Fantasy baseball owners have to make sure to avoid overrating what they see in the real-life postseason. It happens every year, someone does something special in the World Series and then in drafts the following spring, we see Josh Beckett become a top-10 pitcher. Well, now he is, but he sure wasn't in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Now that the Yankees are out of the playoffs -- by the way, didja hear, the Yankees lost? -- there are four teams left. Who could become a postseason hero and thus be overrated next spring? I have some thoughts. And by the way, the Yankees lost. No other team beat them apparently, because the media hasn't talked about the Indians at all, but the Yankees lost and their manager might be unemployed soon. Does anyone even notice who manages the Tribe?
Congrats to the Indians, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and yes, the Rockies. Obviously I wanted to see the Phillies do well, and I am disappointed, but that team has been unbelievable, losing once in 17 games. Plus, I don't know if you're aware of the Mike Coolbaugh story, but the Rockies are awarding Coolbaugh's widow a full playoff share. It's touching, and a wonderful move in what has been an unfathomable tragedy. I have to root for the Rox now.
Here are some general thoughts on the final four teams for fantasy baseball.
Colorado Rockies: The most impressive player here, in my opinion, has been closer Manny Corpas. The Phillies had three shots at him, and did nothing. Corpas could be next year's Jose Valverde, but better. His ball moves all over the place, he gets strikeouts, his team scores runs, and he'll be the closer all season. Forget about Brian Fuentes, Corpas will be a great bargain after the top-15 closers are taken. Offensively, it's going to be tough to rank Troy Tulowitzki. We joked here in the office, which we do quite a bit, about whether Tulo or Derek Jeter would be better for fantasy next season. We said Jeter, but look closer at the numbers, and it can be debated. Also, expect the Rookie of the Year voting to be split between Tulowitzki and Ryan Braun, if not sided toward the shortstop. Could we expect Tulowitzki to go 30-100 next season? Um, why not? Jeter's probably overrated as a second-round pick anyway. I did not rank him there. Finally, do you really think the Rockies would dare part with Todd Helton after this playoff run? Forget about Jeff Baker, who had the winning hit against the Phillies, or up-and-coming third baseman Ian Stewart getting playing time unless Garrett Atkins is shipped out of town, which I also doubt.
Arizona Diamondbacks: A team that had an unimpressive offense during the season hit six home runs against the Cubs and had a .890 OPS. During the regular season, the Diamondbacks had a .734 OPS. Stephen Drew could be the big key to this offense not only against the Rockies, but next season. Drew was a major fantasy disappointment, batting only .238 and not hitting for the kind of power people expected. Still, let's look at the bright side of his season. He did reach 12 home runs and steal nine bases. Only six other full-time shortstops managed a double-double, and Drew almost did it as a freshman. Drew tortured the Cubs with two homers, five RBIs and three multi-hit games. His walk rate was fine during the season. If he takes even a moderate leap to 18-75-15 and hits .260, you'd take that as a sleeper. I was also impressed with Justin Upton; three singles in five at-bats is fine, but he also drew three walks. If I thought Upton would play 150 games next season, and draw 60 walks, I'd view him as a solid sleeper capable of hitting 20 homers and stealing that many bases. On the mound, I can't say my opinions have changed. Brandon Webb is very good. Doug Davis and Livan Hernandez are innings eaters.
Cleveland Indians: Yankees pitching got battered to the tune of a .315 batting average, and there was nice balance. Six different Indians homered, and eight players had two or more RBIs. Because of the position he plays, Jhonny Peralta is likely to be a much-debated name next spring. He hit .467 against the Yankees, with three doubles and four walks, and this is exactly the type of stage that could get his name out there. Right now, he's a sleeper. How many people realize he had 14-50 at the All-Star break, then took a big step backward after the break, with less power and a higher strikeout rate. I'd peg Peralta as a 25-80 guy, which he's now approached in two of the last three seasons, but I don't see a Miguel Tejada-type campaign coming. What we see is kind of what we should expect. On the mound, an outsider would say Joe Borowski, despite leading the league in saves, isn't going to be around in the future. The team has a contract option to keep him another year, and certainly he's affordable and the Tribe could be loyal, but couldn't Rafael Betancourt do the job? Look at his season stats. Rafael Perez, the lefty who threw six innings in the series, ranking second on the team to Fausto Carmona, profiles as a starter next year, and a really good one.