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Farewell and MLB Breakout Picks

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With this post, I end my time at Fake Teams and toss in some 2018 fantasy baseball picks while I’m at it.

American League Division Series Game Four: Houston Astros v. Boston Red Sox
For my last post, I had to choose a picture of my favorite player, even if he is not mentioned in this article.

If you aren’t a fan of sappy, gratitude-filled goodbye posts, then skip down to the end to read my breakout fantasy baseball picks at every position for 2018. For many reasons, none of which involve a medical issue or anything very serious, this is my last post at Fake Teams. I’m not moving on to another website. It felt like now was the time to walk away after an enjoyable run of four years of writing about baseball.

Other parts of my life: family, my day job, my church and community, to name a few, are more important to me than writing here and, although this doesn’t take a huge amount of time, it’s enough to hold me back from those other pursuits more than I would like.

I’m going to start my “thank yous” with you, the readers. I’ve received almost unanimously positive or insightful comments to my posts over the years. I’ve received emails asking for fantasy baseball advice, and even received much-needed help with Tableau from a reader in Gopher-land. I cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to read through my overly-thorough and lengthy posts all these years.

I always tried to produce content you couldn’t find elsewhere. I intentionally looked at other sites to make sure I wasn’t covering players or stories they were. The Fake Teams community is the most supportive and positive online community I’ve ever known. Twitter, Youtube, even Reddit, have far more trolls than you will find here.

Next up, my fellow Fake Teams writers, past and present: Tim Finnegan, Brian Creagh, Alex Kantecki, Jason Hunt, Jack Cecil, Daniel Kelley, Mark Abell, Punk is Dead, Ghoji Blackburn, J.E. Barnett, Eddy Almaguer, Heath Capps, and Joe Gentile. Thank you all for what you’ve done for the site and for pushing me to be better with your posts and talents. Please follow all of these guys on twitter and keep reading their stuff, whether it’s here or on the sites they now write for.

I also want to thank all the sites that I used as resources for my posts over the years. Fangraphs is my go-to site for all baseball stats. Not only that, but I enjoy their writing more than any others. Eno Sarris and Jeff Sullivan are my favorites and the biggest influences to my writing, but Dave Cameron, Jeff Zimmerman, Travis Sawchik, Paul Sporer, and others have also been inspiring to me. I even got to be in a Fake Teams dynasty league with Jeff Zimmerman, which was a cool experience for me. I actually led that league for the first half of the season, before Jeff took over and won the league.

Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, and Brooks Baseball were also extremely helpful. I leaned heavily on their data for my posts. Baseball Prospectus’ Pitch F/X Leaderboard was also a big help. If you want individual pitch type swinging strike rates, movements, and velocities, it’s the place to go, since they pulled much of that from Fangraphs. I highly recommend all of these sites. Also, Tableau is the best graphing software out there and there is an excellent free version (Tableau Public) if you want to try it out. I used it exclusively for my Coffee’s for Closers charts in 2017.

I started this journey as a guy that had played fantasy baseball only once casually and decided he wanted to dive deep and understand more about the game. After immersing myself in every fantasy baseball site and article I could find, I thought I would try my hand at sharing what I learned with others.

Keith (and Mike) Lott at WeTalkFantasySports.com gave me a shot to write about baseball on their site in 2013. I experimented with a lot of different styles and presentations back then and was grateful for the chance to get my feet wet. When I saw Fake Teams was looking for baseball writers in 2014, I decided to submit an application and see what happens. Ray Guilfoyle, managing editor of this site since its founding, I believe, was gracious enough to bring me on.

It’s been a great four years on this site since then. I’m sure I will greatly miss writing about baseball come March and April as the new season is starting and winter’s cold grip is gone. I mean, it’s January and many big free agents are still unsigned, so there’s going to be so much happening between now and April and so many changes to rosters.

I want to thank Ray and my current managing editor, Pete Rogers, for their support and encouragement during my stay on this site. They have both been very helpful and always responded to my questions and concerns. They were both very understanding and flexible. I cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunities they gave me. A guy with no formal journalism training and a short track record of fantasy baseball knowledge got to write about baseball for one of the biggest fantasy sites on the Interwebs.

I’ll still be on twitter and such if you need me. Finally, I have to thank my wife, who doesn’t understand my obsession with fantasy baseball at all, but supported my writing here from the beginning and put up with me being unavailable for hours every week.

Breakout picks

Oh, and as promised, here are some 2018 fantasy baseball breakout picks so that this article isn’t just one long goodbye post. See? There’s actually fantasy baseball content in this post.

1B: Greg Bird, NYY. He needs to stay healthy, but he’s got real power in a lineup that looks terrifying right now. I hate to praise the Pinstripes as a Sox fan, but Bird looks really good. Mitch Moreland is my second pick, here. His Barrels/PA from 2017 looked fantastic.

2B: Jose Pirela, SD. He’s a late bloomer at 28, but has a decent power-speed combo with some upside since we haven’t yet seen a full big league season. He put up a 0.635 slugging in AAA in 2017.

3B: Rio Ruiz, ATL. This is a tough position for breakout picks, so I had a hard time finding anyone. Ruiz is young and still developing and showed some decent exit velocities last year, so there’s hope he can cut down on his 53% GB% and get more power. Oh, and Rafael Devers is an obvious but great pick to breakout as well.

SS: Ketel Marte, ARI. I looked at every SS in the league and ultimately kept coming back to the guy Jeff Sullivan has picked to break out in 2018. I can’t really argue with his pick.

OF: Aaron Altherr, David Dahl, Rhys Hoskins, Lewis Brinson, Mitch Haniger, Derek Fisher (I know some of these guys are already well known and probably already broke out, but just go with me). This group is full of post-hype prospects and guys that were sleepers in the past for good reason but got hurt.

SP: Luke Weaver, Jacob Faria, Jordan Montgomery, Aaron Nola, Garrett Richards, Sean Newcomb, Kyle Gibson, Dinelson Lamet. Some of these might not be true “breakout” picks since they are veterans and have had good seasons in the past, but I think all of these guys will have much better 2018s than 2017 and many are being taken late in drafts. I tried to include guys from different points in the draft and some that are way out on a limb.

RP: Blake Treinen, Brandon Morrow, Juan Minaya. I just talked about these three in my previous post.

It wouldn’t be one of my posts if it didn’t sail past 1200 words. So long, and thanks for all the fish!