Welcome to the SCFE Week 22 Hot Topics column. It’s the final countdown to the Fantasy Baseball playoffs. If you’ve already clinched a playoff spot, keep it to yourself. You don’t want the resentment. If you’re fighting for the postseason, it’s inspiration time. To that end, I give you Semi Pro. You will win fourth place.
Released in 2008, Semi Pro is part of the Will Ferrell pantheon of sports comedies. It’s not as quotable as Talladega Nights or Blades of Glory, but it makes you laugh out loud. Like Anchorman, it’s also a parody of 1970’s fashion and culture. Never call someone a JT.
Semi Pro is also quasi-historical. Once upon a time, the NBA wasn’t the only professional basketball league. From 1967-1976, the NBA had to compete with the American Basketball Association (ABA). If you like three-pointers, you can thank the ABA.
Unfortunately, although the ABA competed with the NBA, it couldn’t survive. The ABA does live on, however. Like an episode of Shark Tank, the ABA owners made a deal. Some ABA team owners were bought out, and some went to the NBA. The Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs; you may have heard of them.
Semi Pro tells the story of the Flint Tropics, a fictional ABA team. Will Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a 1970’s singer with a one-hit wonder called Love Me Sexy. If you’ve seen the movie, this song is permanently stuck in your head. What does Jackie Moon do with his money? He buys an ABA franchise in Flint, Michigan and becomes its owner/head coach/starting power forward/pre-game announcer.
But here’s the problem; the ABA is about to merge with the NBA, and only the Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, and Spurs are going. All the other the teams will dissolve. Jackie Moon gets upset after he realizes that “dissolve” is a real word. Jackie then gets the other ABA owners to agree that the top four teams at the end of the season should go the NBA.
Since this is a movie, the Flint Tropics are naturally the worst team in the ABA with no fans. So Jackie Moon has to figure out not only how to get the Flint Tropics to reach fourth place, but also to draw fans in the process. Bear fights and other comedy ensue.
It may not have the name recognition of other Will Ferrell movies, but Semi Pro is always good for multiple laughs. Not only that, but it’s a great underdog sports movie. If you’re in a dogfight for the playoffs, let Semi Pro inspire you. And watch out for possums in the locker room.
Here are the SCFE Fantasy Baseball Week 22 Hot Topics.
Week 22 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “Somebody hit somebody!”
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
This quote from Jackie Moon requires no explanation when it comes to Gary Sanchez. Unlike the Tropics and Amigos, who waited until the commercial break to have their brawl, the Tigers and Yankees decided to throw down live.
Most baseball fans have their own favorite baseball fight. A few weeks ago was the 24th anniversary of my personal choice. On August 4, 1993, Robin Ventura found out the hard way that you don’t mess with Nolan Ryan. Ever. Under any circumstances.
I was reminded of this when I found out that the Tigers and Yankees decided to stage their own version of SummerSlam on August 24. Four hit batters. Eight ejections. The benches cleared three different times, including the main event in the bottom of the sixth inning. The only thing missing was a TLC match.
And then the suspensions came down on August 26. 7 games for Miguel Cabrera; 2 games for Austin Romine; 4 games for Alex Wilson; one game for Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus; and 4 games for Gary Sanchez. Wait; 4 games for Gary Sanchez? That can’t be right.
I checked it multiple times, however. Gary Sanchez was suspended 4 games. Seems light to me. Reading early reactions to the fight, I’m guessing some people were shocked. Gary Sanchez was officially suspended for fighting and throwing punches. I was expecting more for throwing sucker punches. Maybe this is why so many professional wrestlers love working heel.
Not only that; but apparently Gary Sanchez is going to appeal his suspension. He should probably check first to see if his suspension can actually be increased on appeal. Like saying Candyman five times in front of a mirror, some things are better left alone.
An appeal of Gary Sanchez’s suspension could also create a conundrum for Fantasy Baseball owners. Assuming the suspension is upheld after the appeal process is completed, Gary Sanchez could miss most of a week during Fantasy Baseball playoff time. For owners in weekly leagues, this is especially problematic.
When the playoffs begin and every AB matters, losing a player like Gary Sanchez for any length of time hurts. Through August 26, Gary Sanchez has posted a .274 AVG/64 R/27 HR/74 RBI/2 SB stat line for 2017 in 95 games. He’s a 2017 All-Star and Home Run Derby participant. The numbers are even more impressive considering he spent nearly a month on the DL in April with a strained right bicep.
To say Gary Sanchez exploded on the scene in 2016 would be like saying a few people saw The Avengers. In 53 games in 2016, Gary Sanchez posted a .299 AVG/34 R/20 HR/42 RBI/1 SB stat line in 201 ABs. A power-hitting C with a solid average? Keeper league owners tried to sabotage each other’s computers in their race to the waiver wire last year.
Heading into 2017, there were skeptics. Was Gary Sanchez the next Rick Wilkins (Cubs fans will get that one)? When he began rocketing up preseason draft rankings, concerns were expressed about the small sample size.
So far, Gary Sanchez has put those concerns to rest. Before turning into Kickpuncher (Community fans rejoice) against the Tigers, Gary Sanchez hit his 11th HR in August. He’s first among all Cs in R, HR, and RBI. He also doesn’t turn 25 until December.
If you’re a Gary Sanchez owner, here’s the problem: Unless you have a quality backup C on your roster, and not everyone even has a backup C, you’re staring at a potential black hole in your lineup when you need every AB you can find. To make things even more interesting, since it’s a suspension Gary Sanchez won’t be DL-eligible.
This is a tricky decision. If you don’t have a backup C, do you have a roster opening? Even if you have an opening, is there anyone worthwhile on the waiver wire in your league? No matter what your particular situation, if you’re a Gary Sanchez owner you should be thinking about this now.
Hot Topic No. 2: “I’m so excited, I can’t even feel my arms!”
Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies
It’s been a rough season for Phillies fans. Having the worst record in MLB two out of the last three seasons could even give the Phillie Phanatic issues. After watching Rhys Hoskins wreak havoc in his MLB debut, however, Phillies fans and Fantasy Baseball owners are feeling like Jackie Moon in the quote above. Go ahead; just swing your arms around.
For Phillies fans, it’s not just about the debut of a promising prospect. It’s about some light at the end of a dark tunnel that’s not an oncoming train. For the past few years, the Phillies have been in tear down/asset acquisition mode. Franchise rebuilding is never pretty.
In 2017, however, the Phillies have begun promoting the prospects they spent the last few years acquiring. Combined with other young players who’ve already debuted, the Phillies have become interesting from both a real life and Fantasy Baseball perspective.
Aaron Altherr; Maikel Franco; Obdubel Herrera; Tommy Joseph; Aaron Nola; Nick Williams. All of these players are 26 or younger. Combine that with more prospects in the minors, you can envision a pretty solid core there. Rhys Hoskins’ debut, however, is literally historic.
A 2014 fifth-round draft pick of the Phillies (142nd overall), Rhys Hoskins turned 24 in March. He displayed ridiculous power in the minors with 38 HRs and 116 RBI at Double-A in 2016. He was promoted to Triple-A to start 2017 and posted a .284 AVG/78 R/29 HR/91 RBI/4 SB stat line with .385 OBP in 115 games. I’d say the power is legit.
Rhys Hoskins got the call to the Show on August 10, and he has had the most dominant debut since the Undertaker in 1990. As of August 27, Rhys Hoskins has 11 HRs in his first 18 MLB games. That’s the fastest to 11 HRs in MLB history. He also has five straight games with an HR and at least one HR in 8 of his past 9 games. Ghosts are now telling Rhys Hoskins stories around the campfire.
Through August 27, Rhys Hoskins has amassed a .297 AVG/16 R/11 HR/24 RBI stat line in his first 18 MLB games. Yes; those numbers are real. Of course, it’s a ridiculously small sample size, but . . . wow. As hot as he is right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to read a headline that says Rhys Hoskins just single-handedly rescued an entire middle school from a burning building.
The question, however, is what happens when pitchers see Rhys Hoskins the second time around. Again, it’s a stupendously small sample size, but Rhys Hoskins has posted a 17% k rate thus far, which is very encouraging for a young power hitter. It’s also consistent with his 19% K rate in four seasons in the minors. A power hitter who makes contact. Gotta like that. I should also mention he has 1B and OF eligibility in both ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Rhys Hoskins is currently owned in 71% of Yahoo leagues and 68% of ESPN leagues. The cat’s pretty much out of the bag on this one. The time is rapidly running out for a waiver wire grab.
Dual eligibility power threats with massive upside don’t come around every day. Is there anyone who wouldn’t want Rhys Hoskins on their roster? If your answer is yes, either your team is absolutely stacked or you probably gave some money to a Nigerian prince at some point.
If you have an open roster spot, go ahead and check your waiver wire right now. As I’ve said before, you won’t offend me. I can wait. Long time Fantasy Baseball owners all have stories about the late-season prospect call-up who puts up insane numbers for the rest of the season. Usually, these stories involve championships won. Rhys Hoskins could be one of those guys. Just saying.
Hot Topic No. 3: “Everybody panic! It’s just like the Titanic but it’s full of bears!”
Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets
This is how Michael Conforto owners felt watching his injury. In last week’s column, I wrote about Michael Conforto’s bounce-back season and re-establishment as a significant keeper league asset. I posted that column last Wednesday. By Thursday night, it was like the aftermath of Jackie Moon fighting that bear.
Like the Sharknado franchise, there are some things you just can’t see coming. In a game against the Diamondbacks on August 24, Michael Conforto hit the ground in obvious pain after swinging at a pitch. It was the baseball equivalent of the dreaded non-contact injury in football. You knew immediately something was very wrong.
By the next day, Michael Conforto was on the DL. The diagnosis was a dislocated left shoulder, and further examination revealed a torn posterior capsule in the shoulder. The Mets are still trying to determine whether or not surgery will be required.
At the time of the injury, Michael Conforto had put up a .279 AVG/72 R/27 HR/68 RBI/2 SB stat line in 109 games. In the exact same number of games in 2016, he produced a .220 AVG/38 R/12 HR/42 RBI/2 SB stat line. This is exactly the kind of improvement Fantasy Baseball owners want to see from a young player after struggling the year before.
And that’s what makes Michael Conforto’s injury such a gut punch. He was rocking all season, and there was no way this injury could have been predicted. Like Jay told Silent Bob, sometimes the whole world is against you. For Michael Conforto owners – try some meditation, or maybe just a stiff drink.
If you own Michael Conforto in a redraft league, there’s really no silver lining here. As of August 28, the Mets are still waiting on opinions about surgery. While there is still apparently a chance surgery will not be required and Michael Conforto could return before the end of the season, it’s tough to hang to a player for weeks during the Fantasy Baseball playoffs. Even if he does return this season, who knows what kind of shape he’ll be in.
In keeper leagues, it’s a different story. Unless surgery is required and some kind of permanent damage is revealed, this really shouldn’t change Michael Conforto’s keeper value. He was an All-Star this season, and he doesn’t turn 25 until next March. The BB rate is excellent (13%) and the power is real. If you were planning on keeping Michael Conforto after this season, this probably shouldn’t change your mind.
Whether you’re in a redraft or keeper league, however, you’ve got a roster spot to fill for now. If you have an open DL slot, it’s an easy decision. For the best possible replacements on the waiver wire, head over to the SCFE Waiver Wire column by Dennis Sosic.
Those were the Fantasy Baseball Week 22 Hot Topics. I hope you enjoyed them. I also hope you’ve enjoyed this column and the entire Fantasy Baseball experience this season. Whether your team is in contention or not, it still beats work. Until next time, swear by the power of Grayskull.
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