Mid-Season Fantasy All-Star Team

Joe Mauer is batting .373 with a career-high 15 HRs, 49 RBIs and a 1.069 OPS.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As we prepare for the second half of the baseball season, let's take a quick look back at the first half and find our 2009 First-Half Fantasy All-Star team.

Catcher - Could there be any other choice but Joe Mauer? Victor Martinez got off to a great start, but Mauer didn't even get on the field until May 1st and has comparable numbers. Despite a recent 25-point drop in average, he's still batting .373 with a career-high 15 HRs, 49 RBIs and a 1.069 OPS. "Best Bargain" of the first half goes to Mike Napoli (Average Draft Position - 163) with "Most Disappointing" going to Geovany Soto (ADP - 52)

First Base - Albert Pujols has been out of this world so despite all the good first basemen around the league, this choice isn't really hard to pick either. His statistics through 90 games - 73 runs, 32 HRs, 87 RBIs, 10 SB, .332 average and an OPS of 1.179, are just astonishing considering the protection, or lack of it, he has behind him (see my story "Are Managers Crazy"). My only question is why pitchers ever throw him a good pitch? "Best Bargain" goes to the almost un-noticed season of Paul Konerko (16 HRs, 60 RBI, .302 ave) the White Sox first baseman who had an ADP of 197. "Most Disappointing belongs to Texas Rangers minor leaguer Chris Davis who has a lot of power, but can't put the bat on the ball often enough to stay in the majors. He had a preseason ADP of 64 meaning your seventh-round pick is now languishing in the minor leagues.

Second Base - Being from Philadelphia, I'd like to tell you that Chase Utley is the best second baseman, but I can't. Ian Kinsler wins the award, because his stolen base total is double Utley's and the rest of the statistics are very close. "Best Bargain" might be the easiest pick of the day, it's Aaron Hill of Toronto. The Blue Jays second baseman was either a late-round pick or a free agent pickup in your league and has posted top-five second baseman numbers (52 runs, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs, .292 batting average). "Most Disappointing" goes to Boston's Dustin Pedroia. He really shouldn't have been a top-15 pick on Draft Day and though his average is still over .300, he hasn't been a top-15 overall fantasy player.

Shortstop - Hanley Ramirez was likely the No.1 selection in your draft and he's been the best shortstop, statistically, though not by as much as expected. Still, his 53 runs, 14 HRs, 61 RBIs, 13 SB, .349 batting average and .978 OPS make him the top player at his position. The better battle is for "Best Bargain" where Marco Scutaro (64 runs, 6 HRs, 39 RBIs, 8 SB, .289 average) and Jason Bartlett (45 runs, 8 HRs, 39 RBIs, 19 SB, .347 batting average, .929 OPS) both have exceeded their modest expectations by miles. We are giving the award to Bartlett (ADP 271). "Most Disappointing" is a tie between Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins. At least Reyes has an injury for an excuse, Rollins was simply horrible over the first three and-a-half months.

Third Base - Other third basemen got off to better starts (Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, Brandon Inge), but our selection for fantasy third baseman is San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval is batting .333 with 41 runs, 15 HRs, 55 RBIs and an OPS of .963. "Best Bargain" award goes to Mark Reynolds who just edged out Sandoval based on his ADP of 165 to Sandoval's 137. Reynolds has added speed to his repertoire, stealing 15 bases in half a season. He's on pace for 40+ HRs and 25+ steals, a rare combination. "Most Disappointing" goes to Aramis Ramirez. He's missed a good portion of the first half due to injury, but that doesn't help those owners who selected him 27th overall.

Outfield - Raul Ibanez's numbers were so good that even missing three weeks due to injury couldn't knock him from one of the three All-Star outfield positions. His OPS (1.016) is No.1 among outfielders and he's among the leaders in HR, RBIs and runs. Completing the outfield are Ben Zobrist (50 runs, 17 HRs, 52 RBIs, 11 SB, .297, 1.012 OPS) and Torii Hunter (56 runs, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 13 SB, .305, .938 OPS). I wonder what the odds were before the season of that? There are a lot of outfielders who could make a run at the "Best Bargain" award, but seeing as how Zobrist ranked No.308 in spring training and made my All-Star outfield, it has to be him.

Starting Pitcher - With apologies to Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, Dan Haren is our All-Star. He is quietly having an extraordinary season. A stunning WHIP of 0.81, ERA of 2.01, 129 K's in 130.0 innings and a 9-5 record on a team that's 38-51. "Best Bargain" of the first half goes to Detroit's Edwin Jackson, with a 261 ADP and a 7-4 record with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. "Most Disappointing" goes to two injured pitchers - Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy.

Relief Pitcher - Joe Nathan almost never gives up a run, much less blows a save In 36 games, the Minnesota closer has 23 saves, a 1.31 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP. He edges out the all-time best closer, Mariano Rivera who was pretty good again collecting 23 saves with a 2.43 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. "Best Bargain" goes to Heath Bell who has replaced Trevor Hoffman admirably. His 23 saves, 1.69 ERA and 1.07 WHIP is pretty good for the No.194 preseason pick. "Most Disappointing is easy. He was perfect in 2008 but far from it in 2009. Brad Lidge does have 18 saves, but also carries a 7.03 ERA and a 1.84 WHIP. That's not what you expected when you chose him in the ninth round (ADP 87).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.
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