Whenever one of the worst offensive teams in the big leagues breaks out with consecutive eight-run innings and ends up scoring the equivalent of three touchdowns, and does so against arguably the top team in baseball, it's newsworthy for fantasy owners. So let's switch up the normal KaraBlog format and discuss seven things I noticed from this somewhat historic Seattle Mariners-Texas Rangers 21-8 game, both positive and negative.
1. Just one Mariners hitter is owned in 100 percent of ESPN standard leagues. And wouldn't you know it, that player, Ichiro Suzuki, was given the night off. Figures, right?
2. The No. 2-owned Mariners hitter is second baseman Dustin Ackley, but ... he's hitting only .251 and starting to be dropped in ESPN leagues (92.3 percent owned). Ackley smacked a three-run home run off Rangers lefty Derek Holland (more on him later), which is noteworthy because the lefty-hitting Ackley entered play Wednesday hitting .190 off southpaws, with no home runs. He also hadn't homered on an inside pitch all year, so perhaps he's making adjustments. I think Ackley is still worth owning in 10-team leagues as a 12-homer, 15-steal guy and a borderline top-10 second baseman with a bright future.
3. Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak is only 25 ... though it seems like he's been disappointing fantasy owners for years. Well, he has. Smoak blasted two home runs and knocked in six runs Wednesday, though both were on sub-90 mph fastballs when he was ahead in the count. Not that he should hit those 450 feet, but I need to see more. In May he has six home runs and 18 RBIs, but his .255 batting average doesn't impress. I personally don't think Smoak is a top-20 first baseman in fantasy yet. Entering Wednesday, his May OBP was .282. This is a deep position, and a 20-homer guy with a .250 batting average isn't special.
4. The main reason I'm watching third baseman Kyle Seager is because he's close to second-base eligibility. He's at seven games, needing three more to qualify. As a third baseman/corner infielder, Seager doesn't excite me, especially since he really hadn't done much in three weeks. But he had four hits and scored four times Wednesday, and his first two RBIs since May 19. He is walking more in the month of May, but I don't see a big power bat here. He's on pace for 15 home runs and 15 steals, which sounds about right, but that looks far better at Ackley's position. In fact, it would make him look a lot like Ackley.
5. You knew it was an odd night when Mariners catcher/DH Jesus Montero drew a fourth-inning walk. Earlier in the night, Montero whacked an opposite-field home run and a two-run double to left center. Look, the guy can rake, but he concerns me. The right-handed power hitter is hitting .197 against right-handers and .396 against lefties. There are at least two right-handed starters for each lefty in baseball. I've never thought of Montero as a J.P. Arencibia-like producer, with the 25 home runs and low batting average, but this year it might happen. Montero has drawn 10 walks in May, though. I think he's a top-10 catcher but will hit around .240.
6. On the Rangers side of things, fantasy owners have to be concerned about Holland, who has become an all-or-nothing pitcher. Last season, Holland led the AL with four shutouts, but since the start of 2011, he also has failed to make it through the second inning on three occasions, tied for the most in baseball among qualified starting pitchers. Eight runs in 1 2/3 innings is painful to fantasy owners. Holland's 4.05 ERA (entering Wednesday's start) jumped to 5.11. But the number I'm still looking at is 3.06. That was Holland's second-half ERA in 2011, when he was 9-1 with a 1.21 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 rate. We need more consistency, of course, and fewer two-inning poundings, but this is someone to invest in. I saw speculation after Wednesday that perhaps Roy Oswalt replaces Holland in the rotation, that Neftali Feliz might start after all. But I feel Holland is safe; in his previous outing, he fanned nine Toronto Blue Jays over 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs. Pitchers have bad outings from time to time, but that's when you invest. For example, look at Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett. The 12-run, 2 2/3-inning disaster on May 2 was a downer, but in his other seven starts, he's 4-1 with a 1.51 ERA.
7. One noted Rangers reliever is struggling. Lost in the pitching carnage from the past two days -- the Mariners also scored 10 runs Tuesday, and six came in the eighth inning -- is the troubling work of reliable right-handed reliever Mike Adams. He has faced nine hitters and retired just two of them, permitting five hits and being charged with six runs (though only four were earned). His ERA has jumped from 2.08 to an even 4.00. And he's owned in 8.4 percent of standard leagues, one of the highest percentages for a reliever who doesn't figure to earn saves, as Joe Nathan is safe and thriving. Adams was arguably baseball's top setup man from 2009-11 (combined 1.42 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 rate). And now? His struggles might be a mere blip, or they might be repercussions from a recent illness. But they also might be a sign that even the safest non-save relief pitchers have a short shelf life. Those who use holds in their leagues or play in AL-only formats should watch this situation. Feliz, Alexi Ogando or even Koji Uehara are also eighth-inning candidates.