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Circling the Bases: Viva Aviles

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

Mike Aviles has been a top-10 option at shortstop this season, and given that he's also eligible at second and third in almost every league, he's been a wondrous infield option for those people that have been hit by injuries and needed someone to fill a starting spot. On pace to hit .263, which is .020 points below his career rate, Aviles is also on pace for career bests in homers (18), RBIs (85), runs (75) and steals (17). Yeah, he's been a tremendous producer for the Sox. At the same time, his production has dwindled by the month.

April: .291/.330/.535 with five homers, 17 RBIs, 18 runs
May: .246/.254/.385 with three homes, 15 RBIs, 12 runs
June: .268/.284/.361 with one homer, 11 RBIs, nine runs

It's hard to put the guy down, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be wise for you to investigate what his value is on the open market considering that for the last month he's been outperformed by guys like Elliot Johnson, Everth Cabrera, Andrelton Simmons and Yuniesky Betancourt.

Matt Garza's name is on the trade block, and teams are lining up to add the righty. While his ERA is up this year from 3.32 to 4.01, there's still plenty to like with the Cubs' hurler. Garza's 8.03 K/9 rate is about a batter down from last season, but it would also be the third best mark of his career and it's still a half batter above his career rate. He's also walked 2.61 batters per nine innings, and that would be the best mark of his career. His GB/FB of 1.33 would be the second best mark he's posted, and his 19.3 percent line drive rate is right on his 19.1 percent career mark. He's giving up more homers than usual at 1.20 per nine, but we've seen this from him before (1.23 in 2010). The bottom line with Garza is that he is a stable like granite. He takes the ball and gives his team a chance to win, all the while doing nothing to harm those of you that run him out there on your fantasy squad (I didn't even mention his impressive 1.16 WHIP that sweetens the pot considerably when we talk about his fantasy value).

Jose Tabata was demoted Tuesday with Gorkys Hernandez, and not Starling Marte, being called up. It's not like you can blame the Pirates for making the move when Tabata was hitting .230 with 11 RBI, a .295 OBP and just eight steals in 17 attempts (yes, he's been caught more times than he has been successful swiping bases). There's no telling when Tabata will be back up as he has to prove that his desire, as well as his production, is up to the level of being a big leaguer.

Jim Thome is now with the Orioles, an if early reports are to be believed, he is likely to see a ton of work against right-handed pitching in the second half as the club's primary DH in that matchup. That should intrigue you, at least a little bit, even though he's mere a utility player. Why would I waste my time typing out the name of a guy who is hitting .232 with five homers? Because the guy can still hit folks. Let's go back to the start of the 2010 season shall we. In that time he has appeared with four teams and picked up 622 at-bats. In those ABs he's hit a passable .265. He's picked up plenty of walks, as he always does, and the result is a .381 OBP. Not bad either. His power? It's been pretty darn impressive as well with a .543 SLG. That's right, over his last 622 at-bats Jim Thome has posted a .924 OPS. Amongst players with 740 plate appearances since the start of the 2010 season that .924 OPS ranks Thome 10th in baseball. TENTH. It's one point behind Albert Pujols and six points ahead of Troy Tulowitzki. More to the point in the fantasy game, Thome has blasted 45 long balls while driving in 124 and scoring 90 times for good measure. He's not a difference maker, but if the Orioles play him frequently enough he will end up being a huge addition in AL-only leagues and a guy that could make a bit of a mark in the mixed league setup as well.


.219: The batting average of Jose Reyes the past 30 days. After hitting .243 last year HanRam is at .259 this season. Remember the guy who owns a .302 career average and hit at least .292 in each of his first five big league seasons? Yeah, it doesn't seem like he does either.

.273: The difference between Mike Napoli's current OPS (.773) and the mark he posted last season (1.046). Still, a year after he posted 75 RBI and 72 runs scored he's on pace for about 62 RBI and 75 runs, albeit in roughly 100 more at-bats. He's also on pace to challenge 25-homers for a third straight season, so his effort has been far from a total tank job even if he hasn't reached last years levels.

.397: The batting average of Justin Ruggiano through 58 at-bats. Among players with at least 60 plate appearances this season that's the best mark in baseball ahead of Scott Podsednik (.387). The closest full-time player is Carlos Ruiz who is hitting .356 for the Phillies.

.500: The winning percentage of Cliff Lee over the past calendar year thanks in no small part to his 0-5 record this season. By the way, how is it possible that he is winless through 13 starts? Just crazy. Over the past 365 days he has thrown 200-innings with a 3.01 ERA, a 9.36 K/9 mark which is sixth in baseball and a 6.12 K/BB ratio that is nearly a point and a half better than the runner up (Dan Haren at 4.71).

2.70: The ERA of Clayton Richard over his last five outings. Here's the real kicker. Richard has made four of those starts on the road, and his worst outing amongst the five was his effort against the Mariners at home (five runs, three earned, in in 6.2 innings). He's still a way better pitcher at home (2.91 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) than on the road this year (4.14 ERA, 1.26 WHIP), but at least he's not killing you on the road.

3.17: The ERA of Kyle Lohse over his last 47 starts. During that time he's goner 22-10 despite not really doing anything that stands out, other than his ability to throw strikes (just 1.84 walks per nine). I can't really explain how he's had all this success, but there it is success. Guess it's time to buy in?

4: The number of home runs that Alexi Amarista has hit in his past five games. On yeah, he's also knocked in 11 runs. Some notes on Amarista who has 140 at-bats as a big leaguer. (1) He hit a total of zero homers his first 55 big league games. (2) He had nine RBIs his first 55 games. (3) He stands 5'8 and weighs in at 150 lbs. (4) In 2,204 at-bats in the minors he had a total of 21 long balls. You gotta love what he's doing, but don't fool yourselves into thinking he's going to be a run producer.

13: The number of players who have at least 170 plate appearances this season that have a better SLG than the Reds... Todd Frazier. With Scott Rolen looking like he might be finished, Frazier has asserted himself with a nice power bat posting a .562 SLG that is better than guys like, get this, David Wright (.560), Jose Bautista (.555), Mike Stanton (.555), Miguel Cabrera (.545) and Mike Trout (.542). How shocking is that?

14: The amount of homers hit this season by Willin Rosario. That's more homers than David Freese and Matt Holliday who have 13 and Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Jason Heyward who have 12. Moreover, his total of 14 bombs is the best mark of any catcher in baseball and just one behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia. All of that is pretty impressive for a guy who has only 179 at-bats meaning that a mere 400 at-bat season would lead to 30+ homer given his current pace.

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.