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Circling the Bases: 28 Days Later

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

BREAKING DOWN: Kyle Seager
.298-2-6-12-0 in 94 at-bats

Numbers like the ones listed above normally wouldn't do anything for anyone. However, with a month left in the season, players who are suddenly hot, or given a chance at full time work are worthy of adding in nearly all league specific setups, and even in deeper mixed leagues. Seager is one of those guys.

Seager has played a game at second, and three at short, but he's mainly played third base while Chone Figgins has been on the shelf (speaking of Figgins, he's likely to return to action by the end of the week from his hip issue. He'll obviously need to find his stroke in the minors, so it's not at clear when he will be back on the field with the Mariners). With the way that Seager has been hitting, he figures to keep on playing no matter who the team brings up or who they add. That's what happens when you bat .362 over a 28-day period. In fact, over those 28 days Seager is in the top-12 in terms of value provided by a third base-eligible player, so he clearly deserves a more in depth look here.

In his limited big league career, only 104 plate appearances, Seager has produced a solid average. He's also offered a solid OBP of .350. However, he has also been living on the edge with a 29.6 line drive rate that is fully 10 percentage points above the big league average. No one can keep up that pace – no one. When that number dips, and it could start doing that at literally any moment, that .377 BABIP will also regress. Toss in a 23 percent strikeout rate, and that nearly .300 batting average seems somewhat mirage like at the moment. At the same time he has always been a solid batting average producer. He hit .393 as a junior in college. He was hitting an amazing .387 at Triple-A this year. Heck, he's hit nearly .330 during his brief minor league career. I'm just saying that it's gonna be tough to hit .300 with that we've seen from him with the Mariners.

Unfortunately, Seager doesn't have a power bat (he's often been compared to guys like Joe Randa and Bill Mueller, .300 type hitters with 15 homer power). Seager did hit 14 homers in 135 games at High-A last year (though he was playing at offensive-friendly High Desert), and this season he went deep seven times in 90 minor league games. Basically he's been right on that 15 homer pace I mentioned. The reason that is a concern is that his GB/FB ratio through 27 games with the Mariners is 0.79. That's awful for a guy who can't drive the ball deep, and for one who plays in a park that is a pitcher's best friend. Seager is going to have to decrease the fly ball rate and increase his ground ball rate if he wants to keep that batting average up.

Does he offer any speed on the base paths? Not so much. Seager stole 13 bases last year and had 11 this year, so he's a threat to run every once in a while, but he's not going to post a stolen base mark that jumps off the page.

I'm not going to sit here and say you shouldn't ride Seager while he is hot – you should. I'm also not going to say that he won't have a long and productive big league career. He should. I'll only say that keep a close eye on the indicators I mentioned this year because things are going to change in the month of September.

BREAKING DOWN: Chien-Ming Wang
2-2, 3.82 ERA, 9 Ks, 1.33 WHIP in 33 innings

He's back, back again. Wang is back, tell a friend. Guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back... and yes, I stole that from Eminem.

The point is that after last throwing a pitch in 2009, Wang is back in the big leagues with the Nationals. Appearances suggest that he is pitching fairly well right now. Can he keep it up? First, a brief history lesson.

In 2006 and 2007 Wang won 38 games for the Yankees. No one in the game won more games than Wang as he posted ERA's of 3.63 and 3.70. He also posted nearly identical WHIP marks of 1.31 and 1.29. However, he was limited by injuries to 95 innings in 2008 and even fewer in 2009 (42). There was some thought that the shoulder woes that were plaguing him would preclude him from ever taking the hill again in a big league game. Clearly, he has overcome a lot to make it back out there.

So, with a 3.82 ERA and 1.33 WHIP this season, numbers nearly identical to his 2006-07 peak seasons, everything is back to normal. Not so fast.

Wang has always had success despite the fact that objective analysis says he really shouldn’t be so successful. In his career Wang strikes out 4.08 batters per nine. That's two and a half batters below the big league average during his career. Wang is a bit better than average with a 2.65 BB/9 mark, but the resulting 1.54 K/BB ratio is pitiful. Wang has also posted a big league average .292 BABIP for his career, and his HR/F ratio of 8.2 percent is slightly better than the 9-10 percent mark of an average big league hurler.

So how has he had success? He throws a bowling ball of a sinker, that's how. In his heyday of 2006-07 his GB/FB ratio was a spectacular 3.09 and 2.51. However, a trend has developed that isn't a good one. His GB/FB ratio has receded each year from 2006-11.

3.09, 2.51, 2.41, 1.98 and 1.86.

Now the 1.86 mark he currently has is plenty impressive, but it is a three-quarters below his career rate of 2.64. However, what really scares me is that 0.90 K/BB ratio. Remember, the big league average is about 2.10. You can use a sinker to great effect, but you simply cannot sustain success with a K/BB ratio that is that poor. It's impossible. I mean the guy has a 2.45 K/9 mark. I could do that. He's also been fortunate as heck with a BABIP of .254, nearly .040 points below his career rate.

Wish Wang all the luck in the world, but you're playing with a lit match that's about to burn your finger if you continue to hold on.

WHO AM I?

I think this one should be pretty easy to guess, so I'm going to do something I don't normally do. I'm going to eliminate using numbers and just use names to see if you can figure it out.

No one is really paying attention, but I'm currently sporting a better batting average than guys like Robinson Cano, Billy Butler, Derek Jeter and Prince Fielder. I actually lead my team in batting average.

My OBP is better than Kevin Youkilis, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes and Michael Young.

My SLG is the same as Michael Cuddyer but better than Dustin Pedroia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Dan Uggla and Adam Lind.

Obviously I have a solid OPS as a result. Actually, I have the 16th best OPS in baseball amongst infielders, and my mark is better than Youkilis, Mark Teixeira and Jhonny Peralta have produced.

I've hit the same number of homers as Alex Rodriguez.

I have the same RBI total as Dan Uggla and more than Gaby Sanchez and Freddie Freeman.

Not enough information you say?

I hesitate to give you more because then I think it will become too easy, so how about one more hint before I blow it.

Eleven times in my career I've hit .300 with 15 homers, 75 RBI and 75 runs scored. That puts me in a tied for fourth all-time. The only men with more seasons like that are Babe Ruth and Ted Williams who had 14 each, Hank Aaron who had 13 and Stan Musial and Lou Gehrig who had 12 apiece.

Who Am I?

BY THE NUMBERS

0: The number of players in baseball who have more steals than Desmond Jennings since he was called up to the majors on July 23. Desmond has stolen 14 bases in that time. He is also fourth in the AL in hits (47), extra base hits (19), OBP (.439) and SLG (.634) since his call up. He's only seventh in batting average (.351) and tied for 10 in homers (eight) --- what a slacker.

.128: The batting average of Troy Tulowitzki against the Diamondbacks this year, as he has six hits in 47 at-bats. Hitting .306 on the year, if we remove his work against the D'backs that average would soar to .325. Teammate Carlos Gonzalez doesn't have the same problem. He is hitting .333 against the D'backs. If we remove his work against that club his batting average would drop to .293.

2.05: The ERA of Ricky Romero during the month of August during which time he has gone 5-0. Romero has been spectacular since the All-Star break with a 2.37 ERA over his last nine starts (6-1 record). On the year he owns a 2.84 ERA. At home the mark is 2.93, on the road 2.75. During night games his ERA is 2.35. In games played on grass his ERA is 2.90 while it's 2.79 on turf. In fact, take out his 4.31 ERA from July and his monthly ERA marks this season are 3.00, 2.73, 2.50 and 2.05.

5: The number of current big league players who have 400 home runs and 2,000 hits. There are a couple of obvious guys in Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez, and I hope you didn't forget about Chipper Jones or Vladimir Guerrero. However, the last one might be a bit more difficult though he shouldn't be since he just hit his 600th homer – Jim Thome. There is a sixth man who is about ready to join the club, and his inclusion will almost certainly be somewhat shocking to you. This man has 2,005 hits and 393 homers. He plays first base, is in the AL, and currently is hitting .316 with 28 homers and 88 RBI. He is Paul Konerko.

6: The number of strikeouts that Javier Vazquez needs to record the 2,500th punch out of his career. Only 29 others in the history of the game have recorded that many. Vazquez was awful in the first half with a 5.23 ERA, but that number is much improved of late as he has posted a 3.51 mark over his last eight starts. Going back to his last 10 outings that ERA drops another notch to 3.08. Maybe he isn't washed up after all.

10: The hitting streak of El Caballo, Carlos Lee. During that 10 game streak he has posted 17 hits to push his season long mark in the batting average category up to .273. Lee is hitting .459 over the past 10 games, and he's reached base in 10 of his last 11 plate appearances. He's also six RBI short of a 13th straight season of at least 80 RBI. This is his 13th big league season. One other big league player could stretch his 80 RBI streak to 13 seasons this year but Alex Rodriguez would need 27 RBI over the final month of action.

39: The number of consecutive saves that Jose Valverde has racked up this season. It's the longest streak in a season in the history of the Tigers. His streak is a bit odd considering that he's currently sporting the worst K/9 mark of his career (8.02, more than two batter bellow his career rate of 10.38) while at the same time posting his worst BB/9 (4.78) since 2004. Sometimes things just don't make much sense.

I AM...

The Rockies' Todd Helton.

Helton is hitting .306 with 14 homers, 67 RBI and 57 runs scored. It looks like he'll fall short of his 12th season of .300-15-75-75, but he's still had a rather amazing bounce back after hitting .256 with eight homers and 37 RBI last year. Helton is currently sporting a .390 OBP, and that would be the 12th time in 13 seasons that he would have hit that mark if he can sustain his current pace.


Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.