This team of after-thoughts likely creamed any of your teams in 2012. Despite being buried in drafts and holding zero name value, they rose above the doubters.
At catcher, Wilin Rosario was largely not drafted and ended up with 28 HR, 71 RBI and 67 R over just 117 games.
Playing first base, Billy Butler batted .313 with 29 HR, 107 RBI and 72 R, making his first All Star Team and playing 20 games at first base to earn eligibility. According to Fantasy Pros 911, Butler was taken 117th overall in drafts.
Second baseman Aaron Hill went entirely undrafted in the final expert mock draft for ESPN’s 2012 draft kit. Hill only went on to bat .302 with 26 HR, 85 RBI, 93 R and 14 SB.
Chase Headley was ranked 19th among third basemen by the ESPN crew, outside the top 200 overall. Headley had just four homers and 13 steals in part time play at the hot corner for San Diego in 2011. But in 2012 he exploded got 31 bombs, 115 RBI, 17 steals and 95 runs scored.
Shortstop Ian Desmond fell outside the top 300 in average draft position in 2012 according to FP911, after batting .253 with 139 strikeouts in 2011. But he stuffed the stat sheet last season, batting .292, passing 20 HR and SB, as well as offering more than 70 runs and RBI.
I will assume this standard roster needs five outfielders… Not to pick on ESPN, but they are the most widely used source for rankings, so I have to point out that Mike Trout was listed as the 98th outfielder and outside the top 400 players overall last season. No one can fault them for that as he started the season in the minors, but we all know how he ended it (should have been MVP). Austin Jackson, Allen Craig and Alfonso Soriano all fell between outfielder number 60 and 70 in the preseason ranks. Jackson finished with a .300 average, 16 HR, 12 SB and 103 runs scored. Craig batted .307 with 22 HR, 92 RBI and 76 R and Soriano hit .262 with 32 HR, 108 RBI and he scored 68 runs. Finally, Josh Reddick was almost entirely undrafted. He finished with 32 HR, 85 RBI and runs scored, adding 11 steals.
While there were less “out of nowhere” pitching performances in 2012, if you eliminated the top 35 ranked starting pitchers, one could still cobble together a rotation from NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (20 wins, 2.73 ERA, 230 Ks), Gio Gonzalez (21 wins, 2.89 ERA, 207 Ks, 3rd in CY voting), Johnny Cueto (19 wins, 2.78 ERA, 170 Ks, 4th in CY voting), Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA, 0.913 WHIP) and Chris Sale (17 wins, 3.05 ERA, 192 Ks).
Finally, coming out of the pen, I’ll give you one of my favorite stats of the year…
Jim Johnson led the league with 51 saves last season. Fernando Rodney was second with 48. Jason Motte tied for third with 42. Rafael Soriano tied Motte with 42. Aroldis Chapman was seventh in saves with 38. Those five men had 24 saves in 2011. Combined.
One could put together similar dominance from late picks every season. Do not phone in the end of your draft. Someone had done their research last March and, when all of his friends were talking trash about their studs, or refilling on chips and dip, he called out “R.A. Dickey” or “Mike Trout” and went on to win the league. Research always pays off.