Fantasy MVPs & LVPs

Matthew Pouliot
Fantasy MVPs & LVPs
Matthew Pouliot presents his annual fantasy MVP and LVP picks, along with his actual MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year selections

It's the 15th annual edition of the fantasy MVPs and LVPs column. Awards are given to players that most over- or underperformed my preseason projections.  I tend to give injured players a break when it comes to LVPs.

I also have my real MVP/Cy Young/ROY choices below.

The Fantasy Most Valuable Players



MVP - Jonathan Lucroy

Projection: .275/.328/.427, 13 HR, 48 R, 55 RBI, 4 SB in 426 AB

2013 stats: .280/.340/.455, 18 HR, 59 R, 82 RBI, 9 SB in 521 AB

Lucroy's OPS actually dipped 86 points from 2012, when he hit a fluky .320, but when injuries caused him to be moved up in the Milwaukee order, he thrived. The only "catchers" to drive in more runs were Mike Napoli and Victor Martinez, and Lucroy tied with Russell Martin for the position lead with nine steals, giving his value an extra boost.

Honorable Mention - Yadier Molina, Jason Castro, Wilin Rosario

2012 Winner - Wilin Rosario

2011 Winner - Alex Avila

2010 Winner - Buster Posey

2009 Winner - Joe Mauer

2008 Winner - Ryan Doumit

2007 Winner - Russell Martin

2006 Winner - Brian McCann

2005 Winner - Brandon Inge

2004 Winner - Craig Wilson

2003 Winner - Javy Lopez

2002 Winner - Eli Marrero

2001 Winner - Paul Lo Duca

2000 Winner - Charles Johnson

1999 Winner - Mike Sweeney

LVP - Jesus Montero

Projection: .276/.330/.458, 20 HR, 63 R, 70 RBI, 0 SB in 493 AB

2013 stats: .208/.264/.327, 3 HR, 6 R, 9 RBI, 0 SB in 101 AB

Pick a Montero, any Montero. I'll go with Jesus, since not only was he horrible, but he was a cheater, too. Since he did get in 26 games behind the plate this year, he'll remain catcher-eligible again next season, even though the Mariners seem to have given up on him there. He'll almost certainly have to prove himself in Triple-A before he gets another shot.

Dishonorable Mention - Miguel Montero, J.P. Arencibia, Buster Posey

2012 Loser - Carlos Santana

2011 Loser - Joe Mauer

2010 Loser - Matt Wieters

2009 Loser - Russell Martin

2008 Loser - Kenji Johjima

2007 Loser - Ramon Hernandez

2006 Loser - Javy Lopez

2005 Loser - Jason Kendall

2004 Loser - Mike Piazza

2003 Loser - Paul Lo Duca

2002 Loser - Charles Johnson

2001 Loser - Jason Kendall

2000 Loser - Michael Barrett

1999 Loser - Todd Hundley

Follow us at @Rotoworld_BB and @matthewpouliot on Twitter.

First Basemen/Designated Hitters

MVP - Chris Davis

Projection: .251/.308/.470, 29 HR, 75 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 530 AB

2013 stats: .286/.370/.634, 53 HR, 103 R, 138 RBI, 4 SB in 584 AB

I kind of wanted to stick Chris Davis in the outfield here just to get Paul Goldschmidt into the lineup, but that didn't seem quite right. Davis is this year's overall fantasy MVP, without a doubt. I wasn't sold on an encore after he hit 33 homers in his breakthrough 2012, not when it still came with a 169/37 K/BB ratio in 515 at-bats. This year, he struck out 199 times in 584 at-bats, but he also upped his walk rate and he proved to be much more than just a home run guy, collecting 42 doubles.

Honorable Mention - Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Moss, Freddie Freeman

2012 Winner - Adam LaRoche

2011 Winner - Mark Trumbo

2010 Winner - Joey Votto

2009 Winner - Kendrys Morales

2008 Winner - Aubrey Huff

2007 Winner - Carlos Pena

2006 Winner - Ryan Howard

2005 Winner - Derrek Lee

2004 Winner - Travis Hafner

2003 Winner - Carlos Delgado

2002 Winner - Derrek Lee

2001 Winner - Ryan Klesko

2000 Winner - Frank Thomas

1999 Winner - John Jaha

LVP - Ike Davis

Projection: .263/.350/.500, 33 HR, 88 R, 105 RBI, 1 SB in 562 AB

2013 stats: .205/.326/.334, 9 HR, 37 R, 33 RBI, 4 SB in 317 AB

I'll give Albert Pujols a break, given that he was playing on one leg for four months before shutting it down. Davis was even more of a disaster, hitting .161/.243/.253 before the Mets finally sent him down in mid-June. He was a much-improved player after returning, even getting all of the way up to .290/.468/.522 in 69 at-bats in August, but it was far too late to salvage his season, and he'd probably have claimed this spot even if not for the strained oblique that cost him the final month.

Dishonorable Mention - Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo, Adam LaRoche, Paul Konerko

2012 Loser - Eric Hosmer

2011 Loser - Adam Dunn

2010 Loser - Lance Berkman

2009 Loser - David Ortiz

2008 Loser - Travis Hafner

2007 Loser - Richie Sexson

2006 Loser - Todd Helton

2005 Loser - Todd Helton

2004 Loser - Jason Giambi

2003 Loser - Paul Konerko

2002 Loser - Tony Clark

2001 Loser - Mark McGwire

2000 Loser - Sean Casey

1999 Loser - Darin Erstad

Second Basemen

MVP - Matt Carpenter

Projection: .274/.357/.416, 11 HR, 71 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB in 514 AB

2013 stats: .318/.392/.481, 11 HR, 126 R, 78 RBI, 3 SB in 626 AB

Oddly enough, Carpenter decimated expectations while actually coming up a little shy of my home run (per at-bat) and steal projections. The 55 doubles helped a bit. It's the 126 runs scored that's mind blowing. I'm used to Cardinals leadoff men disappointing in that category -- the club's last leadoff man to reach the century mark was Vince Coleman in 1987. Of course, that wasn't even supposed to be Carpenter's role; Jon Jay started the season hitting leadoff.

Honorable Mention - Daniel Murphy, Jason Kipnis, Omar Infante

2012 Winner - Aaron Hill

2011 Winner - Ben Zobrist

2010 Winner - Rickie Weeks

2009 Winner - Aaron Hill

2008 Winner - Dustin Pedroia

2007 Winner - Brandon Phillips

2006 Winner - Dan Uggla

2005 Winner - Chone Figgins

2004 Winner - Mark Loretta

2003 Winner - Marcus Giles

2002 Winner - Alfonso Soriano

2001 Winner - Bret Boone

2000 Winner - Jose Vidro

1999 Winner - Roberto Alomar

LVP - Rickie Weeks

Projection: .257/.346/.443, 22 HR, 87 R, 64 RBI, 11 SB in 521 AB

2013 stats: .209/.306/.357, 10 HR, 40 R, 24 RBI, 7 SB in 350 AB

Weeks hit .355 with five homers in June. His next best month saw him bat .191 with two homers. The Brewers are surely ready to move on at this point, but they might have a tough time finding a taker as putrid as he looked before his season-ending hamstring injury in August.

Dishonorable Mention - Dustin Ackley, Dan Uggla, Jeff Keppinger

2012 Loser - Jemile Weeks

2011 Loser - Chone Figgins

2010 Loser - Aaron Hill

2009 Loser - Kelly Johnson

2008 Loser - Robinson Cano

2007 Loser - Josh Barfield

2006 Loser - Jorge Cantu

2005 Loser - Bret Boone

2004 Loser - Alfonso Soriano

2003 Loser - Roberto Alomar

2002 Loser - Roberto Alomar

2001 Loser - Edgardo Alfonzo

2000 Loser - Jose Offerman

1999 Loser - Delino DeShields

Third Basemen

MVP - Josh Donaldson

Projection: .245/.312/.420, 17 HR, 55 R, 58 RBI, 6 SB in 445 AB

2013 stats: .301/.384/.499, 24 HR, 89 R, 93 RBI, 5 SB in 579 AB

I really didn't see much upside with Donaldson; I projected him as an adequate regular, but nothing more. Instead, he was probably the AL's fourth best player. His K/BB ratio went from 4:1 to less than 3:2, and he ended up with 64 extra-base hits. Along the way, he went from batting seventh and eighth in the Oakland lineup to the second and third spots. I don't think he's a true .300 hitter, but he probably has some more 20-homer seasons in his future.

Honorable Mention - Manny Machado, Chris Johnson, Miguel Cabrera

2012 Winner - Chase Headley

2011 Winner - Jose Bautista

2010 Winner - Jose Bautista

2009 Winner - Mark Reynolds

2008 Winner - Jorge Cantu

2007 Winner - Ryan Braun

2006 Winner - Michael Cuddyer

2005 Winner - Morgan Ensberg

2004 Winner - Adrian Beltre

2003 Winner - Bill Mueller

2002 Winner - Aaron Boone

2001 Winner - Albert Pujols

2000 Winner - Troy Glaus

1999 Winner - Fernando Tatis

LVP - Pablo Sandoval

Projection: .306/.359/.502, 23 HR, 86 R, 89 RBI, 2 SB in 568 AB

2013 stats: .278/.341/.417, 14 HR, 52 R, 79 RBI, 0 SB in 525 AB

Maybe the fact that Sandoval is eligible for free agency after next season will convince him to lose some weight. He was a big disappointment in more ways than one this year, and his defense at third base is becoming a problem. I'm not writing him off, but he'll have to show quite a dedication to conditioning before I project him to hit .300 with 20 homers again.

Dishonorable Mention - Will Middlebrooks, David Freese, Brett Lawrie

2012 Loser - Mark Reynolds

2011 Loser - Pedro Alvarez

2010 Loser - Pablo Sandoval

2009 Loser - Garrett Atkins

2008 Loser - Chone Figgins

2007 Loser - Eric Chavez

2006 Loser - Hank Blalock

2005 Loser - Adrian Beltre

2004 Loser - Eric Hinske

2003 Loser - Edgardo Alfonzo

2002 Loser - Jeff Cirillo

2001 Loser - Tony Batista

2000 Loser - Vinny Castilla

1999 Loser - Ken Caminiti


MVP - Jean Segura

Projection: .269/.333/.343, 3 HR, 49 R, 39 RBI, 25 SB in 472 AB

2013 stats: .294/.329/.423, 12 HR, 74 R, 49 RBI, 44 SB in 588 AB

Since Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez couldn't stay healthy, Segura rated as the year's No. 1 fantasy shortstop, even with the Brewers' injuries holding him back. Imagine how many more runs scored and RBI he would have had if the Brewers had gotten more from Ryan Braun. Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez.

Honorable Mention - Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, Elvis Andrus

2012 Winner - Ian Desmond

2011 Winner - Asdrubal Cabrera

2010 Winner - Omar Infante

2009 Winner - Ben Zobrist

2008 Winner - Mike Aviles

2007 Winner - Hanley Ramirez

2006 Winner - Hanley Ramirez

2005 Winner - Felipe Lopez

2004 Winner - Carlos Guillen

2003 Winner - Edgar Renteria

2002 Winner - David Eckstein

2001 Winner - Rich Aurilia

2000 Winner - Jose Valentin

1999 Winner - Jay Bell

LVP - Starlin Castro

Projection: .295/.339/.448, 15 HR, 90 R, 70 RBI, 20 SB in 614 AB

2013 stats: .245/.284/.347, 10 HR, 59 R, 44 RBI, 9 SB in 666 AB

Congrats to Castro on leading the NL in outs made for a third straight year. I wonder if it still would have gone down like this if the Cubs didn't decide to give a 22-year-old with a questionable motor a $60 million contract in the summer of 2012. He didn't seem very motivated to improve before he was set for life. What is there to turn him around now?

Dishonorable Mention - Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Rutledge, Alcides Escobar

2012 Loser - Elvis Andrus

2011 Loser - Hanley Ramirez

2010 Loser - Yunel Escobar

2009 Loser - Jimmy Rollins

2008 Loser - Troy Tulowitzki

2007 Loser - Bill Hall

2006 Loser - Clint Barmes

2005 Loser - Kaz Matsui

2004 Loser - Angel Berroa

2003 Loser - Jose Hernandez

2002 Loser - Rich Aurilia

2001 Loser - Tony Womack

2000 Loser - Royce Clayton

1999 Loser - Royce Clayton


MVPs - Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig, Marlon Byrd

Gomez's projection: .247/.305/.410, 17 HR, 73 R, 66 RBI, 36 SB in 539 AB

Gomez's 2013 stats: .284/.338/.506, 24 HR, 80 R, 73 RBI, 40 SB in 536 AB

Puig's projection: .243/.287/.425, 6 HR, 24 R, 23 RBI, 8 SB in 181 AB

Puig's 2013 stats: .319/.391/.534, 19 HR, 66 R, 42 RBI, 11 SB in 382 AB

Byrd's projection: .265/.322/.390, 8 HR, 40 R, 42 RBI, 3 SB in 374 AB

Byrd's 2013 stats: .291/.336/.511, 24 HR, 75 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 532 AB

Gomez is in the same boat with Segura; he was a borderline top-five fantasy outfielder anyway, but he would have been even better with more support. Either way, he blew away my projection, which had him as the No. 46 outfielder. There were no real expectations for the other two, though Puig did flash his potential in spring training. Byrd, on the other end of the career spectrum, claimed he intended to retire if he failed to make the Mets as a non-roster player.

Honorable Mention - Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Andrew McCutchen, Jayson Werth, Alfonso Soriano

2012 Winners - Mike Trout, Alex Rios, Adam Jones

2011 Winners - Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Melky Cabrera

2010 Winners - Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Angel Pagan

2009 Winners - Adam Lind, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp

2008 Winners - Ryan Ludwick, Josh Hamilton, Nate McLouth

2007 Winners - Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Eric Byrnes

2006 Winners - Jermaine Dye, Gary Matthews Jr., Matt Holliday

2005 Winners - Grady Sizemore, Jason Bay, Andruw Jones

2004 Winners - Jim Edmonds, J.D. Drew, Aaron Rowand, Jeromy Burnitz

2003 Winners - Gary Sheffield, Scott Podsednik, Vernon Wells

2002 Winners - Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson

2001 Winners - Ichiro Suzuki, Barry Bonds, Cliff Floyd

2000 Winners - Darin Erstad, Richard Hidalgo, John Vander Wal

1999 Winners - Brian Giles, Luis Gonzalez, Roger Cedeno

LVPs - Ryan Braun, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward

Braun's projection: .311/.390/.562, 36 HR, 106 R, 111 RBI, 25 SB in 601 AB

Braun's 2013 stats: .298/.372/.498, 9 HR, 30 R, 38 RBI, 4 SB in 225 AB

Upton's projection: .263/.337/.467, 25 HR, 83 R, 84 RBI, 30 SB in 548 AB

Upton's 2013 stats: .184/.268/.289, 9 HR, 30 R, 26 RBI, 12 SB in 391 AB

Heyward's projection: .270/.356/.511, 32 HR, 109 R, 87 RBI, 21 SB in 575 AB

Heyward's 2013 stats: .254/.349/.427, 14 HR, 67 R, 38 RBI, 2 SB in 382 AB

I could have just listed Braun three times, but that wouldn't have been very fair to Upton. The third spot was a tougher call, given that Heyward, Matt Kemp and Giancarlo Stanton all missed time with injuries. Heyward, though, still would have fallen well short of expectations even if not for the fractured jaw. As for Josh Hamilton, well, I just wasn't very high on him from the start.

Dishonorable Mention - Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Kemp, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Hamilton, Nick Markakis

2012 Losers - Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Upton, Delmon Young

2011 Losers - Carl Crawford, Alex Rios, Jason Heyward

2010 Losers - Matt Kemp, Adam Lind, Carlos Lee

2009 Losers - Manny Ramirez, B.J. Upton, Alfonso Soriano

2008 Losers - Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Carl Crawford

2007 Losers - Jason Bay, Andruw Jones, Jermaine Dye

2006 Losers - Jason Lane, Randy Winn, Scott Podsednik

2005 Losers - Carlos Beltran, Sammy Sosa, Corey Patterson

2004 Losers - Sammy Sosa, Marlon Byrd, Brian Giles

2003 Losers - Pat Burrell, Shawn Green, Larry Walker

2002 Losers - Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Pierre, Richard Hidalgo

2001 Losers - Richard Hidalgo, Darin Erstad, Carl Everett

2000 Losers - Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran

1999 Losers - Jose Cruz Jr., Kenny Lofton, Ray Lankford

Starting Pitchers

MVPs - Hisashi Iwakuma, Max Scherzer, Jose Fernandez, Bartolo Colon, Matt Harvey

Iwakuma's projection: 12-10, 3.91 ERA, 1.291 WHIP, 141 K in 184 1/3 IP

Iwakuma's 2013 stats: 14-6, 2.66 ERA, 1.008 WHIP, 185 K in 219 2/3 IP

Scherzer's projection: 15-9, 3.26 ERA, 1.228 WHIP, 211 K in 196 1/3 IP

Scherzer's 2013 stats: 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.970 WHIP, 240 K in 214 1/3 IP

Fernandez's projection: 9-9, 3.84 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 138 K in 152 1/3 IP

Fernandez's 2013 stats: 12-6, 2.19 ERA, 0.979 WHIP, 187 K in 172 2/3 IP

Colon's projection: 9-9, 4.03 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 90 K in 154 IP

Colon's 2013 stats: 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 117 K in 190 1/3 IP

Harvey's projection: 12-10, 3.74 ERA, 1.300 WHIP, 195 K in 187 2/3 IP

Harvey's 2013 stats: 9-5, 2.27 ERA, 0.931 WHIP, 191 K in 178 1/3 IP

Two of these guys were free agents last winter. The combined value of their contracts amounted to less than what CC Sabathia makes in a season. Iwakuma took a two-year, $14 million contract to stay with the Mariners, while Colon ended up with a one-year, $3 million deal that included a couple of million in incentives. ... Harvey claims the fifth spot despite making his final start on Aug. 24.If Patrick Corbin's season had ended at the same time, he probably would have had the spot instead. Corbin was 13-3 with a 2.45 ERA on that date. His strikeout total and WHIP didn't measure up to Harvey's, but he came considerably cheaper on draft day, which would have given him the edge. Alas, Corbin remained in the rotation and went 1-5 with an 8.00 ERA in his last seven starts.

Honorable Mention - Anibal Sanchez, Clayton Kershaw, Patrick Corbin, Shelby Miller

2012 Winners - R.A. Dickey, Kyle Lohse, Gio Gonzalez, Kris Medlen, Chris Sale

2011 Winners - Justin Verlander, Ian Kennedy, James Shields, Clayton Kershaw, Doug Fister

2010 Winners - Mat Latos, Trevor Cahill, David Price, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jered Weaver

2009 Winners - Zack Greinke, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Wandy Rodriguez, Joel Pineiro

2008 Winners - Clff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Dempster, Ervin Santana, Roy Halladay

2007 Winners - Fausto Carmona, Josh Beckett, Aaron Harang, James Shields, Erik Bedard

2006 Winners - Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Webb, Francisco Liriano, Aaron Harang, Justin Verlander

2005 Winners - Chris Carpenter, Dontrelle Willis, Andy Pettitte, Cliff Lee, John Patterson

2004 Winners - Johan Santana, Ben Sheets, Carl Pavano, Oliver Perez, Chris Carpenter

2003 Winners - Esteban Loaiza, Jason Schmidt, Livan Hernandez, Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay

2002 Winners - Odalis Perez, Derek Lowe, Matt Clement, Tim Wakefield, Roy Halladay

2001 Winners - Mark Mulder, Joe Mays, John Burkett, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt

2000 Winners - Ryan Dempster, Jeff D’Amico, Glendon Rusch, Darryl Kile, Chan Ho Park

1999 Winners - Mike Hampton, Todd Ritchie, Tim Hudson, Kevin Millwood, Jose Lima

LVPs - CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson

Sabathia's projection: 17-9, 3.46 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 187 K in 215 2/3 IP

Sabathia's 2013 stats: 14-13, 4.78 ERA, 1.370 WHIP, 175 K in 211 IP

Verlander's projection: 20-8, 3.08 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, 218 K in 231 IP

Verlander's 2013 stats: 13-12, 3.56 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 207 K in 212 1/3 IP

Cain's projection: 17-9, 3.14 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, 187 K in 214 2/3 IP

Cain's 2013 stats: 8-10, 4.00 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 158 K in 184 1/3 IP

Dickey's projection: 17-9, 3.36 ERA, 1.172 WHIP, 169 K in 219 1/3 IP

Dickey's 2013 stats: 14-13, 4.21 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 177 K in 224 2/3 IP

Johnson's projection: 14-8, 3.80 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 159 K in 187 IP

Johnson's 2013 stats: 2-8, 6.20 ERA, 1.660 WHIP, 83 K in 81 1/3 IP

The top three pitchers on this list have a combined $330 million left on their contracts, which is kind of a scary thought. I think Cain's down year was more of a fluke than the other two. Sabathia is quite possibly done as an ace, and while I think Verlander will bounce back somewhat next year, I probably won't have him penciled in as a Cy Young contender again. ... Dickey is the only one here I was higher on that most, and once he regained some velocity after dealing with back problems, he was an improved pitcher in the second half (6-3, 3.56 ERA, 85/24 K/BB ratio in 96 innings). Given that his price tag will be quite a bit smaller, I'll be recommending him again next spring.

Dishonorable Mention - Yovani Gallardo, Cole Hamels, Jeremy Hellickson, Dan Haren

2012 Losers - Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Ricky Romero, Jon Lester, Dan Haren

2011 Losers - Brian Matusz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Francisco Liriano, Ricky Nolasco, Chad Billingsley

2010 Losers - Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Tim Lincecum, Javier Vazquez, A.J. Burnett

2009 Losers - Francisco Liriano, Cole Hamels, Joba Chamberlain, Derek Lowe, Daisuke Matsuzaka

2008 Losers - Justin Verlander, Fausto Carmona, Pedro Martinez, Ian Snell, Rich Hill

2007 Losers - Jeremy Bonderman, Mike Mussina, Dontrelle Willis, Jose Contreras, Scott Olsen

2006 Losers - Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson, Felix Hernandez, Dontrelle Willis, Odalis Perez

2005 Losers - Oliver Perez, Curt Schilling, Tim Hudson, Zack Greinke, Eric Milton

2004 Losers - Esteban Loaiza, Barry Zito, Jose Contreras, Jamie Moyer, Javier Vazquez

2003 Losers - Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Ramon Ortiz, Freddy Garcia, Derek Lowe

2002 Losers - Chan Ho Park, Freddy Garcia, Bud Smith, Brad Penny, Javier Vazquez

2001 Losers - Scott Elarton, Livan Hernandez, Kevin Millwood, Bartolo Colon, Dave Burba

2000 Losers - Jose Lima, Ramon Martinez, David Cone, Omar Daal, Kevin Millwood

1999 Losers - Roger Clemens, Jeff Fassero, Chan Ho Park, Tom Glavine, Brett Tomko

Relief Pitchers

MVPs - Koji Uehara, Kenley Jansen, Edward Mujica, Greg Holland

Uehara's projection: 3-2, 0 Sv, 2.70 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, 62 K in 53 1/3 IP

Uehera's 2013 stats: 4-1, 21 Sv, 1.09 ERA, 0.565 WHIP, 101 K in 74 1/3 IP

Jansen's projection: 5-3, 13 Sv, 2.52 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 87 K in 64 1/3 IP

Jansen's 2013 stats: 4-3, 28 Sv, 1.88 ERA, 0.861 WHIP, 111 K in 76 2/3 IP

Mujica's projection: 4-2, 0 Sv, 3.42 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 66 K in 68 1/3 IP

Mujica's 2013 stats: 2-1, 37 Sv, 2.78 ERA, 1.005 WHIP, 46 K in 64 2/3 IP

Holland's projection: 5-3, 27 Sv, 2.98 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, 80 K in 66 1/3 IP

Holland's 2013 stats: 2-1, 47 Sv, 1.21 ERA, 0.866 WHIP, 103 K in 67 IP

There was no shortage of options for MVP relievers, but the top three were still very obvious choices. Uehara got the lowest WHIP projection I gave out last winter, but that he managed to pitch 74 1/3 innings and give up just five homers qualify as big surprises. Ignoring saves, Jansen had my fourth best RP projection for the season behind only Craig Kimbrel, Sean Doolittle and Aroldis Chapman. As it turned out, he was still considerably better than that. Mujica faded in the end, but still rates as a top-10 closer.

Honorable Mention - Joaquin Benoit, Jim Henderson, Mark Melancon, Ernesto Frieri

2012 Winners - Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson, Aroldis Chapman, Rafael Soriano

2011 Winners - Craig Kimbrel, Fernando Salas, Brandon League, Jordan Walden

2010 Winners - Neftali Feliz, John Axford, Rafael Soriano, Chris Perez

2009 Winners - Andrew Bailey, David Aardsma, Ryan Franklin, Rafael Soriano

2008 Winners - Brad Lidge, Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez

2007 Winners - Jeremy Accardo, Takashi Saito, Kevin Gregg, Manuel Corpas

2006 Winners - J.J. Putz, Jonathan Papelbon, Takashi Saito, Akinori Otsuka

2005 Winners - Chad Cordero, Derrick Turnbow, Huston Street, Todd Jones, Bob Wickman

2004 Winners - Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Jose Mesa, Shingo Takatsu

2003 Winners - Eric Gagne, Tim Worrell, Joe Borowski, Guillermo Mota

2002 Winners - Eric Gagne, Juan Acevedo, Byung-Hyun Kim, Octavio Dotel

2001 Winners - Byung-Hyun Kim, Jeff Zimmerman, Octavio Dotel, Jose Mesa

2000 Winners - Keith Foulke, Robb Nen, Gabe White

1999 Winners - Scott Williamson, Billy Koch, John Rocker

LVPs - John Axford, Jonathan Papelbon, Tom Wilhelmsen, Brandon League

Axford's projection: 4-4, 36 Sv, 3.16 ERA, 1.244 WHIP, 79 K in 68 1/3 IP

Axford's 2013 stats: 7-7, 0 Sv, 4.02 ERA, 1.523 WHIP, 65 K in 65 IP

Papelbon's projection: 4-5, 38 Sv, 3.08 ERA, 1.088 WHIP, 75 K in 64 1/3 IP

Papelbon's 2013 stats: 5-1, 29 Sv, 2.92 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 57 K in 61 2/3 IP

Wilhelmsen's projection: 4-4, 32 Sv, 3.39 ERA, 1.203 WHIP, 68 K in 69 IP

Wilhelmsen's 2013 stats: 0-3, 24 Sv, 4.12 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, 45 K in 59 IP

League's projection: 4-5, 29 Sv, 3.28 ERA, 1.238 WHIP, 57 K in 68 2/3 IP

League's 2013 stats: 6-4, 14 Sv, 5.30 ERA, 1.546 WHIP, 28 K in 54 1/3 IP

My first instinct was to include Chris Perez, since he prolonged the agony and cost teams down the stretch whereas three of these guys here were cut in fantasy leagues months ago. Still, the fact is that Perez was more valuable than Axford, Wilhelmsen and League over the course of the year and I had had him ranked below two of those guys (League was one spot behind him) in the preseason rankings. ... League and Axford get back-to-back LVPs, which is never a good thing. League pitched to expectations last year, but since the Mariners took him out of the closer's role, he was a bust for fantasy purposes. Axford, on the other hand, just stunk. This year, Axford lost his closer's role because of a bad week and then posted a 3.00 ERA over the next 5 1/2 months, for all the good it did him, while League was the one who stunk.

Dishonorable Mention - Chris Perez, J.J. Putz, Carlos Marmol, Fernando Rodney

2012 Losers - Heath Bell, Jordan Walden, Brandon League, John Axford

2011 Losers - Matt Thornton, Joakim Soria, Ryan Franklin, Neftali Feliz

2010 Losers - Chad Qualls, Jonathan Broxton, Trevor Hoffman, Bobby Jenks

2009 Losers - B.J. Ryan, Brad Lidge, Brandon Morrow, Matt Capps

2008 Losers - Jason Isringhausen, Manuel Corpas, J.J. Putz, Huston Street

2007 Losers - Tom Gordon, Salomon Torres, Jorge Julio, Bob Wickman

2006 Losers - Derrick Turnbow, Brad Lidge, Ryan Dempster, Armando Benitez

2005 Losers - Danny Kolb, Danny Graves, Guillermo Mota, Keith Foulke

2004 Losers - Arthur Rhodes, Joe Borowski, Shawn Chacon, David Riske

2003 Losers - Billy Koch, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Armando Benitez, Jose Mesa

2002 Losers - Keith Foulke, Scott Strickland, Armando Benitez, Antonio Alfonseca

2001 Losers - Todd Jones, John Rocker, Billy Koch, Dave Veres

2000 Losers - Bob Howry, Scott Williamson, John Rocker, Billy Wagner

1999 Losers - Rod Beck, Jeff Montgomery, Rick Aguilera, Gregg Olson

Award Ballots

Here are my MVP, Cy Young and ROY ballots for 2013:


1. Mike Trout

2. Miguel Cabrera

3. Chris Davis

4. Josh Donaldson

5. Robinson Cano

6. Evan Longoria

7. Jason Kipnis

8. Adrian Beltre

9. Manny Machado

10. Carlos Santana

Five months into the season, one didn't necessarily need to rely on the postseason argument to pick Cabrera over Trout. And then September happened: a banged up Cabrera hit .278/.395/.333 with one homer and seven RBI in 72 at-bats. Trout was pretty much his usual self, hitting .281/.455/.494 with four homers and 15 RBI in 89 at-bats.

Of course, the Tigers didn't need Cabrera in September (though home-field advantage would have been nice). And Trout's team was an also-ran all season long. So, the MVP discussion again comes down to how one wants to define value, a subject that lost my interest years ago. Trout was the better player, so he's the MVP as far as I'm concerned. YMMV.

After those two, I flip-flopped on Davis and Donaldson a couple of times. WAR prefers Donaldson, but Davis led the circuit in WPA, with Cabrera second, Donaldson third and Trout fourth. WPA (Win Probably Added) can be a pretty sketchy stat, but there's no denying that Davis came up big in a number of situations this year. He ended up hitting .318/.392/.694 with runners on and .343/.433/.759 with RISP.

After the big four -- and it will be a crime if Donaldson finishes lower than fourth -- the rest is a jumble. Cano looks like the fifth best player; he never seems to fall any lower than that. It's odd not having any Red Sox in the top 10 after they finished with the league's best record, but their two best players -- Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury -- played in 122 and 134 games, respectively. They would dominate the 11-20 range on the ballot with those two, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.

AL Cy Young

I still need to work this one out. In my mind, there are seven possibilities for the five spots on the ballot: Bartolo Colon, Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Chris Sale, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer. Nicely enough, those happen to be our seven ERA leaders as well. Here's how they rank according to several stats.

ERA: Sanchez, Colon, Iwakuma, Darvish, Scherzer, Hernandez, Sale

Innings: Iwakuma, Sale/Scherzer, Darvish, Hernandez, Colon, Sanchez

rWAR: Iwakuma, Sale, Scherzer, Sanchez, Darvish, Hernandez, Colon

fWAR: Scherzer, Sanchez, Hernandez, Sale, Darvish, Iwakuma, Colon

K/9 IP: Darvish, Scherzer, Sanchez, Hernandez, Sale, Iwakuma, Colon

SOS: Hernandez, Iwakuma, Colon, Darvish/Sale, Scherzer, Sanchez

Strength of schedule is based on the OPS of opponents faced. That penalizes Sale a bit, since a lot of good lefties sat against him.

So, let's try adding up all six categories; seven points for the top spot, down to one point for the bottom.

Colon: 16

Darvish: 24.5

Hernandez: 23

Iwakuma: 29

Sale: 23

Sanchez: 24

Scherzer: 28.5

Is that anything close to a perfect method? Of course not. But I don't think there's any one method that's going to convince me one of these guys was clearly better than the rest.

A month ago, I thought Hernandez had been the league's best pitcher. And he still might have been, but those three missed starts in September weigh heavily here. In the end, his own teammate, Iwakuma, pitched 15 more innings with an ERA about two-fifths of a run better. FIP still argues for Hernandez -- only Sanchez in his 182 innings had a better FIP -- but the fact is that Iwakuma pitched in front of the same defense as Hernandez and allowed five fewer runs while making two additional starts.

Sale was terrific and, unlike Scherzer and Sanchez, he actually had to face the Tigers, going 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in five starts against them. But then he made only 30 starts altogether, and he gave up more earned runs and unearned runs than anyone else here.

Darvish should probably get bonus points for leading the league in strikeouts by a whopping 37 over Scherzer. But he also issued the most walks and gave up the most homers of the group.

Sanchez had the quality, but not the quantity.

Colon finished second in ERA and tied for the league lead with three shutouts, but he was helped by pitching in Oakland and he got to make five of his 30 starts against the Astros.

It seems like it really is Iwakuma and Scherzer WARring it out for the top spot. Iwakuma had the tougher assignment of the two, getting the more difficult schedule and pitching for a poor team. Scherzer definitely had run support on his side.

But Scherzer does have 55 strikeouts on Iwakuma, and while there was plenty of luck involved in his 21-3 record, there wasn't any in his 2.90 ERA. FIP puts him at 2.74, compared to 3.44 for Iwakuma. If I had to pick either to start a game for my team, I'd take Scherzer and his strikeouts. I'm still not certain he's been the better pitcher, but I haven't found a good reason to rank anyone over him.

1. Max Scherzer

2. Hisashi Iwakuma

3. Yu Darvish

4. Felix Hernandez

5. Chris Sale

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jose Iglesias

2. Wil Myers

3. Chris Archer

4. Martin Perez

5. David Lough

Iglesias versus Myers comes down to how one rates Iglesias' glove. The defensive numbers at both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs weren't overly charitable. I view him as an elite defender, and that propels him over Myers in my picks. Obviously, he was a nice surprise offensively as well, finishing up at .303/.349/.386 in 350 at-bats. Myers hit .293/.354/.478 in his 335 at-bats.


1. Andrew McCutchen

2. Paul Goldschmidt

3. Clayton Kershaw

4. Yadier Molina

5. Carlos Gomez

6. Andrelton Simmons

7. Matt Carpenter

8. Shin-Soo Choo

9. Hunter Pence

10. Ian Desmond

The injuries make a real mess of this list. I think Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Molina were the NL's three best players when they were on the field this year. Alas, only Molina played enough to be included in the top 10. David Wright and Carlos Gonzalez also would have cracked the list had they put in full seasons.

I picked Molina over Buster Posey last year, and I had him on top again this year until his 15-day DL stint in August. That was enough to drop him behind McCutchen, who ranked first in FanGraphs WAR and was in a dead heat with Gomez atop the Baseball-Reference WAR list. I have fairly limited faith in WAR, but it follows my own reasoning in this case. It's not even as though McCutchen is getting a lot of credit for his defense in either system; he's rated as a bit above average in both, but not as anything special. Which is pretty much how I view him. While McCutchen should and will get the MVP award, it's Gomez who deserves the Gold Glove.

Goldschmidt was the league's best hitter, but not by enough of a margin to make up for McCutchen's defensive value. Kershaw had a wonderful season, posting the lowest ERA of any pitcher since 2000, but the Dodgers were a mere 19-14 in his starts. It puts quite a dent in his MVP argument that the Dodgers were just as good when he wasn't on the mound.

I don't think I've ever put anyone on an MVP ballot strictly for defense before, but Simmons deserves it. He's the Braves' MVP, though Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel will get more support in the actual vote. And if he takes the same sort of step forward offensively that he did this season, he may well be the NL's best player next year.

Choo over Joey Votto further down the ballot may seem an odd choice for a stathead to make -- Votto does have the better numbers -- but Votto was surprisingly crummy on defense both according to my eyes and the stats. Choo may have been, too, but the Reds knew that going in; he's a corner outfielder miscast in center. Choo improved considerably out there after a rocky start and wasn't nearly as much of a liability as expected. I'm not sure what Votto's excuse was.

NL Cy Young

1. Clayton Kershaw

2. Adam Wainwright

3. Cliff Lee

4. Matt Harvey

5. Jose Fernandez

There isn't much explanation needed for first place here; Kershaw led the league in everything except wins. Lee's late charge made it close for second place; B-Ref WAR says he was the clear No. 2, while FanGraphs much prefers Wainwright. Wainwright threw 20 more innings with essentially the same ERA and allowed seven fewer homers. That's good enough for the No. 2 spot in my book.

After the top three, the three best pitchers were clearly Harvey, Fernandez and Zack Greinke, with the caveat that those guys all finished in the 170-180 IP range. None of the 200-inning starters really compare, though Mat Latos was closest.

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Jose Fernandez

2. Yasiel Puig

3. Hyun-Jin Ryu

4. Julio Teheran

5. Shelby Miller

The Marlins' original plan was for Fernandez to throw 150-170 innings. That they let him hit and slightly exceed the high end there just barely gets him the nod over Puig here. He ended up second in the NL with a 2.19 ERA and third with a 0.979 WHIP. Puig never stopped making an impact in his 104 games, but his recklessness on the basepaths and with his big arm did cost the Dodgers and take away some of his value.

Previous Selections


2000: Pedro Martinez

2001: Jason Giambi

2002: Alex Rodriguez

2003: Alex Rodriguez

2004: Vladimir Guerrero

2005: Alex Rodriguez

2006: Derek Jeter

2007: Alex Rodriguez

2008: Dustin Pedroia

2009: Joe Mauer

2010: Josh Hamilton

2011: Justin Verlander

2012: Mike Trout

AL Cy Young

2000: Pedro Martinez

2001: Mark Mulder

2002: Pedro Martinez

2003: Pedro Martinez

2004: Johan Santana

2005: Johan Santana

2006: Johan Santana

2007: CC Sabathia

2008: Roy Halladay

2009: Zack Greinke

2010: Felix Hernandez

2011: Justin Verlander

2012: Justin Verlander

AL Rookie of the Year

2000: Terrence Long

2001: Ichiro Suzuki

2002: Eric Hinske

2003: Angel Berroa

2004: Bobby Crosby

2005: Huston Street

2006: Justin Verlander

2007: Dustin Pedroia

2008: Evan Longoria

2009: Andrew Bailey

2010: Neftali Feliz

2011: Jeremy Hellickson

2012: Mike Trout


2000: Barry Bonds

2001: Barry Bonds

2002: Barry Bonds

2003: Barry Bonds

2004: Barry Bonds

2005: Derrek Lee

2006: Albert Pujols

2007: Jake Peavy

2008: Albert Pujols

2009: Albert Pujols

2010: Joey Votto

2011: Matt Kemp

2012: Yadier Molina

NL Cy Young

2000: Randy Johnson

2001: Randy Johnson

2002: Randy Johnson

2003: Mark Prior

2004: Randy Johnson

2005: Roger Clemens

2006: Brandon Webb

2007: Jake Peavy

2008: Tim Lincecum

2009: Adam Wainwright

2010: Roy Halladay

2011: Roy Halladay

2012: Clayton Kershaw

NL Rookie of the Year

2000: Rick Ankiel

2001: Albert Pujols

2002: Austin Kearns

2003: Brandon Webb

2004: Khalil Greene

2005: Ryan Howard

2006: Hanley Ramirez

2007: Troy Tulowitzki

2008: Geovany Soto

2009: J.A. Happ

2010: Jason Heyward

2011: Craig Kimbrel

2012: Bryce Harper