Here Comes the Judge: All Rise For the New League Champion, Everybody Hurts

Mark down the date of Monday, April 10, 2017. That was the date Andy Berlind dropped journeyman first baseman Tommy Joseph, added outfielder Aaron Judge as a free agent, and won the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League.

Oh, sure, there were other key moments, but adding Judge, a player that ultimately ended up leading the American League with 52 home runs, as a free-agent gave the team a fourth power hitter at no cost.

Judge wasn’t even the highest ranked free-agent at the end of the season. That honor belonged to reliever Corey Knebel, who was added by the Lower Haighters on April 15 and finished the season ranked 19th overall, one spot ahead of Judge.

While Knebel and Judge were the two highest-rated free agents by the end of the season, the similarities end there. Finding a top-notch relief pitcher in the free-agent market isn’t that difficult. It happens every year. Finding a hitter that can smash 50 homers is nearly impossible and it can lead to championships.

Besides, Andy designated Kenley Jansen a keeper and he more than returned his value. The Dodger closer finished 2017 ranked 13th overall in the final player rankings and he was the second-highest rated closer in the league behind Craig Kimbrel. Jansen’s 39 net saves/holds trailed only Knebel and Alex Colome.

While Judge propelled Everybody Hurts into the playoffs, it was a quality start on the final Sunday of the season by Daniel Mengden, a player that finished the season ranked 343rd, that ultimately sealed the championship. Had either Ross Stripling or Robbie Ray earned a quality start on the final day of the season for Louie Bottaro and Let’s Play 2, the championship trophy would have headed to Corvallis, Oregon for the first time in league history. Instead, Stripling and Ray were relieved after a combined 3.2 innings and Let’s Play 2 finished runner-up.

That brings us to the one major format change for next season. The fantasy regular season is going to end two weeks earlier than it did this year so that we can avoid the final two weeks of the Major League regular season during our playoffs. Too many key players are rested or shutdown altogether by their Major League teams.

While they didn’t win the championship, Let’s Play 2 will enter 2018 with the reigning league MVP, Corey Kluber. Kluber finished as the top-ranked player after posting 22 quality starts with a 2.25 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 11.7 K/9. Louie’s team will also feature one of the best young hitters in outfielder Mookie Betts, who finished ranked 11th overall.

The Lower Haighters defeated the JetSetters to finish third overall. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton played in 159 games after years of injuries and led the majors with 132 RBI and 59 homers. Stanton’s 162 strikeouts dropped him to 10th in the final player rankings.

Jose Ramirez and Joey Votto powered the JetSetters to the league’s best regular season record but the team struggled in the playoffs, losing to both Let’s Play 2 and the Lower Haighters before finishing fourth. While the final results were disappointing, David Kahn’s team did earn the designation as the best regular season team for the first time under his leadership.

A tip of the cap goes to Sean McKenna and A-Rod’s Mirrors for taking home fifth place despite the loss of star outfielder Bryce Harper down the stretch. The same goes for Robert Kirkbride and Hapamon, who finished sixth. The team was without star pitcher Clayton Kershaw for much of the stretch run.

Outfielder Mike Trout returned from his injury in time to help Eric Brown and Bacon at Mile 11 take seventh over Chris Furgiuele and Stadium Mustard. Third baseman Nolan Arenado finished as team MVP for Bacon while reliever Brad Hand earned MVP honors for Stadium Mustard.

As always, it was a joy to act as commissioner for this league, which just wrapped up its eighth season. Thanks to everyone for playing and I look forward to late January when we all being pouring over projections for Cactus/Grapefruit leagues.

Cheers!

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Everybody Hurts, Let’s Play 2 Meet in League Championship Series

Can Corey Kluber continue his masterful playoff run for Let’s Play 2 and will rookie slugger Aaron Judge power Everybody Hurts to the title? The two will meet in this year’s SFRRC Fantasy Baseball championship series.

Kluber hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last three starts. He’ll face the White Sox at home on Saturday.

Starting pitching helped Louie Bottaro’s team reach its first championship series. Jose Quintana, Kluber, and Jake Odorizzi all pitched scoreless games last week as Let’s Play 2 earned five quality starts to upset the JetSetters in the semifinals.

Everybody Hurts defeated the Lower Haighters with power at the plate. Aaron Judge and Rhys Hoskins combined to knock in 16 of the team’s 41 RBI. The bullpen was also brilliant, as Blake Treinen had three of the team’s seven saves/holds.

Let’s Play 2 will have nine hitters with an opportunity to play in seven games this week while Everybody Hurts has just six hitters with a game every week. Opportunities often create production at the plate.

Both teams will have six starts from starting pitchers and each team will see their starters at home for four of those six games. It looks like a fairly even matchup on the mound.

In the consolation bracket, the Lower Haighters will face the JetSetters in the third-place series. The JetSetters won the lone meeting between the teams this year, sweeping the offensive categories as Jose Ramirez scored 11 runs and had seven RBI.

Hapamon will play A-Rod’s Mirrors in the fifth-place series. The Mirrors beat Hapamon 6-5 in a tightly contested Week 17 series. Manny Machado had eight RBI in that series for the Mirrors while Hapamon’s ace, Clayton Kershaw, was out with a back injury.

Stadium Mustard and Bacon at Mile 11 will play in the seventh-place series. Bacon at Mile 11 won the lone meeting between the two teams in Week 17. Nolan Arenado drove in seven runs for Bacon while starter Aaron Nola had two quality starts.

Kluber, Ray Lead Let’s Play 2 Into Semifinals

Corey Kluber

Let’s Play 2 looks like a dangerous team entering the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League playoff semifinals.

Starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Robbie Ray have gone 6-for-6 in quality start attempts over the past two weeks. Kluber has pitched 23 innings, allowing just two runs with a 0.52 WHIP while Ray has tossed 20.1 innings with a 1.31 ERA and 0.73 WHIP.

Outfielder Mookie Betts is also swinging a hot bat for Louie Bottaro’s team. In his last 12 games, Betts has a 1.015 OPS with 10 runs scored, 12 RBI, and just seven strikeouts in 57 plate appearances.

Does Let’s Play 2 have enough to upset the Jetsetters, the league’s best team? Ervin Santana and Patrick Corbin will each start twice in the series for David Kahn’s team. Corbin has struggled in his last two outings, giving up nine earned runs over 11 innings.

Zack Greinke has been the team’s ace recently, allowing just three runs over his last 22 innings while earning three quality starts.

Everybody Hurts faces the Lower Haighters in the second semifinal and five hot hitters will pace Andy Berlind’s team. Aaron Judge and Rhys Hoskins have combined to drive home 23 runs over the last two weeks for Everybody Hurts while Jean Segura and Yoan Moncada have combined to score 21 runs during that same stretch.

Swinging the hottest bat is Oakland outfielder Matt Olson. Over his last 13 games, Olson is hitting .313 with a 1.307 OPS, 14 RBI and 12 runs scored.

The Lower Haighters will ride three veteran hitters – Ryan Braun, Carlos Santana, and DJ LeMahieu – and young starting pitcher Luis Severino.

Severino has struck out 17 batters over his last 15 innings while allowing just three earned runs. He has two straight quality starts with a 1.80 ERA and 0.53 WHIP.

Braun has three net stolen bases and has scored 10 runs over his last 11 games while Santana is hitting .391 with a 1.169 OPS over the past two weeks. LeMahieu is quietly putting the finishing touches on a strong season. In his last 14 games, the veteran second baseman is hitting .327 with a .921 OPS.

Good luck to the final four teams!

League Changes on the Horizon for 2018

After eight years, it’s time to shake things up for 2018. Next year, the league will be divided into two divisions, rather than four. Each team will play their division opponents twice and their non-division opponents once.

The divisions will be divided equally based on this year’s regular season standings. The first division will have teams that finished 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, & 15th. The second division will include teams that finished 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th.

This will help equalize the strength of schedule for every team in the league.

If you have additional ideas for changes to the league, please let me know. Also, if you aren’t going to rejoin next season, please let me know so that I can find a replacement owner as soon as possible.

JetSetters Enter Playoffs as the Top Seed

The ultimate goal in the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League is to win the championship but the true measurement of a great team is finishing the regular season with the best record.

This year, that honor belongs to the JetSetters and General Manager David Kahn. The JetSetters finished with a 154-99-11 mark, percentage points ahead of the Lower Haighters, who finished with a 154-101-9 record.

Because of the condensed nature of the playoffs, luck plays a much larger role in determining which team comes out on top. If your best hitters have a seven game weekly schedule during a playoff series rather than six games, that’s a big advantage. If your best pitchers have two starts, rather than one, that’s another advantage.

No matter what happens in the playoffs, a tip of the hat goes to David for managing his team to the league’s best record. That’s no easy feat.

A Championship is on the Line

Cleveland infielder Jose Ramirez is the hottest hitter in baseball and he’ll lead the JetSetters in their first round series against Hapamon. When these teams met in Week 2, the JetSetters cruised to a 9-3 series victory. Ramirez posted a 1.460 OPS in 27 plate appearances and led the JetSetters with eight RBI and five runs scored. Ian Kennedy led the pitching staff with a pair of quality starts.

This series lines up perfectly for the JetSetters as veteran pitchers Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels are both two-start pitchers.

The second-seeded Lower Haighters will face their old West Division rivals, A-Rod’s Mirrors, in the first round of the playoffs. The Mirrors were 2-1-1 in head-to-head meetings with the Lower Haighters this season and they’ll have both Carlos Carrasco and C.C. Sabathia starting twice this week. In his last two starts, Carrasco has given up just two runs over 16 innings. At the plate, Manny Machado is hitting .358 over his last 13 games while Albert Pujols has driven home 15 runs in his last 11 games.

Bacon at Mile 11 faces Let’s Play 2 in another quarterfinal series. It’s a rematch of their Week 4 series that was won by Let’s Play 2, 7-5. Matt Wieters and Ben Zobrist combined to drive in 12 runs to lead Let’s Play 2 while Kyle Hendricks posted a pair of quality starts in that series.

Robbie Ray has three quality starts over the past two weeks for Let’s Play 2 and is the top-rated player in our league during that stretch. Ray has allowed just three runs over his past 20.1 innings while striking out 36 batters.
Bacon and General Manager Eric Brown will counter with a healthy Mike Trout. In his last 10 games, Trout is hitting .343 with a 1.196 OPS. He’s scored 15 runs during that stretch and has five net stolen bases.

Stadium Mustard and Everybody Hurts will renew their East Division rivalry in the final first-round playoff series. Everybody Hurts defeated Stadium Mustard in two of their three meetings this year, including a 9-3 series victory in Week 21.

Edwin Encarnacion and Ender Inciarte are both swinging hot bats for Stadium Mustard over the past two weeks. Encarnacion is hitting .333 with a 1.078 OPS and 12 RBI over his last 12 games. Inciarte is hitting .377 with six runs scored and nine RBI in his last 14 games.

Everybody Hurts will be without starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson, who tossed a total of 12 scoreless innings in his past two starts. Infielder Jean Segura is the team’s best hitter over the last two weeks, hitting .292 with 10 runs scored and two net stolen bases in his last 12 games.

Land Shark Slides Into the Wooden Spoon

Two weeks ago, it appeared Las Estellas Rojas and General Manager Jen Valdevia would take home the Wooden Spoon for the team with the worst regular season record. That was until Land Shark went 4-19 over the last two weeks to finish 103-149-12. That’s a far cry from last year when Land Shark won the East Division pennant and finished third in the playoffs.

No matter where you finished this season, I want to thank everyone for playing and hopefully you enjoyed yourself. The SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League will return in 2018 so it’s never too early to begin scouting prospects.

Machado, Verlander Have Mirrors Hunting First League Championship

Shortstop Manny Machado and veteran pitcher Justin Verlander have made A-Rod’s Mirrors the hottest team in the league over the last month.

The Mirrors haven’t lost a series in five weeks, including an impressive 8-4 victory last week against the league-leading Lower Haighters. Machado has 42 hits over his last 129 plate appearances with a 1.021 OPS, 22 runs scored and 32 RBI. Verlander has five quality starts in his last six games with a 2.14 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 10.1 K/9.

Machado’s hitting and Verlander’s pitching have moved the Mirrors to within 10.5 games of the Lower Haighters in the West Division and sixth in the overall standings with just two weeks remaining in the regular season.

The race for the best regular season is coming down to the wire. With last week’s 9-3 series victory over High Cheese, the Jetsetters have regained the league’s best record at 139-90-11. The Lower Haighters, powered by the red-hot bat of Giancarlo Stanton, are 139-92-9. Stanton has been the league’s top hitter over the past month, hitting .380 with a 1.435 OPS in his last 118 plate appearances.

Everybody Hurts has won six of their last seven series and have the league’s third best record at 133-99-8. Luis Castillo and Madison Bumgarner have combined to post 10 quality starts in their last 12 outings for the team. Everybody Hurts has a big series with Stadium Mustard this week that will likely decide the outcome of the East Division pennant race.

Bacon at Mile 11 is another team that has turned it on late in the year to become a legitimate title contender. They’ve won seven of their last eight series to build an 18-game lead in the North Division. At 131-100-9, Bacon now has the fourth best record in the league. Chris Archer has been solid on the mound, earning four quality starts in his last six attempts, while Mike Trout has returned and is hitting .302 with a 1.016 OPS in his last 125 plate appearances.

While the championship race heats up, High Cheese and Las Estellas Rojas face off this week in what is likely to be the Wooden Spoon Derby. High Cheese enters this week’s series with a 96-134-10 record while Rojas is last in the league at 96-136-8. High Cheese is hoping recently added Kolten Wong, who is hitting .361 in his last 112 plate appearances, can power the team by Rojas.

 

Four Pitchers Top the Player Rankings

Chris Sale

Chris Sale is the league’s top-rated player with four week remaining in the regular season.

In a season where MLB hitters are on pace to hit nearly 500 more home runs than in any year in history, four pitchers top the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League rankings.

Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber are the best players in the league with just less than a month remaining in the fantasy regular season. Sale, Kershaw and Kluber have Warning Track Power, Hapamon and Let’s Play 2 in playoff contention. Despite Scherzer’s brilliance, it hasn’t been enough to lift the league’s defending champions, the Marin Menehunes, into playoff contention.

Second baseman Jose Altuve is the league’s top-rated hitter. He’s hitting .363 with 81 runs scored and 21 net stolen bases. Altuve’s hot bat hasn’t been enough to lift Home Run 101 into playoff contention. Bailey’s team is 17 runs behind in the North Division playoff race and 10 games out of the eighth and final playoff berth.

Paul Goldschmidt’s fantastic offensive season has also been wasted in a season that sees Land Shark out of the playoff race and a whopping 32.5 games behind Everybody Hurts in the East Division. Goldschmidt is hitting .320 with a 1.033 OPS, 93 RBI and 91 runs. He’s the best corner infielder in the game.

Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has been on a tear lately. Stanton, 27, leads the major leagues in home runs with 43, and has hit 10 home runs in his last 11 games. The fact that he’s finally stayed healthy has lifted the Lower Haighters to the best record in the league.

As good as Stanton’s been, first baseman Joey Votto has been better and the veteran first baseman has powered the JetSetters to the league’s second best record. Votto is hitting .317 with a 1.050 OPS with 83 RBIs and 82 runs scored. He’s struck out just 59 times in 524 plate appearances. If owner David Kahn wins his first league championship in 2017, Votto will likely be the team MVP.

If Votto isn’t the JetSetters MVP, then it will be Cleveland infielder Jose Ramirez. Ramirez is hitting .312 with a .906 OPS and 79 runs scored. Like Votto, Ramirez has excellent command of the strike zone, whiffing just 56 times in 489 at bats.

The JetSetters and Let’s Play 2 are the only teams with two players ranked in the Top 16. While Votto and Ramirez lead Kahn’s team, Kluber and outfielder Mookie Betts lead Louie Bottaro’s squad. Betts has scored 78 runs, knocked in 72, has 14 net stolen bases, and has just 54 strikeouts in 532 at bats. Let’s Play 2 is fifth in the overall standings and look like a dangerous team come playoff time.

Reliever Kenley Jansen and rookie slugger Aaron Judge have Everybody Hurts in title contention. Jansen is the league’s top-rated reliever with a 1.20 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 31 net saves/holds. Despite a recent slump, Judge still has a 1.038 OPS and 88 runs scored.

Everybody Hurts needs Judge to step up because Chris Frugiuele’s Stadium Mustard team is just four and a half games back in the East Division pennant race. Stadium Mustard needs starter James Paxton and reliever Andrew Miller to return from injury soon. They are the team’s top-rated players.

While the race for the playoffs is heated, it may not be as heated as the race for the Wooden Spoon. High Cheese, Las Estellas Rojas and Land Shark are in a virtual tie for the worst record in the league. High Cheese and Rojas face each other twice in the final four weeks of the season.

Let the Pennant Races Begin!

Max Scherzer

With nine weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s time to turn our attention to the division pennant races and the chase for the league’s eight playoff berths. Below is a breakdown of each division and what we can expect over the final two months of the regular season.

NORTH DIVISION

This is a three-team race, at least until outfielder Mike Trout returns to Bacon at Mile 11’s lineup sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Bacon has dominated North Division foes, going 33-14-1. The team has yet to lose a division series. They face the Bulls and Home Run 101 three times each over the final nine weeks of the season.

With Trout shelved, Trea Turner has emerged as Bacon’s team leader. Turner is hitting .272 with a .729 OPS, 53 runs scored, 32 RBI and 29 net stolen bases. He’s helped Bacon top the league in net stolen bases. Turner is one of five players ranked in the league’s Top 80 for Bacon.

Hapamon lost all three series against Bacon but they trail by just 2.5 games and they have the division’s top-rated player, pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has 15 quality starts in 18 attempts with a 2.18 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a 10.6 K/9. In a two-start week, Kershaw can change the course of a series. The team has the lowest ERA in the league and is tied for the lowest WHIP.

The Bulls have an outside shot at the division title, trailing Bacon by just five games. They are also in the thick of the playoff chase, sitting in ninth overall. But do they have enough firepower? The Bulls have just three players ranked in the Top 80 and they have 11 players ranked below replacement level.

The Bulls need to ride a strong second half from Stephen Strasburg. He’s the team’s best player, earning 12 quality starts in 17 attempts with a 3.28 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Strasburg has propelled the Bulls to the league’s second lowest ERA.

Home Run 101 trails Bacon by 12 games and has just three players ranked in the Top 80, led by second baseman Jose Altuve. The team is relying on 12 players ranked below replacement level.

SOUTH DIVISION

The JetSetters have the league’s best record thanks to a prolific offense led by veteran first baseman Joey Votto and infielder Jose Ramirez. Votto is ranked sixth overall and is hitting .312 with a 1.038 OPS. He has 61 RBIs and 61 runs scored. Ramirez is ranked 12th and his hitting .326 with a .969 OPS. He’s scored 59 runs.

Votto and Ramirez are two of the team’s five players ranked in the Top 80. The offense has been prolific, leading the league in opportunities thanks to more plate appearances than any other team. The JetSetters rely on just six players ranked below replacement level, a big reason why they have built an eight game lead in the division.

Let’s Play 2 has an opportunity to make up ground on the division leaders as they face them three times in the final nine weeks. Outfielder Mookie Betts is in the conversation for league MVP, currently ranking fifth. He’s hitting .277 with a 0.855 OPS, 58 runs scored, 51 RBIs and 13 net stolen bases.

Betts is one of five players ranked in the Top 80 for Let’s Play 2. The team has nine players ranked below replacement level. If the team can find production in the bullpen over the final nine weeks, it could contend for a division title and a league championship.

High Cheese is the only team in the division that doesn’t have a player ranked in the Top 80. The division title is out of the question, as High Cheese trails by 22.5 games and hopes for a playoff berth are beginning to fade. Mark Reynolds is the team’s top-rated player but High Cheese is relying on 12 players ranked below replacement level.

It’s been a tough initial season for first-time fantasy baseball GM Jen Valdivia. Her team, Las Estellas Rojas, is in last place. Robinson Cano is the team’s top-rated player and one of three ranked in the league’s top 80. Rojas has been very good on the bases, ranking third in net stolen bases.

EAST DIVISION

Stadium Mustard and Everybody Hurts are set to wage a spirited battle for the East Division pennant over the final nine weeks of the season. Stadium Mustard holds a 4.5 game lead but they face each other three times.

Reliever Andrew Miller has been a strong presence in the bullpen for Stadium Mustard in the first half of the season. He’s ranked 15th overall and has 18 net saves/holds with a 1.70 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. Miller is a big reason why the team is tied for the league lead in net saves/holds.

Stadium Mustard has five players ranked in the Top 80 and relies on nine players that are below replacement level. To win the pennant, the team needs to find reliable starting pitching.

Young slugger Aaron Judge will carry the pennant hopes of Everybody Hurts during the stretch run. Judge is ranked seventh overall. He’s hitting .333 with a 1.150 OPS and is a big reason the team leads the league in OPS. Judge has scored 73 runs and knocked in 63. He’s one of five players ranked in the Top 80 for Everybody Hurts. The team relies on just five players ranked below replacement level.

After a tough start, GM Allen Bush has guided the Midtown Marsupials into playoff contention. They’ve won four of their past seven series and face Everybody Hurts three times in the season’s final nine weeks.

The Marsupials have seven players ranked in the Top 80, the most of any team in the division. Infielder Daniel Murphy is ranked 10th and is hitting .340 with a 0.969 OPS. He’s driven in 60 runs in 78 games. Murphy and the offense strike out fewer times than any team in the league. The Marsupials have enough firepower to compete with any team in the division and rely on just six players ranked below replacement level. The pitching has been solid, as the team leads the league in WHIP.

Land Shark has fallen 21.5 games out of first place in the division and has just four players ranked in the Top 80 while relying on 12 players ranked below replacement level. The team can be dangerous on any given week as they have the league’s top-rated hitter in Paul Goldschmidt. The Arizona sluggers is hitting .315 with a 1.022 OPS and has driven in 66 runs over 83 games.

WEST DIVISION

It’s just like old times. A-Rod’s Mirrors and the Lower Haighters are set for another epic battle for the West Division pennant.

The Haighters lead the Mirrors by 8.5 games but they’ll face each other three times over the final nine weeks of the regular season. Both teams are ranked in the league’s top five and feature plenty of star power. Each has eight players ranked in the Top 80 and are led by a reliever.

Corey Knebel is ranked 24th overall and is the top-rated player for the Lower Haighters. He has 18 net saves/holds with a 1.13 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Knebel is a big reason the Lower Haighters lead the league in K/9. The team isn’t built around star players but it has reduced its reliance on replacement level players, where it has just six. The team leads the league in both runs scored and RBI.

Craig Kimbrel is turning in one of the best seasons for a reliever in league history. He has 20 net saves/holds with a 1.22 ERA, 0.51 WHIP and a 15.7 K/9 for the Mirrors. Outfielder Bryce Harper is the top offensive player in the division. He’s hitting .320 with a 1.020 OPS and has driven in 62 runs and scored 66 more. Harper is a big reason the Mirrors have the second most RBI in the league.

Warning Track Power trails by 17.5 in the division but is still in the thick of the playoff hunt. Chris Sale is the division’s best starting pitcher and he’s ranked second overall. Sale has 15 quality starts with a 2.61 ERA and 0.895 WHIP. On a two-start week, Sale can win several categories for Warning Track Power. The team has eight players ranked in the Top 80 and 10 players that are below replacement level.

After last year’s championship, the Menehunes have fallen on hard times this season. They are 25.5 games out in the division race and are fading from the playoff race. They have just five players ranked in the Top 80 and have nine players ranked below replacement level.

While they may be out of playoff contention, the Menehunes can be very dangerous from week-to-week, as they have the league’s top-rated player, pitcher Max Scherzer. Scherzer has 15 quality starts with a 2.61 ERA and 0.895 WHIP. They will come after you with starting pitchers, as they lead the league in both innings pitched and quality starts.