For all the disappointment that Chris Davis has heaped on fantasy owners this year, it's not a total loss. His abject failure has spawned a new craze that's sweeping the nation (or at least my family room). Following in the footsteps of the timeless jokes like "Yo momma's so stupid she thought Meow Mix was a CD for cats," I offer you these gems:
Chris Davis is so bad he makes Rob Deer look like Ted Williams.
Chris Davis is such a failure he makes the XFL seem like a good idea.
Chris Davis is so crappy that Rangers fans change their underwear after his at-bats.
Chris Davis is so useless he's being taught with algebra in high school.
All statistics through June 23.
Mike Cameron: Mike has been playing more like Kirk Cameron in recent weeks. Over his last 16 games and 57 at-bats, he's hitting .123 with a staggering 26 strikeouts. He's never been lauded for his restraint at the plate, but striking out in over 45 percent of his at-bats is bad even for Cameron. Fantasy owners have typically suffered through these rough stretches in exchange for the steals, but over that stretch he's swiped just one base. In fact, he has only three steals on the season, which puts him on pace for the lowest total of his career. Part of that can be attributed to a balky knee that has troubled him in recent weeks, but since he's unlikely to hit .250 and isn't running, his ownership percentage baffles me. I would much rather have Scott Podsednik or Chris Coghlan if you need steals.
Mike Lowell: For the sake of Lowell's owners, let's hope his recent weekend off rejuvenates him as well as his bat. Sox skipper Terry Francona said Lowell's surgically-repaired hip has been sore, and the rest was overdue. With Lowell mired in a .209 slump over his last 13 games, rest isn't the only thing he's overdue for. His Batting Average On Balls In Play (BABIP) is near his .293 career mark, so that isn't holding him back. With Lowell chasing more pitches out of the strike zone, his walk rate of 5.1 percent is by far the lowest of his career. He's also hitting more ground balls, and I'm pretty sure that's not good news for a 35-year old guy coming off hip surgery. While Lowell isn't going to completely break down, he also isn't going to stay hot for long stretches, either.
Alfonso Soriano: Given his recent injury history, it's hard to say whether Fonsi's slump is normal since he's usually hurt by now. Still, his last month has been woeful with a .154 average since May 20. Soriano also has just five RBIs over that span and has whiffed 34 times in 123 at-bats. He has only seven steals, which puts him on pace to steal fewer than 20 bases for the third straight year. Soriano's .249 BABIP is due for a correction, but some of that has to do with a 7.3 percent increase in his ground ball rate and a corresponding decrease in line drives. With his average at .224, Soriano owners might be fed up enough to part with the underachieving slugger. If you can swing a deal, I think he can get you 16-18 bombs over the remainder of the season while hitting .270. Just don't expect the steals and you won't be disappointed.
Ryan Zimmerman: That 30-game hitting streak seems like a distant memory after hitting just .198 in his last 24 games. In 91 at-bats over that stretch, Zimmerman has struck out 25 times and one home run. It's tough to heap all the blame for the recent swoon on Zimmerman given the quality of his supporting cast. It's kind of like pairing Pete Townshend with your local Ratt cover band; he'll wow you during the solos but can't totally overshadow the fact that the other guys are talentless hacks. With the Nats, it's not like there are other threats in the lineup, nor are guys getting on base in front of him with any regularity. Despite the fact that he'll continue to see fewer pitches to hit, Zimmerman will still be productive over the rest of the season as long as he can re-discover the patience he showed early on.
Derek Lowe: On the surface, Lowe's beating at the hands of the lowly Orioles (seven earned runs in just 2.1 innings) seems like an aberration, but after looking closer at his stats, I'm not so sure. He's 1-3 over his last five starts with a 5.46 ERA. Even more disconcerting is the fact he's struck out only 12 batters in nearly 30 innings over that stretch. In fact, his Strikeouts per Nine Innings (K/9) are below 5.00 and are currently the lowest of his career. At the same time, his Walks Per Nine Innings (BB/9) are up nearly one free pass since last season. Based on his swing and contact rates, hitters are laying off more outside pitches, swinging at significantly more strikes, and making much better contact when they do. A traditional ground ball pitcher, Lowe has also seen his ground ball-to-fly ball rate drop consistently over the past few seasons to its current low of 1.90. His track record would indicate he's due for a rebound, but at 35 years-old, I'm skeptical.
Paul Maholm: After an impressive 3-0 start, Maholm has been as effective as John Daly running an AA meeting. In 11 starts, he has a 1-4 record to go with a 5.48 ERA. He has dramatically shifted his pitch selection this year, as his fastballs have dropped about 8 percent while his sliders and changeups have increased. That new mix may have fooled hitters initially, but they've been able to scout his approach and make adjustments. His BABIP is due for a slight correction, but then again so is his HR/FB rate, which is well below its historical mark. Even amidst his struggles, Maholm has allowed two or fewer earned runs five times during those 11 starts. The problem is due to a combination of poor run support and a terrible bullpen, he's 0-1 in those five outings. Between that and his inconsistency, you can't expect more than six wins and a 4.30 ERA the rest of the season.
Chad Qualls: Qualls has struggled through forearm tightness in recent weeks, and his performance on the mound has showed it. Over his last 10 appearances, he's blown two of five save chances while surrendering 16 hits in 8.1 innings. Qualls' 8.64 ERA over that stretch is due to the fact that he's allowed earned runs in five of those 10 outings. Until these recent struggles, Qualls had been very effective and has displayed solid control with just four walks all season. His .379 BABIP is also due for a correction, and the fact he's inducing more ground balls bodes well for that. Outside of the injury concerns, Qualls is a good buy-low candidate. If he were to falter, Jon Rauch and Tony Pena are Arizona's best bullpen options, with Rauch looking more effective in the last few weeks.
Joe Saunders: Saunders followed up last year's surprise season with a 6-2 start in 2009. Since then, he's gone 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA over his last five outings. Those numbers aren't exactly reminiscent of Jose Lima, but there are a few reasons for concern. Over that stretch, his BB/9 is up nearly a full walk when compared to his first nine starts. On the season, his .266 BABIP rivals last year's uncharacteristic mark and seems long overdue for a correction. Finally, here is a list of the teams he has defeated to get his seven wins: Oakland (twice), Seattle (twice), Baltimore, Kansas City, and San Diego. That's not exactly a who's who of upper echelon teams. While I can't make an argument for him to post a sub-4.00 ERA the rest of the way, I think he still has a legit shot to win 13-15 games.
Chris Volstad: Volstad's win on Sunday over the Yankees halted a four-game losing streak for the young right-hander. Over those last five starts though, Volstad has seen his K/9 drop to 4.45 after posting a 7.52 mark in his first 10 starts. His control continues to be a pleasant surprise with just 2.62 BB/9, while his homers per nine innings and strand rate are higher than normal. Similar to Maholm, Volstad has allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his 15 starts but is just 2-2 in those outings. His minor league numbers would tell you the early rash of punchouts were an anomaly, although it's worth noting that his strikeout rate is much better at home than on the road. At just 22 years of age, the consistency won't be there, but if he can start inducing more ground balls, I think he can post a 4.50 ERA with six wins the rest of the way.