Fantasy Baseball Retrospective – The OBFBL Turns 13.
This season marks the 13th year of the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League (“OBFBL”). Back in 1999, I created a 16-team (expanded to 18 teams in 2000), head to head, points fantasy baseball league comprised of friends and family. It is a non-keeper league where a random fresh draft order is done before each season. Now thirteen years later, the league is still running strong with some new faces and rule changes to keep up with the times. Back then, the internet was just becoming a must-have for any fantasy league. I initially started the league by doing everything manually which proved to be a logistical disaster. So after the first week of the season, the OBFBL was run on TQ Stats where it would remain until 2008. After TQ Stats was bought out by Fanball, I moved the league to CBS where it has remained ever since. Times have changed and the league has evolved every year, including rule changes, format changes, and administrative changes. Now thirteen years later, the OBFBL has reached adulthood (at least in the eyes of Judaism).
I will be doing a retrospective of the league by compiling various lists of data and information from over the years, including interesting tidbits from old drafts and analyzing success based on draft position. Given how long the OBFBL has been running, I thought I would make the first edition of the retrospective a tribute to longevity. The following is a list (in order of when they were drafted) of the Top 25 players that were drafted in the OBFBL in 1999 and are still currently playing today. I will include some analysis and commentary for each player based on where they stood thirteen years ago and where they stand today.
1. Alex Rodriguez-SS-SEA (1st round, 2nd pick) – A-Rod was still a young pup but was already established as one of the game’s elite players at a premium position. He went second overall behind Mike Piazza, which isn’t that surprising given Piazza’s credentials at the catcher position. Today, A-Rod remains a viable fantasy option at third base for the Yankees. He is no longer a lock for a first round pick, but he is still near the top of the list for options at his position.
2. Ivan Rodriguez-C-TEX (1st round, 15th pick) - Pudge was in the prime of his career as one of the game’s best offensive catchers not named Piazza. Clearly benefiting from “the juice,” he put up some monster offensive numbers and was always highly regarded by OBFBL league members. He is a shell of his former self as father time and lack of injections have depleted him of his offensive skills, but he is still the starting catcher in Washington.
3. Derek Jeter-SS-NYY (1st round, 16th pick) – this was back in the glory days of the American League shortstops. Jeter never could compare to the numbers put up by A-Rod, Nomar, or even Miguel Tejada, but he still produced terrific offensive numbers in terms of hits, runs, stolen bases, walks, and RBI at that position. Presently, he is coming off his worst offensive season and just signed a controversial contract extension. There is no reason to think he can’t or won’t return to his season average numbers, but he certainly is not mentioned as a possible first round pick anymore.
4. Chipper Jones-3B-ATL (2nd round, 6th pick) – Chipper was the premiere option at third base back then in the days when he was healthy and could play 150 games. He is barely hanging on today as he annually recovers from various injuries that he has sustained during his likely Hall of Fame career. He is no longer an option for a starting third base slot, but he will likely be drafted and could be valuable if he can stay on the field.
5. Manny Ramirez-OF-CLE (2nd round, 8th pick) – much of what was said about Chipper can be said about Ramirez. He was entering the prime of his career in 1999 and would only get better as the years went on. Today, he is hanging on as a DH in Tampa Bay and could still rack up numbers if his body doesn’t betray him. He will be a later round pick with some upside.
6. Vladimir Guerrero-OF-MON (2nd round, 12th pick) – at the time, Vlad was blossoming into one of the best fantasy players in the league. He hit for an extremely high batting average, had tremendous power, and also stole lots of bases. This was right before he truly emerged as an elite force, but it was evident you could build a fantasy team around him. Today, Vlad is relegated to a full-time DH as he joins the Orioles after spending one successful year in Texas. He is a middle round pick with good upside as he hits in a solid lineup in a great hitters’ park.
7. Jason Giambi-1B-OAK (2nd round, 14th pick) – he was also emerging as an elite option at first base in 1999. Today, he is a backup first baseman in Colorado and primarily used as a left-handed pinch hitter. He has no fantasy value and should not be drafted.
8. Jim Thome-1B-CLE (2nd round, 15th pick) – Thome was already a proven veteran power hitter on his way to a prolific career hitting homeruns. He has changed teams several times, but he remains a candidate for a bench spot on your fantasy roster as he serves as a DH for the Twins.
9. Scott Rolen-3B-PHI (3rd round, 4th pick) – he never fully reached his potential due to injuries and a bad attitude than ran him out of Philadelphia. He was a solid option at third base, but never performed up to the expectations that were set. Today, he has revitalized his career in Cincinnati and managed to stay healthy in 2010. Assuming he avoids injuries, he is a solid middle-tier option in 2011.
10. Andruw Jones-OF-ATL (4th round, 11th pick) – the other Jones in Atlanta came up in 1996 as a 19-year old and was established as a burgeoning star by 1999. He was a solid #2 outfield option and would continue this trend well into the 2000′s. As he entered his 30′s, his skills rapidly declined and now he is simply a reserve outfielder on the Yankees.
11. Kevin Millwood-SP-ATL (4th round, 13th pick) – he was the youngest stud on those great Atlanta pitching staffs and expectations were high for him. He never truly reached those levels, but he was a solid option for a #2 or #3 starter in fantasy. Today, he is coming off a horrendous 2010 that has left him looking for work as of today.
12. J.D. Drew-OF-STL (5th round, 4th pick) – Drew was a highly touted prospect and former #1 pick that refused to play in Philadelphia. His legacy is that he gets constantly injured, even when he wakes up in the morning. He never lived up to his potential and has remained an average players for his entire career. Now playing in Boston, he may be splitting time with Mike Cameron which could decrease whatever value he had left.
13. Jorge Posada-C-NYY (5th round, 13th pick) – a lot of credit is owed to Posada for lasting so long and being as productive as he has been over his career. He has never been an elite option, but he has remained a solid top 10 catcher for almost 15 years. Only now has he unwillingly relinquished his catching duties as he nears the end of his career. It is a credit and testament to him that he was a solid fantasy option in 1999 and in 2011.
14. Edgar Renteria-SS-STL (6th round, 7th pick) – it is also hard to believe that Renteria has been around this long too. He was a solid fantasy option at SS back in 1999 as his offensive skills were much sharper. Father time and nagging injuries have sapped Renteria of his offensive production and he is likely done as an everyday player. But he is a World Series MVP and has had two game-winning hits to win championships. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact he won’t be drafted this year.
15. Todd Helton-1B-COL (6th round, 11th pick) – at the time, this was a steal to get Helton in the 6th round as he would embark on the first of several monsterous seasons. Helton became an elite option at first base benefiting from hitting in Denver and being in the middle of the Blake Street Bombers. Allegations of performance enhancing drugs surfaced in the mid-2000′s and coincidentally his numbers dropped significantly and he has been ravaged by injuries. Helton is no longer an option at first base and probably should not be drafted.
16. Mariano Rivera-RP-NYY (6th round, 12th pick) – it’s as simple as this…Rivera was the best at what he does in 1999 and is still the best in 2011. He may not lead the league in saves, but you can count on very few blown saves, lots of strikeouts, and barely any earned runs allowed.
17. Bobby Abreu-OF-PHI (7th round, 8th pick) – very few players have such polarizing effects on people as Abreu. He would become a fantasy stud due to his high batting average, propensity to draw walks and score runs, homerun power, and high stolen base totals. However, he never reached that superstar status that was pinned to him. He has remained relevant in fantasy over the years, and will now serve as the Angels’ full-time DH. This may be the last year of consistent production out of Abreu as time catches up with him.
18. Magglio Ordonez-OF-CHW (8th round, 7th pick) – it has been a tale of two careers for Maggs as he was on his way to reaching elite status until a significant leg injury hampered him in the mid-2000′s. After leaving the White Sox, Ordonez has been a rollercoaster in terms of performance with the Tigers. When healthy, he can still be a productive hitter. However, health is an ongoing concern for him and reach 25-30 homeruns does not seem realistic anymore. The end is near for Maggs as well.
19. Chris Carpenter-SP-TOR (8th round, 15th pick) – it is easy to forget that Carpenter began his career way back in 1999 with the Blue Jays. He was a highly-touted prospect that never could put it together or stay healthy enough to live up to his potential in Toronto. In the mid-2000′s, the Cardinals took a chance on Carpenter and it has paid off to say the least. When healthy, he is a top 10 pitcher…but it seems like he is hurt every year. His hamstring injury this spring is something to watch closely.
20. Miguel Tejada-SS-OAK (9th round, 9th pick) – it was around this time when Tejada joined group of elite offensive shortstops. He became a prolific homerun hitter and run producer emerging as the third best option behind A-Rod and Nomar. Over the years, allegations of steroid use ran rampant and conveniently his power dissipated. He can now be considered a journeyman infielder as he joined the world champion Giants a shell of his former self. His multiple position eligibility and starting gig as a shortstop will get him drafted, but don’t expect much production anymore.
21. Johnny Damon-OF-KC (9th round, 14th pick) – Damon was a young prospect with big upside at the time as a speed guy. He hadn’t developed his power stroke yet, nor had he developed the facial hair he would later be known for. Much like every other good Royal, he would price himself out of Kansas City and go on to shine in Boston and New York. Now he with Tampa Bay looking to re-establish himself as a viable everyday player which should land him a draft selection as a 3rd outfield option.
22. Carlos Guillen-2B-SEA (14th round, 10th pick) – one of the key pieces of the 1998 Randy Johnson trade, Guillen is the epitome of a health risk. He has produced solid numbers throughout his career when healthy at various positions. When he has had very good offensive seasons, expectations run high the following year only to be met with disappointment from his inability to stay on the field. He is slated to be the Tigers’ second baseman again, and if healthy, he is a nice late round option as others pass him over.
23. Derrek Lee-1B-FLA (15th round, 10th pick) – at the time, Lee was still a relatively unknown commodity. He would become a solid option at first base but never produced eye-opening numbers until later in his career with the Cubs. He is another victim of Father Time and nagging injuries as he joins the Orioles in an attempt to re-establish himself as well. He has fallen to a third-tier option at first base which could mean a steal for someone that grabs him in the later round.
24. Carlos Beltran-OF-KC (15th round, 16th pick) – seeing the physical condition of Beltran now, it is hard to remember him as a young stud. He had a brief cup of coffee with Kansas City in 1998 and hopes were high for him in 1999. He produced a solid rookie campaign but wouldn’t emerge as a top talent until 2001. Now he is slowly coming back from knee injuries which have precipitated a move from CF to RF. He is playing for a contract this year which should motivate him. But health is a major concern for Beltran as he looks to earn another big payday.
25. Roy Halladay-SP-TOR (16th round, 6th pick) – what better way to conclude this list than with the best pitcher in all of baseball today. Back then, Halladay was a prospect who was rushed to the big leagues and faltered for several years until he finally put it all together in the early 2000′s. Now he is clearly the top pitching option in any draft. His talent and abilities have always been there, as evidence by this late round pick in 1999 when he was still an unknown. Now thirteen years later, he has justified all of the hype, and then some.
So there you have it. This was the first of several trips down memory lane. While thirteen years doesn’t seem like an overly long amount of time, you can see that lots has changed. It is interesting to see how some players were correctly projected to be successful and have remained relevant at a high level ever since. Stay tuned for more retrospective articles in the coming days and weeks. Feel free to share your comments, thoughts and analysis by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.