2009 RotoRob Baseball Awards
Better dust off your tux and dig out your sequined gowns, ladies and gentlemen: it’s time for the fourth annual RotoRob Awards. We kick off this year’s Gala with the 2009 RotoRob Baseball Awards.
By Tim McLeod, Daniel Olson, RotoRob and Herija Green
Fantasy Stud of the Year
Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins: You have to go back to the days of Mike Piazza to find a catcher that was simply this flat out dominant. In 2009, Mauer finally demonstrated the power to complement what has always been a great batting average. He spanked 28 homers and drove in 96 runs, to go along with an mind-blowing OPS of 1031 and .365 BA. Off-season kidney surgery and back problems delayed Mauer’s first at bat in 2009 until the beginning of May, but once he was out of the gate he just didn’t stop producing. In Fantasy leagues, he returned first round value with from a sixth round investment. It simply doesn’t get much better than that. Mauer has now elevated his game to a different stratosphere from his peers, and is a most deserving Fantasy Stud of the Year for 2009.
Honourable mention: Tim Lincecum managed to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards and established himself as a pitcher that will go very “high” in league drafts heading into 2010 (for more on how high Lincecum may get, see below). Carl Crawford bounced back with a great 15 homers and 60 stolen bases. Aaron Hill came out of nowhere, assuming Toronto is nowhere (as the rest of Canada has always maintained), and put on a consistent power display from start to finish, amassing 36 long balls and 108 RBI. Albert Pujols was Albert Pujols. Another monster season is in the books and if the expectations weren’t so consistently high for Phat Albert this would have been my choice for MVP. Mark Reynolds had a great season in the desert with 44 homers, 102 RBI, 98 runs scored, 24 thefts and a solid (for him, anyways, considering he’s the king of K) .260 BA. Owners of any of these great players were sure to be found at the top-of-the-leader boards in their Fantasy leagues at the end of the 2009 season. — TM
Fantasy Dud of the Year
David Wright, 3B, New York Mets: In a year where options abounded, it was a tough call for Dud of the Year, but Wright is certainly very deserving, so he gets the nod of doom. That magnificent line from 2008 faded quicker than a Tiger Woods endorsement deal. How does a guy who managed 33 homers, 124 RBI, and 115 runs scored in 626 AB in 2008, end up with a mere 10 long balls, 72 RBI, and 88 runs scored in 2009? Is this the new world order in New York or just one of the many catastrophes that occurred in the land of the Mutts in 2009? Wright did manage to keep the BA on the good side of .300 and chipped in with a career best 27 thefts, but Fantasy players didn’t pay first round money for his speed.
Honourable mention: Pick a catcher, any catcher. The backstop triumvirate of Geovany Soto, Russell Martin, and Ryan Doumit (also known as the Unholy Trinity) is a good place to start. Injuries wreaked havoc on perennial first round picks Jose Reyes and Grady Sizemore. Josh Hamilton suffered from one malady after another and killed many a Fantasy squad (and, apparently, put a dent in the Reddi Whip market, as well). Daisuke Matsuzaka, coming off his MVP performance at the WBC tournament, never got out of the gate and a tired shoulder ruined his season, a common theme for WBC vets. There was no shortage of options when looking at the underachievers in 2009. — TM
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta Braves: The lead singer of the Hanson Brothers stepped outside of his vocal talents and onto the diamond for the Atlanta Braves this season and put up spectacular numbers. Wait, he wasn’t one of the Mmmbop Brothers? Whatever. Hanson had a fantastic rookie campaign for the Braves, going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts. The 23-year-old from Oklahoma showed he was the real deal unlike some hyped starting pitchers over the past few years such as Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain for the New York Dollar Signs, I mean Yankees.
Hanson started the season off a bit rocky after being called up on June 7, giving up six runs in a performance against the Brew Crew of Milwaukee, but went on to win four straight starts including victories against the Dollar Signs and Boston Red Sox. For the remainder of the season, Hanson never gave up more than four earned runs in any start, as he struck out 121 batters through 126 innings. He also had to earn his spot in the rotation as Atlanta has been stacked with starting pitchers so the fact he was called up in early June and hung on to that rotation spot for the rest of the season is even more impressive.
While Hanson might not have won the NL Rookie of the Year honours, he sure as hell is RotoRob’s pick for Rookie of the Year. Now, if he could just grow some sweet blonde locks and learn how to play the drums and guitar, the women in Atlanta would sure swoon.
Honourable mention goes to Gordon Beckham of the Chicago White Sox. While he may be the least popular Beckham in America (I only know two, the other being David, and I’m pretty sure he has his own cologne line or something dumb like that), he put up a solid .270 batting average, smacked 14 jacks, knocked in 63 runs and had an impressive 807 OPS while playing Gold Glove caliber defense all season for the Sox. — DO
Comeback Player of the Year
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays: Hill saw his 2008 campaign end prematurely when he suffered a serious concussion that worried many about his ability to play ball again. But he came out determined this year to show he could still be a solid second baseman and King of the Hill for the Jays. The 27-year-old had a career year by any standards; in fact, it was almost ‘roid rage like. He hit a career-high 36 home runs, knocked in 108 runs and batted a solid .286. Hill’s previous career highs were the 17 home runs and 78 RBI he put up in 2007. In his magical age 27 season, he showed that he had no lingering effects from his concussion and could definitely see clearly now. Hill helped to lead a powerful Jay offense while also playing spectacular defense all season. He even garnered his first career Silver Slugger award and earned himself a look as a high draft pick in next year’s Fantasy draft. Well done, Double-A-Ron, well done.
Honourable mention goes to Carlos Silva who had a spectacular comeback season for the Seattle Mariners after a terrible first year of his new contract. Wait a minute, he sucked again. Bad. Too many enchiladas leads to horrific pitching (and gas) for the Venezuelan villain. Chris Carpenter will reel in the honourable mention card as he finished second in Cy Young voting and pitched his way to a fantastic year of 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA for the St. Louis Cardinals, narrowly being edged out for the Cy Young by repeat winner Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants. — DO
Jock of the Year Award
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Free Agent: Okay, could someone please explain to me how Adrienne, as he’s now affectionately known in the clubhouse, could actually forget to wear his athletic supporter? Sweet Jesus on a 10-speed, what where you thinking Mr. Beltre? I think this whole situation can be summed up rather nicely by this AC/DC classic, with a little help from Spongebob. — TM
Money Well Saved Award
Remember last January when the San Francisco Giants were rumoured to be very much in the running for Manny Ramirez’s services? Well, as much as the Giants needed and still need an offensive kick in the ass, sparing themselves yet another prima Dona, spotlight-sucking star who winds up in a drug controversy is probably a damn good thing. Sometimes the best moves you make involve standing pat, so Lady Luck was shining on the Giants when Manny wound up back in LA. — RR
Money Well Spent Award
It’s hard to quibble with the Yanks’ spending spree on C.C. Sabathia and others, considering they won it all.
And then there’s the flipside, when opening up the wallet did make all the difference. As a lifelong Yankee hater, giving this award make me feel like cobras are writhing all over me (and not in a good way), but the Pinstripers can’t be denied this one. Adding C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett last winter cost the Yankees nearly a half billion dollars (yes, I needed a calculator to figure that out). But in the end, no matter how we play the game, we are judged by victories, and anyone who tells you different is a Commie (or worse yet, a Canadian). So when the Yankees hoisted the World Series trophy in November (thanks again, WBC), all those greenbacks were justified. Freakin’ bastards. — RR
The I Fu**ing Told You So Award
Last year I was given the chance to make a series of “picks and pans” some five-plus months before the start of the 2009 season for a magazine. The results would have made Nostradamus jealous. Let the following pearls of wisdom serve as Exhibits A, B and so on as to why everyone should always listen to me…except when I’m wrong.
B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays: I called him a “glorified Willy Taveras” and said his loss of second base eligibility was a killer because he was just another guy in the outfield. People ignored me and drafted him early on. The results: a .241 average, 11 home runs and 42 stolen bases. Taveras hit .240 with 25 steals in 156 fewer at bats.
Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: I bemoaned his inability to stay healthy, and he proved me right by appearing in only 105 games.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies: I thought he threw too many innings and wouldn’t be as effective in 2009. Could I have been more right? He went from 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA to 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA and opponents hit nearly 50 points higher against him.
A.J. Burnett, Toronto Blue Jays: I was all over the contract year syndrome with Burnett, who fell back from 18 wins to 13 despite pitching for the best team in baseball. His strikeouts fell and his walks went up as well. Advantage: Me.
Rich Harden, Chicago Cubs: People could’ve really steered clear of some marginal Fantasy starters if they paid attention to me as Harden was also on my hit list. The oft-injured righty made only 26 starts, including just three in September, and the dominance he showed during his brief Cubs stint in 2008 was nowhere to be seen. At least his strikeouts provided a silver lining.
Joe Saunders, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: This one is marginal, but I said he wasn’t the kind of pitcher that could match his ERA/WHIP from 2008, and without it he was a one-trick pony (wins). To that end he did win 16 games, but his ERA skyrocketed from 3.41 to 4.60 and his WHIP followed suit, going from 1.21 to 1.43. One…trick…pony.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies: How down were people on Tulo? Down enough that his average draft position made him an eighth-round selection in standard 12-team leagues. I loved his strong finish and thought he was poised to rebound big time. Turns out I was right…again.
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants: The average fan had no idea who the Kung Fu Panda was entering last season, but I did. I loved the way he swung the bat and didn’t think for a second he was a fluke. I also championed his catcher eligibility as a big time bonus.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals: First Tulo, now Zimmerman. Looks like I was all over bounce back seasons last year. I knew owners that spent early-round picks on him the previous season would be disappointed because he didn’t break out the way many thought he would after changing venues, but I told owners he would be a great mid-round value.
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers: I called him a potential mid-round steal and said, “he strikes out a lot of guys and may push for 15-plus wins.” Gallardo only won 13 games thanks to some suspect run support, but he rang up 204 hitters. Not bad at all.
Heath Bell, San Diego Padres: Living in Southern California, I’d seen Bell work as a set-up man for long-time Friars closer Trevor Hoffman and was utterly certain he’d make a seamless transition into that role last season. He has the perfect attitude and power repertoire to be a dominant stopper, and he rewarded my faith with 42 saves. — HG
Gone to Pot Award
Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants: This is more of a Leaf than an Award, I suppose. At any rate, you’ve really have to admire a guy that answers that first question from the traffic cop with, “Hey Dude, far out lights you got flashing, want an Oreo?” Timmy, Timmy, Timmy…next time, get one of your skater friends to pick up your stash and keep it at home. Cruisin’ the freeways of California with your bong in hand is not really considered an off-season conditioning program, is it? Besides, don’t you know it’s dangerous to drive and bong? Studies show that your bong is 63 per cent more likely to break in a car as opposed to a VW van. — TM
All or Nothing Award
How’d you like an autographed card of a player who smacked a dinger two-thirds of the time he got a hit?
If you blinked, you might have missed the retirement of Ryan Jorgensen in February. A seventh round pick by the Cubs in 2000, he spent nine seasons in the minors and parts of three seasons in the majors. All told, he accumulated 20 major league at bats, getting a mere three career hits. Now here’s the kicker – two of those hits left the yard. Jeez, do some projections on that, and Jorgensen would make Rob Deer look like a singles hitter. — RR
Manager of the Year Award
How does a manager win less than 40 per cent of his games, yet bag a three-year deal? Ask Manny Acta.
Mike Scioscia from the AL and Jim Tracy of the NL were certainly very deserving of the awards bestowed upon them this season in their respective leagues, but their accomplishments pale in comparison to Manny Acta. Anyone with a 158-252 career managerial record that can negotiate a three-year contract with an option year, is far and away the best in the business. It’s a good thing that Cleveland has the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, because Regressive Field is not going to be a hot spot in 2009. — TM
The Understated Award
While we’re on the topic of managers, if only Fantasy owners could hear what is truly being said by them. Take, for instance, what Arizona manager Bob Melvin had to say about his ace Brandon Webb back on March 2 in reaction to the fact that Webb had yet to appear in a Spring Training game: “It was a real minor thing.” Yup, making just one start and then spending the rest of the season on the DL sounds “real minor” to me, too. Okay, Melvin isn’t a doctor (he’s not even a toaster, which is a shame, because everyone loves Melvin the Toaster…oh, sorry, that’s Milton…never mind), but talk about understating a health problem. Perhaps the greatest invention yet to be conceived is the Fantasy Babel Fish, which will allow users to translate managerspeak into layman’s terms. — RR
Make Up Your Mind Award
After bouncing between the rotation and the pen, Brandon Morrow will be used as a lawn ornament next.
This is really more of a Lifetime Achievement Award, even though Brandon Morrow has only completed four professional seasons. Drafted by the Mariners in 2006, Morrow split his debut between Rookie and High-A ball, making five starts and two relief appearances. So…he was a starter. Right? In 2007, he actually got through an entire season in one role, making 60 appearances out of the pen for the M’s. Ah. Must be a reliever. But, of course, the long-term plan for Morrow wad always been that he’d be a starter. Oh. Okay. Never mind, then. In 2008, he was used exclusively as a reliever at Double-A, but then made five starts and one relief appearance at Triple-A. In the majors? Forty appearances out of the pen. So, he’s a reliever. Right? Oh, but he also made those five starts. Crap. And in 2009, Morrow was used as a starter at Triple-A, and also made 10 starts in Seattle. So clearly, he’s a starter. Right? Um…but what about those 16 relief appearances with the Mariners? Jeez, give the dude a permanent job, people! Now a Blue Jay, Morrow is scheduled to work out at third base in Winter Ball. — RR
The Whiplash Award
Brett Myers, who has pretty much worked his way out of the Phillies’ plans thanks to his ineptitude (not to mention his wife-beating tendencies), bags this award for his greatest trick yet – giving up 18 home runs in just 70 2/3 IP. Just think about that for a moment.
A free agent now, Myers may want to instruct his agent to add a clause in his next contact that will provide him with shiatsu therapy services after each of his outings. Craning your neck back that far time and time again has got to hurt.
Braden Looper, who surrendered 39 (!) dingers in his one and only season in Milwaukee definitely deserves a shout out here as well. — RR
Billy Wagner is just another Met who spent most of the season on the DL, before getting dealt to Boston.
The New York Mets’ first season in Citi Field was not one for the ages. While their cross-town counterparts christened their new stadium with a World Series title, the Mets struggled through a 70-win season – their first losing effort after four straight winning years. They had no offense and no pitching. Oh, and their defense was no hell either. However, at the least the Mets have a pretty good excuse for sucking, given their ridiculous health woes this year. I’m not sure what was in the water coolers at Citi Field, but man, there was a serious curse over this club. The list of those afflicted reads like a who’s who: Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, John Maine, Gary Sheffield, Oliver Perez (twice), Brian Schneider, Ryan Chruch, Tim Redding, Alex Cora (twice), Angel Pagan, Ramon Martinez, Fernando Martinez, Fernando Nieve, Jonathan Niese and Anderson Hernandez.
Things were so bad that in June, Reyes and Ray Ramirez – the team’s trainer – were rear-ended by a fire truck. I don’t even need to add anything to that. — RR
Okay, just what the hell was Conor Jackson up to that he contracted Valley Fever, costing him 15 pounds and most of the 2009 season? Also known by the pretty name of Coccidioidomycosis, Valley Fever is a fungal disease that can be transmitted through the air by inhaling spores. CoJack is expected to be back to full strength in 2010, and he’s currently hitting up a storm in the Dominican Winter League, but may we offer him some free advice? Steer clear of construction sites and farms for the next little while, Conor. — RR
Slow Starter Award
Someone needs to put Red starter Bronson Arroyo into a deep freeze chamber over the first couple months of the season, or somehow convince him that it’s mid-July when it’s really April. How else are we going to tap into his brilliant second-half performances in a month other than July, August or September? Arroyo first showed signs of this disease in 2007, when he struggled to a 4.84 first half before turning it on with a sweet 3.55 second half. The following year, he was even worse to start the season, and his ERA was scraping 6.00 at the break, before recording a mark of under 3.50 in the second half. This season, it was more of the same for Arroyo, as he put up an ERA of nearly five and a half in the first half. After the break, however, he was one of the best in the biz, recording a 2.24 ERA. If nothing else, may I suggest that Arroyo is a prime trade target for around early July? — RR
This year’s Clubhouse Cancer Award has to go to Vicente Padilla, who was such a distraction, that he was essentially told to bugger off by the Texas Rangers, despite the fact the they were in the middle of a pennant race. He pitched very well for the Dodgers down the stretch, likely doing enough to sucker some team into signing him as a free agent. Hey, Washington is always looking to make a smart move (more on that below). — RR
If you’re looking for proof of the existence of extraterrestrials, look no further than Brad Lidge’s work this year compared to 2008. If he wasn’t stolen by aliens, how else do you explain what happened to Lidge this year? Let’s see…in 2008, Lidge was perhaps the best closer in the game: in 69 1/3 IP, surrendering just 50 hits, two homers and 35 walks while striking out 92. He went 2-0, was a perfect 41-for-41 in save chances and had an ERA of 1.95. This season, in just 58 2/3 IP, he surrendered 72 hits, 11 homers and 34 walks while fanning just 61. His record was 0-8 and he saved just 31-of-42 chances with an ERA of 7.21. Can you spot the difference? Lidge may not be ready to start 2010 after off-season surgery, and even if he is healthy, do the Phils want him back as their closer? — RR
Remind Me Again Why You Suck Award
The Washington Nationals have recorded back-to-back 59-win seasons, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they suck so bad. Oh, that’s right. They give out crappy contracts.
Let’s see…we’ve got a promising young catcher in Jesus Flores, but a massive need for pitching help. What should we do? I know! Let’s invest $6 million for two years worth of 38-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez’s time. And in the process, we can block Flores. I get that I-Rod is a veteran capable of calming a young pitching staff, but a two-year deal? Other than as a headline-grabbing ploy, I don’t see the merit in this deal.