Midseason Fantasy Baseball All-Stars
This column is a special for the All Star Game. Below are the Fantasy All Stars in both leagues for the first half, as well as the first half awards. Along with those two items we are also covering the first half surprise players at all positions. I hope you enjoy this special column, and please keep sending in your questions and comments. Also, check back Friday for the column on player values, and the biggest busts from the first half at each position.
First Half Fantasy All Stars
Fantasy All Stars are different than the major league All Star teams. The main reason for this is that fantasy teams are based solely on offensive production. Major-league All Star teams tend to take more factors into account: like the every team represented rule, fan voting, and players/coaches selections. The Value All Stars at each position are the players who represent the best value at each position during the first half (cost vs. production).
Joe Mauer (Twins): Mauer has not been a terrific power hitter during the first half. Yet he has still managed to be the clear selection for fantasy catcher of the first half. Mauer leads AL catchers in RBI, Runs, and OBP, the latter two by quite a large margin.
Value C- Dioner Navarro (Rays): Navarro has started to meet some of the expectations from earlier in his career. He has been very solid in everything but runs. Either way Navarro has been the clear choice as the second best catcher in the AL, along with the best value.
1B- Justin Morneau (Twins): Morneau has regained much of his form from his MVP campaign a couple years ago. He leads AL first basemen in RBI, OBP, and Runs Produced. If not for Josh Hamilton’s insane first half Morneau would clearly be in the MVP race. Hopefully he does not suffer the same fate as Bobby Abreu did when he won the HR Derby a couple years ago.
V 1B- Kevin Millar (Orioles): 1B is a hard position for value, because so many of the leagues top hitters typically reside at that position. This year Millar has been a clear value with 12 HR/47 RBI/46 R. Millar could easily reach 100 RBI and 100 Runs which would be an astounding value for a player that did not even get picked in many drafts.
2B- Ian Kinsler (Rangers): Kinsler has been nothing short of awesome during the first half. He has blown away every other AL 2B. He leads all AL 2B in HR, RBI, R, OBP, and is second in SB. Those rankings are what we call the quadruple crown in fantasy. Kinsler is right there with teammate Josh Hamilton for first half Fantasy MVP.
V 2B- Ian Kinsler (Rangers): A rare sweep of value and the regular position, but nobody in any league saw these numbers for Kinsler so he is clearly the value selection as well.
SS - Michael Young (Rangers): Young has not had a typical year for the quality of player he has been. He has still managed to be the best of a very weak AL shortstop class. Young’s numbers are solid, and he is the choice here in a fairly close selection over Jhonny Peralta.
V SS- Mike Aviles (Royals): Aviles only has 142 ab’s, and he is still the choice for value at short. He has come from nowhere to lock up the Royals starting spot. Aviles has put up very solid power numbers and good upside; therefore he beats out a resurgent and re-injured Bobby Crosby.
3B- Alex Rodriguez (Yankees): Rodriguez is slightly down this year, and he is still stellar. He is the class of the AL at third every year. A-Rod is one of those players fantasy owners love, because you can write down outstanding minimum numbers every year.
V 3B- Casey Blake (Indians): Blake wins out in what is clearly the tightest value battle in the infield. Arguments can be made for Joe Crede and even Scott Rolen. Blake has been very solid across the board, especially considering he was not chosen in numerous leagues. (For those who are wondering why not Longoria, many leagues have minor lg. spots and in those leagues he is clearly not a value player as he would be valued so highly).
OF- Josh Hamilton (Rangers): Hamilton has been uncanny. He is on pace to drive in over 160 runs. There was no more obvious choice for this team than Hamilton, simply amazing.
OF- Carlos Quentin (White Sox): If not for Hamilton then the clear surprise player in the AL this year is Quentin. Quentin has been awesome as well, actually leading Hamilton in everything but RBI.
OF- Grady Sizemore (Indians): After a couple surprise players made an appearance Sizemore returns the sanity. He has been an outstanding fantasy player for several years, but has taken an extra step this year. Sizemore is on pace for a 40-40 season; he is a truly special fantasy player.
V OF- David Murphy (Rangers): The Rangers got Murphy in the Eric Gagne deal last year. They hoped he would develop into a solid 3 rd/4 th OF. He has far exceeded those expectations. Murphy has been outstanding for the Rangers all year with surprising power and RBI numbers.
V OF- JD Drew (Red Sox): Not every surprise player has to come from nowhere. Drew has been around, but after last season he was left for dead. Drew has quieted all his critics this year by more than filling in for the injured David Ortiz, and making the actual AL All Star Team this year.
V OF- Eric Hinske (Rays): Hinske beats out David Dejesus in a close battle for the last spot. Hinske gets the nod based on the true surprise measure. Hinske was all but out of baseball prior to this season when the Rays gave him a shot. He has clearly repaid their trust (and any fantasy owner who pulled him early).
I chose not to include Quentin and Hamilton in the surprise list simply because it was obvious. They are the two biggest surprises in baseball; so I wanted to be able to cover some other guys since Quentin and Hamilton were already on the regular list.
V SP- Justin Duchscherer (A’s): Duchscherer has moved from the bullpen and been dominant. He leads the AL in starters ERA and WHIP. Those numbers are truly remarkable for a guy who was a reliever last year, and was injured, only managing 16.1 IP last season as a reliever.
RP- Francisco Rodriguez (Angels): Rodriguez is on pace to shatter Bobby Thigpen’s single season save record. Closer in fantasy provides mainly one category. Given those two factors Rodriguez clearly blows away the competition just like he does on the mound.
V RP- Joakim Soria (Royals): Soria was good last year as he held the closer role for much of the year. This season he has been spectacular. Soria is as good a value as you can expect to get at closer in any fantasy league.
C - Brian McCann (Braves): McCann edges Geovany Soto at the catcher spot.
McCann leads Soto in HR, OBP, and Runs that gives him the edge. McCann is a special hitter at a tough spot, and he leads a solid group of young NL catchers.
V C- Ryan Doumit (Pirates): Doumit leads a solid group of surprising young catchers beating out Chris Coste, Jesus Flores, and Chris Iannetta in this value group. He has been and excellent on-base guy for the Pirates, and if they can get on in front of him more his RBI numbers should improve in the second half.
1B- Lance Berkman (Astros): No doubt some of you will want Ryan Howard in this spot. However, if you actually look at the numbers Berkman blows everybody else away. Berkman has produced in every single important category, 2 nd in HR/RBI/OBP, 1 st in Runs, and he has even stolen 15 bases. Berkman is everything you could want in a fantasy player.
V 1B- Conor Jackson (D’Backs): Mike Jacobs has had a solid first half, but Jackson is the clear pick here. Jackson was solid last year, but he has taken a big step forward this year. He has an excellent .387 OBP, and is on pace for around 20 HR/90 RBI/100 R.
2B- Chase Utley (Phillies): Just like Kinsler in the AL this is one of the easiest picks this year. Utley has been outstanding all year in every category. He has been as valuable as any player in the NL during the first half.
V 2B- Mark DeRosa (Cubs): DeRosa has been excellent during the first half. As a bonus for fantasy owners he qualifies all over the field. DeRosa has been a true value player on pace for 20 HR/90+ RBI/100+ R while being available in most leagues well into May.
SS - Hanley Ramirez (Marlins): Ramirez is a truly special player. In fantasy he is a
once in a lifetime player. Ramirez is on pace for a 40/40 year while improving his on-base skills to complete his development.
V SS- Stephen Drew (D’Backs): Many impatient owners gave up on Drew prior to this year. He has not lived up to his potential yet, but he has become a solid value player. Drew has put up solid numbers in all the power categories, and if he can improve his on-base skills he could reach those high expectations.
3B- David Wright (Mets): The best all-around 3B in baseball right now, and yes you read that correctly. Wright does everything well, and his ability to hit in the clutch makes him very special. The NL is loaded with awesome young talent, and Wright is an all-around fantasy force.
V 3B- Mark Reynolds (D’Backs): One of the early season surprises Reynolds has put together an excellent first half. He leads NL 3B in HR and is tied for the lead in R. Reynolds is as good as any young 3B in baseball, and he should only get better.
OF- Carlos Lee (Astros): Lee is having one of his best years. He been outstanding from day one and is on pace for around 140 RBI. In the NL the OF is not as strong as many other positions, but Lee gives the NL a true fantasy force in the OF.
OF- Carlos Beltran (Mets): Beltran has not been as productive as normal, and he is still among the top NL OF. He continues to put up excellent numbers across the board and give fantasy owners help in every offensive category. Beltran is also poised for a huge second half as the Mets continue to surge.
OF- Adam Dunn (Reds): Dunn struggled as much as any player in baseball early this season. He has turned it around, and should be even better in the second half. Dunn is the most undervalued hitter in the NL as he just puts up numbers year after year.
V OF- Ryan Ludwick (Cards): Ludwick is seven HR’s short of his career total. If that does not say value player then I do not know what does.
V OF- Nate McLouth (Pirates): McLouth was expected to be a solid 4 th fantasy OF, but he has turned in top fantasy OF numbers. Do not be shocked if he is able to pull off one of the most surprising 30/30 seasons in ML history.
V OF- Xavier Nady (Pirates): Nady has been a traditional hot start then fizzle guy. This year he has been able to keep his production level up all year. Nady has been a great contributor in all the power categories, and with a solid OBP.
SP- Edinson Volquez (Reds): Volquez has been one of the biggest surprises during the first half, as well as the best pitcher. He beats out several other contenders in the NL’s toughest position. Volquez has been truly dominant during the first half, and is the clear leader for the NL Fantasy Cy Young.
V SP- Kyle Lohse (Cardinals): Lohse has come from almost as far back as Cliff Lee in the AL. Lohse was dropped from the Reds rotation two years ago, and barely stayed in the Phillies rotation last year. He has bounced back with the third highest win total in his CAREER, enough said.
RP- Brad Lidge (Phillies): The Phillies were hoping that Lidge would bounce back to his old form after the trade. He has bounced back and more, sporting a 1.13 ERA and 0 blown saves. Lidge is even better than the Lidge of old, which is truly saying something.
V RP- Kerry Wood (Cubs): Nobody knew if Wood would be able to handle the closers role, or stay healthy. He has done both very well during the first half. It is sometimes difficult to find value at closer, but Wood has been so good that he is an excellent value.
First Half Fantasy Awards
A closer call than you might think due to Kinsler’s outstanding SB numbers, but 94 RBI’s is just too amazing to pass up.
Lee is the clear pick for this award. I do not know why but I have a feeling the actual AL Cy Young is not on this list.
Longoria has been special during the first half. He is putting up amazing numbers similar to Ryan Braun’s last year.
I do not think that either Sheffield or Willis is a big surprise. Willis has been in decline for a while, and Sheffield is showing his age and fragility. Hafner is shocking. He was one of the top five hitters in baseball two years ago, and now I do not think he is even a starter.
There was a very close vote between all three in this category. Berkman wins with that outstanding OBP and 15 steals.
Sheets is gaining on Volquez pretty fast, and I actually expect Sheets to win the NL Cy Young in the end.
Soto is the clear choice for this award. When you consider the fact that he is a catcher it is all the more impressive.
Tulo and Jones is a toss-up. Neither has played enough to bounce back, and they have both been abysmal when they were healthy, truly disappointing.
By Brian Chmielewski
Fans can contact Brian via email at bchmfantasybaseball @ yahoo.com
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