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It was during the 1950s that Mr. Potato Head first came into our world. Soon after his introduction he became a true classic toy for a generation. There was something about his goofy look and the seemingly unlimited possibilities for rearranging the face that made him a fixture year after year in playrooms.

Like the Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo, and Beanie Babies the fad would eventually die down. Mr. Potato Head was assumed to be lost forever in the seemingly infinite pit that is the generation gap. Then in 1995, when he was all but forgotten he reappeared in the form of the movie Toy Story. The movie gave Mr. Potato Head a personality that reinvented himself and warmed the hearts of the people that had forgotten him for so long. All of a sudden his demand was as high as it had ever been.

With that in mind, the Mr. Potato Head Award goes to the veteran player who was in decline and practically written off going into this season, but then reemerged to be one of the best values in fantasy baseball. Here are the nominees:

Derek Jeter

Derrek Lee

Chris Carpenter

And the winner is (golden silence) Chris Carpenter. There were more players than just these three guys, but these three went a step further than Raul Ibanez or Randy Wolf. Jeter did a little of everything in a new stadium and proved to be better than a healthy Jimmy Rollins. It all came after a career worst 2008 season. So much for age creeping up on the rejuvinated Jeter.

Lee was a step higher on the surprise scale. After being a top three player in 2005, he suffered a broken wrist early in 2006 and it appeared he wouldn’t recover. He came back in 2007 and played respectably, but 22 and 20 home runs in the last two years told the world that he was in decline. Until now. With a week to go in the season, the 34 year old has established a new career high in RBI and has 35 home runs – 9 coming in the most important month of the fantasy season.

In the end, nobody has more Mr. Potato Head in him than Carpenter – after all his arm has been rearranged more than Mr. Potato Head’s facial hair. While Lee’s injury was serious enough to bring his numbers down, Carpenter didn’t even get a chance to establish numbers the past two years. At 34 and with so much history under the knife it was impossible to give Carpenter any realistic hope. That’s why nobody even thought about taking him in the first 10 rounds despite knowing that if he was healthy he was a staff ace. The most optimistic outlook for Carpenter would be him somehow getting back to 2006 form. As it turned out, Carpenter bested his 2006 season and by most standards has bested his Cy Young season. Career highs in ERA, WHIP, and HR/9 (wow 0.34/9 innings). Somehow he also threw the most dangerous pitch on the arm, curve balls, more often than he ever has. Carpenter will be linked to Mr. Potato Head even closer in November when his Disney-like season will end happily ever after with a second Cy Young Award.

6 Responses to The Mr. Potato Head Award

  1. Charlie Saponara says:

    Love these awards Mark. My vote would have gone for D-Lee. I drafted him in my 14 teamer and sort of cringed a little when I did it. Then I tried to trade him from about late April to mid May. Funny thing is, NO ONE WANTED HIM! Even for a low asking price! It's one of those times where I made the wrong decision and got away with it. Thank goodness too because he has been HUGE for me in that league! Tough to be objective in that case.

  2. Dave says:

    Yeah, I was going to say the same thing about D-Lee! He was about as blah of a pick as there was going into the year, whereas you still had Jeterphiles salivating over Jeter, and the whole YPNM fan club (Rich Harden, Mark Prior, etc.) salivating Carpenter.

    But yeah, Carpenter's return has been insane.

  3. Schruender says:

    Yeah in spite of the fact that there was a fan club for Carpenter and not for Lee, I think every site still had Lee going ahead of Carpenter and that's why he ultimately won out. It was a very hard decision for the committee (of one).

  4. Dave says:

    That is a good point.

  5. Dave says:

    I am pitching seven starters tonight. This will require a beer. Or two.

  6. Schruender says:

    Oh wow. That's called putting your season on the line. It's funny how you spend like 180 days and nights changing lineups and tinkering with parts and it just boils down to something like Brett Anderson @ Seattle.

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