Death. Taxes. Tucker doing well in fantasy baseball. How well? Let's take a quick review:
2002: All records have been destroyed, but I know this team wasn't horrible.
2003: 4th place, a half point out of the money, and only 5 points from winning. This was even better than it seems because Tucker's crazy-good starting pitching was derailed in September when he hit the innings maximum that nobody knew existed.
2004: Won, with 106 points. The maximum, for those keeping score, is 120.
2005: 3rd place, behind two insanely stacked teams run by Scot and Teddy.
2007: 2nd place, courtesy of a crazy-good season by It's Enrico Palazzo.
2008: Won, with 99.5 points. Side note: Scot somehow had 92.5 points this year and finished in third.
2009: Won, and again cracked the 100-point barrier.
To summarize, that's zero finishes out of the money since 2004, and barring the rules biting him (and everyone else) in the ass, it would be 7 straight money finishes. So it's a fait accompli that Tucker's in the top 3 again, right?
Phillie stalwart Chase Utley has been traded off to the Commish, which is akin to being banished to Siberia or the Kansas City Royals. In his place is Ben Zobrist, who not coincidentally was on 60% of winning fantasy rosters last year. The rest of the infield is the definition of a mixed bag. Carlos Pena is a great contract-year play, Russell Martin is either a bounceback candidate or a total flop waiting to happen, Stephen Drew's still One Year Away (or is he?) and Mark DeRosa went to Penn. An okay, not great unit.
Adam Dunn and Jacoby Ellsbury perform roughly the same function that Holliday and Span did for the commish by covering all categories fairly well. Rounding out these slots are the wildly underrated Shane Victorino, who produces a little in all categories, and last year's Jason Heyward, Colby Rasmus. The team's going to need a breakout from Rasmus or Juan Pierre to not kill them in OBP and power to stay in the top half of the offensive categories.
One of the youngest and most upside-laden staffs in the league. Adam Wainwright's already a top-1o starter, Tommy Hanson may well join him by year's end, and Brett Anderson is a potential stud. Those three alone would make this one of the most potent staffs in the league, but they've also got hanging around the underrated Jeff Niemann, a My Guy in Brandon Morrow, solid citizen JA Happ, and intriguing wildcard Chris Volstad. Personally, I like this staff the most of anyone's in the league.
With four closers squarely in control of their jobs (Franklin, Soria, Fuentes, Hoffman), they're well on their way to 150 saves. What's also nice is these guys will keep the team ERA and WHIP in check, a good thing when you have young starters.
For the first time in recent memory, this team isn't guaranteed 45+ points in hitting, which on paper makes it vulnerable. But I'm less sure that's the case. The pitching should be dominating. They're a top-3 squad in steals. They're going to have a high OBP. They'll score runs. That just leaves the power categories, which they can trade for. Do you want to bet against a repeat? Didn't think so.