M as in Mancy: A Fantasy Baseball Experiment (1st Half Review - Hitters)

Not sure what all this M business is about? Catch up here:

We made it through the first half of the season, everybody! And we're over .500! (Cue sad party kazoo)

But we've got work to do. We're still 2.5 games back from a playoff spot, and it's only gunna get tougher down the stretch. It's time to review the team, the expectation, and our plan going forward. This week we'll focus on the hitters. Depth charts are below, with replacements available via waiver wire.

Catcher

  • Matt Wieters: 27 R, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB, 102 TB, .249 AVG
  • Mike Zunino: 28 R, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 0 SB, 101 TB, .233 AVG
  • Manny Pina: 28 R, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 0 SB, 91 TB, .295 AVG
  • Martin Maldonado: 26 R, 10 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB, 105 TB, .245 AVG

Going into the season Wieters was just about my only choice at Catcher, and we knew it'd be a weak position, but he's performed poorly enough that there's lots of contention. I'm seriously considering dropping Wieters for one of the others, but they all have their pros and cons. I'm leaning towards Pina; he's heated up in June/July, and has similar stats to the others in ~60 fewer at-bats.

Outlook: meh

First Base

  • Matt Adams: 34 R, 15 HR, 43 RBI, 0 SB, 128 TB, .286 AVG
  • Matt Holliday: 37 R, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB, 125 TB, .245 AVG
  • Mitch Moreland: 42 R, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, 132 TB, .249 AVG
  • Matt Davidson: 31 R, 18 HR, 43 RBI, 0 SB, 128 TB, .242 AVG
  • Mike Napoli: 35 R, 20 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, 123 TB, .203 AVG

I started the season with Mike Napoli alone, eventually dropping him for Matt Holliday when he fell onto the waiver wire. Matt Adams joined the team after being traded to the Braves. I'm still happiest with these two platooning and utilizing the UTIL roster spot (get it? Utilizing?) and won't look at any of the others barring an injury or hot streak. 

Outlook: good enough

Second Base

  • Matt Carpenter: 54 R, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 2 SB, 142 TB, .253 AVG
  • Miguel Rojas: 12 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB, 26 TB, .338 AVG

Yep. That's about it for this position. Thankfully Carpenter has been playing well enough and rarely takes a day off. Rojas went down with a fractured thumb in May, and was just reactivated yesterday, so he might be a great backup option should anything happen (he's also eligible at 1B, 3B, and SS).

Outlook: need a reverse-voodoo-doll for Matt Carpenter that I give massages to

Third Base

  • Miguel Sano: 59 R, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 0 SB, 170 TB, .273 AVG
  • Matt Davidson: 31 R, 18 HR, 43 RBI, 0 SB, 128 TB, .242 AVG
  • Maikel Franco: 35 R, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 0 SB, 137 TB, .230 AVG

I started the season with both Sano and Franco. The former chose to rise to the occasion on the Mancies. The latter chose to phone it in, and was dropped back in May. Thankfully Sano has been a BAMF, leading the team in just about every category. As for the depth: Davidson is hot garbage (his AVG by month is .286-.253-.239-.194) and Franco is actually showing signs of coming around, hitting .286 in July with only 4 strikeouts. Another hot day or two and he'll earn a spot back on the team.

Outlook: neato burrito and getting better

Shortstop

  • Manny Machado: 40 R, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 5 SB, 155 TB, .239 AVG
  • Miguel Rojas: 12 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB, 26 TB, .338 AVG
  • Marcus Semien: I don't have the heart to type it out here

Manny was my first draft pick, and he picked a super inconvenient time to have a down year. Still, his numbers are okay. Marcus Semien hit 27 HR last season but has been injured most of this year, so he's at least worth keeping an eye on, but for now it's the Machado Show.

Outlook: tepid bathwater

Outfield

  • Mookie Betts: 65 R, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 16 SB, 185 TB, .274 AVG
  • Mark Trumbo: 59 R, 15 HR, 47 RBI, 1 SB, 153 TB, .253 AVG
  • Michael Brantley: 32 R, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 10 SB, 114 TB, .297 AVG
  • Michael Conforto: 50 R, 16 HR, 46 RBI, 2 SB, 134 TB, .282 AVG
  • Mitch Haniger: 35 R, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 3 SB, 83 TB, .265 AVG
  • Manuel Margot: 23 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB, 95 TB, .259 AVG
  • Michael A. Taylor: 40 R, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 10 SB, 123 TB, .278 AVG

It's a mixed bag, here. Mookie (acquired via trade) has been stellar, as has Brantley (though in reduced time due to injury). Conforto and Haniger and Taylor were dice-rolls and have panned out nicely. But then there's Mark Trumbo, whose drop in power is alarming and annoying, and Manuel Margot, who doesn't excel at much of anything and is still trending downward. But it's a deep position, so I'm not worried; Betts/Brantley/Conforto are a fine core netting me tons of points, with Taylor and Trumbo shifting between OF and UTIL slots. There's lots of others available that I didn't list, but that's alright. This is the one position where I don't lose sleep at night.

Outlook: gumdrops and rainbows

Overall

So how do we stack up in the league?

  • R: 7th
  • HR: 5th
  • RBI: 4th
  • SB: 10th
  • TB: 7th
  • AVG: 9th

Honestly? That's pretty darn good. We're middle of the road! And some of the stats (like SB) will improve after acquiring guys like Betts and Taylor. And here's the big thing: we're super streaky. Here's how our offensive matchups have looked this year:

  • Week 14: 1-4-1
  • Week 13: 6-0-0
  • Week 12: 0-6-0
  • Week 11: 5-0-1
  • Week 10: 0-6-0
  • Week 9: 6-0-0
  • Week 8: 1-5-0
  • Week 7: 4-2-0
  • Week 6: 1-4-1
  • Week 5: 6-0-0
  • Week 4: 5-1-0
  • Week 3: 2-4-0
  • Week 2: 0-6-0
  • Week 1: 3-3-0

We're either hot or cold, alternating depending on the week. And streaky teams can make a hell of a run in the playoffs. All we need to do is get there.

Next week: pitching! (that thing chicks dig less than the long ball)

M as in Mancy: A Fantasy Baseball Experiment ('MURICA EDITION)

Wondering what all this M-business is about? Catch up here:

 A sneak peek at a Mancies scouting meeting

A sneak peek at a Mancies scouting meeting

Happy almost-fourth-of-July edition, everybody! I've got a fun piece of off-topic news for you: my wife and I bought a craft brewery. Well, a share in a craft brewery. It will be opening here in Fort Worth this winter. 

Now that the important beer-related news is out of the way, let's catch up on how the Mancies are doing from the past 3 weeks!

Week 11yikes. It's a good thing my offense showed up, because my pitchers were about as effective as a wind sock in a tornado. I got 11 starts from my pitchers, and collected zero Wins. Look at that 8.08 ERA. Walking away winning 7-4 almost feels like cheating.

Week 12: life ain't fair. I was beating the #1 player in the league 7-3 going into the last day, and then on Sunday my team batted .097 with zero runs, zero HR, zero RBI, and 3 TB. My opponent had Cody Bellinger, who single-handedly passed me in most stats by hitting 2 HR with 4 RBI and 9 TB on Sunday. I was going to do a write-up last week but I was too busy pouting from this loss.

Week 13: but the Mancies aren't out of it! Led by the recently-acquired Mookie Betts, we won every offensive category and all but one pitching category. Even the starters I benched on Saturday and Sunday (since I couldn't be caught in those categories) racked up wins and quality starts. 

That week catapults me back above .500, and in 6th place in the standings, which puts me in line for a playoff spot. Can we end the season right now? Pretty please? 

THE GOOD

  • Did I mention I have Mookie Betts now? Dude's batting .330 with 6 HR, 7 SB, and 67 TB in the last month.
  • Matt Adams is leading the team with 10 HR and 68 TB in the past month.
  • I snagged Michael A. Taylor two weeks ago, and he's rewarded the Mancies by batting .390 since then. 

THE BAD

  • Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo are hitting .231 and .215 over the last month, respectively. Two of my earliest draft picks, and they've decided to have a down year when I need them most. Maybe they're saving up all the awesome for my glorious playoff run? 
  • Michael Pineda has a 4.71 ERA over the past month. 
  • In typical AL East competitiveness, Marco Estrada decided to one-up Pineda by posting a 7.88 ERA over the past month.
  • I've been holding Matt Albers, since the Nats are supposedly doing Closer By Committee. But how many saves does Albers have in the past 6 weeks? Zero. Thanks a lot, Dusty Baker. 

THE UGLY

  • Just over a month ago, I tried to acquire Matt Bush so I would have two closers. The other team wouldn't budge. Well he just lost the closer's role, so that would have been an awfully ugly move if it had happened.
  • Injuries! My league only has 2 DL slots, yet I've got Conforto, Holliday, Melancon, and Shoemaker all on the DL. And considering the current state of M-name depth in the league, I can't really afford to drop any of them because I can't assume they won't be picked up by someone else. So they're wasting roster spots for the time being. 
  • Thanks to injuries, and my lack of DL slots, I finally dropped Matt Harvey. RIP Dark Knight. 

That's pretty much the gist of things. Are there any M-named prospects who might be getting call-ups soon? Or any other players that may have slipped through my radar? Let me know! 

M as in Mancy: A Fantasy Baseball Experiment (Week 10)

Wondering what all this M-business is about? Catch up here:

We have things to discuss.

First of all, my dreams came true and Koda Glover went on the DL after slipping in the shower while masturbating (or something), which promoted Matt Albers to the role of closer. Awesome! Whistling We Are The Champions to myself, I opened up my browser and went to the Yahoo Fantasy page so I could--

SON OF A BITCH. I missed him by 10 minutes. And to make matters worse, the owner who snagged him is the same guy who has Matt Bush and won't trade him. He's got the M-closer market cornered. 

But that's okay, dear Mancy fans. Because I finally pulled off a big trade. Mookie Betts, welcome to the Mancies! 

Now, let's be clear: this trade is slightly unbalanced. In a vacuum, right now, Kemp and Fulmer are worth more than Mookie. But I had to give up something good to pry away the #2 draft pick, and I feel good about what I've done.

Firstly, I'm betting on Matt Kemp regressing. He's got a .384 BABIP, and his current average of .327 is waaaaay above what he's done in the past four years (he's averaged .268, .265, .287, and .270.) Not to mention his .559 SLG is the second-highest of his career, behind his incredible 2011 season. With Freddie Freeman injured, Kemp is the only real power in the Braves lineup. He's going to start getting pitched around, and my league doesn't count BB as a stat. Already he's slashing .250/.283/.318 for the month of June. I feel real good about trading high. 

That leaves Michael Fulmer. I liked Fulmer on my team, and honestly expect him to keep performing well, even if his HR/FB ratio is worryingly low. But I needed to take a good, long look at my fantasy strategy. My goal for the pitching stats is quantity over quality: trying to snag Wins, QS, and K, while not necessarily caring about ERA or WHIP. This is especially important because, right now, many of the big M-named pitchers are struggling. Two Aces I was relying on, Tanaka and Harvey, are having shit-the-bed years. Fulmer is wasted on such a team. 

So let's look at Mookie Betts. He's underperforming; his .276 BABIP is way below what I would expect someone of his speed, and his Hard Hit Ball % has actually gone up from last year with not much to show for it. So I expect all of that to improve. Then, there's the steals. I really need some help in the Steals category, because right now I'm essentially punting on it: my team's 23 SB puts me in 10th out of 12 teams, and many of those were from Manuel Margot before I dropped him. 

Yeah, it's a gamble. I'm betting on both Kemp and Betts regressing back to the means, which ain't a sure thing. But with Mookie instead of Kemp I'm improving in every offensive category except maybe HR. I think it's a good move. I feel good about it. We'll see.

Other than that, I'm not going to talk much about my team. They sucked last week, and I lost every single offensive category, yet I somehow squeaked out a 5-7 score. That's a win.

I still have Mark Melancon sitting around, wasting a roster spot, doing fuck-all to help me compete in the Saves category. Matt Andriese came off the DL this weekend, pitched 1.0 innings, then promptly went back on the DL. I've been streaming guys like Mike Montgomery, Mike Clevinger, Mike Minor, and Mike Fiers. It's Mikes all the way down. Here's my full transaction list for the past few weeks, a timeline documenting my desperation for those of you looking for some schadenfreude (sidenote: I spelled schadenfreude right on the first try. I'm gunna call that a good omen.)

Mancy Week 10 Transactions.PNG

M as in Mancy: A Fantasy Baseball Experiment (Week 9)

Wondering what all this M-business is about? Catch up here:

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: THE MANCIES ARE BACK AT .500 GET REKT HATERS:

"But David," you're probably saying, "you were never below .500! In fact, at the time of your last update the Mancies were a respectable 44-37!" 

Yeah. About that. We lost Week 8 pretty badly (1-9) and the Mancies refused to get out of bed for the weekly post. But let's not dwell on the past, so get off my back why don't ya?

THE GOOD

  • Matt Holliday and his 4 HR, 10 RBI, and 27 TB over the past two weeks.
  • Matt Adams is shockingly similar, with 4 HR, 10 RBI, and 32 TB. Thanks to /u/HateMcLouth (nice name) for suggesting I drop Margot for him two weeks ago. 
  • It's not related to fantasy baseball, but I've run out of good things to say about the Mancies and it's neat news: my wife and I are buying a minority share in a local craft brewery that's opening up. It's two blocks from my apartment. I can literally walk to a source of free beer whenever I please. Experts disagree on whether or not this will be good for my long-term health.

THE BAD

  • The entire pitching staff. Over the past two weeks, only Matt Shoemaker has an ERA under 4.00. I'm, like, 99% certain they're pitching poorly to balance out my surge of just-bought-a-brewery positive karma. 
  • Masahiro Tanaka specifically. I benched him for his Oakland start (where he gave up 1 run in 7+ innings) and promptly started him for his Baltimore 7-run shit show. At this point I have more faith in Zoo Pandas breeding than I do in Tanaka pitching consistently. 
  • Matt Carpenter is 7-for-46 in the last two weeks, and hitting .213 on the season. And he's the only M-named 2nd baseman available to me. 
  • Having only pitched 5 innings in the past month, finding Mark Melancon on a pitching mound is like searching for pre-2011 Bin Laden. 

THE UGLY

  • I finally dropped Manuel Margot. He promptly went on the DL. No regrets.
  • The Nationals went to a closer-by-committee for two weeks, so I grabbed Matt Albers and let him waste a pitching slot. He got zero saves in that time, and then Dusty Baker inexplicably named Koda Glover (he of the 4.58 ERA) the permanent closer, even though Albers is literally the only reliever on the Nats with an ERA+ above 100, and has the best K/BB ratio.
  • Rival fantasy baseball owner Pitch Slap tried to trade me Carlos Gonzalez for Matt Shoemaker. When I countered with an offer for Matt Bush (the only non-Melancon closer) Pitch Slap said he didn't want to trade Bush for anything. I'm here to publicly shame him for disrespecting the Mancies. 
Mancy Week 9_Trade.PNG

Here's how the Mancies look today. Mitch Haniger is set to come off the DL in the next week or so, and I'll have to decide who to drop for him. 

Review: Where Shadows Play

"Like if Stephen King wrote an episode of LOST."

I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. Obviously I know Danny McAleese--understatement of the day--but it was described to me as "Young Adult/Paranormal," which isn't really my preferred genre. But the story grabbed hold in the first chapter and wouldn't let go. The trio of main characters--Aaron, Jason, and Hailey--are deep and likable, with a unique... well, "relationship". All of it is compelling and relatable before we even get to the book's primary setting (which we arrive at pretty quickly). 

I've never read a paranormal book like this. It was fast-paced like a thriller. It never slowed down or meandered the way a lot of books do, and every chapter ended in a way that made me say, "Well crap, I can't stop reading NOW." I started this book before bed (a mistake), stayed up too late reading, and picked up the next morning as soon as I had my coffee. It's been a while since I've been that engrossed in a book.

What makes this story extra cool is that it's based on an actual location: the Verdura Plantation in Florida. Only the pillars exist today... which, well, makes sense when you read this story. 

rck00360[1].jpg

Great characters, exciting--and real--setting, amazing story. I'd recommend this to anyone, regardless of their genre preference.