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Week 5 Roundup: Lifting Balls and the DL All-Stars

Week 5 Roundup: Lifting Balls and the DL All-Stars

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

It’s hard to believe that we are already well into the second week of May and the 6th week of the fantasy baseball season. The cream is just now starting to separate itself from the crop, and some of you are in full out panic mode. If your team sucks, it’s not over. If your team is good, keep at it, and don’t get lazy.

Now enough about you all. Let’s talk about me. As I spent most of yesterday nursing a killer hangover and thereby shirking my daily responsibilities, I was struck by a common theme in my morning (afternoon) perusal of fantasy baseball articles. That theme was balls. Like this:

The first thing I’d like to talk about with balls is an unfortunately on a somber note. I like to make light of most situations mainly to distract myself from going crazy, but there are no jokes about what’s happening to Jameson Taillon right now. As you have all been made aware of by now, he is battling testicular cancer, and I wish him the best of luck as well as a speedy recovery. I know he’s an avid reader of my amateur ramblings, so big shout-out Jame-O! Fight the good fight.

Note: Jameson Taillon does not read this blog to my knowledge nor has he ever read any of my past work. I doubt he would let me call him Jame-O as well.

And on that note, we can make jokes about balls again. You may have noticed that multiple writers with a deeper knowledge of the game than me have pointed to a trend in baseball involving lifted balls. What I’m referring to is not that some hitters are getting super nervous and tensing up at the plate. No. I mean that some hitters have altered their mechanics and swing patterns to get more lift in their swings. If these guys already make solid contact, the logic tells us that combining that contact with a higher, fly-ball swing pattern should produce more powerful results like home runs and extra-base hits. Two hitters stand out to me that fall into this category this year: Ryan Zimmerman and Yonder Alonso. These two salty veterans are red hot at the plate this season, and it seemingly came out of nowhere.

Let’s dive a little deeper into Ryan Zimmerman first. No, not like that, you pervert! When I first typed Zimmerman’s name into the FanGraphs search bar to check his stats, Ryan Langerhans’ name popped up. Remember him? I vaguely do too. Anyways, I wanted to see if anything jumped out statistically to back up what I had been reading about his improved launch angle. The biggest thing I noticed right away was a 12% increase in hard contact this season. Not only is he getting more lift under these hits, but he’s making nice, hard contact as well. The result? You guessed it. Check this out: 28 R/13 HR/34 RBI with a .427/.467/.891 triple slash!!!

I shouldn’t be telling you anything that you haven’t already read if you’ve been paying attention. However, we should discuss the rest of season outlook. What scares me the most moving forward is obvious. Zimmerman hasn’t been totally healthy since 2013. He was pretty reliable from 2006-2013 but has missed significant chunks of each season since. IF he can stay healthy, there is a stacked lineup and enough evidence to suggest he is headed for a 30 HR/90 RBI season in a renaissance campaign for the “old timer.” Zimmerman is doing what he’s always been capable of and has accomplished before, but he’s just finally healthy enough to show it for a change. You can sell if you want, but if I got lucky enough to snag him off the waiver wire (I didn’t), I’m more inclined to see what comes of this season.

Now, unlike Zimmerman, we’ve never seen this kind of production from Oakland’s Yonder Alonso.

A one-time top prospect for the Reds (and former Miami Hurricane), Alonso has always been stuck with the “light-power 1B” label, and in fantasy, that’s non-rosterable for that position. However, much like Zimmerman, we are seeing a mechanical change that has resulted in a higher launch angle and more solid contact from his at-bats. Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris gave us a heads-up in March that Alonso was focusing on this, and Dave Cameron wrote last week that Eno’s prediction was coming to fruition.

Don’t just take my word for it…or Dave Cameron’s for that matter. Check out the stats. Much like Zimmerman, Alonso is experiencing a statistical uptick in hard contact percentage. He had a hard contact rate of 28.5% in 2015. That rose to 32.3% last season and is now at a 39.7%. Alonso has already matched his career high in homeruns, and seeing as how it is May, he will more than likely double his 9 that he put up last year. His triple slash checks in at a cool .311/.386/.667, and while there is obvious regression in all three of those categories coming, I am fully on this bandwagon. I am buying into the signs that a major shift has happened here, and Alonso has finally tapped into the power we never knew he had.

Note: He hit two more dongs last night after this write-up. That makes 11 on the year. There’s plenty of room on the bandwagon.

Speaking of guys who can really lift the ball, how good is that Cody Bellinger guy?

No analysis here. Just wanted you all to watch this guy jack a big dong.

So, that brings us to the second part of the article, which promises to be pure nonsense. If you came here for something resembling fantasy analysis, well…that part is over. Did it ever really get started, though?

Anyways, everyone is crying into their Cheerios about how many guys are on the DL. It’s no secret that the 10-day DL means we are all suffering especially in leagues with limited bench spots. Yes, there has been an uptick in the number of players on the DL, and yes, you should probably add more DL slots to your leagues either at the All-Star Break or before next season. I think this is the reality of the game now, and I don’t believe this rule will be changing back any time soon.

With all these players on the DL, I thought it would be fun to assemble a fantasy team using only current DL-eligible guys. So. Fun. This is what I came up with….


Catcher: Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies

I chose to pass on Russell Martin because he has looked like flaming dog poop this season. I go with Murphy here because I am excited by the upside of a power-hitting catcher in Coors. I wouldn’t be mad if you wanted Beef Welington Castillo instead. Catcher is a dumpster fire this year regardless.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

I will admit this is more of a lifetime achievement award and not a reflection on the hogwash he has put on the field this year. I realize this totally contradicts my Russell Martin comment above. Let’s give the edge to Gonzalez because I can’t get enough of his walkup music.

2B: Logan Forsythe, Los Angeles Dodgers

Unlike Gonzalez, I actually think Forsythe has a spot in the lineup when he returns. I was hyped on snagging him late in all my drafts because I loved him hitting at the top of a solid Dodgers lineup. If he resumes that position upon return, my patience will pay off!

SS: Marcus Semien, Oakland A’s

I’m a sucker for cheap power/speed combos. He hurts you in average, OBP, and slugging though…ok so he’s not the best option, but when you punt the position early in the draft like I do, this is your best option. Cheap 20 HRs and 10-15 SBs.

3B: Josh Donaldson, former Auburn Tiger

The Blue Jays third baseman is an obvious choice here as he possesses (have you ever noticed how weird that word looks?) 1st round pop and has consistently for a few years now.

OF: Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals

Heartbreaker to see him on this list. He contributes in so many different categories without doing any of them at an elite level, but he’s a rock solid piece to any team. He was locked in atop a dangerous Nationals lineup and is now doomed to remain on the waiver wire in redraft leagues everywhere.

OF: J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers

Big fan of his stick…when he’s actually healthy. The AL Central looks like it’s going to be wide open this year as 3 out of the 5 teams are in rebuild mode. Sorry, Royals fans. The Tigers would love to add his productive bat sooner rather than later as would most patient fantasy owners.

OF: Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners

Ah, yes. The one guy I got right in my drafts. I own tons of shares of this guy and was looking like a genius until he got hurt. He was getting on base, scoring runs, flashing power, but of course, this is 2017 and we can’t have nice things. I miss you, Mitch. Come back soon.

SP: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

He’s from Hickory, NC and got hurt in the most Hickory, NC way in a dirt bike accident. This was a tough choice between him and Kluber, but Mad Bum has the slight edge on track record. This one stings a lot because it looks like we won’t have him back until post-All Star Break. Woof.

Closer: Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Latest report says he has no structural damage, but I am not buying that his injury woes are behind him. I am scared to death to own him, and if you didn’t snag Brad Brach already, you won’t be cashing in on Baltimore save chances in 2017. Mark my words: Brad Brach will lead the Orioles in saves by the end of this season.

That’s all I’ve got this week. Thanks for reading, both of you. I hope you guys enjoy my stuff. Give me a follow on Twitter @jakebridges03, and be sure to silence the haters when I post this on Reddit! Peace.

Jake is an NYC based actor who loves to put off daily responsibilities by writing and researching about all things fantasy baseball and college football. He is a life long Auburn Tigers fan, and yes, he does have the same SEC bias as ESPN. Most days, he can be found reminiscing about the 1990s Braves teams or complaining about their rebuild. Auburn 26 Alabama 14. #WDE

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