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Circling the Bases: Players Defying Logic

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.

Sometimes players refute logic. Take the case of Mike Trout who volumes have been written about this season (I myself tackled the issued in my column on August 17th). Here is my final statement from the piece.

So all I'm saying is this – be careful with Trout. He will still be a fantasy stud, there is no doubt about that, but be wary of expecting him to be this exquisite moving forward. He has set the bar so high that he has no where to go but down.

I've been proven partially right since that column appeared. Oh, he's been a beast in the runs scored column with 20 in 21 games. He's also been impressive with five homers. His RBI pace has been solid with 11, but it's the .281 batting average that has really dipped. Obviously anyone hitting .281 over a 21 game spread is far from a catastrophic failure, the majority of big leaguers would bow down and pray to an alter of any number of gods to hit .281 for a season, but that's a pretty decent drop off for a guy who was hitting .339 on August 17th as Trout was. The point is this. Sooner or later things, not always but usually, even out. Overall Trout has been a simply out of this world performer this year. Period. It's also fair to wonder though if, as many including myself have stated, his current “slump” was always going to happen because no one can be as good as Trout had been the first 3.5 months this year. That's been my contention all along – not that Trout isn't a dynamic talent, but merely that he was unlikely to maintain per game production he was tossing out there.

The same can be said about his teammate, Mark Trumbo. Just as is/was the case with Trout, I expressed caution when it came to Trumbo this year, going all the way back to March. My first concern with Trumbo was playing time. The Angels made it work by using Trumbo all over the field. I was wrong about that. The result has been 30 homers and 83 RBIs, impressive numbers with three weeks still left in the season and numbers that mirror his 29 homer, 87 RBI effort from last season. Once the concerns about playing time were in the rear view mirror, the next concern to tackle was performance. I never doubted Trumbo's power stroke, I always thought 30 homers and 90 RBIs were possible with playing time, but I was very reluctant to suggest to anyone that he was going to be a batting average booster in the fantasy game. I looked like a fool on May 30th when Trumbo was hitting .348. Since then, I've looked like a genius.

Trumbo hit .260 in June.
Trumbo hit .269 in July.
Trumbo has hit .204 in August.
Trumbo has hit .083 in September.

Add that all up and Trumbo has batted .231 over his last 85 games with a mere .287 OBP while he's hit just .174 over his last 36 games.

What are we left with? Exactly the same player that we had last season. Take a look at the numbers.

2011: .254-29-87-65-9
2012: .269-30-83-60-4

Was a genius with a guy like Trumbo when I suggested to everyone that his batting average would fall? No. I was looking at history, his skills (Poor plate discipline, a lack of walks, a far too high BABIP and line drive rate), and his out of this world level of production this year. It's the same thing I saw with Trout, Andrew McCutchen etc. Make sure you keep that in mind when you are evaluating players worth.

Trout is still an elite talent, period. Ditto McCutchen. Trumbo isn't a .300 hitter, he's just not, but doesn't mean that he can't continue to push 30 homers and 90 RBIs year after year – the power is legit. Just be sure to investigate the players skills before you determine what a players true worth is based merely on a small sample size of games played/

BY THE NUMBERS

.361: The batting average of Brock Holt in his first nine big league games with the Pirates. He's also working on a 6-game hitting streak. Given that he batted .322 in Double-A (102 games) and .432 in Triple-A (24 games), Holt is hitting .345 this season in 513 at-bats. NL-only leaguers might want to take note.

.363: The NL's leading batting average over the past 30 days. It belongs to Logan Forsythe of the Padres. The AL's leading mark belongs to Adrian Beltre at .364. Speaking of Forsythe, he's had at least two hits in six of his last 10 games to boost his season long average up from .270 to .289. He's also scored nine runs while knocking in eight runners in those 10 games.

.464: The AL's leading OBP since the start of August. It belongs to Prince Fielder who has also hit .336 in that time frame. Fielder also has eight doubles, nine homers and 23 RBIs in those 36 games in addition to a .623 SLG that is fifth in the AL since the calendar flipped to August.

4: The number of hurlers who have won five games over the past 30 days. Some of the names are likely obvious if you've been paying close attention. Kris Medlen has been, arguably, the best starting pitcher in baseball since the All-Star break. Kyle Kendrick has been pitching like he thinks he is Roy Halladay. Gio Gonzalez leads baseball with 19 wins. Who is the fourth arm? How about Zack Greinke. The Angels hurler is 5-1 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over his six starts.

10: The number of outfielders who have gone 15/15 this season. That number goes down to four if we move the bar up to 20/20. Those names are Mike Trout, B.J. Upton, Ryan Braun and Alex Rios. Jason Heyward needs one steal to be the 5th to join the 20/20 club.

16: The AL leading saves total of Tom Wilhelmsen since July 21st. He's only blown one opportunity in that time frame allowing him to inch ahead of Fernando Rodney who has 15 saves. The NL leader since July 21st is Aroldis Chapman who has 19 saves. Chapman has been dealing with some shoulder fatigue right now and he's looked pretty spotty over his last two outings.

18: I know it really doesn't matter at all, it is Oliver Perez after all, but the guy has gone 18-straight outings without allowing a run (13.1 innings). Why is that stretch significant? The run of 18-straight scoreless outings is the 7th longest in Mariners history (that's right, he pitches for the Mariners in case you didn't know, and let's face it, you didn't, and I don't blame you). His teammate, Lucas Leutge, had a 22 game game streak earlier this season, and the aforementioned Wilhelmsen also had a 19-game run earlier this season as well. Over 26 outings covering 23 innings, Perez has a 1.57 ERA and 23 strikeouts.

19: The number of consecutive starts that the Braves have won while Kris Medlen was the starting pitcher, a club record (previously the record was 15 by John Smoltz). The last major league team to win 20-straight starts by a pitcher was the Yankees who pulled off the trick while Roger Clemens was on the hill in 2001. Medlen is also 13-0 over his last 24 starts. There is only one other hurler who is currently an active big leaguer who had a 20-game stretch without a loss – Jose Contreras went 17-0 over a 24 game stretch for the White Sox in 2005-06. Of course, Contreras isn't actually active – he's on the DL with arm woes.

51.1: The percentage of Brett Jackson's at-bats, 94 in total, that have ended in strike out (48). The guys is striking out in more than half his at-bats, when he isn't running into outfield walls making amazing catches. Let's play this out. So far Jackson is averaging a strikeout every 1.96 at-bats. If he were to maintain that pace over 500 at-bats, obviously he would never be allowed to mind you, he would strike out 255 times which would be an all-time single season record (the current single season “record” belongs to Mark Reynolds who had 223 punchouts in 2009).

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.