Remember back to your fantasy draft in late March. Somebody, in a vaguely early round, called out the name ``B.J. Upton,'' and all the other owners hooted and howled.
Amateur, they called Upton's drafter. Wasn't he aware that Delmon Young was the young Devil Ray to draft?
Five months later, contrite owners have learned the same lesson they learn every year, and then forget in time for the next year's draft: baseball is a fickle, fickle game, and anyone who thinks they can predict the future is a hack.
Projected stats are about as valuable to fantasy owners as wishful thinking, or praying to some fantasy baseball deity. And this comes from someone who has spent hours creating statistical projections.
The lesson is, don't let anyone shame you into following the flock next year. Just because all the so-called experts say Young is a sure fantasy stud doesn't mean anything. Follow your instincts.
And enjoy the following statistical anomalies no expert could have predicted back in March.
Joe Mauer, C, Twins, or Jason Varitek, C, Red Sox
It's almost unfathomable now that Mauer (.294-5-53, 7 steals) was the consensus top pick among catchers. Mauer got hurt and missed 29 games in May and June, and never got back to producing like he did last year, when he hit .347 and drove in 84 runs. Nobody would have guessed Varitek (.265-12-57) would be a better fantasy choice, but with Mauer out because of an injury again, it's likely that the Red Sox catcher will indeed outproduce the Twins phenom.
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies, or Dmitri Young, 1B, Nationals
Some felt that Helton's best days were behind him, after two sub-par seasons in terms of home runs and RBIs. He's stayed healthy, but Helton (.298-12-69) is merely a shadow of his former self at 34. Meanwhile, almost everyone was certain Young was through. Instead, the 33-year-old (.337-13-71) has capitalized on an opportunity in Washington and put together arguably his finest season.
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers, or Kelly Johnson, 2B, Braves
Fantasy owners remained high on Weeks' five-category potential and drafted him early back in March. That doesn't look so smart now, after Weeks (.228-6-21, 15 steals) struggled so much that he was sent to the minor leagues at the end of July. He's back up now, but he hasn't shown any consistency in three major league seasons. Johnson was far off most fantasy radars at the start of the season, garnering interest mostly because he had a starting job. Those in points leagues have been especially enjoying Johnson (.289-15-63), who has a nice knack for hitting triples (10).
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees, or Orlando Cabrera, SS, Angels
While three other elite shortstops (Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins) have flourished, Jeter (.318-9-59, 12 steals) has had by fantasy standards an unspectacular season. He's been a top pick for years, but he's been outperformed by Cabrera (.312-8-75, 17 steals), considered to be about the 10th best pick at short coming into the season.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs, or Upton, 3B, Devil Rays
There's nothing shabby about the numbers Ramirez (.310-18-79) has put up, but he was drafted early for his potential to lead the NL in home runs. He has simply not hit for power this year. Upton (.314-20-65) has played at second and in the outfield this year, making him even more valuable in fantasy. But even at third, where the competition is tougher, Upton has been a stud for owners smart enough to grab him off the waiver wire early this spring.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets, or Eric Byrnes, OF, Diamondbacks
Beltran (.271-25-84, 18 steals) has had a fine season - not his best, but not his worst, either. But even Beltran at his best would have nothing on Byrnes (.298-19-72, 39 steals). Most so-called experts thought Byrnes' 26 homer, 25 steal season last year was an anomaly. Instead, he's been a consistent star and arguably the most valuable fantasy outfielder in the game. More steals that Ichiro? Really?
Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays, or Josh Willingham, OF, Marlins
Wells was a very fashionable early round pick, coming off a season in which he hit over .300 with 32 homers. Out of nowhere, Wells (.258-15-74) has had easily his worst season, and fantasy owners have paid dearly. Willingham was a much less popular pick, because he was no longer eligible at catcher. Those who decided they'd take a shot on a middle-of-the-order hitter in Florida have certainly enjoyed having Willingham (.272-21-85).
Young, OF, Devil Rays, or Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles
Some owners had expectations that Young could be a 30-30 guy as early as this year. Instead, Young (.291-10-69, seven steals) has been solid-but-unspectacular. Markakis (.290-13-80, 16 steals) came much cheaper, and has proven himself to be a very solid rising talent in Baltimore.
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians, or Sammy Sosa, DH, Rangers
All signs pointed to a huge season for Hafner if he could stay healthy for once, a guy who could again hit 40 homers and bat .300. So how odd is it that Hafner (.257-19-77) has all but disappeared as a fantasy force? Hafner has nearly been outperformed by a guy who was out of baseball a year ago. Sosa (.246-17-74) has done just about as fantasy experts thought he would. That he's on par with Hafner anyway may be the biggest shocker of the fantasy season.

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