The One-Hit Wonders of the 2009 MLB Season
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night?
Maybe a bad dream interrupts your slumber. Maybe you're disturbed by a noise from outside. Or maybe the burrito you ate for dinner didn't quite agree with you after all.
Here's a list of seven sleepers who got up to pee at some point in 2009, then went back to bed.
Bonus points to anyone who knows who's in this picture!
After the Nationals traded him to Florida for Josh Willingham, Bonifacio took the baseball world by storm on Opening Day when he went 4-for-5 with three steals and an inside-the-park home run as the Marlins routed his former team 12-6.
He sustained his hitting prowess over the next few days (10-for-19 from Apr. 7-11), and with his ability to play both second and third base (eventually he added shortstop and outfield, too), Bonifacio was the first bandwagon pickup of the 2009 fantasy season.
Unfortunately, things really went downhill from there. He hit .233 the rest of the way and didn't manage a single home run.
By season's end, Bonifacio had the lowest OPS (.611) in all of baseball.
This then 22-year-old captured the imaginations of baseball fans nationwide when he homered in his first major league at bat in the first game of the season. He even got an intentional walk in his MLB debut.
When he followed it up with another dinger two games later, it was clear that Schafer had arrived.
Unfortunately, he didn't stay very long. After Apr. 11, his average tumbled to .176, and he managed just six extra-base hits in 45 games.
By June, he was back shagging flies in Triple-A.
Buehrle isn't like the other players on this list. He wasn't a nobody before his Jul. 23 perfect game; he was an established veteran starter with a 10-3 record and a 3.52 ERA.
But, despite his All-Star status, most fantasy owners didn't think of him as a top-flight pitcher. He was a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter, but he certainly wasn't someone to get excited about.
That all changed after the perfect game. People who had him benched put him in their starting lineups. If he was un-owned in a league, someone snatched him up; if he was already spoken for, his owner was deluged with trade offers.
But things went downhill for Buehrle after that. Perhaps because he felt pressured to repeat, he just wasn't the same pitcher—going 2-7 with a 4.78 ERA over his last 13 starts.
On Jul. 9, a sane fantasy player would have seen Sanchez' 2-8 record and 5.30 ERA and passed right by. The Giants could barely win with Tim Lincecum pitching—how could this clown have any value?
That all changed Jul. 10, when Sanchez struck out 11 en route to a no-hitter.
To be fair, this outing was actually the turning point in Sanchez's year; by season's end, he had lowered his ERA by more than a run, to 4.24. But it was wrong to mistake him—as many fantasy owners did—for Lincecum or Matt Cain.
To get some idea of just how shocking Borbon's emergence was, I went to MLB.com's preseason outlook page, which said, "He'll be worth keeping in mind as a sleeper source of speed at this time next year."
In other words, there wasn't even a chance that Borbon would make any sort of impact until 2010.
And yet, he made quite a splash this season. In his first seven games after being called up in early August, Borbon hit a ridiculous .536 with eight stolen bases and a 1.295 OPS.
Then, as quickly as he had emerged, he tumbled; for the rest of the month, he had a .451 OPS and didn't record a single extra-base hit. He leveled off at the end of the season, posting a .739 OPS with eight steals over his last 28 games.
A small, weak-hitting, butterfingers, Velez' great speed was the only reason he was on any fantasy owner's radar, heading into 2009.
Starting the year at almost 27, the former Southern Atlantic League MVP was running out of chances to prove himself. After he put up a .438 OPS in 39 plate appearances off the bench, over the first two months of the season, Velez was sent down to the minors.
The Giants called him up at the end of July and he stormed out of the gate. In 13 games, he hit .429 with three homers and 11 RBI to go with a .661 slugging percentage and a 1.118 OPS.
Throw in his second base eligibility and you've got a recipe for a perfect stretch run pickup.
But, of course, it didn't last. After Aug. 9, Velez was even worse than usual, hitting .233 with two home runs (.640 OPS).
After demonstrating prolific power by hitting 48 homers in 2006-'07, Francoeur's impatience and undisciplined swing came back to haunt him in 2008, when he struggled to a .653 OPS.
We were told that Francoeur had retooled his approach in the offseason, and after watching him swat a pitch deep into the night in the first game of the year, many fans were inclined to believe him.
However, it turned out that his new swing was indistinguishable from the old one. While he cut back on the strikeouts a bit, he walked just 23 times—low even by his standards.
He had a miserable .634 OPS when a midseason trade sent him to the Mets. The change of scenery seemed to put a little more life into his bat, but there was no evidence of a parallel amendment to his approach.