Fantasy sports are always frustrating. A win feels mildly satisfying, but a loss can make you hate everything about the sport or want to quit fantasy sports altogether. I’ll be honest, many of my man crushes come from players I’ve had on my fantasy teams, and pure hatred for a player has also come from fantasy short comings. With the fantasy baseball championship round upon us, I find myself in the finals in one league and a battle for 5th place in my other league. I figured this would be as good a time as any to run through the fantasy MVP’s, and steals of the draft for the season. I’ll only focus on the league that I’m in the Championship for, which also happens to be the league that I’m in with the blog mates. Here was our draft results for your refrence (Chappy 81 – Salsa Valverde, MCeezy – Holy ShirtsandPants, Dyslecix – No Use For A Name)
MVP’s: Hanley Ramierez, Matt Holliday, and Joe Mauer deserve Co-MVP honors, and were three out of my first four picks. They are all ranked in the top twenty for the season, and undoubtedly helped my team get to the Championship round. Mauer should win the MVP award this season, but due to lame eastcoast media Jeter might skip away with the award much like Pedroia did.
Offensive steals of the draft: My team wouldn’t be where it is without Raul Ibanez (10th round) Carlos Pena (9th round), and Shin-Soo Choo (17th round). They were catalysts in my offensive power numbers combining for 86 of my teams 248 home runs on the season, which probably helped me win as nearly categories as the previous three mentioned players.
Offensive Bust of the Year: Milton Bradly. Although I didn’t pick him that high, I held onto him way too long. His season of below mediocrity explains itself.
Pitching and Steal of the draft: This year was always changing, but Felix Hernandez and Chris Carpenter were no doubt my horses. Chris Carpenter was the biggest steal I got on draft day as I picked him in the 19th round, and he ended up being the sixth ranked pitcher in Y! games. He is also looksing like a lock for his 2nd Cy young award this season posting 16 wins and a 2.34 ERA.
Honorable Mention: Jair Jurrens, my 16th round pick, had an outstanding year putting up 12 wins and a 2.45 ERA with 138 K’s.
MVP: Matt Kemp – This was a no brainer, as Kemp is the only player I had in the Top 25. He’s ranked #7 overall, as he’s amassed 25 HR and 34 Steals. He’s also on pace to eclipse 100 runs and 100 RBI as well. Nevermind the fact that he was a steal in the 3rd round (28th overall), Matt Kemp is a definite fantasy franchise player.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Broxton – Anchored a shaky corps of closers contributing 35 saves and 107 Ks in only 70 IP.
Steal of the Draft: Justin Verlander – I called this pick the steal of the draft before the season started, and his first few outings made me look like a fool. However, to this point, Verlander has 16 wins and a 3.44 ERA to go with his MLB leading 245 Ks. His slip in the draft is attributed to an injury riddled 08 campaign that produced some pretty ugly numbers. So, getting a player of his caliber in the 11th round (124th overall) and seeing him ranked 27th in the fantasy ranks is a steal indeed!
Honorable Mention: Adam Lind – 17th round. 196th overall. 30+ HR, 100+ RBI. None of the other 16 guys I picked before him put up bigger numbers.
Bust of the Draft: David Wright – Hard to call a guy who’s ranked #52 a bust, but when you chose him 4th overall, and you really wanted to take Braun, who ended up the 6th best fantasy player this year, it stings a little. Actually a lot, seeing as how I don’t even want to keep the guy as one of my three keepers. His average and stolen base totals were nice, but I was really expecting more than 10 HR and 60 RBI from my first round pick. Could’ve been worse…. I could’ve had Jose Reyes or Grady Sizemore.
Honorable Mention: Mike Aviles – Tempting to include Nate McLouth (5th rd) or Scott Kazmir (8th rd) since they were picked higher, but Aviles’ complete lack of production gives him the nod. I chose him in the 12th rd, two picks after Nelson Cruz, and basically handed him my SS spot. 1 HR and 8 RBI later, Aviles was done for the year, exiting with a stellar .183 batting average.
Co-MVP’s: Chase Utley & Ryan Howard - I remember logging on to our baseball draft at the start of the year and being sick that I was drafting at 11. Typically sitting at the backend of a draft can pay off and has its distinct advantages, however I typically want to avoid this draft spot in baseball for a variety of reasons. That despair quickly turned into optimism when big slugging Howard and his fabulous Philly counterpart Utley fell to 11 and 15 respectively. Any big baseball fan will be well aware of there numbers so I skip them, however offensively I have ridden them to a fantasy final for a 2nd time, and feel extremely good riding them the last two weeks for the title itself.
Honorable Mention: Jason Bay – Shocked he survived the entire turn back to me in the 4th round, his 35 home runs have been the perfect power addition to Utley and Howard. Although his batting average of .268 leaves much to be desired from a fantasy geek perspective, he easily deserves mention in anybody fantasy team MVP discussion.
Steal of the Draft: Andre Either – At the time I thought little of this pick in the 11th round, I knew the upside was there along several different categories but didn’t think much more about it. 31 home runs and 101 RBI’s later he easily goes down as my steal of the draft. By the way are you picking up on the trend here? My fantasy team this year was sporting some real power this year!! The real question I have now with Either is what’s his possible peak? Do I keep him next year over Jason Bay? Alas, a different topic for another day.
Honorable Mention: Heath Bell – In years past I’ve always discounted closers during my fantasy drafts, and by and large ignored them completely. However, over the last couple of years I have a new strategy with how to utilize them, and thus look for upside closers like Bell late in drafts. 37 saves later along 72 K’s he was a core aspect of my pitching staff all year long. With a price tag of a 16th round pick, he could easily have been my main steal of the draft as well.
Bust of the draft: Francisco Liriano – I’ll admit I was blinded by his pre-Tommy John career and thus most likely reached drafting him in the 5th round of the draft. Granted there isn’t a way to have forecasted such a terrible year, but I most likely should have looked else where drafting my first pitcher. In hind sight Adam Wainwright was the clear choice I dropped the ball on. As the baseball season winds down, Liriano can boast a brief stint in AAA, a demotion to the bullpen, and an ERA of 5.71 in only 119 innings. The word “bust” can’t describe my draft pick any better, and maybe it’s to understated, perhaps “Nuclear Implosion” is a bit better?
Honorable Mention: Cameron Maybin – Not much to say about this one. We drafted this year with the understanding that we were going to keeping three players for the following year, and Maybin was a gamble on the keeper front. Less then a month into the season it was readily apparent he couldn’t turn on MLB pitching and was getting over powered on a regular basis. Perhaps his upside will surface in the years to come, but this year wasn’t it for him. The cost of a 14th round pick was pricy for a player who I cut less than a month into the season.