Clearing The Bases
With the season being a little less than 50% over we’ve decided to take a look at players who have played above expectations so far this season. Now I’m looking at players who have the best value. I know Joey Votto is having an MVP like season, but he was selected in the 1st or 2nd round. He was supposed to have a great season. I’m talking about players who were taken later on in your draft. Guys who some thought might have a nice season, but not the numbers they are putting up right now. We’re going to cover the infield, four outfielders, a designated hitter, three starting pitchers, and two closers. I’m sure there are others that deserve consideration but these are my choices.
Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals: When Molina signed his five-year $60 million extension with the Cards before the season started many pundits, including myself, were wondering what in the world were the Cards doing paying a mediocre offensive backstop that kind of cash? Well apparently they Cards management was right, everyone else was wrong. Molina is not only worth the money, .319 Avg, 11 HR, 41 RBI, .882 OPS, but he is turning out to be the best catcher in baseball. His defense already was top notch.
Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels: Coming into the season we were wondering where Trumbo would play. Albert Pujols was acquired to play 1B, Kendrys Morales returned from injury to take over at DH, and the team was overloaded with outfielders. Well, when your hitting 17 HRs, 49 RBIs, with an OPS of .980, the team will find a way to get your bat in the lineup each and every day. His power is legit. The Yankees Robinson Cano should be asking Trumbo to participate in the HR derby, this guy could put on a show.
Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians: Wish I could say that I saw this kind of season coming for Kipnis, but when making my rankings for 2B, I had Kipnis in the top 10, but in my third tier. Well, he’s not third tier anymore. The only question now is whether or not he’s in the top tier with Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dan Uggla, or if he is atop the second tier. Either way with his combination of power and speed, he is someone you want on your team.
Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals: During spring training manager Davey Johnson told Desmond not to worry about taking pitches and working the county. Johnson understood that Desmond liked to hack. Well that strategy has worked out as Desmond has already set a career high with 11 HRs. Power is always welcome from SS and Desmond could very well hit 20+ HRs this season, certainly a boon to his fantasy owners.
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays: Coming into the season Encarnacion was probably known more for having one of the best nicknames in baseball, E-5, than for being an offensive force. Well, the Jays have made life a little easier on EE this year by playing him at DH or 1B, thus alleviating some defensive pressure and he has responded with 21 HRs and 51 RBIs with an OPS over .900, throw in the six SBs and you have a steal for his draft position. The multi-position eligibility doesn’t hurt any either.
Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins: Willingham has always been able to hit, it was injuries and defensive lapses that kept him out of to many highlight reels. Signing with the Twins, a team not known for having a great offense and playing in a pitchers ballpark didn’t help his draft status either, but he has turned that all around by being the Twins best hitter this season. He is proving you can hit HRs at Target Field as he is on pace for over 30. Doing this without Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the lineup on a regular basis has also been impressive.
Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giants: Raise your hand if you thought Melky could repeat last season’s offensive totals. No one could have seen this coming. The Royals certainly didn’t believe it when they traded him to SF for SP Jonathan Sanchez. I know I didn’t believe it. Now I’m a Yankee fan, but when Melky was traded away to Atlanta in the Javier Vazquez deal, not a tear was shed by me. Have to admit we were all wrong on Melky, kid can hit. He was the first player to reach 100 hits this season, and the way he’s going, he’ll be the first to 200 as well.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: Most prognosticators thought Trout should’ve made the team out of spring training, but the Angels had a glut of outfielders that forced the team to send Trout back down to AAA to begin the season. A slow start by the team to start the season forced the team’s hand as they released Bobby Abreu and called up Trout. Since his call up, the Angels have looked like the best team in baseball and Trout has looked every bit like the great player he is supposed to be. He can do it all, power, speed, defense. Some have compared him to Mickey Mantle. It is a foregone conclusion that Trout will win the Rookie of the Year award but now some are starting to entertain the notion that he could be in the MVP running as well.
Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics: With all the injuries to the Boston outfield you have to think the Sox would like a do over on the Reddick for Andrew Bailey deal, especially with Reddick looking like the A’s representative for the All-Star game. When the season began all eyes were on the A’s Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes but with his inability to stay healthy for more than a few weeks at a time, it has been Reddick that has carried the team.
Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox: No one was touching Dunn in anything but the late rounds of drafts in March thinking that last year when he batted .159 with 177 Ks in 122 games was a sign of things to come. Well, his average isn’t much better this season, .212, but the power has returned as Dunn has already hit 23 HRs. If you can live the with average, Dunn seems a lock to hit 40+ HRs this season.
RA Dickey, New York Mets: What Dickey is going this season shouldn’t be a huge shock, he showed signs of his dominance at the end of last season. Still fantasy owners have a hard time trusting knuckleball pitchers because of their propensity to have nightmare outings and because even in their good outings, they may place quite a few runners on base thus making WHIP an undesirable category. Dickey however thrown his knuckleball much harder than most and controls it very well. He could start the All-Star game for the National League and will most certainly be in the Cy Young conversation.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox: No one knew what to expect from Sale coming into the season. Was he going to start? Was he going to close? Was he just going to be a reliever? Even the Sox didn’t know as they bounced him back between the rotation and bullpen as they were worried about the stress starting would be on his elbow. Well, since leaving him in the rotation, Sale has looked like a Cy Young candidate as he is constantly dominating opponents. Some believe he is even the best pitcher in the American League right now. My money is still on the Tigers Justin Verlander, but I wouldn’t mind having Sale on my squad.
Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals: Lynn is another candidate to start the All-Star game and may even be the favorite since the game will be managed by ex Cardinal Tony LaRussa. Lynn is 10-3 with an ERA of 3.23 and a WHIP of 1.196 so it would not seem to be a hometown choice. Lynn has given the Cardinals what they needed when Chris Carpenter went down during the spring.
Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays: Rodney has been lights out since taking over for the injured Kyle Farnsworth. So lights out in fact that there is no chance Farnsworth gets the closer’s job back when he returns from the disabled list. Rodney has always had the talent to close but rarely the consistency you need. There have been no such problems this season.
Alfredo Aceves, Boston Red Sox: Another reliever forced to take over the closing role due to injury. Aceves had some value in fantasy leagues even before taking over for the injured Andrew Bailey as there was a chance he could start for the Sox. Well after a bumpy start of the season in the closer’s role, Aceves has been really good. Bailey is still likely to regain the job when he returns from the DL, but it won’t be because of anything that Aceves did.
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