With the 2011 baseball season officially in the books, I thought I’d break from my traditional diary format this week to look back at the postseason and, from a fantasy perspective, try to make sense of it all. Now listen, I’m not one to overrate a player’s postseason performance to the extent where it radically alters my valuation of the guy heading into the following season. In fact, the main reason why I even pay attention to this stuff is that many fantasy players do tend to place way too much importance on the postseason. After all, the images of October linger all winter, so it’s real easy to let a few weeks cloud our judgment. Determining what to believe and what to ignore could give the astute owner a huge advantage on draft day. So here’s a look at five players who were either smoking hot or ice cold over the past month.
Postseason (2 Games, 1 Start): 1-0 0.90 ERA 0.60 WHIP
Seven shutout innings in your first ever postseason start is impressive enough, but considering that this also happened to be Moore’s second career big league start, the kid deserves a ton of credit. He’s a big-time prospect who wasted little time proving that he belongs in the Majors. Chances are he’ll reach ace status sooner rather than later, but in non-keeper leagues, I definitely won’t be the one who reaches for him. Paying big bucks for a pitcher with a mere three Major League games under his belt is too risky. Would I draft Moore at the right price? Absolutely. But I’m pretty sure that he’ll go for a lot higher than I’m willing to spend. To me, at least for the time being, he’s a back end of the rotation mixed league starter who will be valued as a mid-rotation guy. No thanks.
Postseason (12 Games): 5-for-5 in saves 2.19 ERA 0.49 WHIP
Just when we thought that Motte’s dominant postseason guaranteed him the Cardinals’ 2012 closer job, he gets pulled from Game 2 of the World Series before he even allows the tying run! Is that how you treat your closer? I know, I know, the lefty-swinging Josh Hamilton was due up and with a precious one-run lead, Tony LaRussa opted to go with his own lefty, Arthur Rhodes. But still, closers aren’t supposed to be taken out of games like that. The important thing though was that when it came down to securing the Cardinals’ 11th title in franchise history, Motte was the man on the mound. There’s little doubt in my mind that he will open 2012 as the St. Louis stopper, and his talent is unquestioned, but LaRussa’s penchant for micromanaging his bullpen and changing closers on a whim would give me reason for pause before investing heavily in Motte. Even if I drafted him as my No. 2 closer, I’d be a little worried.
Postseason (18 Games): .397 AVG 5 HR 21 RBI .794 SLG 1.258 OPS
Even before his dramatic walk-off homer in Game 6 of the Fall Classic, Freese, the obvious choice for World Series MVP, was arguably the most valuable player of the entire postseason. I’ll tell you why I’m not sold on him though. Freese’s postseason walk and strikeout rates were roughly in line with his regular season averages, yet he batted 100 points higher in October. Not to mention that he was a very streaky hitter throughout the regular season. While Freese’s outstanding month has certainly earned him respect in fantasy circles, I still need to see more before drafting him as my starter in mixed leagues. And I have a funny feeling that plenty of owners will do just that.
Postseason (11 Games): .073 AVG (3-for-41) 1 HR 2 RBI .146 SLG .263 OPS
One of the bigger fantasy surprises of 2011, Avila was basically an automatic out in October, recording a mere three hits in 41 at-bats. But fear not! Avila’s struggles can partly be attributed to a knee injury suffered back in July which eventually led to tendonitis. I can’t help but think that the persisting injury combined with the physical toll of catching every day had something to do with this. Avila will not need surgery, and I fully expect that an offseason of rest is all he needs. He’s ranked as a top-5 catcher on most early 2012 cheat sheets, and I have no problem with it. Avila did enough during the regular season to convince me that he’s for real, and I would not hesitate to target him in drafts next spring.
Postseason (3 Starts): 0-3 14.90 ERA 2.28 WHIP .395 BAA
To say that Marcum struggled in the playoffs would be a monumental understatement. After virtually duplicating his stellar 2010 stat line in 2011, the 29-year-old righty couldn’t even make it through the fifth inning in any of his three postseason starts. Add in the fact that he struggled through a rough September (5.17 ERA 5 HR allowed in five starts) and plenty of owners might be scared off. Don’t be one of those owners. Few starting pitchers have been as consistent as Marcum over the past three years, and I’d gladly slot him into the middle of my mixed league rotation. Give him to me at a discount and I’d be ecstatic.