Eric Mack
Monday June 20th, 2011

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.

First-half MVP -- OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers

Stats: .328, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 47 runs, 17 steals (.415 OBP, .622 SLUG)

Jose Beastista was a serious finalist, but Kemp was picked over 25 picks later on average this spring. Sandy Alomar Jr. called Kemp the next Manny Ramirez with speed. He is looking right on in Kemp's age-26 season. We were criticized when we called Kemp the Dodgers pick to break out in our preseason fantasy package. Some had a hard time understanding how a 57th overall pick, according to the draft averages, could be a breakout candidate. Well, it could be because he was going to rise to the No. 1 scoring hitter of the first half.

First-half Cy Young -- SP Justin Verlander, Tigers

Stats: 9-3, 2.54 ERA, 0.854 WHIP, 110 K, 0 Sv in 120 2/3 innings

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.

First-half Top Rookie -- CL Craig Kimbrel, Braves

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.

The rest of the All-Fantasy Team of the first half:

C -- Brian McCann, Braves

Joe Mauer and Buster Posey couldn't stay healthy, and Victor Martinez hasn't shown the power McCann has.

1B -- Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

We were wrong this spring: A-Gone is absolutely worthy of having been a first-round pick.

2B -- Rickie Weeks, Brewers

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.

3B -- Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

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 10 bold predictions?

SS -- Jose Reyes, Mets

Reyes is the contract-year monster Pujols should be, a performance we predicted. He is earning "Carl Crawford money."

OF -- Kemp, Dodgers; Ryan Braun, Brewers; and Curtis Granderson, Yankees

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; Roy Halladay, Phillies; Jered Weaver, Angels; Cole Hamels, Phillies; and James Shields, Rays

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.

RP -- Brian Wilson, Giants; and Kimbrel, Braves

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

Past players of the week: 10. 1B Prince Fielder, MIL; 9. 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals; 8. SP Yovani Gallardo, MIL; 7. SP Michael Pineda, SEA; 6. OF Jose Bautista, TOR; 5. SP Francisco Liriano, MIN; 4. 2B Ben Zobrist, TB; 3. SP James Shields, TB; 2. SP Dan Haren, LAA; 1. SP Jered Weaver, LAA.

1B Albert Pujols (broken arm), Cardinals -- His extended absence for at least the next month figures to slide Lance Berkman into the first-base spot and give at-bats back to Allen Craig and Jon Jay. They might have lost at-bats with Matt Holliday's return, but they are both going to be needed now.

OF Carl Crawford (hamstring), Red Sox -- It has been a rough week for early round hitter injuries. Crawford's DL stint figures to be a far shorter than Pujols. Mike Cameron and Josh Reddick will fill in for the time being. Cameron is a streaky hitter who could have value in Rotisserie leagues as a stopgap.

SP Tommy Hanson (shoulder), Braves -- He needs to cool his shoulder off some right now, so the Braves will turn back to Brandon Beachy off the DL on Wednesday, most likely. Mike Minor will also remain in the rotation until Hanson can return, hopefully before the All-Star break. Julio Teheran is scorching back in Triple-A through three June starts (2-0, 0.43), so his second-half contributions are still on the horizon.

SP Clay Buchholz (back), Red Sox -- Boston needed a spot to call up the former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Miller, and Buchholz's back injury is it. Buchholz merely needs a couple weeks rest and is targeting a return to the rotation July 2, the first day he is eligible.

SS Derek Jeter (calf), Yankees -- He didn't want to go on the DL in the first place, so a return to fantasy lineups for Fantasy Week 13 (June 27-July 3) seems possible. It is likely best if you sit him until he proves healthy and productive, though. His replacements are not fantasy viable.

1B Justin Morneau (wrist), Twins -- He needed a cast, so atrophy will require a rehab process and likely a rehab stint. He won't be available this week or next. Jim Thome (quad and back) could return next week, but it will likely be in a DH role.

SP Jake Peavy (groin), White Sox -- He is slated to return this week, but the White Sox will likely just go with a six-man rotation again. Phil Humber deserves a rotation spot, and John Danks is hot. Peavy is no sure thing to be able to make a string of starts either.

The most-added players:

1. SP Andrew Miller, BOS 2. 2B Dustin Ackley, SEA 3. SS Alcides Escobar, KC 4. OF Charlie Blackmon, COL 5. SP Carlos Carrasco, CLE

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.

The most-dropped players:

1. OF Chris Coghlan, FLA 2. 2B Darwin Barney, CHC 3. SS Jed Lowrie, BOS 4. 1B Anthony Rizzo, SD 5. SP Kyle Drabek, TOR

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.

The most-scouted players:

1. 1B Pujols, STL 2. SP Miller, BOS 3. OF Roger Bernadina, WAS 4. SS Escobar, KC 5. 2B Jemile Weeks, OAK 6. OF Hunter Pence, HOU 7. OF Blackmon, COL 8. 2B Danny Espinosa, WAS 9. OF Matt Joyce, TB 10. 2B Ackley, SEA

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.

Eric Mack rounds up the fantasy baseball movers and shakers every Monday of the season at You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.

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