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The Ultimate Fantasy Player
July 17, 2002

I thought it was a fluke.  I thought it wouldn't last.  I thought the average would drop because of the high strikeout total.  I was wrong.  It pains me to say this, but Alfonso Soriano is the ultimate fantasy baseball player.  This year there is no comparison.

Soriano has put up numbers without compare so far in the 2002 baseball campaign.  Because he plays 2B, he is the most valued commodity - a 5 category fantasy player at one of the most difficult positions to fill.  I know that there are still 60+ games remaining, but Soriano has shown nothing to indicate that he will slow down.  At a position where there are very few alternatives, Soriano has put up high numbers across the board.  Kent and Spivey have put up decent stats, but Alomar and Boone have done very little so far. As of 7/16, Soriano's numbers look like this:

AVG: .317
HR      24
RBI     60
R        73
SB      25

Yes, A-Rod's number are comparable, and even noticeably better in the HR and RBI categories, but A-Rod's SBs are way down and, at SS, you can replace him with Nomar, Jeter, or Tejada and not suffer much of a blow.  Even Vizquel has put up outstanding stats at the SS position this year.

From a pitching standpoint, Gagne has been lights out but he only really helps in one category while providing just a small boost in the other pitching categories because of the lack of innings a closer pitches.  The guys like Johnson, Schilling, and Pedro are dominant, but no matter how well they throw, they can't help you in the saves category.  Soriano doesn't just help in the 5 categories, he excels in them.  Here are Soriano's rankings in the majors so far:

AVG  14th
HR     8th (tied)
RBI    28th (tied)
R       1st (tied)
SB     3rd

It doesn't get any better than that from a second baseman.  If Alomar and Boone continue to struggle, it will be difficult to skip over Soriano with the #1 pick next year.  The Unit will be pushing 40, Pedro's arm will still be a question, so it should be a tossup between A-Rod and the ultimate fantasy baseball player of 2002.