Dr. Bombay Makes a House Call to Cooperstown; Offers Advice For a Hot August
First of all, I am well aware that baseball was probably not invented in the sleepy upstate New York village of Cooperstown. It doesn’t matter. This was still a great place to put an everlasting tribute to all of the greats of our national pastime. A nice couple from Texas that I met last weekend summed it up best: “Cooperstown looks a lot like any main street U.S.A. that you would ever want to see.” Whether you come from the Hall of Fame weekend or just visit any time of the year, it is a recommended stop for any baseball fan.
Speaking of Texas, it was quite impressive to see the number of fans that made the trip from the Lone Star State to support inductees Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. In addition to the Houston Astro orange and Texas Ranger red/blue floating around Cooperstown, there were quite a few Montreal Expos jerseys seen in support of the third inductee this year, Tim Raines. Many of these fans also lined up early to get a glimpse of these players during the Saturday evening parade. In its eighth year, the Parade of Champions allows a fan to get a close-up glimpse of baseball’s heroes and legends. The players will ride down the parade route as about 55 Hall of Famers were expected to be in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend. Can’t get more “main street U.S.A.” than a parade.
The 55 Hall of Famers were also joined by a handful of other former players who spent some time during last weekend signing autographs for fans. For a price of course. The Doctor does not have a problem with that. As the Doctor explained to one vendor, there are many people who come to Cooperstown to get autographs to resell in their stores or through online auctions sites. Why would a player sign something for free, that someone will only resell for a nice profit? It was especially appalling to see these vermin try to use kids to get free autographs while the players participated in the annual golf outing on Saturday morning. So I had no problem paying to get autographs from Bruce Sutter, and my boyhood idol Billy Williams, an encounter that left the Doctor with goose bumps for about an hour after meeting Mr. Williams.
The Hall of Fame weekend marks the end of July and leads into the heat of August. The Doctor would like to offer four players as a prescription to help you have a hot August with your fantasy team.
Whit Merrifield, 2B, Kansas City Royals
In his first 162 games, Merrifield had 175-plus hits, 80-plus runs, 40-plus doubles and 20-plus steals, which is something only six other players in baseball history have done. Merrifield is now hitting .349/.391/.613 with 17 extra-base hits in July. He’s also 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts. With the Royals in the running for a playoff spot, Merrifield could gather 25-30 steals. Merrifield has an 117 wRC+ on the year and has been one of the biggest breakout fantasy stars this year. His ownership numbers have recently jumped 20 points in ESPN leagues so he will not be on the waiver wire for long.
Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The North Syracuse (NY) High School grad has posted a 3.04 ERA over his past nine outings, fanning 58 batters and surrendering only four homers in 53 1/3 innings. He also is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his first three starts since the All-Star break. Be aware that Corbin is much better at Chase Field (6-3, 3.14 ERA) than he is away from it (2-6, 6.19). He has been good at making players miss bats by posting a 9.7 K/9 and a 24.9-percent K-rating since June 8.
Chris Taylor, SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since the All-Star break, FanGraphs rates Taylor as the most valuable position player in the game. Taylor has hit .500/.520/.854 in the second half so far. He has a good line-drive rate (27%), hits the ball all over the field, and is making solid contact. Taylor has a groundball rate that is higher than it should be but when you combine that with his excellent speed, that makes for a lot of infield hits. His .426 BABIP suggests he’s due for some regression, but it’s possible that the 26-year-old can become a consistent .290+ hitter with 15-20 home runs, 35-40 doubles, and 20-25 stolen bases.
Kevin Gausman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
A couple of weekends ago, it was tough to find an Oriole fan who had positive things to say about Kevin Gausman. However, in his last outing, Gausman pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career and was one out away from a complete-game shutout. Many hope that Gausman will pitch like he did after the All-Star break last year when he posted a 3.10 ERA over 15 starts. Over his past three starts, Gausman has allowed one run on 16 hits with eight walks and 24 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. This also coincides with the increased use of his splitter, in which he has thrown that pitch more than 25 percent of the time, and has a 3.35 ERA, with his swinging strike rate rising from eight to 14 percent.