The 2012 season was quite the year. We saw a Triple Crown winner, Oakland stun the Rangers, and Lew Ford make a return from the baseball dead. The fantasy world was no stranger to shocks and surprises this year either. Like no other year in recent memory, the preseason rankings were flipped on their head. Many players greatly exceeded their draft day expectations, while just as many flopped. Here are the three players that disappointed the most in 2012 and the three players that gave their fantasy owners the most bang for their buck.
Adrian Gonzalez drew the ire of each and every one of his fantasy owners this season. He posted only 18 home runs and 108 runs batted in over the course of his disappointing 2012 season. A consensus second round pick or better this spring, Gonzalez failed to live up to his billing and even switched leagues mid-season, much to the chagrin of his AL-only owners. While he was fortunate enough to escape the sinking ship in Boston, he more than likely capsized the season of those who drafted him. Despite the fact that he added outfield eligibility in many leagues and still managed to hit .299, he was unquestionably one of the biggest busts of the 2012 season.
After years of consistent power production, Mike Napoli added batting average to his repertoire in 2011. Coming off a season in which he hit .320, Napoli was among the first catchers off the board this spring. However, if you invested in Mr. Napoli this season you undoubtedly were none too pleased with his efforts. Despite hitting in a potent Rangers lineup, he was only able to post a .227 batting average and 56 runs batted in. Couple this with the comparisons to Adrian Beltre (.321-36-102-95) and Josh Hamilton’s (.285-4-128-103) outstanding seasons and it makes his performance look even worse.
Nobody has fallen from grace quite as quickly as Tim Lincecum. After the previous four seasons in which he recorded 62 wins, well over 200 strikeouts each season, and a pair of NL Cy Young Awards, Lincecum’s 2012 season was an absolute disaster. How bad was it? He finished dead last in the NL in ERA (5.18) and WHIP (1.47) among qualifying pitchers and recorded only 10 wins, the fewest since his rookie campaign. Some have blamed a dip in his velocity for his poor results while others blame it on his unorthodox mechanics. One thing that is undeniable, however, is that The Freak did not return his draft day value at all.
Chances are if you drafted Mike Trout, you won your league in 2012. Arguably the best player in the game already, Trout posted an unprecedented rookie campaign and is a legit challenger for the AL MVP Award. While Trout was mostly an afterthought on draft day, those who remembered the name were rewarded beyond their wildest dreams as he posted a .326 batting average, 30 homers, and an AL leading 129 runs and 49 stolen bases. As good as he was in 2012, he may only be scratching the surface. Though he will mostly likely miss out on the 2012 MVP award, he almost certainly has one coming in his future.
R.A. Dickey was the story of the season in Major League Baseball. Ranked outside the top-50 starting pitchers coming into the season, all Dickey did was lead the National League in strikeouts (230) and record 20 wins. He pitched three shutouts on his way to the number one rank among fantasy pitchers in 2012 in standard scoring. While there are certainly questions about the sustainability of his success, his ability to overcome personal demons and career journeyman status in 2012 is nothing short of incredible.
This is going to be a tough read for Tigers and Angels fans. While those clubs endured issues in the back end of their bullpens, their former stopper Fernando Rodney, enjoyed a remarkable season. Kyle Farnsworth entered 2012 as the closer for Tampa but a spring injury to the big fella opened a door for Rodney, a door that he slammed shut time after time. After only one year with more than 14 saves in his career, Rodney recorded 48 in 2012 with an ERA under one. He ended the season as the number one reliever and was truly dominant all season long. Rodney was probably not drafted in most leagues, making him the best relief value of the season.
Written By Jordan Hall