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Circling the Bases: Around the League

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.

A rundown of some of the action from Wednesday night, some numbers that might surprise, and oh what the heck, let's pick on Yasiel Puig again.

Avisail Garcia hit only .241 with two homers and 10 RBI with the Tigers. Dealt to the White Sox, he spent some time in the minors before he was called up to The Show. Boy has he hit since. In 19 games with the Sox he's hitting .352 with nine RBI and nine runs scored. He's also sporting a .387 OBP which is 14 points higher than his SLG was with the Tigers. He still not drawing free passes with only three in a Sox uniform, and the 17 strikeouts aren't exactly making me warm and fuzzy either, but there is no disputing that he's been terrific since switching clubs making him a strong AL-only play.

Were you one of those folks that though somehow, someway, Travis Hafner would be a force all season long this year? I know he hit .318 with six homers and 17 RBI in April but please tell me you didn't fall for that. Please. Here are his monthly totals since.

May: .179-2-8
June: .174-4-10
July: .143-0-2
August: no at-bats

That's right, Hafner has hit six homers with 20 RBI, while batting in the .160's, over his last 59 games. Quite often history is a guide with players, especially when that history points to a body that is breaking down. Only once in the last five years has Hafner appeared in 100 games, and with 81 played this season it's highly likely that number will fall to once in six years.

By the way, he hopes to return from his shoulder woes around mid-September.

Kendrys Morales was claimed off waiver by an unidentified club but no deal was worked out so he will remain with the Mariners for the rest of the season before hitting free agency this offseason. Morales has been a very solid big league hitter this season, but can we please move past the thought of him being a dominating fantasy option? I say this because there are still people out there holding on to his .306-34-108 season from 2009. Folks, that was before Stephen Strasburg threw his first big league pitch. Morales busted up his leg with that asinine home run celebration in 2010 and he missed the second half of that season and subsequently the entire 2011 recuperating. He's never rebounded to his 2009 levels. Last season was a nice comeback effort as he hit .273 with 22 homers and 73 RBI in 134 games. In seven fewer games this season he's hit .281 with 17 homers and 68 RBI. Since when did it become en vogue to fall in love with numbers like that? Since the start of last season his total of 39 homers has been bettered by 51 men in the game, and there are five others tied with Morales. His total of 141 RBI is tied for 44th. Again, solid totals, but nothing to look at, especially considering that he plays first base. His average won't kill you, and perhaps the move to a better offensive ballpark will help, but the fact is that in a standard 12 team mixed league Morales is nothing but a corner infield option.

Jordan Schafer has been seeing a lot of playing time in the Braves outfield since Jason Heyward went down with his jaw injury, and Jordan is a decent NL-only option in the outfield at the moment. He's only hitting .174 over his last 13 contests, but he's propped up his value in that time with six thefts. He's a no doubt speed contributor but you have to worry a bit about how much longer his average will hover around his current .275 mark given that his career number is just .231.

Will Venable had another three hits including a homer and double Wednesday night. Boy is he killing it right now. That homer was his 20th of the season, he hit 18 the past two seasons, and he's also up to 15 thefts. Given that he's stolen at least 24 bags the past three years, you have to feel pretty good that he'll turn up the pace on the base paths to get that first 20/20 season under his belt. Since the All-Star game he's done his best Yasiel Puig imitation hitting .381 with nine homers, six steals, 17 RBI and 25 runs scored in 36 games. Speaking of Puig, he's getting benched for his defense now. I know it seems like I'm bashing the guy but he's going to need to grow up an awful lot this offseason. Puig hit .391 with 19 RBI over his first 38 games. Over his last 37 games he's hit .297 with 11 RBI.

Eric Young Jr. stole two bases Wednesday. In 60 games as a Met he's stolen 23 bases while batting .248. He's only gone deep once,and knocked in 15 runs, but he's also scored 32 times. The guy has a whole lot of Rajai Davis in him. I think he's better than a .246 hitter, and despite just two homers he could get to double-digits one of these years, but it's all about the speed with this one.

BY THE NUMBERS

.355: The road batting average of Yadier Molina this season (220 at-bats). It's not the only massive batting average mark for the .333 hitting catcher. Molina has also hit .345 versus left-handed pitching (87 at-bats), .367 at night (281 at-bats), .358 with runners on base (190 at-bats) and .365 with RISP (104 at-bats).

1.76: The ERA of Joe Kelly in seven starts since the All-Star break for the Cardinals. He also happens to be 5-0 in that time. There are only two other hurlers in baseball with have five or more wins without a loss and an ERA under 2.00. They are Jose Fernandez (5-0, 1.31 ERA) and Max Scherzer (6-0, 1.48 ERA).

2.04: The increase in the K/9 mark for Justin Masterson from last season (6.94) to this year (8.98). It's pretty much impossible to do that when you've thrown at least 180 innings for three straight years and never even posted a K/9 mark of 7.01 in that time. Hurlers just don't add two strikeouts per nine after they've established themselves at the big league level. He is throwing his slider more than ever, but still... it's going to be very hard to predict which arm will show up in 2014.

3.14: The ERA of Charlie Morton this season over 14 starts for the Pirates. That mark dwarfs his career mark (4.77) and the total he threw up there last season (4.65). His 3.14 ERA also bests the marks of the following NL hurlers – A.J. Burnett (3.18), Jeff Locke (3.22), Jordan Zimmerman (3.32) and Homer Bailey (3.55) to name just a few.

4: The number of homers that Salvador Perez has blasted over his last 11 games, that after hitting five homers in his first 98 games. As I noted before the season started Perez just isn't at this point in his development where he should be looked at as a 20 homer threat. I know he hit 11 big flies last season but even so he's now gone deep 20 times over his last 185 games and just 23 times over his 224 game career.

6: The number of games, in the last 10, that Carlos Ruiz has had at least two hits. That hot streak has pushed his average up to .282. Had you noticed? Probably not given how bad and injured he has been this season. The guys a career .276 hitter by the way so he's always a decent second catching option in mixed leagues.

17: The number of homers that Giancarlo Stanton has hit this season, well off the 40+ pace everyone was predicting. His home yard, his ill health and his woeful team have played there part, but he's also just not gotten it done (though he has been pounding it of late). Here are his HR/AB mark for his four year career: 16.3, 15.2, 12.1 and this seasons 18.9 percent mark. He's also hitting .252. Sure he hit .290 last season, but like I predicted that number just wasn't going to be repeated (he hit .259 and .262 his first two seasons).

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