Fantasy Corner hands out monthly honors
By Adam Hoff
Despite what Congress tries to tell you, the steroid scandals are not ruining baseball. The sport is alive and well and more exciting than ever. The Orioles are crushing the ball in the AL East, the White Sox are looking like the Chicago team of destiny, and the Dodgers are proving everyone wrong with a fast start in the National League. It’s been a fantastic month in the standings and the same is true in the box scores. Despite the annual closer carousels, several unfortunate groin injuries, and some unbelievably slow starts (read: Jim Thome), the world of fantasy baseball has never been better.
In that spirit, Fantasy Corner will be honoring the best fantasy players of each month, complete with All-Star teams and individual honors.
Fantasy MVP. This has to go to Brian Roberts. Not only has he put forth the most unlikely power surge in recent history, he’s also scoring and driving in runs and stealing bases like a madman. I expected him to play well with Hairston gone and the starting job locked up, but this is crazy. The Orioles have one of the best records in the league and the diminutive second baseman has been the catalyst. He’s third in the majors in batting average at .384, first in runs with 23, and he’s leading the league with 12 stolen bases. So it’s safe to say he’s taking care of the categories in which you would expect a leadoff hitter to contribute. But then you move to the power numbers and he really blows you away. Consider that teammate Miguel Tejada leads all of baseball with nine home runs and 32 RBI. Then note that Roberts is hot on his trail with eight jacks and 27 RBI. He’s second in the AL in both categories! A 5’9” leadoff hitter! I’m telling you, this story has been told to death, but we are looking at one of the great months in recent fantasy history. All from a guy that was going in about the 14th round of most drafts. Amazing.
Fantasy Cy Young. Surprise, surprise; Johan Santana is at it again. Despite having his winning streak snapped at 17 straight decisions, Santana’s numbers are fantastic again in ’05. His 3.29 ERA is inflated due to giving up four runs in his first inning of the season, but his .85 WHIP is third in the majors and his 10.24 K/BB ratio is second. Not bad. Throw in four wins and a league-leading 52 K’s and you’ve got the best pitcher on planet earth.
Fantasy Rookie of the Month. Gustavo Chacin. He doesn’t give you K’s and frankly, I have no confidence that he will continue to have success. However, the freaky looking Jays lefty has been getting it done Digger Phelps style so far. He’s 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. If he keeps that up, he’ll be a Cy Young candidate at year’s end. Again, I’m guessing that won’t happen.
Fantasy All-Star Team.
C – Jason Veritek. Hitting .325 with 6 HR; late fade by Brandon Inge costs him the spot.
1B – David Ortiz. Nobody is playing that well, but Ortiz (.276/7/17) edges out Teixeira, Young, and Eric Hinske of all people.
2B – Brian Roberts. Soriano will need some amazing months to catch this guy.
3B – Alex Rodriguez. Melvin Mora has been good, but A-Rod is riding a hot streak and has great numbers. .311/9/27 with 21 runs and a couple of swipes.
SS – Miguel Tejada. What a stud. I never quite believed in him in Oakland, but I do now. In addition to the intangibles and leadership, he puts up sick numbers. He leads the majors in HR and RBI and is hitting .374. He will lead the AL in RBI again (150 last year) and the average looks legit. If he can keep up the power surge, we could be looking at a Triple Crown run.
OF - Vlad Guerrero. He’s quietly mashing once again. .347/6/20 with three stolen bases and 18 runs scored make him the highest rated outfielder in fantasy.
OF – Manny Ramirez. He got off to a slow start but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his seven jacks and 25 RBI.
OF – Ichiro. He edges out Torii Hunter because of one stat: batting average. Hunter has three more steals (11 to 8), seven more runs driven in, and two more home runs, but Ichiro is hitting 113 points higher (.346 to .233). Hunter is drifting into “Mike Cameron; sabotage an entire category” territory, so he can’t be an All-Star.
SP – Johan Santana. Obviously.
SP – Jon Garland. He’s not going to get you a lot of K’s, but you can’t argue with 5-0, 1.38 ERA, and .79 WHIP. Incredible start for Garland.
SP – Roy Halladay. A nice bounce back story in the making. The 2002 Cy Young winner has four wins to go with a .96 WHIP. Look for him to win 20 this year.
RP – Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod blew a save recently, but he’s got a win to go with six saves, a .58 WHIP, and 17 K’s in 12 innings.
RP – Joe Nathan. It might be time to recognize that he’s the best closer in the American League. He was terrific in the playoffs last year and now has eight saves, a win, more than a K per inning, a .44 WHIP … oh yeah, and he has yet to allow an earned run.
Fantasy MVP. It’s funny, Roberts has been just unbelievable, but he actually has Tejada and A-Rod to contend with for April MVP honors. Over in the NL, Derek Lee has no such competition. He led the league in hitting for the month at .419 and for leagues with OPS, he leads the majors with 1.282. He’s first in the NL in home runs (8) and RBI (30), and ranks second in runs with 21 while stealing four bases. I’d say that winning the Triple Crown for the month is probably good enough.
Fantasy Cy Young. Apologies to Dontrelle Willis, but I’m going with Pedro Martinez. Willis has five wins to Pedro’s two and the lower ERA, but Pedro has far more K’s (46 to 35) and the best WHIP in baseball (.67). In fact, his WHIP is actually lower than his major league record .73 for a full season. Keep an eye on that action. I also deducted points from Willis for always starting fast and then crashing. If he keeps pitching well late in the season, I’ll go back and call this a tie.
Fantasy Rookie of the Month. This one isn’t even close; Clint Barmes is way out ahead of the pack. He’s second in the majors in hitting at .417, while scoring 20 runs, stealing two bases, and showing some pop with four home runs. He’s doing most of his damage at Coors, but no other NL rookie is doing much damage anywhere.
Fantasy All-Star Team.
C – Paul Lo Duca. It’s an ugly scene at this position in the NL, but Lo Duca gets the nod on the strength of his .352 average and 2 steals.
1B – Derek Lee. Obviously. The real question is how long he can hold off Pujols.
2B – Jeff Kent. Also a member of the “Oh, Whoops, I Guess DePodesta Knows What He’s Doing After All” All-Star team. Hitting .333 with 6 HR and is one of only four players with over 20 runs and 20 RBI.
3B – Troy Glaus. The average is decent (.274), the power is there (7 HR, 19 RBI), and he’s even swiped three bases. He just needs to stay healthy.
SS – Clint Barmes. Furcal is running again, Reyes has been okay, and Feliz has good numbers and qualifies at SS, but Barmes is the class of the NL right now.
OF – Cliff Floyd. He’s healthy and the pressure’s off with Beltran standing next to him. The results have been impressive: .368 with six home runs, 22 RBI, and a couple of steals. Didn’t see this one coming.
OF – Miguel Cabrera. The outfielders in the NL have been less than spectacular, but Cabrera is hitting .352 with four home runs and 18 RBI despite having three straight games rained out.
OF – Jason Lane. Burnitz, Guillen, Bradley, and Dunn can all make a claim, but Lane is one of only three players with at least four home runs and four steals (Hunter and Finley are the others).
SP – Pedro Martinez. Leads the league in WHIP and K/9
(11.50); is also logging more innings than usual.
SP – Dontrelle Willis. Sell high!
SP – Jake Peavy. Like Pedro, he’s only snagged two wins, but he’s been ridiculous in all other categories. 41 K’s in 35 innings, 1.77 ERA, and .90 WHIP. Solid. Apologies to Josh Becket, A.J. Burnett, and Roger Clemens.
RP – Yhency Brazoban. Eric Gagne is on the DL and Brazoban has taken advantage of his opportunity, racking up a win and eight saves for the first-place Dodgers.
RP – Brad Lidge. He and Billy Wagner are virtually identical, but Lidge is a strikeout machine with 16 in 9 innings, so he gets the spot on the team despite the fact that Wagner has one more save and better ratios. Apologies to Wagner, Chad Cordero, and Brandon Lyon.
We’ll be back in a month to pick the stars of May.
Adam Hoff is a columnist for WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.