With the season finished, we can finally look back at the big picture.
I sit here watching Shohei Ohtani pitch for the final start of the season and think back on the journey. We witnessed amazing things. Ohtani has done something no one has ever done, again. Is it any less amazing when someone maintains the same amazement (or adds to it)? He’s now become the first player ever to fully qualify as both a pitcher and a hitter in a season; but also doing both at an elite level. He finished with an ERA at 2.33 and 219 Ks while hitting 34 HR, 95 RBI, and a .273 AVG. Then there’s Aaron Judge’s prolific offensive season of 62 HR and 131 RBI that Yankee apologists treat like it’s the best there ever was ignoring Barry Bonds’ 2004 season that featured a 1.422 OPS in which he was intentionally walked 120 times, or his 2001 73 HR season in which he posted an 11.9 WAR. Was Judge amazing? Yes, outstanding, maybe one of the top 10 seasons for a hitter ever, but let’s not go all Roger Maris Jr and cherry-pick historic value.
I digress, as much fun as this season has been to watch, it has been a rough year for my family. Sadly, one I haven’t been able to enjoy with my father as in years past who cultivated my love of baseball. Not only the gift of baseball, but he also inspired in me integrity and authenticity. I do my best to practice this in my life and much like last year and earlier this season, I will continue to do it now. I’m challenged to take full ownership of my wins and losses. Especially the losses. Nothing is someone else’s fault. Variance and regression are part of the process still, just ask Miles Mikolas!
I am responsible for all my takes, and all my taeks. Whether they are good or bad… I am responsible. I am a capable and willful person that can tilt the scale; if I fail, I need to learn from it and better myself. If I succeed, I need to learn from it and replicate it. Let’s review all the deep dives from the preseason through the end of April. If you want to reflect on a post I made after that you are welcome to bring it to bear in the comments. Here. We. Go.
Since I’m a delicate flower, I want to talk about the positives first. Feel free to leave me glowing praise in the comments about how awesome my deep dives are, and that they have been an indispensable resource for you to smite your foes and lead you onward to victory.
Nestor Cortes Jr. – Where to begin other than where my season began, the first deep dive in January, I gave you my Nestor Cortes fantasy for the season. The magician went on to mystify the crowds with his bag of tricks on the way to a SP1 season. My takeaway from the post, “I don’t expect him to total much more than 140 IP; but with that, I think a 3.65 ERA with a high 9 K/9 is reachable. There’s some magic in that Yankees hat of his that the projection systems can’t quite project. He is a wizard after all. Because everyone knows wizards wear hats; there’s no mystery in that.” He certainly blew past my projections even though they were already bullish compared to the field. Final numbers: 12-4, 158.1 IP, 2.44 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 9.3 K/9. That’ll do. And that improved from his midseason line of 2.63/1.00. He was the pitcher I think I wanted everywhere, and hopefully, you did too.
Frankie Montas – A tail of 2 halves. For the first half, Montas pitched brilliantly sporting a 3.18 ERA and 109 Ks at the break. That’s a win when you look to see prior to the trade/injury all the true skill ERA numbers gave him a 3.41 or lower and he accrued a 19.1% K-BB rate. After the trade/injury, the wheels fell off and his SIERA ballooned to 4.53 and K-BB dropped to 9.7%. Fear not though, as Grey and I both warned you of our concern about the injury at the deadline. Back then I said “Second-half concerns? Remains to be seen. You know the A’s are going to do everything they can to make sure he’s healthy long enough to trade him. So far reports say his shoulder is healing normally, but to say I’m not a little concerned would be lying.” Full Frankie breakdown here. Final numbers: 5-12, 144.1 IP, 4.05 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9.
Jon Gray – As I mentioned in the midseason post, his season started out quite rough. As of the end of May he had a 5.56 ERA. Ouch. However, once his health improved and he settled into the season, his fortune improved. From June 1st on, Gray went on to compile a 3.38 ERA, 1.06 WHIP with a 27.1% K-rate (which he showed in the second half of 2021). That is the Gray we were hoping to get that I outlined in my Jon Gray fantasy. My takeaway from the post, “Right now Gray’s current ADP is 261 in NFBC and I’ve already taken him around there on a couple of teams. I expect Jon to deliver a solid 150 innings of close to 3.70 ERA pitching with solid 9+ K/9.” His health prevented him from reaching the 150 IP but the rest was what you’d paid for. If not for that unlucky beating in Seattle on 8/29 he would have hit the ERA mark too. Final numbers: 7-7, 127.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9.
Eric Lauer – Lauer came out of the gate on fire this year. For the first 2 months, he posted a 2.49 ERA and 10.8 K/9. Lauer looked to have taken a step forward at the end of 2021 and then appeared to show a bump in velocity at the beginning of 2022. The takeaway from my Eric Lauer fantasy, “I’d keep an eye on him and possibly stream for weaker matchups, and in deeper leagues, he might be worth a speculative add in case he turns into something. There’s potential for a 3.65 ERA and 8.5-9 K/9 with a reasonable 1.10ish WHIP that could curb your ratios.” The Brewers know how to develop pitchers much like the Dodgers and Rays, and I was intrigued adding where I could that I hadn’t already drafted him. He did not disappoint, hitting nearly all my marks except WHIP which unraveled a bit in the second half. Final numbers: 11-7, 158.2 IP, 3.69 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.9 K/9.
Anthony Santander – Talk about a breakout. Totally makes up for my Suzuki post right? *high five* Santander showed up in a big way this season. After a breakout season in 2019 that saw him hit 20 HR in 93 games, he followed with 11 HR in the short 2020 season. Then last year was rough, largely driven by a low BABIP vs RHP. I gave you my late-round outfielders fantasy where I said “Santander will likely be hitting in the middle of the Orioles’ lineup this year, so volume and opportunity will definitely be in his favor. As a switch-hitter with more pull power on the left side, the Camden Cavern changes in left field will have less of an impact on him compared to teammates like Ryan Mountcastle.” Which proved to be true. And most importantly, Santander’s flyball rate returned to his previous high of 49.6% and converted 14.7% of those to HRs, which seems very repeatable given his 11.5% barrel rate. THIS must be his real breakout season and his first full one at that. Final numbers: 76/33/89/0/.243 in 568 ABs.
Trevor Rogers – After a breakout 2021 season, Rogers had a very up-and-down season with more downs than ups. Early on I pointed out that his release point was off on all his pitches and it looked like he was tipping his fastball. And it took him nearly the whole season to correct the issue that I covered in my Trevor Rogers fantasy. My advice then was, “Would I trade him? Depending on what I could get for him, it couldn’t hurt to explore options, especially after this last game in which he may have gained back some of his perceived value from last year prior to the next shelling.” And oh did they come. He never found consistency this season and even had a stay on the IL before ultimately being shut down for the year in mid-September. Final numbers: 4-11, 107.0 IP, 5.47 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8.9 K/9.
Hunter Renfroe – Maybe this is a half-win (tell me what you think below)? It worked out better for you in some ways than Lourdes, didn’t really lose anything. My Hunter Renfroe fantasy can be found here. Packaged with the lower counting stat totals due to his missed time and my comparison to Schwarber in the drafts, you could have had those 45 home runs instead of Renfroe’s 29. For that reason, we’ll take a half-L on him even though he didn’t “hurt” you. Had he played the full schedule we might be looking at it differently. I had hoped he’d be the one to surpass 40 HR and he might have given a full season. All his metric stats point to him being exactly the same hitter he was last year despite moving from Fenway to American Family Field (Brewers stadium, yeah I had to look up the new name too). Final numbers: 62/29/72/0/.255 in 474 ABs.
Ugh, now for the less glamorous part of our story. Time to take my lumps as part of this extreme ownership exercise. Please be nice in the comments below and tell me everything will work out in the end.
Seiya Suzuki – After a blazing hot start in April that saw him hit 4 HR in the first 10 games, Suzuki then went on a long drought that bled into July and a hand injury kept him on the shelf for all of June. The power didn’t really show up this year like we were hoping. That said, an 11.1% barrel rate is encouraging for next year. This spring in my Seiya Suzuki fantasy I said, “The plate discipline coupled with the high OBP and low-K approach I think will translate well. I see him producing a line similar to 21/5/.281 with a chance for more in HRs and AVG” Yikes. Well, that didn’t happen. He displayed a bit more speed than I expected as he proved more opportunistic, which is nice. But it translated the same as I expected since he was caught 5/16 times. The real shocker in all this is that his BB% and K% both suffered more than I expected, likely in part to being a righty. A silver lining for next year though (I did say my sleeper post might be a season early) is for September he slashed .294/.360/.515 with 4 HR. Final numbers: 54/14/46/9/.264 in 394 ABs.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Some might consider him a win since he lowered his K% and hit nearly .300 for the season. But to me, it feels like a loss since he only hit 5 home runs in the entire season. LOL. Five home runs!? You gotta be kidding me bro. Sure enough, despite making a lot of contact Gurriel’s barrel rate bottomed out to 3.8% which resulted in a lowly 4.2% HR/FB rate. I didn’t even think that was possible for a major leaguer. It’s like the MonStars sucked out all his talent and he forgot how to barrel up a baseball. In my Lourdes Gurriel fantasy I said, “Currently, his NFBC ADP is around 142, which seems rather wild to me. He’s going to be in a stacked lineup that will score runs and he’s got 20+ home run power with a handful of steals and a .270 AVG, doesn’t hurt you anywhere.” Oof. He didn’t hurt anywhere except for power and boy did it sting since he didn’t steal many bases like Kwan. What’s more is that he went in the range you probably could have planned to take Schwarber who hit 40 more HRs than him. Final numbers: 52/5/52/3/.291 in 453 ABs.
Yoshi Tsutsugo – He never clicked this season. Whatever it was that he found with the Pirates last year was lost. His barrel rate evaporated and he hit too many groundballs. As I said midseason, I should have known better than to believe that the Pirates actually fixed someone that the Rays couldn’t. Silly me! Final numbers: 11/2/19/0/.171 in 170 ABs.
Nick Martinez – Nick hasn’t quite lived up to the lottery ticket expectations as a starting pitcher that I had for a fantasy sleeper. In 52.1 IP starting, he had a 4.30 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and an 8 K/9. Not really lighting up the stat sheet. The main problem he had was walks in the form of a 4.64 BB/9 as a starter (something he didn’t struggle with in Japan or with Team USA) and getting blasted on his fastball. In the first half, opponents hit .388 vs his fastball and .333 against his cutter. Despite the velocity bump north of the 93 mph threshold, he was still getting hit in hitters’ counts. He found his command again once he moved to the bullpen, posting a 2.33 BB/9 and holding down a 2.67 ERA in 54 IP out of the pen with an 8 K/9. Final numbers: 4-4, 106.1 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and 8 SV.
The Injured – A Look At Chaos
Crap with an asterisk? Crap*. That’d make an interesting band name right? It would kind of grow with the band, from being humorously self-deprecating (or defecating) to ironically reductive of metalinguistic awareness (look mom! I know words). Injuries are an interesting gray area. To a certain degree, we can’t predict injuries as they are a function of chaos. Chaos is inherent in the system. We know it’s out there but we never truly know where it will appear, only that it will and does. And here it did, not just those injured after giving a decent contribution but those injured beyond valuation.
Kyle Lewis – Never really made it out of the gate this year due to the injuries only playing 18 games and getting 3 HR in that time. What could have been…
Tyler Naquin – Also a victim of missing a large amount of time due to injuries. His K-rate spiked this season back up to 27.9% while his quality of contact regressed some to the mean. Naquin had windows of time where he was useful and rosterable but most of that came with the Reds and shortly after he was traded to the Mets before taking a back seat in the depth chart but never was healthy enough this season to provide consistent starts. Final numbers: 46/11/46/4/.232 in 306 ABs.
Thanks for joining me on this journey of extreme ownership and let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Have a great winter and see you next season.
If you want more Coolwhip to top off your baseball experience, fantasy or otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter: @CoolwhipRB.