Fantasy Baseball: Top hitter, top pitcher, top rookie and other awards for 2016

Still checking your Fantasy Baseball league, huh?

Force of habit, I know. It's a daily fixation six months of every year, so by now, you're probably wondering what to do with yourself.

While I still have your attention, though, I thought we could revel in what we just experienced by handing out some hardware -- the virtual kind.

These awards are a first for me, so a certain level of idiocy is to be expected. I mean, if the BBWAA can't even get it right ...

Most Valuable Hitter

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Jean Segura PHI • 2B/SS • 2
2016 season
BA.319
HR20
SB33
R102
OPS.867

Let's talk about "value," because in real life, we can't seem to agree on what it means. In Fantasy, though, the application is pretty clear: production relative to cost.

Jean Segura was an afterthought on Draft Day, a good three seasons removed from his only real flashes of potential. The only reason you might have drafted him is if you had an open middle infield spot and a dire need for stolen bases late in a Rotisserie league. So having him perform as not just a must-start shortstop, but the tip-top option -- ahead of even Manny Machado, a first-rounder in every sense of the word -- is the kind of windfall that wins championships.

He may not have been the absolute best hitter in Fantasy, but he was the best no one saw coming.

Least Valuable Hitter

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Giancarlo Stanton NYY • OF • 27
2016 season
BA.240
HR27
RBI74
OPS.815
AB413

Several candidates for this award, of course, from Andrew McCutchen to Jose Abreu to Kyle Schwarber to A.J. Pollock. But McCutchen and Abreu at least righted the ship late, and Schwarber and Pollock got hurt so early that it's unfair to hold it against them. So I'm going with Giancarlo Stanton, who not only suffered a season-condemning injury (a Grade 3 groin strain) but was so bad in the 4 1/2 months leading up to it that he might have deserved this award anyway.

His per-game production trailed players like Kevin Kiermaier, Ender Inciarte and Matt Holliday in Head-to-Head leagues, and from what was an undisputed first-rounder -- a longstanding one at that -- that's inexcusable.

Most Valuable Pitcher

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Rick Porcello BOS • SP • 22
2016 season
W-L22-4
ERA3.15
WHIP1.01
IP223
K189

Maybe he'll go on to win the AL Cy Young award. Maybe he won't. But clearly, Porcello was the miracle starting pitcher of 2016, a year when seemingly nothing went right at the position.

Some Fantasy analysts, including our own Heath Cummings, were hot on his trail this spring, correctly identifying him as a sleeper, but nobody predicted he'd be the second-best pitcher in Head-to-Head leagues and the fifth-best in Rotisserie. Of course, nobody predicted he'd win 22 games either, and it's no secret wins are a poor indicator of pitching prowess. But they're still worth bunches of points in Fantasy Baseball, and nobody accumulated them like Porcello.

And let's give the guy a break: He had the 15th-best ERA, the fourth-best WHIP, the sixth-most innings and the 16th-most strikeouts of any pitcher this year. It wasn't all luck.

Least Valuable Pitcher

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Zack Greinke ARI • SP • 21
2016 season
W-L13-7
ERA4.37
WHIP1.27
IP158 2/3
K134

Again, candidates aplenty here. Matt Harvey never really got off the ground and then needed thoracic outlet surgery. Dallas Keuchel finally ran out of pixie dust. Felix Hernandez, Gerrit Cole and Sonny Gray all faded into oblivion. But the way Zack Greinke's disaster of a season unfolded made it particularly devastating.

First of all, Greinke was the most highly regarded of those pitchers coming into the season, having nearly won a Cy Young with the best ERA any pitcher has put together in 20 years. His first few starts were disastrous, but then he rebounded with a strong two-month stretch, giving you every reason to hold out for him during his month-long absence for an oblique injury. So, of course, when he returned, he bludgeoned you over and over and over again, to the tune of a 6.02 ERA.

While those other pitchers gave their owners a chance to regroup, Greinke's return was the coup de grace for many of his owners. That's the antithesis of value.

Most Valuable Rookie

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Gary Sanchez NYY • C • 24
2016 season
BA.299
HR20
OPS1.032
AB201
K57

Sure, Gary Sanchez wasn't as good as Corey Seager, but let's not lose sight of the exercise here. Seager was supposed to be good -- he went in the sixth round on average -- and though you could argue the young shortstop outperformed that price tag by a small margin, Sanchez was almost universally unowned as late as the All-Star break.

What he provided upon getting the call in August was the stuff of legends. Only nine catchers reached the 20-home mark this season. He did it in one-third of the season. His per-game production was in a different stratosphere at the one position where, in a standard mixed league, there legitimately weren't enough respectable options to go around.

And considering he did it all at the most critical point in the season, it's fair to say he made some owners' season. Speaking as one, how could I possibly deny him this honor?

Bobby Big Bat Award

(This honor goes to the player who made the biggest power impact at the lowest cost.)

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Mark Trumbo BAL • 1B/OF • 45
2016 season
BA.256
HR47
RBI108
OPS.850
K170

There were reasons to like Mark Trumbo coming into the season. He was joining the Orioles, a team with a track record (think Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz) of reeling in wayward power hitters, and he had shown signs of developing into a more complete hitter during two injury-plagued seasons, cutting down on his strikeout rate.

It all sounded good, but few actually believed it, as evidenced by his average draft position in both Rotisserie (Round 15) and Head-to-Head (Round 16) leagues.

So for him to not only recapture his 30-homer days with the Angels but ultimately exceed them with a major league-leading 47 bombs, well, he was obviously a clutch pick. Not even .214 batting average in the second half could dampen that kind of power production.

Freddie Fleet Foot Award

(This honor goes to the player who made the biggest speed impact at the lowest cost.)

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Jonathan Villar BAL • 2B/3B/SS • 2
2016 season
BA.285
HR19
SB62
BB79
K174

An honorable mention in the Most Valuable Hitter discussion given that he was even less drafted than Segura, Jonathan Villar ended up leading the majors with 62 stolen bases, which actually understates the accomplishment. Only eight players in all of baseball contributed even half as many.

In fact, stolen bases were so scarce that in Rotisserie leagues, where they're not just a nice bonus but a necessity, Villar was actually the No. 1 shortstop, just ahead of Segura (who himself was a worthy contributor in the category). And while stolen bases are all this award is intended to recognize, the fact that Villar hit 19 home runs and drew 79 walks only added to his appeal, turning him from Astros castoff to Fantasy mainstay to likely early-round pick next year.

Mr. Versatility

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Jose Ramirez CLE • 2B/3B/SS/OF • 11
2016 season
BA.312
HR11
2B46
SB22
K62

Other players finished 2016 with quadruple, or even quintuple, eligibility, but Ramirez picked up his so early that he became an instrumental cog in championship lineups by about the start of June. And that's as an 11-homer guy in a year when everybody who was anybody hit 20.

Granted, his versatility wasn't the only thing keeping him in Fantasy lineups. His across-the-board production made him the 41st-best hitter in Head-to-Head points leagues and the 47th-best in Rotisserie. He's what Martin Prado was to Fantasy owners about five years ago -- jack of all trades, master of none -- and may find himself getting drafted in the first 10 rounds even as just a third baseman/outfielder to begin next year.

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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