In honor of the 2014 All-Star Game, I decided to put together the first Fantasy All-Star team. OK, I’m sure this isn’t the First fantasy all-star team, but it’s the first one here on Fantasy Assembly. I considered putting this out to a vote, let the readers decide who should be represented. Unfortunately, that’s what real baseball does, they let the fans vote. These are the same fans that voted for Chase Utley and Derek Jeter like it’s 2009. It’s those same people who voted to keep Sanjaya on American Idol. The All-Star game is supposed to be about the best players, it’s not a popularity contest. Well maybe it is, but in my world it shouldn’t be. I know what Derek Jeter and Chase Utley have done for the sport and their teams, but All Stars?
Overall, this year, I really can’t complain much about the participants compared to previous years. Both teams look pretty good on paper, but are these all-stars Fantasy all-stars? Some of them are close, but some of them should have yielded their spot to someone else. On this list there will be no equality for all. All teams will not be represented here. There will be no favoritism (unless there is a tie and one player was born in New Jersey). Just the best fantasy players at each position without the #VoteForPedro propaganda.
Catcher: Salvador Perez – The fans got this one right. Perez my be tied with Carlos Santana in CBS points leagues for value, but he’s the top AL choice in Yahoo. The 24-year-old is finally putting it all together and could be an all-star for years to come.
Reserves: Derek Norris – He gets to keep the reserve role that he earned in real life and just like Perez, seems to be coming into his own. With more at bats, he could have easily challenged Perez for the top spot.
Carlos Santana – Yan Gomes may have won the starting job in Cleveland, but Santana has outscored him in every category except batting average. In Yahoo they were close with Yan coming in right above Santana, but in CBS Santana outscored Yan by 25 points. Sorry Kurt Suzuki, you’ll have to settle for the real life honors, you best just wasn’t good enough to get in here.
First Base: Edwin Encarnacion – Miguel Cabrera may be the man, but Edwin outscored him in the first half despite a dry April. E.E. had 6 multi-home run games in May and June, rewarding those who invested heavily in him. Both CBS & Yahoo agree, he is the second best first baseman in baseball this year.
Reserve: Miguel Cabrera – He still makes the list, but the best in baseball will have to settle for playing second fiddle on this list. There is zero chance you would take E.E. over Cabrera in real life or in fantasy, not even if you were drafting tomorrow.
Second Base: Jose Altuve – He may be small it stature, but he’s big at heart. His name isn’t big enough to supplant Robinson Cano in real life, but in fantasy Altuve is the top man in both CBS & Yahoo. He is second in the league in stolen bases just behind Dee Gordon. With an improving skill set and surrounding cast, Altuve could be a future staple in the top 5 (at the very least he’ll be the guy you want once the top 5 are gone).
Reserve: Ian Kinsler – Given his home/road splits, Kinsler wasn’t given much credit coming into this season. He’s gone on to silence the critics by not only taking the reserve role in the AL, but by being the second ranked second baseman in fantasy. Kinsler is only 1 of 5 second basemen to have double-digit home runs and just 1 of 2 second basemen to have double-digit home runs and steals (Brian Dozier being the other).
Shortstop: Erick Aybar – This is why Jeter was voted into the all-star game, who’s going to vote for Aybar. Real life fans probably went “WHO?” while fantasy owners respond to his name with a yawn. Regardless of if you know who he is, you have to respect what he’s done so far. Aybar is the 5th ranked shortstop on both Yahoo & CBS, not bad for a guy drafted in the middle to late rounds.
Reserve: Alexei Ramirez – The man may have slowed down in June, but it’s what he did in the first two months that impressed (7 HR, 11 SB, 31 runs and a .323 BA). Fantasy owners were skeptical given the declining power and increased speed so late in his career, but he’s made it work for him. His June fade makes him someone you may want to avoid in the second half, but for now lets celebrate what he’s done in the first half.
Third Base: Josh Donaldson – Third base in fantasy reflects the real life vote as Donaldson takes his place at the hot corner. He was ranked all over the place coming into the season. Donaldson broke out in 2013, but other than that all owners had to go on was faith when it came to repeating. While he couldn’t maintain an average close to .300, he’s delivered in every other category. I’m sure owners who spent a high pick on David Wright or Evan Longoria wish they could take that one back.
Reserve: Adrian Beltre –Beltre wasn’t always Beltre. It wasn’t until his 31st birthday that he became the Beltre we all love and regard today. The power may have regressed a little for the 35-year-old, but everything else is right where it should be. There is always a risk involved when taking a player of his age, but Beltre is proving to be a good vintage that gets better with age. Drink up.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley – Real life or fantasy, there is no question why Mike Trout is here and I don’t think I need to say anything more about one of the greatest players in the game today. Nelson Cruz is one of the biggest surprises. After the injuries he’s sustained over the years, the PED scandal, leaving Texas and signing a one year contract with the O’s, not many thought Cruz would amount to much. He’s proved everyone wrong for the first 3 months by cracking 28 home runs and hitting for his highest average since .2010. This may only be a career year, but it’s guaranteed to get him a multi-year multimillion dollar contract come 2015. Michael Brantley was a surprise last season, but most thought he couldn’t do more. Brantley has already passed last years home run total and is on the verge to passing his walk, run, doubles & RBI totals, all while batting over .300 for the lowly Indians. If owners only knew they could have passed on Adam Jones and taken Brantley 8 rounds later.
Reserve: Jose Bautista, Adam Jones, Melky Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury – Bautista & Jones are both starters in real life, but they take a back seat here. That’s not a bad thing and you can make a case for either man being in the starting lineup. With over 30 home runs and 100 runs and RBIs combined, these two men have helped carry many fantasy teams. Melky is a step below both men, but nobody really gave him much of a chance coming into 2014. Like Cruz, Melky is a former PED candidate. Given his resume, he profiled to be more of a .280 hitter with some moderate power if everything clicked. How everything is clicking this year I’ll leave to the doctors and their test results to determine. In fantasy, we don’t care about who is juicing, all we care about is production and Melky has plenty of that (and was probably cheap on draft day). Finally Jacoby Ellsbury who is doing everything he was paid to do. The only difference between New York and Boston is Ellsbury is batting third so there are plenty more RBI opportunities for him. He should come close to his 2011 season in every category except home runs. Those that thought the move to New York would boost his production were correct.
Designated Hitter: Jose Abreu – Had Miguel Cabrera stayed on third, Abreu would be a reserve at first base. Maybe it’s for the best as he gets to start at DH. Abreu was all over the draft board this year and those that gambled by taking him early are happy with their league leader in home runs. I think it’s safe to say that unknown Cuban imports are going to start getting a lot more respect come draft time thanks to players like Abreu, Puig and Cespedes.
Super Utility Guy: Brock Holt – Yea, I added a category because those multi-position players deserve one. Brock qualifies for third base and outfield in most leagues, but depending on your league settings he could also qualify for first, shortstop and all 3 outfield positions. I don’t think the Sox were expecting this when they promoted Holt back in April. After hitting .348 in limited at bats he gained more playing time and just kept hitting. He has thrived in the leadoff spot and given the Red Sox a much-needed boost at the top of the lineup. For fantasy owners, he was more than likely an injury fill in at third but has since warmed their hearts with his bat despite the lack of any real power or speed. Brock Holt hits and will give you something almost every night he is in the lineup, and with eligibility at multiple positions, he’s a super band-aid.
Starting Pitchers: Felix Hernandez, Masahiro, Tanaka, Scott Kazmir, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, David Price, Chris Sale, Garrett Richards – The one thing I like about the all-star game is that pitchers aren’t voted on, they’re chosen based upon their performance. All 8 men that were chosen deserve to be there, but there were two players omitted that deserve a spot over Yu Darvish & Mark Buehrle. Garrett Richards, who Rob Adams discussed the other day has really stepped up and is becoming everything the Angels could have hoped for and more. He ranks 5th and 8th overall on Yahoo and CBS respectively and yet was passed over when it came to all-star selections. Not bad for a guy that was drafted as a late round pick (if he was even drafted). Chris Sale was the other player passed over and ranks 7th on Yahoo and 16th on CBS. Sale was already good coming into the year, but this season he has taken things to a new level. He just beat out Corey Kluber for the final spot and while Kluber didn’t make either all-star team, he still deserves an honorable mention. He has racked up the 4th highest innings pitched total this year and amassed 142 strikeouts with a 3.01 ERA. The Indians have a winner on their hands and so do fantasy owners who threw a dart his way on draft day
Relief Pitchers: Koji Uehara, Greg Holland, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, Wade Davis – Uehara had to sneak into the all-star game disguised as Tanaka, but here he can wear his own cap and jersey. He was the top closer in the AL for the first half according to Yahoo and CBS, yet he was initially passed over for the all-star game. This is where that rule about requiring all teams to have a representative doesn’t work. Dellin Betances has been a machine this year. He is basically a half a pitcher and it took fantasy owners a while to realize his value. Greg Holland is 6th in the league in saves and a top 10 closer regardless of which site you play on. Zach Britton isn’t in the top 10, but he is in the top 5 for the American League. Nobody expected the failed starter turned relief pitcher to be of any use, let along excel in the bullpen and take the reigns of the closer role in Baltimore. Talk about waiver wire gold. Some may question the presence of Wade Davis over some of the other closers like Sean Doolittle & Glen Perkins, but Davis has value beyond saves. First is the 61 strikeouts in 39 innings, that’s Craig Kimbrel production. Second would be his 5 wins. Closers get you saves but those vulture wins can be just as valuable. Third is his ability to be slotted into the SP role in fantasy and accumulate more stats for your team. Finally, if you have no closers and picked up Betances & Davis, you’ve got stats equal to or better than every top pitcher in the league. You want fantasy value, Davis has it (and is grossly under owned…hint hint).
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy – He was named a reserve in the real game, but in our fake game there was no one better in the first half. Lucroy ranked number one in Yahoo and scored 60 points more than the second ranked catcher in CBS. With Yadier Molina out, Lucroy moves into the starting role in real life game as well.
Reserve: Miguel Montero – After an off-year and left for dead by fantasy owners, Montero has revived his career. He finishes the first half ranked 5th in Yahoo & 4th in CBS for points. With a bump in average, he could finish in line with his 2011/2012 season totals.
Devin Mesoraco – It was a tight race for the final reserve spot but Mesoraco edged out Buster Posey & Evan Gattis to take the honors. He was lightly drafted but quickly started to find his way onto fantasy rosters. Mesoraco ends the first half ranked 2nd on Yahoo and 6th on CBS.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt – Goldschmidt would get top honor even if he played in the American League, although it would have been a tighter race with E.E. The modern-day Derek Lee leads all first basemen with 8 stolen bases (Not counting Todd Frazier who may or may not qualify for first in your league).
Reserve: Anthony Rizzo – Freddie Freeman may have edged out Rizzo in real life, but we honor the better man here. Rizzo had some negatives to start the year with his inability to hit lefties and lackluster plate discipline. He’s gone on to prove everyone wrong and is shaping up to be a top 10 first baseman for years to come.
Second Base: Anthony Rendon – Who’s this Chase Utley guy? Whether it’s playing 2nd or filling in at 3rd, Rendon has hit and is finally showing people why he was drafted so high. He ranks fourth in Yahoo and third on CBS for second basemen and he would still be number 1 if ranked at third. A true future five category player.
Reserve: Dee Gordon – He’s still a backup, but at least he’s behind the right man this time. Gordon & Rendon can be flip-flopped depending on which site you look on and which stats you’re looking at. Both deserve to be here, unfortunately only one gets to be the starter. Gordon leads the league in stolen bases, nobody predicted that from a guy barely drafted in fantasy.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki – He always earns top spot and all-star considerations, he’s just not always healthy enough to participate. Health is the Only concern people have when it comes to Tulowitzki and so far, nobody can complain. You won’t find many sources for pure power better than Tulowitzki, not only at shortstop but in the game.
Reserve: Hanley Ramirez – Speaking of staying healthy, with the exception of an occasional minor ouchie, Hanley has done just that. Hanley is playing for a contract and judging by this years numbers, he’ll earn a big one. He ranks third at shortstop behind Tulowitzki and his running mate Dee Gordon. Hanley may not duplicate his first half, but owners appreciate what he’s done so far.
Third Base: Todd Frazier – Those who voted for Aramis Ramirez obviously have no clue what is going on in baseball (or what year it is). Last year’s potential breakout player turned flop finally delivered. Double digit power and speed and an average close to .290 is something the Reds desperately need with their slumping crew, and fantasy owners who took a late flyer on Frazier or waited too long to grab a third baseman have been rewarded.
Reserve: David Wright? – The reserve options for the NL aren’t real pretty. David Wright and Pedro Alvarez are basically doing the same thing, except one can hit for average and one has more power. Matt Carpenter has a better average and scored more runs than both Wright & Alvarez, but there isn’t much there for homers and RBIs. Even their rankings are all over the place with no clear-cut winner. In the end, I gave this one the man who has been hitting as of late, so with a .333 average for the past 30 days, Wright is the winner. Honestly I don’t think any of the three deserve the honors of a fantasy all-star vote.
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez – All three made the real life all-star team, although Stanton had to settle for the DH role. Just like Trout, there isn’t much I can say about McCutchen that you haven’t already heard. He was a top 5 pick in most leagues for a reason. There were some reservations about Stanton; not about his power which we all know he has, it was about the team around him and whether he could produce enough runs and RBIs to warrant a high pick. The Marlins came though and Stanton has delivered in all 5 categories. Gomez is on pace for a 30/30 season. Many have speculated that his free swinging ways would be his downfall. That may be true one day, but that didn’t happen in the first half and odds are it won’t happen in the second either.
Reserve: Yasiel Puig, Charlie Blackmon, Hunter Pence, Billy Hamilton – Puig may have some issues, but the man can hit…and run…and, well, you get the point. He’s a great young talent that will shoot to the top of draft boards next season. Blackmon wasn’t even supposed to be in the Rockies starting lineup at the beginning of 2014. The Rockies flipped a coin and went with him over Dickerson; 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases later and Blackmon is a waiver wire darling and fantasy all-star. Most of his average is from a strong April where he hit .389; while his average has dipped since then, the rest of his numbers have been playable in fantasy. Pence is often overlook and undervalued in fantasy. He’s had 6 straight 20+ home run season but the speed and average don’t always show up. When they do (like this year and last), you get a potential 20/20 top 10 outfielder and all-star. Not bad for a 6th round pick. Hamilton looked like he might be sent down early on. His speed kept him in the lineup and he’s rewarded the Reds for their patience with 37 stolen bases and a .285 batting average. Hamilton had some help sneaking into the reserve role. Ryan Braun, Justin Upton and Alex Rios haven’t been themselves; due to their underperformance, Hamilton wins the job.
Designated Hitter: Freddie Freeman – Anthony Rizzo knocked Freeman out of the reserve role at first and into the starting role at DH. His inflated BABIP from last year was supposed to mean regression, but the .300 average is back along with the rest of his totals. I think owners may have been expecting a little more, but I don’t think anyone is going to complain if he just delivers more of the same.
Super Utility Guy: Josh Harrison – Depending on your league settings, Harrison could qualify for 2nd, 3rd, SS, RF & LF (or just OF). He’s a great plug and play option to cover multiple positions and fill in for injuries. Harrison hit .292 in the first half, forcing himself into the lineup with a hot start in May that never really cooled off. He doesn’t have a ton of power or speed, but he possesses enough of each and delivers enough runs and RBIs to be extremely useful in fantasy. His numbers play better at second, but in emergency situations, there aren’t many better options you can have.
Starting Pitchers: Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Julio Teheran, Zach Greinke, Tyson Ross, Alfredo Simon, Kyle Loshe – Just like with the AL, the NL did a good job in selecting their all-star pitching staff but there were a few omissions. Alfredo Simon wasn’t on anyone’s draft board and was only supposed to be a place holder for Mat Latos. Fast forward to July and he’s the 11th ranked pitcher on CBS and 12th in Yahoo. A 33-year-old journeyman passed around from team to team in the minors should not be among the top pitchers in the league, but since he is, he deserves the honor of being an all-star (even if it is only a fantasy honor). Kyle Loshe is a name that is hard for me to swallow, but for the past 4 years he’s been really consistent. There isn’t anything flashy about him and none of his numbers jump off the page at you, just solid steady production hidden behind the big guns in the league. You can make a case for Madison Bumgarner or Jordan Zimmerman to be here, but Loshe (whether you want to admit it or not) has been better than both. Yea, that was as hard to write as it was to read.
Relief Pitchers: Francisco Rodriguez, Craig Kimbrel, Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano – Kimbrel is the Clayton Kershaw of closers, no explanation why he’s on this team or the top pick for the real life all-star game. Francisco Rodriguez dialed back the calendar a few years and is doing his best Kimbrel impersonation. He’s actually ranked above Kimbrel in both CBS and Yahoo. Huston Street wasn’t selected for the all-star game despite having an ERA & WHIP below 1.0 for the first three months of the season. Not much good has come out of San Diego, you would think that a guy having a career year would get a look. If they won’t acknowledge his achievements, I will. Jonathan Papelbon is pitching like he was back in Boston. He gave up 3 runs at Texas on April 2nd, but since that time he has allowed only 2 earned runs to cross the plate. Say what you will about the man, he’s been on fire for three months now. Speaking of fire, Soriano has allowed only 4 earned runs and 1 home run in 36 innings. He may not have the flashy strikeout totals like Trevor Rosenthal or Kenley Jansen and has less saves then both men, but I would trade a few saves and K’s to preserve my ERA and WHIP.
This is just one mans opinion. Who are your Fantasy All-Stars?
Let me hear them in the comment section below.