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Circling the Bases: Not Your Average Joe-y Bats

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.

Here I go again getting in trouble writing about Jose Bautista. It's like a moth inexorably pulled to an open flame or the pull of that last Vodka & Red Bull even though you know, you just know, that you've already had one too many. We just can't seem to lick our addictions. Here goes.

Jose Bautista has had a historic month of June. He has gone deep 14 times, the most by any player in any month in the history of the Blue Jays organization. Given that immense run of success his 26 homers put him on pace, not just for a third straight 40-homer effort, but to challenge his career best of 54 homers. He's also upped his RBI total to 61 in 76 games, another pace that could challenge his 124 RBI career best. Guess what else? Of course he is on pace to also challenge his career best mark in the runs scored department as he has 54 thus (109 in 2010).

So what could possibly be the problem here? Let's nit pick.

His .355 OBP would be a three-year low. It would also be below his career .362 mark.

His .550 SLG would be a three-year low (he was over .600 each of the past two years).

Admittedly, that's kind of like criticizing the statue of David.

Now the batting average is something totally different. Some facts.

(1) Bautista is a career .253 hitter.

(2) Bautista has hit better than .265 in one season. One.

(3) In 11 of the previous 12 half-seasons Bautista has hit .300 once (the first half of 2011). Once.

Currently batting .237, it's time to admit what everyone has been reluctant to do for the past 12 months. Jose Bautista is not a .300 hitter, not even close. Think of it. When we hit the All-Star break this season, Bautista will have failed to hit .300 in a half-season in 12 of 13 chances. That .302 average he posted last year is not going to be repeated.

Now before I get tons of hate mail and people sticking pins in dolls wishing me ill, don't mistake what I'm saying.

I'm not saying that Bautista sucks.
I'm not saying Bautista is a failure.
I'm not saying you should be down on Bautista.

What I am saying is that he is not a .300 hitter. In fact, he may not even be a .270 hitter (remember, he's hit .265 just one time). In fact, and this might put things in perspective, Adam Dunn has more seasons hitting .265 two than Bautista does. Let that sink in for a moment.

Bautista is more valuable than Dunn ever was for two reasons. When Dunn was doing his 40-100-100 thing there was more overall offense in baseball so that Bautista's current work sticks out more in the offense-depleted era we are dealing with. Second, Bautista qualifies at third and outfield this season giving him wonderful positional flexibility. However, unless the Blue Jays decide to move Bautista back to third base, he'll enter next season as an outfield-only eligible player. So ask yourself this. If that is the case, if he only qualifies in the outfield, are you willing to spend a first round pick on a fella that is only barely going to keep pace with the league-average batting mark, even if he does possess immense power?


BY THE NUMBERS.

.157: The batting average with runners in scoring position of those fellas unfortunate enough to face Madison Bumgarner. He's even more stingy with RISP and two outs as that number drops to .146. That's part of the reason his ERA is 2.85 this season. It might also have to do with the fact that batters are hitting .229 off him in all situations. The Giants' lefty has been an either/or hurler this season. In 16 starts he has pitched one shutout (Thursday night in his one hitter against the Reds). The other 15 times he has taken the hill, here is how the earned run situation has broken down:

1 ER: seven times
2 ER: two times
3 ER: zero times
4 ER: six times

He either dominates the hell out of the competition or gives up four runs.

.257: The batting average of Michael Young over his last 52 games played. Is that just an extended slump, or are we witnessing a new baseline for the career .303 hitter who is 35 years old? It would be one thing if his average fell, but there is more slippage going on here. Never a power hitter, he has been feeble at the dish with one homer since the start of May, and on the year his SLG, not his OBP, but his slugging percentage, is .363, well below his career .447 mark.

.444: The batting average of Alcides Escobar over his last 12 games. The Royals' shortstop has upped his average to .315, and I bet you hadn't noticed that. He's running at the same pace he did last year when he swiped 26 bases (he currently has 12 thefts) marking him as a player of interest up the middle in mixed leagues. Still, he has managed to score only 28 times while hitting two homers with 20 RBI, so he's best utilized on a club that has a few major power sources at other spots on the diamond.

.991: The OPS of Miguel Montero in the month of June. You remember back to the start of the month Montero owners? Come on, of course you do. You were frustrated. You were about ready to move on weren't you? After all, Miguel was hitting .252 with two homers through 41 games, and that just wasn't getting it done now, was it? Hopefully you remained steadfast in your support and rode out the slow start because he has been killing it in June, and not just in the OPS department, of course. In addition to his .418 OBP and .573 SLG and a .320 batting average, Montero has hit five homers and knocked in 22 runs in 22 games. Wow is right.

1.008: The OPS of Wilson Betemit in the month of June. He plays for the Orioles by the way. Betemit has gone deep three times and produced seven RBI in 60 at-bats as he has hit .383 for the AL East club. For some reason that I can't explain, Betemit has always been at his best in the month of June as his career OPS for the month is .879, a career best.

1.137: The OPS of David Murphy over his last 58 at-bats coming over the last four weeks. Murphy has hit .362 with a .465 OBP and .672 SLG doing his best Josh Hamilton impersonation. In those 58 at-bats he has scored only eight times but he has gone deep four times, driven in 16 runners and stolen three bags. He continues to be one of the best non-full time outfielders in baseball.

2.78 : The ERA of Ubaldo Jimenez in the month of June. In those five starts Jimenez has also posted a 1.11 WHIP as he has walked just 11 batters in 32.1 innings while holding batters to a .210 average. Toss in 32 strikeouts and, dare I write it, it's been vintage Ubaldo for the month.

6.31: The K/BB ratio of Joe Blanton over the last 30 days which is the best mark in the NL (Colby Lewis leads baseball with a 7.50 mark). So why in the world does he have a 4.87 ERA? Blame an inordinately high HR/9 mark of 1.65 (his xFIP says his ERA should be 3.50).

30: This is starting to get ridiculous. Thirty is the RBI total of Mark Trumbo over the past 30 days, the largest total in baseball. Trumbo has also blasted 10 long balls in that time with the only negative in his production being a slipping .280 batting average and a .330 OBP. It's quibbling to bring down a guy who has been this impressive this year, but reality check. How many of you out there truly think that Trumbo is going to hit .315 with 40 homers and 110 RBI this year? I know he is not going to get there. The question is, does he miss just on the batting average or will the power numbers dip as well?


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.