We were recently pouring over the all-time leaders in WAR and wondering which active players were moving up the list.
Of the four active leaders in career WAR, three of them were not a surprise. In first place is Albert Pujols (99.1, 32nd all-time, one back of Warren Spahn); in second place is Mike Trout (80.1, 63rd place, just 0.6 back of Tom Glavine); and Justin Verlander was fourth.
None of these came as a shock.
But the man that’s currently third among active players in WAR, sitting 0.8 ahead of Verlander? None other than current Royal SP Zack Greinke.
Somehow, this was difficult to process. But with 74.9 career WAR, there he is, just two back of Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, with some big names between them such as Lou Whitaker, Johnny Bench and Paul Molitor.
There’s no way to escape the fact that these names are all-time greats. So that begs the very fair question: is Greinke also an all-time great?
Last year, he was actually Houston’s Opening Day starter, but saw his K rate take a major fall. This season has seen similar results.
Although he’s no longer a must-own Fantasy asset, he’s still quite useful, and has even recovered some velocity since coming back from a flexor strain. In the two starts since returning, all Greinke has done is win his first two games of the season (the June 24 victory marking his first win in a Royal uniform in 4,285 days — see video below), while allowing seven hits and two earned runs over 12 innings, with a 7-1 K-BB ratio. Not too shabby!
He got off to a great start this year, but it was clear something was wrong based on an ugly showing in May. However, Greinke appears to be back on track now, so could very well be a quite useful Fantasy asset for the remainder of the season and continue to move up that all-time WAR list.
He’s throwing his slider and cutter more often that ever (something he also alludes to in the video above), and that seems to be a good recipe to hold off Father Time (he’ll be 39 in late October).
- Jakob Junis (hamstring) will likely be ready to return to the majors in about two weeks or so, and — given Anthony Desclafani‘s ongoing ankle issues — there’s a rotation slot waiting. Junis was enjoying a fine season and was especially sharp in June (2.45 ERA, .175 BA) before getting hurt. His record is superb and is backed by a fine hit rate, so give him some Fantasy consideration as he gets closer to returning, because it looks like he’ll hold value all year.
- White Sox outfielder Gavin Sheets hasn’t done much to warrant Fantasy attention this season, but sure came through Saturday, delivering two doubles and two RBI. He had gotten very hot about a week ago, but was super quiet until this showing, and slowly but surely is heating up as the season goes on. Sheets’ power this year has been disappointing compared to what he did in his rookie season, but do give him a look in deep AL-only formats right now.
- An even more intriguing pickup possibility is St. Louis 1B/OF Juan Yepez. It’s high time we gave him some Fantasy love after he homered Saturday to run his modest hit streak to three games (4-for-12) as he tries to build on a very fine June (five homers, 895 OPS). The Cards have yet another solid rookie on their hands here, and we are loving the extra-base power that Yepez has shown in his first taste of the majors. He deserves a look in all formats.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
A long-time personal fave, when Jeff Buckley opened his mouth, the sound of angels came pouring out. The American singer was active from 1990 until his untimely death from drowning in 1997. His one and only studio album (1994), Grace, is a true classic, and for our money, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” is the height of that genius. The song chronicles his breakup with actress Rebecca Moore.
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