Some random thoughts on players as the 2012 regular season reaches it's conclusion.
Ryan Braun has been the exact same player he was last year. In 2011 he hit .332-33-111-109-33 with a .994 OPS. This year he has hit .321-41-112-106-30 with a .994 OPS. So much for him failing because of PED use or Prince Fielder being out of town. Hope you listened to me on draft day (he was my #1 ranked player heading into the year).
Jay Bruce is not Ryan Braun, but he's pretty close in terms of his consistency. After going .256-32-97-84-8 last year he's posted a nearly identical line this season (.251-34-98-89-9).
Edwin Encarnacion has 42 homers, 110 RBI and 93 runs scored. Prior to this effort this year he had never hit 30 homers, driven in 80 runs or scored 80 times. He also has stolen 13 bags this year after swiping 12 the previous four years. He will not repeat in 2013.
Freddie Freeman has 23 homers, 94 RBI and 91 runs scored. He is the only player in baseball who has played 120 games at first base this season and has reached all three of those marks.
Jason Heyward has 27 bombs and 20 steals, a rather remarkable turnaround after his failings last year. We all knew he had the skill to be an elite player and he's starting to show just that in his third season. The steals are a bit of a surprise though as he stole 20 bags his first two seasons (270 games).
Most view Desmond Jennings has a disappointment this season. Maybe expectations were too high given that he has hit 13 homers with 31 steals and 85 runs scored?
Aaron Hill has been spectacular hitting .302 with 25 homers, 82 RBI and 92 runs scored. This is his third season of 25 homers but he hit only eight last year. While it's hard to think of him as a .300 hitter that's exactly what he has been with the D'backs hitting .304 over 188 games with the club.
Juan Pierre hit .310 with 37 steals for the Phillies. The last time he hit both of those marks was 2004.
Colby Rasmus has 23 homers with 75 RBI and 75 runs scored. That's the first time he's hit all three levels (he was at 23-66-85 in 2010). He's only hitting .223 though and that means that his career as a Blue Jay, 186 games worth, has led to a batting average of .213. Yikes.
Josh Reddick has had a mighty impressive season with 32 homers, 84 RBI, 84 runs scored and 11 steals. He is one of only three players to hit all three marks (Braun and Edwin Encarnacion). Too bad he's only hit .218 with a .654 OPS over his last 71 games, but even so, you have no room to complain.
Fernando Rodney might end the season with the greatest single season ERA in history (min 70 innings pitched). His 0.61 mark is hundredths ahead of Dennis Eckersley's all-time mark. Remember this. Each of the past five years he never had an ERA under 4.24. Be very careful that you don't invest too heavily in Rodney next season.
Ichiro Suzuki isn't even close to the player he was just two years ago, but he's still had a season that lines up very well with his effort from last year. Ichiro hit .272-5-47-80-40 in 2011, and thanks to a solid push with the Yankees this year, .327 over 65 games, his fantasy line now looks like this: .284-9-53-75-28.
Justin Upton has been a failure this season, no doubt about it. But I'm here to tell you it isn't as bad as you likely think. He is hit .276, one point below his career mark. He has a .352 OBP, four points below his career mark. He has 17 steals after averaging 20 the past three years. He's also walked 62 times and struck out 121 times leading to a 0.51 K/BB ratio which is a career best. Speaking of career bests, does anyone realize that he's also scored 107 times, a career best?
BY THE NUMBERS
.175: The batting average of Alex Avila over his last 32 games. He's also struck out 33 times. On the year he's hitting .242, and despite the looks of it, he's been remarkably consistent as he hit .242 in the first half and .243 in the second. He's also hit .245 at home and .240 on the road.
.211: The batting average of Mike Moustakas over his final 70 games. Not only did his average cave, his second half SLG of .325 was lower than his first half OBP (.327). For a first full season 20 homers, 73 RBI and 69 runs scored are nice totals, but that's about it when it comes to his performance as he hit .242 with a sickly .296 OBP an a wimpy .412 SLG. He's still got a long ways to to go before he can be trusted as a starting third baseman in standard mixed leagues.
.308: The batting average of Matt Wieters over his last 25 games. During that time Wieters also recorded 18 RBI and scored 16 times for the Orioles as he displays a strong finishing kick. His total of 23 homers is 4th at the catchers position in the AL while his total of 83 RBI is two behind Joe Mauer for the most among AL backstops. He and Buster Posey are the only catchers in baseball who have 20 homers and 80 RBI this season.
1.91: The inept K/9 mark of Aaron Cook this season with the Red Sox. How is that even possible? Despite a 2.01 BB/9 mark this season, a very impressive mark by the way, his K/BB ratio was still under 1.00. Awful. Moreover, the 1.91 mark of Cook isn't the worst mark of the modern era for a pitcher who tossed 90-innings. That belongs to Benny Frey who in 1933 had a mark of 0.82. Cook's mark is the 9th lowest total since 1950 and the worst since 1982 (Larry Pashnick at 1.81).
4.56: The season ending ERA of Clay Buchholz after he was torched for eight runs while recording five outs against the Yankees Monday night. Clay also allowed at least four earned runs in five of his last eight starts. Maybe it's time people start listening to me when I tell them that Buchholz will never have another season like he did in 2010 (17-7, 2.33 ERA), it's just not going to happen folks. He simply doesn't own the skills to be an elite level arm (even in 2010 his xFIP was 4.07, nearly two runs above his actual ERA mark). He's just not that good.
5: The number of pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings each of the past six years (including 2012). The are Mark Buehrle, Justin Verlander, James Shields, Matt Cain and CC Sabathia who recorded exactly 200 innings pitched this season thanks to his final start of the year Monday night. Sabathia won his 15th game making him the only hurler in the league who has hit that mark each of the past six years. Sabathia also finished the year with a 3.38 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, numbers just slightly below his career marks of 3.50 and 1.22. He may not be quite as good as he was a few years back, but he's still damn consistent and one of the most stable elite level arms in the game.
8: The number of RBI for Howie Kendrick over his last four games. The second sacker has also racked up nine hits over those four games and he has hit .297 over his last 66 contests. A career .291 hitter, Kendrick is hitting .286 with 66 RBI, his fourth straight season of at least 60 RBI. His runs scored mark though is only 57, well short of the 81 he registered last season.
33: The number of homers hit this season by Chris Davis in 137 games. Over 217 games from 2009-11 Davis went deep 27 times. He also has 84 RBI this season and 74 runs for the Orioles. The last three years he drove in 82 RBI while scoring 80 runs.
49.8: The percentage of batters faced this season by Craig Kimbrel that he has struck out. Of the 227 batters that have come to the plate 113 of them have returned to the dugout after a strikeout. That might be the most amazing number I've seen all year long. His 16.49 K/9 mark is the highest in the history of baseball. Aroldis Chapman isn't too far behind at 15.41, the 4th best mark of any hurler who has thrown at least 50-innings in a season in big league history.
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.