Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 10 July 2008
Every year, there are fantasy busts and fantasy surprises. Chances are if you find some surprises in your fantasy draft or waiver wire, you’re doing pretty well right now. Here’s a look at nine of the biggest fantasy surprises this year.
OF Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh Pirates – He has begun to cool off (.214 average in June, no stolen bases in July), but McLouth has been a pleasant fantasy surprise. After the Rajai Davis, Chris Duffy, et. al experiments failed in center field for the Pirates, McLouth earned the job. He has 12 homers over the first two months and nine stolen bases through the first three. He was well on his way to becoming a 25-20 guy, but that seems to no longer be in his future.
OF Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals – Ludwick was once a promising prospect in the Texas Rangers organization and has finally found a home in St. Louis. He has been a major part of the Cardinals’ surprise success, hitting 18 homers with a .290 batting average. He slumped quite a bit in June (.228/.298/406) but has heated back up in July (.350/.409/.700). He also homered for the second consecutive game Tuesday.
OF Milton Bradley, Texas Rangers – Bradley recently sat due to left knee tendonitis, which fortunately was not the knee he recently had surgery on. Injuries and his temper have been problems throughout his career, but he seemed to have put those behind him. Bradley is making good on the promise he has shown throughout his career, hitting 17 home runs with a .315 average. This may be the first season he reaches the 20-homer plateau.
OF Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox – The Diamondbacks traded Quentin because of their crowded outfield situation and acquired Chris Carter, a piece they sent in the Dan Haren trade. Some signs that his storybook season may be drawing to an end include his declining batting average every month (from .298 to .290 to .266 to .133 so far in July) or his falling home run statistics (7 to 7 to 5 to 0 this month). As the weather warms up in Chicago, expect more balls to fly out of US Cellular Field.
SP Justin Duchscherer, Oakland A’s – It took some convincing from Duchscherer himself, but Oakland management finally gave him a chance to start toward the end of last season. He showed enough promise to be given the same role once again this year, and he has done quite well: 1.78 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 10 wins. His strikeouts aren’t quite there, but that is just nit-picking for the guy rated first for pitchers on fantasy player raters.
SP Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians – Lee began this season with perhaps the best stats a pitcher could possibly put up. In five starts in April, he had a 0.96 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, and an opponents’ batting average of .151. He’s fallen back toward the 3.00 ERA and 1.20 WHIP type of pitcher he should be at his best recently, but those are still some great figures.
SP Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds – It may be time to jump off the Volquez bandwagon. In July, he has a 4.76 ERA and a 3.45 mark in June. While those are very good figures, it may be trending that offenses are figuring out Volquez and he may go through a rough patch sometime soon. Besides, his 1.25 WHIP definitely does not correlate with his 2.36 ERA. I think the WHIP is more for real, and that ERA spirals upward sometime soon.
SP Ervin Santana, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – After an excellent start to the season, Santana has begun to feature ERAs in the high 3.00s (2.48 in April, 3.79 in May, 3.86 in June, and now 5.14 in July). He seems to be leveling off as a high 3.00 ERA/1.25 WHIP kind of guy with a lot of strikeouts. Very good in terms of fantasy value, but not the amazing ace he looked like not so long ago.
CL Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals – You could make the case that Soria is the best closer in the major leagues this year. He has limited hitters to a .152 BAA. His K:BB ratio is nearly 5:1. He has more strikeouts than innings pitched. Yep, he has everything needed to be a closer. Even the cool facial hair.