Players Who Single-Handedly Carried Their Fantasy Baseball Teams to Titles
MLB's regular season has come to a close, which means another year of fantasy baseball is in the books.
Did you take home the title this year? Congrats, champ. It takes a real trooper to stick it out through a 162-game season. This isn't fantasy football—luck plays only a minimal role here.
Odds are, you put in a borderline insane amount of hours to take home the crown, and now you get to reap the benefits until next year's draft.
Of course, when you're sitting there drooling over your team's final stats after championship week—basking in the sweet aroma of your own fantasy baseball managing excellence—there's always one player's enormous line that sticks out the most.
Baseball is a team sport, and fantasy baseball is no different, But there's always that one guy, whether it be a pitcher or a hitter, who kicked it up a notch just in time for the playoffs. He may not have carried you to the big game, but he certainly helped you seize the moment.
Your very own fantasy baseball MVP.
More than a handful of players were able to close out the 2012 season in a big way. In order to give them all the credit they deserve, I've constructed a fantasy baseball roster's worth of sluggers and pitchers who dominated over the last couple weeks of the year.
If you won your league, I'm willing to bet your roster included at least one of the following players.
Note: All statistics were gathered from Yahoo.com and consist of games between Sept. 17 and Oct. 3. In most formats, the first week of fantasy baseball playoffs begins on Sept. 17 and championship week extends to the final day of baseball's regular season, which this year was Oct. 3.
Catcher: Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Not exactly a household name, Rosario burst on the scene in 2012 with 28 homers in only 396 at bats on the year. Four of them came during fantasy playoff time.
The 23-year-old also came through with four consecutive three-hit games from Sept. 20 to Sept. 23.
1B: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
It's doubtful that you actually drafted Davis, but if you snagged the slugger off the waiver wire before the playoffs, kudos to you.
Before Wednesday's season finale, the Oriole had homered in six straight games. During that span, he piled up seven total big flies to go with 15 RBI.
Baltimore is a playoff qualifier for the first time since 1997. Believe it or not, the former Texas Rangers' castoff is a huge reason why.
2B: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Cano had 19 hits over the final seven games of the year. Yeah, almost three per game. He closed out the season with a 4-for-4, two-HR performance that included six RBI and three runs scored.
He didn't offer much production for the first week of the playoffs, but if you made it to the finals with Cano as your second baseman, only a disastrous pitching performance could've prevented you from winning it all.
3B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Say hello to Major League Baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967. Cabby slaughtered opposing pitchers to the tune of 10 HR and 27 RBI in the month of September, and a good chunk of those numbers came during fantasy baseball playoff time.
Of course, the AL MVP hopeful is a must-start any day the Tigers are scheduled to play, but Miggy always puts on a show to close out the season. In 2011, he had 15 hits and four HR in his final six games.
SS: Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Not the likeliest of fantasy postseason heroes, Scutaro saved his best for last in 2012.
The 36-year-old vet came through with at least one hit in each of the 14 games he played from Sept. 17 to season's end, including six multi-hit games and four multi-RBI games.
No matter the position, if you have a guy batting .423 when it's crunch time, you're golden.
Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees
Ichiro seems to have adjusted to wearing pinstripes just fine.
A contributor in every major category, the 36-year-old base-hit machine finished the year manufacturing runs at a sickening pace. He had two or more hits in eight of the final 16 games of the regular season.
On Sept. 19, he had more stolen bases (four) in one game than some fantasy teams get in an entire week.
Outfield: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Speaking of contributing across the board, take a look at what this rookie has been able to do over the past couple of weeks. He hits, steals and scores. He's just a beast.
If Harper can pummel big-league pitching at 19 years old, those in keeper leagues would be wise to stash this young fella away for next year, too.
Outfield: Nick Swisher, New York Yankees
The Yankees closed the season on fire offensively, and Swisher was helping leading the charge.
Swisher had eight multi-hit games from Sept. 17 on, and raised his season average from .257 to .270 in that span.
Utility: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks (2B)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Second base is a frustrating position to fill in fantasy baseball, but Hill made that one less thing to worry about for those who owned him in 2012.
The 30-year-old came through with his best season since 2009, and he really turned it on late. Hill put up productive numbers in several categories, leading not just second sackers, but hitters at any position in RBI from Sept. 17 and on until Cano went beast mode in the Yankees' finale.
Utility: Brandon Moss, Oakland A's (1B)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Surprise, the A's are AL West champs—not the Rangers. Surprise, Brandon Moss was a key player in the miraculous run to divisional supremacy.
Moss, who wasn't even in the majors until June and had logged a measly 32 at-bats the previous two years, batted .411 to close out the year with 23 hits in 56 trips to the plate.
I'm not sure he was owned by many fantasy players out there, but there's no doubting the impact he would've had on your title chances.
SP: CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
CC wasn't a big help much of the season, but he came through with three masterful eight-inning performances at a time when fantasy owners needed him most. I don't need to say much; the stats speak for themselves.
SP: James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays
J. Meric/Getty Images
Shields pumped out 30 strikeouts in his final three starts, and 15 of them came Monday against the Orioles in a complete-game loss. The offense offered little support, so he only rewarded owners with one win during the playoffs.
Other than that, he clearly came through with championship-caliber numbers.
RP: Grant Balfour, Oakland A's
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
A Nick Swisher single was Balfour's lone blemish from Sept. 17 to the end of the year. He provided owners with five saves, 13 strikeouts and even a win. Impressive, to say the least.
RP: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Simply put, Craig Kimbrel is a nasty man. So nasty, in fact, he struck out four batters in a single inning on Sept. 26 against the Marlins.
He's got 243 strikeouts over his last 138.2 innings of baseball, dating back to 2011. The Braves' closer also blew just three of his 45 save attempts in 2012.
It's a given that at least one of your relief slots are in good hands with Kimbrel, especially when it's crunch time.
P: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
The reigning AL Cy Young winner hasn't been quite as successful in 2012, but he was back to top form in September.
Verlander held opponents to zero earned runs in three of his final four starts this year, with two of them during fantasy playoff time. He was the only pitcher during that stretch with three wins and an ERA of under 1.00.
He won't get the AL MVP this year, but he's definitely in the hunt for a second straight AL Cy Young award. Given how he performed over baseball's final month, he may just get it.
P: Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
Medlen hopped into the starting rotation on July 31, and he's 9-0 since he got there. No one expected it, but the Braves aren't complaining, and his fantasy owners weren't, either.
I know, I was one of them.
P: Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Latos wasn't punching out batters with regularity to close out the season, but his three final outings worked wonders for fantasy owners in ERA and WHIP. He lowered his season ERA from 3.76 to 3.48 in those starts, and picked up two wins to move to 14-4 on the year.
Latos wasn't always great in 2012, but you can't say he didn't come through when you needed him most.