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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Pick Three and pitching questions

If you're in an league, you've probably noticed the %OWN icon listed along with each player's statistics. You probably haven't thought anything of it, but if you're a stats geek, it can be an interesting tool.

Many fantasy starters are owned in fewer than 40 percent of the ESPN leagues, and duds such as Royals infielder Mike Aviles (.183, one homer, eight RBI) are owned in more than half.

Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson, who has been dreadful, is still owned in 60.9 percent of the leagues on ESPN. Clint Barmes, who is eligible at second and shortstop, is owned in only 32.5 percent of the ESPN leagues, and Kansas City second baseman Albert Callaspo, who's batting .318, is available in 84.7 percent.

Are owners not paying attention? Is Steve Phillips doing the math, proving he can be annoying in two mediums? Why do I care?

The latter question is a very good one, but caring does at least give me a method of selecting the weekly Pick Three. Again, the following players are available in more than half of the ESPN leagues (this week, it's 67.5 percent and up).

Clint Barmes, 2B, SS, Rockies (owned in 32.5 percent of the ESPN leagues): You're not going to confuse him with Ian Kinsler, but any time you can acquire a middle infielder who is eligible at two positions and is batting .289 with six homers and 30 RBI in 61 games, it's worth a shot. Barmes has been very good this month (.367 with 11 RBI in 60 June at-bats), and he's stolen five bases and has an .823 OPS overall. Factor in his 393 at-bats last season, and he has 17 homers, 74 RBI and 18 steals while batting .290 in 594 at-bats (roughly a full season) since 2008.

Nick Blackburn, SP, Twins (13.2 percent):
He won 11 games in 2008, his first full big-league season, and he's been lights out of late (3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last five starts). For the season, he's 5-2 with a 3.31 ERA. The only negative is his lack of strikeouts: 37 in 84 1/3 innings this season and 96 in 193 1/3 last year.

Pedro Feliz, 3B, Phillies (7.8 percent): Once a decent source of home runs (Feliz had 20 or more every year from 2004 to '07 with the Giants), he has hit only three long balls. Still, he's batting .318 with 35 RBI in 60 games, numbers that certainly are worthy of a roster spot. Feliz is batting .367 with an .855 OPS in June.

Speaking of percentages ...

-- How is Tim Wakefield owned in only 38.9 percent of the ESPN leagues? Yes, he celebrated his 40th birthday almost three years ago, but the knuckle-baller is 8-3 and gets more run support than a pitcher who throws 36 times a year at the new Yankee Bandbox. Since May 2, Wakefield is 6-2. In those eight starts, the Red Sox have scored 56 runs.

-- Did almost everyone give up on Gavin Floyd? The White Sox pitcher is only a season removed from winning 17 games, but he's owned in only 35.2 of the ESPN leagues. If an owner foolishly dropped Floyd after his awful start, acquire him. In his last five starts, he's won only once, but seems to have turned his season around. He has a 1.67 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings in that span.

-- Don't drop Ricky Nolasco, who incidentally is still owned in 61.2 percent of the ESPN leagues despite getting demoted to the minor leagues last month. In two starts since being recalled by the Marlins, Nolasco has struck out 13 in as many innings and has a 2.77 ERA. He was 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA and 186 K's last season.

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