Throughout the 2015 season I’ve covered the National League Central. Having been a Chicago Cubs fan my entire life, this was an easy topic and I’m honored Major League Fantasy Sports owner Corey Roberts tasked me with this. I couldn’t have asked for a better division, especially in 2015. We’ve seen the St. Louis Cardinals dominate Major League Baseball while the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs have held their own throughout the season. With the end in sight, all three teams could make the playoffs having the NL Central division represented by three teams.
It’s been refreshing switching to the American League East. The division has had it’s fair share of headlines throughout this season. The Toronto Blue Jays have made waves since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, and Ben Revere. Last week, I stated they would pass the New York Yankees and wind up winning the division. As of Sunday, the Blue Jays are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and have moved to half a game in front of the Bronx Bombers. This division is going to go down to the wire, and I’m going to love every second of it.
Baseball gets hammered by society with individuals calling it slow and boring. My answer to that statement is that baseball is a lot like the game of chess. You don’t need to be rich or smart to play either, but you need to use your brain. It’s a game of logic, and at times one must be humble by giving yourself up to prepare for future moves. I’ve seen this in the game of chess, and I see it all the time with the sacrifice bunt. Baseball requires individuals to use their brains. It’s been the one true love of my life since an early age and that will never change.
The 2015 season has been a memorable one. Mike Trout won his second consecutive All-Star Game MVP and this past week Mike Fiers fired his first no-hitter and complete game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Kansas City Royals have a commanding lead in the AL Central with a 12.5 game lead. Meanwhile, in the AL West, it remains a three-team race behind the division leading Houston Astros, second place Texas Rangers, and the Los Angeles Angels who look to be falling apart during crunch time.
I want to end my last article of the season by breaking down my top-two picks for the American League MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards. The players that are in contention for these awards not only having helped their big league clubs throughout the season, but all have had an impact on fantasy rosters alike. If you are an owner that was lucky enough to acquire their services either by the way of draft, free agency, or trade, you’ll know how vital they’ve been to your fantasy success. It truly is a crap shoot when it comes to drafting your roster. Whether you are in keeper, dynasty, or redraft leagues you have to not only have your own plan, but you must pay attention to the avenues other owners go with their picks. All of these play into the success moving forward.
Rookie of the Year
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston
Correa has been vital to the Astros’ success since his callup. He showed why he was the organization’s top prospect and he was one of the top callups to own as the season progressed. The shortstop position doesn’t have a lot of depth and Correa will be an impact player for the next decade. In 255 at-bats, Correa has hit a respectable .278 with 15 HR, 43 RBI, and 11 SB. He’s accumulated 55 strikeouts in those at-bats, but he’s slashed an impressive .278/.345/.518. No other American League rookie has had the success Correa has, and for that reason he is my favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year award. If you wanted another impressive number about Correa take a look at his age. He doesn’t turn 21 until September 22.
Billy Burns, OF, Oakland
I could’ve easily added Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon or Tampa Bay starter Nathan Karns, but I like what Burns has done for an Oakland franchise that is only a year removed from making the playoffs. It’s no secret Oakland has to continuously build around a very tight budget, and Billy Beane always does wonders. Just shy of 400 at-bats, Burns has posted a solid .293 average with two home runs, 27 RBI, 54 runs scored, and 24 stolen bases. The slick fielding switch-hitter doesn’t offer much power, but he’s been a solid addition to fantasy owners that took the risk of rostering Burns. Playing for a team that is 29 losses away from 100 with just over 30 games left, Burns has meant a lot to the struggling organization. He’s a breath of fresh air knowing that there is some sort of hope on a team that couldn’t compete against the best minor league teams. There’s no questions Correa will win ROY, but Burns has to get serious consideration for the award.
Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland
It’s pretty amazing when players on horrible teams win prestigious awards. Ernie Banks won the 1958 NL MVP on a losing Cubs team and Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young award for a Mariners team that finished with 100 loses (61-101). With that in mind, Sonny Gray has to be one of the top vote getters for the American League Cy Young. The righty has gone 12-5 with a 2.10 ERA, 1[45:44] K:BB, and 0.975 WHIP. He’s nearly untouchable every time he takes the mound. He’s only given up more than three earned runs in two out of 25 starts. He’s as good as any pitcher in MLB and could easily have six more wins if he would get more run support.
Dallas Keuchel, SP Houston
David Price and Chris Archer will get a lot of attention, but Dallas Keucel is as deserving as anyone for the 2015 Cy Young. His success was recognized early as he was the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game. On the season, Keuchel has helped propel the division leading Houston Astros with a 14-6 record, a 2.37 ERA, 1[56:41] K:BB, and 1.02 WHIP. He’s a starting pitcher that had an average draft position of 170. He was overlooked by many teams, but has paid big dividends to the owners that finally swiped him up. Keuchel has earned the number one spot on the Astros’ starting rotation and will be a great first-game matchup for whomever the Astros play in their first playoff game.
Most Valuable Player
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto
There is no question in my mind that the MVP will either be Donaldson or Mike Trout. Both players have been the centerpiece of their respective organizations and there’s no questioning how great they’ve been throughout the season. Acquired during the offseason, Donaldson was a favorite of mine to have a monster season. He’s playing in one of the best hitters parks and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s three home runs shy of the league lead with 34 and has hit .302 with 100 RBI, 95 runs, and 4-4 in SB. He’s been the top third baseman in both fantasy and MLB. The once 25-year-old rookie hasn’t missed a beat since his 2010 call-up and looks to be a solid fantasy asset for the next 5+ seasons.
Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles
Three home runs shy of tying his career high, the 24-year-old has accomplished more (1 MVP & 2 ASG MVPs) in his first five seasons than most players before his time. He’s easily a perennial MVP candidate and we are looking at a player, when it’s all said and done, that will be the best player of his generation, if not one of the best players in the history of baseball. In 2015, Trout has hit .297 with 33 HR, 73 RBI, 80 R, and 10 SB. Trout always plays with a smile on his face, and regardless of the team you root for you have to get excited when Trout is playing. When I break down his hitting and fielding mechanics, it gives me a great deal of respect for how determined Trout is to be the best at his trade. If you’re looking for the best player to own in fantasy baseball for the next 10+ years, Trout is the player to obtain at all costs.
2015 Comes to a Close
It’s been an honor and a privilege to be apart of Major League Fantasy Sports. I appreciate all the time and effort Mr. Corey Roberts has invested into turning MLFS into the best fantasy sports organization in the world. I appreciate everyone that has taken the time to read the numerous articles spanning from preseason rankings to in-season breakdowns. Here’s to a great 2015 season and many, many more as the years continue on.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday August 30th from 11-1pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Sports Show sponsored by the Sports PaloozaRadio Network. Call in live at 646-915-8596. This week we will discuss the offenses of the Giants, Saints, Chargers, Raiders, and Jets. Defensively we will discuss the Rams, Vikings, Texans, Dolphins, and Bills. If it’s fantasy football relevant we will discuss it.