Weekly Planner: Kemp, Verlander the class of fantasy's first half
This is Fantasy Week 12 (June 20-26), which is roughly the halfway point of the fantasy season once we get through it (there are 25 periods this year) It is also All-Star voting time.
Albert Pujols (fractured forearm) is going to need through July off at this point, so he won't be making the midseason All-Fantasy Team. His numbers weren't actually good enough to make it anyway.
This All-Star Team is tougher to make than the actual ones, because it takes the whole league in consideration for one team. You can use this as your guide for your own real All-Star ballot if you like voting on the fantasy numbers alone.
Verlander could be the fantasy MVP through the first half because he is the highest-scoring player in fantasy right now, trumping Roy Halladay at No. 2 by a whopping 43 points through 11 weeks. He has scored 64 more points in a standard league than the No. 1 hitter, Kemp. But pitchers always tend to get the short end of the stick in fantasy circles, so we might as well continue it in our first-half awards. Heck, Verlander didn't even win a player of the week the period he pitched a no-hitter. Clearly, no pitcher has been move valuable than Verlander, though.
Stats: (2-2)-3.00-1.250-55-19 in 36 innings
Michael Pineda has more overall points as a rookie starting pitcher, but Kimbrel gets the nod for the award for his consistency at the volatile and uncertain closer position. Kimbrel might not have been drafted as low as Pineda, but he is more certain to remain a fantasy star through the second half. Pineda is great, but expecting rookie starters to last for fantasy owners is a bad policy. Pineda may not be our fantasy first-half top rookie, but he is the most important trade chip fantasy owners can have right now. He's as sell high as they come.
Joe Mauer and Buster Posey couldn't stay healthy, and Victor Martinez hasn't shown the power McCann has.
We were wrong this spring: A-Gone is absolutely worthy of having been a first-round pick.
He has edged out Robinson Cano in points because of the added plate appearances and runs atop the Brewers order. Cano is more of an RBI man and just as easily the pick for All-Fantasy. Weeks was picked almost 70 picks later on average.
No, we know he plays outfield full-time now, but the 1-2 at the position are circumstantially eligible. Pujols gained third-base eligibility last week. Kevin Youkilis is the top natural third baseman and he wasn't eligible there until in-season. Hey, remember when we said "Your third baseman will go bust" in our preseason
Reyes is the contract-year monster Pujols should be, a
OF -- Kemp, Dodgers;
Braun has enjoyed a rebound season at age 27, while Kemp is the fantasy MVP to date at age 26. Granderson might be the comeback player of the year, though, with his power surge in Year 2 of his new home. It tends to be the second year when a free-agent addition really pays big dividends in fantasy. That first year tends to leave them overhyped and overdrafted -- and a general disappoint -- like Granderson was in 2010.
SP -- Verlander, Tigers;
Halladay has remained rock-steady at the top, while the likes of Verlander, Weaver and Hamels ticked up from the 5-to-15-range to the top five. Shields soars up from out of the top 45 into the elite as well. Pitching is notoriously volatile.
Speaking of volatile positions, it has been a mess of a first half among closers -- even the elite ones. Wilson has remained steady, but the top scoring relievers are a relatively inexplicable hodge-podge. Drew Storen just missed the cut. He has actually edged Kimbrel in scoring, but he has done it with relief victories. Kimbrel has led all closers with 55 strikeouts to date.
All of these above players should be on your All-Star ballot, save for the pitchers, since we don't get to vote for them. See, fantasy isn't the only way pitchers are disrespected.
It is hard to argue with two complete games and no earned runs. James Shields could have been the first repeat player of the week this season, posting a pair of gems, but Verlander edges him out with a fifth straight victory. Verlander gave up a run Sunday, like Shields, but he gave up just seven baserunners in his two starts. This was about as tight of a player of the week race gets, but Verlander gets the nod. Heck, he was trumped in his week he tossed a no-hitter, so he was due to get one in what looks like a Cy Young season. Verlander
1. SP Andrew Miller, BOS
Miller and Ackley get call-ups and immediate attention in fantasy, while Escobar and Blackmon are slap-hitting speedsters who are red hot for Rotisserie owners. Carrasco is scorching right now and has moved into the must-have category among fantasy pitchers. He is likely even a must-start right now in all formats with his 3-0 record and 0.42 ERA in his past three starts.
1. OF Chris Coghlan, FLA
Coghlan has proven to be a low-end fantasy outfielder since his rookie season and another injury has him as a cut in any mixed league. Frankly, he is not worth owning or even stashing outside of NL-only formats. Barney and Lowrie are back on the DL, while Rizzo has hit the skids. Boy, fantasy owners jumped off that bandwagon quickly -- likely justifiably because of the position he plays. Drabek is back in the minors, but he should be back and fantasy-worthy in the second half again.
1. 1B Pujols, STL
Pujols will be out until at least after the All-Star break at this point and likely affected significantly until August. A wrist is a terrible thing to injure for a hitter. Unlike Pujols, Pence's elbow injury doesn't figure to really affect him in the coming days and weeks. Bernadina and Espinosa are hot for the Nationals and showing some legit power of late, so they are worthwhile additions in mixed leagues when going well. Joyce is crashing back to his reasonable levels, which could top out at .290-20-80-90-10. That is a fringe mixed-league option if you're considering cutting him for a hotter hand.