What makes Pat Burrell blanch, Kip Wells cringe and Dan Haren rejoice?
The Reggie Awards, of course.
The awards were dubbed Coreys last year, for Corey Patterson, who was tearing it up for delighted fantasy owners everywhere. With Patterson tanking this year, the Associated Press' half-season fantasy baseball awards have been renamed Reggies for Angels outfielder Reggie Willits, arguably the best fantasy find of the first half. (Notably, he never was mentioned in this weekly column).
Reggies are widely coveted by players; who wouldn't want an imaginary kudo, awarded to ballplayers for helping fantasy owners they don't know win a game that only exists in the minds of a small subset of the population, signifying nothing?
Without further ado, the 2007 Reggies:
Most Valuable Hitter Reggie
No player has been close to as valuable as Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. It's not only the 28 home runs and 77 RBIs, both best in baseball; he also leads the league with 72 runs, has a highly respectable .332 average and nine stolen bases. What more could you ask for? A distant second is Tigers OF Magglio Ordonez (.377-13-68). The argument could be made that Ordonez is more valuable, based on the fact he was generally not among the top 100 drafted players in most leagues. Teams with Ordonez certainly are benefiting big-time from his surprisingly constant production.
Most Valuable Pitcher Reggie
Athletics starter Dan Haren (9-2, 1.91 ERA) has been as good as it gets in the first half. He is one of only two qualifying starters with a WHIP under 1.00 - Jeremy Guthrie of the Orioles is the other. Haren's ERA is best in baseball, and his 93 strikeouts are 13th best. The Padres' Jake Peavy (9-2, 2.14) takes second. Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia (11-2, 3.24) and the Dodgers' Brad Penny (10-1, 2.04) deserve recognition as well. Johan Santana (8-6, 2.83), widely considered the No. 1 fantasy pitcher entering the season, is well off the pace.
Rookie of the Year Reggie
This looked to be a razor-tight race before the season, and it's nearly impossible to call. Daisuke Matsuzaka has struck out more than a batter an inning and has nine wins, but Orioles reliever-turned-starter Jeremy Guthrie has an amazing 2.45 ERA and is arguably the most valuable rookie pitcher. There are as many as 10 hitters who deserve a look as well. OFs Delmon Young of the Devil Rays (.277-9-43, six steals) and Chris Young of the Diamondbacks (.242-11-29, eight steals) have contributed power and speed as advertised; OF Josh Hamilton of the Reds leads the way with 12 home runs; and Angels OF Reggie Willits has a .337 batting average and 18 steals. Don't forget Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (.271-7-35), who leads all rookies with 42 runs. The winner, however, is Astros OF Hunter Pence (.344-8-35, seven steals), who's showing himself to be an immediate five-tool player. Brewers 3B Ryan Braun (.328-6-21, six steals in 119 AB) is a close second and the likely ROY of the second half.
Power Outage Reggie
Remember when Yankees OF Bobby Abreu was a perennial 30-30 guy? Of course you do, it was two years ago. That was then. Now, Abreu (.253-4-35, 12 steals) is one of the least valuable outfielders in fantasy baseball. Only seven players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title have fewer home runs than Abreu. Only two of those guys - Melky Cabrera of the Yankees and Alfredo Amezaga of the Marlins - have fewer steals than Abreu.
Unheralded 30-30 Superstar Reggie
Although no player is currently on pace for a 30 homer-30 steal season, the closest is Reds 2B Brandon Phillips (14 homers, 15 steals). Few who don't live in Cincinnati or have him on a fantasy team know it. All Phillips has done is hit more home runs than Phillies 2B Chase Utley, the unanimous preseason pick for top fantasy second baseman. There will be owners who draft him above Utley next season.
The Rios Reggie
Named after Alex Rios of the Blue Jays, one of the best outfielders of the first half last year who then disappeared in the second half. We hesitantly tap Rios (.293-17-44) to mimic his 2006. Last year, he was hitting (.330-15-53) at the halfway point, got hurt and hit just .261 with two homers in 180 at-bats the rest of the way. Hopefully he'll stay healthy this year, but expect a tailoff again this season.
Fantasy baseball's least valuable asset so far this season has been Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal (.270-1-27, seven steals). He was drafted among the top 50 players in most leagues and was supposed to produce his typical 40 steals, .300 average, double-digit homers and more than 100 runs. Instead, he's on pace to do steal 14 bases, and that's the best that can be said of him. He missed the first 10 days of the season because of an ankle sprain, and it appears now he came back too quickly.