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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Here’s a look at the best fantasy players of April and whether they are sustaining their production or regressing to a less impressive level of play.
Best April Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
April Stats: 14 runs, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, .316 AVG
Update: Since the change of month, Yadier Molina has only one RBI. Molina hurt his left hand in a game on May 8 and hopes to return to the diamond.
Conclusion: One of the most well-rounded catchers in baseball, Molina will remain one of the game’s best at his position, though Orioles masked marvel Matt Wieters may overtake him.
Best April First Baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
April Stats: 15 runs, 7 HR, 20 RBI, .298 AVG
Update: Four hits and 3 RBI against the A’s on Thursday got Cabrera back in rhythm. His statistics have gone down a bit, but he remains amongst the best in baseball.
Conclusion: Cabrera is 100% legitimate and the best corner infielder in baseball right now.
Best April Second Baseman: Ian Kinsler, Rangers
April Stats: 24 runs, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, .298 AVG
Update: Though riding a six-game hit streak, Kinsler’s batting average has declined and he does not have an extra base hit during that stretch.
Conclusion: What makes Kinsler so valuable is the combination of power and speed. If he can keep the batting average closer to .300, he’ll be in the MVP conversation.
Best April 3rd Baseman: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
April Stats: 15 runs, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB, .322 AVG
Update: One of the biggest surprises in April, Encarnacion remains a valuable power bat in May, though the batting average has returned to normalcy.
Conclusion: Encarnacion should finally swat 30-home runs, but it may come with a disappointing average.
Best April Shortstop: Mike Aviles, Red Sox- 18 Runs, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 3 SB, .291 AVG
April Stats: 18 Runs, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 3 SB, .291 AVG
Update: Aviles has not been immune to the Red Sox struggles. His power numbers have come back to earth and his average has been in free fall this May.
Conclusion: Aviles is a fine middle infielder, but he is not the best. He over-performed in April.
Best April Outfielder: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
April Stats: 24 runs, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 2 SB, .417 AVG
Update: Kemp has slowed down a bit and has yet to go deep this month. He remains one of the best hitters in baseball and likely MVP contender, but he is no longer running away with the honor.
Conclusion: He was bound to slow down as pitchers were bound to adapt. Josh Hamilton is now challenging him for supremacy in the Big Leagues.
Best April Starting pitcher: Jake Peavy, White Sox
April Stats: 3 Wins, 33 K, 1.67 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
Update: With two quality starts already this month, Peavy continues to dominate the fantasy scene. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last five starts and has only quality starts this season. He is 1-0 in May so far.
Conclusion: It’s been several years since we’ve seen this type of dominance from Peavy. Let’s hope he can avoid the injury-bug for the first time since he’s left San Diego.
Best April Reliever: Fernando Rodney, Rays
April Stats: 1 Win, 7 SV, 9 K, 0.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP
Update: Rodney has added a win and two saves to his record this month without surrendering a single run.
Conclusion: This is looking pretty real and it all has to do with control. Rodney boasts a 14:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s the latest reliever to enjoy a renaissance after joining the Rays bullpen.
By Bloomberg Sports // Ballpark Figures: Stock Report– Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele and Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw are talking baseball. For the details surrounding the K-Rod Mets saga, Jim Thome’s power display, the injured second base superstars, and Josh Willingham and Jacoby Ellsbury, Bloomberg Sports brings on USA Today baseball columnist Steve Gardner. For more fantasy insight visit the Fantasy Windup at USAToday.com as well as BloombergSports.com for your top notch data analysis.