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Circling the Bases: Sluggers Highlighted

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

Jose Bautista, out since July 17th because of a wrist issue, was activated from the DL Friday. Bautista socked 27 homers, drove in 65 runners, and scored 63 times in his first 90 games this season. We all know that he is an elite power option, and provided his wrist truly is healthy, he should return to being that type of player the final five weeks of the season. Some caution though. He has missed over a month. Wrist/hand injuries often sap a players ability to drive the ball. Though the power is immense, Bautista was hitting just .244 at the time of the injury, and in a career that began in 2004, he has hit just .253 overall and better than .260 just a single time (.302 in 2011).

Nelson Cruz has stolen only eight bases this year as he has periodically dealt with injuries to his lower half. He has also been far from a dominating performer for the Rangers as he has hit only .266 on the year with 19 homers and 74 RBI. While that might be disappointing to those that were hoping for a massive output from the slugger this year, it should be pointed out that Cruz would project to a 162 games of 25 homers, 98 RBI, 91 runs scored and 10 steals. Far from elite numbers but still an impressive across-the-board effort. Moreover, Cruz has never had more than 87 RBI or 75 runs scored in a season in his career, though that has as much to do with the fact that he has never been able to play a full season before. Cruz has appeared in 122 games this season, just six off of his career best of 128, so at least something has gone pretty well.

Adrian Gonzalez used to be considered a slugger, even though he no longer resembles that type of hitter with 15 homers this season and just 42 over his last 282 games since joining the Red Sox. Still, there have been few more productive hitters of late as A-Gone has gone deep three times in his last 10 games and he has hit .338 over his last 37 games. Adrian has also socked 19 extra base hits in his last 37 contests - nine homers and 10 doubles - and he has driven in more than a run per game (41). His overall numbers are not great, due to a slow start to the year, but he is still hitting .300 with 86 RBI in 123 games. Word on the street (as this piece went to press) is that A-Gone has been claimed off waivers by the Dodgers (the club from LA reportedly also placed a winning claim on Josh Beckett). The Dodgers now have 48 hours to work something out with the Red Sox for both players. What could happen? The Red Sox could let go of both players and just let the Dodgers have them and their combined $165 million in contracts ($130 belongs to Gonzalez). The teams could work out a trade of some kind. The Red Sox could pull both players back, not deal them, and nothing will change (most teams put most of their players on waivers this time of year just to see if there is something that can be worked out. In the overwhelming majority of cases nothing happens, the player stays with his current team, and nothing at all changes except that said player is no longer eligible to be dealt to any team if "pulled back."). Would the Red Sox let Gonzalez go? That seems unlikely to me. However, the struggling Beckett and his nearly $35 million in salary, not to mention all the drama surrounding him, certainly would seem to mark him as someone they might let go without much of a fight. Alas, Beckett has 10-5 rights (10 years in the bigs, five with the same team), so that means he would have to give his permission for the Red Sox to deal him.

David Ortiz has returned from his Achilles issue and is in the starting lineup for the Red Sox Friday. This will mark the return of the fearsome slugger who has been out of action for over a month (July 17th). When Ortiz hit the DL, he was hitting .316, his best mark since 2007. He had his best OBP (.414) since 2007. He had a .609 SLG which is his best mark since, wait for it, 2007. Given that Ortiz will be 37 in November, and that he has missed a month of action with injury, it would be wise to avoid expecting him to pick up right where he left off. That is not likely to happen. It should also be pointed out that his HR/F ratio of 20 percent would also be his best mark since (I know what you are thinking but it is not 2007) the 2006 season.

Mark Reynolds has had a terribly disappointing season hitting .220 with 12 homers and 42 RBI through 97 games. It is a small sample size, I'll admit that, but he has looked much more "Reynolds-like" in August as he has hit .271 with four homers and 10 RBI over 18 games. Give him 150 games at that pace and he would hit 33 homers with 83 RBI. What do you know, his average the previous two seasons has been 35 homers and 86 RBI? No one who has owned Reynolds all year is going to care, but here's to hoping that those that are still running him out there right now will get the "real" Reynolds the final five weeks of the season.


.130: The batting average against Jeremy Guthrie over his last three starts (10 hits in 77 at-bats). Guthrie had a 22-inning scoreless streak in there for the Royals, and in six starts with the Royals he is sporting a 3.23 ERA, nearly a 50 percent reduction from the 6.35 mark he had in 19 outings with the Rockies. He is certainly rolling right now, but on the year his numbers are still nausea-inducing: 5-12, 5.41 ERA, 1.48 WHIP.

.343: The batting average of Rafael Furcal over the Cardinals current home stand as he has 12 hits in 35 at-bats. He has also hit safely in his last five games, and nine of 10, as he has finally stopped the bleeding after hitting .176 in June and .247 in July.

.396: The batting average of Jay Bruce over his last 12 games, 11 of which he has produced a hit. With 19 hits, including five bombs, Bruce has also driven in 12 runners. He is not the only Red hitting well with Joey Votto out of the mix as Zack Cozart has a 10-game hitting streak (.349), Todd Frazier has an eight-game streak (.393) and Ryan Hanigan is hitting .464 over his last 11 appearances.

.431: The batting average of Jesus Montero over his last 14 games away from Seattle. In that time he has gone deep three times, driven in 14 runners, posted a .460 OBP an a .655 SLG. He is now hitting a laughably awful .196 at home on the year but an impressive .323 on the road. Over his last 32 games since the All-Star break, it has been a lot of great work as well with a .293 average, five homers and 21 RBI in 32 games.

0.94: The RBI per game pace of Alfonso Soriano over his last 16 contests as he has driven in 15 runners for the Cubs. He has also been a solid source of power. After starting the year with 30-straight homer-less games, (amazing to think he went that long without a big fly) Soriano has hit 22 bombs in his last 83 games. Since May 15th, his total of 22 homers is the third best mark in the Senior Circuit.

1: The number of bases that Ben Revere needs to steal to reach 30 for the second straight season making him the first Twins player since Chuck Knoblauch to pull off that feat (Knoblauch actually did it from 1994-97. Only two other Twins players have done it back-to-back in Rod Carew from 1973-76 and Cesar Tovar from 1968-70). In the likely event that Revere does not go deep this season, he would become the first player since Otis Nixon in 1994-95 to have back-to-back seasons of 30 steals without hitting a single dinger.

3: The number of Brewers batters in the top-4 in the NL in extra base hits. Actually it is just three spots as Ryan Braun is tied with Jay Bruce (60 each), followed by Aramis Ramirez (59) and Corey Hart (56). Why is that significant? If the three Brewers teammates finish 1-2-3 in the NL, they would become the first trio of teammates to finish in the top-3 spots since 1960, when the Yankees' Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Bill Skowron pulled off the trick.

9: The number of ways that Jordan Pacheco is hitting .300 this year. Here we go.

.378 vs. lefties
.333 at home
.316 at night
.305 on grass
.304 indoors
.305 outdoors
.302 before the All-Star Game
.311 since the All-Star Game

The ninth way? Overall of course, as he is hitting .305 for the Rockies in 331 at-bats.

169: The major league leading hit total of the supposedly washed up Derek Jeter. He is hitting .354 on the road this season, trailing only the disgraced Melky Cabrera (.367), while Jeter is batting an AL-best .378 versus left-handed pitching. Jeter is hitting .381 over his last 28 games and .362 over his last 47 contests. Jeter is also hitting a rather amazing .393 with five homers when leading off an inning this season (115 games). Someone is rolling.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 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.