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The name of the game this time of year is at-bats and innings. If a guy is out and you aren’t in a keeper league, drop him. You need every possible category you can squeeze life out of to hopefully do the same to the opposition. Now is the time to get the hot bat. You should be streaming pitchers like no ones business to pile up K’s and hopefully improve your ratios. With all that said:

  • The Yanks and Rays have a double header today, I would start just about any one of their position players if you have a share in them. James Shields and Phil Hughes are squaring off in game one, and Jeremy Hellickson and CC Sabathia in game two. Shields and CC are no brainers but I would hold off on using Hellickson today. Hughes has been solid his last two outings, but they were against Baltimore and Seattle. He’s a coin flip in my opinion.
  • Eric Hosmer was 5-5 with a 3 run shot last night and has 16 hits in his last 29 AB’s. He is the 2nd best player in yahoo over the last week.
  • Ben Revere (which this handsome blogger marked as a good pickup about a month ago) is ranked number 1 in Yahoo over the last week.
  • Matt Holliday can start swinging off a tee now. The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that he is “doubtful” to return this year, though the team is holding out hope he can play vs the Cubs this weekend.
  • Bud Norris was pulled with shoulder soreness after 2.2 innings last night, and will probably miss his last start of the year. I really, really like Bud Norris next year.
  • Hunter Pence has patellar tendenitis in his left knee and will probably be used sparingly the rest of the way leading to the playoffs. Maybe you want to pick up Revere or even Nolan Reimold (3rd best player in yahoo over the last 7 days) to fill in?
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The verdict is in. Carl Crawford can’t handle Boston.

Statistically, this season has been his worse. His average and OBP are easily career lows. His .402 slugging percentage is almost 100 points off from what it was last year in his contract year in Tampa. Crawford was never great against lefties, but this year went into the awful category. So bad at times that the Red Sox would bench him in favor of Hall of Famer Darnell McDonald. He has had his second worst fielding season on record while trying to cover an area of about 5 feet by 3 feet in left field at Fenway. Of course he isn’t going to have the run and RBI production we’re used to seeing or expected to see. People assumed that the best was yet to come. After all, he had never played with a combination like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Gonzalez in Tampa. The aforementioned on base and slugging percentages didn’t help matters and didn’t give Terry Francona an excuse to hit him higher in the order. And then there’s his 18 steals. Even when he played in just 109 games back in 2008 he still swiped 25 bases. In more games this year he has 7 less steals.

And then there’s the recent issue of Crawford playing in games. Yesterday against a tough lefty, Crawford did not start. It would have been nice to get your $20 million man in for the biggest game of the Red Sox season, but he sat. He eventually came into the game to pinch hit and smoked a double the other way off of another lefty. Whatever. It was done. The Red Sox lost the game and had their Wild Card lead – which was all but handed to them (if not the division) back in early June – reduced to two games. Today was different though. Crawford was in the lineup as of this morning. The Red Sox were facing a righty in Jeremy Guthrie. And then later on in the day, Crawford was scratched with a stiff neck. This story will naturally have Red Sox fans thinking back on another $20 million per season left fielder who used to be scratched with some weird injuries from time to time. Crawford’s reputation going into this year would lead you to believe that at least the Red Sox weren’t getting a player that wouldn’t give 100%. Then again, a stiff neck in the heat of a playoff race? What would Willis Reed, Jack Youngblood, or a 1999 ALDS version of Pedro Martinez say to that?

  • So Money Ball will come out soon. It’s on the cover of SI. Those Oakland A’s, run by the same GM, are currently 20th in MLB in on base percentage.
  • Jose Bautista argues that Miguel Cabrera should have won the MVP last year when he was playing for a team that did not make the playoffs. The same argument should be made for Bautista this year who will have to compete with several players in the AL East for votes.
  • By the time this season is over, Albert Pujols will have 30 home runs, 100 RBI, and a .300 average for the 11th straight season.
  • Stopped me if you’ve heard this before, but Kerry Wood is done for the season.
  • James Loney has been the 8th best player in fantasy baseball over the last thirty days. Sigh.
  • The Orioles appear to be the early front runners for Prince Fielder according to Jon Heyman. That would be a nice park for Fielder.
  • Domonic Brown has been recalled by Philadelphia and will likely go to instructional league following the season.
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Ryan Braun hit home runs 29 and 30 last night to reach the 30/30 club for the first time in his career. The fact that he hit 30 home runs this season isn’t a surprise given that he’s done in three out of four seasons before this year. It’s the 31 steals that Braun has this season that is the bigger shock.

Before this season, Braun had never stolen more than 20 in a year. Now he’s running wild on the basepaths, and next year there’s good reason to believe the trend will continue. Part of the problem with Braun running from first over the last five seasons is that it left pitchers the option of pitching around Prince Fielder. Fielder already has one foot out the door, so Braun won’t feel any reluctance taking the bat out of the next hitter’s hands next season.

That said, it will be interesting to see what it does to Milwaukee’s offense and Braun himself. Category by category, there isn’t a better player in fantasy this season as far as hitting “the milestone numbers” mentioned in the last post. Braun’s average, runs scored, RBI, and home runs are all positively impacted by Fielder’s presence in the lineup. The chances of him putting together another 30/100/100/.320ish season without Fielder have to be considered slim. If your league does have walks as a category though, Braun can help there at least.

  • The agents for Fielder and Albert Pujols have to be feeling the pressure of making sure that the contract one receives looks good in light of the contract that the other gets.
  • Curtis Granderson has hit .176 this month. Given how much better this season has been than every other year of his career, if the last 13 games and the playoffs don’t go much better, this poor finish significantly downgrades Granderson on draft day in my mind.
  • Jemile Weeks has been a nice little find in leagues that carry the middle infield position, but it is interesting to note he has 0 home runs in 360 at-bats. Let’s end the comparisons to his brother please.
  • Tyler Pastornicky could have been with the Braves right now had it not been for an ankle sprain in August. The Braves could make him the everyday shortstop next season.
  • Jonathan Broxton will have minor elbow surgery and should be ready for the start of spring training. Key word there is should.
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I thought it could be useful down the road to come up with a list of players that have attained certain statistical milestones over the years and see how many people are going to hit those milestones this season. Here they are in the ten major fantasy categories.

 

Number of Players with More Than 100 Runs

2007: 30

2008: 28

2009: 22

2010: 17

2011: 7

How many more should make it (based on current pace): 6 (Kemp, Braun, Votto, Cano, Gordon, Pujols)

On the fence: 1 (Pedroia)

Has a chance: 5 (CarGo, Melky Cabrear, Andrus, Reyes)

Number of Players with 100 or more RBI

2007: 33

2008: 29

2009: 28

2010: 25

2011: 10

How many more should make it: 5 (Young, Miguel Cabrera, Braun, Votto, VMart)

On the fence: 3 (Pujols, Ellsbury, Ortiz)

Has a chance: 2 (CarGo, Aramis Ramirez)

Number of players with a .300 average or better (min 400 at-bats)

2007: 45

2008: 40

2009: 42

2010: 25

2011: 28

How many more should make it: 0

On the fence: 4 (Bourn, Melky Cabrera)

Hanging on for dear life: 4 (Sandoval, Avila, Pedroia, Parra)

Has a chance: 1 (CarGo)

Number of players with 30 or more stolen bases

2007: 18

2008: 16

2009: 17

2010: 18

2011: 14

How many more should make it: 3 (B.J. Upton, Rollins, Aybar)

On the fence: 0

Has a chance: 1 (Juan Pierre)

Number of players with 30 or more home runs

2007: 26

2008: 28

2009: 30

2010: 18

2011: 14

How many more should make it: 6 (Ortiz, Konerko, Kinsler, Cruz, Votto, Braun)

On the fence: 4 (Trumbo, Morse, Ellsbury, Pena)

Has a chance: 5 (Longoria, Adrian Gonzalez, Cano, Miguel Cabrera, CarGo)

Number of players with 17 or more wins

2007: 12

2008: 14

2009: 8

2010: 14

2011: 6

How many more should make it: 4 (Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Gallardo, Daniel Hudson)

On the fence: 2 (James Shields, Jon Lester)

Has a chance: 2 (Dan Haren, Ricky Romero)

Number of players with 200 or more strikeouts

2007: 8

2008: 10

2009: 10

2010: 15

2011: 9

How many more should make it: 3 (C.J. Wilson, Anibal Sanchez, Jered Weaver)

On the fence: 0

Has a chance: 2 (Brandon Morrow, Madison Bumgarner)

Number of players with an ERA under 3.20 (min 150 innings)

2007: 10

2008: 11

2009: 16

2010: 22

2011: 22

How many more should make it: 0

On the fence: 1 (Justin Masterson)

Hanging on for dear life: 0

Has a chance: 2 (Hiroki Kuroda, Ervin Santana)

Number of players with a WHIP under 1.20 (min 150 innings)

2007: 16

2008: 21

2009: 17

2010: 29

2011: 33

How many more should make it: 0

On the fence: 3 (Daniel Hudson, Lilly, Santana)

Hanging on for dear life: 2 (Gavin Floyd, Kyle Lohse)

Has a chance: 1 (Jon Lester)

Number of players with 30 or more saves

2007: 18

2008: 15

2009: 16

2010: 14

2011: 16

How many more should make it: 3 (Papelbon, Santos, Soria)

On the fence: 1 (Feliz)

Has a chance: 0

 

Last night Mariano Rivera added another stat that will someday appear on his plaque in Cooperstown, as he notched his 600th save, 1 shy of tying Trevor Hoffman for most all time. Hoffman was a fantastic closer, but the difference I see between them is that Mo still doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down. Even when drafting next year, I think he has to be looked at as a top 5 closer, if not top 3. If you can make an argument that he shouldn’t be ranked that high, kudos to you. I’m a gambling man, but I’m not going to be the expert to bet against him.

  • Matt Holliday was pulled from the lineup last night due to a mystery hand injury. Unknown at this point what the problem is or if he will miss time.
  • David Ortiz was also a late scratch with back spasms. He is day-to-day.
  • Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Zack Greinke were pretty much all the Brewers had to go on last night in their win. They are making a push for a run in the playoffs right now, and those three are going to need to be on their A-game if they expect to go anywhere. They know this, and I wouldn’t expect them to start slumping now.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia continued to provide Boston some power sparks from really (really)  surprise sources. I never pegged Ellsbury as a 20 HR player let alone one with a shot at 30. If he can do this again next year, where are you drafting him? I don’t think there is a chance he makes it past the 2nd round.
  • J.P. Arencibia collected his 23rd HR of the year. As he matures lets hope he can cut down on the K’s. We can give him a pass on the low AVG since he’s a catcher so long as he keeps giving us 20 HR seasons…
  • Brent Morel is having a hot week, with 4 homers in the last 7 days. Tip for all you kids out there, the only way to bat .300 over a 7 day stretch with a BABIP of .154 over the same span is hit homers.
  • Nick Hundley is on fire, batting .478 over the last week. He doesn’t get much in the line of runs or RBI’s, but getting on base eventually leads to all that.
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