Eric Mack
Monday July 11th, 2011

Mock the legitimacy of the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game all you want, but it is a welcome moment of breath before baseball's marathon resumes for the second half. Mock it like you did this writer for the legitimacy of his Ten Bold Predictions for fantasy 2011.

Just sit back and enjoy it.

We hit the midway point -- which is actually closer to the two-thirds mark -- and take a deep breath with a review of those 10 bold predictions. Mock us again, if you want, but it is time for a midsummer's bow -- even if there is plenty of baseball to play.

This one was built on the premise it will be a huge year for the 27-year-olds Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Braun is having a career year because of his surprising 34-steals pace, while Fielder is performing up to his 2009 standards in a contract year.. Through Saturday, only five players have outscored this combo (Jose Beastista, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson and Jose Reyes). Kemp is the fantasy MVP at this point, but Braun and Fielder haven't disappointed any fantasy owners.

Thus far: Right about on pace.

Ellsbury has performed like a first-rounder. But Gonzalez has actually been a beast on par with anyone in fantasy. We labeled Ellsbury as your most important Red Sox because of his age at 27, the stolen bases for Rotisserie leagues and the value he would generate as a pick far later on draft day. Gonzalez went seventh overall in's preseason mock draft. Ellsbury went in the seventh round. Ellsbury is actually more valuable relative to draft position.

Thus far: Right on pace.

The first five outfielders off the board in's draft averages this spring were: 1. Braun, MIL; 2. Carlos Gonzalez, COL; 3. Carl Crawford, BOS; 4. Josh Hamilton, TEX; 5. Matt Holliday, STL.

Braun is the only one that is in the top five in scoring at the position right now: 1. Bautista, TOR; 2. Kemp, LAD; 3. Granderson, NYY; 4. Braun, MIL; 5. Ellsbury, BOS. Yes, the top of the outfield rankings look vastly different -- as they tend to year to year.

Thus far: Looking golden.

Craig Kimbrel enters the break as the No. 1 closer in fantasy. Not bad for a rookie. Heck, it's better than every veteran. The Angels' Jordan Walden wasn't a target in Spring Training, but he has 20 saves at the break. Michael Pineda and Jeremy Hellickson have been very good, and Mark Trumbo has 17 homers, so Walden still has some work to do to officially "close" the deal on this one.

Thus far: 50 percent awesome, 50 percent potentially awesome.

This is really the first one we have been wrong on thus far. Save for Derek Jeter, Phil Hughes and perhaps A-Rod, your Yankees have done just fine. Heck, Granderson is a fantasy MVP candidate for his breakthrough in Year 2 in Yankee Stadium. Mark Teixeira is on pace for a career high in homers and if he has one of his trademark huge second halves, we could see him in the first round by next spring.

Thus far: Mostly a bad call, but, hey, it was at least bold!

This was a function of taking "the field" against Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Boy, has the field been the wrong call. All three Phillies top the NL in fantasy scoring at the halfway point. Yovani Gallardo -- this writer's Cy Young pick -- hasn't been consistent enough, and Clayton Kershaw has been awesome, but not "Phillies-good." The best hope for us here is Jair Jurrjens (12-3, 1.87), who could still win the NL Cy Young and likely should star the All-Star Game.

Thus far: Wrong, in a trio of ways.

This one was related to No. 5 above. Cano was going to be a disappointing Yankee after his career year at age 27. Well, we have reached this point with the two players we labeled capable of dethroning Cano atop the second base rankings: Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia. Kinsler is hitting around .250, but he is on pace for a 20-30 HR campaign. Pedroia has been a bit disappointing, especially with a slow start, but he has come on of late and has outscored Cano in the first half, too. We are right because of Kinsler and Pedroia's steals totals at this point. If they get hot at the plate, it could prove right in the end, too.

Thus far: Right on, but not convincingly.

If your third baseman is Evan Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Zimmerman -- the first four at the position in's draft averages -- he indeed has been a bust. There are hopes to save the position, though. Kevin Youkilis (out of Spring Training) and Bautista (a couple of weeks ago) has resumed playing the position, and Albert Pujols has earned his five games of eligibility for standard leagues there. In addition to those solid elite options, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Aramis Ramirez and Jhonny Peralta have been very good. We are still going to take credit for injuries claiming the preseason top four at the position to date, though.

Thus far: Right in the four most important ways.

This is easily the worst call of all. We said the Twins and White Sox were going to have a number of players outperform their draft positions. Not only has that not been the case, it has been the other way around. Sure, your Tigers and Indians can make a case for this being a reasonable prediction, but they have hardly been carrying your fantasy team. Maybe, just maybe, it can be a huge second half for the White Sox and Twins.

Thus far: As wrong as wrong gets.

This looked like genius in the early going, but it has since faded precipitously. Lowrie has proven far too average defensively to completely unseat Marco Scutaro at shortstop and he has dealt with a shoulder issue that has had him on the DL for a month. It wasn't a bad pick, but it wasn't the right one either.

The top five undrafted hitters in the mock draft are currently: 1. OF Melky Cabrera, KC; 2. OF Alex Gordon, KC; 3. 2B Danny Espinosa, WAS; 4. OF Jeff Francoeur, KC; 5. OF Brennan Boesch, DET. (Hey, four of those are actually for the AL Central! No, we still cannot claim No. 9 above as a win). The top five undrafted pitchers in that same mock draft are: 1. SP Josh Tomlin, CLE; SP Alexi Ogando, TEX; 3. SP Justin Masterson, CLE; 4. SP Kyle Lohse, STL; 5. Jhoulys Chacin, COL. (Hey, two more AL Central guys! No, No. 9 still isn't a win).

Thus far: This one isn't a win either.

Not a bad effort, but the second half should shuffle this midseason report card significantly all over again.

Now on to the rest of our weekly Monday look at fantasy baseball's trends:

Very few -- no, no one -- thought Jose Bautista could repeat his 2010 breakthrough. Well, he isn't. He is bettering it! It just isn't the homers he is hitting either. They are big homers and he is hitting .334 with a league-leading walk total. We called Bautista the poor man's Albert Pujols when he was our Week 6 player of the week. Forget it, he is even better than Pujols now -- amazingly.

Past players of the week: 14. OF Jose Bautista, TOR; 13. 3B Aramis Ramirez, CHC; 12. SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; 11. SP Justin Verlander, Tigers; 10. 1B Prince Fielder, Brewers; 9. 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals; 8. SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers; 7. SP Michael Pineda, Mariners; 6. OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; 5. SP Francisco Liriano, Twins; 4. 2B Ben Zobrist, Rays; 3. SP James Shields, Rays; 2. SP Dan Haren, Angels; 1. SP Jered Weaver, Angels.

3B Alex Rodriguez (knee), Yankees -- The Yanks get Derek Jeter back and lose A-Rod for four-to-six weeks. He needs surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee and he didn't want to wait until the offseason. Clearly, A-Rod's body has broken down in the past few seasons and he will never be a fantasy first-rounder again. Eduardo Nunez will remain in the Yankees' lineup on a regular basis, but he is merely an AL-only option.

OF Carl Crawford (hamstring), Red Sox -- He should be active for the second half, sending Darnell McDonald and the streaking Josh Reddick back to the bench.

OF Shane Victorino (thumb), Phillies -- Victorino was streaking before going back on the DL, and Ben Francisco figures to get more at-bats in his stead. Domonic Brown has already proven to be an everyday player.

SS Jose Reyes (hamstring), Mets -- The Mets decided to be conservative with their superstar, and Ruben Tejada will play shortstop every day for the next couple of weeks. Tejada is drawing walks, but he doesn't do enough of anything else.

OF Martin Prado (staph infection), Braves -- He is already working on a rehab assignment and will be back in fantasy lineups for the second half. No one is going to miss Jordan Schafer or Nate McLouth, who figure to drop into a time-share in center.

3B David Wright (back), Mets -- He hopes to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday, which could put him on track to return early in the second half. The Mets have targeted July 22 for both Reyes and Wright, but Wright could easily up that timetable with a healthy return this week down on the farm. The Mets also look like they potentially might get Ike Davis (ankle) and Johan Santana (elbow) back before the end of the season, too.

SP Jon Lester (lat muscle) -- He should be ready when first eligible July 22. The downtime gives Andrew Miller and Tim Wakefield reprieves in the Red Sox rotation. The Red Sox will line up Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz (back), John Lackey and one of Miller or Wakefield once fully up to speed in the second half. Buchholz should beat Lester back shortly after the break.

1. OF Mike Trout, LAA 2. 3B Danny Valencia, MIN 3. 3B Emilio Bonifacio, FLA 4. OF Travis Snider, TOR 5. SP Cory Luebke, SD

We knew we would get a national look at Trout this weekend; we figured it would be the Futures Game, not the major leagues. Trout (1-for-9, .111) is getting picked for his talent and projectability, but it is likely his stay in the major leagues will be a temporary one this go around. Regardless, he will back back in September. Valencia, a gem last season, has seen a hitting streak end, while Bonifacio extended his to 12 on Sunday. He is a Rotisserie gem while he is getting on base and stealing. Snider has hit the ground running, err slugging, in his recall from the majors and Luebke looks like he is here to stay in the Padres' rotation. He is a strong sleeper in deeper leagues for his potential to collect quality starts -- even if they are losses.

1. SP Zach Britton, BAL 2. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN 3. SP Ivan Nova, NYY 4. SS Dee Gordon, LAD 5. OF Charlie Blackmon, COL

The first four on this list have shown flashes of helping fantasy owners in the first half, but they are now back down in the minors. Each should eventually be back and become intriguing again in fantasy. Blackmon had his moments, too, but he winds up on the DL heading into the break.

1. 3B Eduardo Nunez, NYY 2. 3B Emilio Bonifacio, FLA 3. OF Mike Trout, LAA 4. 3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY 5. SP Vance Worley, PHI 6. 3B Mark Reynolds, BAL 7. SP Paul Maholm, PIT 8. RP Francisco Cordero, CIN 9. 3B Danny Valencia, MIN 10. 2B Jason Kipnis, CLE

Cordero is the most notable of the names here, because he has blown his third consecutive save. It could lead to a red hot Aroldis Chapman getting some buzz for potential save chances in the second half. Worley (4-1, 2.20 ERA) is going to open the second half for the Phillies, giving him solid value in a weekend where about two-fifths of available starters won't pitch. Reynolds is dealing with a bruised hand after a hit by pitch, but he should be fine by next weekend. Maholm, like Worley, gets a start against a favorable opponent (Houston), and he is 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA in his past four starts. He has been outstanding in each of his past seven starts, in fact. Pick him up in mixed leagues if you need an active starter. Finally, Kipnis, 24, is one of the few potential remaining prospects in the minors who could impact fantasy significantly in the second half.

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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