JLB MIDSEASON REPORT (2010)

JONATHAN LASKEN, GM CLIFTON CLAMS

 

Introduction

 

            Unpredictability has been the rule in JLB this year.  Entering the season, the favorites were the Foxes, Arsenal, and Grenades.  Only the fourth spot was up for grabs.  Over halfway in, only one of those teams finds itself in the top three—the Foxes.

 

            The JLB leading Clams entered the season a laughingstock, and most owners continued to write them off.  For at least half a year, the Clams have proved the pundits wrong.  Currently, the Clams hold a 7 point lead on second place, a 13 point lead on third place, and a 22 point lead on fourth.  The Firemen, also written off heading into the season, are solidly lodged in second place, with the best chance to catch the Clams.  The Foxes find themselves in third place to the disappointment of Foxes fans everywhere, who believed the team to be on the cusp of a dynasty.

 

            While significant point gaps divide the top three, the race for fourth is heated.  The Roundabouts, Outlaws, and Grenades are in a dead heat.  Close behind are the Arsenal and Robots.  And, for those teams in the race for fourth, the imminent return of Carlos Beltran and Brian Roberts, and recent trades by the Grenades and Roundabouts will surely bring sweat to brows of nervous GMs. 

 

             Finally, one reaches the rebuilding teams.  The 66ers find themselves with only 55.5 points despite leading the league in xFIP, wRC+, Z-Swing%, tERA, and HR/FB%.  The Starfish follow with 44 points behind a speed-first offense.  The Roosters are next with 34 points, and the Heroes occupy the bottom slot with 29 points, provided entirely by the bat of David Wright.

 

            There is still a lot of baseball left to be played.  Can the Clams and Firemen hold on, flipping the league on its head?  Or will the Foxes have their dynasty?  LetÕs all hope for an exciting second half.

 

JLB All Star Roster

 

            It is my sincere honor to present the 2010 JLB All Stars.  Starters are in italics.

 

Catcher

 

Miguel Olivo (Robots/Clams): Coors Field has been good to this backstop.  Olivo is following last yearÕs 23 HR campaign with a 42-11-42-4-.325 line; making him the no. 1 catcher in fantasy baseball

 

Brian McCann (Grenades): In a down year for catchers, McCann has at least performed to the level he should 

 

First Base

 

Joey Votto (Robots): Making a deep position deeper, Votto has been worse than only Miguel Cabrera.  He ranks ahead of Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder.

 

David Ortiz (Arsenal): Left for dead, Ortiz has suddenly remembered how to hit again, and is on pace to top 30 HR/100 RBI for the first time in three years.

 

Second Base

 

Robinson Cano (Outlaws): Everyone knew Cano was good, but few would have put him as the 13th best player in fantasy baseball.

 

Martin Prado (Roundabouts): Who?  Currently hitting 61-10-39-4-.325, not only was Prado never ranked in the top 100 prospects in baseball, he was never even ranked in the Braves top 10 prospects.  So much for scouting services: Dan Hausman 1, Baseball America 0.

 

Third Base

 

Scott Rolen (66ers/Foxes): Another veteran whose career was widely believed to be over is having a resurgence in 2010.

 

David Wright (Heroes): In case anyone forgot after last yearÕs dismal performance, Wright is the best 3B in fantasy baseball. 

 

Shortstop

 

Rafael Furcal (Starfish/Grenades): Did anyone else forget that Furcal was still in baseball?  After three years of horrid performances, Furcal seems to have regained his old form.

 

Elvis Andrus (Roundabouts): The 22 year old is on pace to steal over 40 bases and score over 100 runs. 

 

Outfield

 

Vladimir Guerrero (Firemen): The impaler is still swinging at everything (48.4% O-Swing%), but making more contact (9.3% K%) and playing in a sweet home park.

 

Josh Hamilton (Clams): Y! rank (3) is 63 spots higher than the MLD pick (66) used to draft him in 2007.   

 

Alex Rios (Firemen): On pace for a 30HR/40SB season, he has made owners who signed Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu, Matt Holliday, and Ichiro over him look foolish.

 

Carlos Gonzalez (Foxes): Blossoming in his third year, he looks like a foundational piece as the Foxes work to build their offense.

 

Designated Hitter

 

Miguel Cabrera (Clams): As it turns out, alcoholism affects oneÕs ability to play baseball; the former perennial all-star is well on his way to earning a triple crown.  Easily the top player in fantasy baseball, he leads the majors in RBI/AVG, is second in HR, and fourth in R.

 

Brandon Phillips (Clams): Widely considered to be overpaid and no longer elite going into the season, Phillips finds himself on pace for another 25/25 campaign, to be accompanied by approximately 130 runs and a .300 BA.

 

Starting Pitcher

 

Ubaldo Jimenez (Clams): At 15-1, the question will be asked—could he be the first pitcher in the era of 5-man rotations to win 30 games?

 

Josh Johnson (Robots): Overshadowed by Jimenez, few realize that Josh Johnson now owns the best ERA (1.70) and WHIP (0.96) in the majors.

 

Jon Lester (Roosters): Erased a terrible April to head into the break with a 2.78 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

 

Andy Pettitte (Starfish): Did anyone else see the ESPN special on Pettitte?  The fat kid with the pencil mustache in high school, PetiteÕs story gives hope of a MLB career to fat, newly-pubescent teens everywhere.

 

Clayton Kershaw (66ers): Currently sports the third best K/9 in the majors and solid 3.19 ERA.

 

Relief Pitcher

 

Billy Wagner (Roundabouts): With a 1.17 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 58K in 38 IP, there appears to be more left in WagnerÕs tank.

 

Matt Lindstrom (Outlaws): Surprisingly reliable with 21 saves and a 2.80 ERA.

 

Jose Valverde (Firemen): Absolutely untouchable with a 0.92 ERA and 0.82 WHIP.

 

Lineup

 

Rafael Furcal

Alex Rios

Joey Votto

Miguel Cabrera

Josh Hamilton

Vlad Guerrero

Robinson Cano

Scott Rolen

Miguel Olivo

 

JLB All Bust Roster

 

Catcher

 

Matt Wieters (Outlaws): Consensus number one overall prospect from 2009 has taken a step back this year, prior to his injury.

 

First Base

 

Carlos Pena (Arsenal): How many home runs does he have to hit to justify a sub .200 BA?

 

Second Base

 

Chase Utley (Grenades): Regarded as a top 10 player entering the season, Utley has struggled to reach the top 100.

 

Third Base

 

Aramis Ramirez (Firemen): Consistently a solid 3b, he should have been much better than the 903 overall player in yahoo. 

 

Shortstop

 

Jimmy Rollins (Foxes): Declining for a second straight year, the days when Rollins was an elite SS seems to be in the past.

 

Outfield

 

Grady Sizemore (Grenades): Not that long ago Sizemore was arguably the top outfielder in baseball; now the Grenades yearn for last yearÕs 18HR/13SB season.

 

Nick Markakis (Heroes): A consistent top performer, Markakis has struggled to be average.

 

Adam Lind (Firemen): Last yearÕs breakout season looks more like a fluke each day.

 

Designated Hitter

 

Aaron Hill (Roosters): Last yearÕs biggest surprise has returned to career norms.

 

Starting Pitcher

 

Zack Grienke (Clams): One owner predicted Grienke would receive upwards of $15m per year in free agency after last yearÕs cy young performance.  What a difference a year makes, Grienke is ranked 25th in Ks and WHIP, 46th in ERA, is outside of the top 50 in W, and is not in the top 50 pitchers according to Y! rankings.

 

Josh Beckett (Grenades): Limped to a 7.29 ERA and 1.66 WHIP before hitting the DL. 

 

James Shields (Robots): The former upper echelon starter reaches the midway mark with a 4.87 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, despite a solid K rate.

 

John Lackey (Arsenal): Thought to be at least a respectable starter, Lackey has been an asset in only wins.  With a K/9 of 5.42, 4.78 ERA (4.98 xFIP), and 1.60 WHIP, LackeyÕs best days seem to be behind him.

 

Wandy Rodriguez (Heroes): He looked like a young pitcher on his way to stardom last year; not anymore.

 

Relief Pitcher

 

Chad Qualls (Roundabouts): When the Bouts signed Qualls for 7M, Dan Hausman surely would not have guessed that his salary 7.00 would be lower than his era 8.60.

 

Trevor Hoffman (Clams): A great example of what happens when one stays in the game too long. 

 

Joe Nathan (Clams): Signed to freshly minted 9M contract, Joe Nathan promptly took the mound and tore his ulnar collateral ligament.