Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses the best teams in baseball right now and checks in with some of their top players at the All-Star Game.
Coming into the season it seemed like everyone was high on the Angels and Tigers, two of the more active teams in the off-season. It turns out that the Yankees are the best in baseball and the Nationals are not far behind.
The All-Star break provided a chance to check in with some of the top players from contending teams, and one player we got to chat with was Ian Kinsler, the 42nd-best fantasy player accoring to Bloomberg Sports with 65 runs, 10 home runs and 15 steals. He was one of eight All-Stars from the Rangers, a franchise that has made it to back-to-back World Series.
“It was a good first half,” Kinsler said. “I think as a team we played well. We went through a lot more ups and downs than we wanted to but we played well and we’re in first place right now. And we have eight guys here at the All-Star Game, so we’re happy.”
Another team expected to contend for the title is the Detroit Tigers. Prince Fielder was the major off-season acquisition, but this is Miguel Cabrera’s team. Cabrera is enjoying an MVP-caliber season and right now ranks as the seventh-best fantasy player. He made it clear that the start to the second half will be big.
“We feel okay, you know. We want to feel more comfortable at the end of the season, like win the division, get into first place,” Cabrera said. “I think we’re in good position. I think we’re feeling good right now. We want to start good in the second half, start to be more aggressive and win more games.”
Finally, the Angels are putting some heat on the Tigers. Jered Weaver has pitched like an ace and Albert Pujols has turned things around. While everyone is talking about the superstar rookie Mike Trout, it’s the second-year star Mark Trumbo who ranks as the top surprise. He’s batting .305 with 26 home runs and 65 RBI.
“It’s been really special,” Trumbo said. “The first month of the season is probably forgettable. We were out there competing, just the results weren’t coming in. Sometimes that happens. But since then we’ve been rolling pretty well. People are playing to their capabilities and we’ve had a lot more wins to show for it.”
The Tigers, Angels and Rangers were supposed to be the teams competing for an AL pennant this season and so far they have. If the season ended today, all three would advance to the postseason thanks to the multiple Wild Card spots. However, there is still a lot of baseball to play and several surprise teams are still out there, including the A’s, White Sox and Indians. A big move at the trade deadline or even a key promotion could make the difference.
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Who’s on First?
The Best: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
The likely AL MVP has made a smooth transition from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park to the hitter-friendly Fenway Park. Thanks in large part to the fine start by Jacoby Ellsbury, Gonzalez has been driving runs in at a career-high pace. While his power is evident in the 25 doubles and 16 home runs, it’s his consistency that makes his .356 average sustainable.
The Surprise: Mark Trumbo, Angels
The loss of Kendry Morales for another season would have been even more devastating had rookie Mark Trumbo not filled in admirably. The 25-year old first baseman has belted 13 home runs with a solid seven steals. Though he can improve on his plate discipline and raise his .258 average, Trumbo’s 28 extra bases have gone a long way for the Angels.
The Bust: Adam Dunn, White Sox
Playing in the homer-friendly US Cellular Ballpark with an improved lineup around him seemed like a slam dunk for Adam Dunn. Instead, the White Sox slugger who has had no less than 38 home runs over the last seven seasons has been downright awful. His .173 average is nearly 100 points lower than last season’s batting clip, and his power has been zapped to a .316 slugging percentage.
The 31-year old veteran has a few possible reasons for his lack of production. He is new to the American League and he has never before been a designated hitter on a regular basis. It may be time for the White Sox to call in Harold Baines to help mentor the fallen slugger.
The 2nd Half Sleeper: Mitch Moreland, Rangers
Texas may be a launching pad for sluggers, but during the dog days of summer, the heat takes its toll. That’s why fantasy managers should not be too concerned about the fact hat Mitch Moreland remains a platoon player despite the .287 average and 11 home runs. Come August, Moreland is bound to be fresh. On that note, Moreland has yet to get into a big hot streak that is bound to lift his season totals past 20 home runs. Expect a big second half from the rising first baseman who blasted nine home runs in 47 games after the All-Star break last season.