Each year, there are players that surprise us all. Whether they are young players coming up to the big leagues or a players that are coming off of an injury-plagued season the year prior, they save our teams nonetheless.
There isn’t enough room for everyone, so these players are who I consider the biggest surprises on 2009.
* all statistics are as of September 22, 2009.
Catcher: Victor Martinez (BOS)
After playing in just 73 games in 2008, Martinez dropped out of the top five catchers in fantasy in 2009. This didn’t last for long, as Martinez starting off the season on a hot streak with a .350 BA or better through the first two months of the season. His eligibility at first-base made him a great asset if you took the risk of drafting him.
2009 stats: 80 R, 21 HR, 100 RBI, .300 BA
First Base: Mark Reynolds (ARI)
Reynolds showed signs last year of the player he could become, but no one knew that it would happen only a short year after. If it wasn’t for Albert Pujols in the National League, you would probably be talking about Reynolds becoming the league MVP. Reynolds trails leader Pujols by only four home runs with 43, and was able to balance out his power with 24 stolen bases on the season.
2009 stats: 92 R, 43 HR, 99 RBI, 24 SB, .267 BA
Second Base: Aaron Hill (TOR)
Hill had a good 2007 campaign but missed most of 2008 due to injury, which led fantasy owners to believe that he may have been a fluke. But Hill proved everyone wrong this season, leading all second basemen in home runs, RBI, and at-bats in 2009.
2009 stats: 92 R, 32 HR, 98 RBI, .285 BA
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval (SF)
The “Kung-Fu Panda” had himself a great season in 2009, keeping the Giants in the playoff hunt all the way to the end. His multiple-position eligibility made him a favorite to all fantasy owners this season. Sandoval leads National League third basemen in hits, doubles, and currently is in second-place in batting average.
2009 stats: 69 R, 22 HR, 80 RBI, .323 BA
Shortstop: Jason Bartlett (TB)
This pick was a tough one for me, since there are many surprise players at the shortstop position this season. But Bartlett gets the nod because he was able to bounce back from injury without even skipping a beat at midseason. He was able to set career-highs in every category, implanting himself as a top shortstop in the American League.
2009 stats: 83 R, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 25 SB, .323 BA
Outfield: Adam Lind (TOR)
In just his first full season as an everyday outfielder for the Blue Jays, Lind has made himself a great fantasy player with his power at the plate. He went over 100 RBI this season to go along with his 30 home runs and a .299 BA. Lind, along with Hill, will be a great combo in Toronto for years to come.
2009 stats: 85 R, 30 HR, 106 RBI, .299 BA
Outfield: Kendry Morales (LAA)
The word “remarkable” should be used when talking about Morales. When Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter went down with injuries, Morales put the Angels on his back and powered them to the top of the American League West. Morales should be in the conversation for the American League MVP in 2009.
2009 stats: 76 R, 31 HR, 99 RBI, .299 BA
Outfield: Nyjer Morgan (WAS)
Morgan started off the season fighting for a starting position in the Pirates outfield and ended his season as one of the best lead-off men in all of baseball, before his season was cut short due to a fractured left hand. With blazing speed on the base paths, Morgan implanted himself into starting rosters all over the fantasy world.
2009 stats: 74 R, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 42 SB, .307 BA
Utility: Ben Zobrist (TB)
I could have put Zobrist in many different positions, since he played six different positions. However, the utility spot seemed to fit him best. He took on every challenge that came his way for the Rays on his way to setting career-highs in every offensive category.
2009 stats: 83 R, 24 HR, 77 RBI, 16 SB, .288 BA
Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke (KC)
Greinke had a solid 2008 campaign, but no one expected to see him move up to the top of almost every pitching category in 2009. He is among the league leaders in complete games with six, in which three of them are shutouts. Greinke should finish a close second in the American League Cy Young voting this season.
2009 stats: 14 W, 224 K, 2.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 6 CG, 3 SHO
Starting Pitcher: Adam Wainwright (STL)
In most standard leagues, Wainwright was not drafted. But it didn’t take long for fantasy players to notice his great command when he’s on the mound. Wainwright leads the National League in wins with 18, and should finish the season with 20 wins.
2009 stats: 18 W, 193 K, 2.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
Starting Pitcher: Josh Johnson (FLA)
Johnson has been the reason that the Marlins have stayed in the playoff hunt, with his superb pitching performances this season. This was the first time in three years that Johnson was able to stay healthy, which leads me to believe he can be a Top 10 pitcher when healthy. Expect Johnson to continue to be the anchor of the Marlins rotation for years to come.
2009 stats: 15 W, 171 K, 3.01 ERA, 1.12 WHIP
Starting Pitcher: Matt Cain (SF)
Although overshadowed by the greatness of Tim Lincecum, Cain is having himself a great season as the number two starting pitcher in the Giants rotation. He made his first All-Star team in 2009 after recording 10 wins before the break. Cain is also among the league leaders in many of the starting pitching categories.
2009 stats: 13 W, 155 K, 2.71 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Relief Pitcher: Andrew Bailey (OAK)
After the Athletics decided to trade away Huston Street in the offseason, Bailey stepped onto the scene and hasn’t looked back. He is among the league leaders in every relief pitching categories and should be the front-runner for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
2009 stats: 6 W, 25 SV, 85 K, 1.95 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
Relief Pitcher: David Aardsma (SEA)
With the meltdown of Brandon Morrow as the Mariners closer, Aardsma was called on to take over his role. He has been almost untouchable since being given the ninth inning, and has implanted himself into the role for years to come with his performance thus far in 2009.
2009 stats: 3 W, 35 SV, 76 K, 2.02 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Nelson Cruz, OF (TEX): 73 R, 32 HR, 73 RBI, 20 SB, .261 BA
Jayson Werth, OF (PHI): 92 R, 34 HR, 90 RBI, 14 SB, .274 BA
Michael Bourn, OF (HOU): 90 R, 3 HR, 35 RBI, 58 SB, .289 BA
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B (WAS): 101 R, 30 HR, 97 RBI, .290 BA
Asdrubal Cabrera, MI (CLE): 75 R, 6 HR, 64 RBI, 17 SB, .306 BA
J.A. Happ, SP (PHI): 10 W, 105 K, 2.77 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Tommy Hanson, SP (ATL): 10 W, 100 K, 2.85 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Wandy Rodriguez, SP (HOU): 13 W, 181 K, 2.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Ryan Franklin, RP (STL): 4 W, 37 SV, 40 K, 2.02 ERA, 1.12 WHIP
Heath Bell, RP (SD): 6 W, 39 S, 72 K, 2.88 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
Did I leave anyone out? Let me know about it!