Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Over the past weeks, we have studied and evaluated the best fantasy players at each position. Now we will take the winners from each position and compare then to determine our 2009 TSN Fantasy Baseball Player of the Year.
C - Joe Mauer - Fantasy catchers are usually regarded as a necessary evil. You start one because the rules say you have to, not because you want to. That is, of course, unless you drafted Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer. Mauer was easily the most dominant player at any position. Despite the fact that he didn't play his first game until May 1st (back problems), he led all catchers in runs (94), home runs (28), hits (191), walks (76), batting average (.365), on base percentage (.444), slugging percentage (.587) and OPS 1.031. Mauer has always been a good hitter (he won his third American League batting title in the last four years), but he added power to his repertoire. His 28 homers were more than double his previous high of 13 which he hit in 2006.
1B - Albert Pujols - There are a lot of good first basemen in the major leagues, but Pujols stands head and shoulders above the rest. More runs (124), home runs (47), stolen bases (16), better batting average (.365), slugging percentage (.658) and OPS (1.101) earned Pujols the position at the top of the charts. But then that's where you expected him to be when you drafted him No.2 overall behind Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
2B - Chase Utley - Today's second basemen has both power and speed. A 2009 top-10 fantasy second basemen averages 90 runs, 21 HRs, 81 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. On top of the list is World Series participant Chase Utley of the Phillies. Despite off-season hip surgery, he showed he was healthy enough to run, stealing 23 bases (without getting caught) along with his usual power numbers - 31 HRs, .905 OPS.
SS - Hanley Ramirez - Despite being the No.1 shortstop, there are some fantasy owners who think Ramirez had a down year. That's because both his home run and stolen base totals dropped from 2008 when he banged out 33 homers and stole 35 bases. It was the change in lineup position, from leadoff to cleanup, that caused the problem and unless the team finds a suitable replacement, it will likely stay this way - more RBIs, but less speed. However, you can't argue with what he produced 101 runs, 106 RBIs, 27 SB, a position-leading .342 batting average and .953 OPS.
3B - Mark Reynolds - Coming into Draft Day last March, Reynolds was best known for striking out a lot - good if you are a starting pitcher, not so good if you are a hitter. The 26-year-old struck out 204 times in 2008, but when he hit the ball it went a long way - 28 home runs. Because he was viewed as a one- dimensional player, Reynolds' 2009 ADP (Average Draft Position) was near 200, meaning he was a 17th-round selection or later in most drafts. Those who drafted him there, and those who picked him up early on as a free agent, got a lot more value than they could have ever expected. Though he still swung and missed a lot in 2009 (223 K's), he also connected a lot more. Reynolds batted .260 (up from .239 in 2008) and blasted 44 homers. He scored 98 runs on a weak hitting Diamondbacks offense and knocked in 102. As an added bonus, Reynolds stole 24 bases in 2009, more than doubling his total of the previous season. The Arizona third baseman was selected as the winner of the 2009 TSN Best Bargain Award.
OF - Ryan Braun - Braun continues to excel as he has since coming up in May of 2007. He contributes to all the offensive categories. Despite getting walked twice as often as his rookie season, Braun has increased his RBI totals in each season as well as making teams pay by stealing bases and increasing his runs scored total every year. As long as Prince Fielder and Braun stay in Milwaukee, they'll both continue to thrive. At 26-years-old, he's still got his best years in front of him.
SP - Zack Greinke - Greinke was simply "unreal" at the beginning of the season, going four games (all wins) before yielding a single run. He was an amazing 8-1 on May 26th, just 46 games into the season, before the Royals' weak offense finally took its toll on Greinke's win total. His microscopic ERA (2.16) and top-five WHIP plus third-best strikeout total won him the top overall placement.
RP - Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in my opinion the best closer of all- time and certainly a sure Hall-of-Famer, won the award for best fantasy relief pitcher by virtue of solid production across the board. Forty-four saves was just four off the leader, better than one strikeout-per- inning and a great ERA and WHIP made him the best of 2009.
And the winner of the 2009 TSN Fantasy Baseball Player of the Year is...Joe Mauer.
Mauer dominated his position unlike any of the other position winners. He produced both average and power, a rarity at the position. We don't know whether he can continue to produce at this level, but for this one season, he was the best player in fantasy baseball.
2009 MLB Fantasy Player of the Year Candidates