Fantasy Baseball: Handing out awards for 2019, including most valuable pitcher and hitter

Another Fantasy Baseball season is in the books, but some of us are unwilling to leave it behind just yet.

We could make like the Game of Thrones crowd and respond with the indignation of a jilted lover, provoked by its mere mention into fits of fury and an accounting of grievances. Or we could commemorate it with some awards.

I choose the fun option.

And indeed, these are mostly meant to be fun. You won't see the BBWAA adopting them anytime soon, and in fact, most of them wouldn't be year-to-year staples for me either. I'm sort of like Michael Scott at the Dundies, already knowing who I want to recognize and then figuring out what I can recognize them for (but something more suitable than "longest engagement" or "whitest sneakers").

Hey look, I'm only four graphs in and have already met my quota for TV references. Better get to it, then.

Most Impactful Player (tie)
HOU Houston • #35 • Age: 36
2019 Stats
INN
223.0
W
21
K
300
ERA
2.58
WHIP
0.80
HOU Houston • #45 • Age: 29
2019 Stats
INN
212.1
W
20
K
326
ERA
2.50
WHIP
0.89
These two were far and away the most productive pitchers in a year so skewed toward hitting that high-end pitching was the only true currency. Shame only one can get a Cy Young for it.
Most Valuable Hitter
ARI Arizona • #4 • Age: 26
2019 Stats
AVG
0.329
HR
32
R
97
RBI
92
SB
10
SO
86
While some may have predicted a breakout, no one thought he had the power to hit 30 homers or the upside to be the top second baseman.
Most Valuable Pitcher
CLE Cleveland • #57 • Age: 24
2019 Stats
INN
214.1
W
15
K
259
ERA
3.28
WHIP
1.05
Piling up innings and strikeouts, Bieber was the most consistent of aces apart from Verlander and Cole, yet he was drafted with the likes of Chris Archer and Nathan Eovaldi.
Most Improved Hitter
OAK Oakland • #10 • Age: 29
2019 Stats
AVG
0.285
HR
33
R
123
RBI
92
SB
10
SO
102
Ketel Marte got the more prestigious award, but Semien similarly ascended from fringe mixed-leaguer to MVP candidate, beginning the year hot and ending it even hotter.
Most Improved Pitcher
CHW Chi. White Sox • #27 • Age: 25
2019 Stats
INN
176.2
W
14
K
228
ERA
3.41
WHIP
1.06
Though once considered the game's top pitching prospect, Giolito's 6.13 ERA last year was, to many, the last straw, and it's not like he was a popular breakout pick coming in.
Most Improved, Midseason Edition
CHC Chi. Cubs • #11 • Age: 33
2019 Stats
INN
178.2
W
6
K
229
ERA
3.98
WHIP
1.10
It was easy to write him off after he lost most of 2018 to injury, but once he got full command of his arsenal back, he was overpowering hitters like in his prime, compiling a 2.76 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 13.0 K/9 in his final 13 starts. Jack Flaherty would have been another worthy candidate here.
Bobby Big Bat Award
KC Kansas City • #12 • Age: 27
2019 Stats
AVG
0.265
HR
48
R
95
RBI
117
SB
3
SO
178
Awarded to a player who makes a significant power contribution for a small investment, Jorge Soler finally made good on some six-year-old prospect hype, setting the Royals home run record by 12 and leading the AL with 48.
Freddie Fleet Foot Award
ATL Atlanta • #13 • Age: 21
2019 Stats
AVG
0.280
HR
41
R
127
RBI
101
SB
37
SO
188
There wasn't anyone who made a significant steals contribution for a small investment, really, so I'll go with the player who exceeded our wildest expectations for steals. It again took a move to the leadoff spot for Acuna to showcase that particular skill, but once he did, he ran wild.
Best Call (by me)
NYM N.Y. Mets • #20 • Age: 24
2019 Stats
AVG
0.260
HR
53
R
103
RBI
120
SB
1
SO
183
It took until spring training (when it became apparent he was ready and the Mets were holding open the door for him) for me to hype Alonso hot and heavy, and at that point, I tried to make the nickname "Pete the Bat" catch on. It didn't.
Worst Call (by me)
CIN Cincinnati • #33 • Age: 26
2019 Stats
AVG
0.269
HR
16
R
51
RBI
38
AB
338
SO
60
Though I should point out I wasn't entirely wrong in calling him Joey Votto lite.
Thanks for making everyone look good
CLE Cleveland • #57 • Age: 24
2019 Stats
INN
214.1
W
15
K
259
ERA
3.28
WHIP
1.05
Our first dual award winner was perhaps the trendiest breakout pick among starting pitchers and yet still turned out to be a value pick at a position with so few of them.
Thanks for making everyone look bad
MIL Milwaukee • #22 • Age: 27
2019 Stats
AVG
0.329
HR
44
R
100
RBI
97
SB
30
SO
118
"Yeah, Christian Yelich was a deserving MVP, but with his batted-ball profile, there's no way he's hitting 36 home runs again." I mean, some weren't even picking him in the first round.
Biggest Underachiever
ATL Atlanta • #54 • Age: 25
2019 Stats
INN
165.2
W
17
K
173
ERA
4.02
WHIP
1.33
How can someone who so completely exceeded expectations be an underachiever? Turns out Fried considerably underperformed his 3.32 xFIP.
Biggest Overachiever
ARI Arizona • #5 • Age: 30
2019 Stats
AVG
0.269
HR
35
R
94
RBI
118
SB
5
SO
130
Escobar's xwOBA was .321 for a second straight year, and yet he hit 12 more homers this time around.
Most Perplexing Pronunciation
HOU Houston • #44 • Age: 22
2019 Stats
AVG
0.313
HR
27
R
58
RBI
78
AB
313
SO
94
The Y is purportedly pronounced like a J, making him Jordan Alvarez, at least phonetically. We handled the reverse well enough -- the J as a Y, as in Johan Santana -- so why, from Astros broadcasters to manager A.J. Hinch to Adam Aizer and myself, do we continue to get this one wrong?
The I Can Spell It Now Award
SF San Francisco • #5 • Age: 29
2019 Stats
AVG
0.272
HR
21
R
64
RBI
55
AB
371
SO
107
Bonus: He's the grandson of an all-timer, whose name I can now also spell despite his not-at-all-helpful nickname of Yaz.
Biggest Prospect Payoff
HOU Houston • #44 • Age: 22
2019 Stats
AVG
0.313
HR
27
R
58
RBI
78
AB
313
SO
94
Another dual award winner, Yordan Alvarez jumped to the top of prospect stash lists with a monstrous April in Triple-A and ended up being the eighth-best hitter in Head-to-Head points per game from the time he got the call.
Biggest Prospect Tease
OAK Oakland • #44 • Age: 22
2019 Stats
INN
12.0
W
0
K
16
ERA
1.50
WHIP
0.67
He would have made the team out of spring training if not for a strained rotator cuff and would joined it in June if not for a strained lat. In the end, Luzardo didn't make a single big-league start but looked good in six relief appearances.
The Everyone Is Dumb Award
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #26 • Age: 31
2019 Stats
AVG
0.327
HR
26
R
109
RBI
102
SB
5
SO
90
The only question surrounding him this spring was how badly his numbers would suffer out of Colorado, so of course he was the best he's ever been, emerging as a viable MVP candidate.
The Go Away Award
COL Colorado • #20 • Age: 34
2019 Stats
AVG
0.255
HR
20
R
64
RBI
65
SB
3
SO
119
By the looks of September, the Rockies will need to find spots for both Garrett Hampson and Sam Hilliard in 2020, which means they're running out of excuses for running Ian Desmond's ill-advised contract out there time and time again. And Daniel Murphy has become an obstacle in his own right.
The Guy Fantasy Footballers Won't See Coming
STL St. Louis • #19 • Age: 24
2019 Stats
AVG
0.304
HR
11
R
59
RBI
36
SB
15
AB
326
He started filling in for an injured Matt Carpenter in July, but it was in September that Edman began to make something of himself, hitting .304 with what would translate to about 20 homers and 30 steals over a full season.
Worst Injury
SEA Seattle • #17 • Age: 28
2019 Stats
AVG
0.220
HR
15
R
46
RBI
32
AB
246
SO
81
The guy ruptured a testicle, which is not soft tissue, so you can just imagine the force of the impact to an area where merely a graze will double you over in pain.
Mr. It's Not As Bad As It Looks
BOS Boston • #41 • Age: 30
2019 Stats
INN
147.1
W
6
K
218
ERA
4.40
WHIP
1.09
Just look at the peripherals. He would have trailed only Gerrit Cole in K/9 and only Cole and Max Scherzer in xFIP if he had the innings to qualify.
The Bionic Man
MIN Minnesota • #23 • Age: 39
2019 Stats
AVG
0.311
HR
41
R
81
RBI
108
AB
454
SO
131
That he put up the numbers he did at age 39 is miraculous enough, but when you consider he tore a ligament in his wrist in mid-August and still went on to hit .351 (46 for 131) with nine homers the rest of the way, it's reasonable to start asking if he's more machine now than man.
The Streaking Comet Award
CIN Cincinnati • #44 • Age: 25
2019 Stats
AVG
0.259
HR
19
R
31
RBI
47
SB
7
AB
205
You probably hadn't heard of Aristides Aquino before he hit 11 homers in his first two weeks on the job, and then you couldn't stop hearing about him. And then you didn't hear any more about him. He hit just .227 with eight homers over the final seven weeks, and ... really, who knows what comes next?
The 'Yes, He Was a Thing' Award
LAA L.A. Angels • #9 • Age: 30
2019 Stats
AVG
0.295
HR
16
R
49
RBI
44
AB
292
SO
28
All those early-season debates over whether a 30-year-old contact hitter could emerge as a viable home run source in today's environment came to an abrupt halt when La Stella fractured his tibia in late July, and seeing as he didn't return until the second-to-last day of the season, it's as hazy a memory as whatever you dreamed last night.
Mr. Thanks For The Memories
STL St. Louis • #13 • Age: 33
2019 Stats
AVG
0.226
HR
15
R
59
RBI
46
AB
416
SO
129
He's 33, again struggled with injuries, and just saw his strikeout rate increase, his walk rate decrease and all of his "expected" stats take a significant hit. By season's end, his relatively healthy version was sitting in favor of Tommy Edman. Yup, he gone.
Mr. Look Who Finally Decided To Show Up
COL Colorado • #1 • Age: 25
2019 Stats
AVG
0.247
HR
8
R
40
RBI
27
SB
15
AB
299
The preseason hype machine hit .343 (24 for 70) with five homers and seven steals over the final 2 1/2 weeks, which was about 6 1/2 weeks too late to do anybody any good. But it'll re-energize the hype machine heading into next year, whether or not he has a starting job to start out.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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