Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fantasy Factoids for June

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June 29, 1990: The only time in major league history that two pitchers hurled no-hitters on the same day. Dave Stewart no-hit the Blue Jays while Fernando Valenzuela no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals.

June 2, 1990: Randy Johnson pitches the first no-hitter in Mariners history in a 2-0 win over the Tigers.

June 3, 1932: Lou Gehrig hits 4 consecutive HRs (a fifth dies on the warning track).

June 4, 1916: In a PCL game between San Francisco and Oakland, Bill Prough pitches 10 hitless innings. In fact, he pitched 17 innings on the day without allowing a single run (he gave up 4 hits and Oakland ended up winning in 18 innings).

June 5, 1966: After a 5 for 5 day, Willie Stargell had a streak of nine straight hits over two days.

June6, 1999: Roger Clemens earns a loss against the Mets 7-2 as he loses his first decision after 20 consective wins.

June 7, 1944: Amidst his MVP season (he went 29-9 on the season), pitcher Hal Newhouser walks 9 men in 6 innings on the hill to lose 3-1 to the White Sox.

June 8, 1982: Dodger minor leaguer Sid Fernandez notched his third game of the season with at least 16 Ks. He also happened to pitch his second no-hitter of the year on this date.

June 9th, 1935: The Cardinals become the 10th team in major league history to score in every inning during a 13-2 victory over the Cubs.

June 10, 1996: Tim Wakefield, working on 2 days rest, allows 16 hits in an 8-2 Red Sox victory. Oh yeah, he happened to throw 162 pitches too.

June 11, 1999 Miguel Tejada hits 3 HRs making him just the 10 SS in history to do so.

June 12, 1916: A skinny pitcher steps to the plate and hits a PH homer, the first HR of his career. That pitcher was named Babe Ruth.

June 13, 1921: Umpires, for the first time, rub up game balls with special “dirt”. At that time it was supplied by A’s coach Lena Blackburne’s New Jersey farm.

June 14, 1952: Warren Spahn ties a NL record with an 18 K performance in a 3-1 loss to the Cubs. Spahn pitched 15 innings on that day.

June 15, 1998: Sammy Sosa hits three HRs in a 6-5 win over the Brewers to give him 15 HR in a 16 game span.

June 16, 1996: Mel Allen, the man who coined the phrase used to name this column, dies at age 83.

June 17, 1962: In a season to forget for the Mets, Marv Thornberry hit a triple in an 8-7 loss. Actually, his hit didn’t end up being a triple, it ended up being a single because he actually missed both second AND third base on his way around the bases.

June 18, 1941: The Giants and Pirates game is stopped in the 4th inning, not because of rain, but so that the patrons could listen to a broadcast of a boxing title fight between Billy Conn and Joe Louis.

June 19, 1927: Paul Wagner’s 23 hitting streak ends, a streak which included an NL record 14 straight games with and extra-base hit (he hit .380 with 131 RBI on the season).

June 20, 1929: Mel Ott finished with 151 RBI on the season, aided by the 3 RBIs he had on this date, giving him an RBI in 11 straight games (27 total during that span).

21. June 21, 1901: Harley “Doc” Parker surrenders 26 hits and 21 runs in his only game pitched in the 20th century for an ERA of 15.75 and a WHIP of 3.50.

June 22, 1932: The NL, following the custom established by the AL in 1929, finally mandates all player jerseys to require numbers.

June 23, 1964: Charlie Lau ties a major league record by earning two pinch hits in the same inning, the 8th, in a 9-8 victory for Baltimore over the Yankees.

June 24, 1993: After never having a multi-homer game in his entire life, Giants 2B Robby Thompson has his second straight 2 HR game during a 17-2 victory over the Rockies.

June 25, 1928: Freddie Lindstrom beats out 9 hits in a doubleheader against Philadelphia to tie a major league record.

June 26, 1966: For his second straight start, Sandy Koufax records a streak of seven consecutive strikeouts within a game.

June 27, 1977: With two homeruns in the 6th inning, Willie McCovey becomes the first NL player to have hit two HR in the same inning on two separate occasions.

June 28, 1939: Talk about power, the NY Yankees hit a total of 13 HR in a doubleheader against the A’s, a major league record, led by three each from Joe Dimaggio, Babe Dahlgren and Joe Gordon.

June 29, 1909: Walter Johnson gave up a HR to Ray Demmit. What makes that so interesting? Well, it’s the first HR Johnson allowed since his major league debut…in 1907.

June 30, 1996: Eric Young steals six bases in Colorado’s 16-15 win to tie a major league record.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

MAILBAG, June 21st, 2006

MAILBAG – Week 12
Contributed By: Ray Flowers of

OK, it's official. My first round draft choice was Mark Teixeira and he's stinking up the joint (relatively speaking). What's wrong with him?
-- Jake, Saratoga Springs, NY

Don’t worry Jake, I have received about 20 emails like this one in the past couple of weeks, so let’s address what’s going on with “Tex.”

Yes, Teixeira’s lack of power is disturbing, and no one seems to know why the HRs have suddenly dried up. Tex (.281-6-39-38) currently has a .435 SLG%, well off the .568 mark he posted the past two seasons. Tex also averaged 41 HR the past two seasons and he is currently on pace for only 14 this season, a paltry number that would be just barely more than half his career-worst total of 26 set in his rookie season. Tex is also on pace to drive in just 89 runs after knocking in an average of 128 the last two years. As has been expressed by the many letters I have received, some quite colorful I might add, this type of production from a first-round draft pick can be crippling to a fantasy team.

However, there are a few signs that you should not despair, well, at least not lose hope. Prior to the 2006 season, Tex had 361 K and 184 BB, meaning that he averaged 1.94 K per BB. Despite his struggles this year, Tex has greatly improved that ratio to 1.47 (56 K, 38 BB), so he is making better contact than he has in the past. In addition his batting average of .281 is almost spot on his career mark of .282, so he hasn’t lost anything there as well. Taking this comparison one step further, Tex has a .366 OBP in 2006, so do you want to guess what his career mark is? Try .362. So in the end Tex is making better drawing more walks, striking out fewer times, batting for the same average and getting on base at the same rate he always has which leads me to believe that in time, the HRs will return as well.

I'm in a 12-team h2h league. My pitching staff is very solid: Peavy, Schmidt, C. Zambrano, Contreras, B Myers, Oswalt, Street, Colon & Cliff Lee and I have been offered a trade of David Wright (I have Chipper Jones at 3B). My question is who do I trade for Wright, Contreras or Schmidt?
-- Pete, South Jersey

Pete, I’m gonna go against what the majority of people’s knee jerk reactions would be and say you should trade Jose Contreras despite his amazing start (7-0, 2.96 ERA, 60 K, 1.05 WHIP). Before you call in the men with the straight jacket, here me out.

(1) Contreras is, counting last season’s playoffs, 21-3 in his last 24 decisions. Is anyone really that good?
(2) In 2006 Contreras is averaging 6.35 K per 9 IP. Last season, that number was 6.78.
(3) Prior to 2006, Contreras had a 1.99 K/BB ratio. This season, that number is way up to 2.73, a substantial improvement. Will it continue especially since his K rate is down?
(4) This year his groundball to flyball ratio is 1.31, which is statistically an insignificant improvement over his 1.22 career mark.
(5) His batting average against on balls in play this year .235. Last year it was only slightly worse at .251.

So basically, if you look a little more in depth at the numbers, Contreras is essentially duplicating his level of production last year in numerous areas except for the fact that he is walking way fewer hitters (2.33 per 9 IP this year, 3.81 per 9 previously) while also striking our less. Does that sound like a recipe for his current level of domination? It sure doesn’t to me, especially when you add in one last number, 34, the “reported” age of Cuban defector Contreras. Even if it is his real age, 34 is pretty late in ones career to all of sudden find a new level of control while losing ones ability to dominate hitters with the strikeout. Plus, the law of averages say he wont go 16-0, which is his current pace, so I would trade him in a second to pick up David Wright (.330-15-55-45-10), the best all-around 3B in the fantasy game as of today.

Ray, would do you think of this trade of Chris Young for Brian Roberts? Our league counts K/9 and total Ks so I think Young is valuable but is he pitching over his head? Can Roberts stay healthy and keep swiping all those bags?
-- Andrew, Dallas, Texas

Since I don’t know the makeup of your team, I will just have to deal with these two players as if they were in their own universe with no other factors influencing our decision. Chris Young (6-3, 3.27 ERA, 75 K, 1.10 WHIP) has been a revelation for the Padres, but his success was not unexpected. Young moved from the AL to the NL, a big help to all pitchers of the world, but of even more significance was the fact that he moved from the AL park that gave up the most runs in 2005 to join the Padres who’s stadium, PETCO Park, was the most difficult NL park to score a run in last season compared to the league average. What is slightly surprising however is the fact that Young has already surrendered 14 HRs on the year after allowing only 19 last season. This is surprising because Young moved from the second easiest park in baseball to homer in (Arlington) to the most difficult one (PETCO), which means the numbers should be reversed from where they are.

Young has been unconscious in June posting a 1.42 ERA and 0.89 WHIP while holding batters to a .154 batting average, so of course, he has been pitching over his head recently. In fact, I should mention a few other points here that are noteworthy. (1) In his career Young has a 2.98 K/BB ratio, and this year that number is just 2.42. (2) Despite 75 K, his K per 9 IP of 7.9 is just barely above his 7.3 mark for his career. (3) Young has a ratio of 2.46 BB per 9 IP his first two years in the league and that number is up to 3.27 this year. So while his ratios look impressive, there are some signs that he is currently seeing better results than his peripheral numbers suggest he should be.

Roberts (.308-0-25-32-17) has been viewed as a bust by some because they were expecting a repeat of last season’s power numbers (18 HR, 73 RBI). Roberts, who suffered a shoulder injury at the end of last season that required surgery, has never been a power hitter as evidenced by his 12 HRs in 1502 ABs prior to the 2005 season. This season the real hurdle for Roberts has been a troublesome groin, and injury that he has apparently overcome considering the fact he has 8 SB in 19 June games. Roberts game is speed, and if healthy and batting at the top of the Orioles lineup, there is no reason not to expect the SBs to keep coming. Since the all-star break of the 2004 season Roberts has hit .307 in 1,064 ABs, so he should also be able to maintain that average as well which would lead me to say that of these two players, I would rather have Roberts on my roster in the second half.

I was offered Alex Rodriguez for Scott Rolen and Roy Oswalt. My other SPs are: J. Schmidt, A. Cook, J. Westbrook, Jamey Wright, D. Lowe and M. Batista. Should I accept?
-- John

John, based on your pitching staff I don’t think this trade makes much sense for you to accept. Schmidt (6-3, 2.84 ERA, 88 K, 1.09 WHIP) is an ace-like pitcher, but the rest of your rotation, if you were to trade Oswalt, is a hit-and-miss bunch of bottom of the rotation type guys who have a propensity, at one time or another, to give up a ton of hits and for that matter, runs. In fact, depending on the type of league you are in, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Cook, Wright and Batista on the waiver wire right now, so this is definitely not an area of strength on your team.

Rolen is hitting .343 on the year and he has been carrying the Cardinals with Albert Pujols out. Rolen is hitting an amazing .390 with 18 RBIs in 16 games in June, numbers that dwarf the struggling Arod’s in June (.220-2-7). However, you know the old adage of sell high and buy low, so now would be the perfect time to lure the Arod owner in with an offer of Rolen. I would say that if you can make the deal for Arod with Rolen and any of your other pitchers besides Oswalt or Schmidt I would do it. In fact, I would probably trade Rolen and any two of those other pitchers on your staff for Arod since you can assuredly pick up someone off your waiver wire to approximate the performances of those third tier pitchers you currently have.

Ray Flowers, a member of SABR and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at: Also don’t forget to listen to his fantasy baseball radio show at, where you can call in for live advice, on Friday’s from 2-3 PM EST.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Production, First Basemen

Contributed By: Ray Flowers

Each week, for the next eight weeks on Wednesday, I will survey 6 players from each position whose performance is worthy of discussion. I will survey two players at the position who have failed to meet expectations, two who have greatly exceeded the numbers that were anticipated for them and then two players that are worthy of special attention the rest of the season. Some of the names on the list might be the reason that you are in 8th place in your league, while others whom you chose in the 22nd round of your draft might be the reason you currently sit in first place.

Todd Helton (.277-4-18-26 in 155 AB)
Pace: .277-14-62-89-0 with a .861 OPS
Anything below .300 is pretty poor for a hitter with a lifetime .335 average. Of course, Helton was on the DL for a couple of weeks attempting to recover from an intestinal illness that had him in the hospital for a few days. Maybe I’m crazy, but this has to be temporary right? If you remove the month of May (.233-3-9), quite possibly the worst month of his last 7 seasons, he has hit .338 in 65 April and June ABs, right were you would expect him to be. Helton, a career .295 hitter on the road, is hitting a measly .241 this year outside of Coors. For that matter, his career .373 average at home is down to .316 as well. The bottom line is that even if the power is lacking, Helton hits .349 in his career in the second half with a 1.066 OPS, and every month of the season left he has hit at least .324 in his career. This may be the last time you can get him on the cheap.

Mark Teixeira (.299-6-30-33-0 in 221 AB)
Pace: .299-17-87-95-0 with a .859 OPS
This spot could of easily have been taken by Richie Sexson (.214-8-36-22-0) of the Mariners, but considering he was 4th to 6th round draft pick in most leagues, it made more sense to go with “Tex” who was a unanimous first round pick this season. After an amazing season of .301-43-144, Tex is on pace to have the worst power season of his career (his career-lows are 26 HR, 84 RBI). After hitting .334 with 30 HR at Ameriquest Field in 2005, Tex has bit but .252 with 4 HR this year in Texas. He has been hot of late hitting a scalding .414 in his last 11 games with 2 HR and 8 RBIs, but 6 HR and 30 RBI overall are a pathetic total for this proud slugger. Waiver wire pickup Brandon Phillips has 5 HR and 33 RBIs, and he plays second base! Teixeira is too talented not to pick it up, but he is gonna have to really hustle just to reach 30 HR and 100 RBI, totals that were a “given” at the start of the year.

Ben Broussard (.361-8-29-29-0 in 147 AB)

Pace: .361-25-90-90 with a .977 OPS
OK, let me offer some perspective here. Here are Broussard’s career-highs: .275-19-82-59 with a .858 OPS. So what in that line supports what he is doing thus far? Nothing is right. Let’s take a look at his three-year average: of .260-17-68-56 with a .795 OPS. In his career prior to 2006, Ben was a career .263 hitter vs. right handers (1112 ABs), but this year in that situation he has morphed into the second coming of Rogers Hornsby hitting .402 in 122 ABs. Broussard is also hitting .422 at home, .418 at night and .556 in June (10 for 18). There’s an awful long way to fall for a career .261 hitter who happens to be hitting .421 with RISP, so be careful about your expectations the rest of the way. Let’s hope he keeps it going, but if I were a betting man, I’m putting all my money, except for bus fare and enough money to buy some nachos, against this production continuing.

Kevin Youkilis (.317-7-27-42-3 202 AB)
Pace: .317-21-83-128-9 with a 936 OPS
Batting leadoff sure aided Youkilis’ numbers in the runs department, but now that Coco Crisp has returned from injury, Youkilis has been relocated at the bottom of the order which may help his RBI totals slightly, but his days of scoring almost a run per game are over. Youkilis has murdered Orioles pitching this year (.448-1-6) so much so that if you remove those 29 ABs from his ledger, his average drops all the way down to .295 on the season. It’s hard to take away from what he has done thus far, because in truth, he has been great. However, he entered 2006 hitting .265-8-44 in 287 ABs, so his improvement thus far has been sizable and one that doesn’t figure to continue. Only Derrek Lee, Albert Pujols, Travis Hafner, David Ortiz, mark Teixeira and Carlos Delgado amongst first basemen hit .300 with 20 HR, 80 RBI and 100 runs scored last year, and Youkilis’ name surely doesn’t belong anywhere near those names despite the pace he has currently set.

Shae Hillenbrand (.344-9-28-30-0 in 183 AB)

Pace: .344-28-87-94 with a .937 OPS
Guess who leads all 1B eligible players in average right now? That’s right. For a little perspective however, here are what Hillenbrand’s numbers looked like on June 1st last season: .320-6-26-37. Of course, this early season hitter faded to finish at a still respectable .291-18-82-91 line in 2005, but it just goes to show you that the hot start that Hillenbrand usually begins the season with always fades. A career .303 hitter in the first half, Hillenbrand slumps to .277 in the second, still a solid number, but because of his relative lack of power he is best served as being a CI or a UT in a deep mixed league. Keep that in mind before you get too giddy with his start, though he does still have the potential to hit .320-20-80 this year, so don’t totally discount him moving forward.

Chris Shelton (.293-11-28-26-0 in 191 AB)
Pace: .293-32-81-75 with a .908 OPS
I wrote an Impact Report earlier this year in which I pulled out my crystal ball and predicted a .290-29-95 season for Shelton (it was published on April 16th when he was hitting .571-7-14 in 9 games. See: APRIL 16th, Impact Report: Chris Shleton). At this point his pace has him right about on those marks, so why are people disappointed with his play? The simple answer is expectations. In his career before 2006, Shelton hit .288-22-74 in 162 games (524 ABs), so what he is on pace to do this year is slightly better than that. How could that make anyone upset or disappointed? The only way I could see that occurring is if you picked him up in a trade after the season began because if you missed his April (.326-10-20-17), you have gotten virtually nothing from your 1B position (.263-1-8-9 in 99 ABs). He started off unconscious, recently he has been horrible, but overall, a.290/30 HR pace from your 1B who was likely a waiver wire or late round pick should leave you with nothing to complain about.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Contributed By: Ray Flowers


Each week, for the next eight weeks on Wednesday, I will survey 6 players from each position whose performance is worthy of discussion. I will survey two players at the position who have failed to meet expectations, two who have greatly exceeded the numbers that were anticipated for them and then two players that are worthy of special attention the rest of the season. Some of the names on the list might be the reason that you are in 8th place in your league, while others whom you chose in the 22nd round of your draft might be the reason you currently sit in first place.


Jason Kendall (.265-0-12-12-2 in 136 AB)
Pace: .265-0-45-45-8
OK, so Kendall isn’t the hitter he once was (career .301), but who would of thought he wouldn’t hit a HR for 14 seasons (well it isn’t really that bad, but he hasn’t hit one for the A’s in 737 ABs). So let’s see. Kendall no longer appears capable of even putting up 5 HR and he apparently can’t hit for average any longer either (.270 average for the A’s in those 737 ABs). Even worse is the fact that he is on pace for only 45 runs scored when he has average 80 the past three years. In addition, Kendall has never scored fewer than 59 runs in any of the 8 seasons in his career when he has amassed at least 450 ABs, so he has a ways to go to meet even the meager expectations most of his owners had for him this year. One note of possible encouragement: Kendall is a better second half hitter in his career with a .306 average (vs. 297 in the first half) and .800 OPS (.775) after the all-star game.

Jason Varitek (.239-5-24-22-1 in 142 AB)
Pace: .239-18-89-81-4
This one is more about perception than anything else. Sure Varitek is a career .271 hitter, so that average must, and should, improve as the season progresses (he has hit at least .266 in each of the last 5 seasons). While most C tend to wear down as the season moves along, Varitek’s second half “fade” is really pretty minor (in his career he has hit .275 with a .816 OPS in the first half, with second half numbers of .264/.785). While his average is lagging, the 89 RBIs and he 81 Runs he is on pace to produce this year would both be career-highs. So don’t make the mistake of thinking he is really having a poor season except in the batting average category where he is, cause he is actually doing pretty darn well otherwise.


Mike Redmond (.417-0-8-4 in 48 AB)
Pace: .417-0-77-38
In April Redmond hit .375 and then he has upped that mark to a ridiculous .458 in May. Further proof of his amazing start can be seen in his home/road splits: .417 average with a .942 OPS at home in 24 ABs, .417 with a .962 OPS on the road in 24 ABs. Need some more numbers? How about a .500 average vs. lefties (22 ABs) and a .346 mark vs. righties (26 ABs). How about a .429 average indoors and a .400 average outside. Now before you totally dismiss his start, you should realize that Redmond is a career .291 hitter, so he should continue to have some value even when his unbelievably hot start ceases.

Josh Bard (.361-5-14-11-0 in 61 AB)
Pace: .361-27-76-60
After an average start this year which included a .278 average with zero RBIs in 18 April ABs, Bard has blown up in May (.395-5-14-9). Obviously he is the number two option in San Diego behind Mike Piazza, but Piazza has been struggling a bit overall (.256-7-18-12), though he too has really hit well in May (.317-4-12 in 62 ABs). Bard’s playing time will be erratic and no matter how well he hits he doesn’t figure to supplant Piazza behind the dish this year. Entering 2006 Bard was a career .238 hitter with 13 HR an 61 RBIs in 485 career ABs so he should continue to be a solid hitter and worthy of a secondary catcher’s role on most rosters even if he continues to serve as Piazza’s backup.


Greg Zahn (.333-5-16-9-0 in 78 AB)
Pace: .333-28-91-51
I for one, was fairly certain that Zahn would not be able to duplicate his 2005 numbers (.251-11-61-61). First off, the Jays acquired Bengie Molina so there was every reason to think Zaun wouldn’t see much time wearing the tools of ignorance (Molina is hitting .285-4-14-13 in 130 ABs this year). Second, Zaun entered the year as a 35-year-old C, and that is not a good age to be when you pull on the shin guards. Third, Zahn’s 2005 season was a career year in his 12th season, not exactly something that gave me the warm and fuzzies. Flash forward to May 30th, and Zaun is exceeding the pace he established last year. Now I will make this statement: if Zaun reaches his projected totals this year, I will physically eat a baseball, that’s how certain I am that his current production is a total fluke. However, it doesn’t negate what he has done, and there is still a chance that he could match last years power numbers while improving his batting average. On the downside, June has been the worst month of his career as a hitter with a .216 average in 477 ABs, so there is a good chance his slide toward mediocrity is about ready to begin.

Jason LaRue (.197-3-9-7-0 in 71 AB)
Pace: .197-18-54-42
LaRue started the season on the DL after having minor knee surgery, and Javier Valentin, last years hitting hero in Cincinnati, was thrust into the lineup with generally poor results (.230-1-6-11 in 74 ABs). Basically, to this point of the season, neither C has distinguished himself on the offensive side of the game. However, LaRue is still on pace to have his fifth straight season of at least 12 HR and 50 RBIs, numbers that don’t sound too special until you realize that only three major league catchers have reached those numbers in each of the last 4 seasons; Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Jason LaRue. In his career, LaRue has better numbers in the second half in AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS, and while his average isn’t great, he is a career .242 hitter overall so he surely has room to improve there as well.