As the 2011 fantasy baseball season comes to a close, it’s time to take a step back and look at the best players of the season.
Many familiar faces put up numbers right in line with their career averages. However, there were several breakout stars and a number of guys who rejuvenated their careers in 2011.
Here are the 25 best players of the 2011 fantasy baseball season.
Having been given up for dead, Lance Berkman bounced back in grand fashion.
As a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Berkman hit 31 homers and batted in 93 runs.
This kind of production helped him land a new contract to stay in St. Louis for another season.
Derek Holland had been a highly-touted prospect for Texas for many years but had never fulfilled any of his potential.
He did in 2011 though. Holland was dominant for the Rangers, going 16-5 and striking out 162.
Andrew McCutchen took the next step in 2011.
While making the All-Star team, McCutchen hit 23 homers and stole 23 bases while batting in 89.
The speedy Michael Bourn was a menace on the basepaths this year.
Bourn led the majors with 61 steals in 2011, helping fantasy owners everywhere.
After a horrendous stint in Atlanta, Melky Cabrera came back with a vengeance in 2011.
Cabrera hit 18 homers, stole 20 bases and hit .305 in his first year in Kansas City.
Dustin Pedroia had yet another season that we expected from him.
Pedroia had another 20-20 season while batting over .300 and scoring more than 100 runs.
Although he may have been overshadowed, Dan Haren had a great 2011 season.
Haren won 16 games and struck out 192 this year.
As bad as the Yankees staff as a whole was this year, CC Sabathia was that good.
Sabathia went 19-8 with 230 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA, proving once again why he’s one of the best fantasy pitchers in the game.
Justin Upton not only led the Diamondbacks to the playoffs but also several fantasy teams to league championships.
Upton hit 31 home runs while stealing 21 bases and scoring 105 runs.
In his first season in Boston, Adrian Gonzalez had an MVP-caliber season.
Gonzalez hit .338 with 117 RBI in 2011.
For a while this season, Jered Weaver was the front-runner for the American League Cy Young.
Weaver finished the season going 18-8 with 198 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA.
Much like Pedroia, Ian Kinsler had a season that we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
Kinsler’s 30-30 season surely many of his owners make the playoffs in 2011.
Robinson Cano had a very big year in 2011.
Not only did he win the 2011 Home Run Derby, but he knocked in 118 runs and hit over.300.
Jose Bautista followed up his breakout 2010 season with another stellar season in 2011.
Bautista belted 43 homers this season while scoring over 100 runs, batting in more than 100 and hitting over .300, proving he wasn’t just a one-year wonder.
Ryan Braun not only got a big raise in 2011, but he had one of the best seasons of his career.
Braun had 33 home runs and 33 steals while finishing second in the National League in batting average.
Cliff Lee had another typical season this year.
Lee went 17-8 with 238 strikeouts and six shutouts in 2011.
Like Lee, Roy Halladay had another great season we’ve come to expect from him.
Halladay went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and eight complete games, which has become standard for the Phillies’ ace.
Ian Kennedy’s breakout campaign was a pleasant surprise to many of his owners.
Kennedy went 21-4 and struck out 198 in 2011, asserting himself into the upper echelon of fantasy pitchers.
Many had written Alex Gordon off as a bust well before the season, but he proved everyone wrong with his 2011 campaign.
Gordon had 23 homers, 17 steals, 87 RBI, 101 runs and batted .303 this season.
He finally showed the talent that made him a stud prospect for the Royals, and it will be interesting to see how he responds once again in 2012 to lofty expectations.
James Shields was the anchor for the Rays’ rotation in 2011, as well as many fantasy owners.
Shields won 16 games and struck out 225. If your league rewarded complete games, Shields was even better, as he threw 11 complete games in 2011.
The front-runner for the NL Cy Young, Clayton Kershaw had a dominant fantasy season.
The Dodgers’ ace went 21-5 with 248 strikeouts, a 2.28 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.
If not for another pitcher, Kershaw would have been the best fantasy pitcher this season.
Justin Verlander was far and away the best pitcher this year.
Verlander went 24-5 with 250 strikeouts, a 2.40 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.
His season is one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory.
Curtis Granderson enjoyed a career year for the Yankees in 2011.
Granderson belted 41 homers and stole 25 bases while scoring 135 runs.
He definitely took the next step and is an elite fantasy outfielder.
As good as Granderson was this year, Jacoby Ellsbury one-upped him.
Ellsbury hit 32 homers, stole 38 bases and batted .322, and despite Boston’s epic collapse, could still be the American League MVP.
No one had a better 2011 season than Matt Kemp.
Kemp hit 39 homers, stole 40 bases, drove in 126 runs and batted .324.
Even though he finished just short of the NL triple crown and a 40-40 season, Kemp is definitely the fantasy MVP for 2011.