Commentary

Fifty Facts

Updated: June 1, 2011, 2:55 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Wish I had known that before.

The Talented Mr. Roto

That was the thought that ran through my mind as my buddy told me the story a few days ago. You see, my friend had just gotten back from vacation, where he was hanging out with his cousin. His cousin, you see, was a former roommate of a current prominent major league baseball player who happens to be off to a very poor start this year.

My friend tells me this: Every single night, his buddy gets a text from the player. It's always a picture, of an attractive girl in various states of undress, and it's always a different girl. My buddy saw all the texts himself, and he was impressed. He also immediately traded the player off his fantasy team.

Sigh.

If the story is true, is this the reason for his surprisingly slow start? Who knows? Going out every night and chasing (and catching) women could certainly catch up with a player. There are a few other factors that could be blamed for his slow start, but that one is as good as any. And that's the thing that depressed me.

It's not that I fault the player for the behavior. Hey, he's young, single and a pro ballplayer. Have at it, if that's your thing. It's just that I can't do anything with that information. I can't verify it, I can't print it and I have no way to tell you whether that's the reason for his slow start, even if I could both print and verify the story.

I bring this all up because as I always say, especially when I do this particular column, there is no way to know the whole story. Even if I could give you every single stat known to man, there's no analysis that tells you whether a guy is worried more about scoring at home than at the stadium.

I write a version of this column a few times a year, almost always in the preseason. The idea of the column is to present a bunch of facts to try to lead you in one direction or illuminate a certain player in a particular light, while highlighting and underlining and trying to announce in all bold caps the secret that most people who do analysis never want to admit: Every piece of analysis is skewed by the stats we show and those we don't. That nothing tells the whole story, especially less than two months into the season, where small sample sizes rule the day.

These are 50 facts. Every single one of them is true. Not a one of them tells the whole story.

1. Since taking over for Adam LaRoche as the starting first baseman Sunday, Michael Morse is hitting .412 and has three home runs and eight RBIs in four games.

2. Morse is available in 97 percent of leagues.

3. In the month of May, Darren Ford of San Francisco has four at-bats. And four steals.

4. Derek Jeter 's ground ball-to-fly ball rate is 2.34.

5. It's a career worst for Jeter, whose previous high was last year (1.96).

6. Before that, Jeter had never had one higher than 1.55.

7. "It was fun while it lasted" is a bit cliché, but it's fitting.

8. Ichiro Suzuki 's strikeout rate (the number of times he strikes out per 100 at-bats) is the lowest in major league baseball at 5.5 percent.

9. Placido Polanco 's 8.2 percent is fourth-best.

10. And ranking sixth is Darwin Barney, at 8.8 percent.

11. I'm thrilled that Dallas is in the NBA Finals. With the Lakers out, the Mavs are the team I'm rooting for.

I just hope Dallas as a city does a better job of hosting the NBA Finals than it did the Super Bowl. I've been to a few, and this season's was by far the poorest experience I've had at a major sporting event. People (especially police) were rude and unhelpful; traffic was brutal, as roads were changed or closed with no clear sign on alternate routes; attendants at the game itself were brusque and unhelpful; and then, of course, that whole unavailable-seats fiasco. Just brutal. And I know a lot of people shared that sentiment. As someone who grew up in Texas and has Texas pride, I'm really rooting for Cuban to do a better job than Jerry Jones.

12. Only one player in baseball has a lower BABIP (batting average on balls in play) than Dan Uggla's .194.

13. Dan Uggla 's career BABIP is .306.

14. The fourth-lowest BABIP, .214, belongs to Alex Rios, whose averaged a .309 BABIP the past three seasons.

Jonathan Lucroy
US PresswireBonus fact No. 1: It is not a prerequisite to be ranked as a top-10 catcher in the preseason in order to perform like one.

15. The No. 5 catcher this year on our Player Rater is Jonathan Lucroy, hitting .321, with five home runs and 22 RBIs.

16. He's available in 71 percent of leagues.

17. In his past 10 games, J.P. Arencibia has three home runs, 12 RBIs and is hitting .306.

18. Arencibia is currently the No. 7 catcher for the year on our Player Rater. He is available in 63 percent of leagues.

19. Buster Posey, owned in 100 percent of leagues, suffered a potentially serious leg injury in a home-plate collision Wednesday.

20. Rickie Weeks, Matt Kemp, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Howard, Troy Tulowitzki, Hunter Pence and Joey Votto each have 22 extra-base hits this season.

21. Chipper Jones has 21.

22. Over his past six starts, Erik Bedard is 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 30 strikeout with only 12 walks in 38 innings pitched.

23. He's available in 60 percent of leagues. And is above the Wandy Line.

24. For those asking, here is my list of pitchers currently above the Wandy Line: Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Dan Haren, Tommy Hanson, Cole Hamels, CC Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Shaun Marcum, Josh Johnson, Josh Beckett, Michael Pineda, Jhoulys Chacin, James Shields, Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Roy Oswalt, Jaime Garcia, Anibal Sanchez, Yovani Gallardo, Gio Gonzalez, Ricky Romero and Alexi Ogando.

25. Wandy Rodriguez is the first one below the line, and Ubaldo Jimenez -- whose K/9 rate is still at an elite level -- has been demoted until he gets his walk and ground ball-to-fly ball rates under control, which I expect to happen.

26. I can't tell you how long it took me to decide to do a "50 Facts" column. Among the rejected ideas for this week's column: A "fantasy hangover" thing, in which I tied in "The Hangover 2" to players that were struggling but would snap out of it; a whole vacation thing, because after this column, I'm off for a week (so no column next week); a written version of the "Hard Justice" that we do on the podcast; something about guys that have terrible numbers overall but have recently played well and make good buy-low opportunities. The last one was the most interesting to me, and there are a few guys like that strewn throughout this column, but man, I hated every idea. Probably a good time for that vacation.

27. The best part about football season is that I know what I'm writing every week. Of course, it's also the worst part.

28. Raul Ibanez, hitting .246 on the year, is hitting .333 this month, with four of his five home runs and 14 of his 22 RBIs coming in May.

29. Ibanez is a career .283 hitter who has averaged 88 RBIs per season since coming to Philadelphia.

30. His former teammate, Jayson Werth, is hitting .254 this year, but .293 in May. The power and speed have been there. Calm down.

31. Over his past four starts, Yovani Gallardo is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and a 29 strikeouts with 11 walks in 27 innings pitched.

32. Of course, the teams he faced during that stretch were the Cardinals, Pirates, Padres and Nationals.

33. Fun with small sample sizes: In the month of May, Brad Hawpe has four home runs, 11 RBIs and is hitting .324, including home runs each of his past two days.

34. Saw "Bridesmaids" last weekend. Hilarious. Really, really enjoyed it. Highly recommend it for guys and girls alike. And thrilled to see its success, which further proves the same point "The Hangover" did. If a movie is funny with a great script, you don't need "stars." I think the whole "You must have a movie star to open a movie" is one of the dumbest things Hollywood does.

Brett Gardner
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesBonus fact No. 2: A 57 percent success rate stealing bases is not very good.

35. This year, Brett Gardner has been caught stealing six times in 14 stolen-base attempts.

36. Last season, Gardner was caught stealing just nine times in 56 attempts.

37. Ian Kennedy has a 4.14 ERA at home this year in six starts but a 1.62 ERA in five road starts.

38. More small-sample splits: In five home starts, Jason Hammel has a 5.17 ERA. In four starts on the road, he has a 1.71 ERA.

39. One last one, this one from the "How lucky do you feel?" department: On the road, this pitcher has a not-surprising 5.60 ERA over six starts. But in five home starts, he has three wins, a 1.80 ERA and 21 strikeouts with just three walks in 35 innings.

40. His name is Livan Hernandez.

41. I'm fascinated by the people who, week after week, post negative comments on any column; mine or someone else's. You have to click the column, then click "Post a comment," then write it, then click again to submit. It's three clicks and some writing. It's a lot of work (not to mention triple the traffic for someone you don't like) to express how much you dislike something. What's the thought process there? Why spend the energy? Repeatedly? Will someone please email me that thought process? Like, what are you hoping to accomplish? Why do you continue to spend energy and time on something you don't enjoy? Especially when that time and energy goes to actually making someone more popular and successful? The concept is so foreign to me, I'm totally fascinated by this.

42. So far in May, only five players in Major League Baseball have more RBIs than Ryan Ludwick. He also has four home runs and is available in 27 percent of leagues.

43. Looking to spot-start a speedster? No pitcher has allowed more stolen bases this year than Tommy Hanson and Edwin Jackson, who have each allowed 13.

44. There are only 11 pitchers with a better strikeout-to-walk rate than Big Fat Bartolo Colon's 3.73.

45. No. 13 on that list is the currently DL'ed Brandon McCarthy and his 3.70 rate.

46. Only one pitcher has a left-on-base rate (the number of runners a pitcher puts on that don't score) of over 90 percent: Alexi Ogando.

47. Only four others are 86 percent or higher: James Shields, Josh Beckett, Trevor Cahill and Colby Lewis.

48. Only four pitchers currently get less run support than Chris Narveson's 2.43 per game. Yet the Brewers are tied for 10th best in baseball in runs scored.

49. There are only eight pitchers in baseball with more quality starts this year than Jake Arrieta, who has eight.

50. As you read this, I'm on my way to a beach with the current Mrs. Roto, where I will spend the next 10 days or so drinking margaritas, lying in the sun and reading the Tina Fey book, the ESPN book and the new Michael Connelly, among others. See ya in June.

Matthew Berry -- the TMR -- uses the highest-available SPF sunscreen. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"