Fantasy baseball Weekly Planner: The first half All-Star team
While the All-Star voting process can be considered a sham at times, the masses have done a pretty good job selecting the teams thus far. Paul Goldschmidt should be the starter at first base in the NL over Joey Votto, but both of them are stars.
We figured SI.com's Weekly Planner would be a good place to nominate the first half Fantasy All-Stars. These are not necessarily the best players at each position to date -- you have stat sheets for that -- but players who have provided the most bang for their buck from March fantasy drafts.
We start our Fantasy All-Star team with the captain and first-half MVP:
1B Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles -- Miguel Cabrera beats him in each category except homers, but Davis' 27-year-old breakthrough has him on a legendary pace. Quietly he is on pace for 59 homers and 151 RBI. Those homers would be well short of Barry Bonds' 73 (2001), Mark McGwire's 70 (1998), Sammy Sosa's 66 (1998), McGwire's 65 (1999), Sosa's 64 (2001) and Sosa's 63 (1999), but all of those have asterisks from the steroid era. A clean Davis could approach Roger Maris' 61 homers in 1961. Regardless, fantasy owners shouldn't expect anything but awesomeness from the breakthrough slugger of the year.
2B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals -- He gained love in drafts because of his anticipated eligibility at second base, but he has hit .318 to date (through Saturday). His versatility and production have been the most valuable at this weak position.
SS Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers -- He just hasn't cooled off and, as a late-round pick in almost all leagues, he is producing first-round-caliber numbers. If Segura maintains this .300-20-70-90-45 pace, he is going to be a candidate to pick in Round 1 next year.
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles -- He was one of the fantasy players we said could be a bust or a breakout this March. There were a lot of unrealistic expectations heaped on this 20-year-old, but he has exceeded them and then some. He only has five homers and six steals, but those doubles and that .321 average are outstanding for the late-round pick that he was.
C Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves -- He is not his team's starting catcher, or a true full-timer just yet, but a pace of 30 homers and 80 RBI nets him a spot on this fantasy All-Star team for the first half. Catcher is such a weak position, Gattis is productive enough in a part-time role to maintain value in almost all fantasy leagues.
OF Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies -- His power streak has ended, it seems Jay Bruce took the torch in mid-June, but you are still playing with the house's money here. Brown is still on pace for 40 homers, 100 RBI and 15-plus steals. His long-time prospect status has finally come through for fantasy owners.
OF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers -- Sunday's shoulder sprain notwithstanding, Gomez has enjoyed a solid age-27 season. His pace is better than last year's surprising breakthrough and if he can stay healthy, he is going to rise to the top 10 among fantasy outfielders, especially in rotisserie formats.
OF Nate McLouth, Baltimore Orioles -- This one is inexplicable. No one could have seen this resurgence coming. He was a budding star six-plus years ago and had no nothing for anyone the past three-plus years. Now, he has stolen a career-high 24 bases already and on pace for 50-plus. Because his production isn't necessarily tied to a power streak, he has a good chance at maintaining his value in the second half. Speed doesn't slump.
SP Matt Harvey, New York Mets -- In a town thirsty for a new star among a broken-down group of aged ones, Harvey has become a legend and he still hasn't even completed one full year in the major leagues. The Mets best pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden is on pace for 244 innings and 270 strikeouts ... or the operating table. This pace and workload is really dangerous for such a prized, young arm.
SP Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals -- We have already seen some signs of a slow down here, unlike Harvey. Miller looked like the runaway NL Rookie of the Year until June and Yasiel Puig came to the big leagues. Still, no one should be complaining about his 17-victory, 221-strikeout pace. This from a late-round fantasy pick who didn't have a shot at the opening-day roster until Chris Carpenter (shoulder) was shut down early in camp.
RP Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates -- He wasn't one of the top 15, or maybe even top 25, closers in fantasy coming into spring training. Now he is No. 1. Heck, if he and the Pirates stay healthy, the saves record of 62 might be within reach.
Hopefully, your fantasy roster is littered with some of these names. If not, we take you through the weekly fantasy market to help you improve your team:
Player of the week
OF Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds -- Seven-homer weeks are legendary. Hopefully you were paying attention to the May 5 SI.com Fantasy baseball Weekly Planner. We projected 35-plus homers despite him having just one a month into the season. May was good to him, but June (10 homers) has been great to him. He just might become that 40-homer threat after all. He turns 27 next April, by the way. This is a still a burgeoning fantasy superstar, despite the monster strikeout totals and suspect batting averages thus far in his career.
Player of the weak
SP Jered Weaver, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- He has lost three consecutive starts, failing to register the minimum requirements for a quality start in any of them, falling to 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA. He is much better than this, though, and the Angels are going to get hot this summer. Weaver is going to be a big part of that. He is a solid buy-low candidate right now.
SP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets -- He won his major-league debut with six shutout innings, striking out seven and driving the radar gun up to 97 mph -- only five walks kept Wheeler's first start from being spectacular. Despite getting optioned to the minors after that performance, he is listed as the Mets starter for Tuesday and will be a two-start pitcher in fantasy this week. He is must-start option this week at Chicago (White Sox) and against the Nationals. Own and get him active in any leagues, even if the results figure to be a bit inconsistent in the coming weeks.
SP Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins -- We featured him as the fourth-most intriguing minor-leaguer on Friday and news came down Sunday he will make his major-league debut Saturday. He won't be as strong as Wheeler or Rangers prospect retread Martin Perez for fantasy owners, but Gibson is absolutely worth owning in deeper formats immediately. That is a favorable matchup against the Royals, too.
1. SP Esmil Rogers, Toronto Blue Jays -- His age-27 season has seen him rise to the Blue Jays rotation. Even though Rogers has recorded back-to-back wins, we wouldn't be so quick to trust him in mixed leagues against the Rays and Red Sox on the road, though.
2. RP Joaquin Benoit, Detroit Tigers -- While Jim Leyland refuses to name anyone his closer, Benoit is the man of the moment. He warrants an addition in all leagues -- at least until Al Alburquerque or Bruce Rondon get considered later in the year. Neither player has Benoit's command, though.
3. RP Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox -- He was named the replacement closer amid Andrew Bailey's struggles and Uehara's numbers suggest he can be a real good one. He is a must-own in all leagues immediately. His ownership of a mere 35 percent in CBSSports.com leagues belies that right now, but pick him up. This will still be a contender he will be closing games for.
4. SP Jordan Lyles, Houston Astros -- He has always had potential, but his numbers are making him a legit top 30 fantasy ace now. He won't win a lot of games with that supporting cast, but has has proven consistent start to start. At just 22, he has tremendous long-term potential.
5. SP Eric Stults, San Diego Padres -- The journeyman has been red-hot in June and gets two starts this week against the Phillies and at Miami. That favorable second start will have everyone trusting him in their lineups. Use him at your own risk. You have to figure his fantasy dominance won't last into the second half.
1. RP Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers -- He won't from being a closer for a contender to on the street. He is no longer worth owning in fantasy. It is a long way back to viability.
2. RP Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox -- It used to be injury that kept him out of fantasy lineups. Now it is ineffectiveness. Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are both good enough to keep Bailey from closing games for awhile. Bailey is a mere AL-only flier now.
3. 3B Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees -- If his back surgery doesn't end his career, or even his season, it does end his fantasy value. You can cut him in all leagues as he faces 10-to-12 weeks of rehabilitation.
4. SP Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals -- It is discouraging the Cardinals named Joe Kelly their No. 5 starter now over the demoted Wacha. The bet here is Wacha winds up in the Cards rotation in the second half. That should be enough to keep him stashed in deeper leagues, particularly keeper formats.
5. OF Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres -- He avoided the DL and returned to action from his injury, but shoulder woes are notoriously dangerous. His homer Sunday is a great sign, though. You might want to take that flier on him again in mixed formats. There's power potential here still.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. SP Roy Oswalt, Colorado Rockies -- The 11 strikeouts in his season debut were outstanding, but the other numbers should keep you from starting him this week against the Red Sox.
2. OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He just keeps on mashing and is impossible to take out the lineup right now. He will move to left when Matt Kemp (hamstring) returns from the DL. Andre Either still figures to be the odd man out once Carl Crawford (hamstring) returns from the DL.
3. 2B Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks -- He is returning just over two months removed from his broken hand, but he is going well on his rehab assignment and will return to the lineup Tuesday. You can get him active in all leagues.
4. OF Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays -- A grand slam punctuates a solid first week in the majors, which included six-game hitting streak. He is good enough to start in all formats now.
5. SS Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays -- His rehab assignment is going well and he is expected to be activated Thursday. You probably cannot start him in a head-to-head points league. He's a better start in rotisserie leagues because he can steal bases.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. OF Josh Hamilton, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- His recent wrist issue curtails the statistically progress he had made. You probably shouldn't risk buying low until he proves healthy and productive again. HOLD
2. SP Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox -- He picked up a victory in his past start, but he has pitched like his 2012 form since his quick start. He is better than he has shown and worth his reduced priced. BUY
3. SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies -- He is still far better than his record. Usually you deal pitching for hitting this time of year, but Hamels still has a huge hot streak coming. BUY
4. OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He is just not cooling off. Rookies always do, even Mike Trout did a year ago. Depending on what you're being offered, you probably should expect Puig's value to be at a zenith right now. SELL
5. SP Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants -- That last start was outstanding, despite the no-decision. He has posted three consecutive quality starts, so if you can get something elite for him, now is the time to do it. SELL
Tout Wars moves
Going all-in on Uehara -- With just Rafael Soriano and Kevin Gregg as my closers and my team in the bottom half of the league in saves, it is time to get aggressive in the hunt for saves. I am placing a big bid on the Red Sox's new closer with the hope he can hold the job for at least a couple of months, if not the rest of the season. It might be my last hope at really making a move in the standings. I am risking over 70 percent of my remaining FAAB and cutting demoted O's prospect Kevin Gausman.
Taking a flier on Yasmani Grandal -- He should be owned in a 15-team, two-catcher mixed league. He also homered this week, so I might not win the bidding for him. I am reserving Yan Gomes and cutting outfielder Logan Schafer. If I lose out on Grandal, my next priority is Tyler Flowers.
My daily lineup
If you play in those daily fantasy leagues, here are the players by position that yours truly will be going with for Monday's games. If you want to challenge me, hit me up on Twitter @EricMackFantasy:
SP -- Madison Bumgarner
SP -- Jeremy Hellickson
C -- Carlos Santana
1B -- Mark Reynolds
2B -- Kelly Johnson
3B -- Evan Longoria
SS -- J.J. Hardy
OF -- Chris Davis
OF -- Nick Markakis
OF -- Wil Myers
DH -- Nate McLouth