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Circling the Bases: Hot and Cold Starts

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

Edwin Jackson continues to be the answer to the question of 'what is an enigma?' Jackson was cruising along against the Astros in his last start with five shutout innings before he was bombed for five runs in the sixth inning without getting an out. Jackson has done some great things in the early going with a 0.84 WHIP, 20 Ks and just three walks in 19 innings, but he also had that meltdown against the Astros, has a 4.24 ERA, and is 1-1 on the year (the Cardinals have lost two of his three starts). If he could ever stay consistent he could be a dominating force. However, we've been saying that for five years now so there's no reason to think anything is going to change this year.

Chris Nelson is never going to be a star. He doesn't have enough speed or power to be that type of guy, but that doesn't mean that he can't be a useful option in the fantasy game. With Casey Blake out of the mix, Nolan Arenado still gaining experience in the minors, and Jordan Pacheco also being sent down, Nelson has no real competition for work at the hot corner for the Rockies. Through 36 at-bats he hasn't gone deep and has only one steal, but he is hitting .306 with a .375 OBP, and those numbers make him a useful option in NL-only leagues here in the early going.

B.J. Upton is set to return to action Friday, welcomed news for those that were hoping that they drafted a guy who could go deep 20 times while stealing 40 bases. Are those numbers still possible? The Rays have played 13 games this year leaving them 149 remaining games. From 2007-09 Upton averaged 139 games played a year while also averaging 15 homers and 36 steals a year. He isn't likely to go 20/40, that was always going to be a huge number set to reach, but that doesn't mean Upton won't be able to produce at that rate the rest of the way.


0: The number of homers that Starlin Castro has hit this season in 50 at-bats. That's terrible. However, has anyone noticed given how impressive he has been at the dish? Probably not. Castro is hitting .360 with seven steals, tremendous numbers of course, but the lack of long ball pop could hold Castro back a bit in terms of his fantasy value. It should also be noted that despite all his success that he's only scored six runs in 13 games as the Cubs offense really hasn't gotten on track yet.

.171: The batting average of Scott Rolen through 13 games. Dating back to the start of last season he's appeared in 78 games with five homers, 38 RBI, 34 runs scored an a .232 batting average. It appears he may have finally lost the talent that he was able to display all through the years, that is between one injury after another. Still, he is one of just three third baseman in history to have 300 homers, 1,200 RBI, 550 doubles and 2,000 hits. The other two are George Brett and another old, worn down third sacker Chipper Jones.

1: The home run total of Adam Dunn through 12 games and 45 at-bats, hardly the kind of start that will put to bed worries about his disastrous 2011 effort (11 homers in 415 AB's). Dunn is also striking out in 40 percent of his at-bats. Always a strike out machine, last seasons mark of 36 percent was the first time in his career that he'd ever been over 31 percent (career 27.7). Dunn should be able to make some more contact when things even out i.e. the sample size increases but this has still been a disappointing start for the one time monster masher.

1: The amount of runs that Grant Balfour has allowed in eight outings covering nine innings. That means Balfour has an ERA of 1.00. That's not the only impressive number that Balfour has posted in the early going as he's also 4-for-4 in save chances, he's allowed a mere three hits (.103 BAA), and his WHIP is an otherworldly 0.56. This is about as good a start as anyone could have ever had hoped for.

9: The number of games that David Wright has played this season. In those nine games, working around a broken pinkie finger, Wright is hitting .500 with two homers, eight RBI an a 1.256 OPS. Not bad right? Wright has also reached base at least twice in each contest, and that happens to be the longest such streak to start a season in Mets history. In fact, the last time any big leaguer was able to say that they reached base at least twice in their first nine games of the season it was 2002 when the Mariners' Mike Cameron pulled off the trick.

11: The number of decisions that Brian Matusz has dropped in a row. For his career Matusz is 16-25 and this is the second losing streak of at least 9-straight decisions. That just ain't good. This season, after that great spring, he's posted a 2.17 WHIP thanks to 13 hits allowed and eight walks in 9.2 innings.

11: The current hitting streak of Derek Jeter after he singled off Clay Buchholz in the second inning of the Red Sox, Yankees game Friday. That gives Jeter a hit in 13 of 14 games this season as he continues to prove why you never, and I mean never, doubt greatness. Through 59 at-bats Jeter is hitting .373 with four homers, 11 RBI and nine RBI.

12: The season opening hit streak of Pablo Sandoval as he's batting .333 with two homers, nine RBI, eight runs scored and a .959 OPS for the Giants. That 12 game streak to start the season is the 4th longest to start a year since the Giants moved to San Francisco in the late 1950's. The record for the club in the city by the bay is 16 by Willie Mays.

35: The number of homers that Mike Napoli has hit since the start of last season, the most of any catcher in the game. What makes that number even more impressive is that the 35 bombs have come in 407 at-bats. Think about that. If he kept up that pace over 500 at-bats we'd be talking about a guy who would hit 43 homers , a mark that would have tied the major league leading mark of Jose Bautista last year. By the way, Napoli has hit all five of his home runs this season in his last four games during which time he has also knocked in 10 runs for the Rangers.

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 and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.