2001 WINTER REPORT
By J.D. Moss,
At the all-star break, it was a four-team race. By the middle of August, the Great Falls Gamers had pulled away and everyone else was battling for second place. The Gamers’ acquisition of Juan Gonzalez provided the much-needed boost as they finished with a seemingly unreachable 106.5. The Annandale Ants fell victim to a late-season surge by the Herndon Heroes, though the race was close up until the last day. StatTracker™ falsely reported a tie between the Heroes and Ants after the season was complete, yet the final standings had the Heroes up a half-point on the Ants for the narrow victory. What made the difference? It could have either been the last run, home run, or save for the Heroes, but they managed to take second place.
The Fairfax Faithfuls, despite reaching as high as second in August, collapsed and dropped 14 points in the last week to fall to fifth beneath the Reston Robots. The Clifton Casinos also contended finishing sixth. There was a then a 23-point drop off to the next team, the Sterling Starfish. The bottom six teams definitely geared towards rebuilding from early on in the season.
provided some unbelievable excitement. For most of the season, it was a tight
race for the top spot. Barry Bonds took advantage of Oakton’s Tom Hall Stadium
to blast 73 homes. ‘Ichiro-mainia’ invaded Fairfax and Albert Pujols became a
household name in
The exhilarating auction set the stage for this season. An early run on closers caused significant price inflation and many great players went late in the auction. Pedro Martinez went for $60. Yet for that same price in the auction, one could have gotten the following lineup of nine position players, five starters, and three relievers: Einar Diaz, Paul Konerko, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Rich Aurilia, Cliff Floyd, Lance Berkman, Luis Gonzalez, Edgar Martinez (UT), Kerry Wood, Matt Morris, Mark Mulder, Woody Williams, Brad Radke, Jeff Shaw, Troy Percival, and Bob Wickman. The combined statistics of these hitters, with where they would have placed as a team: a .304 average (1st), 861 runs (4th), 270 home runs (1st), 924 RBIs (1st), and 96 stolen bases (10th). The pitching staff put up the following numbers, going slightly over the innings maximum with 1266.1 innings: 82 wins (5th), a 3.50 ERA (2nd), a 1.19 WHIP(2nd), 960 K’s (9th), and 114 saves (1st). That team, with a 39/21 spending breakdown, would have combined for 94 Rotisserie points, good enough for second place—a remarkable feat. Considering that and the fact that six players went for as much or more than $45, it clearly benefited owners who saved money for later.
The teams that 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, specifically the Gamers’ strategy. Any auction will have its overpaying, but the rampant early inflation will shape the league for years to come. Jon Lasken’s strategy to stock up on four all-Star arms in Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux did not fully pay off as he was not able to get that much in return for those aging veterans. Youth was definitely a premium as well, with unproven Ben Petrick fetching $19, third highest among catchers. Other players who might attract the bust label include Fernando Tatis ($18), Luis Castillo and Edgardo Alfonzo (both for $28), Andruw Jones ($45), Bartolo Colon ($33), and Richard Hidalgo ($24). It would be very interesting to see how differently owners might conduct themselves this year.
At its winter meeting, the Jefferson Fantasy Baseball League passed an amendment to continue indefinitely. This certainly changes the strategy of anyone playing for the present, though it adds credence to long-range building. Each team will also be able to protect three prospects who they keep locked all season. Both changes should lead to an extremely interesting and exciting draft. With an early draft, however, there will be a five-round supplemental draft where teams can drop anywhere from zero to five players after rosters are set. All things seem set for another memorable season.
2001 Post-season Awards
Most Valuable Player: Sammy Sosa
(Runners-up: Alex Rodriguez & Barry Bonds)
Bonds hit 73 homeruns. Rodriguez, as a shortstop, hit 52 homeruns with gaudy numbers in every other category. But the award is for the most valuable player, not the outstanding. Sammy Sosa led his team to a title and led the league in both RBIs and runs with 160 and 146,respectively. His RBIs rank him in the top-20 since 1900 and his runs place him in the top-25. Tack on his third 60+ home-run season in four years and a .328 batting average and there’s no doubt that Sosa was the season’s most valuable player on the league’s best team. He set career highs in runs, RBIs, walks, and batting average. With Moises Alou providing more protection in the lineup, expect Sosa to be in the running for this award every year.
Rookie of the Year: Albert Pujols
(Runners-up: Ichiro Suzuki & C.C. Sabathia)
Pujols was not supposed to be in the major leagues this year. It took an injury
for him to make the opening day roster, but he capitalized. He played last
season at single A but was tabbed by Sporting News as
the 2nd best hitting prospect in the minors last season. A
fifth-round pick for
Cy Young Award: Randy Johnson
(Runner-ups: Curt Schilling & Mark Mulder)
From the time Johnson killed a bird on spring training pitch, it was clear he would have a special season. Other than Schilling, no one was within a ten-foot pole of Johnson. He led the league in ERA with an astounding 2.49, .49 ahead of Schilling. His 21 wins tied him for second, one short of Schilling and Matt Morris. He had a 1.01 WHIP and was second in innings pitched only to Schilling. But strikeouts are why Johnson is the Cy Young winner. His 372 Ks ranked him third in a single season since 1900 and was the highest in 28 years. Johnson simply dominated batters and formed an unstoppable 1-2 punch with Schilling, who wins this award any other year.
GM of the Year: J.D. Moss
(Runner-up: Danny White)
It is tough
to pick someone other than the winner for this award, especially when the
margin of victory was so great. Yet Moss had an outstanding draft—he was
patient and waited for players to come to him. He grabbed three cheap closers,
Alfonso Soriano and other prospects later in the auction after getting his
stars in Sosa, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Hudson. He delved into his farm system to
acquire Curt Schilling, got Paul LoDuca for a draft pick and acquired Juan
Gonzalez to put the
After beach week, the Heroes stood atop JFBL before freefalling to fifth place.
They slowly crept back up to 2nd place, edging the Annandale Ants.
Bolstered by Mark Mulder and the acquisition of John Burkett, the Heroes will
contend for the title. White has been very active this off-season, acquiring
more pitching in Greg Maddux and Antonio Alfonseca, as well as dealing Mike
Piazza for Bernie Williams and Robert Fick. White’s staff should be one of the
best, if not the best, in the league. Expect him to win saves. The issue for
the Heroes this year will be offense. Fick is a question mark, though Jason
Giambi moving to
The Robots made a late run but it wasn’t enough as they finished fourth last
year. They will need career years from Bret Boone and Rich Aurilia to finished
that high again next year. Vladimir Guerrero established himself as a
five-category star, equaling his career total of 37 stolen bases this year in
addition to scoring and driving in more than 100 runs for the fourth straight
season. He helps anchor the best outfield in the league and the offense will be
bolstered by the return of a healthy Mitch Meluskey. Corey Koskie will hope to
improve upon his 20/20 season, and the move to
Clifton Casinos: The Clifton Casinos came away from their draft with Greg Maddux as their fourth starter. Now Pedro Astacio is their number two starter. GM Jon Lasken’s wheeling and dealing strategy led the Casinos to a sixth place finish and Lasken got right to work in the off-season, trading a disappointing Maddux for Mike Piazza. The team’s average could be scary with Richie Sexson and Tony Batista, but if those two provide expected power the Casinos finally have a good offense. Utility is a question mark though—the Casinos need a prospect to step up and perform. The staff though is in shambles with only Cy Young winner Randy Johnson and two shaky closers. Johnson has a year or two left in him, but for the Casinos to compete, they need their young pitchers to help—now! They have a solid group of young hurlers led by Chris Goerge and Jon Rauch, but the question is if any will step up for this year. A middle of the pack team unless they find some starting pitching from either within the organization or outside it—and Lasken is not afraid to pull the trigger.
In a six team race,
Burke Boomerangs- The Boomerangs finished eighth in a rollercoaster season where the emergence of Mark Buehrle was offset the by offensive disappointments of Darin Erstad and Jim Edmonds. After trading Sean Burroughs to the Reston Roundabouts for Ryan Klesko, GM Josh Bertman reacquired Burroughs as well as Juan Uribe for Scott Rolen. The Boomerangs have tried to acquire some offense this year and could surprise some if prospects Alex Escobar and Burroughs perform, but they don’t have the offense to seriously contend. Watch for Bertman to scour the draft for anyone who can provide his team with a long-ball threat. They do have an outstanding staff anchored by Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Buerhle, with überprospect Josh Beckett and newly-acquired Hideo Nomo certain to provide immediate help. In moving to pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, Nomo will help keep this team competitive. But they will be lucky to finish middle-of-the-pack, but this team is clearly gearing for the future.
After dealing most of their offense to acquire Pedro Martinez and Kevin Brown,
the Roundabouts had high hopes for a loaded pitching staff that also had Andy
Pettite. But major injuries to Brown and
Reston Roosters- “Nothing went right for the Roosters last season,” GM Dan Fleeter said. “Nothing. Almost every pitcher missed several starts due to injury, if not entire months, and the Roosters' offense was mediocre at best.” Luis Gonzalez and the surprising play of two young shortstops were brightest spots though. With Jimmy Rollins now gone, Cristian Guzman has the starting job. At the beginning of the year, it seemed like the Roosters had one of the better staffs, but David Wells, Darren Dreifort, and Matt Mantei all suffered season-ending injuries early in the year. Tom Glavine and Al Leiter were not their usual selves, and trading Derek Lower and Daryl Kile, who both had good season, equaled the Roosters’ demise. Look for Johnny Damon to rebound and spark a seemingly dormant lineup. Fleeter holds the draft’s second pick and has been extremely active to make his team competitive next year and beyond. He added the top prospect in baseball, Corey Patterson, and has Drew Henson waiting for his chance as well. Fleeter has stockpiled young pitchers, with Bud Smith, Jon Garland, Brandon Duckworth and Tim Redding. The Roosters added veterans Andy Pettite and John Smoltz to his staff and should make a run at the money in the near future, if not this season. “Looking ahead to next season, the club has a fresh set of faces, young and old,” Fleeter said. “With new acquisitions and a clean slate in 2002, the pieces are in place for a rise of at least several standings places.”
Oakton Outlaws- The major question is Oakton is if this team will move out of the cellar next season. They have major question marks at catcher, first base and starting pitching. GM Mike Elias gave up rising superstar in Adam Dunn and this aging, injury-prone team could spend most of next season where they spent this one if they can’t stay healthy. The outfield, led by M.V.P. runner-up Barry Bonds, should carry this team, but Mike Lieberthal is always an injury risk and Mo Vaughn missed all of last season. Edgardo Alfonzo is moving to third base, something Elias will be forced to deal with next off-season. The offense is superb if healthy, but it is surprising that Elias, a pitcher himself, would put such little importance on starting pitching. He has managed to trade for major bullpen help, but his top starter (Ben Sheets) posted an ERA of 7.06 after the break. Juan Cruz should provide immediate help and Elias does have the top pick, with Mark Prior available as well as other talented arms. If they stay away from injuries, Oakton’s offense could open some eyes, but 2003 should be the year for them.