Top 20 Outfielders for 2018 Fantasy Baseball, A Recap

Went over the catchers1st basemen2nd basemen and shortstops and top 20 3rd basemen for 2018 fantasy baseball.  Guess what’s next!  No, not pitchers. Read the title, man.  In 2010, there were only 5 outfielders that hit 30 homers, in 2011 there were 9, 14 in 2012, in 2013, there were 3, a small bounce back with 6 in 2014, eight in 2015, 11 outfielders in 2016, and last year there were 15.  This year…DRUM ROLL!….10 outfielders hit 30 homers.  Womp, womp.  Obvious trend…denied!  As for steals, there were 14 outfielders who stole 30 bases in 2012, 10 in 2013, 11 in 2014, five in 2015, seven in 2016 and last year there were…2!  This year:  five outfielders stole 30 and eleven players overall, up from six.  Steals are on the come up!  As before, these rankings are from our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater with my comments.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 outfielders for 2018 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

Your guide to the 2018 MLB playoffs

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Keep track of October baseball all in one place

The Los Angeles Dodgers won two straight at home, the latter behind seven strong innings from Clayton Kershaw to take a 3-2 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series. In the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox continued to pour on the offense for a 3-1 series lead in Houston against the Astros.

League Championship Series schedule

Friday, Oct. 12
NLCS Game 1: Brewers 6, Dodgers 5

Saturday, Oct. 13
NLCS Game 2: Dodgers 4, Brewers 3
ALCS Game 1: Astros 7, Red Sox 2

Sunday, Oct. 14
ALCS Game 2: Red Sox 7, Astros 5

Monday, Oct. 15
NLCS Game 3: Brewers 4, Dodgers 0

Tuesday, Oct. 16
ALCS Game 3: Red Sox 8, Astros 2
NLCS Game 4: Dodgers 2, Brewers 1 (13 innings)

Wednesday, Oct. 17
NLCS Game 5: Dodgers 5, Brewers 2
ALCS Game 4: Red Sox 8, Astros 6

Thursday, Oct. 18
ALCS Game 5: Red Sox at Astros, 8:09 p.m. (TBS)

Friday, Oct. 19
NLCS Game 6: Dodgers at Brewers, 8:39 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 20
ALCS Game 6*: Astros at Red Sox, 5:09 p.m.^ (TBS)
NLCS Game 7*: Dodgers at Brewers, 9:09 p.m. (Fox or FS1)
^if there is no NLCS Game 7, ALCS Game 6 will start at 8:09 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 21
ALCS Game 7*: Astros at Red Sox, 7:39 p.m. (TBS)

Postseason preview

We got a nice head start on postseason baseball with the unprecedented double tiebreaker on Oct. 1, but now that the National League is all settled we get the real thing, with four weeks of playoff baseball to entertain us for the remainder of October.

For the second season in a row we have three 100-win teams, lead by a juggernaut Boston Red Sox team that set a franchise record with 108 victories. They were joined by the Houston Astros (103 wins) and the New York Yankees (100), the first time that there have been three 100-win teams in the same league.

Seven teams from last year’s playoffs are back, including both World Series participants — the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Milwaukee Brewers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and are the top seed in the National League. Other playoff droughts erased are the young Atlanta Braves (last playoffs: 2013) and the surging Oakland Athletics (2014).

Teams

American League

  1. Boston Red Sox (108-54)
  2. Houston Astros (103-59)
  3. Cleveland Indians (91-71)
  4. New York Yankees (100-62)
  5. Oakland Athletics (97-65)

National League

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (96-67)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (92-71)
  3. Atlanta Braves (90-72)
  4. Chicago Cubs (95-68)
  5. Colorado Rockies (91-72)

Format

Both Wild Card Games are single-elimination, with the National League starting things off on Tuesday, Oct. 2, followed by the American League on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The Division Series are best-of-five with a 2-2-1 format. The League Championship Series and World Series are both best-of-seven formats in a 2-3-2 schedule.

Home field advantage goes to the team with the best record, though a Wild Card winner cannot have home field advantage in the League Championship Series. The most recent example of this was the 2015 NLCS, when the 90-win, division-winning Mets had home field advantage over the 97-win, Wild Card Cubs.

Odds

As of Oct. 2, here are the gambling odds for each team to win the World Series, per Bovada:

  • Red Sox 3/1
  • Astros 13/4
  • Dodgers 6/1
  • Indians 9/1
  • Brewers 9/1
  • Braves 11/1
  • Yankees 11/1
  • Cubs 14/1
  • Athletics 14/1
  • Rockies 18/1

Bracket

 Source: MLB.com

Schedule

All times ET
*if necessary

League Championship Series

World Series

Tuesday, Oct. 23
Game 1 (Fox)

Wednesday, Oct. 24
Game 2 (Fox)

Friday, Oct. 26
Game 3 (Fox)

Saturday, Oct. 27
Game 4 (Fox)

Sunday, Oct. 28
Game 5* (Fox)

Tuesday, Oct. 30
Game 6* (Fox)

Wednesday, Oct. 31
Game 7* (Fox)


Wild Card

Tuesday, Oct. 2
NL Wild Card Game: Rockies 2, Cubs 1 (13)

Wednesday, Oct. 3
AL Wild Card Game: Yankees 7, A’s 2

Division Series

Thursday, Oct. 4
NLDS Game 1: Brewers 3, Rockies 2 (10)
NLDS Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 0

Friday, Oct. 5
ALDS Game 1: Astros 7, Indians 2
NLDS Game 2: Brewers 4, Rockies 0
ALDS Game 1: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4
NLDS Game 2: Dodgers 3, Braves 0

Saturday, Oct. 6
ALDS Game 2: Astros 3, Indians 1
ALDS Game 2: Yankees 6, Red Sox 2

Sunday, Oct. 7
NLDS Game 3: Brewers 6, Rockies 0
NLDS Game 3: Braves 6, Dodgers 5

Monday, Oct. 8
ALDS Game 3: Astros 11, Indians 3
NLDS Game 4: Dodgers 6, Braves 2
ALDS Game 3: Red Sox 16, Yankees 1

Tuesday, Oct. 9
ALDS Game 4: Red Sox 4, Yankees 3

2018-19 Market Snapshot: Center Field

This is the latest installment in our Market Snapshot series. After checking on corner outfield options earlier tonight, we’ll look up the middle.

Teams In Need

Unless they move Dee Gordon back to the outfield, the Mariners have a hole. While the Giants have hopes for Steven Duggar, they’ll surely be on the lookout for other options this winter. Just what kind of player they’ll be interested in will depend upon who they hire to run their baseball ops department and what direction they take.

It’s arguable that several other NL West clubs should be looking up the middle, too. The Rockies could certainly stand to bump Charlie Blackmon to a corner spot, while the Diamondbacks will be looking for new blood. With Arizona potentially taking a rebuilding approach, of course, a big expenditure would seem unlikely.

While the position isn’t an area of need for the Phillies, all bets are off in Philadelphia. Just how much of a need there’ll be for the Indians isn’t known, though it’ll be hard for the team to count on a return from Leonys Martin. The Athletics were fairly unsettled up the middle, but perhaps saw enough in Ramon Laureano to more or less turn the job over to him for a full run. Perhaps there are some scenarios where the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, or Astros decide to shift around some pieces and pursue a center fielder, though that’d seemingly be dependent upon opportunity rather than need.

Whether the Reds believe they’re ready to begin winning could help decide their moves in center. An upgrade would certainly be in order if the organization wants to ramp up toward contention. Otherwise, the Rangers and White Sox aren’t settled in center and could potentially be opportunistic buyers. The Royals and Marlins are less likely to spend, and have some youthful players to try out, but also don’t have clear solutions on hand.

Free Agents

While this class doesn’t have any stars, it features at least one quality regular option in A.J. Pollock. While his durability remains a question, and he failed to sustain a hot start over the course of 2018, Pollock figures to command a strong, multi-year commitment.

Despite a middling 2018 season, sturdy veteran Brett Gardner is probably the best alternative. If his option isn’t picked up and traded, he’ll bring his typically steady lefty bat to the free agent market.

Otherwise, the market contains timeshare options at most. Players like Carlos Gomez, Austin Jackson, Jon Jay, Adam Jones, Cameron Maybin, Gerardo ParraDenard Span, and Chris Young likely won’t be considered as even semi-regular options up the middle. Though all have spent significant time as everyday options in center over the years, none has shown the ability to do so productively of late. Indeed, it’s debatable whether any but Jay, Maybin, and perhaps Gomez will really be seen as realistic options to take the field in center after the defensive showings made in 2018.

Depth Options: Peter BourjosGregor BlancoRajai Davis, Craig Gentry, Shane Robinson, Jake Smolinski, Matt Szczur, Eric Young Jr.

Trade Targets

Potential Regulars: It’s tough to know what the Rays are thinking, but Kevin Kiermaier is the only player they are locked into contractually. Given that he’s coming off of a subpar season, though, perhaps it’s likelier they’ll hold for the time being and hope he bounces back. The Blue Jays could consider dangling Kevin Pillar. Perhaps most plausibly of all, the Phillies could decide it’s time to move on from the enigmatic Odubel Herrera, who’d be of interest elsewhere.

Platoon/Bounceback Options: The Nationals could hang on to Michael Taylor as a reserve, but it’s also possible they’ve seen enough. Taylor has plenty of glove and runs well but remains an inconsistent performer at the plate. That description is true in an even more extreme form with regard to Billy Hamilton of the Reds, a fascinating player who is miscast as an everyday piece. The Yankees and Cardinals would surely like to find takers for Jacoby Ellsbury and Dexter Fowler, respectively, but it’s tough to either player moving except perhaps in some kind of bad contract swap.

Joe West is bad. Don’t let Jose Altuve’s non-homer make you forget that we can all agree on something

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

People, please, stop arguing about the controversial interference call in the ALCS. Let’s hold hands and complain about one of baseball’s worst umpires.

We live in divided times. It seems like you can’t even check the social media these days without finding something that makes you angry. Connecting with people all over the world means that there’s always something to argue about, at all times of the day. As such, it’s a shame that people disagree about the controversial fan interference call in Game 4 of the ALCS that took a home run away from Jose Altuve. Red Sox and Astros fans are very angry about this. It might be the difference in a trip to the World Series.

We don’t need this discord and strife.

Let us to come together on something that we can all agree on, then. Red Sox fans, Astros fans, please, put aside your differences and acknowledge that umpire Joe West is very bad.

Yes, good, you’re nodding your head. We can hold hands if you want to or okay never mind I’m just saying we could have, anyway, this is something that does not divide us. This is something that should be acknowledge, and our shared pain shall make us see the humanity in each other.

Here’s a brief recap of what happened: Jose Altuve hit a home run that Mookie Betts tried to rob. While Betts’ glove was on the other side of the fence, a fan hit the glove, and no catch was made. Joe West, because he is bad, glorgeled out beyond the infield and made a motion that the fan interfered, even though there is absolutely no way that West could have determined if Betts’ glove was on the other side of the fence. He just sort of guessed.

And do you know what West is going to do when he gets back to his hotel? He’s going to nestle into his bed, get under the covers, and not give a shit. He will sleep the sleep of newborn kittens, plowing right through the night without a care in the world. Because he doesn’t have a care in the world. He’s Joe West.

The rest of us, though, do care, and we shouldn’t be surprised that West is a topic of discussion during a postseason game. He likes attention more than most umpires. This is one of the reasons he’s known as “Cowboy Joe West,” along with him being a huge Cowboys fan who is just tickled that Troy Aikman is calling baseball games with Joe Buck in the NLCS and the World Series.

Here he is, seeking attention:

Here he is, seeking more attention:

Now, should you make adjustments because you also don’t like Joe Maddon and Madison Bumgarner? Uh, probably. But West is a notorious dink.

West doesn’t care if you don’t like how he umpires. That’s the whole bit. He does his thing, and he goes home, comforted by the fact that he is probably better than a replacement level umpire from Triple-A, and also comforted by the fact that he is physically incapable of caring what you or anybody else thinks of him. Man, how I wish I had that superpower. West has it, and I’m extremely jealous.

West has that power, and he uses it for evil.

Well, baseball evil. It’s way, way down on the scale. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun at his expense. So, please, Astros fans, Red Sox fans, beggars, millionaires, come together and join hands. The difference in the AL pennant might have something to do with Joe West, and we can all agree that’s bad because Joe West is bad.

Don’t worry, he’s not going anywhere. He’s immortal and enduring, and I can almost appreciate that. He will be making these calls forever, and that’s okay.

That’s okay because he unites us in these troubled times.

Why Jose Altuve’s Game 4 home run was called an out for fan interference

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Even though it might not have actually been fan interference.

Astros star Jose Altuve almost had a game-tying two-run home run in the first inning of ALCS Game 4 against the Red Sox on Wednesday night. Then Mookie Betts almost caught it with a leaping catch. But it might have been fan interference. Until, wait, it was actually it was a home run. No, never mind. It was actually fan interference and Altuve was out.

Wait what?

Let’s catch up. If you weren’t watching, here’s what happened in right field of Minute Maid Park.

Betts leaped to make what could have been a magnificent catch, a fan touched his glove, and he didn’t catch it. The ball left the park, but then crew chief Joe West called it an out due to fan interference. These are the things we know for sure.

After an official review in New York, the call stood. It wasn’t confirmed, because there wasn’t enough evidence to either overturn or confirm, but it stood and Altuve was out. Joe West’s initial call of out because of interference helped the Red Sox in this situation, because if his first instinct was the opposite that call probably would have stood due to the same lack of evidence.

Now, here’s MLB’s spectator interference rule:

(e) Spectator Interference

When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

An especially pertinent passage in this section of the rulebook explains,

No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.

It’s unclear in this situation whether the fan “clearly” prevented Betts from catching the ball. In the video, and the reason West may have made his original decision, it appears as if the fan’s hand closed Betts’ glove as he was about to catch the ball, thereby preventing the catch from being completed despite Betts having it perfectly line up.

The thing that is under even more debate than whether the fan made a difference in the catch itself is whether Betts was in the stands. As the rule states above, it’s not interference if the fielder is in the stands. The league normally would have had a better angle to make that judgement call, except for the presence of a leaning security guard who blocked that view.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was visibly annoyed (if not outright upset) at the call during a mid-game interview, questioning how the decision was made to have the call stand and the fact that it was an out for sure. He said of the assumption that it would have been caught,

“I’m not sure if Mookie makes that catch. He’s a great athlete, but how it’s an assumed out is unbelievable.”

Kate Upton, wife of Astros ace Justin Verlander, had some thoughts on this one and she’s not necessarily wrong. It’s the lack of that angle that makes it impossible to know whether Betts broke the imaginary barrier between field and fan or not.

This is a call that would have made the other team and its fans angry no matter who came out on top here. There are unanswerable questions thanks to the lack of definitive angles and the way the call was made in the first place (The Joe Show never fails to deliver, as many know). It could have been clear fan interference, it could not have been.

That makes it one of the most exciting, debatable, and for some frustrating moments of the postseason so far. If the Astros go on to lose the game there’s going to be a lot of unhappy people in Houston who want better answers from the league and the umpires about why the call went Boston’s way. If they win … well that will probably still be the case.

The fan responsible knows he’s on thin ice with the crowd though, and already has an exit strategy.

Good job reading the room, bad choice of hats and where to put your hands when there’s a fly ball near your section. No one makes winning decisions all the time.

Kershaw, Dodgers are one win away from the World Series

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

7 innings for LA’s ace to beat the Brewers in Game 5 of the NLCS

LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw was magnificent and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are one win away from their first back-to-back World Series trips since 1977-78.

Milwaukee struck first against Kershaw with a third-inning RBI double by Lorenzo Cain, then loaded the bases with two out. Kershaw escaped the damage of a 32-pitch inning with a strikeout of Jesus Aguilar, the first of 13 consecutive batters Kershaw retired to end his day after seven innings.

“Minimizing damage as best you can as a starting pitcher is huge,” Kershaw said. “In the playoffs you probably don’t get many chances to work out of jams because you’re going to get taken out of the game because the magnitude of the game is so large.

“Once I was able to work out of that, really just tried to focus on getting the next guy, next guy, next guy.”

This was the ninth start of Kershaw’s postseason career lasting at least six innings while allowing zero or one earned run. That’s tied for the seventh-most such starts in MLB history.

Kershaw might not have been able to reach seven innings were it not for the offense snapping out of its funk. Yasiel Puig was in the on-deck circle with one out and a runner on third in the fifth inning, ready to pinch hit for Kershaw had the Dodgers remained down 1-0. But catcher Austin Barnes delivered a game-tying single, starting a stretch for the Dodgers of scoring a run in the fifth, two in the sixth, and two more in the seventh.

“I thought that was probably the at-bat of the game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

The Dodgers were just 6-for-35 (.171) with runners in scoring position through the first four games of the series, but broke out with a 4-for-13 (.308) performance on Wednesday that included RBI singles by Barnes, Max Muncy, Puig and Justin Turner.

Milwaukee tried some trickery in starting left-hander Wade Miley on three days rest, only to pull him after one batter in the first inning in favor of the right-handed Brandon Woodruff. The ploy for the Brewers was to hope the Dodgers would stack right-handed batters in their lineup as they did in Game 2, but Dave Roberts instead kept Cody Bellinger and Muncy in his lineup, even batting Bellinger leadoff for the first time in 18 months.

Woodruff was magnificent in relief, through his outing was more like an actual start, striking out eight in his 5 innings. He allowed three runs, including two earned, to take the loss.

The efforts of both Kershaw and Woodruff were much needed, not even a full day after Tuesday’s 13-inning marathon that saw the Dodgers use nine pitchers and the Brewers use seven.

For Kershaw it helped erase the memory of Game 1, when he allowed five runs in three innings in the shortest postseason outing of his career.

“You could see the same look that you always see,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s a determination and when you get a champion like him that gets hit around a little bit, he’s going to respond and that’s what he did today.”

Game 6 is Friday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee, with Miley starting for the Brewers, for real this time. We think. Hyun-jin Ryu will start for the Dodgers.

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