A friend of mine and I came up with a fun and interesting fantasy draft. We enacted the "in-our-lifetime" rule, or at least the "since-we-paid-attention" rule, and made all players available from 1980 to current day. We were drafting a team of 2 C, 2 1b, 2 2b, 2 3b, 2 SS, 5 OF, 2 DH/UTIL, 6 SP, 4 RP. You were allowed to pick what year you wanted a given players stats. Once a player went off the board, he was gone - I couldn't take 2000 Pedro after he took 1999 Pedro. The result was so much fun, I figured it would interest some of the baseball buffs on this board. I am listed as 'G'. He is 'C'. It certainly opened my eyes to alot of great seasons by individuals that I had totally forgotten about.
So... here are the results of our Ultimate Fantasy Draft, 1980-2005. Complete with analysis.
G: 1985 Dwight Gooden
C: 1999 Manny Ramirez
Analysis: To start, we are just grasping, trying to remember the outstanding individual years of our time. Gooden’s 24 wins, 268 Ks, 1.53 ERA, and 0.96 ERA were just sick. Manny’s 165 RBI year is unmatchable.
G: 1997 Mike Piazza
C: 1998 Sammy Sosa
Analysis: I start thinking about trying to gobble up the players who have no peer at their position. My guess is there is no catcher close to Mike Piazza’s 1997 (.362 / 40 / 124). Sosa’s 66 HR and 158 RBI puts me in a serious hole with RBI.
G: 2001 Barry Bonds
C: 1999 Ivan Rodriguez
Analysis: Even though I doubt he will take a 3rd straight outfielder to start the draft, I can’t leave Bonds and his 73 HR on the table. He answers my Piazza pick with Pudge (.332 / 35 / 113 / and 25 SB !! ). I had totally forgot Rodriguez had a year that good.
G: 1999 Pedro Martinez
C: 2003 Eric Gagne
Analysis: Looking to take a stranglehold in the pitching department, I team Gooden with Pedro (sick – 23 wins, 313 Ks, 2.07 ERA, 0.92 WHIP). Pedro’s WHIP was a ridiculous 0.717 in ’00, but the wins and Ks were better in ’99. He goes Gagne to take the drivers seat with closers – hard to match 55 saves, 1.20 ERA, 0.69 WHIP – and 137 Ks from your closer.
G: 1988 Jose Canseco
C: 2001 Randy Johnson
Analysis: Time to scoop up the 40-40 guys. Canseco hit 42 HR and stole 40 bases in ’88. But so much for my pitching advantage. Hindsight tells me Randy Johnson’s 372 Ks give him a huge advantage over Gooden and Pedro, even though the rest of his numbers are slightly worse.
G: 1990 Dennis Eckersley
C: 1980 Steve Carlton
Analysis: Trying to keep pace with Gagne, I go with ’90 Eck, who walked 4 batters THE ENTIRE YEAR. Only allowed 5 runs. The saves (48) are lower than I would have liked, but the ERA (0.61) and WHIP (0.61) are obscene. Carlton gets him wins (24) and Ks (286), but the WHIP (1.10) makes this pick a bit of a reach. Hard to believe we would be saying that about a 1.10 WHIP.
G: 1998 Alex Rodriguez
C: 1987 Eric Davis
Analysis: I strike the first blow for shortstops, taking ARod’s 40-40 year (42 HR, 46 SB), over his .358, 141 run year in 1996. Also passed on 2002 ARod, who hit 57 HR and drove in 142 runs. The Eric Davis pick is one he would later regret. The 37 HR, 50 SB combo is sexy, but that .293 average is a killer in this game.
G: 1998 Mark McGwire
C: 1980 George Brett
Analysis: Homerun for my team. I’ll take the hit on McGwire’s .299 average, because I get 70 HR to go with my 73 HR Bonds. Can’t believe McGwire lasted this long. For the second straight round, he slips up by taking ’80 Brett. He was mesmerized by the .390 average, neglecting the lack of HR (24) or SB (12) presence. Especially with better 3rd basemen out there.
G: 2004 Adrian Beltre
C: 1997 Roger Clemens
Analysis: My first sleeper pick. I almost felt dirty taking Beltre’s flash-in-the-pan year over my childhood favorite Mike Schmidt, but who can pass up on .334 / 48 / 121? Schmidt never had that kind of average. Clemens gives him his 3rd stud starter (21 wins, 292 Ks, 2.05 ERA). Hard to believe his best statistical year was in Toronto.
G: 1996 John Smoltz
C: 1995 Greg Maddux
Analysis: When I looked at the Braves big 3, I was shocked to see Smoltz had the best single year, His 24 win, 276 K, 2.94 ERA, 1.001 WHIP season in ’96 puts me back in control at SP. The Maddux pick is solid with ERA (1.63) and WHIP (0.8111), but the 19 wins sets him back in that department.
G: 1997 Larry Walker
C: 2002 Alfonso Soriano
Analysis: ’97 Walker should have been a top 3 pick. He may have the best fantasy season EVER - .366, 143 runs, 49 HR, 130 RBI, 33 SB. Wow. Soriano (39 HR, 41 SB, .300 avg) is a good pick at 2b, but not necessarily better than the 2b that are still available. Again, his average takes a hit.
G: 2000 Todd Helton
C: 2001 Luis Gonzalez
Analysis: I went back-to-back Rockies on him. Helton’s .372, 138 runs, 42 HR, 147 RBI is Walker without the steals. Sick fantasy season. I have taken a stranglehold on batting average. Luis Gonzalez and his 57 HR season helps him in the power department.
G: 1990 Bobby Thigpen
C: 2002 Curt Schilling
Analysis: I try to climb back in the save category by taking Thigpen’s 57 save season. After looking at other top closers, his ERA (1.83) and WHIP (1.038) aren’t as bad as I originally thought. But the Ks go bye-bye on me, when he takes Schilling and his 316 K season. He took an ERA hit (3.23) by taking ’02 Schill over ’01 Schill (22 wins, 293 Ks, 2.98 ERA).
G: 1998 Trevor Hoffman
C: 1997 Ken Griffey, Jr.
Analysis: He complains that he was about to take Hoffman (53 saves, 1.48 ERA, 0.849 WHIP). Instead, he lands another high 50 HR outfielder, ignoring Griffey’s .304 avergae, and taking his 56 HR and 147 RBI.
G: 2002 Vladimir Guerrero
C: 2004 Miguel Tejada
Analysis: I close the book on 40-40 guys (or close to 40-40) by taking Vlad and his .336 / 39 / 111 / 40 season. Trying to piece meal steals rather than take the batting average hit that Rickey Henderson or Vince Coleman brings. Tejada’s 150 RBI season is unrivaled at shortstop. I have a long road back in the RBI department.
G: 2003 Albert Pujols
C: 1985 Rickey Henderson
Analysis: Pujols (.359 / 137 / 43 / 124) fills my first DH spot, and takes another top notch 1st basemen off the market. He takes the Rickey plunge, but not the one we anticipated. The whole time, we had been blinded by Rickey’s 130 SB season, where his .267 average was too much of an anchor to take on. We had both – until this point – neglected his 80 SB season in ’85, where his other numbers (.314 avg., 146 runs) were much more appetizing. This puts me in a stolen base deficit and leads me to start thinking of every Miguel Dilone and Omar Moreno out there. 1983 Tim Raines .298 avg with 90 steals looks most promising.
G: 1998 Juan Gonzalez
C: 2004 Mariano Rivera
Analysis: I probably should have grabbed Rivera first, because his 53 save season cancels out my Hoffman pick-up. Instead I land Juan Gone and his .318 / 45 / 157. My OF spots are now filled.
G: 2000 Jeff Kent
C: 2003 Javy Lopez
Analysis: This would prove to be my worst round, one that almost cost me the game. Kent’s .334 / 33 / 125 looked sweet; I would later be proved foolish. And all along we were thinking that all the quality catchers were gone when Piazza and Pudge left, and he dropped a Javy 41 HR bomb on me. What odds do I have on finding a 2nd catcher who hit .328 with 43 jacks?
G: 1989 Bret Saberhagen
C: 2001 Bret Boone
Analysis: I take one step closer to pitching domination with Saberhagen’s 23 wins, 2.16 ERA, and 0.961 WHIP. He makes my Kent pick look stupid when he takes Boone, who’s .331 / 37 / 141 is actually better than Kent. Oops.
G: 1996 Kenny Lofton
C: 1993 Randy Myers
Analysis: Yes! I found my answer to Rickey. After looking at all the Dave Collins and Willie Wilsons of the world, I found Lofton’s diamond in the rough season (.317, 132 runs, 14 HR, 67 RBI, 75 SB). He basically gives up on ERA (3.11) and WHIP (1.21), just to get Myers’ 53 saves.
G: 1999 Derek Jeter
C: 1999 Nomar Garciaparra
Analysis: Both of us complete our SS position. As much as I hated picking Jeter over old school studs like ’82 Robin Yount (.331 / 129 / 29 / 114 / 14) and ’87 Alan Trammell (.343 / 109 / 28 / 105 / 21), his 134 runs gave me a decided advantage, and there wasn’t much difference in HR (24) and SB (19). ’99 Nomar (.357 / 103 / 27 / 104 / 14) was almost a duplicate copy of Jeter’s numbers, except for the runs.
G: 1986 Mike Scott
C: 1980 Mike Schmidt
Analysis: My bid to get back in the strikeout hunt. I took on Mike Scott’s paltry 18 wins, to reap the benefits of his 306 Ks. His ERA (2.22) and WHIP (0.923) weren’t too shabby either. With my opponent already out of the batting average race, he has no qualms taking on Schmidt’s .286, instead enjoying the 48 HR, 121 RBI upside.
G: 2004 Armando Benitez
C: 1983 Dan Quisenberry
Analysis: I finish out my RPs by taking Benitez one year stint in Florida. Love the 47 saves, 1.29 ERA, and 0.818 WHIP. He answers with Quisenberry (45 saves), who wins him the saves category by one measley save.
G: 2000 Charles Johnson
C: 1999 Jeff Bagwell
Analysis: Believe it or not, I actually considered Mike Lieberthal and his .300 / 30 HR season. I couldn’t absorb Todd Hundley’s (.259 avg, 41 HR), so I went Rockies and took Charles Johnson (.304 / 31 / 91). That was the best I could do. Jeff Bagwell gives him run support (143 runs) to go with everything else (.304 / 42 / 126).
G: 1998 Vinny Castilla
C: 2002 Jim Thome
Analysis: I finish out my 3b spot by taking Castilla (.319 / 108 / 46 / 144 / 5) over ’96 Caminiti (.326 / 109 / 40 / 130 / 1) and ’99 Chipper (.319 / 116 / 45 / 110 / 25). He adds Thome (.304 / 52 / 118) to Bagwell at 1b.
G: 1988 Frank Viola
C: 1996 Kevin Brown
Analysis: Down to our final two picks. Now it gets interesting. We each have one SP left. If I make a run at Ks, with ’89 Nolan Ryan (16 wins, 301 Ks), I leave the door open for ’90 Bob Welch (27 wins) to beat me in wins. I take the safe route. ’88 Viola (24 wins, 2.64 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 193 Ks) seals the win category. His ’96 Kevin Brown response (17 wins, 1.89 ERA, 0.944 WHIP) is an unsuccessful attempt to make up the difference in WHIP and ERA. I win three pitching categories, lose two.
G: 1996 Chuck Knoblauch
C: 1996 Ellis Burks
Analysis: I have to pick a 2nd baseman, he has a DH spot. I go into the pick with a healthy lead in avg, trailing in RBI (-11), leading in runs (+28) and homeruns (+16), and tied in SB. Taking ’90 Ryne Sandberg (116 runs, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 25 SB), or even ’85 Ryne Sandberg (113 runs, 26 HR, 83 RBI, 54 SB), leaves me open to get caught in two categories. My only choice in ’96 Knoblauch (.341 / 140 runs / 13 HR / 45 SB), who locks up runs, and either HR or SB. His Burks pick gives him the edge in HR, but doesn’t catch me in steals. He needed a 31 HR, 46 SB guy – none of which were left. I win three offensive categories, and take the overall title, 6-4.