Good morning fantasy enthusiasts, can you feel that? We’re a month away from the All-Star break, and today may or may not be the “Super Two” deadline we’ve been waiting for. Today I’m going to provide some updates on injured guys you should consider stashing, as well as a couple minor leaguers (yes, including Moncada) with an explanation of what Super Two is written for idiots, by an idiot, because I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the weirdest and most confusing rules in all of professional sports.
As always, I’ll be finishing with a review of a craft beer that I think is worth stashing in your fridge to go along with the guys you should be stashing on your bench.
Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B (CWS) – owned in 21% of leagues
2017 stats in minors: .291/.373/.446, 36 R, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 12 SB (2CS), 56/24 (K/BB) in 175 AB (201 PA) and 44 Games Started
That’s a lot of stats, but I wanted to give everyone the full picture. The just-turned-22-year-old Cuban infielder has been tearing it up in AAA-Charlotte this season, despite his slump since returning from the 7-day DL on May 26th with a thumb injury. He’s collected just 5 hits over his past 36 at-bats, with no home runs, but he’s scored 9 times, accrued 7 walks, 3 RBI, and 2 SB in the 10-game span, proving that even when he’s playing poorly, he’s still contributing in multiple departments.
Not that most of you need convincing that Moncada is rosterable, but with his callup seemingly imminent, it’s important to get some context and know what we’re getting ourselves into since you’ll likely have to drop someone to pick him up.
Moncada is an outstanding 4-tool player, and could easily develop the 5th tool (defense).
He has elite speed and is a demon on the basepaths, swiping 106 bags over 231 Minor League games while being caught only 17 times (86.2% success rate). This will be his ultimate value in his rookie season: when he inevitably hits a slump as MLB pitchers adjust to him, his strong OBP and propensity to steal (and thus score runs) will contribute to counting stats even if his AVG, HR, and RBI numbers see a decline for a few weeks.
Moncada sports a strong arm and has played second and third base in the minors, and figures to take the hot corner from the struggling Todd Frazier when he receives his callup. ESPN currently has him listed as a third baseman.
The Cuban righty (throwing) is an always-valuable switch-hitter, and hits the ball hard from both sides of the plate. He’s aggressive, and has been striking out around 27% of the time this season, but also sports a healthy 13% BB rate, demonstrating a good eye to go along with his aggressive swing. You know who has similar numbers? Aaron Judge, who currently sports a 29% K rate to compliment a 14.6% BB rate. Just sayin’. Moncada figures to be a .280 hitter, with a career .288 AVG in the minors and .277 in International League play. He’s posted a .391 OBP over his minor league career, and has shown no signs of slowing down as he advanced from single A to double A to triple A. Expect that success in reaching base to continue in the Majors.
Moncada also hits for power, especially after adjusting his swing in 2016 with the Red Sox, going from 12 HR over three seasons to 11 HR in just 177 AB for AA-Portland. He’s already mashed 6 bombs this year, and figures to hit 30+ once he hits the majors over a full season. He has juicy exit-velocity when he makes contact, with a high line-drive percentage that creates more base hits (again, remind you of anyone named Judge?).
His defense has been the only part of his game that isn’t a bright spot, though he’s no slouch in that department. He’s had shaky glovework that’s led to 49 errors over 217 games in the minors, but he’s cleaned up his act a bit this season, with only 6 errors in 44 starts this year. Then again, defense doesn’t matter for fantasy purposes anyway, so feel free to disregard this.
Alright, alright…so when is he coming???
Soon. Very soon. There’s no firm timetable yet, but based on the always-annoyingly-vague Super Two rules and Moncada’s 31 days of service at the MLB-level in Boston last year, we should see him in a White Sox uniform by the end of June. My semi-meaningless prediction is that the Sox will call him up for their long homestand starting June 23rd against the Oakland A’s. Garnering valuable media attention in a slate of three home series that figure to include plenty of national TV coverage against the A’s, Yankees, and Rangers. Who says the Cubbies are the most exciting team in Chicago?
A June 23rd callup ensures he’s well past the Super Two deadline (more on that below) while also rewarding the patient Chicago fans with a home debut of baseball’s #1 prospect. Additionally, his 31 days in the bigs last year meant that the Cuban switch-hitter would reach one full season of service (and thus be eligible for free agency a year earlier) if he were to be promoted before mid-May, meaning the White Sox are now safely past that deadline.
The bottom line: Snap him up now if you have the roster space, and don’t wait any longer than 5-10 days. Once you hear the official word that he’s being called up, it will already be too late. He’s owned in 21% of leagues as of this morning, and that figure will continue to rise over the next two weeks as more and more articles are posted on Super Two and Moncada himself. Barring an injury or a catastrophic collapse, Moncada should be up before the ASB, and his absolute latest arrival would be July 14th against Seattle, the first game back after the ASB. But I predict June 23rd against Oakland. You read it here first, folks.
So What the Hell is Super Two?
I promised you an explanation written for idiots by an idiot, so here’s my take.
First, you have to know about salary arbitration. Major League Baseball is the most difficult, complicated sport in the world (yeah I said it, come at me fans of other sports, I will scream and blow my whistle), as evidenced by its vast, 3-level Minor League system. Known colloquially as a “farm system” in reference to the players each team hopes will grow and flourish into something delicious and valuable, the Minor Leagues span from Single A (lowest level) to Double A to Triple A (highest level before Major Leagues). Each of the 30 professional, Major League Baseball teams boasts 7 or more minor league affiliates at multiple levels with hundreds of players, all of whom want money. Because, you know, this is their job.
Now, the vast majority of these hundreds of players will never step foot on a Major League Baseball diamond, and with some exceptions, no one really knows who will end up becoming a Major Leaguer and who ends up as a statistical footnote. But these guys all still need to get paid, and once they are called up to the Majors, their hard work has to be rewarded with cold hard cash.
While bonuses are awarded and new contracts are given, they are still making what amounts to jack shit even after being promoted. Many young players who do very well in their rookie, sophomore, and further MLB campaigns are still making small salaries that are determined by the team. That’s right, players with less than 3 years (3 full seasons) of MLB service are considered “under team control,” which literally allows teams to pay players whatever they want. Basically, Major League Baseball’s salary rules are written to favor the owners, not the players. One rule that has been implemented to provide balance on the side of the players is salary arbitration, a rule that states that players with 3 years of service time can enter salary negotiations with a neutral third party prior to the start of their 4th season to request a more fair salary based on their performance.
In short, young players are promoted from the minors to the majors. They are paid small salaries set by the team they play for. Regardless of how well they play (and if they are playing for 2+ seasons in the majors then it’s a safe bet that they’re good, considering the large stable of talent teams have waiting in the minors to replace bad players), this salary doesn’t change. This favors the MLB team, not the player, because a player can play like a top-10 guy and be getting paid like a bottom-10 guy. After 3 years of playing time, the player can request a hearing to negotiate his salary. This is called arbitration.
Still with me?
It’s worth mentioning that typically, teams are not looking to piss off their players. They will renegotiate contracts for guys who play well, and starting salaries are adjusted based on the talent level and minor-league performance of the new/rookie MLB player. If you pay someone poorly for years and stick your fingers in your ears and hum when they ask to be paid fairly, you can bet your ass that the All-Star you drafted, trained, and developed will be scampering off to play for your cross-town rival, who will be happy to pay they what they’re worth, and the player will be happy to leave you in their rearview mirror remembering the way you shafted their bank account. So it’s also in the team’s interest to not screw over their young talent in the salary department, but teams are also out to save money, because it’s a business at the end of the day.
Ok, that’s arbitration. So…what is Super Two then?
Super Two is a rule that states that players in the top 22% of service time are eligible for arbitration EARLIER than their colleagues. What’s “the top 22% of service time” you ask? Well, as outlined above, players can enter arbitration/salary negotiation after 3 years of playing in the Majors. That 3 years is calculated based on the number of days a player is on the Major League team’s roster. Sometimes players, especially young ones, will be “sent down” back to the Minor Leagues once, twice, or many times. There are many reasons for this, but basically an MLB team can toss a player back and forth between the Major League roster (when they need him) and their Minor League roster (when they don’t). Now, if you have a really good player, of course you want him on the field in the Majors every day to give your Major League team the best chance to win. But sometimes, teams will purposely “send down” a good player for a few weeks to keep him from accruing more Major League service time, thus stalling the player from reaching their 3 year service time eligibility, and allowing the team to pay a good player less than he’s worth for as much time as possible. Pretty sneaky, right? So the players (the good ones) who play most of the season for their team are having to wait longer than 3 CALENDAR years to reach their 3 years of MLB service, which is calculated based on the number of days they are on the active Major League roster. Not fair, right?
The Super Two rule (also nicely broken down here by Fangraphs and on here by reddit user yunghokang) allows the good players, the guys who are getting used/played almost every day, to negotiate their salaries after 3 years REGARDLESS of whether or not they have actually played for 3 “full” seasons. The “top 22%” is NOT based on statistics/how “good” a player is, but it heavily corresponds to talent because good players will be used more often.
Think about the “top 22%” this way (hypothetical scenario):
It’s 2017. Let’s say 100 young players are promoted to their various Major League teams during this season. Some of those 100 guys will be bad and will be sent back down to the Minor Leagues, or cut from the roster entirely. Some of those 100 guys will be pretty good, and will play sometimes, but not all the time. Some of those 100 guys will be really good, and will play almost every day, because their team wants to win!
Now keep in mind that most professional, Major League baseball players will miss some amount of time over the space of three years. Guys get hurt. Guys have babies and take time off. Guys go to funerals. Guys play like shit and get sent down to the Minor Leagues to make improvements. The last situation is especially prevalent in the careers of young players. Young guys struggle, and when they struggle hard they frequently are sent back down to the Minors for a week or two in order to “get their groove back.” What does that mean? Well, it means that out of the 100 guys who were promoted in this hypothetical 2017, almost none of them will actually play for 3 full seasons, meaning that it will take more than 3 calendar years for them to reach their 3 year threshold of “MLB Service Time” to be eligible for arbitration.
But fast forward to the beginning of 2019. It’s almost been 3 years of playing time for those 100 young studs who came up in 2017. That means that some of them, especially the talented players who have been playing all the time during 2017 and 2018, will be eligible for arbitration at the end of the 2019 season if they play the whole year. So teams know that. And they know that they’ll have to pay these young guys a lot more money if they accrue 3 full seasons of time. So teams may choose to send down their players to the Minor Leagues for a few days or weeks in order to prevent those players from getting enough time to enter arbitration. This is a great deal for teams, as it gives them another full year of control of the player by preventing them from reaching arbitration.
To break it down further, let’s say that Player A needs 300 days of service time in order to be eligible for arbitration and thus a bigger salary. Now let’s say that the 2019 season is ending, and Player A’s team notices he has *gasp*, 290 days of service, needing only 10 more days to be arbitration eligible. So, with 14 days left in the season, the team can elect to keep Player A “up” for 9days, and send him “down” to the Minor Leagues for the rest, putting him at 299 days of service, ONE DAY SHY of the 300 he needs. The team greedily rubs their hands together like Scrooge McDuck, knowing that Player A will now have to wait until the END of NEXT SEASON (2020) to enter arbitration and get paid what he’s worth. That is so not fair!
THIS IS WHERE THE SUPER TWO (22%) RULE COMES INTO PLAY.
Player A and his other buddies who got the shaft are looked at by the MLB. Of all the guys with 3 CALENDAR YEARS of service time, but NOT three years in terms of “days of service” (for the record, an MLB season is 183 days of service), the MLB looks at the 100 guys who were called up in 2017 and allows the 22 players (top 22%) with THE MOST SERVICE TIME, EVEN IF NONE OF THE 100 PLAYERS HAVE 3 “MLB YEARS” OF SERVICE TIME, to begin the arbitration process. Normally,almost none of the 100 guys who came up in 2017 in my example would be eligible for arbitration because of the factors listed above, but the 22% of players who have the most playing time, even if it’s less than the required amount, are allowed to enter arbitration and negotiate higher salaries because it’s assumed that they have accrued more playing time because they are better, and thus deserve a shot to get a raise even though they may not have “hit” their 3 years of MLB service time yet.
Whew!! Did you follow? I sure feel like an idiot, so hopefully I wrote that on my level. The short, short, short version is this: Super Two aims to help players get paid in exactly 3 years because they know that teams will purposely demote their best players to the Minor Leagues to prevent them from accruing 3 years of time. Basically, out of the 100 players in my example, none of them might have enough time accrued after 3 years, but even so, the 22% of them with the most time are allowed to enter arbitration anyway, despite not actually having 3 full years.
So why oh why does NO ONE SEEM TO KNOW WHEN SUPER TWO ACTUALLY IS? Because Player A’s service time is being compared to Players B, C, D, and so on, most of whom are on OTHER teams, which means that I, as an MLB owner, can only roughly estimate how my player will compare to his peers over the next 3 seasons because I only have control over my player, and his eligibility will be determined by his service time relative to his peers, which I cannot control. This is why it’s so damn hard to calculate; there are 30 teams with hundreds of players being called up and down all the time, so it takes a lot of difficult math to figure out which players have played the most baseball, aka who the top 22% of guys are.
So Yoan Moncada….
Yeah, so now that we know a bit about Super Two, here’s how it affects Yoan Moncada. Super Two is designed to prevent teams from shafting players who have already been called up. Teams know that they can’t get away with arbitrarily keeping players under the 3-year threshold once they are in the Majors, so they will delay promoting players to the Majors until AFTER the Super Two “deadline,” which is hard to calculate and based on factors OUTSIDE of team control.
So if you clicked the two links from earlier from Fangraphs and reddit user yunghokang, you’ll see that every season has had a slightly different deadline, but it’s usually between 40 and 70 days into the MLB season, and right now we are 64 days into the MLB season, meaning teams can safely assume the Super Two deadline has passed by June 10th, and can start to promote their Minor League players (including Moncada) with confidence after June 10th.
Basically, Moncada and his colleagues could be up anytime after June 10th. My prediction for him is June 23rd against the A’s. Stay tuned, and check your waiver wire, he won’t be there forever.
Other Super Two Callups to Keep Your Eye on
I’m gonna be brief here because my Super Two explanation went on longer than I thought. Moncada is a must add in all formats, but here are some other guys worth your consideration:
Austin Meadows, OF (PIT)
We all know where All-Star centerfielder Starling Marte is. Or more accurately, where he is not: the diamond. He projects to come back from his suspension in mid-July, but the Pirates are still in need of help in the outfield, and their young stud Austin Meadows has been posting juicy stats in AAA, with 37 runs scored, 26 RBI, and 8 steals in 9 tries to compliment a healthy .260 AVG.
Ahmed Rosario, SS (NYM)
Rosario has just been disgusting, and I mean that in a good way. The 21-year-old righty has posted an absurd .346 AVG to go along with 5 HR, 35 R, 39 RBI, and 11 steals to start his 2017 minor league campaign. Expect the struggling Mets to call him up sooner rather than later.
Lewis Brinson, OF (MIL)
The Brew-crew sure could use an OF with Ryan Braun on and off the DL all season, and lucky for them they have a great one waiting in the wings. Brinson has been mashing to the tune of a .300/.391/.500 slashline in AAA to go along with 6 bombs, 33 R, 18 RBI, and 6 steals. Need OF help? Keep an eye on Brinson.
The Injury Stash
There are a few notable names on the DL right now, and you should have your eye on these guys:
Steven Matz, SP (NYM)
Any league worth it’s salt should have Matz rostered now that his first start of the MLB season has been announced (this Saturday, 6/10 @ ATL). Matz is a top-30 pitcher when healthy, and he appears to be 100%, so grab him ASAP if he’s on your wire.
Starling Marte, OF (PIT)
Ok, so I cheated. Marte isn’t injured, but he’s suspended for being a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater. While I don’t condone steroids, and I’m not recommending him for Cooperstown, I am recommending you start considering making room on your rosters for him. Marte is an All-Star centerfielder, and he’ll be back from serving his 60-game suspension in mid-July, so if anyone dropped him in your league you should start thinking about grabbing him as we edge closer to his return.
Mitch Haniger, OF (SEA)
Before injuring his oblique and hitting the DL in late April, the young Seattle sensation was absolutely crushing the ball. Haniger will be off the DL soon as he’s already been cleared to start a Minor League rehab assignment, and could be back as early as next week. He’s only owned in 60% of leagues right now, and is an excellent stash if you need OF help.
Felix Hernandez, SP (SEA)
More good news for Seattle as King Felix is slated to start in his first of two rehab assignments tomorrow, and could be back as early as next week if all goes well. Despite a rough start to the season, Felix is rosterable in all formats. If you need SP help, watch how his rehab assignment goes tomorrow and snag him if he doesn’t reinjure himself.
Jon Gray, SP (COL)
I know, he’s a Rockies pitcher, but the young ace is worth rostering in all formats when healthy, with top-50+ potential. He completed a 41-pitch bullpen session this past weekend and figures to go out on a rehab assignment in the next week. Assuming all goes well, he could rejoin the rotation in 2-3 weeks.
David “DD” Dahl, OF (COL)
I won’t tell you what middle name Dahl’s fans have given him, but suffice to say it makes Bucky Fucking Dent’s moniker seem appropriate for a kindergarten class. Anyways, the fantasy darling Colorado-callup from 2016 has been frustratingly slow in rehabbing his rib since getting injured to start the year, and a recent setback has fans wondering how much longer they’ll have to wait. There’s no rush to bring him on faster than needed with a talented Rockies roster, but Dahl has top-15 OF potential if he can repeat last years numbers, making him a worthy stash in all formats. Despite his setbacks and a report from a beat reporter on Friday, Dahl has not been shut down from baseball activities, and is continuing his Spring Training assignment as scheduled. His timetable has been pushed back a week or so due to the discomfort he felt, but it was not so bad that he will stop playing. I project an end of June/early July return for DDD Dahl, and I all but guarantee a return post ASB.
So much anticipation, so many roster stashes. Today I’ll be reviewing a hefty double IPA out of Baltimore’s Oliver Brewing Co: Beyond the Realm of Light.
Wherever you’re reading this from, I hope you can get your hands on a can, because this beer is dope.
The beer pours a hazy golden-amber with a nice, frothy head a beautiful lacing on the glass. It’s the high quality beer I’ve come to expect from Oliver Brewing. It wafts notes of citrus, pine, and pineapple, with a light hoppy, biscuity smell underneath.
Despite the hefty 9% ABV, this double IPA goes down smooth. The tasting notes follow the nose, with a light malty, biscuity tone hiding under fresh piney-ness, smooth citrus, and a wee bit of pineapple.
I love this beer, I’ve been stocking my fridge with them, and you should too.