Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Surprises of 2012
The 2012 fantasy baseball season was certainly full of surprises. There were veterans that had resurgent seasons and there were kids that came out of nowhere to have monumental fantasy impacts.
There were several key rookies that dominated fantasy baseball this year. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was in contention for the American League MVP all year, while the Washington Nationals’ 19-year old prospect, Bryce Harper, also made an immediate impact.
There was also a huge increase in homers this year. In 2011 there were only two players in the majors that hit over 40 home runs, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder, Jose Bautista (43) and New York Yankees outfielder, Curtis Granderson (41). In 2012 there was six different players that each drove 40 balls out of the ballpark. This spike in home runs only added to the excitement of the fantasy baseball season, and will keep us coming back for more.
It was also a year where New York Mets knuckleball pitcher, R. A. Dickey dazzled the world with a 20-win season for a Mets team that only won 74 games throughout 2012. Dickey was practically undrafted in every fantasy format, but amazingly ended up finishing in the top-5 fantasy pitchers.
Also this season, there were amazingly four different pitchers who reached the 20-win plateau. The aforementioned Dickey, David Price (20), Jared Weaver (20), and Gio Gonzalez (21) all anchored fantasy rotations this year.
With the fantasy season in the books, lets take a look at some of the most shocking performances of the entire year. Here are my top 10 fantasy baseball surprises of the 2012 season:
Number 10: 3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers – Cabrera may have been a first round pick, or one of the highest paid sticks in auction drafts this past summer, but nobody expected him to win the triple crown. Miggy finished his immaculate season by hitting .330 with 44 home runs and a massive 139 RBI, and certainly led a fair share of fantasy owners to a championship in 2012. He out right dominated fantasy baseball this year and his performance will be one that is talked about for years, even in the fantasy community.
Number 9: SP Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals
SP Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals - Lynn was an amazing free agent pickup within the first month of the season, as he shockingly started the year 6-0. He continued to be a reliable starter throughout the year and even ended the year by winning his last 5 starts down the stretch for fantasy fans. He was a great bottom of the rotation guy, and even better, he was completely free in most leagues. Guys like Lynn win championships in fantasy, as they surprise even the most knowledgeable fantasy fans.
Number 8: 3B Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
3B Chase Headley, San Diego Padres – Headley hit a very respectable .286 this season, and proved to be one of the best fantasy values of the year. Headley was tied for 8th in the NL with 31 home runs and led the entire league with 115 RBI. Many people didn’t even know who Headley was before the season began, but they certainly know who he is now.
Number 7: RP Rafael Soriano, New York Yankees
RP Rafael Soriano, New York Yankees – It is hard to imagine anyone closing out games for the Yankees, besides future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. However, Rivera tore his ACL as he attempted to catch a fly ball before a game earlier this year, and it left the team in desperate need for a reliable closer. David Robertson got first crack at the job, but after a Robertson injury, Soriano was given the ball in the ninth inning.
Soriano formerly closed games for the Tamp Bay Rays in 2010, where he racked up a career-high 45 saves. He quickly got back into his old groove and ended the year with an amazing 42 saves. The Yankees won a lot of games down the stretch, only adding to Soriano’s amazing fantasy value. Soriano ended the year as a top-ten closer, despite starting it as a middle reliever, making him one of the biggest shocks of the 2012 season.
Number 6: DH Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
DH Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays – Easy E was off the hook this season. He hit a very respectable .280, but showed power numbers that he has never had before, with an ungodly 42 homers and 110 RBI. He never had more than 26 homers and 61 RBI in a season, so the fact that he put up such monster numbers helped him become a very reliable first baseman. He also played in a career-high 152 games, which certainly helped him reach new levels this year.
Number 5: RP Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles
RP Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles – No one expected the Orioles to make the playoffs, and even fewer expected Johnson to finish the 2012 season leading the MLB with 51 saves. Johnson also boasted a spotless 1.02 WHIP, while surrendering only 3 home runs all season long. Johnson was the most dominant closer in fantasy baseball this year, but more importantly, he came ten rounds after Jonathan Papelbon.
Number 4: SP Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
SP Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox - Sale went from being a relief pitcher last year to being one of the top starting pitchers in the entire MLB. He had a 17-8 record with a 3.05 ERA, making Sale one of the best bargains of 2012.
Number 3: DH Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
DH Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox – In 2011 Dunn only hit 11 home runs, so the fact that he crushed 41 homers in 2012 was absolutely shocking. He may have struck out 222 times throughout the year, but fortunately most fantasy baseball leagues do not penalize you for strikeouts. Dunn may be near the end of his career, but his pure power carried thousands of fantasy owners this past year.
Number 2: OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels – Everyone knew this kid was special, as he was ranked as a top –tier prospect for years. However, no one expected him to compete for the American League MVP at only 21 years old. He hit everything that crossed the plate, as he had a strong .326 batting average. He also showed amazing power with 30 homers, 83 RBI, and speed with a league leading 49 stolen bases.
He was the most clutch hitter in the Angels’ lineup and seemingly made every big play, whether it was with his bat or his glove. Trout has matured into the best dynasty player in baseball and will be anchoring many baseball teams for the next ten years. He just did it much quicker than anyone would have guessed.
Number 1: SP R. A. Dickey, New York Mets
SP R. A. Dickey, New York Mets - Dickey’s 2012 performance proved to be one of the most electric fantasy performances in the history of the game. Dickey finished the year with a 20-6 record, along with a 2.73 ERA and an even better 1.05 WHIP.
The knuckleballer showed ridiculous control over his pitches, as he registered 230 strikeouts compared to only 54 walks in 233.2 innings pitched. Dickey also threw 5 complete games, 3 of which were shutouts, on his way to putting together a magical year.
It is not often that a CY Young candidate can be found in fantasy free agency, but Dickey proved to be the free agent find of the century. Dickey was by far the most surprising fantasy player of 2012.