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
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 SI.com's preseason mock draft. Ellsbury went in the seventh round. Ellsbury is actually more valuable relative to draft position.
The first five outfielders off the board in CBSSports.com'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your third baseman is Evan Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Zimmerman -- the first four at the position in CBSSports.com'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.
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.
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 SI.com 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).
Not a bad effort, but the second half should shuffle this midseason report card significantly all over again.
Very few -- no, no one -- thought Jose Bautista could repeat his 2010 breakthrough. Well, he isn't. He is
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.
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.
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.