j– nope, he just got traded. Sorry. (Amazingly, the Marlins will still have a J.T. in their lineup on a regular basis in 2018: J.T. Riddle, who you probably best remember as the villain from the second Harry Potter book, will be their everyday shortstop once he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery.) In a sense, the Marlins are the team that could most afford to be unwatchable, seeing as nobody watched them when they actually were watchable, but, like, yeesh. Imagine anyone saying these words in this order: “Man, I’m so stoked for the Marlins game tonight. Jose Urena is starting!”

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4. Philadelphia Phillies

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
75-87 81-81 Aaron Nola (3.9 WAR)

 

As the Phillies just proved, it’s virtually impossible to spend upward of $140 million on free agents in a single offseason and still wind up the least watchable team in your division (notable exception: the San Diego Padres). This is still a development year in Philadelphia, their winter spending spree notwithstanding, but aggressive re-investment in the 25-man roster suggests the Phillies think they’re close. Taking a look at their tentative Opening Day lineup, it’s not hard to see why: J.P. Crawford, their first-round pick in the 2013 draft, is a veritable toolshed; Rhys Hoskins, who turned 25 last week, blasted 18 homers in 50 games with the big-league club last year; Jorge Alfaro, who also dazzled in a late-season cameo with the Phillies in 2017, is widely considered the second-best catching prospect in the game. Now, in addition to those could-be superstars, the Phillies also have some legitimate, veteran studs in Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek (yes, he’s a reliever, I know), and former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. It’s a compelling mix. Oh yeah, and they still have Odubel Herrera, of course.

3. Atlanta Braves

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
72-90 76-86 Freddie Freeman (4.1 WAR)

 

Clearly, the Braves are a little behind the Phillies in terms of their rebuild timeline – following a 72-90 finish in 2017, the only major-league free agent they signed this offseason was Peter Moylan. But with all due respect to J.P. Crawford and Jake Arrieta, the Braves will still be more fun to watch than the Phillies in 2018, mostly because of Ronald Acuna, the consensus top prospect in baseball (non-Ohtani division) thusly summed up by Baseball Prospectus’ Jeffrey Paternostro in November:

Gary Sheffield came up in a discussion of the offensive profile to try to describe Acuna’s combination of bat speed and barrel control. He has potential 70 game power and an advanced, all-fields approach that doesn’t require him to sell out to tap into his mammoth pop. He has enough arm for right if you happen to have a 7 center fielder lying around your roster. This is how you smoke the upper minors as a 19-year-old. This is how you get an OFP 80.

Gary Sheffield! Dude is evoking comparisons to Gary Sheffield! Imagine having a 20-year-old Gary Sheffield in your team’s lineup. Hell, imagine having present-day Gary Sheffield in your team’s lineup. He’d still rake, I bet. Seriously, though, having the game’s most heralded prospect counts for a lot, watchability-wise, even though Acuna will spend at least the first couple weeks of the season embarrassing Triple-A competition for the purposes of service-time manipulation.

2. New York Mets

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
82-80 80-82 Noah Syndergaard (5.5)

 

Watching the Mets is probably best suited to horror-movie fans, because the initial serenity of, say, Noah Syndergaard blowing fools away with his 101-mph four-seamer is invariably followed by some gruesome scene, like Noah Syndergaard tearing a lat muscle because the club didn’t force him to take an MRI even after he complained of soreness. Still, while most Mets fans probably don’t care for that whisper of doom around the corner, it does make for objectively good entertainment, especially when you’re watching a team as talented as the Mets. No, really. Between Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas, and Seth Lugo, the Mets could conceivably have one of the game’s best rotations again, just like in 2016, while the new additions to their lineup – Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and, if you will, Amed Rosario – should definitely put them in a position to compete for a wild-card spot. Their grisly midseason demise will be epic.

1. Washington Nationals

FANGRAPHS PROJ. RECORD PECOTA PROJ. RECORD MVP (STEAMER)
89-73 88-74 Bryce Harper (5.7 WAR)

 

As usual, the Nationals will be a delight to watch this summer before they slip on a proverbial banana peel in the division series. If you can stomach the cognitive dissonance they inspire with their annual Jekyll and Hyde routine, the Nationals may be the best team in the league from a watchability perspective. Their lineup is totally stacked, with the obnoxiously talented and aggressively pompadoured Bryce Harper parked right in the middle of it all (and if you’re a Nats fan hankering for new drinking game to try out this season, take a shot every time a MASN broadcaster mentions Harper’s impending free agency; you’ll consistently be hammered by the third inning). Their rotation ranks among the game’s best, and each Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg start should be appointment viewing (frankly, neither pitcher gets enough love: Scherzer has as many Cy Young Awards as Clayton Freaking Kershaw, and Strasburg’s 29.0 percent strikeout rate is the second-highest of all time among pitchers with at least 1,000 career innings). And finally, as a division rival, they’ll play a principal role in the Mets’ inevitable combustion. That’s the trifecta, right there.

Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball Draft Picks

The Major League Baseball is getting  trimmed to eight games on Thurdsday. There will be four early evening game and four evening ones. The Chicago White Sox will look to extend their winning streak seven game in Baltimore. They trail the other Cubs by a single game in the league standings. Speaking of the other Chicago team, they will begin their matchup against the Brewers at two-o-clock and will send the virtually un-hittable Jake Arrieta to the mound. Things couldn’t look any better for manager Don Mattingly. His Miami Marlins will attempt to sweep the series against his former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. And all of this at Dodger Stadium. They’ll have to face the red hot Kenta Maeda though. Here is the top 20 Fantasy Baseball draft picks. Pick your fantasy baseball team right here.Fantasy baseball

It’s sure is surprising to see Tanner Roark on top of the list. Even more so above Jake Arrieta. Phillies Aaron Nola rounds out the top three pitchers. Dustin Pedroia has seen his stock raise with some stellar play. The second base position is one that usually keeps daily fantasy sports managers guessing. Not this time, since Pedroia is the only secon baseman entering the list. Other lone player leading their position, depending on the list, are Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Colorado’s third baseman slugger Nolan Arenado. Tigers outfielder JD Martinez collected a lot of fantasy points yesterday, but has yet to prove that he’s riding on a consistent hot streak. Some of the less expensive options that are driving a solid stretch picks are first baseman Mark Reynold and Freddie Freeman, with outfielders Khris Davis, Ryan Raburn and Joey Rickard. Rounding out the top 20 is the most inexpensive pick Alex Presley from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Posted in MLB

MLB Fantasy Picks

Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you another edition of our MLB Fantasy Picks. As per usual there were a few early starts, but six games remain on the evening slate to select your talent from.

Let’s get right into it.

MLB Fantasy Picks

P Steven Matz NYM – Matz will make his season debut for the Mets (almost typed Metz) tonight versus the Miami Marlins.

Matz was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings in 2015.

Through their five games this season, the Mets lead the National League in ERA (2.05) and are no worse than tied for second in WHIP (1.00) and strikeouts per nine innings (6.14).

Mets starters had a 3.44 ERA last season, the team’s best mark since the 3.43 ERA they set in 1989.

The art of deception could prove fruitful, as no Marlins batter has been up to the plate more than three times against Matz. You can study and prepare all you want, but actually being out there against the guy is a whole different story

In comparison, Jarred Cosart is scheduled to start for the Marlins and while he is also making his season debut, 2015 did not go as planned. His season was ended prematurely by vertigo, but he wasn’t exactly shining bright when he did play. In 13 starts, he had a 2-5 record with a 4.52 ERA.

If Cosart is less than steady, the Mets could provide ample run support to get Matz his first W of the season.

C Chris Iannetta SEA – He didn’t dress on Sunday, so the Mariners catcher should be back in today. Iannetta has now collected hits in three of the four games in which he’s had at least one plate appearance, and has four hits in 11 at-bats overall. He might not light the (fantasy) world on fire, but he should be a consistent presence at the plate. Players like this who avoid frequent goose eggs could be the difference between finishing in or out of the money in your DFS contest.

OF Delino DeShields Jr TEX –  At four inches shorter and 30 pounds heavier, the 5’9 200 pounder may have a completely opposite build than that of his father but it doesn’t mean he’s not adept at getting on base. Delino DeShields Jr. is thick like a power hitter, but remains the Rangers lead man and possesses solid speed. Between April 8th and 9th, the younger (not youngest) DeShields has taken 7 bases on SBs, WPs, fly balls and errors over two games (vs LAA). That’s good for 41.5 fantasy points over that span.

 

 

Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball Money Picks Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Dominate your competition with our Fantasy Baseball Money Picks, create the winning lineup at Fanpicks.com. After playing the waiting game since Opening Day 2016, Marlins right-hander Jarred Cosart and Mets lefty Steven Matz are finally ready to take the mound. Both will make their season debuts  at 7:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field.Fantasy Baseball

Until now, the two starters had to display patience, because they could have been used in a variety of roles. Cosart, for instance, was scheduled to pitch on Sunday versus the Nationals. But because of Saturday’s game being pushed back due to bad weather, the Marlins decided to pencil the right-hander in the following day. So instead of closing out one road series, Cosart gets the ball in the series opener in the Big Apple, replacing Wei-Yin Chen, who is now slated to start Wednesday. Two-time All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, who’s also the defending NL batting champion, enjoyed tremendous success when opposed to the Mets in 2015. In 19 games facing the 2015 NL champs, Gordon batted for .427 (35-for-82), his highest hitting average vs. any opponent.

During the Mets’ opening series, Matz was made available out of the bullpen during last Tuesday’s game in Kansas City. But ultimately, his services were not required on that day. The lefty, who was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA last season, is one of the promising rookies in the National League. Matz has retained his rookie eligibility after throwing just 35 2/3 regular-season innings last year, putting him alongside the Dodgers’ Corey Seager as a early favorite for the National League award. Yoenis Cespedes did his share of damage when challenging the Marlins last year, belting three home runs while driving in nine runs in nine meetings.

Top Fantasy Picks

OF Christian Yelich (MIA)

OF Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

OF Michael Conforto (NYM)

Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball Best Picks of the Day – September 24th 2015

It was a sad day for all fantasy baseball fans yesterday, as one of the all-time greats in Major League Baseball passed away.  Yogi Berra was one of the best clutch hitters the world has ever seen. He leaves behind a great legacy and he will never be forgotten. The Yankees are back at home today and they will face the Chicago White Sox. It will be a special game in the mind of everyone. A pre-game moment of silence should be expected to remember Berra. With that in mind, let’s get to today’s hot fantasy picks:

P Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

Season: 14 W, 7 L, 2.18 ERA, 272 Ks, 40 BBs

With a potential Cy-Young season on his hands, it’s hard to believe he could ever fail. He received his first loss since June 27 in his last outing. He will be looking for redemption against a D-Backs team that has roughed him up a little in their last meeting. And this time, it’s in Kershaw’s home-turf. You don’t mess with Kershaw twice in a row.

C A.J. Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers

Season:  .230 AVG, 6 HRs, 17 RBIs, 20 Runs

Ellis has been sharing catching duties with Yasmani Grandal all-season long. Grandall faced the righties and Ellis, the lefties. Well today is Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin. Last time the two met, Ellis had three fly out against Corbin, until he belted one over the fence against substitute Keith Hessler. If he hits those ball high, you never know what might happen.

1B Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers

Season: .304 AVG, 21 HRs, 84 RBIs, 73 Runs

Oakland A’s pitcher has been rehabbing a sore right shoulder in the past few weeks. He will make his first start since August 26. Prince Fielder hope to take advantage of this and get back on the right track. He was hitless in 5 games before getting a single last night.

2B Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Dodgers

Season: .291 AVG, 9 HRs, 50 RBIs, 58 Runs, 6 SBs

He will be inserted into his usual cleanup spot when facing lefties. That his good especially when you play for Clayton Kershaw.

3B Miguel Rojas – Miami Marlins

Season: .265 AVG, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 10 Runs

He is on a tear, and it will continue against underperforming rookie Alec Asher.

SS Brandon Crawford – San Francisco Giants

Season: .256 AVG, 19 HRs, 80 RBIs, 58 Runs, 5 SBs

Crawford will have plenty of fun tonight against Ian Kennedy, who has been struggling in the month of September.

OF Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals

Season: .341 AVG, 41 HRs, 95 RBIs, 116 Runs, 6 SBs

Did somebody say MVP? He’s having his best stretch of the season. With the Nats seeing their playoffs hope shrink a little more every day, it’s the time for the team to push hard. There is no other player who will push harder than Harper.

OF Melky Cabrera – Chicago White Sox

Season: .277 AVG, 12 HRs, 78 RBIs, 68 Runs, 3 SBs

Leave it to Cabrera to unfortunately spoil the return of the Yankees at home, the day after Yogi Bera’s passing. He is just having too good of a hot streak to pass on.

OF Ichiro Suzuki – Miami Marlins

Season: .238 AVG, 1 HR, 20 RBIs, 45 Runs, 11 SBs

Ichiro was out of the Marlins lineup in the last two games. A return to form against Phillies starter Alec Asher should be good for him.

Fantasy Baseball Picks Recap

 P Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

C A.J. Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers

1B Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers

2B Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Dodgers

3B Miguel Rojas – Miami Marlins

SS Brandon Crawford – San Francisco Giants

OF Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals

OF Melky Cabrera – Chicago White Sox

OF Ichiro Suzuki – Miami Marlins

Posted in MLB