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Sunday, October 08, 2006

10 Underrated Fantasy Seasons

Here at RBBBB, we know that you love fantasy baseball as much as we do. That's why we're starting to roll out some articles about the 2006 season looking ahead to 2007 since Spring Training is only a short 18 weeks away. So, first I offer 10 underrated/under-the-radar seasons. These are going to be players who ended up much higher in the rankings than anyone would guess. Draft position does play some part in this, but this post isn't meant to target people like Jermaine Day or Brandon Webb. Everyone is aware of the monster seasons they both had (after being drafted in Round 13+). This is meant to spotlight seasons like Aubrey Huff's 2003 when he hit 34 HR, 107 RBI and OPS'ed .922. Or Andy Pettite last year 17-9, 2.39 ERA, 1.03 WHIP (due in large part to his post AS break ERA/WHIP of 1.69/.90). So here we go:

Matt Holliday (OF): Everyone who didn't know him learned of Holliday this year and the reason he makes this list is because of the unbelievable month of September he had. Going into September, he had been hovering around the 30's-40's in overall rankings, but he went on a tear (.333/10/34/1.145/29 runs) and finished #9 overall. He finished tied for 5th in runs, 10th in Avg, 11th in OPS and threw in 10 steals. He finished ahead of pereniall studs such as Beltran, Berkman, AROD, Morneau, Vernon Wells, David Wright, Jason Bay, Konerko, and Thome.

Hanley Ramirez (SS): He started off the year on a tear batting in the .330's by the middle of May, but cooled off and his average was down to the .260's for the middle of June. The runs were always there as he batted leadoff in a decent lineup. But after the All-Star break, the HR's and steals began to pile up and he shot up the rankings. He finished 28th overall and as the 4th best shortstop due to his 51 steals (5th) and 119 runs (tied-5th). Behind him were people such as Miguel Tejada, Michael Young, Grady Sizemore, Johny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Delgado, and Chone Figgins (who Ramirez bettered in every category except steals 52-51).

Aaron Harang (SP): 6th best starting pitcher (no Papelbon doesn't count despite SP eligibilty) in 2006 in part due to NL Leading 216 K's (2nd overall to Santana), respectable 16 wins, and 6 (yes league leading) complete games including 2 shutouts. His ERA and WHIP were a tad on the high side, but one must consider his home ballpark as well---Home ERA 4.61, Road ERA 2.98. This is mainly due to home runs given up at home vs on the road (20-8) as his WHIP (1.28 v 1.26) and BAA (.268 v .269) were almost identical. He also didn't kill you with walks (i.e. Zambrano you) as he was tied 48th. He is on the bubble of a bona fide ace considering the durability and strikeout numbers he gives you. Finished ahead of Oswalt, Halliday, Peavy, Randy Johnson, and Verlander.

Joe Nathan (RP): Everyone knows Joe Nathan by now and knows that he is a dominant reliever. However, not everyone knows that he was the best rated fantasy RP, only blew 2 saves all year long (tied with Saito for lowest BS total--although Saito only had 26 chances, Nathan had 38), finished 3rd in ERA for all closers (1.58) and barely behind Papelbon for WHIP (.78 vs .79). Add 7 wins to his 36 saves and 95 K's and Nathan was purely dominating. Everyone that was worried on June 1st when he had only 6 saves had their fears calmed over the last 4 months of the season. Finished ahead of Papelbon, Rivera, Lidge, and BJ Ryan (the last 3 of which were taken before him in almost every draft).

Derek Lowe (SP): Lowe is another player who had an amazing Aug/Sept. to vault him up the fantasy rankings. Although lacking in K's (123), he delivered 16 wins, respectable 3.63 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and didnt' kill you with walks. After an absolutely putrid July (ERA/WHIP 7.11/1.86) he posted Aug/Sept. numbers of 1.69/0.78 and 3.08/1.37. He was no doubt helped by the spacious confines of Dodger Stadium, but his road ERA/WHIP were only 4.18/1.35. Finished ahead of Jason Schmidt, Beckett, Wang, Freddy Garcia, Pettite, Capuano, and Glavine.

Michael Cuddyer (OF/1B): Cuddyer will not doubt lose some value next year as he only retains OF and 1B eligibility as compared to this year when he was eligible at 3 out of 4 infield spots (not SS). However, he finished 72nd overall due to 24 HR, 109 RBI's, an .866 OPS, .284 AVG, and 102 runs. He was the 3rd best 2B overall, ahead of Figgins, Brian Roberts, Cano, and even Uggla. He finished ahead of peple such as Delgado, Giambi, Dunn, Glaus, and Frank Thomas.

Garrett Atkins (3B): Basically a carbon copy of Holliday at 3B, Atkins put up tremendous numbers (117 runs, .329 AVG, .965 OPS) and was within a hair of being the highest ranked 3rd basemen in the game. He finished at 19th overall, 2 spots behind Cabrera and 1 spot behind AROD. While his splits favored his home ballpark, HR were split evenly (15-14) and he batted .313/OPS'ed .933 on the road, both respectable numbers. Finished ahead of Wright, Aramis Ramirez, Glaus, Sizemore, Thome, Konerko, Bay.

Carlos Guillen (SS): Injuries the past 2 years had dampened the expectations on Guillen, but when healthy for a full season he showed that he is a solid 5 category contributing player. Although his RBI numbers were down (85) he had AVG/OPS of .320/.920, 19 HR, and scored 100 runs despite batting in the #5 spot a majority of the time. He finished 57th overall ahead of Young, Felipe Lopez, Figgins, Manny Ramirez, and Delgado.

Chipper Jones (3B): Jones missed time with injuries at 3 different points during the season and only played in 110 games. Yet, he still managed to finished 70th overall because of .324 AVG/1.006 OPS. He only finished 9 RBI's and 7 runs behind Rolen despite playing in 32 fewer games. Jones stats translate out to 36 HR/120 RBI/122 Runs over a full season (154 games--we can't really expect this 34-year old to play in every game). Finished ahead of Glaus, Rolen, Nomar, Frank Thomas, Young, and Giambi.

Takashi Saito (RP): Saito's season may be overlooked because he only had 24 saves, but his periphery stats clearly exhibited how good his season was. The low saves total was due mainly to the Dodgers win margins and the fact that he didn't become the closer until the middle of May. His 107 K's led all full-time relievers and his 2.07 ERA/.910 WHIP were right at the top in those categories. He only blew 2 saves (tied with Nathan) and contributed 6 wins. Finished ahead of Rivera, Huson Street, Hoffman, Chris Ray, and Francisco Cordero.

Note: Rankings were from Yahoo's rankings based on standard 5 X 5 leagues. Using different categories in your league such as OPS instead of AVG can positively (Dunn, Delgado, etc.) or negatively (Crawford, Ichiro) affect player's rankings and value.


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