The Wire Troll NL All-Wire Team
After presenting our choices for the American League All-Wire Team last week, today we shift over to the Senior Circuit.
The National League provided us with some absolutely huge opportunities for waiver wire bargains this season. Some remarkable comebacks, mixed in with the usual injury replacements, made for a very interesting year. In a rather difficult and trying year, the Rockies actually managed to end up with two members of their starting rotation making the All-Wire team. For the gambler that jumped on the Ryan Ludwick bandwagon early in the season, the rewards were huge. The NL All-Wire Team is certainly a winner on both offense and from a pitching perspective, and probably would have led many leagues in 2008. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of these gems.
Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies: The 25-year-old Iannetta, originally slotted in as the back-up catcher for the Rockies, managed 18 homers, 65 RBI, and a .264 BA in only 333 at-bats. Those non-believer’s were converted very quickly after his five-homer, 17-RBI run in July. Iannetta finished the year third in the NL at his position in homers and sixth in RBI. Posting numbers at this level leads one to believe that he has the potential to be a top five NL catcher heading into 2009.
Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates: Doumit found himself on the DL with a fractured left thumb in mid-May, and the subsequent three-week DL stint did him nothing but good. Shortly after being activated, he hit four homers shortly in a three game span, and if he was available in your league at that time, he certainly wasn’t for very long thereafter. The 27-year-old, batting mostly in the clean-up slot, managed 15 homers, 69 RBI, and a superb .318 BA in 431 at bats in 2008.
Mike Jacobs, Florida Marlins: Let’s look back a bit to last March, and we find Jacobs actually was drafted in Yahoo! leagues behind such offensive forces as Dmitri Young and Chris Duncan. Jacobs was still available in my writers’ league at the beginning of May. He struggled a bit with the average, hitting only .247, but those 32 homers and 93 RBI from an undrafted player at the corner infield position were huge.
Mark DeRosa, Chicago Cubs: For those fantasy players that gambled early and snatched DeRosa off the wire, the rewards were huge. He put together a career season, batting .285 with 21 homers, 87 RBI, 103 runs scored while even managing six stolen bases. DeRosa finished tied for third in homers at second base, third in RBI, and second to only Chase Utley in runs scored. Heading into the 2009 season, he also has the bonus of 2B, 3B and OF eligibility, which should do nothing but boost his value for next season.
Jorge Cantu, Florida Marlins: Cantu finished up the 2008 season with 29 homers, 95 RBI, and a .277 BA. Among NL third basemen, he finished second in homers to only David Wright, sixth in RBI, and third in runs scored. Numbers like those are certainly a vivid reminder of why he was at or near the top of draft lists heading into the 2006 season. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another three years to see these results again.
Christian Guzman, Washington Nationals: Prior to the 2008 season, even the mere suggestion that Guzman had the potential to finish in the top 10 at his position would have brought delirious hoots from the masses. He actually managed to finish in top 10 in homers, RBI, and runs scored. And his .316 BA was tops among NL shortstops with 300 or more at bats. Guzman hasn’t had a year like this since 2001, and was one of only a handful of fantasy contributors coming out of Washington in 2008.
Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals: Ludwick was, without a doubt, one of the biggest difference makers coming out of the NL this past year. He entered the season as a free agent in virtually all fantasy leagues and by seasons’ end was tied for fourth in homers with 37, sixth with 113 RBI and sported an excellent .299 BA. Other than that three-week slump in mid-June to the first week in July, Ludwick sustained his numbers right through the 2008 season. He is going to be a most intriguing pick heading into 2009 fantasy drafts.
Jayson Werth, Philadelphia Phillies: Other than missing several weeks at the end of May with a strained oblique, Werth managed to stay relatively healthy this year. The combination of injuries to both Shane Victorino and Geoff Jenkins opened the door for increased playing time. The 29-year-old took advantage of his opportunities and managed to bat .273 with 24 homers, 67 RBI and 20 thefts in only 418 at bats. The ability to be a five-category contributor off the waiver wire made Werth a very valuable asset in 2008.
Randy Winn, San Francisco Giants: The 34-year-old Winn very quietly put together a strong 2008 season. He managed a career high .306 BA, 10 homers, 64 RBI and 84 runs scored for the offensively-challenged Giants. He also managed to go 25-for-27 in stolen bases, his highest stolen base total since way back in 2002. Winn was a very nice grab off the wire for those needing both stolen bases and batting average.
Fred Lewis, San Francisco Giants: The 27-year-old finally got the opportunity to deliver on that much touted potential this year. Lewis hit for a .282 BA with nine homers, 40 RBI, 81 runs scored and 21 SB in only 468 at bats, mostly in the lead-off role. His season ended early when he went under the knife at the beginning of September to remove a bunion, but he should be fully healthy by Spring Training.
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers: The 26-year-old Ethier had himself a very solid, but streaky 2008 season. He went from July 22 to August 10 with no homers and only one RBI, yet still managed seven homers and 13 RBI in August. He hit his last homer of the season on September 5, but still managed to go 36-for-78 in September and contributed 18 RBI. His overall numbers were a solid .305 BA, 20 homers, 77 RBI and 90 runs scored. One certainly can’t argue with the results, but owning him at the right time definitely made a big difference.
Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds: The 25-year-old righthander, acquired from the Rangers in a December 2007 deal for Josh Hamilton, managed a breakout campaign for the Reds. In his first full season, he managed a 3.21 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and tied for third in the NL with 206 strikeouts. He allowed a few more walks than we’d like to see, but at the same time he only allowed 167 hits in 196 IP. The trade with the Rangers was truly a win-win for both parties and fantasy squads in 2008.
Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs: Dempster, after working out of the bullpen the past four seasons, returned to the starting rotation with a vengeance in 2008. Who saw this one coming? He managed a 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 187 strikeouts and 17 wins, good enough for a tie for third in the NL. Seasons like this are the reason that so many of us fantasy players gamble on starting pitching at draft time.
Aaron Cook, Colorado Rockies: It was a very typical year out of Cook, other than achieving a career high with 16 wins — seven more than in any previous season. In 32 starts, he managed a 3.96 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP, but only 96 Ks in 211 1/3 IP. Timing is everything, and this year that additional run support he received translated very well in the wins category for fantasy squads that plucked him off the wire.
Ricky Nolasco, Florida Marlins: I’ve been a big believer in Nolasco going back to that fine 2006 rookie campaign. Unfortunately, my patience, or lack there of, got the better of me and I missed out on his fine 2008 campaign. The 25-year-old posted a 3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 186 strikeouts in 212 1/3 IP. Toss in the 15 wins and a rather scant 42 free passes and it sure looks like the elbow problems that cost him most of the 2007 season are now well behind him.
Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals: Obviously the Cards are believers, as this past week they rewarded Lohse with a four-year, $41 million deal. He was one of the key members of a very surprising St. Louis rotation this season. The 15 wins, 3.78 ERA and 1.30 WHIP were the best numbers we’ve seen from Lohse since his days as a Twin, way back in 2003.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies: Not one, but two pitchers from the Rockies make the list this year. Heading into the season, that would have been a tough one to believe. The 24-year-old Jimenez posted a 3.99 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 172 punchouts in his first full season in the bigs. The biggest concern heading forward is the free passes, as he allowed a whopping 103 this year, but he did manage to keep the ball in the park, a huge factor in his successful campaign.
Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves: The 22-year-old Jurrjens made the most of his opportunities in his first full season in the Atlanta rotation. The Tigers are definitely regretting that rent-a-Renteria trade last year. A 3.68 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and those 13 wins are solid numbers for Jurrjens to build upon heading into 2009.
Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets: In his first full season as a starter, the 24-year-old Pelfrey posted a solid 3.72 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 13 wins in 200 1/3 IP. The big righthander, all 6’7” of him, managed a solid season at the back end of both the Mets’ and many a fantasy rotation.
Salomon Torres, Milwaukee Brewers: We saw a decent year from the former Pirate, who actually considered retirement after that ’07 off-season deal. He was originally slated to set up for Eric Gagne in the Brewer pen, but the shoulder injury and ineffectiveness of Gagne moved Torres into the closer’s role in mid-May, and he kept it for the duration. He did suffer through some very rough patches, notably down the stretch, but 28 saves plucked from the waiver wire was a difference maker in many leagues in 2008.
Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals: Franklin came out of the set-up role and managed 17 saves in an on-again, off-again year for the Cards. He took over from Jason Isringhausen, was replaced by Chris Perez in August, and wrapped up the season with three saves in late September. Franklin is definitely not a long-term solution, but those saves went along way in making a difference for many a fantasy squad this year.
Brian Fuentes, Colorado Rockies: Fuentes was originally slotted in the set-up role and moved into the closer role the last week of April, replacing the ineffective Manny Corpas. He finished the year with a 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 30 saves. With Fuentes heading into free agency this offseason, those numbers should guarantee him a very nice payday.