The Gift of Our First African Baseball Player

Screenshot 2017-05-09 00.06.26Tyler Kepner tells a pretty good story about Gift Ngoepe (en-GO-epe), the first African to play in the major leagues. He’s a slick fielding infielder from South Africa who was promoted last week by the Pirates, who have nurtured him through their system for the past nine years. Nicely, the story suggests.

You should read the story, because it is a good story, because Ngoepe is charming, because his mother was a saint and so she suffered (and died), because he worked with Barry Larkin in Italy, because he’s a great fielder, apparently, (and a bad hitter, but off to a hot start with the bat in the majors).

And maybe because it’s helpful to hear some of the details of how some person got to that point. Kepner tells a good story. Even if you didn’t care about baseball you might like this one.



ANNOUNCING: Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Football Prospects 2014

Bolicks Football 2014 v3 cover 400wideThe iBook version of Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Football Prospects 2014 is available now. Click here to buy for $1.49.

The Kindle version is out now! You can buy it here for $1.49.

The pdf version is now live. Also $1.49.

[purchase_link id=”3198″ style=”button” color=”blue” text=”Purchase” direct=”true”]

(If you own the Fantasy Football Guide 2014, see below for how you can obtain a free version of Bolick’s Guide. It contains scores of profiles of

  • Quarterbacks
  • Running Backs
  • Wide Receivers
  • Tight Ends.

Read more…

Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2014 on sale at Google Play store, now!

bolickbaseball2014 coverJust released through the Google Play store, which serves up an Android mobile version, and files that can be read on eReaders and in web browsers, now discounted to just $2.28!

Okay, you already know about Tanaka, but do you want to know what JD Bolick thinks about Gregory Polanco, Oscar Taveras, Noah Syndergaard and all the hot prospects slated to come up in the coming months? They’re all here, with fantasy implications highlighted.

Also available through Apple’s iBook store and for the Amazon Kindle.

Ask Rotoman: What price the good Polanco?

Dear Rotoman:

I want to pick up Gregory Polanco before someone else grabs him. If he comes up and is decent I can keep him for 1/3 espn auction value for 2015. (3 year average is calculated from $0 + $0 + ESPN estimated price.) to grab him I have to drop one of my outfielders, we start 5. Who should I drop or should I leave Polanco for someone else?

J. Ellsbury – not dropping
B. Harper – in DL spot

C. Blackmon
C. Yelich
S. Victorino
C. Crisp
J. Heyward – leaning towards dropping him due to slow start

Much appreciated!
“Keeper Heaven”

Dear KH:

First off, and everybody should listen up, if you’re going to ask a keeper question you should give prices. It’s really hard to properly weigh a situation without the facts.

I’m assuming that The Good Polanco at one-third his FAAB price is going to be a good deal next year. But how good? Without the prices of your other guys, I can only guess.

For instance, how does Polanco’s projected keeper price compare to Heyward’s? I happen to love Heyward’s potential, but he’s still a child in a game played by mostly men, and he has done little to deserve that love. But hey, Love never asks.

Heyward is off to a slow start, but he’s getting on base, even though his BA stinks. He’s running more, and successfully, and his power numbers are in line with batting leadoff. Depressed. Which is what he’s been doing, and which hurts roto players who expected big power.

What isn’t in line with his performance or future expectations is his runs scored. Those are down now, for no apparent reason, and should grow as we go along, as long as he bats leadoff for the Braves. And given everything else, his batting average should be in the .250 range, which would put his OBP above .350. The runs will come.

But how much did he cost you? I don’t know, which matters in so far as you might keep him next year (or play him this year). If the answer is negative on both counts, you don’t really care how much he bounces back. He’s your second reserve outfielder and he’s kind of costly. Polanco may not be any better this year, but he’ll be way cheaper. It doesn’t matter what either do now, it seems, what matters is next year.

I’ll remind you, I’m mind reading here, but if that’s the case I would try to trade Heyward. You may think he stinks, but my guess is if I was in your league I’d want him more than my fifth outfielder. I might not give you much, depending on his future price, but something is better than nothing.

And then, if I stopped being my Heyward-acquiring self, and I was you, I’d make a reasonable bid to acquire Polanco. You don’t need him. He’s probably not going to help you this year. He might help you next year, but that’s not a guarantee. The cheaper you can get him the more value he’ll have for you going forward. Which is a reason not to bid too aggressively.

And if you lose him? Then you still have Jason Heyward, unless you already traded him to me. Hmm, this is getting complicated. You can sort out the timing, here’s the takeaway.

Heyward is doing his team a favor leading off, but is far better suited to batting fifth, where he can beat the hide off the baseball. And let his BA go to hell. So maybe he’s not in line to earn the way he did a couple years ago.

Gregory Polanco emerged last year as a minor league fave. He’s killing it in Triple-A this year, with a 1.070 OPS. My usual thing about minor leaguers versus major leaguers is to point out that at Polanco’s age today Heyward had already hit 70 major league homers. So, the rule of thumb is, don’t overreach for prospects.

But Polanco is a real talent who makes better contact than Heyward, but doesn’t walk as much. More importantly, he may end up in an RBI role in Pittsburgh, which suits him (and probably helps your team more). And the Pirates have every reason to promote him once he gets past the Super Two date, probably in early June.

Assuming he’s reasonably cheap, that makes him a keen pickup. And I use the keen adjective enthusiastically.

Not placidly,



ASK ROTOMAN: The Rich Get Richer


6×6, 8-team head-to-head categories league.  I just got Jose Reyes back from the DL, so who should I drop from the following:

Jose Altuve ($23)
Chase Utley ($17)
Dee Gordon ($7)
George Springer ($10)

“Reyes of Light”

Dear RoL:

Oh, the agony of the shallow league. I’m not going to address 6×6 and Head to Head issues, since you don’t specify categories and H2H mostly ups the randomness of winning and losing rather than adding any strategic nuance.

The numbers in the parentheses above are what those players were going for in preseason auctions. Jose Reyes, by the way, went for $25 or so. So, the obvious answer would be to drop Gordon., but I can understand your reluctance. He’s already stolen 10 bases and while he isn’t going to continue to hit .365, if he hits .270 on the year he’s going to steal a lot of bases.

Jose Altuve is off to a solid start, making him one of the best second basemen in the game, so it’s hard to drop him, and Chase Utley is off to a monster start and has more power than Altuve, Gordon and Reyes, so you have to hold onto him.

Which leaves Springer as the odd man out. He was the surprise promotion last week, and there is a lot of excitement about him because he has a nice power/speed combo. There are also serious questions about his contact rate, and he’s struck out five times in 15 plate appearances already—on track with his Triple-A numbers, which could prove a problem.

One of the agonies of playing in a shallow league is deciding between excellent or exciting players. If Springer goes on to hit 15 homers this year, you may look back and wish you’d kept him rather than Dee Gordon, but at this point Springer’s risk of failure is high enough I think you have to go with the speedy middle infielder.



Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects, Out on iBooks!

bolickbaseball2014 coverIt took a while, but Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects is now available on iBooks, for the iPhone and iPad.

Read more about the book at or go directly to the iBook Store.

Introducing: Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects

bolickbaseball2014 coverJD Bolick has been writing rookie and draft analysis for the Baseball and Footaball Guides since shortly after the beginning.

He came to me this year and wanted to do a Rookie Guide for Fantasy Baseball Prospects that we might sell as an eBook and other formats.

We didn’t get this together until too late in March, and then it turned out that Apple and Amazon add their own delays, so we’re just appearing today.

You can find the eBook for Kindle here. You can Look Inside the book there and get a taste of it. There are also sample profiles at

There will be an Apple version soon, I hope. They seem to take longer to approve. And I’m going to post a pdf version here, in case you don’t want to go through the big stores.

If you didn’t buy because of the price or any other reason, please let us know at askrotoman (at) If there is anything you would like to see added, send that to that email address, too.

I think we have a great first draft, hitting the stands too late. But you should be able to tell most of what you need to know by the preview Inside the Book at Amazon. We want to get your $3 next time.