Miguel Cabrera isn't getting much press these days with the Marlins way out of playoff contention, but he's had another fantastic season for fantasy owners. I like to start off my analysis of Cabrera by reminding readers that he's still only 24 years old. It feels like he's been around for awhile so we take for granted his incredible offensive production. For the 2nd consecutive year, Cabrera has posted an FPI over 0.80. He has 34 HR for a career best HR/AB of 16.9. He has a .969 OPS, slightly down from his career best last year of .992. He walked more this year, averaging a walk for every 8.7 plate appearances compared to 7.7 last season. However, he also struck out more for a decreased batting eye from .80 to .60. With 5 games left to play, his 2007 line is looking like a .320 average, 34 HR, 115 RBI, 90 R, and 185 hits. Rumors on the street say that the Marlins organization has confronted Cabrera about his increasing size (hamburgers, not weight lifting) so it will be interesting to see if he arrives at spring training in better shape. Either way, he'll be a slam-dunk 1st round pick in fantasy drafts in 2008.
Tim Hudson puts an end to the season with another decent pitching performance against the Phillies, but was handed the loss due to a key error by 3B Chipper Jones. Hudson's line was a quality start 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, and 1 BB. After a tremendous start to the season in which he went 3-0 in April with a 1.40 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, it was inevitable that he would slow down a bit. But overall, he was relatively consistent throughout the season. In the first half, Hudson was 8-5 with a 3.54 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. The second half was almost exactly the same, going 8-5 with a 3.08 ERA, 1.23 WHIP. His comeback year has put him back into the top-fantasy pitcher category. However, his low K/9 of 5.3 keeps him in the 2nd tier of pitchers.
It certainly has felt like a very disappointing season for Lance Berkman. Owners were likely very frustrated with his slow start. But with 2 more HR in yesterday's game, Berkman now has 33 dingers for the year, 100 RBI, and 93 runs scored. He raises his average to .280, OPS to .893, and FPI to 0.72. Granted, his pre-season FPI forecast was 0.84, yielding a 0.12 variance. But his overall power numbers were still decent. He'll still enter 2008 in the top-tier of fantasy picks.
Adam LaRoche is a great example of someone who really turned a season around. He started April hitting just .133 (11-for-83) with 3 HR and 11 RBI for an FPI of 0.23. Since May 1st, he's been a completely different player hitting .302 with 18 HR, 76 BRI, and a 0.69 FPI. The power never left LaRoche's bat through the ups-and-downs, but he certainly had overall better production after getting over the early-season slump. If you were patient through April, it paid off.
J-Ro (Jimmy Rollins) continues to make a case for the MVP award (and it will likely be his for the taking if the Phillies make the playoffs). He went 3-for-4 last night with 5 TB and a run scored, bringing his season average to .296 and FPI to 0.77. Want to have some fun with some statistical oddities? With 700 AB this season, Rollins will break Willie Wilson's season record of most AB in a season of 705 (set back in 1980). Its also interesting to note that Rollins has 207 hits and will also likely break Maury Wills' record of most hits in a season hitting under .300. Wills had 208 hits in 1962 and hit .299. One last thought (Philly fans should turn away now for what I'm about to suggest): if Rollins goes into a slump in the last 5 games of the season, he could break Juan Pierre's record for the lowest average in a 200-hit season of .292.