Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: Another year in the Books (GIF edition)

Disclaimer: Players involved with steroids will not be mentioned, but you should've known better than to draft Ryan Braun. 
The "I bloody told you so" Awards... No Surprises Here. Fantasy Baseball MVP's
Miguel Cabrera, Det 3B
.355 Avg., 43 HRs, 130 RBI.
The undisputed best player in baseball for 2012 was, well.... the best in 2013. He's contending to be the only player in baseball history to win back-to-back triple crown awards. The player of this generation.

Note the plate coverage (looking at you Joey Votto). Yeah, he gets 2 .gifs
Clayton Kershaw, LAD SP
14-8, 201 K's, 1.89 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
All Dodgers fans should feel so lucky to have Clayton Kershaw on the mound every fifth day. Not only is he the best pitcher in baseball (likely winning 2 Cy Young's by age 25...), but he's now won the Roberto Clemente AND Branch Rickey awards. Phenomenal role model, human being, and athlete.

Other Notables:
Mike Trout, Andrew Mcutchen, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Robbie Cano
Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright (minus his last 2 games against Cincy), Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, Cliff Lee

Rookies of the Year
Wil Myers, TB OF
.291 Avg, 34 R, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB
Myers was acquired by the Rays in a trade with Kansas City for James Shields out of some kind of hope that the Royals were going to make a run for the wildcard. I do not doubt that TB produces great pitchers, but Tampa Bay straight up slayed KC on this trade, and they know it too. Even though Myers wasn't brought up until June (the Rays front office is notoriously stingy about paying rookies and arbitration) Wil, with one L, has since rocked the American League with the prettiest bat-flip HR celebration i've seen this year. 

Jose Fernandez, Mia SP
10-6, 173 K's, 2.33 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Now, before the Yasiel Puig army closes this window in disgust, let me elaborate, and keep reading! Fernandez was a fantasy-insider pick from the get-go, and I called bullshit. The Marlins were a dumpster team. How could they have any player besides Giancarlo Stanton worthy of even a glance, especially a pitcher who you knew wasn't going to get any run support (assuming you're in a league that uses W's as a category). Well I was wrong. Fernandez has won NL rookie pitcher of the month twice, and deservingly so. This 20 year old kid can deal. 

Other Notables

Yasiel Puig, Jose Iglesias 
Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Archer, Tony Cingrani

Waiver Wire Pickups of the decade Year (Undrafted in standard ESPN leagues)
Yasiel Puig, LAD OF
.350 Avg., 55 R, 14 HR, 32 RBI, 10 SB
Really the story of the league this year is the young Cuban defector who has dominated the league since being called up to a struggling Dodger's ball club. Before Puig's call-up, the Dodger fans were calling for Don Mattingly's head, now they're calling for his presidency. Not only does Puig bring offensive swag, notably on first pitches which he hits over .500 of the time, but he has also raised eyebrows on defense, especially when choosing to throw over his cut-off man. 

Patrick Corbin, Ari SP 
13-5, 160 K, 2.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
Patrick Corbin was the hottest pitcher to start off the season, going 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA. He's since cooled off and now sports a 2.96 ERA but Corbin has certainly been a keystone player for Kurt Gibson's Diamondbacks and they'd probably be in better shape if the New Evil Empire, the Los Angeles Dodgers, hadn't pulled off historic records for both the months of July and August

Other Notables
Francisco Liriano, Ricky Nolasco, Jose Fernandez, Tony Cingrani, "the immortal" Bortolo Colon
Josh Donaldson, Chris Johnson, Jason Castro, Stephen Drew, Evan Gatis

The All-Bust Team (Biggest Fallers)
B.J. Upton, Atl OF
.191 AVG., 30 R, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 12 SB
With an average draft position (ADP) of 51.8, BJ was seen as a solid candidate in any team's OF to hit for average and have plenty of scored runs and steals, especially in a LOADED Braves lineup including his brother Justin Upton. Mendoza himself would be ashamed of BJ as he's hitting for a .191 Avg, 30 R's, 9 HR, 26 RBI, and 12 SB. These stats have him listed as the 153rd ranked OF in standard ESPN leagues, below just about any other OF that was drafted... ouch. 

Justin Verlander, Det SP

12-11, 182 K, 3.64 ERA, 1.34
The overall top drafted pitcher of this year's draft was anything but that, with a player ranking of 49. Verlander's ADP was 10.1 and is performing around an ADP of 150. The Detroit workhorse saw a significant drop in velocity from 98 to 94 MPH and his ERA and WHIP reflects that. In many ways Verlander has lost his position as club ace to the winniest pitcher in baseball, Max Scherzer... and to think of his record if he played for the Astros... ouch. Are we witnessing another Tim Lincecum fall from grace?

The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays
67-78 (as of 9/12)
That's right, this whole team was a bust. After making numerous trades with the Marlins and the Mets, the Blue Jays created a top heavy team who many chose as world series favorites at the beginning of the season, especially after having the best record at the conclusion of spring training (more proof that preseason for any sports is meaningless). After a string of injuries and disappointing pitching performances, the Blue Jays are set to finish last in the perennially competitive AL East. Notable letdowns and injuries: Jose Bautista (wrist), RA Dickey (unreliability of knuckleball), Jose Reyes (ankle), etc. etc. etc. DERP

Other Notables
Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Hamilton, Starlin Castro, Michael Morse, Josh Willinghan, Danny Espinosa. 
Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Gio Gonzalez, CC Sabathia, R.A. Dickey

The All-Pick Team (Biggest Risers)
Jean Segura, Mil SS
.298 AVG., 70 R, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 40 SB
Segura was a part of the trade involving Zach Greinke going to the Angels. Given the Angels' recent woes, and the fact that they didn't even make the playoffs makes one wonder if LAA is perhaps regretting this trade now that Segura has registered himself as the top rated overall SS. Jean had an ADP of 228, but after this year's performance expect to see him go in the late 2nd or 3rd round given the overall low availability at the SS position. Expect his R and RBI totals to increase next year with the return of He who shall not be named (Ryan Braun). No flashy gifs for this guy, he just simply gets it done.

Chris Davis, Bal 1B, OF, DH
.296 Avg., 99 R, 50 HR, 129 RBI, 3 SB
All hail the HR king. Miguel Cabrera's demise is on pace to hit more HR's in a season than any other Oriole before him and is a fresh breath of power in the post-steroid era. With an ADP of 149.8, Davis has risen to be ranked as the #1 overall OF, mainly because he hits for average and power - HR being the most important fantasy stat, after all. Enjoy this glorious gif. 

Matt Harvey, NYM SP
9-5, 191 K, 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP
We saw a little bit of Harvey last year, but this year he really flourished. Harvey had an ADP of 165 but finished the season as the 4th rated SP before injuring his elbow and ending his 2013 campaign for the Cy Young, and also for 2014 assuming that he gets Tommy John Surgery... poor Mets. Keep your chin up, kid.

Other Notables 
Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter, Michal Cuddyer, Jason Werth, Jonathan Lucroy
Shelby Miller, Hisashi Iwakuma, Anibel Sanchez, Mike Minor, Homer Bailey

The All-Injured Team
Matt Kemp, LAD OF
2013 has basically not existed for the Dodger's superstar, having suffered numerous ankle and hamstring injuries with multiple unsuccessful attempts to return. Kemp could return for the end of the season/postseason. Still, with an ADP of 6.7, anyone who drafted him around then is surely regretting that decision. 

Johnny Cueto, Cin SP
Since injuring his oblique in the 2012 postseason, Jonny has hit the DL 4 separate times. Cueto is emphatic that the injuries are not related to his unique pitching delivery, but with numerous oblique and lat injuries one has to wonder about the validity of that statement. Again, Cueto looks to possibly return for late in the 2013 season/postseason. Being the ace of his staff, we also must wonder how differently the Reds' season could've gone had they'd been pitching their ace every fifth day. Cueto had an ADP of 64 (18th highest among SP) and his player ranking currently sits at 112. 

Other Notables
Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, Giancarlo Stanton (is apathy an injury?), Jose Reyes, Bryce Harper (the kid is going to run his body into the ground), Derek Jeter. 
David Price, Matt Cain (?), Yovani Gallardo, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay. 

Concerning Closers
I'm not a big fan of closers in fantasy baseball considering that in most formats they are only relevant for one stat, saves. The position is highly vulnerable and has a high turnover rate, so simply put I do not draft closers. Regardless, the top two closers Craig Kimbrel & Aroldis Chapman both had great years, but this year is notable for other reasons.

Mariano Rivera, NYY RP
6-2, 43 SV, 51 K, 2.30 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
The best relief pitcher OF ALL TIME returned in 2013 after suffering a season-ending torn ACL injury while shagging balls in 2012. Mo has been doing his thang since before I was born and boasts numerous accolades, including having the 13th lowest ERA of all time and most saves all time . Mo, you will be missed. 

Koji Uehera, Bos RP
4-0, 19 SV, 94 K, 1.06 ERA, 0.56 WHIP
Guess who is rated as the 3rd best RP and had an ADP of 229.6? This guy. Now, I'm not trying to go ESPN on y'all and only talk about the AL East but this guy gets his shoutout for one reason: pitching a (hidden) perfect game. pretty fucking cool. 

Concerning Catchers
Most catchers are kept on teams for their defense, something that most fantasy formats do not address. So unless you can pick up Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, or Yadier Molina don't waste your picks and start looking for sleepers like this guy:

Jonathan Lucroy, Mil C
.285 Avg., 50 R, 17 HR, 77 RBI, 6 SB
The Milwaukee catcher, with an ADP of 221.1, has risen to be #4 ranked catcher with stats suggesting that he might even be better than the big 3. Lucroy has filled in where Braun left off at the cleanup spot and his numbers reflect that. He'll go in 5th round next year, if you're smart and like to have a good catcher on your team, take him in the 4th - he's younger and less prone to injury than the big 3. 

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