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2009 Fantasy Baseball Season Wrap-Up

Zack Greinke

Aaaaaaannnnnnnnnnd that does it! The baseball season has officially come to an end. This of course means that fantasy baseball has officially closed in the year 2009. If we all want a taste of this game again, we will have to wait a few months until the 2010 draft preparations begin.

Congratulations to all of those who won league titles. The time we spent on our constant, day-by-day checking of box scores will have to be put to better use…probably with hockey or basketball.

Instead of doing what I usually do here, which is listing the best hitters and pitchers from the previous week, I am going in a different direction. Instead, I would like to list the players who performed beyond our expectations, the players who broke our hearts, and players we should keep an eye on for 2010. So here is the 2009 season in a nutshell.

2009 Fantasy Baseball Season Wrap-Up

Surprises (Hitters)

Mark Reynolds (1B, 3B), Arizona Diamondbacks

Most people didn’t even draft Reynolds as a starter. Who could blame them? All you were expecting was maybe a cheap 30 home runs combined with record-breaking strikeout totals and a terrible batting average.

Well, he sure showed us! Reynolds turned into an elite, must start player with 44 home runs and 102 RBI and a better than expected .260 avg. Reynolds showed off impressive wheels for a slugger with a career-high 24 swipes. Of course, if your league counted strikeouts, you took his season with a grain of salt as Reynolds shattered his own record by whiffing a ridiculous 223 times.

Odds are another 40-HR season is not on tap next year, but hey, 30 home runs and the potential for another 20+ stolen bases is not easy to come by.

Aaron Hill (2B), Toronto Blue Jays

The A.L. Comeback Player of the Year shook up the 2B position by leading all others with 36 home runs and 108 RBI. It’s been a while since Chase Utley was not the best 2B in fantasy.

Hill set career highs in almost every offensive category and believe it or not, I think he has the potential to overtake the 2B position in 2010. He has always been a decent hitter with a .285 career batting average and his career line drive percentage is a robust 20.2%. Along with that is his career BABIP of .310. This all means that he is a truly skilled player that puts plenty of wood on the ball and that tells you that his stats are legit.

Batting #2 in front of teammate Adam Lind should ensure another All-Star season next year. Hey, speaking of Adam Lind…

Adam Lind (LF), Toronto Blue Jays

It was never a question of “if”, but “when” with Lind. We all knew he had the talent and power to be a major player in the game and 2009 was the first season where he finally put it all together. Lind had spent the majority of his major league career as a September call-up or reserve player. After a decent July-September of 2008, Lind got a starting gig this season.

He rewarded Toronto’s faith with an offensive explosion of 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 46 doubles, and a .305 average. I think next season, you can expect a slight regression with the batting average, but the power will remain. Lind and Hill make for one of the best young duos in the A.L. Especially when they bat #2 and #3 in the order.

Jayson Werth (LF, CF, RF), Philadelphia Phillies

When I drafted Werth in the SoB league way back in March, here is what I said about him:

“Jayson Werth in round 14. He finally has the starting job locked down in Philly and was 24-20 last season. A potential 25-25 player that late is incredible”

I got more than I thought I would because Werth turned my 14th round investment into 36 home runs, 99 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. His patience at the plate improved greatly as evident by his 91 walks.

I was sold on him then, and I am sold on him now. I will draft him again next season too.

Pablo Sandoval (C, 1B, 3B), San Francisco Giants

I have been eating crow on Sandoval all season, and rightfully so. I tore him a new asshole when I wrote about his slow start to the season:

“Sandoval was seen as a sleeper and late round steal on draft day, but I just feel in my heart that he will be a tremendous disappointment in 2009. I’ve been wrong before, but I doubt I will be this time.”

Kung Fu Panda turned in a season worthy of Rookie of the Year honors as he hit .330 with 25 homers and 90 RBI. Beware though, he will not have catcher-eligibility next season.

Michael Bourn (CF), Houston Astros

You only drafted Bourn for one reason: stolen bases. Oh, and you got plenty of those with a N.L.-best 61. On the other hand, you did not expect a respectable .285 avg out of a man who hit .229 during the previous season.

Tread softly if you want him in 2010. Bourn’s BABIP was a staggering .367 this season. In 2008, when he hit .229, his BABIP was at the norm with a mark of .291. If you think he can have another full season of lucky drops, then more power to ya.

Ben Zobrist (2B, SS, LF, CF, RF), Tampa Bay Rays

In addition to having one of the hottest wife’s in baseball, and qualifying at five positions, Zobrist managed to come out of nowhere and be a huge producer for the Rays.

He hit .297 with 27 home runs, and 91 RBI. Zobrist was a power and speed threat with a great walk total (91). If you had him in the playoffs, then he finished strong in September/October with a .327 avg, four homers, and 20 RBI.

As far as I know, he will qualify at all the same positions next year, so in addition to his hitting, his position versatility is a huge asset.

Jason Bartlett (SS), Tampa Bay Rays

Zobrist wasn’t the only Tampa Bay player to have a breakout year. Bartlett was one of the best hitters with a .347 avg in the first half. Injuries sidelined him only for a short time, but they still caused him to play in just 137 games.

In the end, Bartlett settled on a .320 avg, 14 home runs, and 30 stolen bases. With Bartlett, beware of his high BABIP of .368 when you are preparing for next season.

Billy Butler (1B), Kansas City Royals

Butler emerged as one of the game’s best young hitters with 183 hits. All of those hits resulted in a .301 avg, 51 doubles, 21 home runs, and 93 RBI. He accomplished this with a great second half that saw him hit .314 with 13 HR, and 55 RBI.

He has always been a stud after the break, but maybe he can finally make it work for a full season in 2010.

Miguel Tejada (SS), Houston Astros

Tejada put on a clinic during his contract year. Tejada churned out 199 hits for a .313 average. Rounding out his stats were 14 homers and 86 RBI. Tejada helped owners in the playoffs as he ended the season on a 21-game hitting streak.

His power is zapped and he will be 36 next May. If he lands anywhere other than an N.L. team, then he won’t be as productive.

Surprises (Pitchers)

Zack Greinke (SP), Kansas City Royals

OK, maybe not as big a surprise as others due to his very much improved 2008 season. But come on, did you really expect him to be this good? No, you didn’t!

Greinke has put himself in position to win the A.L. Cy Young with a 16-8 record and league-leading 2.16 ERA. He set career marks in: wins, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. Greinke also had more complete games this season (6) than he had in his entire career.

Chris Carpenter (SP), St. Louis Cardinals

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007 and being out of baseball until July of 2008, Carpenter was seen as either completely finished or as a huge risk on draft day. Concerns went through the roof as Carpenter landed on the disabled list in April with a rib cage strain.

However, if you kept with him, you were rewarded with 17 wins, 2.24 ERA, and 1.01 WHIP. He has been nothing short of spectacular as a Cardinal, but can he stay healthy for another full season?

Justin Verlander (SP), Detroit Tigers

He was never really the “ace” of your fantasy staff, but was always a reliable option. Then after a disastrous 2008 season (11-17, 4.84 ERA), everyone abandoned ship. Following his terrible start to the season (6.75 ERA in April), Verlander found himself on the chopping block.

Oh but how things turn around so quickly. From May-July, Verlander posted a 2.30 ERA and amazing 10.59 K/9. In the end, he went from reliable starting pitcher to worst draft pick ever to possible Cy Young winner. He tied for the major league lead in wins with 19 and he led the majors with 269 strikeouts.

Jair Jurrjens (SP), Atlanta Braves

On draft day, Yahoo! had him ranked outside of the top 200 players. I think he may get a slight push next season.

Jurrjens’ 2.60 ERA was good for third best in the N.L. and he had 14 wins. If Atlanta had better run support, Jurrjens would have had close to 17-18 wins.

His .273 BABIP does point to a slight rise in ERA next year. Yet, he induces plenty of ground balls and playing at Turner field will ensure that he won’t have too many home run problems.

Andrew Bailey (RP), Oakland A’s

Who would be Oakland’s closer coming into 2009? Brad Ziegler or rookie Andrew Bailey? Well, Bailey took over and delivered the goods with 26 saves, a 1.84 ERA, and 9.83 K/9.

He warrants serious consideration for the Rookie of the Year Award and has solidified himself as a top-tier closer in 2010.

Randy Wolf (SP), L.A. Dodgers

He wasn’t flashy, but he gave you what you wanted. From June 29th to September 26th, Wolf produced 16 quality outings in 17 starts.

He ended with 11 wins and a 3.23 ERA. It is usually only the likes of Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke who gave owners the piece of mind to just let a pitcher go out there and give a good start. Wolf didn’t dazzle with strikeout numbers, but he got you the valuable innings and ERA that you needed.

Trevor Hoffman (RP), Milwaukee Brewers

Booted from town in favor of Heath Bell, Hoffman hadn’t pitched for a team other than the Padres in 14 years. Age concerns and an increasing ERA also put fantasy managers at a state of uneasiness.

Hoffman responded with the second best ERA of his career (1.83) and 37 more saves for his lifelong total.

Tommy Hanson (SP), Atlanta Braves

Rookies are always a risk. I personally love rookies, but missed out on drafting Hanson.

In his first full season in the majors, Hanson lived up to his enormous hype with an 11-4 record and 2.89 ERA. The secret is out in Atlanta, so don’t think you can get Hanson at a bargain price again next season.

Jorge De La Rosa (SP, RP), Colorado Rockies

After starting the season 0-6 with a 5.43 ERA, De La Rosa was doomed to sit in the free agent pool of your league for eternity. As the season progressed, De La Rosa became a must have player.

After his 0-6 start, De La Rosa went 16-3 with a respectable 3.94 ERA and 9.39 K/9. De La Rosa got no respect due to his terrible start, but you will have the heads up going into the 2010 draft.

Ryan Franklin (RP), St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals also had closer questions coming into the season. In the end, Ryan Franklin won the job.

Franklin doesn’t have dazzling strikeout stuff, but he managed to get the job done. Franklin’s 1.76 ERA led all closers as he mowed down opposing batters and racked up 38 saves.

Busts (Hitters)

David Wright (3B), New York Mets

Not to knock his his ability to hit, because he gave us another .300+ batting average, but: Where the hell did his power go?

Wright was a consensus top-5 pick with the promise of 30 homers and 20 stolen bases. He ended up with 27 steals, but he only hit 10 home runs and drove in 72 RBI. You can blame the RBI total on the fact that Wright had nobody to drive in, but the sudden loss of power is a huge concern.

Grady Sizemore (CF), Cleveland Indians

Sizemore was another first rounder with the gifts of power and speed. After a 30-30 season in ’08, owners were giddy for 2009.

Numerous injuries and eventual abdominal surgery held Sizemore to 18 home runs and a .248 avg in just 106 games. On the bright side, he will fall in next year’s draft.

Josh Hamilton (CF, RF), Texas Rangers

Everybody’s favorite comeback story of 2008 failed to reproduce the magic of last season.

A torn abdominal muscle sidelined Hamilton for all of June. Even when he came back, his power numbers were non-existent. Combined totals from before and after his surgery added up to just 10 home runs and a .268 average.

Honestly, let’s call a mulligan on 2009 for Hamilton. He has talent and plays in one of the best offenses in baseball. Draft with confidence next season…maybe not round one, but still, draft away!

B.J. Upton (CF), Tampa Bay Rays

I think it is time for all of us to just stop drafting B.J. Upton so high. He had one good season in his career (2007), and yet we are suckered into thinking that he is going to replicate his past glory.

2009 was more of the same. Some people spent an early second round pick on the guy hoping for a premiere power and speed threat. Once again, Upton disappointed as he batted .241 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI.

Yes, he swiped 42 bases, but is the second round worth 42 stolen bases if it means killing all of your other categories. Not at all!

Alfonso Soriano (LF), Chicago Cubs

Soriano’s career is like a girl dating an abusive boyfriend. You love him for what he used to be and what you want him to be, but not for what he actually is.

Folks, Soriano is no longer a power-hitting second baseman. Soriano can no longer steal 30 bases. Soriano will never be a 30-30 player again. The 2009 season also marked the second straight year where Soriano failed to play in at least 120 games as he finished with 20 home runs, 55 RBI, nine stolen bases and a career-low .241 average.

Declining stats and declining health are just plain bad news. Don’t touch the guy anymore.

Alexei Ramirez (2B, SS, CF), Chicago White Sox

The skinniest man in baseball couldn’t live up to his expectations. After a .290, 21 home run season in ’08, Ramirez was seen as a decent infield option.

One year later, his value hit the floor as he hit only 15 home runs with a .277 avg and abysmal .389 slugging. Where did all the power go? I don’t know and I don’t care to draft next year to find out.

Russell Martin (C, 3B), L.A. Dodgers

Everyone loved Martin because he was a catcher who could steal bases and qualifies at 3B.

Considered a great option at fantasy’s most shallow position, Martin showed his true colors in ’09 as he failed to reach double-digit home runs for the first time in his career (7) and hit just .250. His 11 steals as a catcher were not enough to pull him from the basement.

Geovany Soto (C), Chicago Cubs

The 2008 N.L. Rookie of the Year came into drafts as one of the elite catchers in baseball.

Owners were rewarded with constant injuries and a .218 average. The 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 102 games served as a reminder to everyone to beware of dreaded sophomore slumps.

Stephen Drew (SS), Arizona Diamondbacks

A shortstop who will hit 40+ doubles, 20+ home runs, and hit close to .300? Where do I sign up?

Oh I’m sorry, you want Stephen Drew from 2008. This is 2009! Drew let everyone (including me) down in a big way as he failed to be one of the best, young hitters in the game. His season totals fell short of ’08’s greatness as he dropped to a .261 avg and 12 home runs.

Maybe next year? Nah, don’t count on it.

Chris Davis (1B, 3B), Texas Rangers

Is there any other player that you detested more than Chris Davis this season? During his ’08 call up, he crushed the ball to the tune of 23 doubles, 17 home runs and a .285 average in just 80 games. The mouth-watering .549 slugging had owners dreaming of what this kid could do over a full season.

What did he do? WHAT DID HE DO? He ripped our hearts out and crapped all over what was left of our souls. Too dramatic for you? I sure don’t think so!

All we know is that Davis was one of the worst hitting players we have seen in a long time. From April 6th to July 5th, Davis made Mario Mendoza look like Tony Gwynn as he compiled a .202 batting average. The 15 home runs were nice, but that is no excuse for such a piss-poor hitting performance.

After some time in the minors to clear his head, Davis had a decent second half by hitting .308 with six home runs in 36 games.

This marks two years in a row where Davis has had a good second half. Do not let it fool you again in 2010.

Busts (Pitchers)

Cole Hamels (SP), Philadelphia Phillies

His ERA had been going down steadily every single season and we hoped for another leap in production in 2009.

The southpaw hit a roadblock and managed a 10-11 record and a 4.32 ERA. He reached a career-worst in ERA and WHIP. Opponents knocked him around by hitting .273 off him and Hamels never really settled into a groove at all this season.

Francisco Liriano (SP, RP), Minnesota Twins

Liriano’s career started off amazing. Then he missed all of 2007 after Tommy John surgery and made a decent comeback in ’08. The expectations were high and everyone hoped Liriano could re-capture the 2006 glory.

Liriano cost a lot of people valuable stats as he imploded for a 5-13 record and 5.80 ERA. He was banished to the bullpen in September and didn’t fare any better there either.

Chad Billingsley (SP), L.A. Dodgers

I traded for Billingsley in one league. All I had to do was give up Ichiro. Man, if I could go back in time. Billingsley season was two-faced:

Pre-All Star: 9-4, 3.38 ERA
Post-All Star: 3-7, 5.20 ERA

Some analysts said Billingsley would be in contention for the Cy Young. There was no sign pointing to a regression in skills, but it happened and owners paid the price.

Brad Lidge (RP), Philadelphia Phillies

How many blown saves did Lidge have in ’08? Zero! How many did he have in ’09? Eleven! Brad Lidge went from arguably the best closer to probably the worst we’ve seen in years. He hasn’t been this messed up in the head since Albert Pujols sent a moon-shot over the train tracks at Minute Maid Field during the 2005 NLCS.

Lidge finished 0-8 with 31 saves and a 7.21 ERA. Not counting October, where he made one appearance, the lowest Lidge’s ERA was for any month this season was in July where he posted a 5.91 ERA.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP), Boston Red Sox

Expectations hit their zenith for Dice-K after an 18-3 season in 2008. However, after two trips to the disables list, Matsuzaka could only manage four wins and a 5.76 ERA.

The 94 walks from last season should have been a sign that he couldn’t maintain that 2.90 ERA from a year ago, but people still took a chance on the guy.

Brandon Webb (SP), Arizona Diamondbacks

Mr. Reliable made one start this season and then was placed on the disabled list. A man who was supposed to give you a ton of innings, an ERA around 3.10, and close to 20 wins, ended up needing shoulder surgery after his first start of the season.

Webb was ranked as a top-10 pitcher in your league, and God help you if you were counting on him to anchor your staff.

Francisco Rodriguez (RP), New York Mets

After four straight seasons of 40+ saves (including 62 in ’08), K-Rod’s numbers actually got worse in the N.L.

Thanks to the Mets’ injury problems, the offense never got K-Rod enough save chances. You can’t blame the offense entirely. K-Rod sported an uncharacteristic 3.71 ERA and 1.31 WHIP (both career-highs). He also tied his single-season mark of seven blown saves and lost a career-high seven games.

Ervin Santana (SP), L.A. Angels

Santana has never been able to put together the total package. His career ERA is almost two runs lower at home than it is on the road. Then, he suddenly had a breakthrough in 2008 when he posted a 3.49 ERA and 16 wins.

Owners who banked on a repeat, fell flat on their faces when Erv’ slapped everyone in the face with an 8-8 record, 5.03 ERA, and abysmal 1.47 WHIP.

James Shields (SP), Tampa Bay Rays

When all of the elite pitchers were gone, James Shields was still standing there for you. He is not a flashy strikeout maestro, but he will give you quality outings and a respectable ERA.

Shields had put together a 3.70 ERA and 26-16 record over the last two season, so people were expecting more of the same. Shields decided to roll over for opposing hitters in ’09 as he finished 11-12 with a 4.14 ERA and .275 BAA.

With Tampa Bay returning to the land of mediocrity, don’t expect Shields to start bouncing back soon.

Joba Chamberlain (SP, RP), New York Yankees

Being an uber-hyped youngster is a tough thing to live up to. Chamberlain seemed to be doing fine last year with his 2.60 ERA and 10.58 K/9. Surely more starts would equal more dominance right?

Not exactly. The Yankees decided to treat Chamberlain with kid gloves, thus rendering him to just 5.1 innings per start. It clearly didn’t help his game as he posted a 4.75 ERA and 1.54 WHIP.

Maybe he can take that big step forward next season, because this kid has all the makings of a star.

Why Should I Give a Crap About These Guys? (2010 Edition)

Garrett Jones (1B, LF, RF), Pittsburgh Pirates

In just 82 games, Jones was a force to be reckoned with. Maybe playing for Pittsburgh allowed him to fly under the radar all season, but it was your loss.

Jones put together 21 HR and 44 RBI with a line of .291/.372/.567. He batted in the plush third spot for almost the entire time he was in the majors, so I don’t see why that would change next year. Don’t look down on Pittsburgh power hitters. Remember, that Jason Bay guy had a pretty good run with the Pirates.

Matt Wieters (C), Baltimore Orioles

Wieters was the most hyped prospect in recent years. To say the least, he didn’t exactly make the splash we all hoped he would.

Most of you probably didn’t notice that he hit .301 after the break, including .362 in September to raise his season average to .288. The power may not come around, but he can obviously hit, which is evident by his minor league record. There is no reason to think that he won’t be a good source of batting average and 15 home runs next year.

Wade Davis (SP), Tampa Bay Rays

Another year, and another Tampa Bay prospect. They just never run out. Anyway, Davis was called up in September and made a huge splash. First in a bad way, when he was torched for eight runs in a loss to the Red Sox.

Other than that, Davis was a beast, allowing only seven earned runs in his other five starts. In the end, he finished 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA.

If you like the young guns, then Davis is a good bet for a solid 12 wins next year.

Homer Bailey (SP), Cincinnati Reds

Before you throw something at me, just let me explain myself. I’ll be the first to admit that Bailey is on the verge of becoming a career minor leaguer. But hey, he at least showed signs of improvement this season.

After a 6.05 ERA through his first 11 starts, it seemed Bailey was just being Bailey. Then, he turned a switch on. To end the season, Bailey had seven quality starts in his last nine games with a 1.70 ERA and 8.18 K/9.

He will only be 24 at the start of next season, so he just needs some time to develop. But his last nine games are very encouraging.

Stephen Strasburg (SP), Washington Nationals

The next big thing has arrived. In an instructional League game against Detroit, Strasburg made his first official start as part of a major league club. He went 2.0 innings, allowing one run and striking out two batters.

We all know his story. Strasburg was a god at San Diego State where he finished up his 2009 season with a 13-1 record, 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched (that a 16.10 K/9 btw).

There is no telling when and/or if he will get ample playing time in 2010. We all want him up as soon as possible to see what the kid can do. But remember, things need to be done slowly. So be patient, the day will come.

Sports of Boston Friends and Family League

  • And the winner of the 2009 SoB baseball league is…SoB’s own Mike! It was a close one, but Mike squeezed out a nail-biter over SoB’s Jeff by a score of 12-11-1. Congratulations Mike! Enjoy your victory until next season.
  • The SoB crew: Mike (Champion), Jeff (2nd), KC (6th), Pete (8th), and Chris (9th).
  • Thanks for tuning in for the Wrap-Up every week. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them. See you next season!

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3 comments for “2009 Fantasy Baseball Season Wrap-Up”

  1. Thanks, Pete. I felt like I was reading a WhosWho on my team in the disappointments: Martin, K-Rod (though still had high K/9 which counted in the league), and Hamels. Ubaldo Jimenez was a good pickup for me as he had a very similar turnaround like De La Rosa and finished with a 3.47 ERA, 198K, and 15W. Cliff Lee was a good value pick for me: round 7 for the reigning Cy.

    Posted by Mike | October 6, 2009, 12:34 pm
  2. Good stuff, Pete. I was lucky enough to pick up Reynolds from free agency in one league and draft both Grienke and Cliff Lee (in the later rounds) in that same league. And, wouldn’t you know it, I won that league. Like one Roman philosopher once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

    Posted by KC | October 6, 2009, 5:54 pm
  3. I usually can’t toot my own horn about my predictions, but if you look back at my draft analysis:

    I was pretty dead-on with my “questionable decisions”.

    I still can’t believe my team was knocked out in the first round. Over 300 wins and it was all for nothing.

    Posted by Pete | October 7, 2009, 1:15 am

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