With the season winding down I'm going to scrap my usual format and take a look at how the players I discussed back in February did. Going back to the first two columns, I had a mixed bag of results but I think the good outweighed the bad. As you start to read, don't worry, I'll get off my high horse soon enough.
Here are the two columns:
Matt Joyce, OF, TB - Owners have likely forgotten that at one point, Joyce was hitting .377 in mid-May. He went on to struggle during June (.173 BA) and July (.184 BA) before rebounding in August (.282) and September (.288). I suggested in the article that you take him as your fifth outfielder and I can't think you can complain about an 18-home run and 13-stolen base campaign.
J.J. Hardy, SS, BAL - As I pointed on in that very first column, Hardy had two issues last season - his health and Target Field. While his .264 average is nothing special, the 29 home runs are second to only Troy Tulowitzki for the position. Hardy doesn't run but should be a good source of power again next season if you address speed at other positions.
Justin Masterson, P, CLE - I often look at the second-half numbers of a pitcher to evaluate what I think they'll do the following season. That's exactly what I did with Masterson who proved that the end of the 2010 season wasn't a fluke. Masterson now has 12 wins, a 3.21 ERA with a 1.278 WHIP and came at virtually no cost or a late round pick during drafts. 158 strikeouts are nothing to sneeze at and there's a good chance we haven't seen the best from him yet.
Danny Espinosa, 2B, WAS - The batting average will probably always be an issue but there's no denying Espinosa was a nice value late in drafts. I suggested he could go 20/20 this season and while he won't, a 21/14 season isn't too bad considering his low cost. Unfortunately his strikeout rate didn't improve as the season went on but he has line drive rate of at least 19.0% each of the last three months, something he didn't accomplish in any of the first three months. Look at him as a Rickie Weeks-lite option for next season.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF - The Panda has rebounded nicely from a poor 2010 season, swatting 23 home runs and batting north of .300. Unfortunately with the Giants inability to get runners on ahead of him, he's only managed 70 RBI until this point. Sandoval has the highest batting average for the position (.315) and his 23 home runs rank him fifth for the position. If he actually stays healthy for a full season, he could approach 30 home runs next year.
Joel Hanrahan, P, PIT - Hanrahan took the closer's job and ran with it. He sits right now with a tidy 1.86 ERA with a 1.050 WHIP and 39 saves. However, he's got some strange stats attached to those numbers. His strikeout rate has dropped by almost 5.0 K/9 while he's only given up one home run over 67.2 innings. Basically, he's gotten a little lucky with the HR/FB rate (1.9) which explains how his ERA is so low with the drop in Ks. His BABIP is also 40 lower than last season, further helping his ERA. He'll still be a solid closing option next season, just expect an ERA more around 3.00.
Jose Reyes, SS, NYM - I really thought Reyes would have hit for a little more power and eclipse 50 stolen bases, so I couldn't really call this one any type of victory. However, Reyes is leading the position in batting average by over 20 points, is second for stolen bases and is first in runs. Not too bad considering he was a third or fourth round pick in most leagues. Health is always going to be an issue with Reyes but I also think there's some power upside here too. Don't forget Reyes has had two seasons of at least 16 home runs and is capable of stealing 60-plus bases. Where he lands in the offseason could greatly affect his value, especially if he ends up in a more hitter-friendly environment.
Alcides Escobar, SS, KC - I suggested that the floor for Escobar would be 20 steals and he's easily surpassed that number with 25 steals. While he's raised his batting average 17 points, it's been somewhat negated by a decrease in his walk rate. The problem is Escobar does little else; four home runs, 45 RBI and 68 runs are not going to carry you to a fantasy title. However, keep in mind he's only 24 and could develop a power stroke over the next few seasons.
Dismounting from high horse ...
The Bad and Ugly:
Adam Dunn, DH, CHI - I wonder if this offseason we'll find out something was going Dunn who was one of the bigger fantasy disappointments this year. We've seen players have "off" seasons while they were going through divorce or had a close family member dealing with a serious illness. Could something along those lines explain the down season for Dunn? Or was it a tough adjustment becoming the DH and not playing the field? Whatever the reason, he'll be a high risk/reward pick for owners next season.
Brian Matusz, P, BAL - Matusz was following a similar path as Justin Masterson as far as having success over the second half of 2010. Unfortunately, an early season back injury cost him some time and he's never quite gotten himself back on track. One of the problems has been his velocity as his fastball has been working two miles an hour slower than last season (89 mph to 87 mph). Chances are he'll need a strong spring next year if he wants to claim a spot in the rotation.
Jonathan Broxton, P, LA - Broxton came at a cheaper price than most closers but still was a bust after racking up only seven saves. A balky elbow cost him almost the whole season and he'll likely be calling somewhere other than Los Angeles home next season. Look for him to end up in some type of set-up/middle relief role until he can prove he's healthy and effective again.
Manny Ramirez, OF, TB - This one was a complete bust but again, he came at a very cheap price. There was no way of knowing he was trying to get pregnant, testing positive for a women's fertility drug. Manny has since said he plans to come out of retirement, plans to serve his suspension and return to MLB or Japan. Stay tuned.
Grady Sizemore, OF, CLE - Quick, how many home runs did Sizemore hit this season? Was I the only one to be surprised that he's got 10 despite missing most of the season due to a knee injury and a sport hernia? The good news here is he's another player that didn't cost too much and outside of AL-only formats it was probably pretty easy to find a suitable replacement on the waiver wire. Given his injury history it's always going to be a gamble to draft Sizemore, despite the fact he's only 28-years-old.
That's it for me this season; I hope you enjoyed reading my column. You can look for me to start back up next February when pitchers and catchers start to report.