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Insider

Shields fires gem; Davis hits 33rd homer

10/3/2012

Tampa Bay Rays right-hander James Shields finished his season with a dominating effort against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, striking out 15 in a complete game, though he lost. Shields allowed only two hits, but one was a Chris Davis home run. Shields didn't have quite the year he did in 2011, but it wasn't far off, and he should be considered a safe top-20 starting pitcher in 2013 drafts.

• As for the ever-streaky Davis, he's on quite the roll, with home runs in six consecutive games (seven in all), and 13 RBIs in that span. Davis is a career .258 hitter, so few can complain about his current .272 batting average. Ignore the strikeouts and enjoy what Davis does well. Only 10 players have hit more home runs than his 33 this season. It's reasonable to expect 30 more in 2013.

• Speaking of 33, Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche will likely finish with that many home runs, and his solo blast Tuesday gave him an even 100 RBIs. Shoulder problems limited LaRoche to a .172 average and three home runs in 2011, but he came back strong. Those in daily leagues should prepare for LaRoche to sit Wednesday, but he has earned it. He's a top-15 first baseman next season.

• Teammate (for a day) Adam Greenberg was the story in Miami on Tuesday, but Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner took a shutout into the eighth inning. He ultimately allowed three hits and a run before Heath Bell blew his win, but Turner, only 21, impressed after being dealt from Detroit. Turner's NL ERA was 3.38, his WHIP 0.98, and he should matter in standard leagues in 2013.

• Another pitcher to watch is Houston Astros right-hander Bud Norris, who tossed six shutout innings at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, ending his season with 13 1/3 scoreless innings. Norris had a disappointing campaign, but he's a big strikeout option with the potential to emerge as a top-30 starting pitcher. Don't discount him just because the Astros are headed to the AL West.

• And finally, the player that entered Tuesday dead last in Wins Above Replacement homered for the 16th time and raised his batting average to .237. Indeed, it hasn't been a fun year for Kansas City Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur, but 2011 certainly was, and while it's easy to predict 2013 will be disappointing, stranger things have happened. Take a shot on Frenchy late in AL-only formats.