Another critical Rule of Engagement highlights this week’s Week That Was.

Rule:  Big money free agents on new teams are very likely to start slow and thus fail to return the big roto price tag one must pay to acquire their services.  After all, players are people.  It takes time to adjust to a new job, a new city, new teammates, etc.  Also, those big money free agents tend to press and get away from their games as they try to justify their huge salaries. 

Justin Upton:  Coming into the weekend, Upton had a .235 with 9 HR.  This is uninspiring for anyone, but for J-Up, it is the lowest average of his career -- by a lot.  Oh, and you need to view the 9 HR at midway point through the prism of his 28 HR per year average over last three years.  OK, the Rules of Engagement work but now what?  Well, .280 over last week before ASG shows some life but his dramatically increased K rate (now over 31 percent) says temper expectations for a rebound.  Bottom line -- some of the others below make better buy-low candidates.

Wei-Yin Chen:  Chen got 80 Million big ones to leave Baltimore and take his talents to South Beach.  Well, as the Rules of Engagement predicted, South Beach has not been a party for Chen.  So far, the Marlins lefty has a 4.83 ERA and only five wins.  Ugh.  A low strand rate provides some hope for a rebound but the reduced velocity drowns out that noise.   

David Price:  A WHIP under 1.20, over 10K per nine innings and nine first half wins says Price has been pretty good.  True – to a point.  The first half 4.34 ERA – a number a full point higher than anything he posted in the last five years – says you are in the red given what you had to pay to roster the Red Sox lefty.  Unlike Chen, Price is a great buy-low candidate as the inflated BABIP and deflated strand rate say he has been very unlucky.  You should have listened to the Rules of Engagement in March but if you didn’t, now is not the time to jump ship on Price.

Scott KazmirThe Dodgers and fantasy owners bargained for more than a 4.52 ERA and 1.32 WHIP from the lefty.  The Dodgers have a longer term view than re-draft fantasy leaguers who should never have paid full price for the lefty.  Given that his FIP supports his bloated ERA, I am not very excited about a rebound here.  Violate the Rules of Engagement at your own peril.  Remember that next March!

Jordan ZimmermannYes, I know he is on the DL but even before hitting the shelf, JZ did not return value for those who paid beyond what the Rules of Engagement dictated.  Thus far, Zimm has posted a 3.95 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.  Wait, those are not terrible numbers you say?  True, but given that both are his worst since a cup of coffee in the show in 2010, they look pretty bad and translate to you having overpaid in violation of the ROE.  Oh, and did I mention that Zimm has struck out fewer than 6 per nine innings?  Yeah, the ROE would have saved you here too.  

Daniel Murphy: Of course, no Rule is 100 percent correct and the Rules of Engagement are no exception.  I have to admit that Daniel Murphy broke the rule.  There is no denying he has been ON FIRE.         

And now the moment you well, may or may not be waiting for, the Baron of Bottom of the Page pontificates -- aka Schultz says: “Whether a long-standing beloved tradition at The Week That Was or simply the product of The Overlord being too kind to say 'enough already,' this year’s All-Star break once again provides the impetus for the 2016 MID-SEASON ALL SCHULTZ AWARDS.


THE ALL-SCHULTZ “THIS YEAR IS NEXT YEAR” TEAM: Amongst the family friendly sayings that usually follow every Cleveland sports season is the the old “Wait ‘Til Next Year.” Thanks to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, this year is next year in Cleveland. This team is made up of those players for whom years of waiting have finally paid off.

C:  Wilson Ramos (WASH): A perennial late-round selection ripe with potential, the Nats backstop historically slumps, offers two weeks of tantalizing production and then hurts himself. Healthy, Ramos’ .332, 13 HR and 48 RBIs are a large reason the Nats and your team are doing well.

1B: Brandon Belt (SF): Lost amongst Even-Year mania is the fact that Belt has never quite lived up to his potential as the next Will Clark. Flirting with .300 while on pace for 20 HR/100 RBI, the Belt has tightened into a reliable 1B option.

2B: Jonathan Schoop (BALT): Easy to discount Schoop’s 2016 as just another miraculous start to an unbelievable Orioles squad, the Antilles-native has always shown prodigious power. Unquestionably being handed the starting job (and remaining healthy), his .299, 15 HR, 53 RBI has matched his season highs in half the time.

SS: Didi Gregorius (NYY): Having the unfortunate luck to follow Derek Jeter as the shortstop in the Bronx, Gregorius has been better known for his glove than his bat. Always rumored to be proficient with the stick, he’s learned to work with the dimensions of the home park to the tune of .295, 11 HR, 41 RBI with five steals.

3B: Nick Castellanos (DET): Slotted into a murderer’s row for the past couple seasons, the once-touted prospect didn’t even play well enough to fall short of expectations. With a couple seasons under his belt, his .299, 17 HR, 51 RBI is a better representative of what to expect in the future.

OF: Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS): Called up as a wee-youngster, JBJ seemed to perpetually be drowning in the drench of flop sweat. His 29-game hitting streak simply provided an exclamation point to his coming-out party and those who saw this coming were rewarded with a .299, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 7 SB, 54 run effort.

OF: Leonys Martin (SEA): One of the earlier emigres from Cuba, Martin never quite got anything going in Texas and was quietly shipped to the Pacific Northwest before the 2016 season. While the batting average has yet to truly come around, Martin has matured into the undervalued 20/20 candidate that was always within his reach.

OF: George Springer (HOUS): From the moment the Astros called up their top hitting prospect (Carlos Correa had yet to be drafted), roto-owners have salivated over his Troutian levels of power and speed. These same owners have been consistently disappointed. 2016 seems to be the year that Springer makes the leap to SPRINGER with his 20 HR, 52 RBI, 65 runs and six steals finally delighting his roto-owners.

SP: Danny Salazar (CLE): Over the last two years, Salazar has toyed with roto-Ace potential but his start with four perfect innings with 8-9 Ks followed by a five-run collapse in the fifth greatly outnumbered anything else he accomplished. Putting that behind him, Salazar matured into the Indians’ top starter, his 2.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10 wins and 118 Ks much more emblematic of his talent.

RP: Tony Cingrani (CIN): With seemingly unhittable stuff, those who projected Cingrani to be a coveted roto-starter were rewarded with a startling slap in the face. His peripherals may not be eye-catching (3.38 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) but 10 saves serves as productive resurrection for a once-lauded talent.


THE ALL-SCHULTZ “GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS” TEAM: Remember the team with 73 wins and a 3-1 lead in the NBA Championships that went home with nothing? Schultz does too. Like Steph Curry and the Warriors, this team has been left wanting.

C:  Yan Gomes (CLE): Even with the bar set low for catchers, Gomes’ eight home runs don’t come close to off-setting his .163 average. With nearly every Indian overachieving at the plate, Gomes’ ineptitude is mystifying.

1B: Freddie Freeman (ATL): While the .280 average and 16 HRs are in line with his career numbers, Freeman’s 34 RBI is appalling and pathetic. Even taking into account the obstacles of the Braves lineup, he has driven in his teammates only two times more than himself.

2B: Dee Gordon (MIA): Usually Gordon waits until the second half of the season to disappoint his roto-owners. This year, he went off script by getting suspended for half a season before the end of April. Consider him the Draymond Green of this All-Schultz team.

SS: Troy Tulowitzki (TOR): Even when taking into account Tulo’s removal from his Colorado confines, he spent the majority of the first-half hitting below the Mendoza-line on an absolutely stacked Blue Jays lineup. His scorching June made his first-half numbers palatable but until then, he was putting up more bricks than Harrison Barnes.

3B: Anthony Rendon (WASH): With his 2B eligibility, many had lofty expectations for a fully healthy Rendon’s return to the potent Nats lineup. His nine steals and 55 runs do little to erase the .255 and 35 RBI he’s amassed in the first half.

OF: Carlos Gomez (HOU): Perhaps the Mets really did know something when they backed out of the trade that introduced crying to baseball. A first-round talent just hit .214 with 4 HR, 23 RBI, stole nine bases and scored 22 runs in a high-octane offense. The leading candidate for the goat of 2016 (not to be confused with “G.O.A.T.”).

OF: Corey Dickerson (TB): Anyone want to find the sportswriter who said that Dickerson wasn’t a Coors creation and tar and feather him? Not sure you will find a single one of his roto-owners that will try and stop you.

OF: Justin Upton (DET): He may be adjusting to a new team and a new city but Upton’s .235, 9 HR, 38 RBI and 25 runs scored in a lineup featuring Miguel Cabrera, two Martinez's and an emerging Castellanos is simply putrid. Even more disconcerting, there’s a strong argument to be made that the Tigers signed the wrong Upton.

SP: Matt Harvey (NYM): It is entirely possible that the career of Matt Harvey peaked in Game 5 of last year’s World Series when Terry Collins bizarrely let the CitiField crowd source his pitching decisions. He rewarded the Mets faithful with a 4.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP before electing to undergo season-ending surgery.

SP: Dallas Keuchel (HOU): The AL Cy Young winner put up a 4.80 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Much like we should take back Nicolas Cage’s Best Actor Oscar, should we discuss repossessing Keuchel’s Cy Young?

SP: James Shields (SD/CHW): Perhaps Big Game James no longer thinks the regular season is big enough for him? More amazing then his 5.42 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 75 Ks while predominantly playing in Petco Park, the Sox didn’t back out of the trade when he gave up 10 runs on 2.2 innings the start before it was official.

RP: Trevor Rosenthal (STL): One of the most dominant closers of the last couple seasons went down in flames with 14 saves unable to cover for a 5.64 ERA and 2.04 WHIP. After being removed from ninth inning duties, he’s gone from uber-valuable to uber-worthless.


THE ALL-SCHULTZ “J.R. SMITH” TEAM:  When the Cavaliers acquired a drastically undervalued J.R. Smith, no one really expected him to become a permanent part of Cleveland’s lineup, much less an integral cog to a championship team. When the members of this team were cheaply acquired, no one suspected that they would be linchpins in a roto-contending lineup. Unlike Smith, though, they continue to wear shirts.

C:  J.T. Realmuto (MIA): Usually the prize catcher is the one who doesn’t actually catch. The Miami backstop breaks the mold, by catching standards his .318 average with nine steals makes him positively Troutian in scope.

1B: Wil Myers (SD): Myers has been so unspectacular over the last two seasons that it’s easy to forget he was the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year. His .289, 20 HR, 61 RBI and 15 steals are a fine reminder to never fully forget the immensely talented that have unceremoniously underperformed.

2B: Daniel Murphy (WASH): An old roto-axiom advises roto-owners to stay away from the last season’s postseason heroes. The 2015 NLCS MVP demonstrates why axioms are to be remembered but not slavishly followed. His .348, 17 HR and 66 RBI have Mets fans ruing the frugality that let Murphy go to their divisional rival.

SS: Aledmys Diaz (STL): The true story of the sleeper shortstop may be the Story that played out in Colorado. However, Trevor Story wasn’t quite an unheard of prospect. The Cardinals rookie infielder from Cuba was entirely unheralded and has put up an impressive .315, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 58 run, 3 SB stat line that absolutely no one foresaw.

3B: Eduardo Nunez (MIN): In a season where nothing has gone right for the Minnesota Twins, the .317, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 22 steal line posted by the journeyman Nunez, who was ideally a place holder, may be the highlight of the Twins’ first half. (Especially since he also qualifies as SS).

OF: Melvin Upton (SD): Only an absolute lunatic would have foreseen that Melvin nee B.J. would be the dominant Upton in 2016. Even more startling, it’s not even a debate. Given his recent struggles to surpass the Mendoza-line, Upton’s 16 HR and 20 steals make him a roto-force that no one could have seen coming.

OF: Ian Desmond (TEX): Another SS eligible surprise, Desmond played his way out of Washington by following up three straight 20/20 seasons with an unmitigated dud. Rebounding from an abysmal start, Desmond is back on his old pace with 15 HR, 15 steals as well as .319, 55 RBI and 65 runs.

OF: Adam Duvall (CIN): Just three months ago, Duvall was projected to be on the losing end of an outfield platoon with Scott Schebler. Instead, Duvall is challenging for the NL home run lead with 23 while driving in 63.

SP: Steven Wright (BOS): What is it about knuckleballers in Boston? An afterthought to the Sox rotation, Wright’s arguably been the AL’s most dominant pitcher with a dominant 2.78 ERA pairing nicely with his 1.18 WHIP, 11 wins and 98 Ks.

SP: Rich Hill (OAK): At this time last year, Rich Hill was out of baseball and pitching with the Long Island Ducks. At the All-Star break, he’s got a 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9 wins and 90Ks. Forgetting being unforeseeable, as Hill was 36, this is completely unfathomable.

SP: Drew Pomeranz (SD): Clevelanders have chuckled the last few years over the shock and indignation that arose when the Tribe traded Pomeranz, their best pitching prospect at the time, to Colorado. This year, the joke’s on them as Pomeranz has finally lived up to his potential. If he pitched in a world without Kershaws and Ariettas, his .247 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 115 Ks would have been the talk of the NL.

RP: Alex Colome (TB): Out of the mess that was the Tampa Bay Rays opening day bullpen, Colome emerged with a dominant 1.69 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 19 saves. It seems silly that people expended brainpower over questioning what effect Brad Boxberger’s injury would have on the Rays pen.

RP: Jeanmar Gomez (PHI): The NL counterpart to Colome, the former Indians middle-reliever spent the first half of the season going from journeyman to closer, finishing the first half with a 2.59 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 24 saves.


THE ALL-SCHULTZ “MAYBE WE WILL WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR” TEAM: Everyone on this team had lofty expectations placed upon their young shoulders and has let it weigh them down. There are bright futures for everyone on this list – but we’ll wait ‘til next year.

C:  Kyle Schwarber (CHC): Before the drool from salivating roto-owners envisioning Ruthian numbers from the non-catching catcher could hit the ground, Schwarber tore his ACL, lost his catcher eligibility for 2017 and likely convinced the Cubs to trade him to the AL.

1B: Byung Ho-Park (MIN): The Korean slugger has struggled mightily in adapting to MLB pitching. Although his 12 HR shouldn’t be ignored, his .191 average and 24 total RBI leave oceans of room for growth.

2B: Trea Turner (WASH): Danny Espinosa’s improbable power display and Dusty Baker’s utter disdain for anyone he didn’t play with in the '70s resulted in Turner spinning his wheels in the minor leagues. With the Correas, Lindors and Russells staking their claim, it’s a shame that Turner isn’t there to join them.

SS: Ketel Marte (SEA): One such shortstop getting the chance isn’t doing all that much with it. It’s hard to fault the 22-year-old rookie for coming slow out of the gate but everyone expected more than 1 HR and eight steals.

3B: Hector Olivera (ATL): The experienced Cuban was going to have a prime opportunity to show his considerable skills in the midst of a young Braves lineup. All plans were suspended, if not cancelled entirely, with his suspension as the result of a domestic violence incident. An extremely capable hitter, he may have trouble finding work in MLB.

OF: Byron Buxton (MIN): Arguably the most highly touted prospect in baseball, Buxton played his way out of the Twins (?!!?) outfield and back into the minor leagues for a period of time. Much like Mike Trout and Alex Rodriguez’ troublesome starts, there will come a time when we wax bemusedly over Buxton’s .204, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 7 steal start.

OF: Michael Taylor (WASH): Always thought of as a five-tool roto-star in the making, Taylor barely showed signs of life in even a single category. Instead of filling up the stat sheet, Taylor has put up a weak .230, 7 HR, 14 RBI, 10 SB stat line.

OF: Miguel Sano (MIN): After a dominant close to the 2015 season, expectations were high that Sano would challenge for the AL home run title and anchor a young Minnesota lineup. Somewhat stuck without a position, Sano has strolled to a disappointing .241 14 HR, 36 RBI first half.

SP: Yordano Ventura (KC): Poised to emerge from the 2015 season as the uncontested ace of the Royals bullpen, Ventura was shelled to the tune of a 5.15 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He made more headlines for hitting batters than he did missing bats.

RP: Ken Giles (HOU): The centerpiece of a trade that netted the Phillies a handful of solid prospects, the Astros’ prospective closer of the present and future couldn’t even claim the job out of spring training. Far from closing out games for a potential World Series contender, Giles has struggled with a 4.26 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. His one save is practically a taunt.

Response:  Love this segment every year.  I would pay special attention to the "wait till next year" entrants if you are out of the hunt and want to avoid a similar fate in 2017.