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Circling the Bases: Early Season Letdowns

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

Here are some fellas that haven't stepped up to the plate or done much of anything this season. Will they rebound or is this merely the start of what will be a bad campaign for the players?

J.P. Arencebia (.196-1-9-4-1)

JPA had a terrible start to the year, but he's picked things up of late, doubling his batting average the past nine days. I don't know if that is helpful or not, but let's not look past the fact that the guy hit .219 last year. He's the Mark Reynolds of catchers. The power bat should get going soon. A 14 percent HR/F guy his first two seasons, J.P. currently has a mark of just 6.7 percent. Also, the dude is an extreme fly ball bat with well over half his batted balls ending up in the air his first two seasons. So far this season that number is under 40 percent at 39.5. That's a sample size issue that should normalize as the games go by for the Jays slugging catcher.

Mark Reynolds (.163-0-3-4-0)

It's like all of a sudden people think that Reynolds can't hit. Newsflash everyone this is what Reynolds does, he streaks. Last year he hit two homers in April but hit 37 for the year. In 2010 he hit zero homers in September but still blasted 32 for the year. He had only 12 RBI over his final 31 games in 2009 but still finished the year with 102 RBIs. Big shocker he is slumping right now. At the end of the day Reynolds is what he is he's a big time power hitter who has major holes in his swing leading to long periods of ineffectiveness. It's just how it is. But, as I pointed out in Third Base, A Wasteland?, Reynolds is an extremely impressive counting category performer in that he is top-5 at the third base position in homers, RBI and runs scored the last three years.

Ryan Roberts (.182-1-7-4-2)

Danger Will Robinson (if you have no idea what I'm referring to there check out this link to Lost in Space). Roberts was a homer and two steals from one of the most improbable 20/20 efforts in recent memory last season, and that may have blinded some people to the player that Roberts actually is that is he's not someone poised to maintain an all-star pace. It is certainly a shock to see him hitting .182 through 55 at-bats, but even last year he hit a mere .249. Roberts is currently right on his career BB, K and GB/FB rates, but the fact of the matter is that he just isn't making any loud contact with a pathetic 9.3 percent line drive rate. That's not indicative of the type of hitter he is, though neither is the 24.3 percent mark that he posted last season. If we split the difference we end up with a guy who is below the big league average, likely a true representation of the type of hitter Roberts is. Without every day playing time his value will dry up quickly in the fantasy game.

Jhonny Peralta (.238-0-5-5-0)

Much like Francoeur below, Peralta is coming off a great season that he is unlikely to match in 2012. A career .267 hitter, Peralta hit .299 last year which was the first time he hit better than .276 since 2005, his first full year in the big leagues. He's just not a .299 hitter. Though he went deep 21 times last year, the fourth 20 homer campaign of his career, he also hit a combined total of 26 homers in 2009-10. Given his career rates of 11.0 percent in the HR/F category and 36.3 percent in the fly ball category, everything has to break just right for Peralta to hit 20 homers. The good news is that he currently is working with an impressive 22 percent line drive rate, and his .300 BABIP is only a smidge behind his .314 career mark, so the batting average should rebound shortly. Things should level off for this shortstop who is in no danger of losing playing time at the moment.

Jeff Francoeur (.227-0-3-6-0)

First off, this situation wouldn't be so bad if you kept your expectations reasonable. You didn't really think a guy who had stolen 23 bases in six years was going to replicate the 22 he stole last season, did you? Second, though he hit 20 homers last year this is the same guy that averaged 15 homers the previous four seasons. This is also a guy who, despite 87 RBI last year, had failed to record 80-RBI in any of the previous three years. Come on, you were expecting too much if you were looking at a repeat of '11 in '12. At the same time, Frenchie has no idea what he is doing at the plate sometimes as he will go into funks where he will swing at any pitch that is airborne when it reaches home plate. Having an approach like that will lead to prolonged slumps (even last year when he was great the guy hit .234 over 52 games in May and June). Francoeur should end the season as a productive hitter, just not one who is going to hit .285 while going 20-20.


0: The winning percentage of Erik Bedard who is 0-4 in four outings for the Pirates. Despite that terrible record his ERA is actually 2.63, a rather impressive number, and one that blows away the mark of a guy like R.A. Dickey who is 3-1 despite a 4.44 ERA. As we always say, wins are almost impossible to predict.

.194: The current batting average of Jose Bautista. If we remove the first half of last year from Bautista's ledger, when he hit .334, we would end up with a hitter who, for his career, was batting .244 in more than 2,600 at-bats. Are you still sure he's a .300 hitter? Remember, this guy has one season in his career in which he has hit better than .260. One.

.420: The batting average of Derek Jeter over the 18 games he has played this year. Considering how well he did to close out last year it's pretty amazing to think that, over his last 65 games, that the Yankees' captain is batting a robust .370 over 276 at-bats. So much for being washed up. Never doubt greatness.

.421: The batting average against left-handed pitching this year of Joe Mauer, just .012 points behind the best mark by a left-handed batter (Josh Hamilton at .433). Mauer has used this hot start to push his career average against lefties up to .298, a terrific number, but well off his pace against righties of .337.

3: The number of homers that Lance Lynn has allowed in his four starts leading to a 1.33 ERA. In fact, all three of the four runs that he has permitted this season have come via the homer which means that Lynn has permitted one run to be scored off him, in 27 innings, when a ball wasn't hit into the seats.

4.14: The increase from 2011 to 2012 in the K/9 rate of Ivan Nova. A ground ball hurler, Nova struck out 98 batters in 165.1 innings last season, one of the main reasons he wasn't a highly sought option on draft day in mixed leagues. This season, in 19 innings Nova has 20 punchouts. Trust me, there is no way he keeps up that pace. Even in the minors Nova just wasn't a strikeout arm with a 6.4 mark per nine innings. Enjoy it while it lasts, but think about Trevor Cahill who had a similar start last year before regressing to being the pitcher that we expected.

10: The homers allowed by Ervin Santana this year in four starts, all loses. Santana has given up at least 21 homers in each of the past six years, but I'm fairly certain he isn't going to allow 80 homers this season, his current pace. Owner of a slightly higher than normal HR/9 mark of 1.19, Santana's current mark is 3.80.

12.00: The ERA of Carlos Zambrano this season in three first innings. Once he's settled in after the first frame his performance has totally changed as he's held batters to a .135 batting average leading to a 1.13 ERA over 16 innings. For his career Zambrano has a 3.60 ERA in 286 first innings, so his big time struggles this year are most likely a sample size issue.

17: The number of games that Zack Cozart has gone without a homer or a stolen base for the Reds. Cozart has only one homer, and no steals, through 19 games, and his average has fallen all the way down to .264. That also happens to be the same batting average of Nick Swisher who has four homers and 21 RBI for the Yankees. Combined Cozart, and Jay Bruce, have five homers and 14 RBI for the Reds.

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.

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