50 facts you need to know
By the time you read this, I'll be on a beach, starting my vacation. I can sense your thoughts regarding that already: "And the difference will be ?"
I have to wedge in all my vacation days now because, once football begins, I basically live at "The Worldwide Leader" six days a week until January. So I'm peacing out for a week, just like many of you this holiday weekend or Russell Martin has all season.
We are just about to the halfway point in the baseball season, and regardless of where your team is in the standings, you still have a chance. Trust me. Especially in ESPN.com standard 10-team mixed leagues, in which player turnover is high.
And so, as we embark on the second half, here's yet another 50 facts you need to know (but probably don't). Some of them are even baseball related!
1. From April 7-May 31, Carl Crawford had 30 stolen bases and was caught stealing just once. From June 1-30, he had 10 steals -- and was caught stealing six times.
2. Over the past three seasons, Nick Markakis has hit .353 in July and .338 in August, with a combined 25 home runs, 120 RBIs and 13 steals.
3. Heading into Wednesday's game at Oakland (in which he gave up four earned runs in six innings), Justin Verlander was 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in six home games and 4-3 with a 4.88 ERA in 10 road games.
4. Among batters with at least 75 at-bats in the month of June, only three players hit for a higher average than Casey McGehee, who hit .368. He is available in 84 percent of ESPN.com standard leagues.
5. The three that beat Casey? Ichiro Suzuki (.407), Pablo Sandoval (.394 with eight homers and 20 RBIs) and, of all people, Scott Rolen. Rolen hit .384 in June, is hitting .333 on the year and is available in 53 percent of leagues.
6. Over the past three seasons, Jimmy Rollins has hit .273 before the All-Star break and .296 after it, and has had more homers, RBIs and stolen bases despite having 125 fewer at-bats. Over the past three years, his July batting average is .302.
7. I get asked about Bill Simmons more than all the other ESPN personalities combined. People are obsessed with him. I've brought up this obsession with him twice on his podcast. Both times it got cut.
8. Erin Andrews is No. 2. Peter Gammons is No. 3.
9. I've said maybe five words total to Erin in my life, so I can only tell you what she sounds like when she says, "Hi, nice to meet you." That's about it. Peter Gammons is awesome and will talk baseball anytime, with anyone, and could not be a classier, cooler guy.
10. Over his past five starts, Luke Hochevar is 3-1 with a 2.94 ERA. He has only 15 strikeouts (and 10 walks) in 33.2 innings during that span, but he's still sort of interesting.
11. Only seven players in all of baseball scored more runs in June than Jamey Carroll, who hit .280 and scored 19 times. Carroll, who is playing everyday, has little speed and power, but he won't hurt you, and in deep leagues, that's worth something.
12. The Indians, incidentally, are fourth in the majors in runs scored for 2009, behind only the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees.
14. And as much as I love Buffett, if I never hear the song "Margaritaville" again, I'd be fine with that. Same for Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." I often find the most famous song of an artist is the one I am least fond of.
15. Here are two pitchers:
Pitcher A: 4-1 record, 2.42 ERA, 42/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33.1 innings.
Pitcher B: 2-4, 6.19 ERA, 18/14 K/BB ratio in 36.1 innings.
I'm guessing you want Pitcher A. Unfortunately, if you take him, you also have to take Pitcher B. Because "A" is Johan Santana in May, and "B" is Santana in June. That's an ugly K/BB ratio.
16. Randy Johnson is 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in June, with 24 strikeouts and 12 walks in 36 innings. Last year, from July 1 until the end of the season, Johnson was 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 20 walks in 102 innings.
17. Over the past 30 days, only Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, Joe Nathan, Josh Beckett and Ricky Romero have been better pitchers than Kevin Correia, according to our Player Rater. Correia is 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 29/3 strikeout-to-walk rate in 33.2 innings pitched. He is available in 94 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
18. When Manny Ramirez was suspended on May 6, Andre Ethier was hitting .317 with six home runs, 27 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 28 games. From May 7-June 30, with Manny out, Ethier hit .225 with nine home runs, 25 RBIs and 18 runs scored in 44 games.
19. Manny Ramirez returns Friday.
20. Since coming off the DL on May 12, Stephen Drew is hitting .264 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 41 games. But in June he hit .292 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 25 games, and last year, after the All-Star break, he hit .326 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs.
21. I've tried, but I just don't care about tennis. Or hockey. I did dig the USA soccer game the other day, though.
23. Rivera also finished sixth in RBIs for the month. He is batting .347 with runners in scoring position -- and is still available in 48 percent of leagues.
24. As you might know, I'm kind of obsessed with Juan Rivera.
25. J.D. Drew, meanwhile, is hitting .197 with runners in scoring position.
26. As you might know, I hate J.D. Drew.
27. Scott Podsednik hit .319 in June with nine steals, 16 runs and even three home runs. He is still available in 80 percent of ESPN.com standard leagues.
28. Paul Maholm is 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA in six home starts this season.
29. His ERA on the road: 6.05.
30. In seven starts at home, Joel Pineiro is 3-4 with a 2.55 ERA and a 20/4 strikeout-to-walk rate in 49 innings.
31. On the road, Jason Hammel is 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched.
32. Joba Chamberlain is 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA and a 33/16 strikeout-to-walk rate in 42.2 innings when he gets to pitch away from Yankee Stadium.
33. I am a company man: My friend, the suit Raphael Poplock, would like everyone to check out the new, improved and totally free ESPN Arcade. Why just waste time on fantasy?
34. Another friend, the suit Bimal Kapadia (who actually never wears a suit it wouldn't kill him to do so every now and then, frankly), wants you to waste time on the go. You can now download the ESPN Spelling Bee app for the iPhone.
35. After the All-Star break last year, Martin Prado hit .335 in 170 at-bats. He has been the regular starting second baseman for the Braves of late.
36. Troy Tulowitzki just finished the best June of his career, with highs in home runs (7), RBIs (15), steals (7), runs (19) and batting average (.305).
37. Over the past three seasons, Tulo has hit .247 before the break -- and .299 after it.
38. Everth Cabrera is hitting .323 and has three steals over his past 10 games. He is playing every day for the Padres. In 2008, he stole 73 bases in the minors.
39. Um, that's a lot.
40. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I'm pretty happy I managed to avoid dating Kate of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" fame. Given my track record, that was not a given.
41. On the heels of his great start in Milwaukee on Wednesday, it's interesting to note that Mike Pelfrey was 5-5 with a 3.82 ERA after the All-Star break last year. I'm not a huge fan of him, but he has pitched quite well at home this season.
42. Since May 1, Cody Ross has 10 home runs, 32 RBIs and is hitting .295. He is on pace for a 29-homer, 100-RBI season, and is available in more than 60 percent of leagues.
43. Cole Hamels is 2-3 with a 6.34 ERA in 38 innings on the road this season.
44. I had great fun talking about my beloved Lakers, celebrities in L.A. and "Beverly Hills, 90210" as a guest podcaster on "The Popcorn Machine" at Lakers.com.
46. Just to hammer home the point, those eight, in order, are: Roy Halladay (1.89), Tim Lincecum (2.02), Felix Hernandez (2.07), Nick Blackburn (2.11), Josh Beckett (2.17), Edwin Jackson (2.18), Javier Vazquez (2.38) and Matt Cain (2.42). Pretty good company.
47. Randy Wells is available in 85 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and Nick Blackburn is available in 79 percent of leagues.
48. Jered Weaver's past three starts: 1-1 record, 8.64 ERA. But two of the three starts came against the Dodgers and Rangers, among the best offenses in baseball. Try to buy low.
49. Only seven teams in baseball have a better team ERA from their starting pitchers than the Colorado Rockies.
50. Albert Pujols is very, very, very good.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- would like another margarita. He is a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend