Rafael Furcal was hotter than Kate Upton the first two months of the season hitting .333 with 37 runs scored over 49 games. Once the calendar flipped to June though he's been colder than I am on a Friday night when I'm out trolling for ladies at a bar – and that's pretty darn cold. Over the last two weeks he's hit .133 and produced just three runs (one RBI, two runs), and things don't get any better when we take a look at the entire month of June - .171 with a .420 OPS over 19 games. Still - and I hate to be the voice of reason here - but let's not lose sight of a few things with the Cardinals shortstop.
(1) Furcal has appeared in 68 of 70 games for the Cardinals, an amazing development for a guy who has appeared in less than 100 games in three of the past four seasons. His ability to take the field this season has been stupendous given his recent track record.
(2) It's always dangerous to talk about any player’s “pace,” but I'm going to do it anyway because it's Friday and I could care less (actually I feel that way no matter what day of the week it is). After 68 games Furcal is on pace to hit .288 with 10 homers, 65 RBIs, 100 runs and 20 steals. I'll pause so you can read those numbers again. Really let them sink in. Furcal is on pace to go .285-10-65-100-20 this year.
When was the last time that Furcal hit .285 in a season of at least 130 games? You have to go back to 2006.
When was the last time Furcal hit 10 homers? It was that same 2006 season.
When was the last time Furcal knocked in 65 runs? Oh wait, never. His career best was 63 in 2006.
When was the last time Furcal scored 100 runs? Hello 2006 again.
When was the last time Furcal stole 20 bags? Well he did swipe 22 in 2010 but because of constant injury he's been held to 12 or fewer thefts in three of the last four years.
So let me get this straight. Furcal is on pace to have his best season since 2006, one that would given him a shot at a top-7 or so showing at the shortstop position this year, and you're ticked off at him and ready to move on?
Look, I get it. I own Furcal in one league and he's been killing me of late (of course, he also helped my team jump out to a huge lead). If you're in a Head to Head league, and please tell me you're not because H2H should solely be a football type of fantasy game, Furcal has been a ticking time bomb that has blown up in your face the past month. In this scenario I'd totally understand the frustration. Heck, in a moment of honesty I could understand anyone's frustration given the catastrophic failures that have been coming from Furcal for weeks, but as I noted above, Furcal is on pace to have his best season in six years and he's been a top-10 shortstop in the fantasy game with ease to this point of the season.
Now I know you're going to say – but Ray, he's been so awful, how could you possibly be trying to defend him? My answer is this --- perspective.
If you had been on a desert island the past three weeks canoodling with Kate Upton, and if you have I hate you with a burning passion, and you just picked up the newspaper today and glanced at Furcal's batting line, what would you think? If you're honest, and it's Friday so why not be right (there's plenty of time for you to tell lies late tonight when you hit that bar), you would admit that you would be darn impressed with the numbers the mighty mite has posted. The reason you are upset is that you've lived with Furcal every day this season and you see his recent dip is driving you batty.
Let's look at this another way. Let's say that Furcal hit .171 in April. You'd probably have let him go and picked up some other flunky off waivers to help you out. What if Furcal then went out and hit .315 in May and then .349 in June. You'd be SUPER pumped up if you were able to add Furcal on May 2nd the day after he was dropped and you'd be laughing all the way to the bank at the other fella thinking that guy gave away an all-star caliber performer. It's all about whether you're looking at Furcal's performance from a micro or macro level.
Let me be clear here. I'm not saying Furcal is going to play 150 games, and I'm certainly not saying that I think he will keep up his overall rate of production. I'm merely saying that if you take his performance in total that you have to admit that he has been a pleasant surprise and a wonderfully cheap addition to your fantasy squad given the production that he has posted. What you do with that information is up to you, but just don't sit here and cry to me about Furcal being crapola because, overall, that's just not an accurate description of how he has performed for 68 games for the Cardinals.
Anyone seen my Vodka & Red Bull?
BY THE NUMBERS
0: The number of home runs that Alfonso Soriano hit in his first 30 games this season. Over his last 34 games he's gone deep 13 times, the most in the NL since May 15th (Jose Bautista has gone deep 14 times in that span). An AL club might want to consider making a play for Soriano on the trade marker, not just because of his recent hot work with the bat, but also for the fact that in 70 career at-bats as a designated hitter he has hit .357 with seven homers an a 1.135 OPS.
.187: The batting average of Adam LaRoche over his last 75 at-bats which has dropped his season mark down to .254. Don't go panicking. Just like with Furcal above, things have been uneven with LaRoche but the overall production has still been solid as LaRoche is on pace for 25 homers and more than 90 RBIs. As for the batting average how about this surprise. The noted second half performer has hit .295 in his career after the All-Star break but just, wait for it, .247 in the first half.
.351: Just when everyone was getting ready to give up on him, Howie Kendrick has come alive the past two weeks hitting .351. He may be hitting .269 on the year but the guy owns a .290 career average, and I'd still lay even money that he gets to that mark by the time the season ends. He does need to pick up his production overall though, you'll get no complaint from me there (four homers, four steals, 25 RBI, 25 runs scored).
.351: The batting average of Jason Heyward in the month of June, the fifth highest mark in the National League (Joey Votto is hitting an insane .477). Heyward has gone deep four times and knocked in 11 runs on the month, and going back a bit further he has hits in 15 of 19 games. He may only be hitting .262 on the year but he's still on pace to be a 20/20 performer with 75 runs and 75 RBIs.
.380: The batting average of Jamey Carroll over his last 14 games. During that out of nowhere hot streak, Carroll is getting on base at a .446 clip, which has allowed him to score 12 runs as well. Over his last 1,031 at-bats, dating back to the start of the 2010 season, Carroll doesn’t have a single homer but he has hit .283.
.400: The batting average of Ben Zobrist the past two weeks. Wait, you really thought he was going to hit .200 this year? Not just producing hits of late, Zobrist has scored 10 runs in his last 10 games. I know you may not believe it, but guess what? Zobrist is now on pace for 20 homers, 15 steals and 90 runs scored – and he's struggled for a good deal of the early going.
.529 : The batting average of Pedro Alvarez over his last five games, and in that time he has gone deep five times, hit two doubles, and knocked in 10 runners. Not the only hot Pirate batter, Casey McGehee, you remember him right, is working on a 9-game hitting streak during which he has hit .371. Going back 17 games, the month of June, Casey has hit .340 with three homers, 10 RBI and a .976 OPS.
1.88: The ERA of Frank Francisco over his last 14.1 innings. During those outings FF has held batters to a .188 average and he's posted nine saves in 10 chances. So much for the early season struggles that made everyone so nervous.
20: The number of consecutive innings that Justin Masterson has pitched without allowing an earned run (his scoreless streak ended at 18 innings). As a result Masterson has been able to lower his ERA from 5.09 down to 3.98 over his last three trips to the hill. He has also been quite durable this season as well, having thrown at least six innings in each of his last 11 outings for the Tribe.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.