Mariah Carey –- whose music is never far from my stereo, or my heart –- once sang something like, "And then a hero comes allllonnnngggg/Gives you strength to carry onnnnn/In the end you know it's trooooooo/That your hero lies in the last five rounds of your rotisserie draft, when ace and idjit alike are snapping up the roto equivalent of penny stocks."
|Yes, Jonathan Papelbon, your bullpen stint should be nearing its end. (Getty Images)|
So as an up-with-people counterpart to last week's listing of 2006's biggest Fantasy donkeys, here are the 2006 Late-Round Heroes. Next week ... I dunno. Maybe the guys who almost precisely met expectations? I'll get back to you on that.
Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
Résumé: In most leagues, he was drafted in the later rounds, usually as a hedge against Keith Foulke's post-2004 achy-breaky back and shoulder and elbow and heaven knows what else. Worst-case scenario, most figured, Young Jonathan would win a few of games at the back of the then-deep rotation. But 30-plus saves with a sub-1.00 ERA and WHIP and a .158 batting average against, plus a Terminator-like countenance on the hill? Boston fans who own him in roto have had to see priapism specialists to rid themselves of their perpetual Papelboners.
Chance of repeat: Almost nil, unless the team bows to the unhinged members of Red Sox Nation and abandons plans to move him into the rotation. You could attempt to explain to them how 225 above-average innings as a starter would help the team more than 75 elite ones as a closer ("225 is more than 75, friend!"), but freedom-hatingly liberal Massachusetts has replaced mathematics with environmental studies in its few non-prep schools.
Bill Hall, Milwaukee Brewers
Résumé: Every time I gaze upon his lofty numbers -- 81 runs scored, 30 dingers, 72 RBIs -- a single word immediately comes to mind: "typo." He qualifies for roto purposes at second, third and shortstop, playing none especially well; his best defensive position might be shooting guard.
Chance of repeat: Lotsa red flags here, notably the 14 errors (hello, late-inning defensive replacements) and the 132 strikeouts in 436 at-bats. Send him a-packin', but with enough bottled water and beef jerky to sustain him during his travels. We're not savages, you know.
Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins
Résumé: After years of getting less action than the stathead shut-ins who named their cats and PowerBooks after him, Morneau announced his presence in glass-shattering decibels: .319/32/110, with nearly all his production coming from May onward. In both of my mixed leagues, owners dropped him early in the season. The lesson, as always: Other people are stupid.
Chance of repeat: Next year. The one after that. The one after the one after that. He shall be the roto air that you breathe, the roto water that you drink. For what it's worth, he is 18 months younger than Ryan Howard.