In this edition of Dugout Discourse, Muldoon takes an interesting look at the top 10 surprises of the last fantasy baseball season.
Before I begin. I want to take a moment to reflect on the loss of young pitching phenom Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident this past weekend. He truly was one of the good guys. A shining star of the sport has dimmed far too early.
In sadness, we must move forward. I hope many of you added a fantasy baseball championship belt to your mantle this season!! Please let us know here at dobberbaseball.com your success stories. We love to hear how the information we provide helps you in your quest for the 'ship.
This week, I am going to take a look at Top 10 Fantasy Surprises for 2016. If you had any of these guys, I am certain you had some level of success this year.
When looking at my list for the top 10 fantasy surprises, I looked at the consensus average draft position from the start of the year, compared to where they are now. Since the Dobber Baseball fantasy league is hosted by Yahoo, I turned to the rankings in their platform as a guide.
I want to start with the list with two young rookies who could very well have been much higher on this list if they were around for the whole season. The short period of time they were on our rosters, have racked up the fantasy stats for us. Their performance showed just how special they have the chance to be. I am talking about Trevor Story (SS, COL) and Gary Sanchez (C, NYY). The first half of the season was dominated by Story, mashing home run after home run. The back end of the season has been dominated by Sanchez, also mashing home run after home run. I can't wait to see what these two put up next season for their owners.
Ian Desmond (OF, TEX) - What a first season in Texas by the former Nationals shortstop. There was a point where he was among the names being thrown around in MVP banter. He has provided a great offensive boost to the Rangers and has been a significant factor in driving them back to the playoffs. After a preseason ranking of 130, his .285 batting average, 105 runs, 84 RBIs, 22 home runs and 20 stolen bases have him ranked as the #36 best fantasy player this year. He is also sporting a WAR of 3.4. Good enough for 55th among batters in the MLB.
Brian Dozier (2B, MIN) - If you have not been taken aback by what Brian has done since the All Star Break, you are either living under a rock or have no soul. He has hit 28 home runs since July 15th. Included in that stretch has been one game with three home runs and three times he hit a home run in three straight games. It is down right ridiculous. After a preseason ranking of 76, his .274 batting average, 101 runs, 99 RBIs, 42 home runs and 16 stolen bases have him ranked as the #14 best fantasy player this year. He is also sporting a WAR of 6.1. Good enough for 8th among batters in the MLB.
David Ortiz (DH, BOS) - The "Big Papi" retirement tour was not supposed to look like this. It was supposed to showcase an aging designated hitter who has recognized father time nibbling away at his skills. Instead, we are getting to see a performance for the ages! His offensive numbers this season has spearheaded a conversation that goes something along the lines of : "He's not gonna retire after a season like this is he?" Well he says he still plans to retire, but being this productive must at some point get him to second guess his decision. We shall see. In the mean time, he entered into the season with a ranking of #69, his .321 batting average, 77 runs, 124 RBIs, 37 home runs and 2 stolen bases have him ranked as the #18th best fantasy player. His WAR is 4.6, which is good enough for 29th among batters.
Kyle Hendricks (SP, CHC) - As I wrote a few weeks ago, Kyle has been one hell of a surprise for the Chicago Cubs this season. Not only has he been a surprise to them, he has provided fantasy owners with an outstanding return on investment as he racked up the pitching stats for your squads. After a preseason ranking of 189th, his 179 innings pitched, 2.06 era, 0.96 whip, 161 strike outs and 15 wins have him ranked as the #9 fantasy player. His WAR of 4.1 is good enough for 15th among pitchers.
Jonathan Villar (SS, MIL) - I felt kind of funny adding Villar to this list, but in the end, numbers don't lie. This kid has made a huge jump this season after getting full time action with the Brew Crew. Yes, he still strikes out way too much, but look at his numbers with that in mind. He was still able to generate those offensive stats that helped your squad night in and night out. With a preseason ranking of 299, his .280 batting average, 86 runs, 56 RBIs, 16 home runs and 59 stolen bases (Yes, 59 stolen bases) has him ranked #35. His WAR is much lower than the others at 2.4, but that is reflective of his high K%.
Wil Myers (1B, SD) - What a renaissance year for Wil the Thrill. The potential has always been there as we saw a glimpse of it in Tampa Bay, but this year was a true breakout. To be able to put up those numbers and play half your games in a pitcher-friendly ballpark makes it even more impressive. He came into the season with the 239th ranking. His .260 batting average, 95 runs, 92 RBIs, 28 home runs and 28 stolen bases has sent him rising through the ranks to #34 on the year. He certainly performed admirably for the owners who missed out on the top tiers of 1st basemen in their drafts and ended up "stuck" with Myers. His WAR is 3.9 which is good for 45th among batters.
Daniel Murphy (2B, WAS) - Speaking of break out season how about long time New York Met turned Washington National Mr. Murphy. I must admit, I was enamored by Daniel in his playoff run last season, but never did I think he was going to take his game a whole other level over the course of a full season. Boy, did he prove me wrong. He has clearly benefited from paying in a friendlier ballpark for hitters, and a more potent offence with Bryce Harper. His preseason ranking was 158, but his dominating performance this year of a .347 batting average, 88 runs, 104 RBIs, 25 home runs and 5 stolen bases has him sitting in the 24th spot in the rankings. His name has even been mentioned among the MVP candidates at points through the season. Fantasy owners definitely lucked out when they drafted ole' Murph. His WAR is 5.6 which ranks 13th among batters.
Rick Porcello (SP, BOS) - Ladies and Gentlemen, if I told you at the start of the season that Rick was going to be one of the favourite's to win the CY Young Award, you would have laughed at me. Laugh no more friends. One week left in the season and it looks like it may very well happen that he wins the award. He does have an amazing offence helping him to rack up the wins, but it must be noted that he has kept his ERA well below the league average. After a preseason ranking of 286th, his 217 innings pitched, 3.11 era, 0.99 whip, 183 strike outs and a league-leading 22 wins have him ranked as the #11th best fantasy player. His WAR of 5.1 has him ranked 5th among pitchers.
Mookie Betts (OF, BOS) - MVP Mookie is my vote for the number one fantasy surprise of 2016. He has put up monstrous production for the Red Sox and his fantasy owners and no doubt was on a large portion of championship teams this season. While he was drafted in the second and third rounds, he has given his fantasy owners a significant return in investment. The reason why I have ranked as the biggest surprise is that he surprised everyone in the fantasy baseball world. After a preseason ranking of 19th, his .321 batting average, 119 runs, 109 RBIs, 31 home runs and 26 stolen bases have him ranked as the #1 fantasy player. His WAR is 7.7, which is good enough for 3rd among batters.
A few other names I was contemplating, but just did not make the cut were J.A. Happ (SP, TOR), Jean Segura (2B, ARI), Mark Trumbo (OF, BAL), Eduardo Nunez (3B, SF), Mike Napoli (1B, CLE), Jackie Bradly Jr. (OF, BOS), Adam Duvall (OF, CIN), Tanner Roark (SP, WAS) all of whom have had great seasons.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks article.
Hit me up @InfamousD on twitter or on the forums here at dobberbaseball.com to chime in on who your biggest fantasy surprises of 2016 are.
Enjoy the final week of the season!