RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 8

Here we are on the eighth Friday of the RotoWire/FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship, and… well, I didn’t do as well last week as I did the week before. Hey, that’s fine; sometimes you have that good-but-not-great week where some of your guys do well, but you don’t get those lineup-wide contributions that really make the bacon. Hard to complain about the recommendations, though, right?

For you, dear RotoWire users, we’ve teamed up with Fanduel to run a $10, multi-entry contest exclusively for you every Friday from April 8 to July 15  — and all you have to do to money is finish in the top half of the standings, with a top-10 finish in any week earning you a ticket to the championship round, which takes place July 22. Click here to get in on the action!

Thursday Fantasy Pickup: Taylor Motter, SS, Rays

Motter has proven to be a true jack-of-all-trades, and his diverse skill set could keep him entrenched on the major league club for an extended period, if not the duration of the season. The 26-year-old manned six different positions for the Rays during spring training, and he’s equipped to capitalize on the multiple-month absence of Kevin Kiermaier. At present, Motter is in a platoon with struggling offseason acquisition Brad Miller at shortstop, and with Tim Beckham’s recent demotion to Triple-A Durham, he slots in as Steve Pearce’s immediate backup at second base as well.

Motter was struggling himself at the Triple-A level this season before his call-up, but the combination of decent power, speed, plate skills and shortstop eligibility make him intriguing. His line was an admittedly ugly .190/.228/.303 over 149 plate appearances, but he also was the victim of an abnormally low .209 BABIP. His prior seasons are more representative of what he can bring to the table, as Motter posted wOBA figures of .414, .338, .360, .343 and .381, respectively, over all of the minor league campaigns in which he tallied at least 195 plate appearances.
He’s already started to show glimpses in his short time with the big league team, slashing .267/.421/.733 with two homers and five RBI in five games entering Thursday. Motter posted double-digit homer seasons in 2014 and 2015 with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, respectively. What we’ll likely also see soon is some thievery on the basepaths —  he swiped 116 bags over 491 minor league contests, including four seasons where he reached the 20-steal threshold.

Other Recent Recommendations: Leonys Martin, SEA (look out for a new recommended pickup every day moving forward!)

Wednesday Fantasy Pickup: Leonys Martin, OF, Mariners

One of the most amazing things about this year’s version of Leonys Martin is how far under the radar he’s flown for how well he’s played. Remember, the Cuban outfielder was once a top-80 prospect who hit .359/.42/.610 over 55 gmes in Triple-A at age 24; there was a lot to love here. Martin never developed into anything more than a one-dimensional speedster in the Rangers organization, but his time in Texas isn’t the end of his story. Indeed, he’s found new life in Seattle, of all places, perhaps taking his cues from the powerful Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano to become a much more authoritative hitter. After homering yet again Tuesday, Martin already owns a new career high in that category (nine), and he’s currently on an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting a cool .500 (14-for-28) with four homers. The speed’s still there, too — he’s swiped seven bags.

Of course, savvy fantasy owners look at that 21.4 percent HR/FB rate and rightly ask, “Hey, is that sustainable?” Well, perhaps not entirely, but Martin has elevated his fly-ball rate and his hard-hit rate dramatically this year — as in, more than 10 percent each compared to his career norms — and the best plate discipline of his career is just icing on the cake. Buy the breakout.

Other Recent Recommendations: None yet, but look out for a new recommended pickup every day moving forward!

Mission Possible: Black People Absolutely Use NBA Analytics

My name is Dr. Andre’ Snellings, and I absolutely LOVE NBA analytics. And…in case you didn’t know…I’m as black as the ace of spades, like my grandma used to say.

As you probably know by now, that “confession” was in response to Michael Wilbon’s article Mission Impossible: African-Americans & Analytics that has the premise that black folks don’t talk about sports in terms of advanced analytics.

NHL Playoff Obserations: Backes’ Boo-Boo and Brent Burns is … Ordinary?

Just a few things that caught my eye:

  • David Backes’ boo-boo could cost him plenty. A strong playoff run — he’d chalked up 13 points in 16 postseason games prior to Saturday — has been masking what’s been a bit of decline since the odometer turned 30. The better his playoffs, the better his contract come July 1. Flush.
  • One hundred and 56 minutes and 59 seconds. That’s all it took for the Blues to finally get on the scoreboard. Wow.