Building A Fantasy Baseball All-Star Team Of The 2000s
The suspension of all baseball everywhere this spring has many in our universe looking back wistfully at the past to connect in the present with the game we love.
In this post I continue my trip down memory lane in search for the best fantasy seasons of the past four decades. This task is inspired by the Project G.O.A.T. retro fantasy baseball challenge, which was developed by ESPN's Pierre Becquey.
You can find our previous two teams below.
On to the fantasy all-star team of the 2000s.
C Javy Lopez | Age 32 | 2003 Braves
457 AB | .328 AVG | 89 R | 43 HR | 109 RBI | 0 SB
Lopez struck 42 of his 43 homers while playing catcher and still holds the single-season record for a player at his position.
1B Todd Helton | Age 26 | 2000 Rockies
580 AB | .372 AVG | 138 R | 42 HR | 147 RBI | 5 SB
Helton lined up his peak seasons with peak Coors Field, when it was the greatest hitting environment in major league history. In 2000 and 2001 he batted a cumulative .354 with an average of 135 runs, 46 home runs and 146 RBIs per season.
2B Bret Boone | Age 32 | 2001 Mariners
623 AB | .331 AVG | 118 R | 37 HR | 141 RBI | 5 SB
Boone in 2001 helped power the Mariners to a historic 116-win season. Rogers Hornsby is the only second baseman in history to record more than 141 RBIs in a season. He did it three times in the 1920s.
3B Alex Rodriguez | Age 31 | 2007 Yankees
583 AB | .314 AVG | 143 R | 54 HR | 156 RBI | 24 SB
In his third American League MVP campaign, A-Rod put up one of the biggest fantasy seasons of the past 40 years. He led the AL with 54 home runs, 143 runs and 156 RBIs while hitting .314 and chipping in 24 steals.
SS Alex Rodriguez | Age 25 | 2001 Rangers
632 AB | .318 AVG | 133 R | 52 HR | 135 RBI | 18 SB
A-Rod’s first season in Texas after signing for $252 million was probably his best from a fantasy perspective. He led the American League with 52 home runs, 133 runs and 393 total bases while hitting .318 with 18 stolen bases.
OF Barry Bonds | Age 36 | 2001 Giants
476 AB | .328 AVG | 129 R | 73 HR | 137 RBI | 13 SB
This Bonds season or Larry Walker in 1997 is probably the greatest offensive fantasy season of the past 40 years. A 36-year-old Bonds established a single-season record with 73 home runs, drove in 137 and even stole 13 bases in 16 tries.
OF Sammy Sosa | Age 32 | 2001 Cubs
577 AB | .328 AVG | 146 R | 64 HR | 160 RBI | 0 SB
Sosa did everything but steal bases in 2001. His total of 425 total bases is the highest of the 2000s, while his 160 RBIs rank second for the decade, his 146 runs rank second and his 64 home runs ranks fifth.
OF Barry Bonds | Age 37 | 2002 Giants
403 AB | .370 AVG | 117 R | 46 HR | 110 RBI | 9 SB
Bonds won his second of four straight National League MVP awards in 2002 and the Giants advanced to the World Series. He would never hit higher than .370 in his career, while his 46 homers were his third highest single-season total.
Top 20 Most Valuable Fantasy Players Since 1980
The top 20 fantasy players since 1980, the year of fantasy baseball's invention, in terms of concentrated value in players' peak seasons.
SP Pedro Martinez | Age 28 | 2000 Red Sox
217 IP | 18 W | 0 SV | 284 SO | 1.74 ERA | 0.74 WHIP
The major league ERA in 2000 was 4.77, the second highest mark in history. Martinez’s ERA was 1.74, which translated to a 291 ERA+ that is the best in history. His 0.74 WHIP is also a record. What a remarkable season.
SP Randy Johnson | Age 37 | 2001 D-backs
250 IP | 21 W | 0 SV | 372 SO | 2.49 ERA | 1.01 WHIP
Johnson’s historic 2001 season included a fourth career Cy Young Award and a strikeout total of 372 that ranks third highest of all time behind only Nolan Ryan in 1973 and Sandy Koufax in 1965. Oh, and he also helped pitch the fourth-year Diamondbacks to a World Series championship.
SP Randy Johnson | Age 36 | 2000 D-backs
249 IP | 19 W | 0 SV | 347 SO | 2.64 ERA | 1.12 WHIP
Among Johnson’s first four seasons in Arizona, all of which resulted in Cy Young Awards, this is the one that didn’t result in an ERA title. Though he did lead the National League in strikeouts, complete games (eight) and ERA+ (181).
SP Randy Johnson | Age 38 | 2002 D-backs
260 IP | 24 W | 0 SV | 334 SO | 2.32 ERA | 1.03 WHIP
A year after pitching the D-backs to World Series glory, Johnson had enough in the tank to throw 260 innings, the second highest total of his career. He won the National League pitching triple crown with 24 wins, a 2.32 EAR and 334 strikeouts.
SP Randy Johnson | Age 40 | 2004 D-backs
246 IP | 16 W | 0 SV | 290 SO | 2.60 ERA | 0.90 WHIP
Even at age 40, Johnson nearly struck out 300 batters and finished runner-up for the National League Cy Young Award. The Astros’ Roger Clemens, himself 41, went 18-4 and won the award, even though he recorded a worse ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate than Johnson.
Fantasy All-Star Team Of The 2000s
Below is an overall all-decade team, using the positions required in the official Project G.O.A.T. challenge. To increase variety, I chose to devote three of nine pitcher spots to relievers, while disallowing multiple seasons from the same player.
An asterisk (*) denotes an MVP or Cy Young Award season.