I keep getting questions about 'what's wrong with J.J. Hardy?' OK, he hit an awful .193 in June, no one wants to see that, but let's pull back from the micro and look at the macro. On the year Hardy is hitting .232, which is disappointing for a guy who owns a .260 career mark. Still, we've seen this before as he hit .229 in 2009. Some of the blame can be laid at the feet of BABIP as his current mark of .242 would be a career low and well below his .276 career mark. This is a particularly low mark given that his 18.5 percent line drive rate would be a six-year high. Bottom line, his average should go up. As for the power, I got news for you people, he's on pace for 24 homers, 65 RBI and 80 runs scored. How many times has Hardy had a season of 24-65-80? How about once, and that was back in 2007. People saw the 30 homers and 80 RBI last season and got way too ahead of themselves. Let's not forget that Hardy hit 17 homers with 85 RBI in 2009-10, and that the last three years the guy has averaged 115 games played. He's been pretty darn productive; it's just the average that should be disappointing.
I could have used this factoid in the section below, but I wanted to spend a bit of time on it here. Have you noticed what Colby Lewis is doing this year (by the way, it was reported Friday that his forearm is doing much better and that chances are pretty good that he won't need a minor league rehab assignment before being activated from the DL). Lewis has a solid 3.51 ERA which isn't hurting anyone. He has posted 90 Ks in 100 innings, an impressive 8.10 per nine mark. His WHIP of 1.08 is fantastic, especially for an AL hurler. And what is key to that tiny WHIP? It's his control. Over 15 starts this season Lewis has walked - get this - 12 batters. Twelve. That's a 1.08 BB/9 mark by the way. Since the 21st century began there have only been 12 seasons of a pitcher lasting at least 162 innings while at the same time walking 1.10 or fewer batters per nine innings (David Wells and Brad Radke did it three times a piece, Roy Halladay accomplished the feat twice, and Greg Maddux, Carlos Silva, Cliff Lee and Jon Lieber all did it one time). Kudos to Lewis, and let's hope that his time on the sideline to rest his forearm hasn't robbed him of the exquisite control that he has flashed thus far.
What happened to Logan Morrison? Wasn't he supposed to be this impressive big league hitter? To this point of his career consider this scribe to be unimpressed. You can cut him some slack since it sounds like his knee has been bothering him for a long while, all the way into last year of course, but through 950 big league at-bats we've got a guy hitting .256 with a .343 OBP and .454 SLG. Those aren't awful numbers of course, but there also barely better than league average. When you add in the fact that he's stolen just two bases and that he's hit only 35 homers, it has to be stated that the start of his career hasn't exactly gone as hoped.
Wilin Rosario is killing it this year at the plate for the Rockies. Among catchers his total of 15 homers is third in baseball, and he's the only catcher eligible player who has hit more than eight homers in less than 200 at-bats (he's hit his 14 in 186 at-bats). He has holes in his game such as the fact that he has 51 strikeouts and only eight walks on the season leading to a .247 average and sub par .279 OBP, but his power is legit, he's young, and he's the future for the Rockies. Therefore, it's good to hear that the Rockies continue to view him as the lead dog with Ramon Hernandez (left hand) closing in on his return from the DL. I know Ramon has hit .297 and .282 the past two seasons, but he's 36 years old. It's tough to argue that he isn't a better handler of a staff at this point, but in the fantasy game we want offense, so give us Rosario. It's fair to suggest though that the return of Ramon will make it difficult for Rosario to go deep 25 times this year since he simply may not get enough work which throws his Willin's value the rest of the way in some doubt if you're one of those folks who plays in a 12 or 15 team mixed league that uses only one catcher.
BY THE NUMBERS.
.115: Uh oh. That's the batting average of Dan Uggla over the last four weeks. Seems like this guy just can't avoid being streaky. Over those 78 at-bats he has hit one homer and driven in six runs. On pace for 20 homers, 85 RBI and darn near 100 runs, does he have another second half run in him to help boost that batting average which has fallen to .225?
.187: The batting average of Chone Figgins over his last 132 games. I was going to break things down, but the only thing that's broken is Figgins. I don’t even know what to say anymore.
.329: The batting average of Garrett Jones over the last 28 days. In that time Jones has pushed his average up to .276 and thanks in part to four homers and 12 RBIs over his last 11 games he's rocking five homers, 18 RBIs and 20 runs scored in the 28-day time frame. Check out if he is on waivers.
.429: The difference between the OPS of Tyler Colvin last year (.509) and this season (.938). If we split the difference we end up with an OPS of .706 since the start of the 2011 season for the Rockies' outfielder, which isn't that far off his career mark of .752. Remember what happened to Bryan LaHair? A similar fate might befall Colvin.
.460: The OBP of Ben Zobrist over the past four weeks. In that time he has walked 16 times while batting .357 for the Rays. After a slow start to the year Zobrist is now on pace for a season of about 18 homers, 65 RBI, 90 runs and 15 steals. It may not be a breakout performance, but if that's the type of effort you're getting from your second sacker you can live with the .247 batting average.
5: The number of players that have stolen at least 10 bases over the past four weeks. Here they are: Mike Trout (17), Dee Gordon (16), Everth Cabrera (11), Juan Pierre (10) and Ben Revere (10). All of these players have at least 82 at-bats other than Juan Pierre who has hit .313 over just 64 at-bats. Remove Trout and the foursome of hitters have gone deep two times in four weeks.
9: The number of homers that Brandon Moss has over the last 28 days. That's not the most in baseball, Jose Bautista and Trevor Plouffe both have 12, but it's pretty damn impressive for a guy who had all of 15 home runs in his career entering this season. Moss is hitting .282 with 10 homers and 1.067 OPS in his first 24 games as an Oakland Athletic.
29: The league leading RBI total of Jason Kubel over the last 28 days, three more than David Wright. Kubel has long been an effective fantasy option, but let's point out some facts. He's never hit 30 homers and has had more than 21 just once (he has 14 this season). Though he hit .300 in 2009 that was the only season he's ever hit better than .275 (he's hitting .292). The key has been hitting lefties this year (.286 in 91 at-bats).
92: The current run scoring pace of Carlos Pena who is batting .197 on the season. He scores runs cause he knows how to take a walk (see his decent .337 OBP which is actually fantastic given his batting average). Still, do you know how many guys have scored 90 runs while hitting less than .200 since 1950? The answer is zero. If I'm not mistaken, the answer is zero if you go all the way back to 1900.
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.