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The Furcal Effect

Matt Kemp's numbers have plummeted since Rafael Furcal has been out of the lineup.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In fantasy sports, sometimes you can make all the right moves and still suffer due to situations beyond your control.

For example, in the off-season you analyzed the Los Angeles Dodger lineup and determined that Matt Kemp was going to have a big year. You drafted him for your team, got him at a great price, then happily placed him in your starting outfield.

You were rewarded for your efforts as Kemp began the season strong. Through the team's first 32 games, Kemp was hitting .330, scored 19 runs and had 24 RBI. The RBI pace (.75 RBI per game) would net you a sweet 121 RBI for the season.

Then disaster struck and you didn't even see it coming, because it had nothing to do with Kemp.

The problem was with his leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal. Furcal, like Kemp was off to a monster start, batting a robust .366 with 34 runs, five HRs, 16 RBI and eight steals. The team was averaging an "un-Dodger-like" 5.375 runs per game. He was doing everything a leadoff hitter should do...except he hurt his back.

With Furcal out of the lineup, there was no one to distract the pitcher's concentration. In fact there wasn't anybody getting on base and the Dodgers have averaged just 3.43 runs a game since May 5th, the day Furcal left the lineup.

Kemp's number have plummeted. His average without Furcal at the top of the lineup is .251 and he has collected just 22 RBIs over the next 58 games or .379 RBI per game.

Kemp's not alone. Andre Ethier was batting .303 before the injury and .276 after. Jeff Kent is down from .286 to .245 and his RBI total would be a dozen higher with Furcal on the base path. James Loney has somehow kept his average up, but he too has seen his RBI total suffer.

Only Russell Martin seems immune to the "Furcal Effect." His average has hovered around the .300 mark with or without Furcal and he has improved his RBI per game without the star leadoff hitter from .375 to .517 per game.

Had you known that Furcal's injury was long-term, you could have traded Kemp at his highest trade value, but even there the news of the injury didn't portray it as threatening his entire season.

The moral of this story is sometimes you can do everything right and still not win. Sometimes the stars are correctly aligned and sometimes they are not. Just use this knowledge the next time a similar situation arises and you might still come out ahead of the game.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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