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Fantasy Baseball by the Numbers: Week 24

Accountability and accuracy are the two of the most important aspects of a fantasy writer’s credibility.

With that in mind, and this being the final installment of By the Numbers for the 2010 season, we’ll be looking back at my pre-draft Target and Avoid series to see how well I did directing your draft selections.

I’ve highlighted10 of the big ones below, but feel free to go back and assess them all, and hopefully the results will keep you coming back here for your fantasy baseball advice.

Let’s do the final round-up…


33: Games played this season by Grady Sizemore, probably the best Avoid selection of the series

Not only did Sizemore sustain a season-ending injury extremely early in the season, he was awful in the 33 games he actually played. He batted .211 while only crossing home plate 15 times, putting him on pace for a career-low 74 runs. He was so bad the injury probably saved his owners the headache of figuring out what to do with him.

Some may see this as an excellent steal in 2011 drafts, but it’s pretty clear at this point that he will never be the player he was in 2006 and 2007 again. 


17/11: Home runs/steals for Curtis Granderson so far this season

After Granderson’s 30/20 All-Star campaign last season for Detroit, many were expecting big things due to the move to the home run-friendly Yankee Stadium and far superior roster in New York. The low batting average figured to stick around, but the fantasy community was hoping for something in the range of 40/30 by the end of season, not scraping for a 20/15 finish.

He did miss nearly all of May with hamstring problems, but he never really hit a stride at any point in the season, so to imagine things would have been different is wishful thinking at best. His draft stock will be interesting to watch as we approach the 2011 season.


.253: Batting average for Lance Berkman this season

Before the season I said, “His numbers in ‘08 were buoyed by a ridiculous .341 BaBIP, and his 2007 stats look more like his 2009 stats, so I’m thinking he’ll be in range of those two years than 2008.”

That actually ended up being a generous projection for the former Houston Astros first baseman, as .253 is the worst batting average he has posted in a decade, way back to his rookie season in 1999. He has played a bit better with the Yankees, but he’s old and just doesn’t have it anymore. He is no longer fantasy relevant.


Gauge the rest of my preseason picks here.

Lane Rizzardini has been playing fantasy sports for over 10 years. His earliest memory was drafting Fred Lane in 2003, only to find out Fred’s wife had shot him in the offseason. You can find more of Lane’s writing over at

You can contact him at or through his Twitter page.

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Fantasy Baseball By The Numbers: Week 23

We have finally reached the payoff portion of the fantasy baseball season: the playoffs! It’s been a grueling 22-week season, but if you’re lucky enough to still be reading fantasy baseball articles, now is the time to really ramp it up.

This is the point in the year where one hot bat could decide your season—or a dead-armed pitcher could ruin it no matter how well his team has done thus far. Below are ten guys who are either destroying your championship dreams or carrying you to the promised land.

And just a heads up, next week will be the final By The Numbers of 2010, so we’ll be going through some of my hits and misses way back from my Mock Draft Reports in the preseason. Be sure to tune in!



That is the Yahoo! rank over the past two weeks for Neil Walker. The Pirates second baseman has been on fire, blasting five home runs and driving in 16 runs. Many had no idea that Walker had been batting third for Pittsburgh for some time, and he’s clearly been taking advantage of the lineup.

The home runs are a huge surprise, considering he only had five for the season prior to this most recent hot stretch. But it’s important to realize that he wasn’t a slouch either, batting in the .300 range for most of the season. He is exactly the kind of random spark plug to add a few home runs and bring your team a title.


Rafaeul Furcal has had two stolen bases since returning from the DL on September 3rd. The fact that he is already active on the base paths is a great sign that he is over his back issues and needs to be plugged back into lineups immediately, especially considering he had a 3-4 game on Monday.

When healthy, he can be one of the best shortstops in fantasy. He provides a high batting average (.316), stolen bases (nine seasons of 20+ stolen bases), and even a bit of power, exhibited by his five home runs in July. All owners, and especially those of the day-to-day Elvis Andrus, need to make sure their league is not one of the 25% in which he is available.



That’s the number of career saves by Trevor Hoffman, who achieved the feat Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. An absolutely huge feat that could not have come any sooner, as his struggled throughout the season. Not to mention, the emergence of John Axford significantly delayed the accomplishment longer than anyone expected.

As a result, his 600th save may be his last; the Brewers really have no reason to go with the Hoff over Axford from here on out. This should give Axford a boost down the stretch and essentially makes Hoffman waiver fodder, and subsequently less likely to reemerge ever again. Bow your heads baseball fans, a legend like Hoffman doesn’t come around every day.



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Lane Rizzardini has been playing fantasy sports for over 10 years. His earliest memory was drafting Fred Lane in 2003, only to find out Fred’s wife had shot him in the offseason. You can find more of Lane’s writing over at

You can contact him at or through his Twitter page.

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Fantasy Baseball By The Numbers: Week 18

The trade deadline came and went, with the usual 80 moves being completed right before the deadline. Worst move? Probably the Twins, who gave up an excellent catching prospect in Wilson Ramos and left-handed pitcher Joe Testa for Nationals’ closer Matt Capps . What was wrong with Jon Rauch’s 21-24 save success rate?

The biggest winner? The Rangers, who acquired an ace pitcher (Cliff Lee ), a veteran catcher (Bengie Molina ), a legitimate first baseman (Jorge Cantu ), and quality infield depth (Christian Guzman ). This team is primed for an explosive second half.

But in fantasyland we care more about the individual than the team, so let’s run through some players whose value changed over the break.



Stolen bases for Scott Podsednik since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that sent prospects Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel to the Royals. Who would have thought Scotty Pods, who is currently top five in the majors in stolen bases, would be ranked top-65 in Yahoo! leagues at age 34 in Kansas City?

After largely disappearing in Colorado in 2008, he has had a resurgent year and half, batting over .300 and rediscovering his base path magic with 62 stolen bases up to this point. He’s on pace to match totals from his breakout 2003 campaign (100/12/58/43/.314).

Unfortunately, the move to Los Angeles means a serious decrease in playing time. He’ll be valuable until Manny Ramirez returns from the DL in roughly two weeks, but after that he’ll only be useful in NL-only leagues as a high-end bench player.



Wins for Ted Lilly in 18 starts this season. Along with Podsednik, the Dodgers acquired the left-handed Lilly and shortstop Ryan Theriot from the Cubs in exchange for Blake DeWitt and two pitching prospects.

The move will do wonders for Lilly who, while leaving the cushy NL Central, will surely post much higher win totals with the playoff-minded Dodgers than he did with the woeful Cubs. He also avoids a move to the American League which would have hurt his value quite a bit. Love him and cherish him the rest of the year.



Batting average in 14 games at PetCo Park for new Padre Ryan Ludwick , who comes over in a three-team deal that sends Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals. He joins a mediocre at-best outfield group consisting of Scott Hairston , Tony Gwynn Jr. , Will Venable and recent fireball Chris Denorfia , so he should have no problem finding playing time.

He also batted in the fourth slot his second game with the team behind major power threat Adrian Gonzalez , which would make up at least some for leaving a line up in which he batted in front of studs Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday .

His value does decrease some due to the change in scenery in PetCo, but if you needed RBIs this move is right up your alley.


More deadline numbers !



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Fantasy Baseball by the Numbers: Week 17

It’s been a busy week, so I’m forfeiting the intro. I put all of it into my Dan Haren diatribe. Enjoy.

1– Overall Yahoo! pitcher ranking for St. Louis hurler Adam Wainwright . The man is referred to in some circles as “XXX: Return of Zander Cage ,” because his curveball is so extreme it could win the X-Games and fight terrorism at the same time.

He is having another stellar season, posting a 1.94 ERA, .213 batting average against, and a zesty 3.78 strike out to ball rate.

I didn’t think he could possibly exceed the 2.63 ERA and 212 strike outs from his breakout 2009 season, but the ceiling just keeps rising for the 29 year old.

His ERA has steadily improved from the 3.70 he posted back in his first full season in 2007.

While his peripherals suggest that an ERA in the 2.5 range is where he will end up to finish the season (.267 BaBIP, 3.21 xFIP), he is a lock to finish in the top five for major league pitchers and a strong Cy Young candidate in a crowded NL. Bask in the glory of Zander Cage.

5– Innings Dan Haren lasted in his first start for the Angels before being hit in the right arm by a line drive. That’s tough, and adds to laundry list of glaring issues after his trade to the west coast.

Let’s start with the simple fact that he’s moving to the AL and will face a legitimate batter instead of an awkward pitcher three times a game.

It’s worth noting that he didn’t do too shabby in the AL from 2005-2007, posting his career best 3.07 ERA over 34 starts in his final season with the Oakland Athletics. But he has delivered two 200+ strike out seasons with the D-Backs, something he never accomplished with the A’s.

Moving to the AL will always hurt a pitcher’s strikeout numbers, and usually with that comes a rise in ERA.

Second, he’s a historically poor second half performer. His first-half ERA is nearly a full run lower than his second-half ERA (3.29 vs. 4.26), something that’s held consistent over the past four seasons. A trip to the AL means that trend will continue.

But oddly (and this is the final problem), he hasn’t been the stellar first half player that we are used to seeing. His ERA currently stands at 4.57, and while the strike out numbers are at the highest totals of his career, he’s been disappointing for owners.

He’s been getting murdered by a .355 BaBIP and a 14.1% home run to fly ball percentage, so for most players you would assume that good times are on the horizon. He’s apparently healthy too.

I’m concerned, however, that his second half regression will cancel out an improvement in his peripherals. Keep close tabs on him.

3-0– Record for early bust Javier Vasquez in July. He’s been pitching very well lately, posting a 3.05 ERA since June. It is helping to offset the awful start he had to the season when he put up an ugly 9.78 over his first four starts.

Is he back? I’m not buying it. A good reason for that low ERA is the .210 BaBIP he’s been blessed with since his positive play started. And he’s only coaxing ground outs at a 33.7% clip, a recipe for disaster in the home run friendly Yankee Stadium. He is a perfect sell high candidate right now.

More numbers! Read them !

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Fantasy Baseball By the Numbers: Week 16

And we’re back. Hopefully the short week didn’t treat you too badly. Good to see the NL finally win an All-Star game, couldn’t believe it has been 14 years since their last win.

But now we get move to one of the most fun parts of the baseball season: the trade deadline.

The waiver wire suddenly gets a big boost in activity as people jump on players who suddenly have value due to the transactions of playoff hopefuls and surrender monkeys.

The position of most impact is relief pitching, as two or three closers always get traded to a contender looking for bullpen help, paving the way for a young up-and-comer to take over ninth-inning duties.

This is a huge opportunity for you save chasers (myself included) to load your bullpens with saves.

We’ll start with four guys who could end up closers before the trade deadline ends then hit some other numbers.


1.50 – ERA for Indians’ set up man Chris Perez since June. We’re starting with him because you need to stop reading and go grab him now if he’s for some reason still available. I’ll explain when you get back.

Ready? Okay, current closer Kerry Wood (he of the 6.30 ERA) recently went to the DL with a blister on his right thumb, making Perez the closer.

Wood has already been on the trading block for quite some time now, and while this injury doesn’t exactly make him more attractive to potential buyers, he will be back from the DL before the deadline and will most likely be moved.

Thus, it can be speculated that Perez’s reign as closer will continue unabated the rest of the season. I dropped Chad Qualls for him without blinking, but that might not be saying much.


6 – Number of earned runs allowed for Evan Meek over 43 appearances this season.

I know I drooled all over him last week, but since we’re talking about set-up men with impending save opportunities, I’m reminding you again to grab him. He’s been fantastic all season and is probably the best guy in this foursome.

Unfortunately, he also plays for Pirates, so keep in mind save opportunities won’t come as frequently.


3.64 – ERA for Brandon League , the man next in line to receive saves in Sea-Town.

The Mariners are sellers once again, and David Aardsma’s name has been thrown around in more than a few scenarios.

There’s no one else in the Seattle pen worthy of taking over the closer’s role, and while the ERA may not look spectacular, but minus a few bad days (four worst outings: 2.2 innings, 13 runs allowed.

Rest of season: 44.1 innings, six runs allowed) League really has been great this season. Pounce as soon as Aardsma gets moved.


21 – Strikeouts for Drew Storen over his first 25 appearances.

This is the biggest long shot of the group, as current closer Matt Capps is still under contract until 2011 and with Tyler Clippard struggling lately the Nats may not want to throw their rookie phenom into fire right away.

But Washington is a seller and Storen’s peripherals along with his future role as dynasty closer means there is at least a slight chance we could see him take over his throne sooner rather than later.


Click and you shall receive more numbers.

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Fantasy Baseball Stat School: Fielder Independent Pitching

Hello, class. If you remember, last week we talked about the basics of Sabermetric principles and how they look at stats differently than most people and value lesser used stats over more traditionally viewed numbers like ERA and batting average.

The point of Sabermetrics is to identify trends and predict the future. One of the major stats in an expert’s psychic arsenal is Fielder Independent Pitching, or FIP for short. FIP aims to evaluate a pitcher’s true performance by eliminating all outside factors to calculate a pitcher’s ERA with an average BaBIP, defensive support, and strand rate.

So, if a player is posting an unusually low ERA, check his FIP. If it’s a run higher than his ERA, you should deal them soon before they blow up. If your starter is getting blown lately, a lower FIP would mean good times are on the horizon.

Let’s compare two pitchers who struggled recently: Ted Lilly and Tommy Hanson . Both pitchers had consecutive games of nine and five earned runs each. A good owner will go check the peripherals to see what the problem is, checking FIP first.

Knowledge is power, so keep reading .

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Fantasy Baseball Stat School

Welcome to the first edition of Stat School.

Every Wednesday, I’ll be taking you through one crucial stat that you should be using in your player evaluations and how it affects future performance.

First, it’s important to cover an overarching philosophy on statistics that many fantasy people (and increasingly professional baseball organizations) use every day in their player evaluations.

It’s called Sabermetrics .

It was invented by Bill James in 1980 —an average joe who spent his nights working as a security guard thinking about how we treat baseball stats. In 1977, he first published his thoughts in a book called Baseball Abstracts.

Quickly, people began to realize the logic in his theories, to the point where major league organizations began using them as well. The most famous instance being Billy Beane ’s use of Sabermetrics with the Oakland Athletics, chronicled in Michael Lewis ’ book Moneyball .

James sums up his theory as the “the search for objective knowledge in baseball .”

Basically, the goal is to eliminate the subjective elements of a player’s numbers and focus as much as possible on the player’s ability to help score runs. A

fter all, that is the ultimate goal of the game.

Learn the rest here .



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Fantasy Baseball Week In Review: Week 14

The All-Star Break is here!

Time to sit back, relax, and watch Omar Infante battle John Buck for the rights for home field advantage in the World Series. Or just tie, at least this time we’ll be numb to it from the World Cup group stage.

Let’s talk about the hands-down, worst All-Star snub this year: Kevin Youkilis . He lost to the Yankees’ Nick Swisher in the final fan vote, falling short where his campaign partner Joey Votto succeeded. Let’s compare stat lines shall we?

The Youk: 67/18/57/.293/.406/.575

Swisher: 55/15/49/.298/.377/.524

That is borderline embarrassing.

The “Greek God of Walks” has been basically carrying his injury-decimated ball club while Swisher is simply enjoying a good ballpark and a good line up. I don’t even understand the problem here. Even with Yankee fans clicking away for Swisher, fan voting usually goes to guys with the most recognizable names that result from consistently big career numbers. Youkilis has both of.

Ask yourself this: In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a chance to win, who do you want at the plate? Swisher or the Youkilis?

For anyone who picked Swisher, please invite me to your fantasy league next year, and let’s bump up the buy in about $300.

Thank you, Yankee fans. Instead of watching one of most consistent and humble players in the game, we get to see Nick Swisher’s little smirk of undeserved accomplishment step up to the plate. Real cool, guys.

There won’t be a Week in Review next week, so read up!

Big news: Cliff Lee got traded to the Rangers for Justin Smoak and prospects. Details here .

This is huge for the Rangers as they get a big time ace to anchor an interesting rotation highlighted by Tommy Hunter , C.J. Wilson , Colby Lewis , and the currently injured Rich Harden . I’ve had a lot of love for the Rangers this season. That offense is absolutely filthy from a fantasy and real-life perspective. This is huge for their chances at a playoff run.

From a fantasy perspective, this isn’t good, but also not horrible for Lee’s value. He goes from a major pitcher’s park to a major hitters park, which will hurt him some. However, he will also benefit from a better offense and bullpen (3.26 ERA compared to 4.80).

Obviously, anyone would want a piece of this guy.

With five complete games in his last six starts, it will be tremendously difficult to acquire him. Talking up the ballpark situation will be important, along with his record at Arlington, mostly compiled before he became a Cy Young winner (7.62 ERA and 1.55 WHIP). Maybe offer to take a struggling closer off his hands in exchange for one of your good ones, like Chad Qualls for Heath Bell or something. Lee will not come cheap, but it never hurts to try.

As it many times goes, who this trade helps the most isn’t actually involved. Chris Davis got called up as a result of Smoak being moved. You know the deal here, lots of power, lots of strikeouts. But he’s been raking in the minors (.354 batting average, .403 OBP) so he’s worth a look.


On to the ridiculous trend of perfect game bids by pitchers who have no business throwing perfect games.

Travis Wood made it to the ninth before letting up a double to Carlos Ruiz to end the perfecto threat, but still made it through the complete nine before leaving the game with the most unfair no decision ever as Roy Halladay was being Roy Halladay.

Wood has only made three starts in his career, allowed five earned runs striking out 17 over 20.2 innings of work. Not bad. His minor league numbers are good too (13-5, 1.77 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.2 K/9), but I’m not making any major pick ups yet. Despite the performance, he may get sent back to the minors when Aaron Harang and Edison Volquez come back from the DL soon. Temper love affairs with him.


But wait! There’s more .

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Fantasy Baseball by the Numbers: Week 14

The fantasy season is more than half over, and by now you are probably either panicking in the streets, or petitioning for the rights to the nickname, “Talented Mr. Roto .”

For the ones sitting pretty, good job. Keep up the good work, but don’t get comfortable. Make sure to realistically assess your players’ performances up to this point and don’t sleep on the waiver wire. You can always make you team better. Always.

But it’s the managers mired in mediocrity that I’m here to help.

While I normally don’t advocate trading established talent for a group of unproven guys having good seasons, if you’re weak in multiple positions, it might be time to entertain such trade ideas.

It’s a desperate move and you have to be careful, but if you’re continuing to fall in your league rankings, it can’t hurt to make a bold move or two.

If it works, you’re back in the running, if not, you’re pretty much where you were before.

And of course you should become more active on the waiver wire and start taking fliers on possible diamonds in the rough to replace struggling stars like Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, and Aramis Ramirez.

I’ve listed a few below, all owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Good luck.



Home runs for Matt LaPorta since his call up June 27th .

The former major prospect has been disappointing up until this point. He clearly has the power, but has never been able to carry the .296 career average in the minors over to the big leagues, resulting in a more than a few send backs over the years.

Maybe he finally got fed up with traveling to exotic places like Peoria on Greyhounds, because this time the .364 bashing of minor league pitching has translated to a .333 over the nine games he’s been back, along with a ridiculous 1.178 OPS.

He’s the full-time starter at first base for the Indians now that Russell Branyan got shipped back to Seattle.

He’s currently day-to-day with a head contusion after colliding with Elvis Andrus last night, but NL-only and deep leaguers should snag him and hope this time he’s here to stay.



Consecutive game hit streak for new Rockies’ shortstop Clint Barmes, who’s doing all he can to take the sting out of losing Troy Tulowitzki.

Hopefully Tulo owners picked up the hot Barmes, whose batted .403 and knocked three homers during the streak. His BaBIP has been a bit high as of late (.367) but that tends to be how hit streaks happen. It looks like it’s simply correcting an unfair .244 up until now.

His much improved 2.33 SO/BB ratio gives me optimism for a continued run of success for Barmes. Though, let’s temper our expectations to around a.280 average the rest of the way. Career .248 hitters usually don’t suddenly start hitting .300 the second half of the season.



June batting average for Sean Rodriguez, to go along with four dingers and six stolen bases.

Another second base replacement option, he’s the Rays’ every day starter at the pivot position, and like the Yankees and Rangers, you want a piece of this lineup.

I’m a little nervous about the .366 BaBIP, but considering his gaudy minor league numbers in 2009 (87/30/98/9/.294 in 108 games), he could be a big piece of any manager’s rebuilding hopes.

Now for some other numbers from around the league:



Jaw-dropping OPS for Joey Votto.

Clearly he’s not taking this snub thing too well.

After Monday’s two bomb performance in which he unloaded some frustration on the Big Apple (like, literally ), he’s at 21 home runs for the season, tying him for first in the majors with Jose Bautista. Who picked that in the pool?

There’s no reason the former Rookie of the Year runner up can’t keep this going.

Consider him a lock for 100+/35/100+/.300 and enjoy.


LeBron’s decision here ! Just kidding, it’s more numbers.

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Fantasy Baseball By The Numbers: Week 13

The recent rash of perfect games and no hitters has many people scratching their heads. Some are calling it the “Year of the Pitcher,” while others think it’s due to the eradication of steroids in the sport.

But for all the analyzing and debating, everyone seems to be forgetting one thing: sports are notoriously unpredictable, and can be more random than a clueless crossword puzzle. I mean, who could have predicted three major players all going down on thumb injuries within the same short time span (four if you count the recently returning Aramis Ramirez)?

While we still haven’t invented a reliable injury-predicting machine (looking at you, scientists), we do have stats at our disposal that can help us figure out (or at least get a ballpark estimate) of a player’s future production.

These two stats basically work by separating luck from a player’s actual skill. BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is a major one for pitchers and hitters which tells us how many balls are dropping for hits.

.300 is the traditional average, so anything way above that number for hitters or way below that number for pitchers means they are getting favorable plays on balls hit into the field. As BABIP regresses towards the median, it almost always results in a drop in production.

FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) is pretty self-explanatory, but more important for pitchers than BABIP. It tells us how much help a pitcher is getting from his defense and how much of his ERA is for real.

ERAs tend to go in the direction of their FIP, and when it’s close you can usually count on them staying steady for a while.

I use those two stats frequently when assessing a player’s future value, so make sure those are two stats you look at first. Here’s some other random numbers I’ve come across recently.


Number of times the Tampa Bay Rays have been no-hit in the past 12 months, most recently by the Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson .

I don’t know how one of the best offenses in the league can have this happen to them so frequently. Many people benched Dallas Braden for his Mother’s Day start against the Rays, not the worst idea had he not thrown a perfect game.

Again, this should be regarded merely as a quirky aberration, and you can definitely bank on the Rays’ lineup going forward.

Still, it’s mind boggling to think how this could happen. Did the power go out in their hotel room? Was there a particular meal they ate on the plane? Who was mixing the Kool-Aid that days? We may never know…



June BABIP for emerging ace Tommy Hanson , whose been hit pretty hard lately.

In his last two starts he’s allowed 14 earned runs and been knocked around for 21 hits, only two fewer than he allowed all of April.

But his FIP is a very healthy 3.44, a full run below his ERA, and as we see in his BABIP, he’s definitely in line for a huge rebound and will continue to have a stellar season.

Consider this a minor bump in the road.



Stolen bases over the past five games for Chone Figgins , including three last Friday.

Even for a stat like steals where many times production comes in bunches, this is a huge number. Anyone who has kept the faith with Figgins won that category last week.

While his batting average and run totals have been a major disappointment this season, he’s still on pace for 40+ stolen bases, and he’s batting an encouraging .276 for June.

A player with a .300 average over the past three seasons doesn’t dip this bad for an entire year.


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