Matthew Pouliot

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Fantasy MVPs & LVPs

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


It's the 19th annual edition of the fantasy MVPs and LVPs column. Awards are given to players that most over- or underperformed my preseason projections. So, basically, everyone I was most wrong about. I do, however, tend to give injured players a break when it comes to LVPs

I also have my real MVP/Cy Young/ROY choices below.

The Fantasy Most Valuable Players
 
Catchers
 
MVP - Yadier Molina
Projection: .266/.317/.354, 6 HR, 45 R, 49 RBI, 2 SB in 463 AB
2017 stats: .273/.312/.439, 18 HR, 60 R, 82 RBI, 9 SB in 501 AB

Molina turned 35 in July and has as much mileage on his tires as any catcher his age in major league history, but he turned back the clock offensively, coming up just one homer short of his total from his previous three seasons combined (19 in 1,426 AB from 2014-16). His homer and steal totals were his highest since 2012, and he set a new personal best for RBI. He’s not the overall player he was five years ago, but it’s still incredible he’s displayed this kind of staying power with such a workload.

Honorable Mention - Salvador Perez, Kurt Suzuki, J.T. Realmuto
2016 Winner - Wilson Ramos
2015 Winner - Nick Hundley
2014 Winner - Devin Mesoraco
2013 Winner - Jonathan Lucroy
2012 Winner - Wilin Rosario
2011 Winner - Alex Avila
2010 Winner - Buster Posey
2009 Winner - Joe Mauer
2008 Winner - Ryan Doumit
2007 Winner - Russell Martin
2006 Winner - Brian McCann
2005 Winner - Brandon Inge
2004 Winner - Craig Wilson
2003 Winner - Javy Lopez
2002 Winner - Eli Marrero
2001 Winner - Paul Lo Duca
2000 Winner - Charles Johnson
1999 Winner - Mike Sweeney
 
LVP - Jonathan Lucroy
Projection: .276/.338/.433, 14 HR, 62 R, 65 RBI, 3 SB in 467 AB
2017 stats: .265/.345/.371, 6 HR, 40 R, 46 RBI, 1 SB in 423 AB

When Lucroy claimed LVP honors two years ago, a concussion was to blame. This year, there was no easy explanation for his utter lack of offense. It took a deadline deal to Colorado to give his numbers a hint of respectability; throw out his 79 at-bats at Coors and he had a .241/.304/.334 line in 344 at-bats. It’s not just offense, either; he’s gone from one of the game’s best pitch framers to one of its worst. I’m not going to bet much on him getting it back next year.

Dishonorable Mention - Tom Murphy, Russell Martin, Evan Gattis
2016 LVP - Yan Gomes
2015 LVP - Jonathan Lucroy
2014 LVP - Joe Mauer
2013 LVP - Jesus Montero
2012 LVP - Carlos Santana
2011 LVP - Joe Mauer
2010 LVP - Matt Wieters
2009 LVP - Russell Martin
2008 LVP - Kenji Johjima
2007 LVP - Ramon Hernandez
2006 LVP - Javy Lopez
2005 LVP - Jason Kendall
2004 LVP - Mike Piazza
2003 LVP - Paul Lo Duca
2002 LVP - Charles Johnson
2001 LVP - Jason Kendall
2000 LVP - Michael Barrett
1999 LVP - Todd Hundley

Editor’s Note: FanDuel is hosting the Rotoworld Beat the Writers Series, where you can play against five Rotoworld football writers for your chance at cash prizes and free entry into their Sunday Million. Put your knowledge to the test!

 

First Basemen/Designated Hitters
 
MVP - Cody Bellinger
Projection: .237/.308/.443, 7 HR, 16 R, 20 RBI, 2 SB in 131 AB
2017 stats: .267/.352/.581, 39 HR, 87 R, 97 RBI, 10 SB in 480 AB

Bellinger was merely good, not dominant, as a 20-year-old in Double-A last year and the Dodgers entered the season with Adrian Gonzalez entrenched and a boatload of outfield options, so I wasn’t optimistic that Bellinger would be much of a factor in 2017. 39 homers qualifies as a factor, though. It was the third highest total for a rookie in MLB history, and the third highest total for a player 21 or younger.

Honorable Mention - Ryan Zimmerman, Eric Hosmer, Justin Smoak
2016 Winner - David Ortiz
2015 Winner - Joey Votto
2014 Winner - Victor Martinez
2013 Winner - Chris Davis
2012 Winner - Adam LaRoche
2011 Winner - Mark Trumbo
2010 Winner - Joey Votto
2009 Winner - Kendrys Morales
2008 Winner - Aubrey Huff
2007 Winner - Carlos Pena
2006 Winner - Ryan Howard
2005 Winner - Derrek Lee
2004 Winner - Travis Hafner
2003 Winner - Carlos Delgado
2002 Winner - Derrek Lee
2001 Winner - Ryan Klesko
2000 Winner - Frank Thomas
1999 Winner - John Jaha
 
LVP - Miguel Cabrera
Projection: .306/.389/.534, 32 HR, 89 R, 102 RBI, 0 SB in 566 AB
2017 stats: .249/.329/.399, 16 HR, 50 R, 60 RBI, 0 SB in 469 AB

Troubled by herniated disks in his back, Cabrera finally had a bad season at age 34, finishing with an OPS 150 points lower than his previous low mark in 13 full seasons. From 2004-2016, he had never hit lower than .292 or slugged lower than .512. It’ll be the first time ever that he’s failed to get MVP votes; he even did in his 87-game rookie season in 2003. I’ll project a decent rebound next year, probably something that will put him in the 6-10 range among first basemen.

Dishonorable Mention - Chris Davis, Hanley Ramirez, Tommy Joseph
2016 LVP - Jose Abreu
2015 LVP - Chris Carter
2014 LVP - Chris Davis
2013 LVP - Ike Davis
2012 LVP - Eric Hosmer
2011 LVP - Adam Dunn
2010 LVP - Lance Berkman
2009 LVP - David Ortiz
2008 LVP - Travis Hafner
2007 LVP - Richie Sexson
2006 LVP - Todd Helton
2005 LVP - Todd Helton
2004 LVP - Jason Giambi
2003 LVP - Paul Konerko
2002 LVP - Tony Clark
2001 LVP - Mark McGwire
2000 LVP - Sean Casey
1999 LVP - Darin Erstad
 

Second Basemen
 
MVP - Whit Merrifield
Projection: .262/.313/.392, 5 HR, 33 R, 28 RBI, 8 SB in 260 AB
2017 stats: .288/.324/.460, 19 HR, 80 R, 78 RBI, 34 SB in 587 AB

My original Merrifield projection was more robust and I labeled him as a sleeper for this year, but then the Royals foolishly picked Raul Mondesi as their second baseman and had Merrifield open the season in the minors. Fortunately, Mondesi was so awful that Merrifield had to wait just 13 games for another chance, and he was better than anyone would have expected. The especially big surprise was the 19 homers; he hit two in 311 at-bats as a rookie and he never reached double figures in the minors. In fact, he finished with a .750 OPS just once in seven minor league seasons before coming in at .784 in the majors this year.

Honorable Mention - Jonathan Schoop, Scooter Gennett, Dee Gordon
2016 Winner - Brian Dozier
2015 Winner - Dee Gordon
2014 Winner - Jose Altuve
2013 Winner - Matt Carpenter
2012 Winner - Aaron Hill
2011 Winner - Ben Zobrist
2010 Winner - Rickie Weeks
2009 Winner - Aaron Hill
2008 Winner - Dustin Pedroia
2007 Winner - Brandon Phillips
2006 Winner - Dan Uggla
2005 Winner - Chone Figgins
2004 Winner - Mark Loretta
2003 Winner - Marcus Giles
2002 Winner - Alfonso Soriano
2001 Winner - Bret Boone
2000 Winner - Jose Vidro
1999 Winner - Roberto Alomar
 
LVP - Rougned Odor
Projection: .282/.327/.506, 29 HR, 81 R, 95 RBI, 15 SB in 575 AB
2017 stats: .204/.252/.397, 30 HR, 79 R, 75 RBI, 15 SB in 607 AB

I nailed three categories here. The problem is that Odor’s average was so bad in so many at-bats that it killed his value. Odor hitting .204 was about as damaging to a team’s average as carrying a guy with zero homers all year was in that category. Plus, it’s not like his 30 homers counted for as much as they might have a few years ago. Odor hit .259, .261 and .271 in his first three seasons. My .282 projection was optimistic, but it wasn’t completely out of line for a 23-year-old seemingly on the way up. That he fell so far is rather alarming, but what makes it worse is that he doesn’t even realize his approach is a problem.

Dishonorable Mention - Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter, Jason Kipnis
2016 LVP - Dee Gordon
2015 LVP - Chase Utley
2014 LVP - Jason Kipnis
2013 LVP - Rickie Weeks
2012 LVP - Jemile Weeks
2011 LVP - Chone Figgins
2010 LVP - Aaron Hill
2009 LVP - Kelly Johnson
2008 LVP - Robinson Cano
2007 LVP - Josh Barfield
2006 LVP - Jorge Cantu
2005 LVP - Bret Boone
2004 LVP - Alfonso Soriano
2003 LVP - Roberto Alomar
2002 LVP - Roberto Alomar
2001 LVP - Edgardo Alfonzo
2000 LVP - Jose Offerman
1999 LVP - Delino DeShields
 

Third Basemen
 
MVP - Jose Ramirez
Projection: .278/.335/.460, 12 HR, 78 R, 68 RBI, 20 SB in 550 AB
2017 stats: .318/.374/.583, 29 HR, 107 R, 83 RBI, 17 SB in 585 AB

Ramirez slugged .340 in 2015. He slugged .462 last year. He came in at .583 this year. I watched it happen and can still scarcely believe it. In 2015, his success was partly explained by him playing half of his games in baseball’s secret offensive paradise; he actually had a .694 OPS in road games in his breakthrough campaign (.952 at home). This year… well, he hit 19 homers and slugged .638 on the road. Bryce Harper was the only player in either league to have a higher slugging percentage on the road. The whole thing still makes no real sense to me.

Honorable Mention - Travis Shaw, Marwin Gonzalez, Joey Gallo, Eugenio Suarez
2016 Winner - Adrian Beltre
2015 Winner - Josh Donaldson
2014 Winner - Todd Frazier
2013 Winner - Josh Donaldson
2012 Winner - Chase Headley
2011 Winner - Jose Bautista
2010 Winner - Jose Bautista
2009 Winner - Mark Reynolds
2008 Winner - Jorge Cantu
2007 Winner - Ryan Braun
2006 Winner - Michael Cuddyer
2005 Winner - Morgan Ensberg
2004 Winner - Adrian Beltre
2003 Winner - Bill Mueller
2002 Winner - Aaron Boone
2001 Winner - Albert Pujols
2000 Winner - Troy Glaus
1999 Winner - Fernando Tatis
 
LVP - Kyle Seager
Projection: .275/.353/.488, 28 HR, 87 R, 90 RBI, 5 SB in 578 AB
2017 stats: .249/.323/.450, 27 HR, 72 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 578 AB

There were no huge flops at third base this year, but Seager was a significant disappointment; his average was down 30 points from last year’s .278 mark and his 107 OPS+ was his worst mark in six seasons as a regular. I hope it was an aberration.

Dishonorable Mention - Todd Frazier, Kris Bryant, Maikel Franco, Josh Donaldson
2016 LVP - Maikel Franco
2015 LVP - Carlos Santana
2014 LVP - David Wright
2013 LVP - Pablo Sandoval
2012 LVP - Mark Reynolds
2011 LVP - Pedro Alvarez
2010 LVP - Pablo Sandoval
2009 LVP - Garrett Atkins
2008 LVP - Chone Figgins
2007 LVP - Eric Chavez
2006 LVP - Hank Blalock
2005 LVP - Adrian Beltre
2004 LVP - Eric Hinske
2003 LVP - Edgardo Alfonzo
2002 LVP - Jeff Cirillo
2001 LVP - Tony Batista
2000 LVP - Vinny Castilla
1999 LVP - Ken Caminiti
 

Shortstops
 
MVP - Elvis Andrus
Projection: .282/.336/.401, 10 HR, 73 R, 61 RBI, 22 SB in 553 AB
2017 stats: .297/.337/.471, 20 HR, 100 R, 88 RBI, 25 SB in 643 AB

Andrus once went homerless in a season of 588 at-bats. He hit two homers in 619 at-bats as recently as 2014. He averaged one homer every 132 at-bats in his eight big league seasons before hitting one every 32 this year. He also topped his previous high in doubles by nine by collecting 44. Andrus was also very good in 2016, but that only resulted in eight homers, 75 runs scored and 69 RBI in 147 games. This year, he finished with the same OPS+ (108 to 109), but he had 20 homers, 100 runs scored and 88 RBI in 158 games, making him far, far more valuable for fantasy purposes.

Honorable Mention - Chris Taylor, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Eduardo Nunez
2016 Winner - Jonathan Villar
2015 Winner - Xander Bogaerts
2014 Winner - Dee Gordon
2013 Winner - Jean Segura
2012 Winner - Ian Desmond
2011 Winner - Asdrubal Cabrera
2010 Winner - Omar Infante
2009 Winner - Ben Zobrist
2008 Winner - Mike Aviles
2007 Winner - Hanley Ramirez
2006 Winner - Hanley Ramirez
2005 Winner - Felipe Lopez
2004 Winner - Carlos Guillen
2003 Winner - Edgar Renteria
2002 Winner - David Eckstein
2001 Winner - Rich Aurilia
2000 Winner - Jose Valentin
1999 Winner - Jay Bell
 
LVP - Jonathan Villar
Projection: .268/.345/.428, 18 HR, 93 R, 60 RBI, 52 SB in 598 AB
2017 stats: .241/.293/.372, 11 HR, 49 R, 40 RBI, 23 SB in 403 AB

No one expected Villar to match his 2016, but he was so good then that it seemed his status as a regular was assured, meaning he was a safe bet for 40 steals -- maybe a lot more -- and ample fantasy value. Villar, though, never got it together at any point, and the Brewers had little choice but to send him to the bench. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now. He’s cheap enough that the Brewers figure to keep him, but probably as a bench player initially. He’ll still be interesting for fantasy purposes; the list of the players with the ability to steal 50 bases and hit 20 homers is pretty much just Villar and Trea Turner.

Dishonorable Mention - Jose Peraza, Manny Machado, Aledmys Diaz
2016 LVP - Carlos Correa
2015 LVP - Hanley Ramirez
2014 LVP - Jean Segura
2013 LVP - Starlin Castro
2012 LVP - Elvis Andrus
2011 LVP - Hanley Ramirez
2010 LVP - Yunel Escobar
2009 LVP - Jimmy Rollins
2008 LVP - Troy Tulowitzki
2007 LVP - Bill Hall
2006 LVP - Clint Barmes
2005 LVP - Kaz Matsui
2004 LVP - Angel Berroa
2003 LVP - Jose Hernandez
2002 LVP - Rich Aurilia
2001 LVP - Tony Womack
2000 LVP - Royce Clayton
1999 LVP - Royce Clayton
 


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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