July 07, 2010

For more fantasy analysis, check out SportsGrumblings.com.

Typically played on a Tuesday, the day before and after MLB's All Star game are the only two days on the calendar when no preseason, regular season or postseason sporting events are scheduled in the United States. Not only does this fact magnify the perceived importance of what is otherwise a simple exhibition game, it artificially inflates the sense of withdrawal fantasy owners feel when beset by three consecutive days completely absent of meaningful box scores -- the fundamental basis of the statistics that all fantasy owners live and die by.

What is a star-crossed fantasy owner to do in these trying times? Certainly there are myriad chores around the house that are in dire need of attention. But chores are difficult and hardly fun.

What about that family that's been largely neglected since some time in early April? Surely they could use some of the same attention that's been lavished on Albert Pujols these long, lonely months. Then again, few family members can sock dingers the way Pujols can.

Perhaps the best (at least the easiest) answer is to find a way for the entire family to coalesce around the All-Star Game itself. Tell them all that they matter as much as the game. If you say it enough, it may even sound like the truth. Commissioner Bud Selig would have us believe the same thing ... that "this time, it matters".

Of those players selected to play in the 2010 Major League All-Star Game, it's clear that a few stand out from the crowd because of their stellar statistical contributions (for better), while others stand out for perhaps another reason (for worse):

Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees. Cano had what appeared to be a career year in 2009. With 103 runs, 204 hits and 25 home runs (all career bests), as well as a .320 average, Cano posted what is easily his best season to date. That is, until '10. Apparently, Cano's '09 season was just the tip of the iceberg. So far this year, Cano has set the American League on fire with a league-leading .342 batting average. Having played 82 games to date (exactly half a season), it's fairly easy to project what Cano's full season stats may look like if things hold true to form, and the numbers are nothing short of staggering. How do 220 H, 118 R, 32 HR, 110 RBI, and .960 OPS look? Kind of like an AL MVP, no?

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado Rockies. Speaking of MVPs, no player has been more valuable to fantasy teams this season, especially when weighing Average Draft Position, than one Ubaldo Jimenez -- easily the single greatest "Ubaldo" to have played Major League Baseball ... ever. In a season that has seen something of a pitching renaissance, Jimenez's season stands out. His 14 wins are easily the best in the game, but his production does not stop there. A 2.27 ERA and 1.08 WHIP are career bests, and his 108 strikeouts place him squarely among the top pitchers in the game. Even a recent dry spell (8.66 ERA over his last 17 IP), can't detract from what has been a magical season for the likely starting pitcher for the National League come July 13.

Arthur Rhodes, RP, Cincinnati Reds. There aren't many active major leaguers who can lay claim to being alive during the era of free love, but Rhodes (b. 1969) certainly can, if only barely. Now in his 19th big league season, and pitching for his seventh franchise, Mr. Rhodes can finally tell his children, "Daddy was an All-Star"; with a 1.06 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, a rather deserving one. With the increasing popularity of Holds as a scoring category, Rhodes is even more valuable than the average 5 x 5 owner may realize. Rhodes' 15 Holds are good for eighth in the game, and while it's unlikely that the baseball establishment is giving a nod to the hold as a burgeoning fantasy category, it's fun to pretend, if only barely. Further, it's been especially fun for those fantasy owners who have had the early season privilege of going to battle with this otherwise unappreciated commodity.

Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies. Entering the season, Utley was the unquestioned king of second base. A four-time All-Star to begin the '10 season, things looked bright for the Philadelphia field general. With a potent lineup and favorable hitter's ballpark, Utley's fantasy owners were nearly salivating at the thought of yet another All-Star season. While the fans did reward Utley with the necessary votes to win the starting 2B job in the All-Star Game, a severe thumb injury will force Utley to miss the game, as well as a number of weeks to follow. However, all was not well before the injury. His .277 average would represent a career low for Utley since becoming the full-time starter in '05, and his 37 RBI seem like an especially low mid-season total for a player who's averaged more than 101 over the past five seasons. Whether it was the prolonged absence of teammate Jimmy Rollins from the lineup or any number of other factors, it was clear that 2010 was going to be a "down" year for Utley, even before the injury.

Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets. One thing should be made perfectly clear; Hanley Ramirez was elected to start the '10 All Star Game for the National League. Conventional wisdom dictates that every position needs a backup, and in this case the choice was ... Jose Reyes? Reyes has a reputation for being a game changer, and in fantasy terms, he's been as valuable as almost any player in the game, but only occasionally. This year has been no such occasion. Reyes' .277 average and .740 OPS pale in comparison to what could be one of the biggest All-Star snubs of the year, that of Rafael Furcal. Injuries have marred what has been an otherwise remarkable first half for the Dodgers' shortstop. His .335 average and .891 OPS would lead all Major League shortstops by a fairly considerable margin, if only his 218 at-bats were enough for qualification. Yes, under "normal" circumstances, with the production fantasy owners are accustomed to, Reyes would make a wonderful All Star selection, but any fantasy owner knows that '10 has yet to see that Reyes.

Michael Bourn, OF, Houston Astros. Halfway through the season, two very positive things can be said of Bourn. One, his 25 steals are good for fourth best in the game. Two, he's [gulp] a Major League All-Star. For lack of a single better option on an underwhelming Houston Astros roster (Roy Oswalt, anyone?), Bourn may simply be the best of the worst. A slash line of .260./333./341 speaks to just how mediocre a performer Bourn has been. Even in fantasy terms, his 25 steals are rather hollow when his one homer and 20 RBI are submitted for consideration. When examined in context, Bourn's numbers are eerily similar to those of Nyjer Morgan (.254/.318/.322), and Nyjer Morgan is no All-Star. This is truly a difficult time for fantasy owners who hitched their wagon to any of Houston's ballplayers.

Damian Schaab is a senior writer for SportsGrumblings.com, and member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Visit SportsGrumblings.com today to ensure total fantasy sports dominance.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)