Those among us that are fantasy baseball nerds have been largely avoiding Baltimore Orioles players in our pre-season drafts for nearly a decade. If we let our homer-ism get in the way of common sense and drafted an Oriole, we usually came to regret the decision. But the 2013 baseball season has changed all of that. The O's starting squad this year were not only fantasy baseball relevant, but highly productive. As you would expect from a team that finished Top Five in almost every offensive category and sent five players to the All-Star Game, there were many good individual seasons on our club stat-wise this year. Before the season started, Stacey wrote about your Orioles fantasy prospects for 2013. I now submit to you my Orioles fantasy recap for the 2013 season.
Matt Wieters - C
-Yahoo 2013 Preseason Ranking (O-Rank): 101 (#6 C)
-Yahoo 2013 Final Ranking: 224 (#11 C)
-ESPN 2013 Average Draft Position (ADP): 60.6 (#4 C)
-ESPN 2013 Final Player Rater (PR): 2.81 (#12 C)
Wieters put up very respectable counting stats for his position, tying for the 5th most RBI's (79) and hitting the 2nd most home runs (22). However his final value was held way down by an atrocious .287 OBP, second lowest among catchers with a minimum of 400 AB's this season. Still, though Matt didn't live up to his preseason draft value, you probably weren't dissatisfied with his production considering the scarcity of talent at the position.
Chris Davis - 1B
-Yahoo O-Rank: 121 (#20 1B)
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 3 (#1 1B)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 149.8 (#22 1B)
-ESPN Final PR: 14.00 (#1 1B)
If you took Chris Davis in the final few rounds of your draft this year, there's a good chance you won your league. He wasn't even the highest rated 'Davis' at his position in the preseason ('Ike' was the preseason #15-ish 1B). Davis finished the season with the third best fantasy production among all MLB players according to Yahoo, trailing only Miguel Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw. He was named the 2013 Fantasy Baseball MVP by Eric Karabell, giving the most return value based on draft position of any player in the game. He led all batters in home runs with 53 and RBI's with 138. He finished tied for fourth in runs scored, and 25th among qualifiers in OBP at .370. He will be an early first round draft pick in all non-keeper leagues in 2014.
J.J. Hardy - SS
-Yahoo O-Rank: 188 (#16 SS)
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 3 (#10 SS)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 148.9 (#12 SS)
-ESPN Final PR: 3.86 (#9 SS)
J.J. Hardy met your expectations, at worst this year. JJ finished tied for first among all MLB shortstops in both home runs (25) and RBI (82). He was below average (for fantasy purposes) at the other offensive stats. But if your team needed some pop, you were happy with his production at the power-scarce position and didn't really care about the rankings.
Manny Machado - 3B
-Yahoo O-Rank: 211 (#21 3B)
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 85 (#11 3B)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 188.9 (#17 3B)
-ESPN Final PR: 3.16 (#14 3B)
Manny Machado's breakout year didn't necessarily translate to fantasy baseball value in 2013. He finished tied for 6th in runs at the 3B position, but he was lacking in all other counting stats. If your league used batting average as a stat, he was probably a lot more valuable than if your league used OBP. His production also fell off a cliff after the All-Star Break. Unless he gains some patience at the plate, or finds that power stroke that will turn his doubles into home runs, he will remain a marginal fantasy third baseman. His hype will assuredly lead to a higher ADP next year than a #10-15 ranked producer at his position would normally warrant.
Nick Markakis - OF
-Yahoo O-Rank: 139 (#41 OF)
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 185 (#50 OF)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 213.2 (#56 OF)
-ESPN Final PR: 3.03 (#65 OF)
Nick Markakis had below average production in all categories except runs scored (89 - 16th place). If you are going to hit 10 homers and drive in only 59 RBI's, you better have some speed (he doesn't) and get on base a ton (he didn't). ESPN seemed to have him pegged as a waiver wire outfielder, but anyone who took Markakis in the 10th-14th round of their Yahoo league based on his O-Rank surely regretted it.
Adam Jones - OF
-Yahoo O-Rank: 33 (#13 OF)
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 7 (#3 OF)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 36.1 (#12 OF)
-ESPN Final PR: 9.31 (#11 OF)
Adam Jones is a true five tool player in the fantasy world right now, one of the rarest commodities in fake baseball. His .318/100/33/108/14 line (that's OBP/Runs/HR/RBI/SB) was enough to convince Yahoo that he is the 7th most valuable player in the fantasy game and the 3rd most valuable outfielder (really the 2nd only to Mike Trout, as Chris Davis qualified at OF this year). He ranked Top 6 at his position in runs, HR's, and RBI's. In the prime of his career, batting in the middle of a highly productive order, with a great track record of health... I have no qualms about taking Jones at the end of the first round in next year's draft ahead of perennial top OF picks like Matt Kemp or Carlos Gonzalez.
Nate McLouth - OF
-Yahoo O-Rank: 319
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 166 (#47 OF)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 260/NA
-ESPN Final PR: 5.94 (#25 OF)
Nate McLouth was a first half hero this year, similar to Machado, but completely fizzled by the All-Star Break. Allowed to run wild at the top of the order, he was fifth in stolen bases (3rd among OF) in all of MLB before the break with 24. He also was 16th in runs among OF with 53 pre-ASB. However he only added six more bags in limited playing time after the break, ruining his primary contribution to fantasy owners. Owners who took a flyer on him early in the season surely profited overall if they knew when to let him go.
Chris Tillman - SP
-Yahoo O-Rank: 269
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 138 (#39 SP)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 260/NA
-ESPN Final PR: 5.13 (#30 SP)
Chris Tillman enjoyed fantasy success this year and rewarded those that took a risk on him with 16 wins, tied for 7th among pitchers. His strikeout total (179) was also good enough for a Top 30 finish in that category. However, much like the old adage in fantasy football that says Don't Chase Touchdowns, I'd be weary of drafting a pitcher in next year's draft based solely on wins.
Scott Feldman - SP
-Yahoo O-Rank: 411
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 213 (#60 SP)
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 260/NA
-ESPN Final PR: 3.54 (#59 SP)
Scott Feldman deserves honorable mention for turning in a semi-respectable fantasy season. Unfortunately for the O's, the best part of his season came while he was wearing a Cubs uniform and feasting on inferior lineups in the National League. He was untouchable from April to mid-May, lowering his ERA to 2.19 at one point. He also gave up only five runs in five straight starts for the O's around the end of August. If you were able to stream him on your team at either of those points, he surely paid dividends.
Jim Johnson - RP
-Yahoo O-Rank: 138
-Yahoo Final Ranking: 118
-ESPN 2013 ADP: 105.6
-ESPN Final PR: 4.60
Jim Johnson tied Craig Kimbrel for the MLB lead in Saves this season with 50. That's really all that matters for fantasy purposes. I left rankings out because the RP rankings are littered with setup men and relievers turned starters, skewing the actual rankings. Despite his blown save troubles, he still finished with a sub-3.00 ERA. If he remains in the closer role next year, he should be considered a top fantasy relief pitcher once again. But what I said about chasing Wins goes double for chasing Saves. Closers are the Kickers of the fantasy baseball world. Just grab a few when you can and hope for the best, because there's no way of telling which ones will get 50 saves, which ones will get 25, and which ones will lose their jobs by May 1st.