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It was supposed to be so easy. We wanted to name our 2015 Fantasy Baseball Awards and I didn’t feel like it should be just one person naming the winners. So, I thought I’d email the staff and, voila, we’d nail down the award winners and be on to more offseason Fantasy Baseball content.

Yeah that didn’t quite work out. Instead of getting any kind of consensus, our staff votes were all over the map. In fact we even got into a long email debate about just what makes one player more valuable than another in Fantasy terms. One school said a player’s cost of acquisition affected their value, while another group said it was just flat out production. It was a great debate and I encourage you to continue reading after you vote for our Fantasy awards below.

Following our debate on value it occurred to me, that if our staff had so many differing views, we might need to expand our vote. I have my ideas about what makes a player valuable, but my wife says I’m not always correct (whatever).

That’s where you come in. We need your help in coming to an agreement on the most (and least) valuable players of the 2015 Fantasy Baseball season.

Please vote for our 2015 Fantasy Baseball Awards and help us put a seal on the Fantasy Baseball season. Then read our debate about player value and share your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this page. I need for you to tell some of these So-Called bozos that the RotoDaddy is always right… Yeah, don’t listen to my wife. She thinks Kirby Puckett had something to do with vacuum cleaners.

The SCFE 2015 Fantasy Baseball Awards

You can vote once every 24 hours and up to three times. Make them count.

American League Fantasy MVP

Mike Trout will be a popular choice for the real MVP, but he was pretty much a consensus No. 1 pick. Does that matter? Josh Donaldson was pretty hyped this spring, but still went in the second round of most drafts. Pretty good value. Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, and J.D. Martinez went later in drafts, but still delivered some pretty huge numbers. As far as return on investment, these three were likely tops. I limited the ballot to five players, but it hurt not seeing Manny Machado’s name on the ballot. Feel free to write him in.

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National League Fantasy MVP

At first glance this one looks like a toss-up between Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado. Both delivered monster numbers and each was typically available into the third to fifth rounds back in March. Don’t get hung up on just those two though. You probably need to look a little more closely at A.J. Pollock. He went a lot later in drafts and his final numbers shocked me. I don’t want to influence your vote, but I’ll share a little secret with you about Pollock at the very end of this article.

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American League Fantasy Cy Young

I’m not sure there is a favorite here. Most of our staff were split between Dallas Keuchel and David Price, but those strikeout numbers that Chris Sale put up carry plenty of weight.

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National League Fantasy Cy Young

Just like in real baseball, this one probably comes down to Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke. Of course Clayton Kershaw and his 300-plus strikeouts is not a bad fallback plan.

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American League Fantasy Rookie of the Year

Carlos Correa is probably the frontrunner here, but Francisco Lindor got surprising support from the staff and Miguel Sano was pretty amazing as well.

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National League Fantasy Rookie of the Year

It’s hard to vote against Kris Bryant here. Despite all the Ks, he did a lot of things right. Joc Pederson was the early season favorite but he Pedered out. Kyle Schwarber may have approached Bryant’s numbers had he came up earlier in the season.

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American League’s Biggest Fantasy Bust – Hitter

These awards will no doubtedly hurt some of you. Carlos Gomez makes an appearance here despite spening most of the season in the NL. Hanley Ramirez started the season well, but was not heard from after June. A lot of Fantasy owners kept waiting on Chris Carter and Adam LaRoche. You can stop. Robinson Cano may have been a runaway favorite for this award up to the All-Star break, but a late season surge of adequacy may have saved him.

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National League’s Biggest Fantasy Bust – Hitter

Is it a coincidence that two of these players are Washington Nationals? Yasiel Puig is a polarizing player, but he pushed many Fantasy owners away this year.

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American League’s Biggest Fantasy Bust – Pitching

Jeff Samardzija was the whipping boy of the SCFE staff in this category. You guys feel any different?

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National League’s Biggest Fantasy Bust – Pitching

This is maybe the most wide open category. Stephen Strasburg would have been a runaway winner early in the season, but he may have salvaged his Fantasy reputation with some big games late in the year. Julio Teheran followed much the same path, but his late season success was less dramatic. Jordan Zimmermann and Alex Wood were not terrible, but they hardly met the lofty expectations put upon them by Fantasy owners. Doug Fister? He came with middling expectations and missed those by a wide margin.

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Our Debate on Fantasy Value

As I said earlier, I did not think the topic of this article would bring out so many different views. It seems obvious to me that the true value of a player is also related to their draft-day cost.

Mike Trout had a fine season, but he was the most expensive player to acquire in your 2015 Fantasy Baseball drafts. In order for me to consider him a Fantasy MVP he would have had to outpace his peers by a wide margin. That was just not so. I came to find that many of the SCFE staff, didn’t share my views.

What follows are excerpts from the email thread in which we discussed how we would decide our Fantasy Awards:

Here is the initial email:

Please submit 3 to 5 names for each category. The 5 names that I receive the most votes for will make the ballot. Do remember that every category is not just who was best or worst, but it also has to do with cost of acquisition. Clayton Kershaw was a top pitcher, but he cost a bundle. Was he still a Fantasy Cy Young? Not in my book, but you may feel different.

Here is some of the back and forth that took place in this email thread.

Dan Domenick – I’m taking perhaps an overly simplistic approach, but to me, “MVP,” especially in a fantasy baseball context, means the player with the best season.  So for me, I referred to the standard ESPN 5×5 roto categories Player Rater for my MVP candidates, including pitchers.

Doug Anderson – Can’t believe no mention of J.D. Martinez. At the price he went for in the spring he was as valuable as any player in baseball. Chris Davis? Most valuable in Fantasy to me means the players that returned obscene profits.

Dan Domenick – Different way of looking at the question.  I support anyone who defines “MVP” as someone who provided the greatest return on investment.  For me personally, I’m looking at the player who provided the most overall value at season’s end.  So while a guy like J.D. Martinez may have had a greater ROI than a guy like Mike Trout, I would still put Trout ahead of J.D. because Trout provided greater “value” in his season-long performance than J.D. did.  Like I said, two different, but completely valid, ways of defining “MVP.”

Doug Anderson – But did he? ( I like arguing :-) Especially in auction formats, the price it took to get him hurt your team in other areas. I’d just argue that you don’t win leagues by drafting Trout in the first round. J.D. Martinez won more Fantasy titles for his owners than Trout did IMO.

Tyler Fuller – JD Martinez’s breakout is a huge reason why I’m going to win my league, but I had trouble with the definition of MVP. I think there should be a “Most Improved Player” or “Breakout Performer” award. Just my opinion.

Dan Domenick – My day job is as a lawyer, so I can appreciate a good argument.  :-)
Perhaps “value” is the wrong word in MY explanation.  So let’s try to break it down like this–Based on ESPN’s 2015 Player Rater for standard 5×5 roto categories, Mike Trout has a current Player Rater grade of 10.90.  For J.D. Martinez, that number is 8.83.  In other words, let me put it like so–even though J.D. had the (admittedly significantly) higher ROI than Trout in 2015, Trout had the objectively better season in 2015.

One thing I would keep in mind in discussing this specific example–depending on league size (let’s assume a 12-team league) and you had the #1 overall pick, you could have theoretically drafted both Trout and J.D. (he had an ADP of 144.9 in ESPN leagues, so it’s not that the two are sort of mutually exclusive).  Granted, the auction format is an entirely separate beast from the snake draft, so I guess I should specify that I’ve been answering this question specifically from a snake draft perspective.

Graham Briggs – For my two cents I will say that the MVP in real baseball is the player that helps their respective team the most.

In the fantasy game IMO the most valuable player is the one that helps your team the most, not just in roto categories but in overall value. So to me AJ Pollock or JD Martinez are more valuable than Trout. I would till love to have Trout, but the real value comes in picking up Pollock late or grabbing Correa on the wire. The owners that do that successfully win leagues. I guess I’m on the return on investment group.

Fabian Taylor – Yahoo has original and actual value in terms of player ranking. This is a great way to determine who had the greatest ROI. I would definitely be in the camp of value being tied to cost. In the stock market, the best company does not make the best stock pick. It all comes down to price.

John LaPresto – This is my first year contributing so, maybe I’m coming at this from the wrong angle. Essentially I’ve just been a fan of the site and as a fan/reader, regardless of how we define value, the articles my friends and I find most helpful are the ones that discuss players we all had a chance of drafting (assuming it’s not auction).

As a reader, when you click on that “End of Season Recap” article it’s great to look back and find something you can learn from. To be frank, it’s such a bummer when you click on someone’s Fantasy MVP article and it’s Mike Trout because, yeah, no kidding … unless you had a top two pick the article you’re about to read is just a reminder that you never had a shot at that guy anyway.

The articles that talk about ROI, biggest impact compared to the replacement level player, best later round values etc. are the ones my friends and I love reading/arguing about.

Mark Strausberg – You’re all wrong. The MVP this year is 2013 Scott Feldman, who if he doesn’t pitch well, the Os don’t trade Arrieta for him and he’s stuck in Baltimore still with no run support this year and doesn’t have the year he has this year.

Jason Meller – I couldn’t agree with John more. Fantasy players want to read articles like this to learn who they should/could have drafted or feel like they are getting a pat on the back if they did, and reminded why they won. My favorite part about Doug’s original email was the “LVP” award. Identifying bust can help fantasy players avoid players like that in the coming years.

Joe Bond –  I think its a little combo of both. If an earlier pick like Donaldson puts up the numbers he did, then he can for sure be in the conversation. But you can for sure put people who aren’t having as good of a season but were much later picks like a Pollock in the discussion too.

What is a Fantasy MVP?

As you can see, the debate basically took on two sides. One that said it was just about the numbers a player put up, and the other that said a player with lesser numbers could be more valuable if their purchase price was lower.

For me there is no doubt. A Fantasy Most Valuable Player is the player that helps you win Fantasy leagues. While Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw certainly don’t hurt your chances, I don’t think they’re the reason you win leagues. It’s drafting power sources like Chris Davis and J.D. Martinez that put you ahead of your competition. Or maybe it was your faith in Chris Archer and Dallas Keuchel that put you over the top. These players performed like first or second rounders, but you didn’t have to pay a lot for that muffler.

Oh, About that A.J. Pollock Guy

In our email debate it seemed to come down to the production of Mike Trout vs. the value of A.J. Pollock. I’ve got some news for you. Any way you want to look at the numbers, forget the cost, Pollock simply outproduced Trout. Whether you want to use the ESPN Player Rater or check the Fantasy Baseball Dollar Values, Pollock had Trout’s number(s). This coming from a player that was available in the 15th round and later in most leagues. For me, A.J. Pollock was easily the Most Valuable Player in all of Fantasy for the 2015 season.

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