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Mostly MLB Notes: The Matt Harvey Show

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Matt Harvey is the real deal (USAT)

I’m not sure what more can be said about Matt Harvey at this point, but I’ll go ahead and continue to pile on the praise. The guy has allowed six hits over 22.0 innings this season. Six! Thanks to a 0.82 ERA and a decent 0.55 WHIP, he’s been the No. 1 ranked fantasy player so far. Harvey’s control still isn’t great, as he’s walked multiple batters in all three of his outings (and he had a 3.93 BB/9 rate across Triple-A and with the Mets last year), but his stuff is among the nastiest in the league already. Harvey’s average fastball velocity (94.3 mph) has been the fourth-highest among all starters this season, while his slider (88.6 mph) has easily been the fastest (next highest is Madison Bumgarner at 88.0 mph) - with this ridiculous movement to boot. His curveball has also averaged the fourth-highest velocity, and he sports a plus changeup for the fun of it as well. Harvey’s 14.8 SwStr% leads the National League, and he somehow currently has a higher IFFB% (8.7) than line drive percentage (7.0). That’s pretty good. Over his first 13 starts in the major leagues, he has a 2.21 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 95 strikeouts over 81.1 innings with a .173 BAA. In case I haven’t been clear, I think Harvey is for real, although I will caution that odds are his ERA rises above 1.00 at some point this season. Matt Harvey once visited The Virgin Islands. They have since just been referred to as The Islands.

[Also: Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo arrested for DUI]

Jason Kipnis entered the All-Star break last year hitting .277 with 11 homers and 20 steals over 329 at-bats. After the ASB, he posted a .233/.322/.328 line with just three homers. The hope entering 2013 was that the first half was the better indication of future stardom for the now 26 year old, and the second half woes could be attributed to injury and/or wearing down during his first full season in the majors. Unfortunately, Kipnis has been even worse so far this season, currently sporting a hideous .125/.171/.219 line with zero homers and zero steals. It’s obviously been a small sample, but when looking at how he finished 2012, there’s got to be at least some concern. Kipnis was the 26th most valuable fantasy player last year over the first half of the season, according to Baseball Monster, and that’s not even factoring in position scarcity. Since then, he’s been the 311th most valuable fantasy player. Kipnis has struck out 11 times over 32 at-bats this season and is sporting a 13.6 LD%, so it’s not like he’s experienced terrible luck either. Again though, with such a tiny sample in 2013, fantasy owners need to remain patient and hope the player from last year’s first half eventually shows up. There’s still plenty of potential, especially with Kipnis batting third in Cleveland’s lineup.

Giving Cops a Buzz Prank.

This storeowner heroically fends off gunmen with a bat.

Dexter Fowler has never hit more than 13 homers in a season and has stolen more than 13 bases just once in his career, but it’s hard not to get excited over his hot start, as he already has six home runs over the first 12 games of the year. He’s fast but unfortunately not a great base stealer, sporting just a 65.6% SB success rate during his career, which might ultimately prevent him from ever entering truly elite fantasy territory. Of course, if the newfound power is for real, that certainly changes things, as this is someone who only recently turned 26 years old and has a career .364 OBP. Part of the problem is trying to figure out what to make of the home run barrage, as he hit eight homers over his first 128 at-bats last season only to knock out just five more over his final 326 ABs. One encouraging aspect is that four of his six dingers have come on the road, as Fowler has always had massive home/road splits. Even if the power spike is short-lived, with modest improvement through sheer development and a strong OBP, Fowler should score 100+ runs while playing half of his games in Coors Field if he stays healthy, so he’s not someone you necessarily need to be trying to sell high. Still, it sure would be nice if he became a better base stealer.

Headlines of the week: Woman Found Guilty of Assaulting Police Officer With Quiche...Man Drinks Himself Blind With Vodka, Regains Sight With Whiskey...Somalia Gets a Tourist, Mogadishu Officials Are Baffled...Sobbing Stalker Throws Razor Filled With Pubic Hair at Hugh Jackman...Doctors Say Looking At Busty Women For 10 Minutes a Day Is Good For Your Health...DirecTV Adds Dog Channel to Appeal to Canine Audience.

[Also: Dodgers, Padres wisely put aside petty grudge]

After posting strong numbers in the minors, Mike Minor struggled over his first 200.0 or so innings with Atlanta, but a light turned on somewhere around the All-Star break last season. In fact, after the ASB, he recorded a 2.16 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with a 67:16 K:BB ratio over 87.1 innings. Minor has carried that into this season, as he’s allowed just one run with an 11:1 K:BB ratio over two starts. Since the aforementioned All-Star break last season, Minor has been the 18th most valuable fantasy player, according to Baseball Monster. The biggest change in his profile has been homers allowed, as he served up 32 bombs over his first 215.1 innings in the bigs compared to just eight long balls over his past 100.1. While one of his two starts this year came against the lowly Marlins (fun fact: John Buck, Chris Davis and Prince Fielder entered Monday with as many RBI (19) as Miami had as a team), Minor should get to face them another 3-5 times this year while sharing the same division, and the stats all count the same for fantasy owners. One counter against Minor at least worth mentioning is his inability to get batters to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, highlighted here by Mike Salfino. Personally, I think Minor is only going to continue to improve, and I’m buying in, and it sure doesn’t hurt having the Braves’ offense, defense and bullpen on his side.

This must be Steve Nebraska’s daughter. Although it doesn’t look like she also homered twice and appeared to have mixed in some balls while striking out every batter she faced, something Steve did not. Seriously, I refuse to believe there's a more unrealistic ending to any movie ever, and that includes science fiction.

Song of the week: “Kemosabe” by Everything Everything. (h/t Keith Law)

I can see both sides of the Zack Greinke/Carlos Quentin incident. On one hand, Quentin has been hit more than any player in baseball over the past five years (and this with him missing plenty of time with injuries), as he clearly crowds the plate to the extreme. Moreover, it happened during a full count in a one run game, so I doubt Greinke intended to hit him. On the other hand, there’s apparently a history there (Quentin admittedly has a history with a lot of pitchers if you go purely by HBP, but Greinke’s specifically involved some that came in high), and Quentin was just walking forward a bit until Greinke clearly said something that incited him. And I can’t get on board with Quentin’s punishment having anything to do with how long Greinke’s out, as it was the latter who chose to lower his shoulder and lead with it. And then there’s also this. Either way, it’s absolutely crazy to lose your star fantasy pitcher for so long as the result of a charging the mound situation. I can’t think of anything ever like it.

Man tries to take picture of beaver. It kills him.

Over his final 406 at-bats last season, Norichika Aoki had nine homers and 28 steals, which revealed quite a bit of upside after establishing himself as a full-time player in Milwaukee. The success has continued so far in 2013, as he’s posted a .396 OBP while walking more often (five) than he’s struck out (three) batting leadoff. Aoki has also added a homer and three steals over 48 at-bats. It’s probably safe to expect his .333 BA to drop, but he’s swung and missed on a ridiculously low 1.0 percent of the pitches he’s seen this year (he posted a 4.9 SwStr% last season), so with that type of bat control, a strong batting average should be in store. Aoki looks like he’s going to be a big bargain to fantasy owners who grabbed him in the middle rounds.

[Also: Phillies' Ben Revere has an early 'catch of the year' candidate]

TV Talk: I’ve read all three books and was once pretty obsessed with the franchise, so I’m all in on “Hannibal.” I haven’t been this excited about a network drama in a long time. The first two episodes were promising too…”Breaking Bad’s” final season can't start soon enough…I recently discovered “Hardcore Pawn” and my DVR can’t fill up fast enough. I’m oddly transfixed by it and usually those type of shows aren’t my thing…The latest episode of “Nathan For You” was a true masterpiece…And finally, check out this bizarre promo by ABC Family for “Batman Begins.”

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EE digging out of an early slump (USAT)

Edwin Encarnacion had shown flashes in the past, but he had never hit more than 26 homers, recorded more than 76 RBI or scored more than 75 runs during his seven years in the majors before last season, when he hit 42 home runs, recorded 110 RBI and scored 93 runs (while also adding 13 steals) at age 29. The career year came with an impressive 94:84 K:BB ratio, and it’s worth noting it was a rare season in which he was given a full-time job. Encarnacion’s 0.67 GB/FB ratio ranked second highest in MLB last season (Josh Reddick was No. 1 at 0.59), so the power should come, even though he’s off to a painfully slow start in 2013. The artist formerly known as E5 homered Sunday and had three hits Monday, so if there ever was a window to buy him cheaper than he came at draft tables, it’s fast closing. Toronto as a whole has been one of the biggest disappointments so far, and losing Jose Reyes atop the order hurts, but Encarnacion is locked in the cleanup spot, which should provide a ton of RBI opportunities with Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista in front of him. This Blue Jays lineup still has a lot of potential, especially with the impending return of Brett Lawrie.

Longread of the week: An important read about how pharmacy-funded research cherry-picks positive results. (h/t Chris Liss) Some seriously disturbing stuff.

[Also: Dodgers' Carl Crawford sports odd Jackie Robinson tribute]

Quick Hits: The Braves are 11-1 despite Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons combining to hit .163 (26-for-160). Of course, it helps when you allow only 1.91 runs per game…Cliff Lee had faced 170 consecutive batters without issuing a free pass – the fifth longest stretch in MLB history – before walking Jay Bruce on Monday…Coco Crisp was off to one of the hottest starts in all of baseball, posting a .333-15-4-7-4 line over his first 51 at-bats of the season, so it’s good that his groin injury appears to be minor. Meanwhile, since the beginning of June last year, the A’s are 81-42, which is the best record in MLB…Joey Votto has more walks (21) than the White Sox (18) have collectively, while Justin Upton has as many or more home runs (seven) than seven other teams…After recording 50 steals over his previous 54 attempts, Everth Cabrera has been caught during each of his past three tries…Jake Westbrook has more losses (one) than earned runs allowed (zero) this season…After averaging 103.3 walks per year over the past nine seasons, Adam Dunn is on pace to finish with 24.9 in 2013. For further illustration regarding Dunn’s conscious change to his approach at the plate and the disastrous results that have followed, this is a good read by Dave CameronEdward Mujica should be owned in all leagues right now…This catch by Ben Revere was legit...This Royals ball boy doesn’t quite understand the rules...Jose Fernandez thinks getting major league hitters out is a lot easier than putting on a jacket.

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