2018 Wrap Up: Fantasy NL MVP
To wrap up the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season, Ray Flowers will break down a series of winners from the just completed 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.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP
5 – Trea Turner, SS, Nationals (.271-19-73-103-43): Amazingly, I think it’s completely fair to suggest that though he comes in as the fifth best fantasy option in the Senior Circuit, that Turner had a season that disappointed some of his owners. Turner hit .271 which was .018 points below his career level. He had a .567 SLG in 2016, the mark fell to .451 last season and was downright ordinary this season at .416. After posting a .937 OPS in 2016 the mark fell to .789 last season and .760 this year. He did set a career best with 19 homers, but folks expected him to go over 20. So how did he end up as one of the best performers in the league? One, he stayed healthy playing 162 games. Two, he scored more than 100 runs. Three, he stole 43 bases (though note that he stole 46 bases last season in a mere 98 games played thereby disappointing his owners this season). Add it all up and you have a guy who was but a single homer from a 20/40 season with 100 runs scored, and in 2018 that’s an elite level effort.
4 – Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (.297-38-110-104-2): A rock stable, elite level bat at the third base position. Period. The only aspect of his game that is lacking is speed, but that’s like saying that Tommy G. only scores with models who are “9’s” so he’s not really a ladies’ man. Arenado is tied for the fourth longest run in baseball history, four straight years, of hitting 35 homers with 110 RBI. The homer he hit in Game 163 allowed him to move to the NL lead in the category, and he was one of four players to have 100 RBI and 100 runs scored in the NL. Moreover, he and Christian Yelich were the only two players to go 35-100-100 in the NL. He’s money in the flipping bank. Amazingly, his 2018 effort was actually his worst season in four years, and with that level of consistency he is a lock down, first round draft pick season after season.
3 – Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (.291-37-108-87-27): The 25 year old rookie blossomed into fantasy stardom in ’18. He hit a career best 36 big flies in his third season, and also set career bests in RBI, runs, doubles (42), triples (six), average (.291), OBP (.348), SLG (.564), OPS (.912) and steals (27). Yep, a shortstop who went 35/25 is pretty damn valuable indeed. Given that he raised his batting average more than .050 points from last season, all the way up to .291, and you have one of the most complete fantasy weapons in the Senior Circuit in 2018. I don’t think anyone thought he would ever hit 35 homers - well, some of you did - but no talent evaluators did, and certainly no one thought he would steal more than 25 bases. It was a hell of a campaign.
2 – Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers (.326-36-118-110-22): With Game 163 Yelich ended up leading the NL in batting average, and was third in homers and second in RBI as he nearly pulled off an improbable Triple Crown run. The bat was stupendous, but when you toss in 22 steals, the end results are simply undeniable – elite fantasy performer was he. Do you know how many men have matched all five of his numbers in one season in the 21st century? I looked it up, and the answer is one - Yelich. That’s how amazing he was this season. Given that the league hit only .248, that batting average is way better than it looks on its own. Just a tremendous, elite level season from one of “my guys.” #Finally
1 – Javier Baez, 2B/SS/3B, Cubs (.290-34-111-101-21): You can make the argument for Baez to be #1. In fact, I’m making it. His raw numbers were ever so slightly behind those of Yelich, but not only was his offensive games stupendous, but Javier did something tremendous in the field by qualifying at second base (104 games), third base (22 games) and shortstop (64 games). The raw numbers say Yelich should win this award. I think common sense says it should be Baez. With half the players in baseball spending time on the disabled list, having a player that qualifies at two positions is a huge boost to your fantasy squad allowing you to look at two positions, and not just one, when you hit that waiver-wire. When that player qualifies at three spots, all on the infield, well, that’s enough to push Baez to the top of the list. A tremendous season that aided your team to be able to play through injury, not to mention that owning him allowed you to also be more aggressive on the trade front since you could slot him into those three spots to fill any hole created by a trade. Baez deserves the top spot.