- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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When I wrote my Love/Hate for 2008, I listed many of the things I am known for. The crazy chick stories, the reality TV obsessions, my dog, my Lakers and Ivanka Trump (not necessarily in that order).
One thing I am not known for is research. Maybe it's the jokes, maybe it's the casual manner in which I appear, maybe it's the fact that I don't actually like to do any ... I don't know. But just because I don't like to do it doesn't mean I can't. Or don't.
I did a "50 things" column just before the football season and folks seemed to dig it, so here you go again. Some you might have seen or heard before; some you might not have. Either way, these are 50 more things you need to know (but probably don't know) heading into the season.
Over the past three seasons, Ken Griffey Jr. has had at least 27 home runs, at least 420 at-bats. He also has averaged 127 games.
And yet, the past two years Griffey has had single-digit home runs after the All-Star break.
If you disregard the 2005 season, when he played for three different teams, Eric Byrnes has had at least 20 home runs each of the past three years. He also has stolen 75 bases over the past two years.
Juan Pierre has played 162 games in each of the past five seasons, and has had at least 45 stolen bases each of the past seven seasons. Playing time, shmaying time. He'll get his.
Those still waiting on Carl Crawford's "power breakout" should note that he hit 37 doubles last year, the most of his career.
Chipper Jones has hit at least 25 home runs in nine of his past 10 seasons.
Including the playoffs, C.C. Sabathia pitched 256 innings last year. He had not pitched more than 200 innings in any of the four seasons prior to that.
Last year, 16 shortstops had double-digit home runs. And 16 shortstops (not the same guys) had double-digit stolen bases. It's a deeper position this year than you think.
Speaking of deeper than you think, last year 20 catchers had double-digit home runs, 11 catchers had at least 60 RBIs, and 19 catchers had at least 50 RBIs.
A life lesson: When it comes to cars and women, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.
Magglio Ordonez has had two straight seasons with more than 20 home runs, more than 100 RBIs and more than 150 games played. Just sayin'.
After the All-Star break last year, Brad Lidge had 19 saves, with a K/9 of almost 12.00, and opposing hitters batted .219 against him. Health is a concern; his skills are not.
Oh, and Rich Hill's was .234.
Last season, 42 players stole at least 20 bases, while 86 players hit at least 20 home runs.
That said, there are more steals to go around than in recent seasons. In 2007, 92 players had at least 10 stolen bases.
The best singer you've never heard of is named Jude . Trust me.
Mike Cameron has hit at least 20 home runs in three of his past four seasons. He has stolen at least 18 bases in four of his past five. He'd be 4-for-4 and 5-for-5 if he hadn't missed most of 2005 with a wrist injury and then that horrible face-first collision with Carlos Beltran. Now, he's missing the first 25 games because of suspension, not injury. Which means he'll be available at a discount, he's healthy and he's consistent.
In his first 49 major league at-bats, Cameron Maybin drew three walks. Three.
Rick Ankiel played 47 games in the majors last season. Projected over 141 games, his 2007 numbers would look like this: 33 home runs, 117 RBIs.
Tom Glavine's ERA last year (4.45) was his highest since 2003, and his K/9 was a measly 4.00.
Meanwhile, John Smoltz has pitched at least 200 innings and 32 games in each of his past three seasons, and his K/9 last year was 8.62, his highest mark since moving back into the rotation in 2005.
Carlos Lee has hit at least 30 home runs in five straight seasons and at least 100 RBIs in four of his past five. In the meantime, he has missed one game (one!) over the past three seasons.
Rajai Davis had 22 stolen bases last year despite getting just 190 major league at-bats. He also hit .279.
Dave Roberts is 35 years old and has averaged only 118 games played the past four seasons.
Speaking of speed in limited time, Norris Hopper had 14 steals (and 51 runs) in just 307 at-bats in '07. He hit .329.
Look at Jeff Francoeur's numbers the last two years:
2006: 83 runs, 29 HRs, 103 RBIs, .260, 162 games played
2007: 84 runs, 19 HRs, 105 RBIs, .293, 162 games played.
It would appear, at first glance, that he chased fewer balls, which accounted for the increase in batting average but the decrease in power. But consider that he hit 24 doubles in 2006, and 40 doubles in 2007, 14 of which, according to Francoeur, hit off the wall.
It's a small sample size, but over the past three seasons, Nick Swisher's batting average at U.S. Cellular Field, his new home park, is .378.
After May 1 last year, Kevin Millar hit .263, with 15 home runs, 56 RBIs and 54 runs. Great? No. Useful in AL-only? Yes.
You're always better admitting it, no matter what. "Yes. That was me."
Jeff Kent has hit at least 20 home runs in 10 of his past 11 seasons.
Dan Haren's ERA after the All-Star break last year was 4.15, and his BAA was .298.
Also consider that Arizona's Chase Field was fifth in runs allowed last year, whereas Oakland's McAfee Coliseum was second to last.
Miguel Cabrera has hit at least 30 home runs in three of his past four seasons. He has posted at least 112 RBIs in each of his past four. The Tigers scored almost 100 runs more last year than the Marlins ...
In 57 minor league innings in 2007, Oakland's Joey Devine had a 1.89 ERA, 20 saves, five wins and a K/9 of 12.32.
Mark Kotsay has hit only eight home runs in his last 185 games. He hasn't had double-digit steals since 2002. I don't like Mark Kotsay. All three of these are proven facts.
To paraphrase Jimmy Buffett, read dozens of books about heroes and crooks and learn much from both of their styles.
In 28 innings pitched last year, Pedro Martinez's WHIP was 1.43.
In 147 2/3 innings pitched last year, Orlando Hernandez WHIP was 1.17. His ERA was 3.72. His K/9 was 7.8.
Let's compare two players:
Player A: 93 runs, 11 home runs, 80 RBIs, 50 SBs, .315 average
Player B: 78 runs, 12 home runs, 46 RBIs, 37 SBs, .287 average
Player A is Carl Crawford, whose average draft position (ADP) is 12th overall. Player B is Shane Victorino, whose ADP is 125th overall.
Over the past three seasons, new Toronto third baseman Scott Rolen's batting average in dome games is .202.
Over the last two seasons, Johnny Damon has had 27 and 25 steals, respectively. He had only 93 runs last year but had scored more than 100 in nine consecutive seasons before that. His current ADP is 144th overall.
After the All-Star break last year, Mike Lowell hit .350. He is a career .280 hitter. Before last year, the last time he had more than 100 RBIs was 2003.
Adrian Gonzalez has increased his home run and RBI totals in each of the past three seasons.
Before last year, Matt Stairs had not hit 20-plus homers since 2003.
The past three seasons for Garret Anderson, whose average draft position is way back at 218th:
2005: 17 home runs, 96 RBIs, .283 average
2006: 17 home runs, 85 RBIs, .280 average
2007: 16 home runs, 80 RBIs, .297 average.
Jorge Posada hit .338 in 2007, marking the only time in his 13-year career that he has hit better than .300. He is a career .277 hitter.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again (and this is from a guy who made a nice living for more than a decade in Hollywood writing sitcoms and movies and left it to start a small fantasy sports Web site): Just do what you love. Success, happiness and money will follow.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award-winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He has been playing fantasy sports for more than 20 years, writing about it professionally for more than 10. He currently appears on or in ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN the Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile TV and, as soon as he learns to say "ground ball/fly-ball ratio" in Spanish, ESPN Deportes.
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