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Wednesday 21st Feb 2018

Greetings again stat afficianados, and I hope all the mothers in your household (including those of you who might be both reading this and moms) had a lovely Sunday and Mother's Day.

I know I did, in fact check out yesterday's Zen Zone for the particulars as I scored Dallas Braden's perfect game.

If I had to pick a particularly proud mom out there, though, that would likely belong to that of new Cubbies shortstop Starlin Castro, who debuted with a statement, banging a homer and driving in six on Friday. That alone should send Castro's FAAB pricetag through the roof in most NFBC-type leagues. Signed in 2008, at just 20, Castro is the first player to appear in the majors to have been born in the 90's, believe it or not, and though the Cubs were thinking defense (he apparently has a great arm at short) Castro has performed well in the minors with .310-9-122 totals over 264 games. That includes 48 doubles, 18 triples, 51 swipes, 75 walks to 121 whiffs and a good .362 OBP. Since he is young and a rookie, expect some ups and downs, but Castro is likely here to stay. Any mother would be proud.

Quick, who is the best set-up guy in the game right now? Well, you should have answered the Nats Tyler Clippard. A ninth round pick of the Yankees in 2003, Clippard went 3-1, 6.33 over six starts in 2007, and was then swapped to Washington, where he spent ten uneventful innings in 2008 before his remarkable 2009. Clippard went 4-2, 2.69, and over 60 innings allowed just 36 hits and 32 walks while whiffing 67. He is 6-0, 0.74 over 23.2 innings, 13 hits allowed to 12 walks and 28 K. I have him on my Strat-O-Matic team (Clippard is my closer over Carlos Marmol) and he is a perfect middle guy for your team in any format should he still be in the free agent pool.

Boy, the John Buck owners much really be enjoying his incredible production the last week, but I have to think he is still a questionable pickup. True, if you had him active during his recent spree that is great, but he is .239-8-18 with a weak .276 OBP, and over his career of 2214 at-bats,  the average is .235, the OBP is .297, and the Slugging is .415. Dingers or not, that is hard to recommend.

Brennan Boesch was a third round selection of the Tigers in 2006, and the big (6'4", 235 lb) flychaser had pretty good totals in the minors, hitting .273-53-314 over 453 games. Boesch has had a nice start going .333-2-10 over his first 11 games. But, in the minors, the 357 strikeouts to 117 walks, in particular 127 strikeouts to 33 walks last year with a .319 OBP.

I am hopeful that the Royals will give a shot to recent promotion Kila Ka'aihue, a minor league slugger whom I do think will perform well. I have written about Ka'aihue a few times, and he was having a terrific season at Omaha (.304-7-20) this season. Ka'aihue has an excellent eye (609 minor league walks to 637 strikeouts) and very good power (137 homers and 165 doubles as a minor leaguer) and if given a chance to play regularly, should do very well. Of course for now only the deepest formats merit taking a chance.

On the National League side, the Buccos, and many roto owners, have been waiting for Steve Pearce to show up. That is, the Steve Pearce who hit .333-31-113 with 40 doubles over three levels in 2007 at the age of 24. Well, a Steve Pearce was called back up to the Pirates last week, one who was hitting .349-2-8 at AAA Indianapolis. And, there is a Steve Pearce who has hit .234-37 over 124 games. Clearly the former Steve Pearce is too good for the minors, so the question is what can the latter Steve Pearce do? For better or worse, I suspect the Baseball Reference has it right, for they list Pearce's position as "First base and pinch hitter." I think that is all we need to know about who Steve Pearce really is.

San Francisco has a nice little squad this year. True, they don't have a true power hitter, but, virtually everyone in their starting lineup and related rotation is capable of double digit homers, and all are seasoned veterans, as opposed to the call-ups who were largely role players the Giants advanced, especially in the infield, the past few years. Among this cluster is Bengie Molina, the catcher with some pop who is enormously popular in San Francisco, and on the advent is Buster Posey. Somewhere in the middle is Eli Whiteside, who has quietly been having a National League counterpart season to that of Francisco Cervelli . Whiteside is hitting .333-2-5 over 34 at-bats, and in an NL only format, he is as good a #2 pick as is Cervelli in a parallel AL format. The Giants are good. Expect Whiteside to have a nice little under the radar year.

Chicago to the north side has been giving playing time to Tyler Colvin (.275-4-9 over 51 at-bats) and Colvin has done well, and could also be a nice addition in an NL only format. In fact, those totals are pretty much mirrored over a longer stretch when you look at his career .277-56-274 totals over 1516 minor league at-bats. Colvin also logged a .320 OBP as a minor leaguer and as a major leaguer so far as well, so, it appears it is easy to see what to expect from him. Act according to need. 

I like players who make the show that attended Stanford for some reason, and that includes Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie, who had fine 2008 (10-12, 3.63) and an awful 2009 (10-17, 5.04), and now, at 1-4, 4.67, following a couple of good starts, may be back on course. Guthrie's ratio is down to 1.19 (from 1.42 last year) and his 25 whiffs to 9 walks also bode well.

In closing, it looks as if the life and times of Milton Bradley in Seattle may be at an end with the return of Michael Saunders  and Ryan Langerhans. Short term, I am liking Langerhans, 30, to get some playing time, while of the longer run Saunders will probably get the nod.   Saunders, 23, has .277-50-245 totals over 1709 minor league at-bats, and at age 23 should be poised for the next step. In a deep league, Langerhans is a good short term play: in a shallow or mixed format, Saunders is a guy to grab for the not-to-distant future.

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