Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss whether or not the fans’ selections for the American League All-Star team were right and who should be starting the All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10.
Mike Napoli of the Rangers was the fan choice, but White Sox backstop A.J. Pierzynski should be starting in the All-Star Game. Pierzynski is not one of the more popular players in baseball and was actually expected to lose his job coming into this season. However, he is hitting .285 this year with 14 home runs and 45 RBI.
Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays should be starting instead of Prince Fielder. Encarnacion has always had great potential but has been inconsistent in the past. This season, however, he is deserving of a starting spot in Kansas City with a .291 average, 22 home runs, 55 RBI and eight stolen bases.
The fans got this one right, voting in Robinson Cano of the Yankees. He’s batting .310 with 20 home runs and 46 RBI. Not only is he an All-Star but he is clearly the Yankees’ MVP.
The fans chose Adrian Beltre of the Rangers, which is a good pick because he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Miguel Cabrera, however, is the best third baseman in the American League with a .314 average, 16 home runs and 62 RBI.
Derek Jeter is having a good season, but Elvis Andrus of the Rangers is the best shortstop in the American League right now. He is not a power hitter with just one home run but he’s batting .307 with 32 RBI and 16 stolen bases. The fans should have voted in Andrus instead of Jeter.
Of the three outfielders voted in, only one was the right pick by the fans. It wasn’t a surprise that Josh Hamilton was selected, and he is the right choice. He’s on pace for more than 50 home runs and 140 RBI this season.
Angels rookie Mike Trout should be starting in place of Curtis Granderson. Trout is batting .339 with nine home runs, 33 RBI and 22 stolen bases, and keep in mind that he started this season in the minor leagues.
Adam Jones of the Orioles should have been selected in place of Jose Bautista. Jones has a .302 average, 19 home runs, 42 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He has a bright future and is likely one of the next big stars in baseball.
David Ortiz was the right pick by the fans. He continues to put up big numbers with a .302 average, 21 home runs and 54 RBI this season. This is Ortiz’s eighth All-Star selection.
For more fantasy baseball insight, visit BloombergSports.com.
By Tommy Rancel //
Biggest Surprise: Mitch Moreland
When the season started, the Rangers had hoped that one of their young first basemen would take hold of the position and become a fixture in the lineup. They got their wish, just not the name. After Chris Davis’ struggles, Jorge Cantu’s inability to adjust to the AL, and Justin Smoak’s trade to Seattle, Moreland was guy for Texas at first base. In 47 games, he hit .255/.364/.469 with nine home runs. He also showed the ability to take a free pass with an above-average 14.5% walk rate. He did strike out a lot, and his home run-to-fly ball rate is likely unsustainably high. But with no one else stepping up at the position, he is likely to get his fair share of playing time in 2011.
Biggest Bust: Ian Kinsler
A preseason favorite of Bloomberg Sports, Kinsler missed 59 games and spent 69 total days on the DL with an ankle sprain and then a groin injury. When he was healthy, Kinsler hit .286 with a career-high on-base percentage of .382. That said, he hit a career-low nine home runs and his slugging percentage was just over .400. Whether the injuries took a toll on his power, we don’t know, but with such high expectations headed into the season, Kinsler did not live up to the hype in 2010. That said, a healthy Kinsler could bounce back in 2011 to put up big numbers from the keystone. He certainly looked good in Game 2 of the ALDS today, launching a James Shields pitch deep into the left field bleachers.
2011 Keeper Alert: Josh Hamilton
.359/.411/.633 with 33 home runs, 100 RBI, and 95 runs scored. This is what Josh Hamilton did in 2010 despite missing 29 games with injury. It should be enough to win him the AL MVP and a spot on your team next season, even if you’re in an auction league and he sports a high salary. Sure, his batting average was largely inflated by a ridiculous .390 batting average on balls in play, but the power is real and he did lower his strikeout rate. The injuries are a concern, but even if he makes an annual DL stint, the production of the 130-140 games he does play is enough to warrant first-round draft pick consideration.
2011 Regression Alert: Vladimir Guerrero
After hitting a career-worst .295/.334/.460 in 2009 for the Los Angeles Angels, Guerrero rebounded with the Rangers in 2010 to hit .300 with an .841 OPS. Healthy for the first time in a long time, he drove in 115 runs – surpassing 100 RBI for the first time since 2007. While Guerrero could have fallen in the category of surprise in 2010, his value in 2011 is tied directly to his home park. He hit .315 at home with an OPS of .881. On the road his average dropped to .284 and his OPS dipped under .800. If he returns to the Rangers, he should have another good season. If not, buyer beware depending on his landing spot.
For more on Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.
by Eno Sarris //
Earlier this week, we talked about some fantasy All-Stars and how they were determined by their return on investment as much as their actual production. The cheaper a fantasy player, the more valuable his breakout.
Now it’s time to finish off the lineup with a look at other players who have exceeded expectations this year, and whether or not they will continue to do so.
SS Juan Uribe
We could have easily installed Rafael Furcal here, and deservedly so. But Eriq Gardner did a great job breaking down Furcal, just the other day. Plus, the injury risk inherent with Furcal going into the season is still there.
Instead, we’ll take a player that is in the midst of a slide that has taken much of the wind out his sails already. His .242/.313/.475 June is even more worrisome because of its proximity to his .257/.300/.431 career line. Even in a poor month by Uribe’s 2010 standards, we see that he’s shown some improvement at the plate this year, though. He’s walking at a career-high rate, striking out at a four-year low rate, and even carried over much of his power from last year. The back story with Uribe is one of a below-average BABIP, both this year (.274) and career (.285). Though he doesn’t have bushels of line drives in his arsenal (19.4% career), it’s probably the lack of speed (51% career success rate on stolen bases, low speed scores) that is hurting Uribe’s BABIP.
In any case, he won’t be worth much in trade talks with his career stats, so keeping him – hopefully on the bench during this tough stretch – is your only option. If the new-ish approach at the plate holds, he should return to grace at some point this summer.
3B Scott Rolen
As with Furcal above, Rolen’s biggest knock coming into the season was his injury history. He hadn’t topped 128 games in a season since 2006, and had averaged 111 games per season since 2005. He’s missed some games this year, but he’s on a pace that would net him closer to 140 games this year, making his owners seem to be geniuses.
Other than his good health so far this year, though, Rolen has enjoyed a power surge that has his slugging percentage over .500 for the first time since 2006. It’s no linear relationship, but the fact that the last time he was this healthy for this long was the last time he showed this much power is worth noting. In 2006, he hit .296 with 22 home runs, and he should top that home run total this year, with 17 bombs already jacked on the year. It helps to call Great American Ballpark home – the park has been one of baseball’s top parks for homers so far this year – but it’s the health that makes Rolen a hold, especially since it’s the health issues of the past that will keep Rolen owners from getting full value in a trade. Keep a caddy around for him, too, since he already has a hurting hamstring right now and has missed the last few games.
OF Josh Hamilton
Here’s a real-life All-Star who also happens to be a fantasy All-Star. Once again, injury concerns with Hamilton depressed his pre-season rankings past the half-century mark, and he’s shown health that has allowed his real talent to shine through. Those concerns were real – he’s only averaged 112 games per season so far in his young career, but since he’s still relatively young – 29 – perhaps those concerns were over-blown.
Judging from his Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools spider graphs, Hamilton is a true five-category performer and even a Triple Crown candidate. It goes without saying that a batting average like he has (.357), built on a BABIP like the one he owns (.397), won’t last. On the other hand, a .306 career batting average suggests he can still produce in that statistic going forward. His slugging percentage (.638) is at a career-high, but his line drive rate (22.4%) and home runs per fly ball (20.9%) are both high, and in line with his career numbers (21.8% and 18% respectively). Hit a lot of line drives, and convert a fifth of your fly balls into home runs, and you’ll have great power. Even with a step back, Hamilton is the fantasy All-Star of the year, most likely. If you’re going to sell, only sell for top-dollar talent in return.
For more on other fantasy All-Stars, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.