2002 Mid-Season Report

by Chris McDonald

GM, Sterling Starfish

 

So much for the sophomore slump.

While Major League Baseball is currently reeling in light of the recent controversies concerning contraction, labor negotiations, and steroids, the Jefferson Fantasy Baseball League is thriving in its second season.  Maybe the Lords of Baseball could learn a thing or two from these brash young students who know the game, respect their players, and openly encourage juicing up.  After all, the net profit JFBL turned in 2001 was a whopping $350,000,030.00 better than Major League Baseball’s best efforts.

While still early in the league’s history, every season and offseason is another trial for the health and viability of the JFBL.  The first offseason tested the interest of the owners as well as the draft and amendment procedures.  While the players were home shooting up and working out, their JFBL owners were actively working trades, researching picks, and debating potential additions to the young Constitution.  When all was said and done, plenty was said, and done.  Hundreds of posts were made on an alternate message board.  Big names like Giles, Suzuki, Piazza, Vidro, Dunn, Maddux, and Johnson all had new addresses.  Most notably, the league’s first seven amendments were put in the books.  The league was improved by changes in the transaction rules, easing the retainment of prospects, and its indefinite extension.

Despite the productive and promising winter, many league insiders remained skeptical about the league’s competitive balance.  After all, the Grenades, then known as the Gamers, had run away with The Joe and showed no signs of slowing down entering 2002.  If the same teams that were in the running in the inaugural season were again alone in contention this year, the league’s budding momentum would be quickly snuffed out by frustrated owners who saw no chance of competing in the near future.  That said, a complete reorientation of the standings, though not expected, would have been equally as damaging, as it would indicate that there is little year-to-year continuity in the success of a team, meaning there would be no skill involved in winning, only luck.

Halfway through, it looks as though the league is on the right track.  Sterling, 7th place last year and never in contention, has made a surprising run over the last couple of months and stands in 1st place at the break.  The Starfish made several big acquisitions in the offseason and their big scouting budget has started to pay off. Owner Chris McDonald has repeatedly said he didn’t plan to be in the title fight until 2003, and he may be right—right now Sterling’s pitching statistics are artificially inflated by the fact that they are projected to be 69.2 IP over their team limit.

The first half’s biggest surprise story has been written in Burke.  Led by emerging stars like Torii Hunter and Brian Lawrence and the resurgence of Luis Castillo and Darin Erstad, the Boomerangs defied all expectations to be in the JFBL lead as late as May 29th.  The inevitable decline has begun, but they can’t be counted out yet—both Mike Mussina nor Keith Foulke have yet to play up to their enormous potential.

The Reston Roundabouts have jumped five spots in the standings, but that has to be considered a disappointment for fans of the Northsiders.  Despite stacking the team’s outfield with stars like Griffey, Suzuki, and Gonzalez, GM Dan Hausman has watched JFBL’s 10th best offense damage the team’s hopes for a title in 2002.  With a dominant pitching staff and a shark like Hausman pulling the strings, one wonders how long it will be before the deal is sealed on yet another blockbuster.

Of course, there are familiar faces at the top as well.  The defending champs changed their name and their shortstop in the offseason, but their biggest additions were in their bullpen, adding 2001 cuts Eddie Guardado (26 saves) and Mike Williams (25 saves).  The continued development of Alfonso Soriano as one of the game’s superstars has offset the declines of Jeff Bagwell and Juan Gonzalez.  Last year’s runner up started slowly, but a torrid May Herndon gain 33.5 points and vault from 9th to 3rd.  The acquisition of Greg Maddux and Bartolo Colon’s realization that he is 29 and should be good by now have improved the Heroes’ pitching staff from 8th in the league to 3rd best.

Whether any new contenders come out of the woodworks in the second half to join these five teams in pursuit of the title is unlikely, but that’s why they play the games.  Now it’s time to recognize those that are indispensable to the JFBL, the players.  Ladies and gentlemen, your 2002 Fantasy All-Stars.

 

(starters in bold)

 

Catcher

Robert Fick, Heroes

Scott Hatteberg, Robots

 

First Base

Paul Konerko, Starfish

 

Second Base

Alfonso Soriano, Grenades

Junior Spivey, Faithfuls

 

Third Base

Tony Batista, Clams

Eric Hinske, Faithfuls

Shea Hillenbrand, Clams

Mike Lowell, Starfish

 

Shortstop

Omar Vizquel, Roosters

Nomar Garciaparra, Outlaws

 

Outfield

Torii Hunter, Boomerangs

Johnny Damon, Roosters

Pat Burrell, Firemen

Darin Erstad, Boomerangs

Tim Salmon, Roosters

Lance Berkman, Ants

 

Starting Pitchers

Derek Lowe, Roundabouts

Odalis Perez, Outlaws

Vincente Padilla, Robots

Roy Halladay, Starfish

A.J. Burnett, Starfish

Bartolo Colon, Heroes

Brian Lawrence, Boomerangs

Kasuhisa Ishii, Roosters

Jarrod Washburn, Faithfuls

 

Relief Pitchers

Eric Gagne, Roundabouts

Eddie Guardado, Grenades

Mike Williams, Grenades

Jorge Julio, Boomerangs

 

 

 

JFBL