28 9 / 2011
Well… that’s the baseball season folks… for the Jays at least.
The Blue Jays season ended today after a late game comeback which saw their season end right back where they started, with the same number of wins as losses.
There were some memorable, and some not so memorable moments this year. The front office may have been the biggest story for the Jays in 2011, with the ridding themselves of the terrible Vernon Wells contract, the trading of clubhouse veterans Aaron Hill and Johnny Mac, and acquiring Colby Rasmus from the Cardinals for, basically, a bag of balls.
Sure there were some downs/ugly moments, like the 20-plus blown saves, Adam Lind never quite reaching that potential that would see him better as anything but replacement level (praying its an injury), and Travis Snider, once again, not getting the real shot he oh-so-deserved, getting less than 100 plate apparences before being sent to Vegas.
However, there were a lot of great moments for the Jays this year. Jose Bautista proved last year wasn’t a fluke, becoming the first player to lead the majors in homers for two straight years since Mark McGuire in 1998 and 1998, and managed to finish the season with an OPS over 1, thanks to an average that went up by more than 40 points and a whopping 131 walks (24IBB). Brett Lawrie came up and looked every bit as good as Bautista with his great batting eye and great power. Ricky Romero continued to get better, and next season should start getting some mentions a top pitcher in the AL. JP Arencibia arrived in the majors and flexed the muscle that we all knew was going to come and handled a young staff very well. Yunel Escobar, who missed the last couple weeks of the season with injury, finished with a .369 on base, which is just the type of thing you want to see from your leadoff hitter. We really began seeing the depth of the farm system, with guys like Alvarez and Thames making contributions to the team, and the long awaited return of Dustin McGowan.
All in all, I don’t think Blue Jays fans can be too disappointed in the 2011 season. For what was labelled as a “building year”, I think a .500 record is more than enough reason to be excited for next year, I know I am…
LATE EDIT: One thing I wanted to comment on, is that the 81-81 record most likely means the Jays won’t finish in the top (bottom?) half of the MLB Reverse Standings. What this means is that the Jays first round pick is NOT protected for the 2012 draft, so if the Jays are to go out and sign a big time free agent this offseason, they’ll lose that pick.
If there’s anything we’ve seen in Anthopolous’ two years behind the helm so far, it’s that he loves the draft, and is hesitant to give up picks. However, with the Jays not signing their first round pick from this year’s draft, Tyler Beede, they have a protected pick in the first round at 22.
Basically, this tells us that AA may be less hesitant to give up this pick as he normally would be. Combine this with some of the other free agents that will be most likely be leaving the Jays with type A and B status, and a big name free agent isn’t out of the question. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I am not saying it’s impossible.
20 9 / 2011
The year in fantasy baseball wasn’t a complete write off for me, but I’ve definitely had better years. The following are 3 guys that I nailed in my preseason assessments, and 3 guys I completely whiffed on.
Curtis Granderson, OF, NYY
Going into the season, I predicted Granderson to have a huge year. It’s far too easy for me to just write this, so I’ll explain why I was targeting him.
From August 14th until season’s end in 2010, Granderson hit 14 home runs. When asked about it, the main source for the new found power appeared to be a swing change. Sound familiar? Jose Bautista had 10 homeruns in September of 2009, a swing change was credited, laying the foundation for an amazing 2010 season which saw him hit a league leading 54 home runs.
Sure, it’s could have been stupid of me drawing conclusions this way, but something about it struck a cord with me. Combine this with the hitter friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, Granderson was a guy I targeted in all of my leagues this year, reaching a bit early for him and it paid off, big time.
Jordan Zimmerman, SP, WSH
Jordan Zimmerman missed the second half of 2009 and almost all of 2010 after requiring Tommy John surgery in June of 2009. A guy who sits 92-94 and averaged over 9K/9IP before the injury derailed his 2009 season is a guy I am always going to look to target.
Also working in Zimmerman’s favor was that he pitches in a great division, the NL East, which hosts some great pitchers parks and some “not-so-intimidating” lineups. The strikeouts weren’t quite where I expected them to be, but a 6.9K/9IP is nothing to shake a stick at, combined with a very solid 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Zimmerman was a steal in every draft I got him in this year, and these are the types of pitchers that can really help win a league.
Jordan Walden, RP, LAA
Saves are useless.
They’re a useless stat, but they’re in (almost) every fantasy baseball league. I never draft closers until the last round of my draft*. Jordan Walden was a guy that had some hype in the preseason, and I was buying.
The Angels always have a solid bullpen, and word was this young Walden was a fireballer with the “stuff” to close out games. The “stuff” led me to believe that Walden could be a big time strikeout guy. Realizing that the Angels closer to start the year was Fernando Rodney, and knowing that Fernando Rodney isn’t very good, I was able to nab Walden in some deeper leagues, knowing that if I waited patiently, good things would happen.
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long. Walden recorded his first save on April 5th, and was getting regular save opportunities soon after. With 32 saves and 89 strikeouts thus far this season, I think this move more than paid off.
It would be far too easy of me to brag about the guys I was right on, so to keep myself humble, here are 3 guys I was completely wrong on.
Aaron Hill, 2B, TOR/ARZ
I was all over Aaron Hill in the preseason. After a lackluster 2010, I figured there would be no way Hill could be as bad in 2011. I had him targeted in all my leagues, and luckily I wasn’t alone in thinking this way.
Naturally most of the Jays fans in my drafts had Hill targeted, and they took him much earlier than I was willing to. Hill’s struggles continued through most of 2011 and was traded to Arizona late in the year, where, sure enough, he appears to have “figured it out” (.297/.333/.465/.799) in his short stint thus far, seemingly trying to suck me in for next season.
Carl Crawford, OF, BOS
I had a friend tell me that they were always wary of star players signing huge contracts with new teams. I remember telling him that I didn’t think there was any player that could be safer than Crawford. Boy, was I wrong there.
Before the season I had Crawford ranked as my number 2 outfielder, after Ryan Braun, and in my top 5 overall.
Obviously, we all know what has happened with Crawford this season, between injuries and just being terrible, it has been a lost season for him, posting a .4 WAR on the season, putting him in the same category as guys like Bobby Abreu and Vladamir Guererro, who I wouldn’t have even considered in any of my drafts (including an 18 team league).
I drafted Mike Napoli in my keeper league this year. Generally, in this league, it’s a good idea to have 2 catchers to make sure you get all your games at that position filled. I realize these were supposed to all be about preseason rankings, but where I mentioned Granderson (easily my biggest hit ever), I figured I would have to mention my biggest misstep. I put it at the end so hopefully people were sick of reading me by this point.
I drafted Napoli in the 10th round, which really would have been fine, had I not drafted Matt Weiters in the 9th. It was one of those situations where you have to take the best player available, because the other options are just not that great.
Every day I would debate on which player to start at C. Napoli, it seemed, was never in the lineup for the Rangers. Days he was, he was junk. Eventually I got sick of it, and decided to drop Napoli for a player whose name escapes me at the moment.
In any case, I currently sit within striking distance in the league, but a projected 23 games back at closer, and Napoli’s late season surge would certainly have been welcome on my squad.