During the height of the Great Depression boxer James J. Braddock, once a heavyweight title contender in 1928, had, like millions of Americans, hit rock bottom. A string of poor performances along with a devastating hand injury forced him out of the ring and into the bread lines.
Eventually, through a stroke of good fortune, he was gifted one last opportunity to regain a foothold in a sport he truly loved. Triumphantly, he seized the moment. Braddock, brought on to be a punching bag for No. 2 contender Corn Griffin, pulled off the unthinkable, knocking out the belt hopeful in the third round.
After several more wins, the Bulldog received his ultimate shot at redemption, a title fight with Max Baer. Nearly 77 years ago to the day, in a chaotic scene at Madison Square Garden, Braddock, a whopping 10-to-1 underdog, stunned the sports world by upending his junior opponent via unanimous decision.
Seven decades later, the former champ's inspirational tale was depicted in 2005's "Cinderella Man," one of the most underrated sports movies of all-time.
Statistically speaking, baseball, too, has penned several riches-to-rags-to-riches stories so far this year.
Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn, Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, Chris Capuano and Rafael Furcal, once objects of dependability, entered the season on the ropes. Previous injuries and ineptitude tarnished their reputations leading many in Fantasyland to immediately dismiss them on draft day. However, each has reversed course, returned to prominence and regained their rightful place in owners' circle of trust.
Just call 2012 the Year of the Comeback.
Still, for owners of these resurgent products, one pressing question remains: Profit or patience? Here's the Noise's take:
Final Y! ADP: 215.3
Current O-Rank: 25
Profit or Patience? Profit. Thought to be shark food after shoulder surgery and a severe ankle injury limited him to three consecutive seasons of 112 innings or less from 2009-2011, Peavy has defied the odds, remained healthy and recaptured the front-line form he once exhibited in San Diego. His fastball/slider combination has become one of the AL's most mystifying evident in his dynamite 5.33 K/BB. However, other peripherals arrow to darker days. First off, the righty's .251 BABIP and 3.65 xFIP suggest his ERA will continue to rise. The seven-earned pasting he received from Cleveland May 26 is a harbinger of unsettling numbers to come. That combined with his fly-ball heavy ways (0.65 HR/FB) scream "Sell!" This week in one-for-one industry deals, Peavy attracted such prominent names as Ryan Zimmerman, Ichiro, Dan Haren and John Axford. Put him in the display case.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 148.1 IP, 7 W, 4.42 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 88 K
Final Y! ADP: 226.8
Current O-Rank: 40
Profit or Patience? Patience. Donut Dunn is no more. Last year, the reliable power source was consistent in only one area, racking 0-fers. Many theories were proposed for the dramatic downturn, most notably repercussions stemming from a slow appendectomy recovery, a significant decline in bat speed and eroding eye, but, credit to the slugger, he cleared his head, retooled his approach and rediscovered his swing during the offseason. His strikeout percentage is actually higher than last year's, but he's drawn more walks and totaled a career-best .329 ISO. His rather generous BABIP indicates his average could sink below .230, but, given U.S. Cellular's smallish specs, expect the mash-up to continue. It's completely fathomable he finishes with 45-50 homers. Don't stop believing.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 356 at-bats, .227 BA, 27 HR, 70 RBI, 54 R, 0 SB
Final Y! ADP: 213.6
Current O-Rank: 91
Profit or Patience? Patience. Just about every major fanalyst and their mother recommended to steer clear of Johan. Their advice was absolutely justified. Despite a smooth offseason, his recovery from major shoulder surgery and pre-procedure decline in velocity were strong indicators the two-time Cy Young winner wouldn't miraculously reappear this year or possibly in the next 10 years. So far, doubters are snacking on a heaping plate of crow. More finesse than power, Johan is deceiving opponents, coaxing a high number of swinging strikes (11.7 SwStr%) and punchouts (9.15 K/9). Because he keeps the ball in the park, walks few batters and misses bats, his overall totals shouldn't fluctuate wildly over the remainder of the season. Run support is an ongoing issue, but all signs points to a steady SP3 return in 12-team mixers.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 142.2 IP, 7 W, 3.29 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 139 K
Final Y! ADP: 232.1
Current O-Rank: 202
Profit or Patience? Profit. Back in March, Morneau was the once smokin' girl at your high school reunion who everyone wanted back in the day but three kids, several Ho-Hos and 20 years later resembles an untethered Zeppelin. Nobody, even owners in AL-only formats, were willing to spend a dime on the heavily discounted former MVP. But two months, nine homers and 25 RBIs later, the corner man is again the belle of the ball. Ron Gradenhire says Morneau is again "doing his thing," however, it would be sage of owners to cash in. His likely unsustainable 25.0 HR/FB rate is well-above his career 14.6 mark. Also, his contact numbers (75.8 CT%), a consequence of several whiffs (13.7 SwStr%) and marginal success against fastballs point to eventual heartache. The Twin, swapped this week for Michael Young, Lance Lynn and Martin Prado in one-for-one industry deals, is worth shopping.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 427 at-bats, .258 BA, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 38 R, 0 SB
Final Y! ADP: 219.6
Current O-Rank: 12
Profit or Patience? Profit. The last time Capuano was relevant in mixed leagues (Summer 2006), Ricky Bobby was "as hard as a diamond in an ice storm" for Amy Adams. Approximately, one Tommy John surgery and 10,000 DL days later, the southpaw is again making waves. Currently one of three seven-game winners in the bigs, the veteran is one of this year's biggest surprises. Unfortunately, a statistical adjustment is likely in his near future. Lady Luck has been clearly on Capuano's side. His .226 BABIP, 84.2 LOB-percentage and 3.65 xFIP predict an inevitable ERA climb. To be fair, his 11.3 swinging strike rate and 8.29 K/9 are quite commendable. The pitching environment is also very favorable. But for owner's who like to play the odds, now is the time to pocket the green. Over the past week, owners dealt Caps for Chris Sale, Santiago Casilla, Yoeneis Cespedes and, interestingly, Dee Gordon in one-for-one moves.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 147.0 IP, 9 W, 4.21 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 128 K
Final Y! ADP: 235.5
Current O-Rank: 30
Profit or Patience? Patience. As stated before, The Arch must be a magical portal into the past. Over the years, a large contingency of aged players who joined the Redbirds off miserable seasons seemingly turned back the clock. Furcal is the latest example. Sapped by various physical setbacks since 2009, the shortstop is healthy and again delivering in the catbird seat. His extraordinary 91.6 contact rate, improvement against outside offerings and constant ground-pounding all point to continued success. Also swiping bases with the vigor of his Atlanta days, he will likely finish inside the position's top-10 come October. Hold steady.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 428 at-bats, .308 BA, 4 HR, 47 RBI, 73 R, 18 SB
FLAMES OF THE WEEK
Viciedo was a staple on my preseason heartthrob list. Though egg currently decorates my face over the Matt Moore, Paul Goldschmidt and Jordan Walden calls, the 23-26 HR prediction for the South Side's "Tank," in actuality, was low-balled. Binging at the dish, he has five multi-hit performances, four homers and 13 RBI since May 24, pushing his pace to 36 HR and 89 RBI. His refusal to take walks (0.11 BB/K) and free-swinging ways (12.6 SwStr%) indicate he'll likely score in bunches, but the power is very real. Hitting down in the order, he won't touch home nearly as much as Jay Bruce, but, overall his numbers are and will reamin nearly identical to the Cincy outfielder. Hop aboard the bandwagon.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 399 at-bats, .264 BA, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 45 R, 2 SB
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 118.1 IP, 6 W, 3.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 68 K
LAMES O' THE WEAK
A mysterious eye problem continues to plague him. The slugger, unable to make tears, has repeatedly complained of dry eyes, blurred vision and poor depth perception, setbacks that have greatly impacted him mentally. Just how long the issue will last is undeterminable, which places him in a very precarious spot. Unless you're in a league full of cave dwellers, dealing Freeman isn't an option. Until his vision improves, he needs to ride the pine. Widely available stopgaps Yonder Alonso (30-percent owned), Matt Adams (20-percent) or Justin Smoak (11-percent) should be deployed in the meantime.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 375 at-bats, .267 BA, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 51 R, 2 SB
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 113.1 IP, 6 W, 3.66 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 83 K
QUICK HITTERS (Random musings from my demented brain)
• It's official, the Twins are run by a kinky group of masochists. Reinserting Fransucko Liriano into the starting rotation, an appearance removed from getting lit up in middle relief (2.2 IP, 4 ER, vs. Det), is laughable. A no-armed man could produce better numbers. Yes, Anthony Swarzak is the epitome of awful, but Leery-ano has become punchline material at this point in his career. Full disclosure, I was more than supportive of the southpaw after his stellar spring, but his horrific command and decreased velocity have turned him into a human pinata. If Josh Reddick doesn't pound him into oblivion Wednesday, Ron Gardenhire truly has a future in standup.
• Every year as the calendar flips to June the Y! fantasy community needs to get whacked upside the head with a two-by-four, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan style. It never ceases to amaze how many quality, stats-raking bats continue to sip pina coladas in free agent pools. This year is no exception. Unless you're playing in a two-team mixed league, the following under 50-percent owners assets need to be rostered, period: Raul Ibanez, Mitch Moreland, Luke Scott, Dexter Fowler, Will Middlebrooks, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, A.J. Ellis, Aaron Hill, Andy Dirks, Erick Aybar, Matt Adams and Michael Brantley.
• While we're tongue-bathing several White Sox, it's only appropriate to discuss Alex Rios, the Bret Saberhagen of modern hitters. Much like the former Royals hurler, the South Sider is an on-again, off-again commodity who seems to thrive during even-numbered seasons (odd in the case of the former three-time All-Star). Another absurdly under-owned player (50-percent), he's upped the ante over the past couple weeks notching the 49th-best line in Y! Fantasy since May 16 (.292-3-10-10-1). It would come as no shock if he finishes 20-20.
• The Miami Dolphins will be the subject of HBO's "Hard Knocks" this season. Even the Jags would make for interesting TV, but the choice is somewhat of a snoozer. Bush is the only "star," a stretch, on roster and he's not the most dynamic personality. The first-year head coach angle is captivating, but nothing says ratings like Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Matt Moore. Maybe if producers feature Ryan Tannehill's wife, Lauren, each and every week, maybe, just maybe, it will become an instant sports classic. Although her Frankensteinian feet are a bit frightening.
• Yahoo! and ESPN are the Hatfields and McCoys of the fantasy sports world — Winchester rifles, bullheaded attitudes and plenty of spitting included. Though no disdain exists among the writers, a fantasy football blood feud between the two superpowers is long overdue. Here's the concept: Take seven scribes from each side, pin them against one another in an auction draft, play out the league and see what individual/group finishes on top. Trophy options and side bets are limitless, but it only seems right we play for our own Little Brown Jug, filled with moonshine, of course. What say you Mouse House?
Want to bean Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise and be sure to check him along with Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski on The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio
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