Mark down the date of Monday, April 10, 2017. That was the date Andy Berlind dropped journeyman first baseman Tommy Joseph, added outfielder Aaron Judge as a free agent, and won the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League.
Oh, sure, there were other key moments, but adding Judge, a player that ultimately ended up leading the American League with 52 home runs, as a free-agent gave the team a fourth power hitter at no cost.
Judge wasn’t even the highest ranked free-agent at the end of the season. That honor belonged to reliever Corey Knebel, who was added by the Lower Haighters on April 15 and finished the season ranked 19th overall, one spot ahead of Judge.
While Knebel and Judge were the two highest-rated free agents by the end of the season, the similarities end there. Finding a top-notch relief pitcher in the free-agent market isn’t that difficult. It happens every year. Finding a hitter that can smash 50 homers is nearly impossible and it can lead to championships.
Besides, Andy designated Kenley Jansen a keeper and he more than returned his value. The Dodger closer finished 2017 ranked 13th overall in the final player rankings and he was the second-highest rated closer in the league behind Craig Kimbrel. Jansen’s 39 net saves/holds trailed only Knebel and Alex Colome.
While Judge propelled Everybody Hurts into the playoffs, it was a quality start on the final Sunday of the season by Daniel Mengden, a player that finished the season ranked 343rd, that ultimately sealed the championship. Had either Ross Stripling or Robbie Ray earned a quality start on the final day of the season for Louie Bottaro and Let’s Play 2, the championship trophy would have headed to Corvallis, Oregon for the first time in league history. Instead, Stripling and Ray were relieved after a combined 3.2 innings and Let’s Play 2 finished runner-up.
That brings us to the one major format change for next season. The fantasy regular season is going to end two weeks earlier than it did this year so that we can avoid the final two weeks of the Major League regular season during our playoffs. Too many key players are rested or shutdown altogether by their Major League teams.
While they didn’t win the championship, Let’s Play 2 will enter 2018 with the reigning league MVP, Corey Kluber. Kluber finished as the top-ranked player after posting 22 quality starts with a 2.25 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 11.7 K/9. Louie’s team will also feature one of the best young hitters in outfielder Mookie Betts, who finished ranked 11th overall.
The Lower Haighters defeated the JetSetters to finish third overall. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton played in 159 games after years of injuries and led the majors with 132 RBI and 59 homers. Stanton’s 162 strikeouts dropped him to 10th in the final player rankings.
Jose Ramirez and Joey Votto powered the JetSetters to the league’s best regular season record but the team struggled in the playoffs, losing to both Let’s Play 2 and the Lower Haighters before finishing fourth. While the final results were disappointing, David Kahn’s team did earn the designation as the best regular season team for the first time under his leadership.
A tip of the cap goes to Sean McKenna and A-Rod’s Mirrors for taking home fifth place despite the loss of star outfielder Bryce Harper down the stretch. The same goes for Robert Kirkbride and Hapamon, who finished sixth. The team was without star pitcher Clayton Kershaw for much of the stretch run.
Outfielder Mike Trout returned from his injury in time to help Eric Brown and Bacon at Mile 11 take seventh over Chris Furgiuele and Stadium Mustard. Third baseman Nolan Arenado finished as team MVP for Bacon while reliever Brad Hand earned MVP honors for Stadium Mustard.
As always, it was a joy to act as commissioner for this league, which just wrapped up its eighth season. Thanks to everyone for playing and I look forward to late January when we all being pouring over projections for Cactus/Grapefruit leagues.
The ultimate goal in the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League is to win the championship but the true measurement of a great team is finishing the regular season with the best record.
This year, that honor belongs to the JetSetters and General Manager David Kahn. The JetSetters finished with a 154-99-11 mark, percentage points ahead of the Lower Haighters, who finished with a 154-101-9 record.
Because of the condensed nature of the playoffs, luck plays a much larger role in determining which team comes out on top. If your best hitters have a seven game weekly schedule during a playoff series rather than six games, that’s a big advantage. If your best pitchers have two starts, rather than one, that’s another advantage.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, a tip of the hat goes to David for managing his team to the league’s best record. That’s no easy feat.
A Championship is on the Line
Cleveland infielder Jose Ramirez is the hottest hitter in baseball and he’ll lead the JetSetters in their first round series against Hapamon. When these teams met in Week 2, the JetSetters cruised to a 9-3 series victory. Ramirez posted a 1.460 OPS in 27 plate appearances and led the JetSetters with eight RBI and five runs scored. Ian Kennedy led the pitching staff with a pair of quality starts.
This series lines up perfectly for the JetSetters as veteran pitchers Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels are both two-start pitchers.
The second-seeded Lower Haighters will face their old West Division rivals, A-Rod’s Mirrors, in the first round of the playoffs. The Mirrors were 2-1-1 in head-to-head meetings with the Lower Haighters this season and they’ll have both Carlos Carrasco and C.C. Sabathia starting twice this week. In his last two starts, Carrasco has given up just two runs over 16 innings. At the plate, Manny Machado is hitting .358 over his last 13 games while Albert Pujols has driven home 15 runs in his last 11 games.
Bacon at Mile 11 faces Let’s Play 2 in another quarterfinal series. It’s a rematch of their Week 4 series that was won by Let’s Play 2, 7-5. Matt Wieters and Ben Zobrist combined to drive in 12 runs to lead Let’s Play 2 while Kyle Hendricks posted a pair of quality starts in that series.
Robbie Ray has three quality starts over the past two weeks for Let’s Play 2 and is the top-rated player in our league during that stretch. Ray has allowed just three runs over his past 20.1 innings while striking out 36 batters.
Bacon and General Manager Eric Brown will counter with a healthy Mike Trout. In his last 10 games, Trout is hitting .343 with a 1.196 OPS. He’s scored 15 runs during that stretch and has five net stolen bases.
Stadium Mustard and Everybody Hurts will renew their East Division rivalry in the final first-round playoff series. Everybody Hurts defeated Stadium Mustard in two of their three meetings this year, including a 9-3 series victory in Week 21.
Edwin Encarnacion and Ender Inciarte are both swinging hot bats for Stadium Mustard over the past two weeks. Encarnacion is hitting .333 with a 1.078 OPS and 12 RBI over his last 12 games. Inciarte is hitting .377 with six runs scored and nine RBI in his last 14 games.
Everybody Hurts will be without starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson, who tossed a total of 12 scoreless innings in his past two starts. Infielder Jean Segura is the team’s best hitter over the last two weeks, hitting .292 with 10 runs scored and two net stolen bases in his last 12 games.
Land Shark Slides Into the Wooden Spoon
Two weeks ago, it appeared Las Estellas Rojas and General Manager Jen Valdevia would take home the Wooden Spoon for the team with the worst regular season record. That was until Land Shark went 4-19 over the last two weeks to finish 103-149-12. That’s a far cry from last year when Land Shark won the East Division pennant and finished third in the playoffs.
No matter where you finished this season, I want to thank everyone for playing and hopefully you enjoyed yourself. The SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League will return in 2018 so it’s never too early to begin scouting prospects.
After squeezing into the 2016 playoffs as the league’s No. 8 seed, the Menehunes went on to shock the league establishment, defeating top-seeded Bacon at Mile 11 in the opening round and earning their first championship with an easy finals victory over the Lower Haighters.
General Manager Elizabeth Gravely won her first championship in her first appearance in the postseason. She joined the league in 2012.
Philadelphia outfielder Odubel Herrera led the postseason charge. Herrera hit .371 with a .970 OPS and five net stolen bases during the playoffs. Herrera also scored 15 runs.
Veteran third baseman Todd Frazier hit .308 during the playoffs, driving in 12 runs, scoring 15 more and stealing a pair of bases. Ian Kinsler posted a 1.041 OPS during the championship run and also scored 15 runs for the Menehunes.
On the mound, Rick Porcello posted four quality starts with a 2.76 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Porcello struck out 28 batters over 29.1 innings.
The final league standings looked like this.
- Marin Menehunes
- Lower Haighters
- Land Shark
- Warning Track Power
- High Cheese
- Buster Hugs
- Bacon at Mile 11
- The Bulls
- Los Coches Bomba
- Stadium Mustard
- Eephus Monkeys
- A-Rod’s Mirrors
- Home Run 101
- Let’s Play 2
Let’s Play 2 earned the Wooden Spoon, awarded annually to the worst team in the league, despite having the league’s top-rated player. Outfielder Mookie Betts (1.77 player value) edged Max Scherzer (Menehunes, 1.72 value) and Clayton Kershaw (Hapamon, 1.70 value) to win MVP honors.
Three different West Division teams have now won league championships. Los Coches Bomba (South Division) and Buster Hugs (East Division) are the only teams to win two championships.
Over the next few months, I’ll look back at the 2016 season by focusing on each team in the league. I’ll review draft successes/mistakes and possible keepers for the 2017 season.
Thanks to everyone for putting in the time to manage your teams and I look forward to next season.