While not exactly the halfway point of the season, the All-Star Break acts as a small pause that, for fantasy owners, effectively splits the season into two. From this vantage, we can both look back at the biggest values & busts, as well as look forward and see who could represent a value from here on out.
The formatting on this article will be a little different, as it will represent the “All-Star Break” Special. I’ll go position by position, list a player as an MVP and Bust, and also give advice on if the player should be bought or sold. I’m in the middle of a move right now and have been spending most of my days packing, so this article will also likely come in as one of my shortest of the year.
First Half MVPs / Busts
First Base MVP: Jesus Aguilar
Despite what already looked like a logjam between First Base and Outfield on the Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar stepped up and became the heart and soul the Brewers’ offense needed to stay in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately for the crew, they are now 1.5 GB in the division, but for First Baseman Aguilar, a trip to the All-Star game is in order.
While Aguilar has been a tank to date, I still stand by my initial opinion of Aguilar. While he may be really good, or even this good, as of right now he’s doing a disproportionate amount of his damage against Fastballs. His Whiff% on Change-Ups and Sliders is high. His SLG%’s against Change-Ups and Curve are poor. Aguilar is hitting .260 and striking out 31% of the time in July. He’s a first half MVP, but still a second half SELL to me.
First Base Bust: Anthony Rizzo
Quite a few candidates here. I’ll go with the ever reliable Anthony Rizzo, who’s metronomic baseline of a solid average with a bout 32 HRs was something fantasy owners just got used to. Not this year. Anthony Rizzo is about the 17th ranked First Baseman in Fantasy after having an overall ADP of 21. His BA is under .250, he’s not scoring as many Runs, and the power isn’t at expectation either. I do think this is still a potential buying opportunity though. Rizzo is still a caliber of player that at this age I just expect to regress back to a mean performance level. We’ve seen Anthony Rizzo be a .270-.280 / 30+ type guy for too long, and I don’t think we’re seeing anything now that suggests he can’t get back there.
Second Base MVP: Javier Baez
Like most categories here, there’s quite a few candidates and quite a few that deserve the recognition. Ozzie Albies has been a monster, Scooter Gennett is an unsung hero, and Jose Ramirez is the 2nd Best Player on the Player Rater in the first half, but no Second Baseman has probably affected fantasy teams between draft position and return value more so than Javier Baez. Baez is hitting about .290 with some strong power and a surprising amount of speed.
The speed makes my future evaluation of Baez a bit tricky. If you steal 30-40 Bases, which right now it actually looks like Baez might do this year and perhaps somewhat consistently, that completely changes your fantasy value. Being able to do that AND contribute at other categories is just an incredible and rare skill in fantasy. That said, I’m still not completely buying what Javier Baez is selling. I don’t like that I feel like we all have to be polarized when it comes to Baez. I don’t think it is “Break-Out” or “Fluke/Mirage,” but I do think there’s just a few things that are working for Baez right now that will not continue to work. For one, I do believe that Baez has steadily improved his ability to lay off some borderline pitches, but for the most part, he has shown absolutely terrible plate discipline and pitch recognition in his career. Some will point to his drop in K% this year, but that seems mostly due to the fact that he’s taking fewer pitches and swinging more often than ever. His BB% is all the way down the toilet. His Chase Rate / O-Swing is an absurd 48.0%, and the highest of his career. I don’t know if I believe someone with this many flaws is impervious to terrible cold streaks, and so for the lack of discipline I’d be willing to move Baez, the 9th rated player on the Player Rater, for a 3rd or 4th round player that I think I could get him for as he has a 1st/2nd round type stat line. So like Aguilar, SELL.
Second Base Bust: Brian Dozier
Shoutout to Robinson Cano for being a bust in all of our hearts. Dozier is a second half player, and as such, I do expect him to go on a bit of a hot streak in the second half, and put up better numbers both rest of season and overall than what we are seeing from Dozier now. That said, I think Dozier has always had a bit of a flawed game for Batting Average, and now with lesser speed I think a couple questions need to be asked.
Dozier’s career BABIP a few years ago was pretty low, and from about 2013-2015 it stayed pretty low along with his average. 2016 was a jump up to .280 for the BABIP, and while it seemed likely to regress back in 2017, instead it jumped forward to .300. Many asked if Dozier was a new hitter, and if this BABIP was the new norm. The problem is that Dozier breaks the two cardinal rules of BABIP projection to me: he pulls everything, and he has a good amount of pop-ups with limited Line Drives. And now the Speed is dwindling too. So Dozier is a BUY for me, but do so with caution. Don’t buy the player that people did spend too much on in the beginning of the season. Buy a solid Second Baseman with power who can chip in 4-6 Steals and won’t kill you, but also won’t help you in terms of batting average.
Shortstop MVP: Trevor Story
A couple Shortstops could reasonably see themselves here, not the least of which is Jean Segura of the Seattle Mariners who is having an incredible season. But after setting the world on fire in 2016 and becoming one of the more polarizing players going into 2017, Story battled injuries and adjustments and failed to live on many lofty promises. This year has been very different.
It no longer looks crazy for for someone to consider Trevor Story as close to a 2nd Rounder. Right now on the Player Rater he comes in at player #20. I wouldn’t like Story nearly as much in any other park, but he doesn’t play in any other park. He plays in Coors. And if Coors can help keep his average afloat even up at .270, I believe the power and the speed at this point have shown themselves to be that of a rare 40/20 hitter. If he continues to improve as a hitter, then .300 really isn’t all that crazy.
Shortstop Bust: Carlos Correa
Not a completely fair bust, as I have been mostly excluding those who did not play, but Correa has played a fair bit of this season, and what he has played hasn’t been all that impressive. He has stopped stealing bases (2 this year). His BA has slipped under .270. Now a rehab assignment away from returning, Correa is a player I’m willing to buy low, but like many of the others on this list, it depends on where that adjusted price is. Correa as a .285/30 player is still valuable, but considering the price Correa owners are likely to make you pay, he’s probably best left as a hold.
Third Base MVP: Alex Bregman
Special, special shout-out to a stud in Eugenio Suarez. Locked under contract with the Reds, there are many bright things in the future of that player and that infield. But as for Bregman, the great Whiff%/Contact% he’s had in his career has finally found itself taking shape in his K%. For most of the recent months he has walked more than he’s struck out. He’s been hitting for power, as well as stealing bases. And the crazy part? I still think it gets better from here in the second half. I wouldn’t necessarily classify Bregman as a buy, particularly during this hot streak, but his BABIP is still below where I was projecting it. If he continues the positive regression while smacking these HRs and stealing a few bases, Bregman will be someone who doesn’t slip much further than the second round in future drafts.
Third Base Bust: Kris Bryant
This one is also difficult just because it is simple. It is almost easier to take a specific number, like Javier Baez’s 48.0% O-Swing%, and use that as a definitive point in an argument. For Bryant though, I fundamentally just do not believe his power tool is lacking. I don’t know what the problem has been this last year and a half. I’ve looked through his numbers before, and while he’s always been a bit of a whiffer, I never expected we’d see the power disappear like this.
One positive of note is that he homered both in his short rehab stint as well as in his return to the major league line-up. I am not by any means saying that the injury was simply tactical, but I do think getting an easy rehab assignment to potentially simplify some things could have helped Bryant. He’s a BUY for me in the second half, as I expect to see the power return in force.
Outfield MVP: Eddie Rosario
Special shoutout to Nick Markakis. Many people don’t even realize Markakis is about to surpass 2200 hits. It isn’t likely but if Markakis played and found playing time until about 39, I think he could make the 3000 Hit Club. But enough about that.
Eddie Rosario has been an absolute tank so far this year. He’s kept his BA high while hitting for power and stealing some bases along the way. My only concerns with Rosario would be if I believed in a potential BABIP regression or if I were overly concerned with his plate discipline. Based on the batted ball metrics he’s put up so far this season, I’m not too worried about the BABIP. However I still do not like to buy into players who don’t know the best plate discipline. Rosario’s isn’t awful, but at his current inflated value, I can’t imagine I make a move to add or buy him.
Outfield Bust: Bryce Harper
I’ll keep this one simple. Harper I still believe is a stud. That said, he was drafted in the first round, and is currently the 26th Ranked OFer on the Player Rater. He’s supplied you with the power that you were hoping for, but instead of pushing a .300 BA he’s found himself hovering closer to .200.
As we move forward in the season, I expect to see a regression from Bryce Harper. While I do think he’s currently pulling the ball a bit much for me, he has shown an opposite field approach in the past, and I have confidence in Bryce Harper’s ability to make adjustments. Believing in that ability then, i is hard for me to see that BABIP, even as bad as Harper has been, and expect him to keep hitting into outs. So for that reason, even if I feel like the owner is trying to get me to pay for name value, I am willing to make a trade for Bryce Harper. I’m not willing to bet the entire farm, or cripple my team otherwise, but I am willing to label Bryce Harper a BUY.
Starting Pitching MVP: Blake Snell
Blake Snell has been the ultimate Pitching MVP so far this year, and has been a top 10 SP on the ESPN Player Rater. I’ll keep this one simple: Snell always had some of the best stuff in baseball. All of his pitches could be described as nasty, and they theoretically played off of each other so well. He just never knew where they were going. Now that he not just controls them well enough, but seems to have added a bit more command as well, Blake Snell has jumped immediately into a rare tier of pitcher. If he continues to harness his stuff, and I have no reason to believe he won’t for the rest of the year, then Snell will likely be a top 10 SP coming into drafts next year as well.
Starting Pitching Bust: Chris Archer
As one Ray’s pitcher rises, so does the other fall. Chris Archer hasn’t been awful this year, but he hasn’t been particularly good, especially for our fantasy purposes. The K’s that have been his bread and butter over the year are still there, at least relative to a normal pitcher, but they aren’t in a special tier currently, as they have been most of his career. His ERA and WHIP numbers have been a problem. Chris Archer is not a deep arsenal savant like Blake Snell. He has his two weapons for the most part and he tries to swarm you with them until he wins the exchange. Perhaps the lack of wrinkles is starting to slow down his career a bit quicker as he reaches out towards being an older veteran.
That’s all I’ve got this week guys. If you enjoy the normal format, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week. Sorry that this is a bit of a short article, but I’m a bit busy with this move too, and hopefully finishing this Mid Season Rankings Set.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday July 15th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #129 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and James Wilk live July 12th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #84 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. This is our kick of show for the 2018 fantasy football season. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything AFC South!