In her first season at the helm, Meredith James guided Land Shark to a 131-121-12 record and the team’s first postseason appearance since 2012. James guided the team through the playoffs and a third-place finish, a franchise best. The success was built on a strong draft, several excellent free agent acquisitions and the big bat of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
James protected Goldschmidt, outfielders Nelson Cruz and Michael Brantley, and relievers Jonathan Papelbon and Trevor Rosenthal. Goldschmidt and Cruz finished the season ranked in the Top 60 while Brantley was injured and Papelbon and Rosenthal struggled.
Veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre, drafted 108th overall, finished the season ranked 34th and replaced the offensive production of Brantley. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, drafted 117th, finished 36th and was a consistent run producer. John Lackey was chosen 172nd overall and just missed returning keeper value, ending the season ranked 88th.
As Papelbon and Rosenthal struggled, James turned to the waiver wire to rebuild her bullpen. She added Seung Hwan Oh on April 14 and he led the team with 29 net saves/holds. On June 28, James added veteran Joe Blanton, who pitched in 28 more NSVH.
While Land Shark finished 5.5 games behind Buster Hugs in the race for the East Division pennant, they did upset High Cheese in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Lower Haighters in the semifinals and then beating Warning Track Power in the third-place game.
General Manager Leigh-Ann Wendling guided the Jersey Boys to a winning record in her first season. They started fast, winning their first four series, but the heat of summer nearly wilted the Jersey Boys. They didn’t win a series in July and the first two weeks of August. The team finished 129-124-23, eight games behind pennant winning Twinkle Toes in the Biggest Loser Lovers Division. They beat the Mirrors in the consolation semifinal playoff series and then beat Give it a Yankee to finish fifth.
Wendling, a lifelong Yankee fan, drafted reliever Rivera with her second pick and catcher Jorge Posada with her fourth. Chase Utley, Verlander and Derek Lee rounded out the top five selections. During the season, Wendling added just five free agents and made one trade, sending Yunel Escobar to the Lower Haighters for Phil Hughes. By season’s end, Wendling had Yankees Rivera, Posada, Melky Cabrera, Hughes, and Pettitte on her roster.
Vladimir Guerrero was entering his twighlight as a star but he earned MVP honors for the Jersey Boys in 2010. Guerrero (.345 OBP, 83 Runs, 29 HR, 115 RBI, 4 SB, 60 Ks) ranked 28th in the final league player standings. Verlander (224.1 IP, 22 QS, 219 Ks, 3.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) was the top starter while Luke Gregerson (78.1 IP, 42 Saves/Holds, 89 Ks, 3.22 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) turned in a Top 25 season and was the top reliever for the Jersey Boys.
Wendling protected Utley, outfielder Alex Rios, Verlander, and her Yankees, Rivera and Posada, in the Keeper Draft. She targeted additional Yankees in the Regular Season Draft landing shortstop Derek Jeter, Granderson, and reliever Joba Chamberlain.
The Jersey Boys started the season by winning five of their first seven series. They suffered another midseason swoon, losing six of eight from Week 8-15. Wendling was very conservative as a GM, adding just four free agents during the season and making one trade, obtaining Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda from the Lower Haighters in exchange for Utley. Wendling’s strategy worked, as the team finished 129-126-21 and lost a thrilling South Division pennant chase to the Machine by a half game.
The team showed it still had postseason magic left, as they beat the Mirrors in a close consolation semifinal series before losing to Los Coches Bomba in the fifth place game.
Verlander (251 IP, 28 QS, 250 Ks, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) emerged as the Fantasy Cy Young winner and MVP as the top-rated player in the league in 2011. Granderson (.364 OBP, 136 Runs, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 25 SB, 169 Ks) was the team’s top hitter. He ended 2011 as the league’s ninth ranked player. Rivera (61.1 IP, 44 Saves, 60 Ks, 1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) had a Top 50 season and was the team’s highest-ranked reliever.
Wendling showed remarkable consistency as she guided the Jersey Boys to a third-straight winning season and another playoff berth in 2012. The team failed to win a series in April and May but Wendling held course and lost just two series over the last two months of the season. The Jersey Boys finished third in the East Division pennant race at 128-126-22.
The team’s season-ending hot streak extended into the playoffs as they defeated the Cys in the consolation semifinal before finishing fifth with a win over their division rivals, the Machine. In the league’s first three seasons, the Jersey Boys posted a stellar 5-1 postseason record.
The Jersey Boys were built around a group of Yankees. Wendling kept Granderson, Rivera, and Pineda in the Keeper Draft along with Verlander and reliever Jonathan Papelbon. In the Regular Season Draft Wendling added more Yankees to her roster by drafting Hiroki Kuroda, Russell Martin and Rafael Soriano.
Verlander (238.1 IP, 25 QS, 239 Ks, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) won his second team MVP honor in 2012. He finished second to Clayton Kershaw in the Fantasy Cy Young race and ranked sixth in the final payer rankings. Granderson (.319 OBP, 102 Runs, 43 HR, 106 RBI, 10 SB, 195 Ks) finished as the team’s top-rated hitter while Papelbon (70 IP, 38 Saves, 92 Ks, 2.44 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) was the team’s top reliever and ranked in the league’s Top 75 players.
The Jersey Boys saw their streak of three straight playoff appearances end as they finished 125-158-16. They won just one series over the last nine weeks of the regular season and finished last in the East Division and 14th overall.
Wendling protected R.A. Dickey, Verlander, Papelbon, Rivera and Aaron Hill in the Keeper Draft. She added Kuroda, Pettitte and Soriano in the Regular Season Draft to provide a solid base of Yankees. Despite the struggles, Wendling added just two free agents during the season.
Hill was hit by a pitch in early April and spent six weeks on the DL with a broken hand. He had just 327 at-bats for the season. Jason Kubel bounced between the minors and the Twins and had just 259 at-bats. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks strained his back and was eventually demoted to the minors by May. Wendling’s failure to backfill the roster hurt the team.
One player that performed admirably was Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt (.401 OBP, 103 Runs, 36 HR, 125 RBI, 8 NSB, 25 GIDP, 145 Ks) earned team MVP honors and ranked 20th in the league’s player rankings. The starting pitching struggled and Kuroda (201.1 IP, 19 QS, 6.71 K/9, 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) was the top-rated pitcher for the Jersey Boys but ranked a lowly 246th in the league player rankings. Rivera (64 IP, 37 NSVH, 7.59 K/9, 2.11 ERA, 1.05) was steady in the ‘pen, ranking 66th in the overall player rankings.
The slide continued for Wendling and the Jersey Boys in 2014. Their 114-145-27 final record was a franchise worst. A midseason slump saw the team lose seven of nine series between Weeks 8-16. They finished last in the East Division, 32.5 games behind pennant-winning Twinkle Toes.
Wendling protected Goldschmidt, catcher Yadier Molina, Hill, Verlander and Papelbon and added just one Yankee in the Regular Season Draft, outfielder Brett Gardner. Wendling added five free agents for the season, preferring to ride out slumps and injuries with her core players.
Outfielder Nate McLouth played most of the season with a hurt labrum and had season-ending surgery in August. He had just 139 at-bats in 2014. Outfielder Jonny Gomes was a part-time player for the Red Sox before he was traded to Oakland in mid-season. He managed just 273 at-bats for the Jersey Boys.
Brantley (.385 OBP, 94 Runs, 20 HR, 97 RBI, 22 NSB, 16 GIDP, 56 Ks) was the team MVP and ranked seventh in the league’s player rankings. Mike Trout was the only outfielder ranked higher than Brantley in ’14. The starting pitching remained frightful as R.A. Dickey (215.2 IP, 23 QS, 7.22 K/9, 3.71 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) was the team’s highest rated starter, finishing 743rd in the final player rankings. Papelbon (66.1 IP, 35 NSVH, 8.55 K/9, 2.04 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) ranked 60th in the league rankings and was the team’s highest rated reliever.
Wendling added just two free agents the entire season and the team remained mired in mediocrity, finishing with a 114-133-17 record, last in the East Division and 20.5 games behind pennant winning Twinkle Toes.
Wendling protected Goldschmidt, Brantley, Cruz, Rosenthal and Papelbon but drafted starting pitching late. Bud Norris struggled and had just three quality starts before he was designated for assignment by the Orioles. Brandon McCarthy tore his UCL and faced Tommy John surgery in April. Wendling didn’t replace either player and the threadbare starting rotation was in tatters by season’s end.
John Lackey (218 IP, 26 QS, 7.22 K/9, 2.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) topped the rotation but ranked 105th in the player rankings. Goldschmidt (695 PA, 1.005 OPS, 103 Runs, 110 RBI, 16 NSB, 151 Ks) emerged as the team MVP for the second time in three years. He ranked ninth in the player rankings and was second among first basemen. Rosenthal (68.2 IP, 45 NSVH, 10.88 K/9, 2.10 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) was the team’s best reliever.
James had her team firing on all cylinders early in the season, as Land Shark won four of their first five series. The team also proved it could win in the East Division, as they won three of their first four divisional series, including a two of three with Buster Hugs. Land Shark would go on to win nine of their first 12 series before going 5-5 down the stretch.
The playoff victories were the first since 2012 and harkened back to the team’s glory days, where they went 5-1 in the postseason between 2010-12.
Goldschmidt (705 PA, .900 OPS, 106 Runs, 95 RBI, 27 NSB, 150 Ks) was the team MVP for the third time in the last four season. He led the Land Sharks in plate appearances and runs scored and was second in stolen bases. Goldschmidt finished 2016 as the league’s 16th-ranked player.
Beltre (640 PA, .879 OPS, 89 Runs, 104 RBI, 0 NSB, 66 Ks) finished second on the team in RBI and was third in OPS. Another veteran, Cruz (667 PA, .915 OPS, 96 Runs, 105 RBI, 2 NSB, 159 Ks), led the team in RBI and OPS.
James added 10 free agents during the season. Along with rebuilding the bullpen, she added infielder Eduardo Nunez on May 16. Nunez became a key member of the team, leading Land Shark with 30 net stolen bases while scoring 73 runs. He finished 2016 as the league’s 55th-rated player. It’s extremely rare to add a position player as a free agent and have that player return keeper value on the season.