Fowl Ball: Ryan Fowler Fantasy Baseball Blog for June 13th, 2011 From WhatIfSports.com image

Fowl Ball: The Bourn Supremacy of Speed

A blend of pop culture, humor and fantasy baseball

By Ryan Fowler - WhatIfSports.com
June 13, 2011

The winds of hypothetical change could shake the pillars of Major League Baseball in the near future. Late last week, a proposal to realign the American and National League hit the wires. The most popular plan would move the Houston Astros to the American League, eliminate divisions, and qualify the top five teams from each league for the playoffs.

Houston's arrival in the AL would create a 15-team per league balance currently absent from the game. If Bud Selig and the owners follow through with the plan, which is still in its infant stages and may not materialize at all, it will be interesting to see if chicks dig realignment as much the long ball.

I dug up the MLB standings from 2000-2010 to learn which teams would have advanced to the postseason under the proposed AL and NL alignment.

MLB Realignment Proposal: Playoff Appearances Since 2000
ALAppearancesNLAppearances
New York Yankees11St. Louis Cardinals8
Boston Red Sox7Atlanta Braves7
Los Angeles Angels6San Francisco7
Minnesota Twins6Philadelphia Phillies7
Oakland A's5New York Mets5
Chicago White Sox4LA Dodgers5
Cleveland Indians4Chicago Cubs4
*Seattle Mariners4San Diego Padres3
Tampa Bay Rays2Arizona Diamondbacks3
Texas Rangers2Colorado Rockies2
Detroit Tigers2Florida Marlins2
**Houston Astros2Milwaukee Brewers1
Cincinnati Reds1

* - Beat Boston in 2002 simulation playoff.

** - Houston would have advanced to the National League Playoffs in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Fowl Facts

Michael Bourn

Michael Bourn is averaging 0.40 steals per game through Houston's first 66 games (note: he's appeared in 65 games). His 26 steals lead all of baseball and is on pace for around 60 swipes (assuming he plays 150 games). Over the last 28 games, Bourn hit .308 with 12 ribbies while successfully stealing 12 of 14 bases.

However, the Astros centerfielder continues to struggle against southpaws. His career average of .265 dips to .229 when a lefty takes the hill. This Achilles heal has forced Brad Mills to look to the bench to replace his leadoff hitter on a regular basis.

Bourn's replacement, Jason Bourgeois, has stolen 15 bases despite a stretch on the disabled list. That stat is magnified when you know he only has 25 hits and three walks. So, in 28 opportunities on the basepaths, Bourgeois has showcased his speed.

It should be noted that if Carlos Lee's hot bat - .312 batting average and 13 RBIs in last 28 days - cools down, Mills could adapt a speed kills mentality in his lineup with Bourgeois in left and Bourn in center on an everyday basis.

Fowl Tips

With all the attention on catchers like Buster Posey and Joe Mauer, Detroit's Alex Avila entered the 2011 season under the radar. With a 2010 campaign that consisted of a .228 average, 31 ribbies, 28 runs and seven homers in 104 games, most of Tigers' fans attention was on new addition Victor Martinez. But with the MLB summer break approaching, Avila is now receiving all-star consideration.

Among fellow catchers he's first in slugging, second in RBIs, third in batting average and tied for fourth in home runs and runs.

Is Alex Avila An All-Star Catcher? (through June 12th)
Avg.Slg.RBIHRR
Among All Catchers.297 (3rd).549 (1st)35 (2nd)9 (t-4th)24 (t-4th)

Yor the Man!

Yorvit Torrealba is option 1 and 1a for the Texas Rangers at catcher for the rest of June. Mike Napoli was placed on the DL over the weekend with an oblique injury. Taylor Teagarden was called up, but all signs point to Torrealba calling most of the games until Napoli returns.

Torrealba is hitting .246 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and 17 runs in 48 games this season.

Fowl Out...of the Box

This is going to come across as harsh, but unless Stanley Kubrick kidnapped me, strapped me into a chair and forced open my eyes, I probably wouldn't watch the MLB Amateur Draft.

Unlike their NBA and NFL counterparts, this Draft is trying desperately to gain a better reputation and a national audience, but with college baseball still a fringe sport and teams' tendencies to dip into the high school talent pool, the allure of hearing Andrew Milner was drafted out of Feather River Junior College in the 45th round (#1355th pick overall) by the Baltimore Orioles falls flat.

However, the Texas Rangers used one of their picks to remind us the good in sports still exists.

University of Georgia outfielder Jonathan Taylor became partially paralyzed following a freak collision with a teammate during a game this past March. While Taylor is still rehabbing, and not knowing if he'll walk again, the Rangers used their pick in the 33rd round to draft the young man. Texas picked the teammate who collided with Taylor, Zach Cone, four rounds later.

The Rangers proved the notion that "out of tragedy comes hope" as they provided these two teammates, once linked together by something tragic, a hope to cling to as they work towards a common goal.


Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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