2018 Wrap Up: Fantasy AL Rookie of the Year
To wrap up the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season, Ray Flowers will break a series of winners from the season. He will be writing a column with six entries, three for the National League and three for the American League. He will name the Fantasy MVP, the fantasy Cy Young and the Fantasy Rookie of the year for both the Senior and Junior Circuits. Yes, the Fantasy winners, not the fellas that will be taking home the hardware when the BBWAA votes on the actual MLB winners of the six awards.
*NOTE: The rankings are based on a 5x5 fantasy setup.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
5 – Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees (.271-24-77-54-6): At 21 years of age, Torres appeared in 123 games: 109 at second / 21 at second base. He posted a .912 OPS against lefties, and a more basic .785 mark against righties, on his way to an impressive .820 mark. He also posted a .480 SLG overall, and thanks to an 18 percent HR/FB ratio was able to nearly boast 25 homers as a rookie. The overall offensive game was about as expected for the former elite level prospect, though, the power was a level above the early expectations, helping to vault him into the top-5 fantasy performers in the Junior Circuit.
4 – Joey Wendle, 2B, Rays (.300-7-61-62-16): The oldest guy on this list at 28 years of age, Wendle had one heck of a season that no one is really talking about. He doesn’t have the power of anyone else on the list, but he also is the only one to bat .300 and he also stole 16 bases. Wendle, who also appeared at 10 games at short, 17 in the outfield and 20 at third base, was a monster across the diamond. Wendle was one of three men at second base to go .300/16; the others were Jose Altuve and Whit Merrifield, which is some pretty heady company. The lack of pop held Wendle back a bit, but this was a heck of a season for the aged youngster (hopefully that makes sense).
3 – Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Royals (.276-14-37-47-32): Mondesi appeared in 12 games at second and 61 at shortstop, as he took the game by storm. If he had played all season long, at remotely the pace he flashed, he would have walked away with the top award. As it was, his overall numbers simply weren’t large enough to surpass the top two men on the list, though, his 32 steals were still third in the AL. If he had played all season long, and hadn’t hit another homer but doubled his steals total, he also would have valued to the top of the list. Still, it’s pretty damn impressive that in just 291 plate appearances Mondesi was able to hit/run his way into the top-3.
2 – Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees (.297-27-92-83-2): He only walked 25 times, which is terrible and one of the main reasons his OBP was only .328. Still, his K-rate was a mere 16 percent, borderline impressive in 2018, as he blasted his way to a .527 SLG and a .230 ISO mark. There were only 13 men in the AL with 92 RBI, and Andujar was one of two men who did that while also batting .295 (J.D. Martinez at .330). Andujar was a butcher defensively, his defensive runs saved total was the worst in baseball for a full-time third baseman, but the bat was a legit weapon which led him to an impressive season that included 47 doubles.
1 – Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP, Angels (see below): The most famous two-way player since Babe Ruth, the season didn’t go as expected for Ohtani, who eventually had Tommy John surgery on his injured UCL. Still, he was able to operate at all-star levels as both a pitcher and a hitter, and that dual action game nabs him the top fantasy spot in the AL. Here are the numbers that earned him the designation.
As a hitter: .285-22-61-59-10 in 367 plate appearances
As a pitcher: 4-2, 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP with 63 Ks in 51.2 innings
Ohtani had a .925 OPS that was better than Paul Goldschmidt, Trevor Story, Manny Machado, Matt Carpenter, Freddie Freeman, etc.
His 1.16 WHIP was better than Jameson Taillon, and his 3.31 ERA was better than Carlos Carrasco 3.38.
He was damn impressive at all facets of the game. Hell, he even stole 10 bases, two more than the Yankees teammates listed above.
You can hear Ray, Monday through Friday, on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Ray is on The Fantasy Drive 8-10 PM EST Monday-Friday, and he’s also on the Guru Elite Show Thursday from 2-4 PM EST. You can follow Ray on Twitter at @baseballguys.