For many, the All Star break is the point in the season where we divide the first half from the second half and while many sites do as well, we’ve actually already hit the mid-point of the 162-game season. So with everyone celebrating the Fourth of July and enjoying some holiday time off, I thought this was as good a time as any to start handing out fantasy baseball all-star nods. I’ll stick with the traditional format of one player from each league and for fantasy purposes, we’ll go with one at each infield position, three outfielders and then utilize the middle and corner infield spots as well as a utility man. For pitchers, we’ll go with three starters and one closer from each league.
2017 First-Half Fantasy Baseball All Stars
AL: Salvador Perez, KC – One of the tougher decisions here as Perez is in some pretty strong company with the likes of Alex Avila and Gary Sanchez, but the .290 average and league-leading 16 home runs with 51 RBI give him the edge. Had we been talking OBP, Sanchez would have been my choice, but we’ll stick with the traditional categories.
NL: Buster Posey, SF – There’s just no one better for across-the-board production in the National League and Posey’s .339 average with 10 home runs and 35 RBI rank him right there near the top in each category. He was the priciest backstop in drafts this year, so it’s good to see he’s still earning his keep.
AL: Justin Smoak, TOR – It’s taken years for Smoak to finally live up to the hype he originally came into the majors with, but better late than never, right? The switch-hitting first baseman found a nice home in Toronto and now in his third season with the Jays, is putting up insane numbers. He’s got 22 home runs with 52 RBI, but almost just as tasty is the .303/.370/.594 slash line he’s posting. He had a .243 ISO over 328 plate appearances in 2015, so his while his current .292 mark is a little inflated, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he can keep this power going.
NL: Paul Goldschmidt, ARI – What’s not to love? His 19 home runs and 66 RBI say he has the power and his 13 stolen bases say he’s got the speed. Mix them in with a .316 average and .437 OBP and you’ve got the best first baseman in baseball. End of story.
AL: Jose Altuve, HOU – It’s always nice when a top-five draft pick earns his keep and it’s even better when it’s a power/speed threat at a traditionally thin position. The middle infield is actually a bit more flush with talent than usual, but Altuve is the cream that always seems to rise to the top. With 11 home runs, 16 stolen bases and a .326 average, he is well on his way to delivering another All Star-caliber season.
NL: Daniel Murphy, WAS – You can hear the collective groan from Mets fans every time someone showers Murphy with some praise. He obviously deserves it, though, with a .334/.390/.570 slash line, 14 home runs and 55 RBI. He hits in a primo spot in the Nationals lineup and will continue to do so over the course of the regular season, so expect more of the same from him in the second half.
AL: Jose Ramirez, CLE – He’s been one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball since June 1, batting .372 with eight home runs, 16 RBI, 32 runs scored and four stolen bases, and while he doesn’t match the home run totals of other third sackers such as Mike Moustakas or Miguel Sano, it’s the total package that gets him the nod. His 15 homers and nine stolen bases on the season are great, but he’s also batting .325 with a .379 OBP and a position-leading 59 runs scored. Add in multi-position eligibility and you’ve got one of my favorite players all year.
NL: Jake Lamb, ARI – On the SiriusXM show, we like to refer to him as Rake Lamb and it’s doubtful anyone would be against that moniker. It was tough to decide between him, Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon, as all three are pretty close statistically, but ultimately I went with Lamb’s edge in home runs, RBI and runs scored as well as the fact that he was drafted a few rounds later than both of them.
AL: Carlos Correa, HOU – He was the No. 1 AL shortstop taken off the board this year and he has lived up to his draft position thus far with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, 56 runs scored and a .319/.394/.554 slash line. There are a number of AL shortstops whose value may have exceeded their draft position, but Correa still stands head and shoulders above them all.
NL: Corey Seager, LAD – Just like with Correa, Seager has earned his keep as the No. 1 NL shortstop off the board as his 13 home runs and 57 runs scored are both tops in the National League at the position. Not to mention that uber-sexy .404 OBP. He even kicks in three stolen bases just to make you feel good. Feeling an even bigger second half on the way.
AL: Elvis Andrus, TEX – A .301 average with 11 home runs and 20 stolen bases? Giddy up! That’s a new career-high in homers and the 20 steals gives promise of a return to the 30-40 steal range, a range he hasn’t tapped since 2013. The power may not be there in the second half, but the steals will be and he is offering a sick return value on your draft day investment already.
NL: Trea Turner, SS WAS – I may not be a fan of him being taken in the first round, but the overall numbers here in the first half – seven homers and 35 stolen bases – are rock-solid. It’s tough to enjoy the honors here with the knowledge that you won’t have him for close to two months due to a broken wrist, but these honors are strictly based on first half production.
AL: Logan Morrison, TB – Anyone who said they saw this coming is a liar. Plain and simple. LoMo may only be batting .256, but 24 home runs with 57 RBI and a .366 OBP are mind-blowingly good. The .322 ISO is obviously unsustainable, but the race to 40 home runs for him is certainly going to be fun to watch.
NL: Joey Votto, CIN – If it wasn’t for Goldy being in the NL, Votto would have easily taken the honors at first base here. His .317/.427/.628 slash line is dynamic and the 24 homers gives more than just a little hope that he will finally notch that elusive 40-homer season we’ve all been waiting on.
AL: Aaron Judge, NYY – Pfffffft! As if anything even needs to be said. People can criticize the strikeouts, cite the BABIP or dismiss his performance as unsustainable because no one in the history of baseball has ever done this before, but the fact remains that Judge, not even drafted in most leagues, is giving his owners the ride of their lives right now.
AL: Mookie Betts, BOS – He’s 15-15 with a .285/.367/.509 slash line right now and while I don’t subscribe to on-pace numbers, the potential of a 30-30 season is more than evident. His eight-RBI game this past weekend helped thrust his RBI total over the half-century mark and there’s little to no reason to believe he can’t sustain this level of production the rest of the way.
AL: George Springer, HOU – His owners have received 24 home runs, 52 RBI, 64 runs scored and a .287/.363/.577 slash line which has easily brought proper return value from the late-second/early-third round selection. Still a crying shame that he’s not stealing any bases, but how can you when you keep hitting leadoff home runs?
NL: Bryce Harper, WAS – He’s the best outfielder in the National League and there’s no one out there who can make a viable argument to say otherwise. His down year last season still had him finish 20-20 and while he will be hard-pressed to reach the 20-steal plateau again this season (just two on the year), his 20 home runs are pushing him towards that 40-homer range once again. The fact that he does it all with a .300-plus average should also scream volumes.
NL: Marcell Ozuna, MIA – When he was lighting it up in April, many dismissed Ozuna as your typical hot start waiting to cool down, but when he failed to slow his roll, the believers began to emerge. His 22 home runs put him one off his career-high and with 62 RBI and 49 runs scored, you know more career-bests are about to be established. Kick in a .314 average and .373 OBP and you’ve got a phenomenal return on your mid-round draft investment.
NL: Charlie Blackmon, COL – Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge fan and much of his stat production comes due to Coors Field, but if he’s not being dealt away from the Rockies, there’s no reason to not take advantage of the home ballpark. He’s sporting a .313/.367/.579 slash line with 18 home runs, 59 RBI and six stolen bases and what’s even more impressive is knowing that his RBI-production is coming off the leadoff spot. Not many leadoff hitters can boast that.
AL: Mike Trout, LAA – The thumb injury takes center stage, but your focus should be on the fact that his 16 homers and 10 stolen bases came over just 47 games while everyone else we’ve discussed needed at least 80 games to do what Trout did. So why throw him in the utility spot instead of the outfield? Maybe I just wanted to give some of these other great AL outfielders a fighting chance.
NL: Cody Bellinger, LAD – This youngster is putting up quite the season thus far with 24 home runs, 56 RBI and five stolen bases in just 271 plate appearances. Imagine what the world would have been like had the Dodgers not been forced into calling him up so early and imagine what would have been had Adrian Gonzalez not gotten hurt right around the same time Bellinger was slumping. The stars aligned quite nicely for him and his fantasy owners and he is more than deserving of a mid-season honor.
AL: Chris Sale, BOS – There were questions as to whether or not this uniform-shredding hot-head would be able to succeed in Boston and the 28-year old southpaw silence each and every doubter from the first pitch of his first start. He’s been absolutely dominant with his 2.61 ERA and 12.38 K/9 and there’s no reason to believe he is going to do anything but pitch lights-out the rest fo the way. And while the category may be arbitrary, the 11 wins are a huge bonus as well.
AL: Lance McCullers, HOU – He’s really taken a step forward this year and McCullers is easily one of the top arms in the American League right now with his 2.69 ERA and 29.1-percent strikeout rate. He was even lost to the DL for a short time and still managed to post overall totals better than most. This is most definitely an arm you want for duration of this year and beyond.
AL: Jason Vargas, KC – One of the biggest surprises in baseball here as Vargas finally delivered on the potential I once saw about four or five years ago when he was pitching for the Mariners. The strikeout rate is a little blah, but who’s going to argue with 12 wins and a 2.22 ERA from a guy you probably picked up off the waiver wire? Sustainable or not, he’s been a beast in the first half.
NL: Max Scherzer, WAS – Pure greatness on the mound here as Scherzer has done a whole lot more than just live up to his billing. The command is insane, the strikeouts are mammoth and the miniscule 1.94 ERA and 0.77 WHIP over 120.1 innings are doing major wonders to every fantasy owner’s ratios.
NL: Clayton Kershaw, LAD – Despite having allowed the most home runs he’s ever allowed in a single season (17), Kershaw is still doing very Kershaw-like things, as evidenced by his 12 wins and 2.32 ERA. He’s one of the few who can take up permanent residence in this piece.
NL: Zack Greinke, ARI – An absolutely dynamic first half for Greinke, a guy many people were avoiding in drafts due to injury concerns and potential blow-ups. Instead, he’s crushed it with his 3.05 ERA and 10.21 K/9 over 109.1 innings this year. To think, he also does this while playing half his games in a bandbox. ::uses best Oliver Twist voice:: Please sir, I want some more!
AL: Craig Kimbrel, BOS – Some folks were scared off after last season’s 3.40 ERA, but Kimbrel showed he’s still one of the few elite arms left in the ninth inning with his first half here. The 1.23 ERA is fabulous, the 15.95 K/9 is insane and who doesn’t love racking up 23 saves in just half a season? Throw away any thoughts about last year and expect more of the same this year in the second half.
NL: Kenley Jansen, LAD – Killer numbers from Jansen this season with his 0.79 ERA, 0.53 WHIP and 14.03 K/9. Just killer. Oh yeah, and he’s got 18 saves on the year too. What more could you want? Phenomenal job security and all the skills you could possibly want in a closer. He is easily earning his keep for fantasy owners who invested the early pick it took to acquire him.
Any notable snubs for you? Let's dance in the ciomments section below!