There are no more veterans returning from Tommy John surgery or rookie pitchers coming out of nowhere to dominate opposing hitters. There are no more draft-day afterthoughts or career minor leaguers with red-hot bats to target on the waiver wires.
There is no more advice to give.
On Wednesday, your league will not only crown its champion, but it will have the name of a loser who needs to be punished. (Idea for punishment: He or she must sign up and take the SATs alongside all of those high schoolers who’ve spent months studying for the four-hour long exam. If they score below 1,000, they lose the rights to the first pick next year.) But, before we call it a season, it’s time to award the players who helped you achieve fantasy glory, as well as those players who make getting a root canal sans novocaine seem like a pleasant experience.
Roto Rage Jarad Wilk doles out the honors (and dishonors) for the NL, and Fantasy Alarm’s Howard Bender hands out the AL awards:
NL: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals — Hit .146 in his first 11 games, but hit .332 with 35 homers, 113 RBIs, 96 runs, five stolen bases and a 1.030 OPS in his next 136 games. Entered the weekend ranked first in the NL in slugging percentage and OPS, second in runs and RBIs, as well as third in average, on-base percentage and WAR. He also ranked fifth in homers, had the 27th-most steals and the sixth-best walk rate.
AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees — Who cares about a steroids-driven league home run record? By season’s end, Judge will own both the Yankees and AL home run records, and he will have done it while batting over .300 with more than 130 RBIs, more than 130 runs scored and more than 15 stolen bases.
NL: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres — With a 53.2 average draft position, fantasy owners thought they were getting a pretty big discount on a rehabbing, first-round talent. Instead, a fourth- or fifth-round selection was wasted (seriously, Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado, among others, were still available) on a player who didn’t play a single game because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s PED policy.
AL: Jesse Winker, Mariners — There was so much hype coming into the season after Winker slashed .305/.394/.556 with 24 home runs for the Reds in 2021. But with the Mariners he reverted back to his old self, hitting just .218 with 13 home runs, and forced his manager to sit him against lefties.
NL: Julio Urias, Dodgers — In 18 starts from June 28 through Wednesday, he went 14-1 with a 1.79 ERA, 106-25 strikeout-walk rate and .184 opponents’ average. He allowed three earned runs or more just twice in those outings. That is the definition of clutch fantasy pitching.
AL: Dylan Cease, White Sox — Though the rest of the world fawns all over Justin Verlander again, we’ll shout it out to Cease — who struck out 222 batters over just 179 innings while posting a 2.06 ERA, which was the second-best among qualified pitchers. He also did this while carrying the entire White Sox pitching staff on his back.
NL: Trevor Rogers, Marlins — Coming off a promising rookie campaign, he was drafted as a top-30 pitcher. Unfortunately, outside of a handful of starts, this wasn’t his year. He had 11 losses and, among hurlers with a minimum of 100 innings, he had the fourth-worst ERA, the eighth-worst walks per nine and the 10th-worst opponents’ average.
AL: Jose Berrios, Blue Jays — There was some concern for Berrios going from Minnesota to Toronto, but few people expected it to be this bad. He posted a 5.37 ERA, gave up the third-most home runs in the league and failed to record a strikeout per inning for the first time in three years.
Rookie of the Year
NL: Spencer Strider, Braves — Among pitchers with a minimum of 130 innings, he entered the final weekend of the season with the best strikeout rate (202 in 131 ²/₃ innings), lowest opponents’ average, seventh-best WHIP and ERA, and fourth-best WAR in the NL. Would’ve been the Cy Young if he pitched more innings.
AL: Julio Rodriguez, Mariners — He was one of the early favorites for the award coming into the season, so watching him turn in a slash line of .280/.342/.502 with 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases wasn’t all that shocking. He is going to be a strong power-speed combo for years to come.
NL: Michael Harris II, Braves — Though his walk rate is the fourth-lowest in the NL, he hit .310 in 105 games since June 1. Among players with a minimum of 400 plate appearances, he ranks seventh in OPS, fifth in slugging, fourth in average, 27th in runs and fourth in stolen bases.
AL: Bobby Witt Jr., Royals — He was an early favorite for Rookie of the Year, so a strong season wasn’t all that surprising. His 20 home runs and 28 stolen bases are just the tip of the iceberg here, and he’ll bring up that batting average and OBP soon enough, but talk about announcing your presence in Kansas City with authority!
NL: Spencer Strider, Braves — Did we mention he also had the best swinging strike rate in the NL (second-best in the majors) and was 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 13.8 K/9 in his first 10 second-half starts?
AL: Shane McClanahan, Rays — After a solid debut in 2021, McClanhan showed everyone that he is only going to get better as he improved even more on his strikeout rate, cut back on the walks and posted an impressive 2.51 ERA over 161 ¹/₃ innings. We’ll be discussing him for Cy Young honors in 2023.
NL: Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks — After injuries hampered the first half of his 2021 season (4-10, 4.30 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), he hit a career-high innings total this year while having the fifth-best K/9, third-best ERA and the 11th-lowest walk rate in the NL. He also entered the weekend with the best WHIP and lowest opponents’ average (lowest in the majors, too). Honorable mentions for Yu Darvish and Francisco Lindor.
AL: Justin Verlander, Astros — They say 40 is the new 20, right? Well, after missing all of 2021 and all but six innings in 2020, Verlander is right back atop all the AL pitching leaderboards. His strikeouts may be down, but he led the league with a 1.80 ERA among qualified hurlers and notched 17 wins.
Bargain Bin Hitter
NL: Brandon Drury, Padres — His numbers dipped after his arrival in San Diego, but he reached career-best marks in runs, hits, homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, OPS and WAR. He was among the top 15 in homers, RBIs, slugging and OPS in the NL, and top 20 in runs.
AL: Adolis Garcia, Rangers — When you’re in the 15th round of your draft, you tend to look for specific category help, whether it is power or speed. But if you drafted Garcia, not only did you get both (26 HRs, 25 SBs), but he also didn’t kill you in batting average this season, as his .250 mark was 7 points better than league average.
Bargain Bin Pitcher
NL: Kyle Wright, Braves — Leads the majors in wins, and had gone 16-2 with a 3.40 ERA, 110 strikeouts and a .242 opponents average in 20 starts since June 1 before taking the mound Saturday. Not bad for the 143rd-ranked pitcher. Strider, Miles Mikolas, Ryan Helsley, Merrill Kelly, Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin all deserve honorable mention.
AL: Martin Perez, Rangers — Undrafted in nearly every mixed league, Perez turned out to be the best pitching waiver claim of the year with a dozen wins and an eye-popping 2.93 ERA over 190 ¹/₃ innings. Expectations for the lefty were super-low this year and yet he continued to deliver start after start, becoming the best middle-of-the-fantasy-rotation contributor this season.
C: Will Smith, Dodgers
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
2B: Trea Turner, Dodgers
SS: Dansby Swanson, Braves
3B: Austin Riley, Braves
MI: Jeff McNeil, Mets
CI: Freddie Freeman, Dodgers
DH: Christian Walker, D’backs
UTIL: Pete Alonso, Mets
OF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF: Brandon Drury, Padres
OF: Michael Harris III, Braves
SP: Spencer Strider, Braves
SP: Sandy Alcantara, Marlins
SP: Julio Urias, Dodgers
SP: Zac Gallen, D’backs
SP: Kyle Wright, Braves
RP: Edwin Diaz, Mets
C: Sean Murphy, Athletics
1B: Vlad Guerrero, Blue Jays
2B: Jose Altuve, Astros
SS: Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
3B: Jose Ramirez, Guardians
MI: Andres Gimenez, Guardians
CI: Nathaniel Lowe, Rangers
DH: Shohei Ohtani, Angels
UTIL: Luis Arraez, Twins
OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees
OF: Julio Rodriguez, Mariners
OF: Adolis Garcia, Rangers
SP: Justin Verlander, Astros
SP: Dylan Cease, White Sox
SP: Shane McClanahan, Rays
SP: Triston McKenzie, Guardians
SP: Shohei Ohtani, Angels
RP: Emmanuel Clase, Guardians
Team Names Of The Year
Best Elton John Song: The Bichette is Back
Disappointing DC sequel: Wander Woman 1984
Worst Sly Stallone movie: Stop! Or My deGrom Will Shoot
Worst department store: K-Marte
Best “Star Wars” character: Darth Bader
Best Stoner Flick: Harold & Kumar Go to White Mountcastle
1980 Olympic Venue: Lake Placido
Delicious fungi: Morel Mushrooms
Second worst Sly Stallone movie: Judge Dredd
Best Ice Cream Flavor: Minter Chocolate Chip
Iconic “Scarface” line: Seiya hello to my little friend
Worst Halloween Candy: Yandy Corn
Closely related to Jellyfish: Manoah War
Epic Russell Crowe movie: Vladiator
Most Sung Dean Martin song: Matz Amore
Overplayed Styx song: Come Avisail Away
Cost of gas: $3.69 per Gallen
Creepy thing to say on a date: You Snell So Good
Best line in “Dirty Harry”: Verdugo ahead, make my day
Best Biker Movie: Easy Strider
Annoying Meghan Trainor song: All About That Clase