Fantasy Corner hands out a second round of monthly honors
By Adam Hoff
A great baseball season continues to provide us with intrigue and entertainment. The Orioles maintain their lead on the AL East despite losing half their team, the AL Central has emerged as the best division in baseball, and the Cardinals are quietly running away with the National League for the second year in a row. And as always, fantasy baseball has been just as strong as the real thing.
We’re back again to honor the best fantasy players of the past month and select the May All-Star teams.
Fantasy MVP. Alfonso Soriano. People were going crazy for Brian Roberts in April, but Soriano’s terrific month hasn’t received quite as much hype. It could be that it is because Soriano is expected to play like this, or it could be that subsequent months just don’t inspire as much excitement. There is something about April that gets people fired up. The season is brand new, all of the numbers for the first month are reflected in the season totals, and it all just feels more important. Here at the WIS Insider, we don’t care what month it is, just give us production. And Soriano’s May was sick: .306 with nine home runs, four steals, 24 runs, and 23 RBI. That will work.
Fantasy Cy Young. Kenny Rogers. Matt Clement has quietly become the ace of the Red Sox staff and Roy Halladay is officially back, but Rogers is performing at a level that rivals the Seinfeld episode about the eatery of the same name. The crafty lefty has been nearly as vicious on hitters as the Red Menace was on Kramer and Jerry. I’ll be honest, I didn’t see this coming. In fact, who would have thought that the Rangers would ride a nine-game winning streak into first place and nab both the MVP and the Cy Young awards for the month of May? Rogers Roaster doesn’t fan anybody (only 19 in 46 innings), but his six wins and .98 ERA are more than enough to overcome the lack of K’s.
Fantasy Rookie of the Month. Damon Hollins. Who is this guy? As if Tampa Bay’s outfield wasn’t crowded enough already, Hollins went .325/.968 with six home runs and five steals in 80 May at bats. Impressive … but now who is the odd man out when Baldelli returns?
Fantasy All-Star Team.
C – Jorge Posada. When the Yanks get hot, it comes in bunches. Posada looked done a month ago, but I guess April strikeouts bring May base hits. .338 with a 1.014 OPS gets it done.
1B – Mark Teixeira. Hard to believe this spot doesn’t go to Tino for his home run streak, but honestly, that’s about all he did. Teixeira had a very solid month with seven home runs, 24 runs, and 22 RBI to go with a .330 average. There are Rangers everywhere!
2B – Alfonso Soriano. Last month this spot went to Brian Roberts accompanied by this comment: “Soriano will need some amazing months to catch this guy.” Consider him on his way.
3B – Alex Rodriguez. Another mammoth month for Pay-Rod. Nobody would pitch to him (career-high 24 walks for the month and a .523 OBP), yet he still hit eight home runs, drove in 22 runs, scored 23 times, and posted a sick 1.234 OPS to go with a .361 average. All while seeing two shrinks.
SS – Miguel Tejada. Kind of a down month for Miggy, but still hit .300 with five home runs. He makes a return trip mainly because no one took it from him. Step it up, AL shortstops!
OF – Gary Sheffield. This whole team is Yankees and Rangers. Sheff went .322/1.081 with seven home runs and 21 RBI.
OF – Shannon Stewart. Where did this guy come from? .327 with seven jacks and 21 runs is enough to land him a spot, as the AL outfielders decided to take the month off.
OF – Richard Hidalgo. I can’t decide whether to start with a “If the elements don’t defeat him, his enemies will!” joke or by making the obvious remark about yet another Ranger making the team. In the end, I guess I’ll just mention the eight home runs and 1.051 OPS and move on. Oh yeah, he’s batting seventh. You think that Texas team can hit a little bit?
SP – Kenny Rogers. Should I make one more Seinfeld joke?
SP – Matt Clement. 30 K’s in 40 innings is actually a bit low for him, but he made up for it with four wins, a 2.43 ERA, and a 1.06 WHIP, making him the #14 overall fantasy performer in May.
SP – Roy Halladay. The only repeat performer among AL pitchers, he barely edges out a “struggling” Johan Santana thanks to his four wins, 1.57 ERA, and .95 WHIP. Needs to get the K’s up a bit.
RP – B.J. Ryan. I’ve heard a lot of theories about Baltimore’s resurgence, but someone needs to throw this guy into the ring. Ryan saved 10 games and didn’t allow an earned run while striking out 21 batters in 14 innings for the month. How long until a team like the Cubs make a trade for the suddenly very expendable Jorge Julio?
RP – Mariano Rivera. So much for this guy being done. Mo has been quietly going about his business, sawing bats in half. He saved all nine of his tries in May and had identical .77 ERA and WHIP ratios.
Fantasy MVP. Lee and Roberts were phenomenal in April and Soriano has been terrific in May, but the best single month of the year up to this point has to go to Bobby Abreu. The power (11 home runs) and speed (seven steals) pretty much stand up on their own, but then you throw in the .404 average, 1.346 OPS, and 30 RBI and you realize you’ve really got something. Just to put things in perspective, lets look at those numbers projected out to a full season. The OPS would be the sixth-best mark of all time (behind Bonds, Bonds, Ruth, Ruth, and Bonds), the .404 speaks for itself, and the other numbers over 162 games would come to 64 home runs, 40 steals, and 174 RBI. Not too shabby.
Fantasy Cy Young. We’ve got a repeat winner in Pedro Martinez. The best pitcher in fantasy thus far, Pedro was nearly as brilliant in May as he was in April, winning three games, posting an astonishing .77 WHIP, and striking out 37 batters against only six walks in 35 innings. Javy Vasquez and Brett Myers were outstanding and Clemens might have had a case if he could get some run support and a few W’s, but right now Pedro has this thing on lockdown.
Fantasy Rookie of the Month. Jeff Francis. This was ugly. I almost had to go with Kyle Davies and he’s only made three starts. It came down to two Rockies, Barmes and Francis, and even though the young lefty hurler has a WHIP higher than his weight and a ghastly ERA, I went with the three wins and 29 K’s in 35 innings. Both had very mediocre numbers for the month, so I favored the guy pitching in Coors over the guy hitting there.
Fantasy All-Star Team.
C – Ramon Hernandez. This continues to be the single worst position in baseball, but Hernandez managed 18 RI and a .315 average to snag a spot on the all-star team.
1B – Derek Lee. Lee holds off Pujols to retain his hold on baseball’s power position. After a scintillating first month, Lee was back for more, hitting nine home runs, stealing five bases, and posting a 1.053 OPS. If it wasn’t for this guy, the Cubs might already be mathematically eliminated in the Central.
2B – Craig Biggio. Hey, I’m surprised as you are. Pigpen hit .313 with six bombs and 20 runs scored in a throwback month for the ages.
3B – Morgan Ensberg. David Wright was also fantastic and is a better roster option, but Ensberg came flying back onto the radar with eight home runs and a 1.055 OPS for the month. Who knew he was still alive? More importantly, how did two Astros make this list? Haven’t they scored like 10 runs all year?
SS – Felipe Lopez. Finally, Lopez is in the Reds’ starting lineup! This guy “had potential” longer than the basketball player of the same name. Now he’s playing and the results are outstanding: six jacks, four swipes, 23 runs (third most in baseball), 19 RBI, and a .309 average for the month, good for #30 overall on the player rater.
OF – Bobby Abreu. It really was an amazing month.
OF – Carlos Lee. This guy was the second best fantasy player in all of baseball, behind Abreu. .308/1.004 is nice, but nine home runs, four steals, and 30 RBI (best in MLB) is outstanding.
OF – Mike Cameron. This makes two New York Mets outfielders (Floyd in April), but no Carlos Beltran. Cameron only played about three-fourths of the month, but lapped most players in production, throwing up .373/1.174 with five home runs, five steals, and a very impressive 22 runs scored in 23 games. (Apologies to Jason Bay, who hit nine home runs.)
SP – Pedro Martinez. Good thing the Sox signed David
SP – Brett Myers. Three wins, 42 K’s in 41 innings, and a .90 WHIP. It looks like this former underachiever is going to be in it for the long run this year.
SP – Javy Vazquez. 2.15 ERA, .89 WHIP, three wins, and – get this – 39 K’s against ZERO walks in May. Way to have patience, George.
RP – Trevor Hoffman. The Padres have been hot and their closer is one of the reasons why. 12-for-12 on saves with a .64 WHIP and 13 K’s against one free pass.
RP – Derrick Turnbow. He pretty much did all his damage in one week, but his three wins from the closer role combine with four saves, 16 K’s in 11 innings, and a .91 WHIP to get him on the squad.
We’ll be back in another month to pick the stars of June.
Adam Hoff is a columnist for the Webby-winning website WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.