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Groovin’ with Govier: Fantasy Baseball Roundup (1/25)

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Michael Govier

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Welcome to the latest offseason edition of Groovin’ with Govier! If you’re new here (regulars: SKIP), I dissect various avenues and angles of the fantasy baseball landscape. Don’t forget our 2023 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide is available right now. Save a couple bones with my promo code MJGOVIER when you sign up so you can get access to Eric Cross, Chris Meaney, Vlad Sedler and many more FTN whiz-kids. Let’s cut the crap and get right to it. What do you say?

 

My Dad Wanted Me to Be a Baseball Player

What if Adalberto Mondesi’s story is similar to post-bullet wound Roy Hobbs from The Natural? Injured, called out by his GM, left for dead by nearly everyone and just yearning for one more chance to show everybody in The Bigs how incredible he is. In reality, Mondesi will be lucky to play in 90 games this season. We know Mondesi’s injury history better than most players because of the litany of damage he has already experienced at 27 years old. At times like these I wish OCP was a real conglomerate so they could make a new and improved Mondesi just like they did by turning Alex Murphy into Robocop. However, there actually may be a real-life scenario at play here that could lead to Mondesi’s rebirth as a viable major leaguer in 20231. Simply put: Mondesi has an opportunity. Trevor Story’s injury leaves an opportunity for Mondesi to get regular at-bats2. New Royal’s GM J.J. Picollo said Tuesday that he felt Mondesi needed a “clean break” and that Mondesi was “excited” about the prospect of coming to Bah-ston. 

I like this trade a great deal from Sawks GM Chaim Bloom’s perspective. Maybe Bloom won’t be booed as often as he was recently at the Red Sox Winter Weekend event? If you’re thinking this trade makes it seem as if the Royals couldn’t wait to unload Mondesi, maybe think about reconsidering that notion? Josh Taylor is a steady 29-year-old lefty RP who missed all of 2022 because of a back issue. When healthy, Taylor is a solid arm in the pen who limits the longball. Maybe he even gets in the mix at closer this season for the Royals? Picollo also has a player to be named later waiting in the wings. Mondesi becoming a free agent after this season definitely handcuffed Picollo’s options as it limited the Royals’ ability to garner more in return on Mondesi’s talent alone even if some bozo GM decided to ignore Mondesi’s laundry list of injuries3. Mondesi has a clearer path to playing time with the Sawks than he did with Kansas City. This provides him with an opening to increase his value in free agency after 2023. Cue the false notion contract year hype train for Mondesi right now!

Diehard Mondesi stans are the fantasy baseball equivalent of Beyonce’s BeyHive. At this very moment, there are mild mannered in their day job, white collar workers battling furiously on Twitter about reasons Mondesi will thrive or fail in Fenway. The reason I’m going to bump Mondesi up in my offseason rankings is due to the massive weight that the combination of talent, expectations and failure can take hold on a human being. I’m confident that he has been depressed at some point over the last 18 months. Especially after he tore his ACL. Former Royals GM Dayton Moore had publicly admonished him in August of 2021. I imagine at some point before the 2022 season began, Mondesi was cruising around in his ride jamming out his frustration to Queen and David Bowie’s timeless classic “Under Pressure.” To then have a season-ending knee injury so early on in the 2022 campaign had to be a soul-crushing experience. I see this as a chance for a superior talent to find himself again in a new environment. This is an opportunity to find his rhythm without the constant reminders of his failures staring him in the face. Imagine all the triggers surrounding Mondesi in his environment that we were blissfully unaware of in Kansas City? This isn’t poppycock or Goop. The internal, mental pain that inflicts certain players across all professional sports is a real phenomenon. No need for hyperbolic predictions at this time, but my expectation is that Mondesi reacts to his new beginning in a positive way. 

We Fear Change

My hometown Tigers made waves recently, joining the likes of the Orioles by making changes to the fences. Just like Baltimore, I’m sure a radical turnaround in 2023 is imminent. Jokes aside, I’m all for these changes! Change can be good. Except when it happens to the actual baseballs used in play during the playing of an actual MLB season. New Tigers big man on campus4 Scott Harris is literally rebuilding things in Detroit and these changes are going to make an impact on fantasy baseball. Tiger SP Matt Manning says these new dimensions will reduce his ability to grip and rip a 4FB on a 2-0 count without any fear of the ball leaving the yard. Future All-Star Riley Greene is stoked for the changes to the fences, but that’s only because lowering the fences universally to 7 feet across the entire outfield will improve his chances to rob more potential home run balls. This is a negative for pitchers from a fantasy perspective because the 13-foot fence in right-center helped to limit home run balls from carrying over the wall. A 6-foot reduction in wall height increases the likelihood of a home run in right-center despite Greene’s world class dong thievery.

This isn’t the first fence adjustment Comerica Park has rendered since the place opened in 2000. Back in 2003, the fence in left-center field was moved to 370 feet from an absurd 395 feet! That’s just a bonkers power alley to begin with. It should be no surprise that the Comerica Park home run total in 2002 of 122 dongs increased by 40 in 2003 because of the fence adjustment. I’d also like to remind you that the 2003 Tigers lost 119 games. They were the worst team in franchise history by record, but they also outhomered the 2022 Tigers at Comerica by 16 dongs, cranking out 67 taters at home compared to 51 by the 2022 Motor City Kitties. My guy Chris Brown from Woodward Sports and the Tiger’s Minor League Report here in Detroit charted 12 balls from 2022 that would likely be homers with the new dimensions. One other note is the ample number of left-handed hitters the Tigers currently plan to roll with. Clearly they executed this plan with their roster in mind. Sounds simple, but you may be surprised how many teams try to make their roster fit into their plans instead of the other way around. 

The guy I’ve always trusted the most when it comes to park factors is Crosby Spencer. You can find him in the Pallazzo Podcast Discord. He told me that with the 8-foot reduction in distance to CF, Comerica will likely play similar to Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium unless the fence is still squared off. Because the distance to the fence from home plate goes straight instead of rounded, the distance extends a little deeper to the right and left of the 412-foot dead center. It’ll play more like it’s 415 feet. Compared to Kauffman, which is a rounded fence and plays to the right and left of dead center, which is at 410 feet at around 398-402 feet.

 

His Name Is Robert Paulson

Robert sacrificed his life for the greater cause5. My life will not be the price I pay though. Instead, my sacrifice for the cause is my intentional attempt to avoid the January groupthink that becomes the norm as the calendar turns the page towards another fantasy baseball season. My reasons are not contrarian, nor are they an attempt to gain favor or clicks. It can be challenging to step out independently from the herd, especially when you grow to enjoy the company and conversation of that herd. Imagine how Joe Pistone felt playing Donnie Brasco the deeper he became engrossed in the Bonnano crime family? Whatever Pistone’s original intent, he found himself torn between the duty he had to protect his friend Lefty while at the same time carrying out his original mission to gather evidence to convict La Cosa Nostra in court.

I plan to sit outside of the draft circles until next month. ADP. Risers. Fallers. They’re all foreign to me for now because I am working diligently on my own projections and rankings for 2023. The goal is to have a firm foundation of my own. My foundation comes from looking at key statistical data points throughout 2022. I also have a running list of players that I kept throughout the entire 2022 season. These players had streaks either hot or cold, tangible statistical gains, monster one-game performances, trending social media moments that caught everybody’s attention, month to month statistical tracking to determine how the baseball changed in a significant way and week by week capsules that have more of a H2H application than anything else. 

This isn’t some fly-by-night approach that I decided upon after a Tony Soprano-esque fever dream. My frustration with ADP and rankings groupthink began to mount last year during draft season. I found that I was having thoughts forming in my mind while researching or drafting that were not my own. I can’t deny that! I think others have found this happening to themselves in the moment. Deep down in places people don’t like to talk about at parties, they’ve had the same experience as me. To be clear, I am fully culpable for my thoughts and actions. For me, draft season was condensed because of the lockout. I refused to partake until there was a CBA because I was uncertain of the stakes. There are certain people who love to gain an edge by diving in as early as October before all three Carlos Correa deals happen. Those drafters are similar to Ocean’s 11. They see all the angles while being five steps ahead of everybody else. That’s not me. Spring training always leads to injuries. I would rather draft with as much current information as I can.

I could have ignored all of this. It may have been easier to chalk up the lockout as a fluke offseason. I could rest upon a few big wins I had last year and call it a day. That’s not me. There is a better way forward. I have goals. I want to win an NFBC Main Event league before I ever consider shooting for the moon with the overall title. As the mayor of Miami in Any Given Sunday said, first you get along, then you go along. 

Footnotes

1. We all know Mondesi can’t draw walks consistently. I couldn’t pump up his OBP here. Even for fantastical purposes.

2. I think it’s very likely that Story may miss the entire 2023 season. Mondesi isn’t coming in as a reliable asset. Bloom may be thinking Mondesi can be healthier than he was prior, which provides at minimum a replacement level player for Story should he fail to return this year.

3. No GM in MLB would ignore his injury history to focus on talent alone. Except AJ Preller. 

4. Remember that stupid movie Dead Man on Campus with Zack Morris? It was built on the myth that if your roommate in your dorm room died you would get an A in all your classes for the semester. Has there been a more absurd movie premise?

5. How perfectly cast was Meat Loaf in Fight Club? It was such a random appearance at the time, but certainly a surprisingly welcome addition to a borderline classic film.

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