2011 Fantasy Baseball Stars

by Eddie Mayrose

The wailing and gnashing of teeth will begin later today as Major League Baseball announces the players that will represent their league in next Tuesday’s All Star Game.  That was actually a carefully written sentence, as quite a few of those named have accomplished nothing close to what a discerning baseball fan would consider All Star stats.  In a well-intended system intended to encourage fan participation that has, instead, degenerated into a popularity contest, many actual stars will be watching from their living rooms while less deserving players enjoy the spotlight.

More than a few factors contribute to this annual mess, not the least of which is the voting process. Want a good laugh?  Don’t scream about the fact that Troy Tulowitzki currently leads Jose Reyes in the balloting at shortstop.  Scan down the page for the real joke: that more than a million think that Yuniesky Betancourt belongs in the game.

The fact that each team must be represented also damages the game’s credibility, creating a distinct disadvantage for the NL, which must fill two more required spots than the AL. Then there’s the nonsense by which the managers have discretion over the selection of substitutes; often abusing the privilege to accommodate their own players.

When the game was simply an exhibition, these imperfections were easily forgiven.  However, after Bud Selig decreed that the outcome of the game would determine home field advantage in the World Series, they became serious problems.  How can you determine something so important while not allowing either league to assemble its best possible roster?

There are no such obstacles in naming Fantasy All Stars; where sleepers make champions and a simple formula of combining production and draft round makes the process of recognizing the season’s best very easy.  And awaaaaay we go!

 

Catcher- Detroit’s Alex Avila is an easy choice here, as he was likely plucked from the free agent wire in mixed leagues.  He’s already surpassed his projected numbers for the whole season.
NL
- Mr. Dependable, the Braves’ Brian McCann.  One of the game’s most underrated players.

First Base- Even though he’s spent most of the year in the St. Louis outfield, Lance Berkman came into the 2011 fantasy season eligible only at first base.  Following an injury plagued 2010, Berkman went undrafted in many mixed leagues and was certainly not  a priority for NL-only owners, either.  His .297-21-59 first half, however, has been amazing; as is the fact that he’s playing everyday.
AL
- Paul Konerko gets the nod over Adrian Gonzalez, based on a much later draft position.

Second Base- The chalk held here as Robinson Cano has justified his lofty status by outperforming all other second basemen.  Funny, his numbers, while terrific, are off of last year’s pace, giving rise to the idea that he’s underperforming.  Tough to disappoint at .291-14-54 in the middle infield.
NL- Nats’ rookie Danny Espinoza edges Brandon Phillips.

Third Base- Tell the truth. You never thought Jose Bautista could duplicate last season’s performance.  Well, you were right- he’s better. He gets the nod no matter where he was selected.
NL
- Chicago’s Aramis Ramirez reigns over a field weakened by injuries to David Wright and Pablo Sandoval.

Shortstop- Asdrubal Cabrera has been the biggest reason for Cleveland’s resurgence and was probably still available in the second half of most mixed drafts.
NL
- Alex Rodriguez called Jose Reyes “the best baseball player in the world.”  Who are we to argue with such an authority?

Outfield- After a disappointing 2010, even the biggest Matt Kemp fan would be surprised to see him in the middle of one of the greatest fantasy seasons ever. Curtis Granderson is suddenly hitting left-handed pitching on his way to a 30-30 season and no one could have seen 9 HR and 40 RBI coming from Boston speedster, Jacoby Ellsbury, over the first half of 2011.
Honorable Mention
-Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen and Justin Upton.

Starting Pitcher- In a year where pitching has dominated, Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens has posted an incredible first half that has rewarded owners that took him in the latter stages of most drafts. Cole Hamels has returned significant value, as have Jered Weaver and the game’s hottest hurler, Justin Verlander. Rounding out our starting five is Tampa’s James Shields, who’s matched the great Roy Halladay, almost stat for stat.
Honorable Mention
- Halladay, Philip Humber, Ian Kennedy, Michael Pineda and Clayton Kershaw.

Relief Pitcher- Atlanta’s young stud, Craig Kimbrel, has rung up 24 saves with an incredible 67 K in just 42 IP.
AL-  Sergio Santos was Chicago’s third choice and, apparently, its last.

Eddie Mayrose appears weekly with Craig Mish on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Network — Sirius Channel 210, XM Channel 87 and can be seen by Fios customers on “Down in Front” with co-host Tom DeAngelo. Check local listings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Moonlight Graham’s Fantasy Forecast: Mid-Season All Stars”

  1. McCann far and away most underrated fantasy player. Those numbers best majority of 1B, but at Catcher?!?! The guy flat out rakes. Hoping to see more of this production for years to come from Justin Upton. Is he finally coming into his own? Is improvement expected before his peak?

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