July 09, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By David Sabino
Good News and Bad News
Ryan Howard :: David E. Klutho/SI

Chances are your league is either being won or lost due to the players on the three lists below. It only took a couple of solid surprises, bargains at any price, to propel you to the top, and one or two disappointment, either due to injury or just general ineptness, to sink you to the depths of the standings. Since it's the time of the year when everyone's reviewing and naming All-whatever teams, it's the perfect time to add my two cents with an eye directly aimed at fantasy production. Here's who have made you look like a genius or an idiot.

  All Surprise All Exasperating All Banged Up
1B Adrian Gonzalez Jason Giambi Carlos Delgado
2B Ben Zobrist Howie Kendrick Akinori Iwamura
SS Marco Scutaro Jimmy Rollins Jose Reyes
3B Russell Branyan Garrett Atkins Alex Gordon
LF Raul Ibanez Manny Ramirez Carlos Quentin
CF Michael Bourn Chris Young Josh Hamilton
RF Nelson Cruz Magglio Ordonez Vladimir Guerrero
DH Luke Scott Pat Burrell Carlos Guillen
C Brandon Inge Russell Martin Ryan Doumit
ALSP Zach Greinke Chien-Ming Wang Jeremy Bonderman
NLSP Jason Marquis Manny Parra Brandon Webb
ALCL David Aardsma B.J. Ryan Troy Percival
NLCL Ryan Franklin Joel Hanrahan Jose Valverde
Welcome Back

Last night Andruw Jones put his name into the running for Comeback Player of the Year honors with a three home run night in Anaheim, not far from Los Angeles where his career seemingly came to a screeching halt last year with the Dodgers. It was the second three-home run game for Jones, who now has 14 home runs for the season and has made a strong case for regular at-bats in the second half. As the weather gets hotter in Arlington, Jones, just 32, has a chance to be one heck of a home run bargain in the second half.

Jones is just one of many AL candidates for the award. Check out some of the others who've enjoyed bounce back years in '09.

AL 2008 2009
Aaron Hill, Blue Jays .263-2-20 .296-20-59
Brandon Inge, Tigers .205-11 HR-51 RBIs .267-19-54
Victor Martinez, Indians .278-2-35 .299-14-57
Scott Podsednik, White Sox .253-1-15-12 SB .310-3-21-13
Justin Verlander, Tigers 11-17, 4.84 ERA 9-4, 3.59
Matt Cain, Giants 8-14, 3.76 ERA 10-2, 2.42
Zach Duke, Pirates 5-14, 4.82 8-7, 3.28
Mike Hampton, Astros 3-4, 4.85 5-5, 4.16
Todd Helton, Rockies .264-7-29 .313-9-55
Nick Johnson, Nationals .220-5-20 .297-5-35
In Recognition

Another player having an incredible season is recent SI coverboy Joe Mauer, who is the lone AL hitter to exceed averages of .300/.400/.500 this season. Nine NL hitters have achieved those averages in at least 100 at-bats (Ryan Braun, Hanley Ramirez, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols, Brad Hawpe, Carlos Beltran, Joey Votto and Manny Ramirez).

Here are my first half choices for all of the major fantasy awards:

MVP Joe Mauer Albert Pujols
Cy Young Zack Greinke Tim Lincecum
Rookie Pitcher Ricky Romero Tommy Hanson
Rookie Hitter Nolan Reimold Colby Rasmus
Comeback Player Aaron Hill Todd Helton
Most Improved Ben Zobrist Justin Upton
Fireman Joe Nathan Jonathan Broxton
'Pens? More Like Sties

5.01 ... ERA for the Angels' relievers, 13th in the AL and 28th in all of baseball. Jose Aredondo and Scot Shields, cornerstones of the '08 pen that finished sixth in the majors with a 3.67 ERA, combined to give up 28 earned runs in 42 innings (6.00 ERA) before being sent to the minors and sidelined by season-ending injury respectively.

42.4% ... Save percentage for the Washington Nationals this season. No wonder the Nats traded closer Joel Hanrahan (along with the even more disappointing Lastings Milledge) to the Pirates last week for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett. Washington doesn't only lead the majors with 19 blown saves, their 29 bullpen losses puts them on pace for one of the worst seasons for relievers on record. In fact, only one team has a worse save percentage since the current rules went into effect in 1969. The 1974 Angels saved just 12 of 29 attempts for the season and were led by Orlando Peña who ironically was a perfect 3-for-3.

6.53 ... ERA for former Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan who was released on Wednesday with $15 million still remaining on his contract. Ryan saved 32 of 36 games in 2008 and apparently was one of the few preseason "locks" for 30 saves, but a dead arm in spring training slowed a fastball that once flirted with 100 mph down into the mid 80's and he lost all effectiveness, striking out just 13 in 20 2/3 innings (0.63 K/IP) as compared to his career rate of 1.16 K/IP. He's yet another example of why closers, other than the Riveras, Papelbons, K-Rods and Nathans of the world are just not worth investing heavily in.

Tweet, Tweet

If you want more updates like these, especially once fantasy football season kicks off, follow me on Twitter at @SI_DavidSabino.

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