Jefferson Baseball Mid-Season Report 2001

by Michael Durgala

GM Annandale Ants

 

                The all-star break is upon us and we are in the midst of what has been a great year of fantasy baseball.  Last year, we saw an exciting, down-to-the-wire finish between the Fairfax Firemen, Reston Robots, and Annandale Ants that no one will ever forget.  This season looks to promise much of the same with the Ants and Great Falls Gamers trading blows at the top of the standings and the Herndon Heroes and Fairfax Faithfuls not far behind.  The Robots and Firemen find themselves in the middle of the pack along with the Clifton Casinos, Reston Roundabouts, and Burke Boomerangs.  This group of teams is a ways out of contention, but with a solid second half run one of them could jump as high as third place in the standings.  The Sterling Starfish, Reston Roosters, and Oakton Ogres are all but finished for this season.  However, they have begun rebuilding efforts and should be formidable foes in future years.

 

                The standings don’t tell the whole story, though.  The race between the top four teams is a lot closer than it seems.  The groups is separated by extremely narrow margins in home runs, RBI, wins, saves, and ERA.  This means a hot streak for one of these teams could easily cause a ten point swing in the standings.  The offensive production for each of these teams should be interesting to follow in the second half.  The Ants and Gamers both have a lot of young players enjoying career years up to this point (Floyd, Berkman, Loduca, Pujols).  Meanwhile, the Heroes are made up of more proven players who are less likely to tail off in the second half (Piazza, Giambi, Alomar, C. Jones).  The Faithfuls are made up of a mixture of young and old so who knows what they will do.  But if these young bucks drop off in the second half while the proven stars continue their great output, look for the race to heat up even more.  As far as pitching goes, the Gamers appear to hold the upper hand with four quality closers and a slew of solid starters such as Schilling, Hudson, and Mays.  It should be a battle between the Ants, Heroes, and Faithfuls in the pitching categories to gain some important standings points.  The three teams are separated by only two wins, three saves, and a .08 margin in ERA.  Give the edge to the Heroes for now after the addition of Rick Reed to bolster their staff.

 

                The auction clearly made this year very interesting as star players went at ridiculous prices in the early rounds.  Consider that many players went at higher prices than what they went for in AL or NL only leagues where they are much more valuable.  Names that come to mind are Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, and Armando Benitez.  Now while these players and many others I didn’t mention all put up big numbers and are young, they went for prices so high that they changed the entire complexity of the auction.  The biggest effect of this overpaying was seen in the closers where many good players went for unbelievable low prices late in the auction such as Jeff Shaw ($5), Jason Isringhausen ($5), and Troy Percival ($2) to name a few.  The teams that have had the most success were those who got a few star players early in the auction at reasonable prices and then grabbed a bunch of bargains near the end of the auction.  It would be interesting to hold another auction to see how prices play out so that every manager could correct obvious mistakes they made.

 

                We’ve also had several interesting league stories this season that come to mind.  Player renting came to the forefront after Dan Hausman began trying to dump his good players to contenders for prospects and draft picks.  Personally, I liked this idea at first as it gave the contending teams a better shot to win this year while it improved the chances of the rebuilding teams for future years.  After an infamous Jose Mesa trade and many broken hearts, player renting as we know it came to end, and rightfully so.  It’s sad to think what would’ve happened to the league if players such as Kevin Brown, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Barry Bonds were thrown out on the open market for competitors to grab for a prospect and a few draft picks.  The commissioner’s decision to outlaw player renting certainly will improve the integrity of this league for year’s to come.  Another interesting story was Jon Lasken’s ridiculous auction strategy and its trade aftermath.  Lasken took Pedro Martinez ($60), Randy Johnson ($30), Greg Maddux ($30), and Curt Schilling ($17) and then proceeded to trade away Martinez and Schilling for much less than they were worth.  The Gamers have clearly benefited from this deal much like the Robots did last year in a deal with Lasken if my memory is correct.

2001 Fantasy All-Stars

 

                You picked the position starters, now I pick the reserves and pitchers. My selections are in bold.

 

Catchers

Paul LoDuca (free agent) – Great Falls Gamers.

Jorge Posada ($19) – Burke Boomerangs.   This Yankee is hitting for average, power, and playing almost every day behind home plate.  In my mind, he’s already surpassed Kendall as the third best catcher in baseball.

 

First Basemen

Ryan Klesko ($12) – Burke Boomerangs

John Olerud (6th) – Reston Roosters.  One of a few players in the last decade to make a serious run at .400, he’s enjoying one of his best seasons to date.  He’ll no longer be overlooked at first base.

 

Second Basemen

Bret Boone (3rd) – Reston Robots

Alfonso Soriano ($2) – Great Falls Gamers.   Already putting up huge stolen base totals and has established himself at second base.

 

Third Basemen

Albert Pujols (5th) – Great Falls Gamers

Aramis Ramirez ($5) – Fairfax Firemen.  Has become a big power threat and a simply awesome hitter.  Mike Keenan has stood by this guy for years.  Now we’re seeing why.

 

Shortstops

Rich Aurilia ($1) – Reston Robots

Jimmy Rollins ($8) – Reston Roosters.  He’s carried the pressure of a high auction price and thrived under it, helping the Phillies to the division lead and making the real all-star team.

Neifi Perez ($1) – Reston Robots.  A consistent offensive producer and a solid glove man.  Just hope he doesn’t get traded.

 

Outfield

Lance Berkman ($5) – Annandale Ants.  Congratulations Lance!

Luis Gonzalez ($8) – Reston Roosters

Cliff Floyd ($5) – Annandale Ants.  Great job Cliff!

Matt Lawton ($2) Annandale Ants.  He’s starting to show some of that power we’ve always heard about and putting up his usual high stolen base total with a great average.  Congratulations Matt!

Ichiro Suzuki ($14) – Fairfax Faithfuls.  He’s got an entire nation focused on his every move and he hasn’t even come close to a slump.  I hope he wins the batting title, for several reasons.

Shannon Stewart ($8) – Great Falls Gamers.  He’s finally hitting for average and stopped trying to hit a home run every time up.

 

Utility

Mike Cameron ($7) – Herndon Heroes

Ellis Burks ($3) – Reston Roundabouts.  After a great year last year, he’s putting up even bigger numbers while stealing the hearts of Cleveland fans.

Edgar Martinez ($4) – Reston Roundabouts.  His numbers have dropped off slightly but he’s still a great guy to have.  Many consider him the best right-handed hitter in baseball.

 

Starting Pitchers

Roger Clemens ($11) – Herndon Heroes.  He’s so old and on his way to another 20-win season.  In my opinion, one of the greatest competitors out there.

Ben Sheets ($9) – Oakton Outlaws.  Oakton’s lone fantasy all-star, he should have three or four Cy Young’s before it’s all said and done.

Mike Hampton ($3) – Burke Boomerangs.  He basically pitches on the moon still keeps the ball in the park.  If he duplicates his first half, it will be a truly remarkable season.

Brad Radke ($1) – Annandale Ants.  He goes out and throws strikes.  This helps him get ahead in the count and keeps his defense ready.  What else could a manager ask for?  Congratulations Brad!

Rick Reed ($1) – Herndon Heroes.  A starting pitcher with a WHIP under 1.00?  Simply amazing.  Another example of what getting ahead of hitters can do for a pitcher.

Hideo Nomo ($1) – Burke Boomerangs.  He’s regained the magic he had when he first arrived from Japan.  His splitter might be the best in baseball.

Wade Miller (15th) – Reston Robots.  He came out of nowhere and has pitched well in a hitter’s park.  He might be the next Nolan Ryan.

 

Relief Pitchers

Jose Mesa (8th) – Reston Roundabouts.  This former Annandale Ants has revived his career and could be pitching in the playoffs again.

Troy Percival ($2) – Fairfax Faithfuls.  After last year, most people assumed his career was going down the tubes.  Check out his numbers this year: 22 saves, 0.84 ERA, 0.65 WHIP.

Tom Gordon ($3) – Clifton Casinos.  Clifton’s lone representative, he has come back from bad injuries and people saying he could never close again.

 

Those are my selections.  Feel free to give me feedback on the message board.  Best of luck to everyone the rest of the season!  Let’s make it a great finish!

 

 

JFBL