Because I know you care, here's the wrap on my 2016 home run derby fantasy sports effort....
As I mentioned in July, my 15-man roster lost a man, Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs, just two games into the season (see July 5, 2016, "Home Run Derby Update"). Also this year, Lucas Duda of the New York Mets missed the lion's share of the season, and ended up with just 7 round-trippers.
So I essentially worked with a 13 1/4-man roster this year. But with one exception, the players I selected back in April turned out to be very good home run hitters. Whereas I'd taken some risks with my picks in 2015, this year I opted for more proven players, as I didn't want to finish in last place again (see April 3, 2016, "Picking a Winner").
Here's the breakdown of my team by division:
**American League East**
ADAM JONES -- I like Jones; he's a solid power hitter. He hit 29 this year, two better than last season, which means, based on the rules of the derby, I can select him again next year, which I most likely will (you can't choose players who had 30 or more HR's the prior season).
MARK TRUMBO -- He hit more long balls than anyone in all of Major League Baseball, so I'm patting myself on the back for choosing him. His 47 is a career best, and more than twice as many as he hit last year. Can't take him in 2017, however.
BOSTON RED SOX
I'm embarrassed to say I made a big mistake not choosing anyone from my favorite team, the team I've loved since before I even knew what baseball was. Mookie Betts hit 18 last year, and was projected to hit only a few more this year. I don't recall what Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. were predicted to hit, but I wasn't impressed enough to select them. As you know, Big Papi was ineligible due to having hit more than 30 long balls last year. Well, Betts ended up with 31; Bradley had 26 (so I'll pick him next year); Ramirez had 30, after hitting 19 last year in a miserable season. And the X Man, Xander Bogaerts, had 21, so I'll consider him in 2017 as well.
**American League Central**
MIGUEL CABRERA -- What a player Cabrera is: hits for power and average and only missed four games this year. His 38 homers tied his second-best output of his career.
JUSTIN UPTON -- He cranked it up in the second half to match his career-best at 31 big flies. He had only 8 back in July, and I've more or less written him off. With all the big hits that he and Cabrera had, though, they still couldn't blast the Tigers into the playoffs.
MIGUEL SANO -- I wish he'd played in more than 116 games. With 25 home runs in 116 games, he was on pace to push the 30 mark. Still, I can't complain, other than about the fact that I didn't select his teammate, Brian Dozier, who belted 42 homers. He'll be in the running for my team next year.
**American League West**
GEORGE SPRINGER -- He didn't hit for average all that well at .261, but with 29 homers, Springer just managed to beat the predicted 26-28. I'll probably choose him next year.
KYLE SEAGER -- With a career high 30 home runs, Seager was a nice addition to my team.
**National League East**
GIANCARLO STANTON -- He played in 45 more games this year than last year, but hit the same number of homes runs: 27. I'm not complaining, but he was projected to hit between 40 and 45. OK, so I'm complaining. Next year? Maybe.
NEW YORK METS:
LUCAS DUDA -- He played only 47 games, and hit 7 home runs. Projections had him at 25-30. This was a big bummer.
MAIKEL FRANCO -- He hit 25 long balls in his first full year, so there's a good chance I'll pick him next year.
**National League Central**
KRIS BRYANT -- He finished second in the National League, so I'm very happy.
KYLE SCHWARBER -- In 69 games in 2015, he hit 16 home runs. He was predicted to hit 25-27 this year. He suffered a season-ending injury in the second game this season. Thankfully, I was far from the only guy who picked him this year. In fact, the third place finisher in this year's derby was a fellow Schwarber-less team. Wait 'til next year....
JOEY VOTTO -- He had a somewhat slow start but ended up with 29, matching last year's total. He's 33, so I doubt I'll pick him next year, but I was pleasantly surprised with his production.
CHRIS CARTER -- A career .218 hitter, he is nonetheless a big masher. He hit a career-high 41 this year, which put a big smile on his face.
**National League West**
LOS ANGELES DODGERS:
ADRIAN GONZALEZ -- At age 34, he can still hit (.285 this year/.290 career) for average, but his power dropped from 28 last year to 18 this year. He'll turn 35 shortly after the beginning of next season, so there's no way he's making my team.
I finished either 11th or 12th, depending on whose numbers you believe. By my count, I came in 11th; by the tally of the league's commissioner, I finished in 12th. Somehow he misplaced three of my HR's, but of course he may have miscounted other competitors' numbers as well, so maybe I did come in 12th out of 45. Either way, it's way better than my last place finish in 2015.
For next year the commish is considering letting teams draft 16 players and using the top 15 results, to avoid a situation like this year when so many competitors lost a player -- Schwarber -- so early on and had in some cases little hope as the season progressed. I support that change. Until then....
If you've made it this far, here's your reward: