Well, what a final few days! The extra wild card spot made for some excellent games and helped push some fantasy lines and results. Sadly, the season is now done for most unless you have a playoff pool, but that’s cool, we now get to enjoy the baseball post season…hopefully it can live up to last season's epic run by the Cardinals! We’ll take a peek at the biggest performances of the year before the playoffs take over. Let’s get it!
NL Hitting leaders for the 2012 season:
- AVG: Buster Posey, C/1B, STL - .336
- R: Ryan Braun, OF, MIL - 108
- H: Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT - 194
- HR – Ryan Braun, OF, MIL – 41
- RBI – Chase Headley, 3B, SD - 115
- SB –Everth Caberra, SS, SD – 44SB
- OPS – Ryan Braun, OF, MIL – .987
Top Performances in the NL for the 2012 Season:
- Chase Headley, 3B, SD (87% owned) - .286, 95R, 35HR, 115RBI, 17SB: Headley had a career year all while hitting in cavernous Petco Park. At age 28 he is coming into his own at the right time and if the Friars can put a little more beef in their line up next season there is no reason he cannot repeat this season.
- Ryan Braun, OF, MIL (99% owned) – .319, 108R, 41HR, 112RBI, 30SB: Phenomenal season again…from a cheater, liar and PED user…just saying. If he gets the MVP it just proves how MLB doesn’t really care about the game or fans over the dollar.
- Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT (98% owned) – 107R, 31HR, 96RBI, 20SB: Career year for the Pirate outfielder at age 26. He has improved each season over his first four and might still be able to improve on his power numbers slightly, but I would expect this season to be close to what he will do during his prime. The 2012 NL MVP award should be his.
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B, MIL (94% owned) – .300, 92R, 50 2B, 27HR, 105RBI: Aramis had the quietest fantasy stud season in the NL, putting up 50 doubles and being tied with Braun for the most XBH in the NL. Not a bad pickup by the Brew Crew to fill the void Prince left behind…in the line-up of course, not at the buffet.
- Aaron Hill, 2B, ARZ (85% owned) – .302, 93R, 26HR, 85RBI, 14SB: Close to his career year overall, but maybe even a little better as he upped his BA, OBP, SLG, OPS and SB. At 30 he still has 3 or 4 solid years left for sure, easy keeper at 2B.
- Buster Posey, C/1B, SF (98% owned) – .336, 78R, 24HR, 103RBI: The best hitting catcher in MLB continued to prove it this season by supplanting guys like McCann and Molina in the NL.
- David Wright, 3B, NYM (98% owned) – .306, 91R, 21HR, 93RBI, 15RBI: Another full season, another top tier stat line. Pretty sure the Mets pick up the $16M option for 2013, but if he puts up another season like this at age 31 then what will it cost to keep him?
- Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD (96% owned) – 14-9, 2.53ERA, 1.02WHIP, 229K:63BB: The reigning NL Cy Young once again put up numbers that will put him in the race for the award this year, but Gonzalez and Dickey are out in front for the award.
- RA Dickey, SP, NYM (93% owned) – 20-6, 2.73ERA, 1.05WHIP, 230K:54BB: Likely will win the Cy Young for the NL as the writers like a good story and he definitely is a great story this season!
- Matt Cain, SP, SF (96% owned) – 16-5, 2.79ERA, 1.04WHIP, 193K:51BB: Stepped up for SF when Lincecum had a horrible year and became the staff ace. Not sure what the NL will do when the day comes that Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum are all going at full speed.
- Gio Gonzalez, SP, WAS (98% owned) – 21-8, 2.89ERA, 1.13WHIP, 207K:76BB: My personal pick for NL Cy Young, at age 27 put up an incredible season.
- Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL (98% owned) – 3-1, 42/45 saves, 1.01ERA, 0.65WHIP, 116K:14BB: Best closer in baseball, period.
- Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN (90% owned) - 5-5, 38/43 saves, 1.51ERA, 0.81WHIP, 122K:23BB: Second best closer in baseball, period.
Rants and Ramblings:
We had some seriously pleasant surprises this year in the NL when it came to fantasy performances:
- Kris Melden, the young starter from ATL, easily was the brightest performer by far! The Braves won the last 23 straight starts he made in the regular season, he had a 120K:23BB ratio and 10 wins in just 138 IP.
- Kyle Loshe ended up with a 16-3 record (.833 winning percentage is nuts!) which could have easily been 20 wins with some run support mid-season. He also held down a 2.86ERA and 1.09 WHIP with a 143K:38BB ratio. Needless to say he will get paid well by someone other than STL next season.
- Chase Headley was a fantastic surprise this season, and if the Padres were any good or close to the playoffs he might be a serious MVP candidate. With career highs in pretty much every offensive category, and doing so in Petco, his stock will fly through the roof next year at draft time.
- Aaron Hill made an impressive comeback to his 2009 type numbers (yes, against my initial predictions). A line of .302, 93R, 26HR, 85RBI, 14SB easily put him as the top ranked 2B in the NL and the #2 overall second bagger in fantasy baseball. Adam Laroche had a career year while being reinvigorated in that young and talented Nationals line up. With a career high in home runs (33), tying a high in RBI (100) and hitting .271 is nothing to scoff at.
- Lance Lynn came out of spring training as a surprise addition to the rotation in STL after Carpenter went down and showed up huge! Lynn put up 18 wins and a 3.78 ERA with 180K:64BB ratio - I would expect to see him in the STL rotation next year with Wainwright, Carpenter, Westbrook and Garcia unless Shelby Miller shows up big in spring training.
Already thinking about next season is the norm now for die hard fantasy owners:
- Adrian Gonzalez will (theoretically) get a full season with Crawford and Hanley hitting in front of him and Kemp and Ethier behind him…he will put up better numbers then Kemp.
- Bryce Harper has a .270-98-22-59-17 line in 139 games and I expect him to easily add considerably to each line next year as that entire WAS lineup continues to grow into a dynasty.
- If Allen Craig plays 145-150 games he will be a top five hitter in the NL, an MVP candidate and will have a stat line looking something like .300-90-35-125. I mean he hit .400 with RISP this season and is pretty much an RBI machine!
- Two more years of Soriano at $18M per can barely be stomached by the Cubs I am sure, even with 32HR and 108 RBI, I don’t care what anyone says don’t expect anything more than close to this next year.
- Carlos Gonzalez might get a season with Tulo playing almost a full year sometime, and if it is next year the returns will be massive for both…always seems to be a big risk you have to consider come draft time though.
- Tim Lincecum will be in a contract year next year at age 29 after a down year, after seeing the contracts Cain and Hamels received, and knowing SF has Zito’s albatross of a contract coming off the books just in time for him to hit free agency. Verlanders 2011 season, the NL version, is only months away from starting.
- Adam Wainwright will be equally impressive in 2013 in his final year of a huge discount deal for the Cardinals. If he doesn’t throw a no-hitter (or two) at some point I will be shocked.
- Roy Halladay will need another Doc type year to ensure the Phillies pick up his 2014 option and odds are that he will deliver.
- Dexter Fowler is primed to find the missing piece that puts him into the top echelon of outfielders in the NL. His BA, OBP and SLG% went up, he had a career high in walks, home runs and RBIs, and expecting him to hit career highs in most offensive categories at age 27 shouldn’t be too far-fetched…personally I expect it, along the lines of.300-90-15-75-25 and toss in 15 triples to cripple H2H and roto leagues.
- Lance Berkmen is done, but will probably somehow find a home in Houston.
- Rafeal Furcal is almost done and if Peter Kozma comes out strong in the spring and Kolten Wong continues to play well and improve he might get pushed out of the STL infield fast.
- Not sure what the Nationals are to do with Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen both in line to close…have it rough with their talent levels in Washington.
- Kris Melden will be the most over-valued player in almost every draft next year and I just don’t see him winning 20 games with a sub 3.00 ERA.
- Stephan Strasburg will finally, hopefully, god willing, be unleashed on the NL with no barriers, limits or any other stupid idea from WAS. The results should the first epic collection of stats of many.
- Chad Billingsley will quickly blow up his elbow and need Tommy John and should be down-graded come draft time.
- Chipper Jones will finally be gone from baseball, waiting his 5 years until he can be a first ballot, consensus Hall of Famer.
And after watching the NL wild card play-in game, with the horrible infield fly rule call that may or may not have made a difference in the game, I am pretty stoked being a long time, die hard Cards fan!
Catch me on Twitter @CanuckHoppy