Over the course of the season, bounces and breaks will go for you and against you. Games get rained out. Players get tossed. Games go into extra innings. Umpires blow calls. Official scorers are biased. With so many pivotal moments of the fantasy season up to pure chance, the one thing we can ensure goes our way is the name of our team. As students of karma, we take the “walk softly and carry big sticks” approach to smack-talk, and recommend a similar kill-you-with-kindness approach when picking a team name. Points are scored at various levels and to various degrees among our peers, with the goal of securing a permanent residence at the corner of Humorous and Original. Variations of baseball team names are bran flakes on our scale; better to go with a play on players’ names, Bourn/Uggla, for example as both a Conan-esque self-jab and a thinly veiled Frost/Nixon reference. Ok, maybe not that thinly veiled. Film (Little Neddy Goes to War), music (Instant Shwarma), obscure television shows (Daktari) can provide some great team names, and any notion to reference WKRP in Cincinnati should be met with little resistance. Dr. Johnny Fever sounds like a great fantasy team name. It’s that easy.
81. Gio Gonzalez, SP – WAS. For White Sox GM Kenny Williams, Gio is the one that got away. Twice. He’s also the one he got. Twice. Williams snared Gio out of high school as a supplemental round pick in 2004, then traded him with Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome in 2005. Williams then reacquired Gonzalez from Philadelphia, along with Gavin Floyd in exchange for Freddy Garcia. Before he could make a major league start for Chicago he was dealt to Oakland in 2008 as the primary piece in the package that brought back Nick Swisher. Don’t let Gonzalez get away from you. Once. He’s posted nearly identical seasons averaging 200 IP, 3.18 ERA, 184K and 15 wins in the past two years and the move from Oakland to Washington will not prevent a three-peat.
82. Madison Bumgarner, SP – SF. The Giants’ southpaw pitched his way through a mad bummer of an April, in which he was 0-4 with a 6.17 ERA, and finished at 13-13 with a 3.21 ERA and 191 K’s in 204 innings. His 9-4 record with a 2.52 ERA after the break was more along the lines of what GM Brian Sabean had in mind for Bumgarner, who turns 23 this August.
83. Billy Butler, 1B/DH – KC. Butler has been productive since his arrival in KC back in 2007. A .297 lifetime hitter who turns 26 this April, much of Billy’s success has come in mediocre lineups. This tells us two things: he’s still young enough that he hasn’t yet hit his true hitting prime, and he’ll benefit from having Hosmer to share the load in the middle of the Royals’ order. Perhaps Butler’s greatest service to fantasy owners in 2011 were the 11 games he started at first base, granting him eligibility at the position in most formats for 2012.
84. Yovani Gallardo, SP – MIL. Gallardo has made 30+ starts in each of the past three seasons, increasing his win total each year. In 2012 he set personal marks with 17 wins, a 3.52 ERA and 207 Ks, and will look to build off those numbers in his age-26 season.
85. Zack Greinke, SP – MIL. Greinke rebounded from a 10-14 year in 2010 to finish at 16-6 in his first year in Milwaukee. His 3.83 ERA was better than 4.17, but lightyears away from the almost non-existent 2.16 of his magical 2009. While it’s likely 2009 is his ceiling, he’ll get closer than he got in ’10 and ’11.
86. Howie Kendrick, 1B/2B/OF – LAA. Throughout his career, Kendrick has been known as a “guy who just might win a batting title someday.” After hitting .321 and .306 in half-seasons in ’07 and ’08 that seemed to be Howie’s path, but he’s dipped to .285 over the past three years, adding power to his game in 2011 with 18 HR. We’ll take the swap.
87. Joe Mauer, C/1B – MIN. If fantasy is any indicator, and it’s not, the Twins are in for a rough year. The first Gemini off our board is Joe Mauer, and he comes with a healthy amount of risk. Unfortunately for Mauer, the risk has been the only healthy thing about him over the past three seasons. Back to full strength heading into his age-28 season, Mauer Pauer may be the only show in two cities, but it’s a good one.
88. Buster Posey, C – SF. In his short career, Posey has gone from Best in Show to Waiting for Guffman. No longer Dazed and Confused, the House of Yes should be open again in 2012. All extended Parker Posey metaphors aside, don’t miss out when Superman Returns.
89. B.J. Upton, OF – TB. At 28, some ballplayers are just getting their first shot in the majors. Some feel like they have been here for ages. B.J. debuted all the way back in ’04 and was up for good in ’07. He now has five full seasons on the back of his card, and last year regained his power stroke adding 23 HR to 36 steals for the Rays. His .258 lifetime batting average is actually flattering, as he’s hit .241, .237 and .243 over the past three seasons. If he can hit .260 he’s a value, if he can hit .280, he’s a stud.
90. Ichiro, OF – SEA. Ichiro’s incredible streak of 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons ended in 2011. In his 11th season in Seattle, Ichiro endured the worst of his professional career. He hit below .303 for the first time, finishing at .272, got on base at less than a .350 clip for the first time with a .310 OBP, and slugged below .386 for the first time with a .335 SLG%. At 38, it’s certainly reasonable to guess that the decline will continue, but we don’t. 40 steals last year means his wheels are far from shot, and we’re betting it was just a horrid year for the Mariners and it finally had an effect on Ichiro. 2012 will be a better year for the M’s and is a contract year for the surefire hall of famer. “They say the Jet’s lost a step or two, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fireworks here.” – S. Smalls