Today, let’s take a look at the possible winners of the 2008 Fantasy Goat of the Year before declaring a winner:
David Ortiz – In most, if not all, leagues, he was drafted by the early second round. The guy had been a fantasy gem for 4 seasons, even with his 35 HR campaign in ’07. The guy has proven time and time again that he is a beast at the plate, averaging 47 HR and 141 RBI from 2004-2006. That was the player owners had anticipated on getting this season, but instead they got a player who was not even close. He hit just .264 with 23 HR and 89 RBI, the first time since 2002 that he failed to break 30 HR or 100 RBI. Injuries certainly played a role, limiting him to just 416 AB, as did the departure of Manny Ramirez. Still, it’s not like he was tremendous in the first half of the season, hitting .252 with just 13 HR. No matter how you look at the numbers, Ortiz was a bitter disappointment and certainly hurt the owners who called his name early on in their leagues.
Alex Rodriguez – Yes, he hit .302 with 35 HR, 103 RBI and 104 R this season, a great season for any player. The thing is, A-Rod is not just any player. In many formats he was the #1 pick overall, and with that owners expect an elite season. Where was the player who hit .314 with 54 HR, 156 RBI and 143 R in 2007? Obviously, the drop-off was not as drastic as Ortiz’ but that doesn’t make his season any less disappointing. When you drafted him #1, you put a lot of your season in his hands, considering you did not pick again until the tail end of the second round. He needed to perform significantly better then he did to help carry your team, but instead he was just like any other first round pick. That means extreme disappointment for owners around the world.
Eric Byrnes – Coming off a season where he hit 21 HR and had 50 SB, owners were clamoring for him to fully emerge as one of the elite OF’ers in the game. In fact, in one of my leagues someone drafted him at the end of the third round, just ahead of Manny Ramirez. Maybe selecting him that high did not happen in many leagues, but it certainly is possible. Even if you drafted him a round or two lower, he hit just .209 with 6 HR and 4 SB before his season was cut short at 206 AB due to injuries. Injuries do happen, so maybe it’s not fair to put a player in the running for this award because of it, but it obviously isn’t like he was setting the world on fire prior to going down. It was a miserable season, with the injury just being the icing on the cake. It was so bad, that heading into 2009 you are left wondering if he even has a starting job waiting for him in Arizona. That’s quite a drop-off to say the least.
Troy Tulowitzki – After an amazing rookie season, fantasy owners flocked to him, dubbing him one of the elite and turning the Power 3 SS into the Power 4. Instead, what owners got was a season riddled with injuries holding him to 377 AB. He hit just .263 with 8 HR, 46 RBI and 48 R. Ouch, far from one of the elite SS, and even farther from one of the elite hitters in the game. Owners who drafted him early to be the rock of their middle infielder was sorely disappointed and left scrambling for a potential replacement.
J.J. Putz – It seems easy to put a closer up for this award, because there always seems to be a few who completely fall out of the job due to injuries or poor performance. Putz, pegged as one of the top closers in the game, fell into both categories. He tossed just 46.1 innings picking up 15 saves. His ERA was 3.88 and his WHIP was an astounding 1.60. Owners who took him as their top closer got hurt pretty badly to say the least.
I could list nearly a dozen other players who could be up for this award. Men like Chone Figgins, Chris Young, Carlos Guillen, Takashi Saito, Howie Kendrick, Aaron Harang and countless others could be put in the running and no one would think twice about it. These five were all drafted early on, however, which made their failures hurt owners even more.
With that said, picking A-Rod would be the easy selection. He was the #1 pick in most leagues, but his production failed to live up to those type of expectations. Still, his season was good enough, no matter how “non-clutch” he proved to be, to get away with not taking home this award.
Instead, it’s David Ortiz who is honored (or should I say dishonored) with the award. Taken early on in drafts, the guy performed closer to a tenth round pick or worse, instead of a second. Owners who drafted him had to have gotten extremely lucky with other picks in order to have a fighting chance in their drafts. Unfortunately, that may not have happened so often, costing many an opportunity to compete in their leagues.
Ortiz is a great hitter, he’s proven it time and time again, but it just wasn’t there in 2008. David Ortiz, you are the Fantasy Goat of the Year.
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.