Due to injuries and roster changes, there are always guys who perform way better than expected. In 2009, there were plenty of those players who could have either helped your fantasy baseball team or your real life team. These players are all players who came out of nowhere or players who everyone gave up on, but have done a great job so far in 2009. Here is my 2009 All-Overachieving Team, did I miss anyone?
This team is full of players on the Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Rays haven’t transferred these players having career years into a playoff spot, but the other teams are at least in the discussion to earn a playoff spot this season. Is this a coincidence? I doubt it, if a player overachieves, the team will benefit from winning games that they may have not won if that player wasn’t contributing at such a high level. Likewise, if you have these players on your personal team, you are probably near the top of your fantasy baseball league.
Catcher – Rod Barajas – He hit 11 homers and had 49 RBIs all of last season, but he may nearly double those numbers in 2009. He is already sitting at 18 homers and 64 RBIs with a batting average comparable to last season at .241. He has had much better seasons than Geovany Soto and Russell Martin, who were expected to do much better this season than Barajas.
First Base – Kendry Morales – Mark Teixeira left for the Yankees and the Angels needed a first baseman to fill the offensive void that he left. Kendry Morales was their answer with 30 homers, 98 RBIs, and currently batting .307 so far this season. He is a great find for the team and he should be there for a long time for the Halos.
Second Base – Ben Zobrist – After Akinori Iwamura went down early in the season with an injury, the Rays were scrambling for a long-term replacement for him. Ben Zobrist was a utility player who bounced around between Triple-A and the Majors and they picked him to fill in. He has had a career year and he’s been a key to the Rays success this year. He has hit 23 homers, drove in 72 runs, stole 16 bases, and is slugging .517 so far this season. They would be hard pressed to move him next season when Iwamura is 100% healthy from his injury, it should be his job now.
Shortstop – Jason Bartlett – Speed and defense was hit game, but this year he has added some power and boosted his batting average by 50 points. He has hit 14 homers this year, after hitting one all of last season. He has also soared his batting average up to .331 and stole 24 bases for the Rays this year. He has been a big surprise and his defense has helped them stay in games.
Third Base – Mark Reynolds – He has always shown power at the plate, but hasn’t ever hit for average, let alone steal bases with consistency. He has done all of that and managed to already hit 41 homers while hitting for .271 and stealing 22 bases. He is the lone bright spot for the Diamondbacks this year.
Outfield – Garrett Jones – He was a career minor-league player and as soon as the Pirates called him up, he has been a hitting machine. He has already hit 19 homers, drive in 38, and has batted .304 in only 247 at-bats this year. Not only has he been hitting, he has also stolen 9 bases, this was totally unexpected from Jones this year or ever.
Outfield – Juan Rivera – He only received around 250 at-bats in 2008, but didn’t put up any numbers to brag about, but in 2009, it’s a different story. He has hit 22 homers, drove in 79 runs, and is hitting .292. He has been a big key in the Angels locking up the AL West title, since they weren’t expecting these kind of numbers from Rivera.
Outfield – Jake Fox – I would file him next to Garrett Jones in this category. Fox didn’t have a great 2008 in the minors, but at the beginning of 2009, he was leading the minors in homers and the Cubs had to bring him up. He has already hit 10 homers with 39 RBIs in only 178 at-bats. They have to find a regular position for him, because his bat has been on fire.
Starting Pitcher – Jason Marquis – He was the fifth starter for the Chicago Cubs for the last two seasons, but he never pitched very well for the team. He did pitch well for St. Louis, previous to the Cubs, but he failed to make the post-season rotation with either the Cardinals or Cubs. If the Rockies make the playoffs, Marquis will definitely make the rotation and he could very well be the anchor. He currently 15-10 with a 3.65 ERA for Colorado this year. He has never had explosive stuff, but he has pitched smart this year and is having a career year.
Starting Pitcher – Barry Zito – He’s currently 9-12, but I added him to this roster because he has been so bad the last two years. His ERA is currently 3.99 and the last 30 days, he has a 2.36 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and three quality starts. If he can pitch like this the rest of the way, the Giants could be making their way to the playoffs.
Starting Pitcher – Jorge De la Rosa – He started the season very bad, but has made up for lost time by winning nearly every game since. He is 14-9 with a 4.37 ERA and has 170 strikeouts. Over the last few months, he has been averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has lead the Majors in wins. This turnaround in the middle of the season is amazing and he could be in the Cy Young conversation if he didn’t start out so poorly.
Starting Pitcher – Scott Feldman – In 2008, Feldman had an ERA over 5.00 and was bouncing around between the rotation and bullpen. Nolan Ryan started him in a throwing program this off-season and he has benefited from this the most. He is currently 16-4 with a 3.46 ERA and is in the AL Cy Young discussion. He has been a huge reason why the Texas Rangers have been in the AL Wild-Card race this late into the season.
Starting Pitcher – Joel Pineiro – He has been struggling since he had one good season in Seattle. In 2008, he had an ERA over 5.00 and looked like he could lose his rotation spot this year. He isn’t flashy and he doesn’t strike many guys out, but he is currently 15-10 with a 3.21 ERA, more than the Cardinals were bargaining for in 2009.
Relief Pitcher – Darren O’Day – He was an unknown, but in 2009 he has came out of the bullpen and has helped keep leads for his starting pitchers. He has pitched 51 innings and has 51 strikeouts, while sporting a 1.76 ERA and an impressive WHIP of 0.98. He has single-handedly brought the Rangers bullpen from embarrassing to impressionable.
Relief Pitcher – Trevor Miller – Miller has always been a power pitcher out of the bullpen, but this season he has kept the ball down and kept up his strikeout rate. He has a 1.80 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP and has recorded 41 strikeouts in 40 innings of work. The Cardinals bullpen has been great as a whole, but Miller has kept up the pace and more.
Relief Pitcher – LaTroy Hawkins – Maybe I discount what Hawkins can do because he was so horrible with the Chicago Cubs. The 2009 version of Hawkins has been very good and has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Houston Astros bullpen. He has a 2.38 ERA in 56.2 innings of work so far. He has plenty of holds on the year and has filled in as the closer, scoring 11 saves.
Closer – David Aardsma – Aardsman was bad, bad, bad in 2008 with an ERA of 5.55. After Brandon Morrow doing horrible as the closer at the beginning of the year, the Mariners gave Aardsma a shot and he has ran with it. He has 34 saves, 73 strikeouts in 62.2 innings, and an ERA of 2.15. He wa a closer in college, but hasn’t had many chances in the pros to keep a job. I believe he has done a great job with the Mariners and it should be his job to lose in 2010.