As sometimes happens when it comes to internet games, 80-hour work weeks (and sleep) got in the way of good intentions of keeping up with the blog, and especially with posting the "Players to Watch" that many of you sent me. I had planned on grabbing a player from each team that didn't send me one so that all teams could be represented, but I figured if you didn't send me a player, you likely wouldn't look at the blog post anyway. And let's face it, just like in other fantasy sports, we only really care about our own players (and perhaps those in your division).
So without further ado (did I really just write that???), he we go!
Anaheim has invested over $20MM in this youngster, and hopes for big things in the next few years. Relying mostly on breaking balls, Gonzalez sets hitters up with a 92 mph slider, and finishes them off with a nasty change up. He is striking out over 10 batters per 9 innings this season, and could see the Majors as soon as next season (as a September call-up if nothing else).
Season 3: 11-3, 150 2/3 innings, 169 K, 3.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
Arizona's player to watch is not stranger to success. As a member of the AL All-Star team at just 23 years old last year, he's drawing comparisons to another prominent 1B, Albert Pujols. His core numbers have improved each of the last 3 seasons, and is currently on pace to hit 64 HR this year. Whitey is currently sidelined with a stiff hamstring, but expects to be back in a week. Hopefully he can talk some of the big free agent pitchers into signing with Arizona so they can turn those gaudy stats into wins.
Season 3: 72 R, 40 HR, 92 RBI, .300/.371/.667
The top pick for Chicago in Season 1 shot through the minors like a bottle rocket. Starting in rookie ball upon being drafted, he got the call that he was being promoted. He said good morning to Low-A, good afternoon to High-A, and good night to AA as he headed straight from rookie ball to AAA. He spent 1/2 the season in AAA, hitting .344 with 19 HR in 227 AB, and at the age of 21, Chicago couldn't keep him down any longer. He finished his rookie season with 23 HR in 254 AB, and has only gotten better. He's leading the way for the Pale Hose as they run away with the AL North. Now Poole has his sites set on winning a WS ring, just a year after enjoying his first beer.
Season 3: 65 R, 35 HR, 96 RBI, .283/.358/.618
With a name like Sterling Steele, would you expect any less? Steele boasts a repertoire of 4 strong pitches, but uses his 4-seamer to blow hitters away. Like Poole, Sterling Steele spent little time in the minors. After completely by-passing AAA, he posted good major league numbers last season. The post-season jitters got him, though, and with Durham hoping to make their way back to the playoffs, Steele is looking to show that he can be the same pitcher in the post-season that he can in the regular season.
Season 3: 8-8, 127 2/3 innings, 96 K, 3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Manuel Lima has the privilege of being the first player drafted in NTC history, and he's certainly living up to the burden placed on him . He's been perfect in save situations this year, converting 19 of 19. There's nothing fancy about Lima's approach to hitters, either. It's a huge helping of his 100 mph fastball (with movement), complimented by the occasional slider. Pitching in a winnable division, he hopes to show off his prowess to the world on the biggest stage in the playoffs.
Season 3: 19 Saves, 33 1/3 innings, 30 K, 1.89 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
William Brand began his career with guns-a-blazing, winning the ROY award in Season 1. After falling victim to the Sophomore Slump last season, he's righted the ship and is putting together a great season. He's been able to neutralize hitters with a nasty sinker, which he's been able to keep down in the zone this year. The Yankees are in a tight battle with the Outliers, so look for Brand to play a huge role down the stretch.
Season 3: 11-3, 140 2/3 innings, 108 K, 2.10 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Derrin Rowe (no relation to Mike Rowe...you know, Dirty Jobs, Ford commercials...) is looking to prove that he can make it in the bigs. He doesn't throw very hard, so he relies more on the location of his fastball than the speed, but he does have a very good sinker. Pitching in Santa Fe hasn't been his friend, but he's managed 10 wins to 2 losses, which is really what matters in the end. Look for Rowe to keep his team in games, but runs are going to be expected in the launching pad that is WhatIfSports Field.
Season 3: 10-2, 83 1/3 innings, 64 K, 4.21 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
Though not fully developed, and still a young pup at 21, Beckwith was thrust into the Majors this season and was expected to perform. He's come through, with an ERA in the mid-3s, and on pace to win 17 games. Though there hasn't been much change in the quality of his pitches, he's been improving the command of those pitches. Syracuse is on fast track to the playoffs, and will hope Beckwith has what it takes to get the Siege closer to the WS this year.
Season 3: 11-5, 153 innings, 120 K, 3.65 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Is he a starter? Is he a long reliever? Middle relief? Who knows? But with a phenomenal fastball/change up combination, the Acers are finding ways to get him innings. Pfeffer definitely pitches to contact, but as an extreme ground-ball pitcher, he relies on a great defense to back him up (which, to date, has been pretty good). Vic is still on his way up, as he continues to improve, so don't sleep on this guy. He may not log 200 innings, but when he's on the hill, he'll be effective.
Season 3: 3-5, 64 1/3 innings, 55 K, 3.64 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
Yes, I know, chicks dig the long ball. I've got the t-shirt, too. But Nigel Baker doesn't care. He knows his role, and does it well. For his career, Baker has reached base 38% of the time, and when he gets on, he's off to the races. He stole 50 bases last season, and is on a similar pace this season. Those stolen bases turn those singles into doubles or triples. Does that show up on the stat line? Not directly. Do chicks dig the stolen base? Not in any way. But don't look for that to stop Baker. (And as a piece of advice, Baker. If you want chicks to dig anything about you, lose the mustache. You're 25, for crying out loud!)
Season 3: 70 R, 20 RBI, 37 SB, .279/.360/.310
'Til next time (which hopefully won't be too long...)