My Fantasy co-MVPs: Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez

What is most valuable in any category depends on how “valuable” is defined. It’s one of those things that has criteria which would seem to lend neutrality to the determination of what is “most,” and yet there is really no defining, objective attribute that completely defuses subjectivity. Consensus must do. What is most valuable, then, is a poll of popular opinion, informally. Formally, it’s a ballot of popular opinion among those considered most credible or deemed most qualified to opine. There’s, potentially, a whole other debate.

According to the indubitable Wikipedia, Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players” might be the most valuable painting, having been sold for the greatest amount of money, adjusted for inflation, in history. Many works may never see the auction floor, of course, making them, essentially, priceless. One of those types is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” which is supposed to have the greatest insurance value on record.

I don’t know art, but I know what I like. You saw that coming.

Some fantasy baseball players and pundits have already called or will believe that Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw is this year’s MVP of rotisserie or head-to-head baseball. To those who do, “most valuable” has nothing to do with profitability. If a player did what you bought him to do and maybe then some more or less, then he was most valuable to you. That’s the theory. I don’t see it that way. Players who fit that bill, potentially, were much likelier to send teams toward a losing season than a winning one.

If you’re down with how much a player earned, then you’re speaking my language. Jason Collette speaks it, too, as we discussed on Sunday night’s podcast. The number of factors that support the argument for most valuable may increase. The format comes into play, making awards more personal for those who play in leagues with uncommon scoring methods. In standard mixed leagues, of 10, 12, or 15 teams, the award could go to Jose Abreu, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, or Nelson Cruz. Or Dee Gordon, Charlie Blackmon, or Corey Dickerson.

I couldn’t decide between my two choices, so they share my award.

Among players drafted pretty much universally, Victor Martinez represents the greatest degree of profitability I see. He was generally drafted later or went for less than any of the other top-10 fantasy commodities of 2014, according to any of the results I found. He hit .335/.409/.565, with 32 home runs, 103 RBIs, 87 runs, and three stolen bases. August Fagerstrom declared him the best hitter in baseball this year. If you paid a 12th-round pick or a buck or two for V-Mart, then you lived fat. Basically, he earned buyers anywhere from approximately $20-plus (AL-only leagues) to upwards of $40 (some mixed leagues). That is #winning.

Among pickups and other pyrite, Gordon or Blackmon probably “deserves” the award. (Side note: I really don’t care for the word “deserve.”) But by the end of March, people were taking late-round fliers on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ second baseman, so I passed on him here. The Colorado Rockies’ outfielder drafted lower, less often, or for less – if at all – was commonly Blackmon, not Dickerson, and the former was for a large portion of the community the major prize on waivers.

But virtually no one saw J.D. Martinez coming. He was one of the few players I submitted as a potential “Black Swan” at Baseball HQ’s First Pitch Forums this past winter, basically for the reasons highlighted by Dan Farnsworth last December. That caucus is a census of industry folks for baseball players who could come from “nowhere” to be highly profitable assets, the idea being that these types of players often make the biggest differences. I didn’t expect Martinez to be one of them, though, I want to note. First year I’ve ever really hit on one, I think. And not the point. I just like to stress the purpose of that HQ exercise: to ask fantasy owners to keep an open mind.

The Houston Astros flat-out cut Martinez in spring training. The Detroit Tigers signed him to a minor league deal a couple of days later. About four weeks after that, and after he’d slashed .308/.366/.846 in 71 plate appearances for Triple-A Toledo (a then 26-year-old should do so well at that level if he’s to expect a call-up), they promoted him to the parent club, where he had to prove that he warranted playing time, initially. He ended up with a .315/.358/.553 slash line, with 23 home runs, 76 RBIs, 57 runs, and six stolen bases. For free to a good fantasy home! OK, opportunity cost: roster spot, some FAAB, a waiver position. Whatever. Gratis. It’s true, as Jeff Sullivan surmised: Martinez is significantly better now than he used to be.

That’s how I define it. In my “collection” is a mostly two-dimensional wooden representation of Humpback Bridge in Covington, Va. It was a gift from my mom, grandmother, and aunts. I wouldn’t trade it for “The Card Players” or the “Mona Lisa,” and that makes the framed Humpback Bridge the most valuable piece of art, to me. I guess that’s kind of what it comes down to.

(OK, I might do that deal. But only if I was certain that I could sell one of those famed works and then buy back the bridge piece, for whatever amount necessary, as long as I was assured a profit. But if someone would be perceptibly crazy enough to trade “The Card Players” or the “Mona Lisa” to me for my landscape of the Humpback Bridge, then no one could grant me such assurances. Oh well, guess I’m stuck with it.)

Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

What about Anthony Rendon?

8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

This would be my pick as well. Penciled in as MI option at the start of the year and gave top tier production at two infield spots.