September 29, 2009
We're coming at a different programming time here but fear not, we'll have fantasy baseball content for you through the week. We want you to lift that virtual trophy. Your success is our reward.
Today's theme is the 2009 unveiling of "The Wiggys" – a look back at the best mixed-league hitting pickups of the season. Full disclosure, these are my subjective and unscientific picks and I've probably got a bias towards anyone who helped my own teams. The name comes from Ty Wigginton(notes), the patron saint of cheap fantasy labor (and a multi-position gem in his heyday, which, sadly, appears to be over). Enough of the preamble, let's meet the hitters (we'll check the pitching later in the week):
Garrett Jones(notes): Not a lot was expected of Jones when he was recalled in July, no matter that he had impressive Triple-A stats. He's 28, the skeptics gasped. He flopped in Minnesota, the doubters said (like a trial of 77 at-bats really tells us anything). It was a surprise to see Jones keep his .300 average through half a season in Pittsburgh, but there's nothing fluky about his power or speed. Fantasy Lesson: When other people are asking why and want a mountain of proof, don't be afraid to ask why not and take a chance on the Garrett Joneses of the world.
Juan Uribe(notes): Yes, it's possible to force your way onto The Wiggys with just one monstrous month – just make sure it comes in September. Uribe's given us a .372-7-21 run in September and he qualifies at three juicy positions. Something's clicking for him in San Francisco this year, where he's at .360/.393/.606 for the season. Fantasy Lesson: Sometimes you have to ignore a player's career path and just roll with a streak.
Rajai Davis(notes): Oakland's fourth outfielder finally landed a starting spot in August and he's been nothing short of phenomenal since then:.330, 38 runs, 27 RBIs, 25 stolen bases. He's been the fifth-best offensive player in fantasy over that period. Fantasy Lesson: When a guy with major wheels gets a chance in the starting lineup, pay attention. Also note that this year's Oakland club is not allergic to the stolen base.
Chris Coghlan(notes): He didn't show a lot over his first two months in Florida but the Marlins stuck with him and they've been rewarded with a monstrous second half (.365/.417/.532., 46 runs, seven homers). He doesn't have as much power against lefties but he hangs in (.301 average, .377 OBP), so his spot in the every-day lineup is justified. Coughlan's Law: Florida's lineup looks a lot better with Emilio Bonifacio(notes) out of it.
Marco Scutaro(notes): His game has collapsed down the stretch and I don't want any part of Scutaro next year, but we should tip the cap for a 12-homer, 14-steal, 100-run season that came completely out of nowhere. Fantasy Lesson: It's okay to roll with a surprising career year that a journeyman shows in his mid-30s, just don't chase it the next season.
Michael Bourn(notes): A shortened swing, more walks, a little luck on BABIP and voila, you've got a waiver-wire gem. Bourn's strikeout rate hasn't improved, though, and here's another guy I'll likely wash my hands of in 2010 if the price goes where I expect it to. Fantasy Lesson: Not many guys have 60-steal potential, which means we have to forgive a lot of other warts.
Ben Zobrist(notes): His 12 homers in 198 at-bats last year showed us what was possible but Zobrist still didn't have a job into 2009. No matter though; the power was real and eventually Joe Maddon had to find a role for the sneakiest five-category play of the year. Makes you wonder why Tampa even bothered to sign Pat Burrell(notes). Fantasy Lesson: Sometimes it really is about investing in the skills and trusting that the roles will sort themselves out, especially in very deep pools.
Others receiving votes: Brandon Inge(notes) was a blast as a fake-catcher for three months, then a knee problem wrecked his production after the break. … I'm not going to write up guys like Aaron Hill(notes) and Kendry Morales(notes) because they should have been taken in any competitive mixed group. If you got them for free, thank your absentee opponents. … Everth Cabrera(notes) was an interesting speed rental in San Diego and shows potential of being a capable leadoff man. … Miguel Olivo(notes) and Miguel Montero(notes) were nice pick-me-ups for anyone who got sick of Inge's out-making routine the last two months.
Wednesday's Streamable Pitchers: Jon Garland(notes) has been rejuvenated since he joined the Dodgers and he's getting the cushy assignment at Petco, so roll with that. … Joba Chamberlain(notes) showed a little something in his last start and he gets the Royals here, not that we expect him to go deep in the game. … John Lannan(notes) was solid against the Mets and outstanding against the Braves in his last two turns, so I'll try him for his rematch against New York. … Jason Hammel(notes) is worth consideration even at Coors, in part because his mates get to hit against Jeff Suppan(notes). … I couldn't talk myself into Brandon Morrow(notes) at Oakland; something hasn't looked right in his starts this year and obviously the Athletics offense has been rolling of late. … If streamable offense is more your thing, keep in mind that both Chicago teams play a double-header on Wednesday: the Cubs get two games with the Pirates, while the White Sox go twice with the Indians (rain washed them out Tuesday).