First, a few quick facts on the league we set up yesterday.
- First and foremost, we're holding a live draft on Sunday, March 15 at 8 p.m. You can always auto-draft your team, but I'd advise you only sign up if you can be there.
- We're getting as many into in the league as we can - 20. That may sound like a lot but I'm playing in a 10 team AL-only league this year, so it's pretty much the same thing. It should be a fun challenge for everyone.
- It's a 5x5 rotisserie league. The categories are R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP.
- Following fantasy baseball the entire season is a challenge, even for supposed experts. Please only sign up if you plan on playing the entire season.
- Get those emails into Matt! It should be a sweet time all summer long.
Now onto business...
5. SP Jesse Litsch
Litsch made a strong debut in 2007, and followed it up with an even better 2008. The 23-year old pitcher is set to take an even bigger role this year with the Blue Jays, with starter Dustin McGowan continuing to battle injuries. McGowan may not be ready until June, so Toronto will be counting on Litsch to to stabilize the rotation behind ace Roy Halladay. Litsch struck out only 99 batters in 176 innings last year, but at least he doesn't walk a ton of guys. Litsch posted a very solid 1.23 ERA last year in his first full season as a starter.
4. CL BJ Ryan
The only question with Ryan is durability. He appeared in only five games after signing a phat contract in 2007, but rebounded last year to pitch 58 innings and rack up 32 saves. Rule #1 of fantasy baseball is that saves are often the statistic most overvalued, but there is something to said for a closer who has a defined role. If Ryan is healthy, he's the man who will rack up saves. With uncertainly in the closer role all over the majors, that's pretty valuable.
3. CF Vernon Wells
Wells was awful in 2007, but rebounded last year for the Blue Jays, hitting.300/.343/.496. Perhaps the most alarming fall-off in fantasy circles though were Wells' stolen base numbers. He used to be a guy you could count on for 10-15 steals, but he only totaled two last year. Wells is no longer an elite fantasy option, but he's still one of the better center fielders in the American League.
2. RF Alex Rios
Last offseason, one hot trade rumor had Toronto sending Rios West to San Francisco for pitcher Tim Lincecum. While Rios is still one of the better young corner outfielders in baseball, Lincecum went on to win the NL Cy Young. Last year was a bit for a disappointment for Rios. He saw his OPS drop more than 50 points. On the bright side, his steals nearly doubled (17 to 32).
1. Roy Halladay
Real baseball, fantasy baseball, video game baseball....whatever it is, Halladay is one of the best starters around. He was spectacular last season, striking out 206 batters (only four AL pitchers topped 200 Ks in 2008), and winning 20 games. Did we mention his 2.7 ERA and an unbelievable WHIP of 1.05? Yeah, Roy Halladay is pretty good.
I suppose durability could be a concern at this point. Halladay will turn 32 this season, and he's thrown over 220 innings the last three seasons. The numbers are mind blowing, sure, but it makes you wonder how long he can keep it up.
The AL East will be much tougher this season too with the additions the Yankees made in the offseason. Maybe 20 wins is too much to hope for in 2009. That is, of course, assuming he stays a Blue Jay all season. If Halladay gets traded to a contender midseason, don't be surprised if he dominates a different division (or different league) more than he normally does.