Mike Napoli Sizzles While Fantasy Owners Get Burned

by Moonlight Graham

Think back to last year’s Fantasy Baseball Draft when you sat at the table clicking your heels, hoping for Geovany Soto to get through to the round in which you had him slotted.  Coming off a season so stellar that he garnered the Rookie of the Year award, Soto was even more enticing to Fantasy Baseball owners because his 23 HR and 86 RBI came from behind the plate; traditionally the weakest Fantasy spot.  But like many before him, (remember Rick Wilkins?), Soto failed to build on his initial success.  Instead of the 30-100 season many expected, his was an injury riddled exercise in disappointment. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

Pitchers and Hitters

Despite the fact that the Red Sox took a beating last week in the Bronx, Josh fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhBeckett, Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester all turned in solid performances on the hill…   Baltimore’s Aubrey Huff has cleared waivers and can now be dealt… Despite posting stellar numbers in Seattle, Jarrod Washburn has been brutal in two starts since being traded to Detroit.  Some guys seem to thrive on mediocre teams… Angels’ OF Vlad Guerrero is 10 for 28 with 4 HR since returning from the DL… Since the All Star break, Twins’ starters have an ERA of 5.97, severely limiting Joe Nathan’s save opportunities… Ichiro Suzuki is 30 hits shy of becoming the first Major Leaguer with 200 hits in 9 consecutive seasons… Milwaukee’s Manny Parra is 4-0, 1.10 since returning from the minors… The Phillies have moved Jamie Moyer into the bullpen to clear a spot in the rotation for Pedro Martinez.  Hard to imagine Moyer will have any Fantasy Baseball value as a reliever… San Diego rookie Mat Latos has 4 wins in his first 5 starts… Nyjer Morgan is hitting .362 since coming to Washington from Pittsburgh… Troy Tulowitzki, fresh off a 7 RBI game that featured a cycle, is now batting cleanup for the Rockies… Is there any MLB player that gets less respect than Adam Dunn?  On his way to his fifth straight 40 HR season, Dunn almost had to beg for a contract last winter before signing with the Nationals… Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera are all nursing minor injuries.  Don’t be surprised if Yankee manager Joe Girardi takes advantage of their six game lead and gives each an occasional day off… The Brewers’ sent the struggling J.J. Hardy to the minors and presented Fantasy Baseball owners with an opportunity for some quick, cheap SB by handing the SS job to rookie Alcides Escobar, who had 42 SB when called up… Boston’s Kevin Youkilis will not appeal the five game suspension for his ridiculous overreaction to being plunked Monday night by Rick Porcello… Porcello was also handed a 5 game ban but will only miss one turn in the Tigers’ rotation… 30 of Rays’ 1B Carlos Pena’s 85 H have been HR.

Buy Low

In Detroit, Magglio Ordonez has turned in three straight solid performances vs. RHP and may be on the verge of getting his full time job back.  He’s not the Magglio we all know and love but, he could help you down the stretch… Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez has been moved up to the second spot in the order and should see a bump in R…

Sell High

Kenji Johjima is losing playing time to Rob Johnson and hasn’t made consecutive starts in a month… Not only did Tampa Bay drop B.J. Upton to ninth in the batting order, he’s pissing and moaning about it; not a good sign… Roy Oswalt was cuffed around in his first start off the DL and may be more valuable to you in a trade…

Grab Bag

Kyle Davies makes his second consecutive appearance in the Grab Bag after a strong outing vs. Minnesota.  He’s worth a shot, especially in AL only leagues… Royals’ 1B Billy Butler has 36 doubles and is a FA in most mixed leagues.  Don’t forget his September power surge last year… Denard Span was 9-14 vs. Detroit last weekend and seems to have jumped ahead of Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez in the crowded Minnesota outfield… If you’re looking for W in your AL only league, Seattle’s Ryan Rowland-Smith might be a nice pickup based on his two solid outings since coming off the DL… Trent Oeltjen has started his MLB career with a .500 BA over his first 6 games and will be a regular in the D’Backs’ OF with Chris Young gone… Don’t look now but Barry Zito is 3-0 2.19 over his last 4 starts…

Drop Zone

Can’t believe there will be much playing time left for Scott Podsednik in Chicago now that Alex Rios is on board.  There may only be pinch running and an occasional start… Jose Contreras is 0-4 6.75 over his last five and doesn’t even warrant a spot on a deep, AL only roster. Dump him before Ozzie Guillen does… Tampa plans to use a platoon behind the plate, giving Gregg Zaun most of the AB and rendering Dioner Navarro worthless… Patience has finally run out in Arizona for OF Chris Young who was dispatched to the minors this week…

Sick Bay

Carlos Delgado has experienced a setback in his rehab and will probably not return this season… Justin Duchscherrer returns to Oakland’s rotation this weekend after being out all year with elbow and back issues… Cubs’ 3B Aramis Ramirez is experiencing soreness in the shoulder he dislocated in May… Chad Billingsley missed a start for the Dodgers with a strained hamstring but should avoid the DL…

While the Rays and Phils get down to the business of the World Series, we’ll stop to take a look back at those players that helped their Fantasy owners more than any others during the year.  As is often the case, not many of our honorees appeared during the post season in the world where the only numbers that count are on the scoreboard.  Disagree with some of the choices? Then, let’s hear it.  My email address is listed below.

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Catcher-Though his owners would love to see more power, Joe Mauer walked away with his second career batting title while leading AL catchers in RBI.  While it’s true that the absence of Victor Martinez and Jorge Posada made this a thin position, Mauer was still great.

First Base-Though it’s unlikely he’ll get enough votes to garner his second AL MVP award in three years, Justin Morneau was still better than anyone else at 1B this year.  Always asked to carry the offensively challenged Twinkies, he never disappoints.  A .300+ BA along with 30 HR and 100+ RBI have become the norm for this emerging superstar.

Second Base-Red Sox fans miffed at Kevin Youkilis being passed over at 1B are not going to be pleased with this selection either.  While Dustin Pedroia is being trumpeted for MVP consideration, the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler was head and shoulders above his peers.  Before going down in early September, Kinsler was in the top ten of most categories and was leading the league in total bases.  The fact of the matter is that Kinsler and whoever you replaced him with had better stats than Pedroia.

Shortstop- Michael Young makes it an all Texas keystone combo as his usual BA and R were enough to place him on top of a weak Fantasy group.

Third Base- Lost in the disaster that was the Tigers’ season was the huge production of Miguel Cabrera, who will go into 2009 with eligibility at 1B as well.  His .292 BA 37 HR and 127 RBI were enough to nose out Alex Rodriguez.

Outfield-One of two players to appear on our fantasy sleeper and all star lists is ChiSox OF Carlos Quentin.  Despite missing the last month, he still managed to cop the league HR crown.  Josh Hamilton gives the Rangers its third representative despite his late season fade.  Based on his Home Run Derby performance alone, he merits a nod.  His .302 BA 32 HR and 130 RBI simply sealed the deal.  Bobby Abreu takes the last OF spot based on a 20-20 season that also featured a .300 BA, 100 R and 100 RBI.

Starting Pitcher-Hard to ignore a 23-2 record, which is why Cliff Lee gets the nod at this spot.  Would have loved more strikeouts and looked st Roy Halladay but Lee takes a close race.

Relief Pitcher- Easiest call we’ve made all year.  Francisco Rodriguez set the Major league record for saves at 60.  Case closed.

If you were in an AL only league, it is highly unlikely that you enjoyed a successful season without a few of these sleepers falling into your lap.  Even in deep leagues, it is likely that most, if not all, of the list was either drafted very late or acquired as free agents.  However they were acquired, they provided a much needed boost to owners who went on to win their leagues.

In a season that saw perennial Fantasy studs like Jorge Posada, Carlos Guillen, Hideki Matsui, Erik Bedard, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Chien Ming Wang all miss huge chunks of the season to injury, the skill of Roto players was tested throughout the season as free agent pickups became critical to each team.  Missing from the list below were players like Texas Rangers’ CI/OF Chris Davis who were called up in midseason.  Although their performance was terrific, it fell just short of our sleepers’ year long excellence.

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Catcher- Owners of Indians’ C Victor Martinez suffered through a miserable two months before his injuries became too much for him to deal with.  Taking a little sting out of the high pick that was likely used to acquire the Tribe’s backstop, however, was Kelly Shoppach, whose performance as VMart’s replacement may have permanently moved Martinez to 1B.  Shoppach belted 21 HR for Cleveland to lead all AL catchers and vaulted himself into the upper echelon at the position for 2009.

First Base-Even though he had produced a few 100 RBI seasons in Tampa Bay, it had been quite awhile since Aubrey Huff of the Orioles’ had drawn much fantasy draft day interest.  That won’t be the case next spring as Huff was one of the AL’s most productive hitters.  His .304 BA 32 HR 108 RBI were better than many that were picked in the first few rounds.

Second Base-Even though his post season performance brought him a lot of attention last season, there were not many who predicted the MVP caliber season turned in by Red Sox second sacker, Dustin Pedroia.  His .326 BA was a mild surprise but his 17HR and 83 RBI vaulted him into the first three rounds of 2009.

Third Base-Melvin Mora of the Orioles managed to turn the clock back a few years in his most productive season since 2004. Melvin poked 23 HR and had 104 RBI despite going undrafted in many leagues.

Shortstop-In a weak crop, Royals SS Mike Aviles gave owners a mid season boost by posting a .324 BA, 10 HR and 51 RBI after being called up to the big club in June.

Outfield-Jack Cust had 33 HR and posted a .374 OBP in Oakland.  In the Windy City, Carlos Quentin managed to win the AL HR crown despite missing the last month with a broken wrist.  His 36 HR and 100 RBI were leading the MVP race when he went down.  Milton Bradley rebounded from a knee injury and emotional meltdown in San Diego by making the AL All Star squad.  Hitting behind Josh Hamilton in the Rangers’ powerful lineup, Bradley flourished.

Starting Pitcher- Cliff Lee came off of most free agent lists and onto the top of everyone’s Cy Young list.  His 23-2 season was even more impressive considering the Indians’ season long struggles.

Reliever-With all of their sleepers, it’s no wonder the Orioles had their best season in a few years.  RP George Sherrill rounds out the list.  His 31 S in his first season as a closer boosted many owners into the top half of the standings.

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