2018 Wrap Up: Fantasy NL 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.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
5 – Brian Anderson, OF/3B, Marlins (.273-11-65-87-2): Anderson appeared in 71 games at third base and 91 games in the outfield, giving him a nice little fantasy bonus to raise his profile. Not one aspect of his fantasy game really stands out, but thanks to playing 156 games, and getting on base at a nice clip (.357), his total of 87 runs scored wasn’t half bad (he scored one more run than Scooter Gennett). It’s hard to get overly excited about a guy with 11 homers, but his flexibility gave him some value in deep leagues and made him a solid option in NL-only setups.
4 – Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals (8-9, 3.34 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 182 Ks in 151 IP): He was dominant in his first full season. He walked too many at 3.52 per nine, but the 10.85 K/9 rate is legit, as was the elevated 13.4 swinging strike rate. Dude has some serious swing and miss stuff. Because of that swing and miss stuff, batters had a hard time rapping out hits against him. In fact, they had a mere .257 BABIP and hit a tiny .199 against the hard-throwing righty. He ended the year at 22 years of age and is an exciting pitcher to be holding in fantasy leagues.
3 – Walker Buehler, SP, Dodgers (8-5, 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 151 Ks in 137.1 IP): WB was a star, flat out, for the Dodgers. He posted more than a K per inning and kept the walks in check, leading to a strong 4.08 K/BB ratio. He also limited the big fly with a 0.79 HR/9 rate, thanks to a 32 percent fly ball rate that helped him to a 1.58 GB/FB ratio. So, he struck batters out, didn’t beat himself, and kept the ball in the yard. Surprising that success followed, right? He closed on a high note as well with a 1.55 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP over 12 games. He just needs to add innings now.
2 – Juan Soto, OF, Nationals (.292-22-70-77-5): This will be just about the most exciting battle of the award season, seeing who wins the NL ROY award. In the fantasy game, where steals matter, the decision is much easier to make. Soto comes in second as a result. But take heart Soto supporters, the dude was amazing. As you will see, his OBP (.406), OPS (.923), wOBA (.392) and wRC+ (145) all say he was equally effective as the budding fantasy superstar of the Braves. Given that Soto is still just 19 years old at the time of this writing, it's even more remarkable just how effective he was, from day one. Soto was one of the best stories in baseball in 2018.
1 – Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves (.293-26-64-78-16): Just 20 years of age, Acuna started out slower than expected, but in the end, he was every bit the performer that his most ardent supporters hoped he could be. He was a fantasy force, especially after moving to the top spot in the order when he went .328/.409/.634 with 19 homers in 262 at-bats (301 plate appearances). Acuna had a .366 OBP, a .917 OPS, a .388 wOBA and a 143 wRC+. As I stated above, I don’t pit the voters for NL ROY, but Acuna was the clear winner in the fantasy game because of the extra 11 steals.
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.