2016 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball Final: June 2, 2016

Baseball is at the one third mark as most teams have already played their 54th game of the season. Pitching has been the story over the past several seasons, but whether the ball is juiced or hitters are just plain better, hitting has become much more dominant. That is true nowhere more than Boston where several hitters are on pace to hit over .300 and/or 30 home runs or more. Xander Bogearts is the main story with his 26 game hitting streak, but Mookie Betts is close behind after hitting five home runs in two days earlier in the week.

Those two guys are the story over the past week, but the story in the American League might be their veteran teammate David Ortiz. After hitting another three run home run on Thursday night, he has 16 home runs, 51 RBI, and a sparkling .339 average. He is the league leader in RBI, but the other numbers have guys better (though not many). However, he leads the league in AL in on base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles, and extra base hits. Most players in his position are content to play out the string and get their parting gifts. He may take home the MVP award if he continues at this pace.

This week in review 

The story this week will likely go down as Marlon Byrd’s 162 game suspension for a second positive PED test. Byrd’s not a considerable factor in fantasy baseball and never really has been, but he fits the profile of a typical PED user and gives us a glimpse of the possible benefits. He came up in 2002 and never really established himself as a consistent regular until 2009 when he hit 20 home runs. Even then, he returned to relative obscurity until he landed with the Mets in 2013.

From then on, he hit 24, 25, and 23 home runs the next three seasons. He was hitting .270 with five home runs before the suspension. According to baseball-reference.com, he’s earned a shade over 38 million dollars with some seasons left blank. If we assume he made 40 million dollars we can begin to understand why someone would risk getting caught. Some players are calling for stiffer penalties and I suppose that makes some sense, but it just seems difficult to dissuade a marginal big leaguer from using when it can lead to them become a regular player like Byrd. You’d have to assume a regular player become a low-rent Charles Foster Kane by using PEDs.

If you read anything 

Now that Memorial Day has passed, we can begin to look at the standings and gather some preliminary conclusions. The top three teams in the NL East are clearly built around power and hitting overall. So much is always said about pitching and how it wins championships. I suppose that is true when you look at the Kansas City Royals, but it seems that most of the division leaders are there at least in part because they have some really strong hitters.

Of course, the Cubs are still running away with the National League Central with a 37-15 record following their victory on Thursday. Studs like Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist are leading the way, but established veterans like Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler have certainly contributed as well. The difference is that they also have great starting pitching. It’s still early, but it’s difficult to imagine anyone dethroning them this season.

We Kind of Expected

In a league that has Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Jake Arrieta, it is easy to forget about Madison Bumgarner. Still, there might not be a better all-around pitcher in the league. He consistently hits better than every other pitcher in the league in addition to pitching like a traditional ace. He moved to 7-2 on the season after seven and two-thirds innings of shutout ball. Oh, he also added his second home run on the season. Those other guys might be better pitchers than Bumgarner, but he might be the better all-around baseball player.

We didn’t Expect

No one doubts Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame credentials statistically (morally it’s another matter) and some might even be persuaded to support Mark Teixeira. Both are hitting under .200 this season. Baseball Prospectus (in one of their annuals) waxed poetic about the aging Mets. The general idea is that you never know when experience morphs into old age. The Yankees may rapidly be approaching that place.

Save Opportunities

  • Brad Ziegler (Converted #10)

Injury News

  • The San Francisco Giants placed Hunter Pence on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. They are calling it a severe sprain. It is unknown at this time how much time he will end up missing.
  • David Wright is expected to miss an “extended period” with his neck ailment. He had received a cortisone shot in the hopes of avoiding the disabled list, but that appeared not to do the trick. Wright’s neck and back issues have been chronic and could end up derailing what once looked like a very promising career.
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