Should Matt Harvey start the All-Star game even with a blister that may affect his start this Saturday? Will Chris Davis continue his streak into the second half of the season? Who should have made the All-Star teams, but didn't? Our fantasy experts Michael Beller and Eric Mack have answers.
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1. Should the Mets allow Matt Harvey to start the All-Star Game with a blister on his finger that might impact his start on Saturday? Should fantasy owners be worried?
Beller: Absolutely not. Ask Josh Beckett how pesky blisters can be. If he's not well enough to pitch Saturday, he shouldn't pitch in the All-Star Game, either. However, fantasy owners shouldn't be too worried. Blisters just need time to heal. Assuming the Mets are smart enough to give him that time, he should be fine.
Mack: Well, Harvey is the one thing that the sad-sacked franchise has going for it right now, so they should have him available to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Seriously. The franchise will get more out of Harvey's potential All-Star start at their home field than it will out of a regular-season victory; Harvey shouldn't do too much damage to a blistered finger working an inning or two. As for the injury, blisters are problematic afdter repeated use, so he should be fine for one inning. Fantasy owners might have to deal with an abbreviated or missed start Saturday and perhaps no action for Harvey in the weekend set after the break. This could be a good thing down the stretch, though, because Harvey's 240-plus inning pace right now is way too high for a starting pitcher in his first full season in the major leagues. That wing needs some rest, and the blister might be a blessing in disguise.
2. Chris Davis has been a fantasy All-Star the first half of the season. Will he keep it up in the second half?
Beller: I would be shocked if he didn't. Jonah Keri of Grantland did the definitive work earlier this year that pointed out all the adjustments Davis has made as a hitter over the last two seasons. Put simply, there's a reason why 16 of his homers have gone to center or left after pulling 21 of his 33 homers last year. He also had just seven homers against lefties all of last year; he his eight this season. Davis is a fundamentally different hitter, and he has been for some time. I'm betting he gets to 60 homers.
Mack: Beller leaves out the most important number on Davis' resume this season: He is 27 years old. There have been fantasy analysts that have tried to debunk the myth of the 27-year-old breakthroughs, but it just takes one huge year like Davis' for me to believe in it. Fantasy owners want hitters in their prime, and there have been too many instances of huge returns in fantasy from 27-year-olds for me to ignore it. Yes, Davis is for real. Can he keep up this pace? I wouldn't put it past him. Even if he slows done some, owners can't trade him. Even a fraction of his first-half numbers make him more valuable in fantasy than anything in return.
3. Should fantasy owners be wary of the Home Run Derby participants ruining their swings for the second half?
Beller: This has always felt like an urban legend to me, started only because of Bobby Abreu's power outage after his ridiculous 41-homer performance back in 2005. Ryan Howard hit 30 homers in the second half after winning the 2006 derby. Vlad Guerrero hit 14 after taking the crown in '07, one more than he hit in the first half. Prince Fielder, the '08 and '12 champ, hit 16 in the second half of '08 and 15 last year. David Ortiz won in '10 then hit 14 homers after the break. For '11 champ Robinson Cano, the 12 homers he hit after winning the derby were four fewer than he hit in the first half. The only player who fell off significantly since Abreu set the bar for doing so was '09 champion Justin Morneau. He hit 21 homers in the first half, and just nine in the second.
All told, I'm not worried about it.
Mack: Beller did some solid research, but he focused just on the homer totals. I needed more information, so I referenced this Sabermetrics report. There is no statistical significance to the myth of Home Run Derby ruining a player's second half numbers. Players are a bit too sensitive, or lazy; the Home Run Derby is still as significant as the All-Star Game in some respects. Let's get all the best sluggers out there every year and stop being so soft. Watching a watered-down Home Run Derby is like playing fantasy baseball without the best players, or an AL West-only league.
4. Who do you think are the biggest All-Star snubs?
Beller: I'll give you one for each league. In the NL, my biggest snub is Shelby Miller. Nine wins, a 2.80 ERA, 2.91 FIP and 107 strikeouts in 99.2 innings is a pretty darn good first half, and one that would usually earn a pitcher a trip to the All-Star Game. It's hard to argue with anyone on the NL staff, but I'd definitely have taken him over Jeff Locke. He also deserves the nod over Travis Wood, but Wood is the lone Cubs' representative in the game.
In the AL, I was shocked to hear Evan Longoria didn't get an invite. He's slashing .288/.365/.521 with 17 homers, 50 RBI, 53 runs and his typical strong defense. He was certainly done in by the everyone-gets-a-trophy mentality. There's no reason to carry three catchers, but both Kansas City's Salvador Perez and Houston's Jason Castro are the only players from their respective teams on the roster. I think they could boot Brett Cecil or Jesse Crain, taken Greg Holland to represent the Royals, and freed up a spot for Longoria.
Mack: I agree with Beller's picks, although I will add Yasiel Puig in the event he doesn't win the fan's vote for the last player in. Puig has been on the biggest stories in baseball for the past month. Let the hype machine go nuts! However, there will always be someone left out because of the rules in place. It is like the NCAA Tournament selection show, where too much talk centers around who's not in instead of those who are and have a legit case to be there. If those snubbed players were popular enough to the masses, they would have been voted in or selected by the managers. Yes, I said "popular" -- not statistically worthy. The All-Star Game is a popularity showcase, not a statistical achievement. In fantasy terms, you are better off allowing your "snubbed" stars rest and mentally reset for a few days than going through the whole All-Star hoopla anyway.