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Circling the Bases: Evan Longoria is Back

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.

Evan Longoria IS BACK

Evan Longoria has been activated from the DL after missing months with that hamstring injury he had/has. Oh yeah, he's not 100 percent, everyone will tell you that, but the Rays' brass thinks he is far enough along in his recovery that he can be a useful bat for the Rays offense right now. Longoria will spend a good deal of his time at the designated hitter spot until the team is confident his bum wheel can handle the challenges of playing defense, so we may not see him with a glove for a while. Regardless, and though he hit only .200 with seven walks in eight games during his rehab work, the club is ready to roll him out there. What should you be doing with Longoria? He's a very interesting case.

(1) He's barely a league average batting average performer. Sure he was hitting .329 in 23 games this season but he hit a mere .244 in 133 games last year meaning he's hit .257 over his last 156 games. He's also hit .276 for his career. Neither of those numbers is very exciting.

(2) He's got big time power, there's no doubt, but is his power impressive or elite? In four previous seasons he had efforts in the 20's and two in the 30's and per 150 games he's averaged 30 homers. That's certainly impressive but for his career Mark Reynolds has averaged 31 homers per 150 games.

(3) Longoria is prolific run producer. From 2008-2011 Evan knocked in 401 runners, 11 more than any other third baseman (Alex Rodriguez drove in 390). Longo also scored 341 runs, third most at the position behind David Wright (350) and Mark Reynolds (348).

(4) Though he has a reputation as a base stealer, he really isn't an overly impressive base thief. He sole 34 bases from 2008-2011, the fifth best mark at the position, but that was still 40 steals behind the #2 man – David Wright (Chone Figgins led the way with 87 thefts). Moreover, Longoria has only hit double digits once, he had 15 thefts in 2010, and he has just five steals in his last 156 games. Add in that he's coming back from that hammy issue that I previously mentioned, and it's pretty clear he shouldn't be expected to run much the rest of the way.

So, how much should you be counting on a guy who has hit .257 with five steals over his last 156 games played when that same player also has an issue with the health of his leg? I'm not saying you don't want him active an in your lineup, I'm merely stating that just cause he has returned to action shouldn't cause you to think you're immediately getting back in your lineup an elite hitter – you might not be.

WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW WEI-YIN CHEN

Over his last five starts WYC has thrown four quality efforts at opponents, an overall he's racked up a 1.95 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over 32.2 innings. That's some serious pitching is it not? In fact, he's been a bigger fantasy producer that past four weeks than Jordan Zimmerman, Yovani Gallardo and CC Sabathia to name just a few.

In 22 starts this year Chen has been very efficient for the Orioles and he's performing like a solid back of the rotation arm in mixed leagues. Here are the numbers.

10-6, 3.46 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 109 Ks in 135.1 innings

There aren't many staffs assembled that couldn’t benefit from an effort like that. At the same time, I'm a bit leery of the overall levels we're seeing from Chen. Why? There's lots of league average, or just slightly better than league average stuff, going on here. Consider...

Chen: 7.25 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, 2.48 K/BB
LgAvg: 7.50 K/9, 3.10 K/BB, 2.42 K/BB

Pretty much a mirror image there is it not?

Chen: 1.06 HR/9, 0.90 GB/FB, 20.2 LD-rate
LgAvg: 1.03 HR/9, 1.10 GB/FB, 19 LD-rate

Pretty much a mirror image there is it not?

Given his overall skill set, it's a bit of a stretch to think he will be able to sustain his current .260 BABIP, and that 75 percent left on base percentage might also be a bit artificially elevated. To be clear I'm not predicting doom and gloom here at all, I'm merely stating that his recent run of success is likely to be halted quickly, and it wouldn't be shocking if from this point forward if his overall performance was unable to match his work to this point of the season, even if it was a slow fade and not a immediate drop off in performance.

BY THE NUMBERS

.459: That isn't the OBP of Buster Posey the last 30 days. That mark is actually .510. So it must be his SLG then? Not even close. That mark is .800 the last 30 days. Don't tell me it's actually his batting average? Yep, it is. Buster Posey has produced 39 hits in 85 at-bats for a .459 batting average. Not intent to just rap out singles either, Posey has gone deep seven times and driven in 27 runners in those 22 games. The most amazing thing though might be trying to figure out how he's hit seven homers with a .510 OBP yet he's scored only 12 runs.

.476: The batting average of Pirates catcher Michael McKenry during the clubs recently completed road trip. McKenry had 10 hits in 21 at-bats as he socked three homers and drove in eight tune. That run of success just lengthens the bashing he has been doing at the plate as he has hit eight homers in his last 22 games.

0.74: The WHIP of Felix Hernandez over his last five starts as he's posted an ERA of 1.12. Thanks to that impressive run King Felix has upped his record to 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 23 starts. He's also racked up 159 Ks in 164 innings, but he's going to have to push the pace a wee bit if he wants to reach the 220 K level for the 3rd straight year.

1.90: The ERA of Jason Vargas over his last seven starts. After going 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA to win AL Pitcher of the Month honors in July, Vargas allowed three runs in eight innings in his first start of August. Vargas can't be stopped at home with a 2.63 ERA and 0.96 WHIP while his performance on the road suffers (4.55 ERA, 1.28 WHIP). However, even though it makes no sense, his record on the road (8-5) dwarfs his work at home (4-3).

3: The number of times a hurler has had 14 Ks against the Yankees while allowing no earned runs after Justin Verlander accomplished the feat Monday night. He threw a season high 132 pitches, though only 67 of those pitches were fastball. Oh, and after throwing an average fastball of 92 mph the first time through the order he averaged 95 mph the rest of the way including hitting 100 on his 130th pitch.

3: The number of players who have hit 10 homers the past four weeks. They are Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Josh Willingham. On the year Cabrera has 28 homers, Pujols 24 and Willingham, Josh Willingham, leads the trio with 29 big flies.

4:The number of blown saves for Ryan Cook in his last five save chances. Over his last nine outings he's also had an ERA of 7.00 an a WHIP of 1.44. He's been stupendous this year with a 2.47 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 48 Ks in 47.1 innings, but he's in a black hold of crapola right now.

8: The number of times this year that Yu Darvish has struck out at least nine batters, one shy of the Rangers rookie record held by Bobby Witt (1986). Darvish has also become the sixth hurler in history to have eight games of 9+ Ks in his first 21 career starts. The Ks are great, he has 154 in 134 innings, but he's also gone 1-4 in his last six games and over his last five starts his ERA is 7.76, his WHIP 1.76 and his BB/9 is 6.03. It's getting ugly in Texas.

15: The current hitting streak of Michael Morse. The slugger from the Nation's capital has hit .333 with three homers, 11 RBIs and nine runs scored during the streak which is the second longest current streak in the NL behind the 24-gamer Jose Reyes is working on.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 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.