Numbers are a Fantasy owners friend and enemy

Author Gregg Easterbrook once said, "Torture numbers and they'll confess to anything."

In Fantasy Baseball, owners love to torture numbers -- especially when talking trades with other owners. Before the trade, they'll make the numbers say that their opponent is getting the better deal, but once the trade is approved, they'll make the numbers say that they got the better deal.

Either way, numbers are a good way to at least alert us to a situation, which makes us then delve deeper to find out how we should react to the numbers.

Let's torture some Fantasy Baseball numbers!

.160 -- Batting average for Alfonso Soriano in six games since winning NL Player of the Week honors for Week 7. He went 4-for-25 with a homer and two RBI. The Cubs are much better at home this season, leading the majors in runs per game, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. But they are much worse on the road, and Soriano is no different, batting just .231 away from the ivy walls in Wrigley Field.

.178 -- The batting average for Andrew Miller's opponents in his four starts in May. Teams were hitting .417 against him in April, when he had a 9.12 ERA, but he has found his groove, and his 1.44 ERA is proof of it.

.349 -- Batting average at home for Luke Scott, compared to just .173 on the road. His left Achilles' tendon is hurting him, which has affected his right knee and hamstring in his right leg. He's getting the bulk in starts in left, with Jay Payton seeing time as well, but he's someone to consider in larger mixed leagues when he's at Camden Yards.

0.69 -- Scott Kazmir's ERA in four starts since losing his '08 debut to Boston on May 4. He also has 27 strikeouts since his second start on May 10, which ties him for the major league lead with Ryan Dempster.

2 -- Where Ryan J. Braun ranks in RBI since he was called up May 25 of last season. He has 134 RBI, second to only Ryan Howard's 150. His one-year anniversary date was Sunday.

2.16 -- The run-support per game the Royals are giving Luke Hochevar, which is the lowest number in the majors (128th) among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched.

3 -- The number of hitters that have more RBI than Jose Guillen (20) since May 7. He has always been a slow starter (batting a career .256 in April), so don't discount what he can do just because he's with the Royals. He can still reach 25 homers and 100 RBI.

3 -- That's the number of players from the top 10 of the 2006 draft class that are not currently in the majors. Pitchers Luke Hochevar (No. 1), Greg Reynolds (2), Brandon Morrow (5), Andrew Miller (6), Clayton Kershaw (7) and Tim Lincecum (10), along with the only position player to make it so far, Evan Longoria (3), are working at the top level just two years after being drafted. Only Pittsburgh pitcher Brad Lincoln (4, recovering from Tommy John surgery), Cincinnati OF Drew Stubbs (8, batting .274 for High Class A) and Baltimore 3B Bill Rowell (9, .257 at High Class A Frederick) are not in the majors. The six pitchers that have made it are a combined 13-10 with a 3.71 ERA this season, largely aided by Lincecum's 6-1 record and 2.17 ERA. And now the M's are considering giving Morrow the Joba Chamberlain treatment, moving him into the rotation after stretching him out.

4 -- The amount of mediocre players exchanged in a recent BIGS NL-only trade. Manny Acosta, Paul Bako and David Ross went to Dave Richard's team in exchange for SP Doug Davis. Richard is famous for picking up players off of waivers, grouping them together and trading them to upgrade another position. Then he fills his open spots with more waiver pickups, only to do it again. He's like the guy that brings 493 aluminum cans to the recycling station for $1.21.

Home plate on the Rangers: May
Player Level BA HR RBI
Gerald Laird Majors .264 1 5
Jarrod Saltalamacchia Majors .205 2 10
Taylor Teagarden Triple-A .347 2 8
Max Ramirez Double-A .400 6 20
4 -- Catchers that the Rangers currently have in the organization that could be starting in the majors by next April. Gerald Laird and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are currently being rotated behind the plate by manager Ron Washington, much to their chagrin. Salty has finally started to show some patience at the plate and Laird has brought his average up 60 points since April 20. Taylor Teagarden is playing well in Oklahoma (15 game hitting streak), and Max Ramirez is outplaying all of them at Frisco. Monster Max hit a home run in four consecutive days last week. It's feasible that the Rangers trade Laird this season, move Salty behind the plate and bring up Teagarden as a 1B/DH for the final months. Ramirez is also trade bait, although his power at Rangers Park in Arlington would be a joy to watch.

6 -- Home runs hit by the four regular Nationals outfielders (Elijah Dukes, Wily Mo Pena, Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge).

7 -- Save opportunities for Todd Jones, which is the lowest number of any full-time closer since the season began. He has yet to blow a save, but his 4.67 ERA tends to make you think those will come once he gets more chances.

8.26 -- The run support per game the Rangers are giving Sidney Ponson this season, which is second among major league pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched. He has a respectable 3.63 ERA though. Looking more closely, in his past seven starts, he held four teams to one earned run or less. But those teams were the Royals, Twins and Mariners (three teams that rank in the lower half in scoring this season). Sidney Ponson is Sidney Ponson; don't let his numbers fool you.

9 -- Homers hit by Ryan Ludwick in his past 17 games. Is he for real? He's only one homer away from his career-high from last season, when he hit 14 in 303 at-bats. He went for $3 in the Tout Wars Mixed FAAB bidding (I lost the tiebreaker for my $3 bid). What's his trade value? Recently, he has been traded straight up for 3B Garrett Atkins (H2H), Victor Martinez (H2H) and Kevin Youkilis (Roto). If I got any of those players for Ludwick straight-up, I'd be doing some sort of jig, as people pointed and laughed at my jigginess.

12 -- Home runs hit by Dan Uggla in the month of May, which breaks the Marlins' franchise mark held by Gary Sheffield (1996) for homers in a single month. Very few middle infielders have had the type of month Uggla is having -- and there's still a few days left, with the Fish traveling to homer-happy Citizens Bank Park. But he has 53 strikeouts so far, which is twice as many as his walks. He struck out 167 times last season and he seems to be on pace for that again. Rotisserie owners don't care so much, but Head-to-Head owners will cringe once the power surge passes.

13 -- The percentage of leagues that added Jay Bruce from Monday to Tuesday (55 to 68) after the news broke that he was getting called up to start Tuesday's game. He's one of the last of the great minor leaguers that we've been waiting for, and along with Clayton Kershaw, the chances of you spending your FAAB money on impact players is dwindling.

19 -- Away games for the Marlins in the 26 games from May 26 to June 22. That's bad news for players like Luis Gonzalez (.188 BA on the road) and Jorge Cantu (.255).

19.67 -- The number of scoreless innings Jason Bergmann has thrown since returning from Triple-A Columbus on May 15. He has allowed 11 hits and six walks in that span while striking out 22 batters. He won only one of those three starts -- and it was his lone road game at Shea Stadium. He's crediting the coaches at Triple-A for correcting his mechanics. He's available in over 75 percent of leagues still -- even during a two-start week for him. The Nationals won't give him a lot of run support -- or wins -- but activating him for his two-start weeks in mixed leagues should help your ERA/WHIP/Ks numbers. He went 4-1 with a 4.19 ERA in six starts to end last season, striking out nearly a batter per inning.

30 -- Where the Rays ranked in attendance on Memorial Day, despite owning the best record in the majors.

31 -- Stolen bases Lance Berkman is on pace for this year. He already has 10, which is three more than his career high. Cecil Cooper's team leads the majors with 60 -- nine more than any other team. The Big Puma is no longer Fat Elvis on the basepaths -- he could reach 20 stolen bases this year.

32 -- Bases stolen on Ramon Hernandez this season. Russell Martin and Brian McCann have similar numbers -- but at least they can hit. Hernandez is batting just .215 this season.

32 -- Wings that Emack and I tore through for lunch Tuesday. My keyboard smells funny now.

38 -- Years of age for Mariano Rivera, who has 12 saves in 12 chances this season. The more impressive number is his zero walks issued this season.

47 -- Games played already for Mark Kotsay, which is third-most on the Braves. He played just 56 last season because of back issues. He sat out Monday though with back tightening, but the team sat him more as a precaution. He has knocked in 21 RBI with 23 runs scored this season.

57 -- Strikeouts by Orioles' farmhand Radhames Liz at Triple-A Norfolk this season, good enough for third in the International League. He has a 2.91 ERA in his past seven starts in the minors. Steve Trachsel has an ERA north of 8.00, which makes replacing him in the rotation that much easier. The O's started strong, but they've lost five of six and wins will be tough to come by for their starters. But if they strike out batters and keep their ERA reasonable, they can still help your team.

64 -- The total saves that Francisco Rodriguez is on pace to convert this season, which would blow away Bobby Thigpen's major league record of 57 set in 1990. He's in a contract year and dealing with sore ankles, but his 21 saves leads the majors. One interesting note about his career though: He has played fewer games in June and July than any other months, which could indicate the fact that he wears down for a bit or even gets injured. He finishes very strong though in August and September, posting a combined 2.08 ERA in 125 games.

95 -- Miles per hour the radar gun said when Joel Zumaya threw during an extended spring training game on Monday. The Tigers have the 20th-ranked bullpen with a 4.28 ERA, so his return from his shoulder injury is much-needed. He could still even end up with save chances in the second half of the season.

Less than 100 -- Percent that Chad Tracy's surgically repaired knee is right now. The D-Backs brought him back this past week and he'll swap in for starts at first and third base, with Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds, both of whom are hitting below .235 this month. Tracy had microfracture surgery in September of 2007, and that injury usually needs 18 months before it's completely healthy. Tracy is going to have a much better chance getting at-bats over Reynolds at third base.

211 -- The amount of Fantasy Baseball player updates we wrote on Memorial Day, compared to just 81 for a popular player news service.

2008 Tout Wars

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