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2003 Fantasy Awards
October 1, 2003

With the regular season over, it's time to look at the best and brightest fantasy players who helped your teams win it all in 2003.  Without further adieu:

AL Fantasy Pitcher of the Year
Keith Foulke
For fantasy players Keith Foulke quietly did everything you could possibly want from him and more.  His 43 saves led the American League this year, but Foulke also managed to win 9 games!  Normally, when a closer has this many wins, his ERA is inflated because the wins often come as the result of blown saves.  In Foulke's case, however, he managed to keep his ERA at a low 2.08 and his WHIP at a miniscule 0.89.  For not being a first (or second) round pick, Foulke pitched like a fantasy champ.

Honorable Mention
Esteban Loaiza - 21 W, 207 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
An absolute steal for anyone surfing the waiver wire in early April.  Posted a surprisingly high strikeout total along with his other career high stats.

Roy Halladay - 22 W, 204 K, 3.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
Put up an absurd string of consecutive wins in the middle of the season and started finishing games late in the season, helping improve fantasy teams' pitching by logging more quality innings.

NL Fantasy Pitcher of the Year
Eric Gagne
This award was no contest.  Quite simply, Gagne was perfect.  Giving up only 11 earned runs all YEAR (1.20 ERA), Gagne managed to strike out 137 in just 82+ innings.  Even more impressive, his WHIP was just 0.69, meaning he rarely even got in trouble.  Of course, everyone knows about the 55 saves, and in fantasy baseball in 2003, those saves are like gold.  Throw in 2 wins and you have your NL Fantasy Pitcher of the Year.

Honorable Mention
Billy Wagner - 44 S, 1 W, 105 K, 1.78 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
Did everything just slightly worse than Gagne, but still put up some great numbers all around.

Mark Prior - 18 W, 245 K, 2.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Strikeouts, wins, and a confident demeanor should give Prior owners many more years like this successful one.

John Smoltz - 45 S, 73 K, 1.12 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
Was right on pace with Gagne until he went on the DL in September.

AL Fantasy Hitter of the Year
Alfonso Soriano
Carlos Beltran may have won 3 Fantasy Hitter of the Month awards, but Soriano stayed healthy the entire season and put up slightly better numbers.  A .290 average was complemented with 38 home runs, 91 RBIs, 114 runs, and 35 valuable stolen bases.

Honorable Mention
Carlos Beltran - .307, 26 HR, 100 RBI, 102 R, 41 SB
A healthy Beltran would have surpassed Soriano, but the missed games resulted in less power and 161 less at bats than the Yankee second baseman.

Alex Rodriguez - .298, 47 HR, 118 RBI, 124 R, 17 SB
His team may not win, but Arod still put up huge numbers and even found his running shoes again this year.  Look for more of the same next year.  As consistent as they come.

NL Fantasy Hitter of the Year
Juan Pierre
Yes, Pujols, Sheffield, and others put up monster numbers, but Pierre's numbers are irreplaceable.  If you didn't have Pierre, then you probably weren't going to have a high stolen base total.  If you didn't have Pujols or Sheffield, they were plenty of other slightly lesser substitutes.  Besides 65 stolen bases, Pierre scored 100 runs and hit .305 over 668 at bats, so he isn't just a one dimensional fantasy player.  His speed and average more than make up for the lack of power, as many of his fantasy owners will gladly tell you as they collect their prize money.

Honorable Mention
Gary Sheffield - .330, 39 HR, 132 RBI, 126 R, 18 SB
Showed the fantasy world that he is far from done, even stealing 18 bases this year.

Albert Pujols - .359, 43 HR, 124 RBI, 137 R, 5 SB
Did it all and almost won the Triple Crown.  There's no reason Pujols won't put up similar numbers next year.  Doesn't seem to have a slump in him.

I hope you enjoyed the 2003 Fantasy Baseball Awards.  Good luck in your fantasy football leagues, and keep reading TCO all year round for the best news and views on the web!