By Dr. Rug
Hello again and welcome back to Dr. Rug’s First Annual YK Fastball League Trade Value Rankings. On Wednesday I covered some of the bottom three quarters of the league so today we’ll move on to the top 25 players in the league, and we’ll cover them all. These are the aces, the run producers, the players who make their teams roll, the difference between a Sunday morning exit and a Sunday night celebration. If you have a chance to add any of these players to your team in exchange for spare parts you jump at the opportunity. In other words, here now, are the best of the best…
Category 7: “A genuine table setter, every team can use one of those…”
#25. Brandyn “Primetime” MacNeil.
#24. Joey Borkovic.
#23. Rick Morrison.
You’re essentially getting a slight variation of the same skills with any of these three players:
- Speed. On the base paths and in the field, these guys bring unequalled speed to the diamond.
- Defense. Great gloves, great range, (usually) great arms, great leadership. As a pitcher, these guys are the epitome of what you’re looking for in a defensive player.
- Hotness. No, I’m not talking about the guys themselves, but rather the ladies around them. Riley, Jane and Michelle… all three are scorching hot!!! Any time you can bring ladies like that to the ball diamond, your value rises.
It was difficult separating the three of them in the standings. Brandyn is the best base stealer of the group, Joey is the best defender (his cannon of an arm sets him apart), and Rick has displayed the most power this season. It was a tough call, but naturally I went with the lady that finds her way onto my arm at every fastball tournament as the tiebreaker. Hi Michelle!!! 😉
Category 8: “A top of the rotation chucker, yes please…”
#22. Mardie Graham. His talent and skills on the mound are better than most of the other pitchers in this category but his commitment to the team and his annual summer vacations make him a much riskier proposition. If he were around for a full summer he’d be knocking on the door of the top 10, as it is, I’d rather have 20 games of Skauge than 10 games of Mardie.
#21. Greg Skauge. This Good Ol’ Boy was the ace of the Slades staff for much of the season, holding things together for the league leaders early on when Mitch was losing his mind with every second pitch. While his pitching skills may not be equal to some of the top pitchers in the league, he does what he needs to do: make outs and get wins. In fact, he’s leading the league in wins at this point in the season and is the only pitcher in the league without a loss on his record.
#20. Garrett Hinchey. Ok, so maybe not everyone in this category is a “top of the rotation” chucker. Garrett’s bat is a much bigger reason that he’s this high in the standings than his arm. He leads this group of seven pitchers (a group that includes both Bruce and Paul) in home runs and RBIs and is second to Dover in average. At times this year Garrett has actually shown some control on the mound, unfortunately it hasn’t been consistent enough to consider him an elite pitcher. On the bright side though, he’s at least a decade younger than most of the other pitchers so he should still be chucking long after they’ve hung up the spikes.
#19. Mike Dove. The return of Mike Dove to the YK Fastball league this season has been one of the best stories of the year. His pitching may not quite have been where he wanted it to be to start things out but he’s been steadily improving all season long and looks primed to shine in the playoffs. As for his offense, he’s easily the best and most consistent hitter on the Red Sox and the one guy you don’t want to be facing in a pressure situation… unless you can get him to chase the change-up.
#18. Bruce Waugh. As his pitching has improved this season his batting skills have fallen apart. Ever since stepping in and leading the Diamondbacks to the Territorial title last year, Bruce has become a legitimate, top-line starter. Unfortunately, the one-time batting savant has looked more like Joel Campbell at the plate this season. The Diamondbacks could easily have both the Pirate and Territorial titles under their belts this season if they’d gotten anything out of the 4 hole in the two finals. He’s only maintaining a spot this high on the list because his history tells us that this has to be just a prolonged slump and you’d be crazy not to want his bat in your line-up. If, however, he really is losing his bat speed and hitting skills, expect a huge drop on the list next year (despite his improved pitching).
#16. Paul Gard. Paul has been the best pitcher in the league this year by far. If this list was the “Players You Pick First To Win You One Game” list, Paul would be much higher. However, he’s struggled somewhat at the plate this season in both average and power numbers and this could suggest that age is finally catching up to him. His speed on the base paths, his defensive skills, and his lack of versatility also contributed to him not being in the top ten. That being said, when you’re pitching as well as him, who needs defensive skills or much of an offense? His strikeout numbers as a pitcher show just how dominant he’s been as he’s getting 42.5% of the outs via the strikeout when he’s on the mound. He’s also leading the league in innings pitched, which is the main reason the Slo-Pokes are in the middle of the pack in the league standings.
#14. Glen Tingmiak. After terrorizing league pitching for years during the Territorials for the Inuvik squad, Glen has finally made his way to the capital and is starting to do the same on a regular basis for Sub-Arctic. Although his batting numbers have been a little low to start out, the potential is there and Glen has the power to make you pay for any mistake. On the mound, he has solidified the rotation and allowed them to rely a little less on the immortal Al Cardinal during Mardie’s absence. His versatility is what sets him apart from the rest of the pitchers on this list though. While most are either pitching or playing a corner infield position, Glen has the skills to play anywhere from SS to CF and to play any of the positions well. And perhaps his most essential attribute is the fact that he brings a little bit of much-needed sobriety to the Sub-Arctic roster.
Category 9: “I know he has question marks surrounding him, but how could I possibly say no…”
#17. Ryan Heslep. He’s only been to 3 games all season long and who knows how committed he’ll be to the future. Why take the risk on someone who may only ever play a game once a month for you? Because he’s batting .750 in the league and he singlehandedly won the final game of the Territorials for Slades, that’s why. And with him and Borko manning the corner outfield spots for Slades the only time you’d ever think of trying for an extra base is on a hit to center. If Hessy spent more nights at the ball diamond than at his cabin he’d easily be in the top ten. As it stands, even with his limited play he’s one of the most potent bats and perhaps the scariest right hander to face in the league.
#15. Ryan Thiel. Another year, another batting title race for T-Bone. Last year he finished second to Garrett in average at .611 and this year he’s on top of the league rolling along at a .737 clip. The downside? Much like the guy before him on the list, Ryan seems unable to make it to the ball park on a consistent basis. Last season he only appeared in 7 games during the entire year, and this year, while his attendance has been slightly better, he’s already missed 5 games. While his defence isn’t spectacular, it is solid enough that along with his .700 average he’d be a top ten player if he could make it out for a full season.
#13. Brad Mueller. Retirement. Family time. Work. Concussions. The red flags are numerous with this perennial all-star but the risks are worth it. Despite a slight dip in his numbers this year, Mueller has proven time and again that he’s capable of hitting the best that any pitcher has to offer. In addition, his defensive skills are stellar and he’s probably the most well-liked of all the Pirates.
Category 10: “You’re offering me the rookie of the year?? Yeah, I’ll take him off your hands…”
#12. Marcus Watt. To come into the league as a rookie and be hitting .471 entering August is impressive. But it’s not his batting average that has people everywhere talking about him, it’s his power. His slugging percentage on the season is an astounding 1.235. In league play he has 8 total hits… 4 of them have been dingers. That means every second hit he gets is a home run. His youth and his above average defensive skills are all part of the complete player package but it’s the unforeseen power that has all but guaranteed him the ROY honours and made him a much sought-after commodity.
Category 11: “A great middle infielder with a top of the order bat is not something you can turn down…”
#11. Rob Andrews. Having a left-hander at shortstop or catcher goes against all conventional baseball wisdom but somehow Robbie makes it work. His fielding skills are top notch and his ability at the top of the HBC batting order is equally good. Batting in the 9 hole for most of the season, Rusty Robertson has 9 hits and 6 walks for a total of 15 times on base. He’s scored 14 of those times. The main reason for that is the consistent bat at the top of the Diamondbacks line-up. Robbie’s 13 RBIs lead the team and his .500 average is probably closer to .700 when he has runners in scoring position. If you get on base, Robbie will get you in.
#10. Matt Simms. The man who the ladies affectionately refer to as Lance has shown that a few gray hairs are no reason to slow down at all. He’s still one of the top catchers in the league and has the versatility to play anywhere the team needs him. In fact, old age might actually be improving Matty’s skills as last game he was seen hitting a line-drive into left field (yes, LEFT) for the first time in over a decade. If Matt is actually learning to hit to all fields, watch out.
#7. Kevin Vallillee. Hands down the best defensive shortstop in the league. Kevin routinely makes plays that he has no business making and gets to balls that seem impossible to reach. At the plate his quick hands and great hand-eye coordination make him the most frustrating batter in the league to face. It’s not too difficult to get two strikes on him as he looks for the perfect pitch, but once he shortens up and protects the plate that third strike is near impossible. His .647 average, 17 RBIs and 23 runs scored are all in the top five and his 7 doubles and 5 triples are both league leading marks.
Category 12: “My instincts tell me he’s not worth it but the Sabermetrics make a compelling case…”
#9. Brian Couvrette. Yes folks, Brian Couvrette is in the top 10. When I crunched the data and looked at the results I couldn’t believe it either. I double checked, I triple checked, and still, it came out the same. So I took a closer look at the numbers and it turns out he does belong in the top 10. He’s hitting .471 with 4 home runs, 13 RBIs, 5 steals, and 12 runs scored. Those are excellent numbers across the board regardless of who you are. In addition, so far this season he has played at 1B, SS, 3B, Catcher, and both corner outfield spots and has played all of the positions well. He really is a five-tool player and he has earned this spot in the top 10.
#8. Chad Hinchey. Perhaps Chad can sleep a little better at night now that he has some recognition that he is the best Hinchey fastball player. For years now Chad has been tormented by the fact that both his little brother and his big brother are both far superior to him on the squash court and this has led to the constant self-doubt that he faces every time he looks at himself in a mirror. Sleep well tonight Chad, Dr. Rug has recognized that you are easily the best fastball player in the family. I know it might not make mom and dad as proud as having a squash protégé for a son, but for 98% of the population, it’s a way better accomplishment.
Category 13: “I don’t care what you’re asking for in return, the answer is yes…”
#6. Mitch Madsen. We all know the above average skills that Mitch brings to the diamond. He’s one of the top pitchers in the league, striking out over a batter per inning and leading Slades to first place in the standings. He’s one of the top batters in the league, combining power and average to be a potent threat in the middle of the line-up. However, let’s talk about the one skill in which Mitch is near the bottom of the pack, base running. Have you ever watched this guy try to turn on the jets and stretch a single into a double? It’s one of the most hilarious things you’ll see at Tommy Forrest. When players on his team were asked to describe Mitch’s running skills these were some of the responses I received:
Mitch runs like a…
“paraplegic with coordination.”
“guy who has crabs.”
“latino in a pride parade in Toronto in the pickle relay.”
Needless to say, I hope Mitch hits a triple next time I’m watching.
#5. Darin Strain. This aging vet is showing no sign of slowing down as the years go by. He’s still crushing the ball with a .571 average and is one of the toughest outs in the league. Behind the plate Darin has caught more games than anyone else playing today and is easily one of the best catchers in the league. He calls a great game and never misses a ball. The only downside to his game is the pre-game pukes in the dugout during tournaments. At least Buddy’s always there to clean them up.
#4. Mike Auge. The top hitter at the Pirates tournament. The top pitcher at the Territorials. A threat on the mound and at the plate all season long. Add in the gorgeous mane of hair and this is the type of player you’d love to build your team around.
Category 14: “Why are you calling me? Is this a practical joke??? I know you’d never trade him…”
A strong case can be made for any of the next three guys to be the top in the league. In reality if you offered any of them straight up for another in a trade both GMs would likely say no so the trade value of all of them is “untouchable”.
#3. Ryan Strain. At this point in his career, Ryan is without a doubt the most feared bat in the league. A legitimate threat to actually win the triple crown this season Rhino’s power numbers are off the charts. His 8 home runs are impressive but his 35 RBIs in 11 games is unbelievable. It certainly helps that he’s got guys batting .522 and .647 directly ahead of him in the order, but that number is still off the charts. Add in his gold glove defence at first base and you have the runaway leader in this year’s MVP race. He might even have made it into the top 2 on this list if he hadn’t decided to try and become a pitcher.
#2. Andy Williams. Andy is easily the most versatile player in the league. Defensively, he’s capable of playing any of the nine positions and he plays them all at an All-Star calibre level. On the offensive side, he hits the ball and he hits the ball hard. He almost decapitated Rhino this week with a laser-beam right up the middle and he is nearly impossible to get out. Add in the fact that he spends his off nights hanging around the field waiting to get picked up as a substitute and this guy is the definition of a world-class fastball player.
#1. Kirk Sangris. Despite the fact that Kirk is the only player in the top 8 with a batting average under .500, he takes home the top spot in the rankings. Really, it was a complete tossup between Andy and Kirk for the top spot on the poll. Along with Rhino, all three of the top players play gold glove defence and can hit the ball for both average and power. Andy and Kirk have a decade and a half on Rhino in terms of age and more versatility on defence so that propelled them to the top two spots. From there the deciding factor was Kirk’s speed on the base paths. He’s tied for the league lead in steals and, given the fact that Ryan and Andy have one steal between them, that more than makes up for his slightly lower batting average. Congrats Kirk, you’re the top dog.
There you have it my friends, a complete ranking of all of your favourite YK Fastball League players. If you have any questions, comments, complaints, or if you just want to find out where you finished on the list, I can always be reached by email at email@example.com. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with my year end tournament preview and regular season awards column.
 I’m throwing the “usually” in there because of Rick’s troubles hitting first base earlier in the year when he had something like 5 overthrows in one game.
 He still provides the calm voice of reason when Simple Mitch starts losing focus on the mound, giving him advice like “Keep your chest high” or “It’s Jimmy Farrell, just throw three strikes down the middle of the plate”.
 Because I included the qualifier “pitcher”, Ryan Strain with his 1-0 record does not count.
 I’m just using regular season stats for this article, unless otherwise mentioned, as those are the only ones I have available to me for every team in the league. And the stats are the “as of July 29th” stats.
 Bruce see ball. Bruce hit ball.
 Bruce was a 1 for 11 with 1 RBI in the semi-finals and finals of the two tournaments combined (including just 1 for 7 in the two finals). He did have 4 walks as well but if you’re batting in the 4 spot, you’re there to hit the ball.
 By his standards. A .423 regular season average for Paul is like a .200 average for anyone else. And 0 home runs is unbelievable.
 Granted, this isn’t saying much.
 Which by my unofficial tally is third in the league behind a couple of guys located much higher on this list.
 And if you include tournament stats, he has 14 total hits, 7 of which have been home runs.
 He’s probably been on a couple more times on fielders choices and errors but the numbers are still impressive.
 Although he rarely plays the two bag anymore, he’s still probably the best second baseman in the league when he is there.
 Maybe not “hands down” as Kirk gives him a run for his money. I’d give Kevin the slight edge though.
 Perhaps Jimmy really knew what he was talking about when he called Brian a Living Legend.
 If you get the opportunity, ask Hessy to do his “Mitch running the bases” imitation.
 “You guess where the pickle is located.”
 The one exception being when Mitch is pitching to him in which case Darin seems to ground out to first base 85% of the time. I guess he just wants to boost his big brother’s confidence at first.
 This is hypothetically assuming that they’d had awards at that Pirates tourney. And that his .737, 5 HR, 14 RBIs, 13 runs had beaten out Mueller’s .769, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs, 6 runs. A toss up really, so let’s assume that the two of them would have split the top batter and the MVP awards with the MVP going to the guy that played on the winning team. While we’re at it we might as well hand the Top Pitcher award for that tourney out to Paul.
 Not to mention the fact that he hasn’t missed a game all season long. A vast improvement over the past couple of years.
 In case you haven’t noticed, or he hasn’t mentioned it to you, he is currently in 2nd in average and 1st in HRs and RBIs.
 If you add in his hitting as a sub for other teams (3 for 3 with Slades, 3 for 3 with the Slo-Pokes, and 5 for 8 with HBC) he’s actually hitting .628 with 30 RBIs in total on the year. All of a sudden, Rhino’s not a runaway for the RBI title or the MVP.