God's Fantasy Baseball Team: A Look at The Top Performers Over The Last 15 Years
As much as we try, hope and pray, we will never be able to fill our rosters from top to bottom with guys who are going to put up 2010 CarGo-esque numbers. There are only a handful of players in every given season with the ability carry a fantasy team. A good fantasy team succeeds at rostering above average players; not rostering statistical liabilities.
But what if for one day we could make the 'fantasy' of fantasy teams. Assemble a team of over-achievers that produced unreal statistics that only guys like you and I really care about. By looking back we can see where the bar of excellence sits and it can give us something to reach, or at least dream for as we prepare to draft for the 2011 season.
To assemble this team I am going to go by a few small rules.
Rule No. 1- I am only going to use players from the past 15 years. Players that most of the readers of this article would have seen play at one time or the other. 1996 will be my latest year.
Rule No. 2- I don't want to build the bash brothers, but a well-rounded team that will excel in every category. Which means I won't pick 98' slammin' Sammy and Big Mac to go with early 2000's Bonds. I will need steals, high run scorers and great averages as well.
Rule No. 3- I have to use a different year with each selection.
I hope you enjoy, and please feel free to offer your thoughts and opinions on each position.
Mike Piazza 1997
Vincent Laforet/Getty Images
Boy what a year for this catcher. Let's just look at the stat line.
104 R, 40 HR, 124 RBI, 5 SB, .362 AVG
In 2009 Joe Mauer hit .365 and knocked out 28 home runs, we praised him and everyone jumped on Joe with a first round pick. Piazza's 1997 makes Mauer's campaign look average.
Catcher or not, this stat line would warrant a top round pick in most leagues.
Mark McGwire 1998
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
I struggled with this one. The struggle was over the same bag, first base in St. Louis. Pujols in 2003 or McGwire in 1998? As you can tell, I decided to go with McGwire. Yeah I know, I know he was juiced but it's fantasy baseball, we care about numbers and McGwire had some nice numbers in 98.
130 R, 70 HR, 147 RBI, 1 SB, .299 AVG
While the last two numbers leave a bit to be desired on the 'Greatest Team Ever' those first three are just jaw dropping. I just wonder how he found the edge to produce these numbers at 34, an age where most of us think that players start to decline.
Jeff Kent 2000
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Again, here I was faced with a choice—take Kent in 2000 where he raked as you will see, or take Craig Biggio throughout a few of his better years where he produced massive amounts of SB and Runs. I went with Kent, so now through three positions my team is lacking any threat on the base pads. I'll have to address that soon.
Kent in 2000 won the NL MVP producing this following line.
114 R, 33 HR, 125 RBI, 12 SB, .334 AVG
Alright so nothing is popping off the charts, but everything is well above average. Then also consider this is second base, one of the weakest offensive positions in the game. Very solid stat line for Kent here.
Alex Rodriguez 2007
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
As much as I wanted to put the other New York third baseman in this spot you cannot deny the greatness of Alex Rodriguez. I've never owned A-Rod on a fantasy team, but I'll tell you this I've always admired his stat producing capabilities. Yeah he's not clean, but I've already made my stance known on that (See McGwire).
In 2007 A-Rod did this to shock us all.
143 R, 54 HR, 156 RBI, 24 SB, .314 AVG.
Talk about well rounded. It's hard to believe that he is only three years removed from that line. I don't think a lot of people realize that since 1995 A-Rod has had only one season where he didn't knock in 100 runs. That' s a heck of a run.
Oh, and I got a little SB boost here.
Jose Reyes 2006
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Hanley Ramirez 2009 or Jose Reyes 2006? I spent more time than I should have on this question. Looking at the roster from C to 3B I have an abundance of one thing. Power. So let me add a little spice to the infield.
Reyes in 2006
122 R, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 64 SB, .300 AVG.
Respectable power to go along with top of the notch speed and the average doesn't kill me. Some people still believe Reyes can do this in 2011, maybe, if so look out first round, here he comes.
Barry Bonds 1996
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Wait! What? Bonds, but not the 73 HR campaign. Exactly.
I went with Bonds 1996 campaign for numerous reasons. One: I want to use another player from 2001 which would break my rule of using a different year every time. Two: this list is riddled with likely 'roid users already, so I wanted to try to get Bonds on here before he got to big and bald. The picture inset shows a 1996 thin looking Bonds. Three- people in 2011 are going nuts over CarGo's possible 100, 30, 100, 30, .300 season. In 1996 Bonds went above 120, 40, 120, 40, .300.
To be exact the line is as follows:
122 R, 42 HR, 129 RBI, 40 SB, .308 AVG.
To me this line is more impressive than the 73 home run season because of it's all around domination, and the fact that it was probably done while Bonds was still somewhat clean.
Vladimir Guerrero 2002
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Yes, I added a Montreal Expo to this team!
The outfield gives us so many options, under realistic terms we would love to fill our outfield with three 20-20 threats. How about I add another 40-40. Well close, but a little short.
Vlad in 2002
106 R, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 40 SB, .336 AVG.
Not too shabby, he goes one long ball away from a 40-40 season while scoring and driving in well over 100 and hitting a swell .336, oh and he's my second outfielder.
Sammy Sosa 2001
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
So here is why I left Bonds 2001 season off the list—a showing like this from Sosa.
146 R, 64 HR, 160 RBI, 0 SB, .328.
Wow, Over 140 runs, and 160 RBI in one season. That's unreal. I believe he had a better 2001 than Bonds did. Others may disagree, but using Sosa's 2001 campaign along with Bonds in '96 and Vlad in '02 makes for one hell of a outfield. This was actually Sosa's last off the charts year. Never again would he hit over .300, drive in over 110 or hit out 50. It also went unnoticed because of Bonds' 73 dingers that year.
David Ortiz 2005
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Big Papi will fill the utility/designated hitter spot. I tried to stay true to the actual position and pick a designated hitter. Ortiz is Ortiz, during the prime of his career his numbers were as good if not better than an DH during this time period. During 2005 he played 148 games at DH and posted the following numbers.
119 R, 47 HR, 148 RBI, 1 SB, .300 AVG.
If not his best year, this was probably his second best. I'd argue 2006 was maybe a little better but that year was already taken. Great power is the bottom line for Ortiz, plain and simple.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
So there is the bar. These guys set it high. Yeah some of them had some help from the juice, but the stats are stats, and they are great. So go out, prepare for the draft and hopefully your results will yield you a player that can get in the neighborhood of some of these figures. Good luck, and happy researching.