John Halpin, Joel Beall and Ryan Fowler share their fantasy All-Stars based on average draft position.
By Ryan Fowler FoxSports
Remember when your buddy gave you crap for drafting Carlos Ruiz in the 5th round or when the room went silent when you took R.A. Dickey in the 6th round.
It's probably because it didn't happen.
Those two players, in addition to dozens of others, were cast off to the Fantasy Island of Misfit Toys. Their ADPs (average draft positions) were north of 200, which in fantasy terms means:
"Hello, waiver wire purgatory for the foreseeable future!"
Despite the lack of interest from fantasy owners around the country, the following players exceeded expectations in 2012's first half. Slowly, but surely they were plucked off of waiver wires and placed on benches before most eventually earned everyday starter status.
On the eve of the 2012 MLB All-Star game (which can be seen on FOX), the FOXSports.com Fantasy Department presents their Fantasy Baseball All-Stars (based on ADP).
If I told you back in mid-March that by the All-Star break the Phillies’ pitching staff would rank in MLB’s bottom 10 (4.23 ERA) and their offense would own a top 10 batting average (.262 BA), I wouldn’t have believed me either. Their catcher, Carlos Ruiz, is third in runs scored and second in hits, home runs and RBI with three steals (dude is 33-years-old, 5 feet 10 inches and “206” pounds). His batting average is nearly 75 and OBP 50 points higher than career norms.
1B – Mark Trumbo
The Angels carved out regular playing time for Trumbo in early May by cutting Bobby Abreu. He’s roamed the outfield, while Kendrys Morales, who lost his job at first to Albert Pujols, has been the team’s go-to designated hitter – a position most thought would be Trumbo’s. If he keeps up his current pace, he’ll hit 44 HR with 84 runs over 100 RBI. That would shatter his 2011 numbers accumulated in 149 games.
2B – Aaron Hill
Despite becoming only the second player since 1900 to hit for the cycle twice within the same season, Hill’s statistical resume (.300 / .355 / .505) in the first half is worthy of the same amount of recognition and applause.
3B – Will Middlebrooks
The Boston Red Sox welcomed a new era at third base on June 25, 2012, but Middlebrooks made his presence felt all of May when Kevin Youkilis was on the disabled list. If Middlebrooks can overcome these reoccurring hamstring injuries, his value the rest of the season remains high.
SS – Ian Desmond / Trevor Plouffe
Plouffe deserves to be on this roster, but because of Middlebrooks he was bumped from his natural third base position where he has outslugged (19 home runs) Miguel Cabrera (18 home runs) in the first half. However, because he has position eligibility at SS and OF, too, I figured I’d find a spot for him off the bench. His average and OBP for the season (.253 / .325) are a little deceiving considering he hit .327 with a.391 OBP in June.
As for Desmond, he’s top five in hits (98) and runs (46) and leads in home runs (17) and RBI (51) among fellow fantasy shortstops.
OF – Melky Cabrera
I just started following YCPB (You Can’t Predict Baseball) on Twitter. One of their previous taglines was “Because sometimes Melky Cabrera picks up 51 hits in a month.” Most fantasy owners assumed his 2011 season was a statistical anomaly and there was no way he’d improve his numbers in 2012, especially in San Francisco. His .353 batting average is 71 points and .391 OBP nearly 60 points higher than career norms. He’s on pace for 238 hits in 2012. That would be the most in the big leagues since 2007 (Ichiro – 238).
OF – Allen Craig
He missed all of April rehabbing his knee. Then hit the disabled list a second time and missed 14 games with a hamstring injury. Still, in an abridged first half (152 at bats), Craig has hit 13 home runs (a home run every 13.7 at bats). If he qualified, his AB/HR ratio would rank seventh in MLB behind Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Ryan Braun, Mark Trumbo, and Edwin Encarnacion. Craig owners could be in store for a monster second half.
OF – Mike Trout
He began the season 4-22 (.181 average) his first six games of the season. Believe it or not, some owners cut him soon thereafter. They missed the 84-236 (.356 BA) that followed with nine home runs and 22 stolen bases. He’s a keeper.
SP – R.A. Dickey
During a recent radio interview, Dickey confirmed my theory that writing "Wherever I Wind Up" and admitting publically that he had been abused as a child helped him clear his conscience and focus on his pitching career. That took guts.
As for his play on the field, I’m still deciding which feat was more impressive the 32 2/3 scoreless innings streak (franchise record) or hurling back-to-back one hitters.
RP – Fernando Rodney
It was one of those early-January signings that flew under the radar after the holidays, but I had a gut feeling that Rodney would play a larger role with the Rays if given the chance. When Kyle Farnsworth hit the DL (elbow) to start the season, I promoted Rodney as the fantasy closer to pick, while most of my fellow fantasy contributors pledged their allegiance to Joel Peralta. Rodney, 25 saves and 0.93 ERA, now sounds like he’s locked up the role even with Farnsworth back in the bullpen.
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox (ADP: 219.9) Carlos Ruiz was drafted in the same range and is having a similar, if not better, season than Salty. Alas, the Boston backstop gets the nod because Ruiz was already established as a fantasy contributor prior to this year, evidenced by his .292/.385/.414 line the past two seasons, whereas Saltalamacchia’s credentials were still in question coming into 2012, making him the bigger steal in fantasy land. Don’t be surprised if Saltalamacchia ends up with 27-30 homers before it’s all said and done.
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (ADP: 192.2) Since April 30, Goldschmidt is hitting .333 with 11 homers, 34 RBI, 32 runs and a .397 OBP. He’s also been a pleasant surprise on the base paths, with eight swipes in 74 games. The discrepancy between his lefty-righty splits is somewhat disconcerting (.400/.462/.822 against left-handers, .247/.315/.401 against right-handers), which leads to the occasional Lyle Overbay sighting in Arizona. Still, hard to argue against that production for a player selected so late on draft day.
2B: Jason Kipnis, Indians (ADP: 182.5) Arguably the steal of the draft, as Kipnis is neck and neck with Robinson Cano for the title of top fantasy second baseman of the first half. His .277 average and .355 OBP are eerily similar to his output from an abbreviated appearance in Cleveland last season, and the 11 homers, while solid, are hardly surprising given Kipnis’ seven long shots in 36 games with Cleveland in 2011. So what has vaulted Kipnis to rotisserie’s upper echelon? One has to look no further than the steals column, where the 25-year-old has accumulated 20 bags, miles away from anything he manufactured in the minors.
3B: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (ADP: 178.9) For a guy who was mostly known in baseball circles for his infamous endeavors in the field (hence the “E5” moniker), not a bad start to the 2012 campaign. We always knew Encarnacion carried a mighty hammer, so the 23 jacks aren’t totally out of left field. Yet while his run production (along with the bomb barrage, Encarnacion has driven in 58 RBI with 55 runs) is the catalyst for his career year, what has surprised me has been the progress in the average (.295) and OBP (.382) departments, as Edwin entered the season with career averages of .260 and .336.
SS: Trevor Plouffe, Twins (ADP: 221) The herd is thinner than usual at short this season (especially with top target Troy Tulowitzki on the DL), so let’s go with Minnesota’s Plouffe who, despite playing half his games in homer-hostile Target Field, has 19 dingers on the season. While the .249 average and .323 OBP won’t blow anyone away, Plouffe has been one of the hotter hitters on the Junior Circuit since May 16, with 18 of his round-trippers coming in this span to go along with a .296 average.
OF: Mike Trout, Angels (ADP: 221.1) Not sure what’s more amazing: that Trout is leading the American League with a .341 average, or that he’s tops in steals despite starting his big-league year on April 28. I want to caution that Trout’s power production may level off, as the Angels neophyte never hit more than 11 homers in a minor-league season. Then again, dude doesn’t turn 21 ‘til August, so, just spitballin’ here, maybe there’s room for growth.
OF: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (ADP: 160.7) I remember thinking $13 million a year was a lot of gravy for 75 games worth of service (that sound you hear is every Mets fan nodding in unison). However, Beltran has lived up to his billing, leading the NL with 65 ribbies to go along with 20 homers, 50 runs, a .296 average and .382 OBP. Better yet, the seven-time All-Star has managed to avoid the disabled list, paying major dividends to his proprietors who took the gamble on the oft-injured star.
OF: Josh Reddick, A’s (ADP: 221.2) Adam Dunn was given consideration for this last outfield spot, but a few factors tipped the scales in favor of the up-and-coming Reddick, including:
- The Big Donkey was pegged with sleeper status during spring training, while few expected a fireworks display from Reddick given his new confines at cavernous O.co Coliseum.
- Reddick’s hitting a respectable .268 versus Dunn’s ongoing battle with the Mendoza Line.
- Dunn’s not quite pardoned for his fantasy sins of 2011.
P: James McDonald, Pirates (ADP: 221.4) Trust me, Mets fans, I’m not pulling a Tony La Russa and ignoring R.A. Dickey out of spite. True, Dickey has never pitched at such an elite level, but he did own a collective 3.08 ERA and 1.20 WHIP from the past two seasons, contrasted to McDonald, who “flaunted” a 4.15 ERA and 1.46 WHIP from 2010 to 2011. For his part, McDonald has surrendered two runs or less in 12 of his 17 outings this season and his 0.97 WHIP is third-best among active NL pitchers.
RP: Aroldis Chapman, Reds (ADP: 208.7) Another tough decision, as Fernando Rodney, Ernesto Frieri and Tyler Clippard all submitted strong cases, and Chapman’s mid-June swoon (in a nine-game stretch, Chapman sported an 0-4 record with three blown saves and an 8.64 ERA) don’t exactly support a ringing endorsement. But looking at the big picture, hard to ignore the Cuban Missile’s 16.2 K/9 rate (best in baseball) and 0.74 WHIP. Or maybe more importantly, if you had Chapman and I offered Rodney, Frieri or Clippard, are you pulling the trigger?...Exactly.
“Chooch” is batting .350 with a career-high 13 homers, and is nearing career bests in runs and RBI. “Out of nowhere” would be an understatement for such a spectacular season at age 33. Colorado’s Wilin Rosario was a contender for this spot as well.
1B – Mark Trumbo, Angels (ADP: 190.9)
Many fantasy owners and analysts were skeptical about Trumbo’s rookie season, but we’re all believers now, as he’s batting over .306 with 22 homers, 57 RBI and a .608 (!!!) slugging percentage. Who’s have thought Albert Pujols would be the Angels’ third-best hitter at the break?
2B – Jason Kipnis, Indians (ADP: 182.5)
The talented Kipnis has exceeded expectations, and is pacing toward 20 homers, 40 steals, 100 runs and 100 RBI. At a position populated by stars like Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia, he’s been the best fantasy producer.
3B – Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (ADP: 178.9)
Some fantasy wiseguys have been waiting for a breakout season from E5, but this homer barrage (23 so far) would have been an optimistic prediction for anyone. If there’s a small nit to pick about Encarnacion, it’s that he won’t qualify at the hot corner again next season.
Desmond’s speed has declined just a bit this season, but with 17 homers (among 43 extra-base hits) at the break, he’s providing much more power for his fantasy owners. He still doesn’t walk enough, but unless your league counts OBP, who cares?
OF: Mike Trout, Angels (ADP: 221.1)
Imagine if this guy hadn’t been in Triple A for the first month of the season. Trout is posting mind-boggling fantasy numbers, and is on his way to being a first-round selection in 2013 at age 21. The homers and steals are usually the first thing fantasy owners look at, but he’s also scoring close to a run per game. Wow, wow, wow.
Despite a three-week DL stint, Jackson has been one of fantasy’s most productive outfielders, with a balanced skill set that helps across the board. At age 25, Jackson’s breakout appears to be real – look for a big second half.
OF: Josh Reddick, A’s (ADP: 221.2)
Reddick was viewed as a mixed-league non-entity during draft season, with middling power and not much else to offer. Twenty homers later, he’s been one of fantasy baseball’s biggest power surprises. Reddick’s eight stolen bases are a nice bonus.
SP: R.A. Dickey, Mets (ADP: 221.2)
Dickey was solid in 2010 and 2011, but a dramatically improved strikeout rate – his 123 Ks ranks him third in MLB – has made him an ace. He’s also sixth in ERA (2.40) and second in WHIP (0.93). Those of you itching to sell high on Dickey should know that the numbers don’t indicate a fluke in any way, shape or form.
RP: Fernando Rodney, Rays (ADP: 220.8)
Guys like Rodney are why you should never use high draft picks on closers in standard mixed leagues – you can always find them on the wire. The formerly wild Rodney is now a strike-throwing machine (five BB in 37 2/3 IP), and ranks second in MLB with 25 saves.