Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With MLB All-Star voting down to the last few days, it's time to post our first half fantasy All-Star team. In addition to listing the All-Star by position, we have also made our selections for "best bargain" and "most disappointing" players of the spring.
By Position Analysis -
Catcher - It's a rarity when a free agent pickup is the best player at the position, but with Joe Mauer "MIA" for most of the season and Buster Posey out for the year, Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila has simply put up the best overall statistics. Avila is batting .300 with a position-best 0.905 OPS and is tied with Brian McCann for most RBIs at 41. He's even stolen three bases, a mark exceeded only by Russell Martin.
First Half All-Star - Alex Avila (ADP 347)
Best Bargain - Alex Avila (ADP 347)
Biggest Disappointment - Joe Mauer (ADP 50)
First Baseman - Adrian Gonzalez has proven to be as good as advertised. Using the smaller confines of Fenway Park to his advantage, he leads the American League in batting average (.350), total bases (181), hits (105), doubles (25) and RBIs (68). Even at a deep position like first base, getting a player like Gaby Sanchez (.304, 13 HR, 45 RBI) in the 19th round is a steal. It will take a miracle for Adam Dunn to reach fantasy owner's pre-season expectations which were around 38-40 homers and 100 RBIs.
First Half All-Star - Adrian Gonzalez (ADP 12)
Best Bargain - Gaby Sanchez (ADP 220)
Biggest Disappointment - Adam Dunn (ADP 30)
Second Baseman - Robinson Cano is traditionally a second-half hitter and if the trend continues will put up huge numbers. He's been relatively quiet in the first half yet is still batting close to .300 with 14 HRs and 47 RBIs. Danny Espinosa still can't hit for average, but he's showing plenty of power (13 HRs, 44 RBIs) at a position that rarely has much. Fantasy owners, who used a fourth-round pick on Dan Uggla, are still waiting for him to get his season started.
First Half All-Star - Robinson Cano (ADP 9)
Best Bargain - Danny Espinosa (ADP 299)
Biggest Disappointment - Dan Uggla (ADP 34)
Third Baseman - The position has been decimated by injuries including two of it's best players - Evan Longoria and David Wright. In leagues where Jose Bautista is still eligible, he's the best at the position, but he's yet to play at third base in 2011. Alex Rodriguez has been solid, though unspectacular, which at this watered-down position takes the top spot. Hopefully, Longoria, Wright and Pablo Sandoval can produce in the second half to help fantasy owners. Free agent pickup Ryan Roberts has done his share to improve the position, with 10 homers, 31 RBIs, nine stolen bases and an OPS of 0.810.
First Half All-Star - Alex Rodriguez (ADP 14)
Best Bargain - Ryan Roberts (ADP 478)
Biggest Disappointment - Evan Longoria (ADP 4)
Shortstop - With Hanley Ramirez being one of the season's biggest real life and fantasy disappointments, Jose Reyes' return to All-Star form has been that much more noticeable. Reyes leads the National League in runs (54), hits (103), triples (12) and batting average (.336). And with 26 stolen bases, he'll match last year's total before the All-Star break. Asdrubal Cabrera (.296, 12 HR, 43 RBIs, 12 SB), who was taken around the 16th round, has been a huge bargain, posting the kind of statistics we expected from the aforementioned Ramirez.
First Half All-Star - Jose Reyes (ADP 24)
Best Bargain - Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP 190)
Biggest Disappointment - Hanley Ramirez (ADP 2)
Outfielders - Matt Kemp (.321, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 20 SB) edges out Bautista as the No.1 outfielder by virtue of the return of his stolen base prowess. Last year Kemp stole 19, but was caught 15 times. In 2011 he's already stolen 20 bases and been caught just three times. He also leads the NL in home runs and total bases. Lance Berkman has come off the proverbial scrap heap to post All-Star numbers (.303, 17 HR, 51 RBI) and with Albert Pujols hurt, he's become 1B eligible as well. The travails of Carl Crawford have been well documented and as a first-round selection is one of the top fantasy disappointments of 2011.
First Half All-Star - Matt Kemp (ADP 19)
Best Bargain - Lance Berkman (ADP 283)
Biggest Disappointment - Carl Crawford (ADP 11)
Starting pitcher - It just seems like Justin Verlander flirts with a no-hitter every time he's pitched in 2011. Besides his "no-no" against Toronto, he's given up five hits or fewer in nine of 15 other starts. He's tied for the major league lead in wins with nine and leads the AL with 110 strikeouts and WHIP of 0.854. On Draft Day there were 10 pitchers selected ahead of Verlander. "Big Game" James Shields was the 87th pitcher off the board back in March, but he's finally matured into a top-10 fantasy value with an ERA of 2.40 and a WHIP of 1.003. Meanwhile, fantasy owners who dreamed of Ubaldo Jimenez repeating his first-half performance of 2010 (15-1, 2.20 ERA, 1.031 WHIP) have been sadly mistaken and most are confused as to whether to even start him each week in 2011 (2-7, 4.68 ERA, 1.416 WHIP).
First Half All-Star - Justin Verlander (ADP 60)
Best Bargain - James Shields (ADP 213)
Biggest Disappointment - Ubaldo Jimenez (ADP 49)
Relief Pitcher/Closer - Fourteenth-round selection Craig Kimbrel of Atlanta has put up excellent numbers (20 saves, 2.92 ERA, 58 K's in 37 IP) and despite being selected as the "All-Star" at this position in the first half could lose his job in the second half of the season if he stumbles because of the equally impressive performance of Braves setup man Jonny Venters. Beware of this situation. Who could have expected that a Seattle Mariners closer would get the chance to save 20 games, much less actually be successful 20 out of 23 times before the end of June, but Brandon League has done just that. It got so bad for Royals reliever Joakim Soria, that he asked out of the closer role in early June.
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