You know what they all say. You don’t win your fantasy league in the early rounds on draft day. And, there’s a reason why they say it. Because it’s true. So how do you win your league? You win it either in the mid to late rounds or, in many cases, through savvy waiver wire pickups. This season has been no exception, as the list of players who have exceeded the expectations of even their most optimistic owners goes on and on and on. So as the fantasy baseball universe takes a four-day breather for the All-Star festivities, I figured that now is as good a time as any to unveil my All-Bargain team. If every one of these guys is on your roster, congratulations on being in first place. Well, you might be in second or third, but there’s no way you’re in eighth. And the crazy thing is that you probably could have rostered this group without the luxury of your first ten picks.
Alright, let’s get started. Note that I’ve included each player’s preseason NFBC ADP at their respective positions.
We’ll cover the hitters this week and move on to the pitchers next time.
C Jason Castro (C Rank: 27)
The Astros’ catcher is on pace for 21 homers, 54 RBIs, 68 runs scored and an .804 OPS. I like him as a hitter, but his OK but not great minor league power numbers suggest that we shouldn’t count on him reaching the 20-homer plateau.
C Evan Gattis (C Rank: 43)
Most people, including me, had no idea who he was heading into the season. I soon found out. Sidelined since mid-June due to an oblique injury but expected back immediately following the All-Star break, Gattis is no longer guaranteed everyday at-bats but should produce enough to serve as a decent No. 2 backstop in deeper mixed leagues.
1B Chris Davis (1B Rank: 16)
Really, what else hasn’t already been said? Every year, there’s that one guy who resides on the roster of 80 percent of fantasy championship squads. This year, Davis is that guy.
2B Matt Carpenter (2B Rank: 21)
His 71 runs scored leads the NL and he ranks second in the Senior Circuit in hits. Oh yeah, and in most leagues he’s eligible at four different positions.
3B Manny Machado (3B Rank: 17)
You’ll be hearing about him quite a bit over the next 10, maybe even 20 years, so get used to it. His 39 doubles leads the Majors, and it’s not even close. Hmm, if only a few of those doubles turn into homers…scary. I think it’s safe to say that unless you’re in a keeper league, Machado will be no bargain in 2014.
SS Jean Segura (SS Rank: 16)
Segura was putting up Troutonian numbers in April and May but has since cooled off a bit. His early-season power surge was probably fluky but he should still get on base enough to remain a demon on the base paths.
CI Pedro Alvarez (3B Rank: 16)
A monster month of June (.309 AVG, 10 HR, 24 RBI) has carried over into July (.325 AVG, 4 HR, 9 RBI). Alvarez is still striking out too much, but if he continues to produce like this, who cares? Seriously though, expect peaks and valleys, but Alvarez figures to be an elite power source for the next decade.
MI Jhonny Peralta (SS Rank: 21)
Batting just .220 in July following a red-hot first three months, Peralta’s .383 BABIP hints that a further AVG correction is in store, but hitting in the middle of a formidable Tigers’ lineup, the RBI opportunities will continue to be plentiful.
OF Domonic Brown (OF Rank: 67)
Five homers in 56 games last year. 23 homers in 93 games this year. I didn’t see this coming at all, but maybe I should have, as he’s been a highly touted prospect for awhile now. I’d still like to see him improve his plate discipline though.
OF Nate McLouth (OF Rank: 92)
Following a breakout ’08 campaign in which he slugged 26 home runs and swiped 23 bags, McLouth struggled so mightily at the plate that he was a fantasy non-factor in 2009, 2010, 2011 and most of 2012. Then came the trade to Baltimore, and everything changed. Although Nate isn’t hitting for as much power as he did in his earlier years, he’s doing a fine job batting leadoff for the O’s, getting on base at a .350 clip and ranking among the league leaders in steals.
OF Yasiel Puig (OF Rank: 97)
How could we leave out Puig? The All-Star voters left him out, but we won’t. One of the more electrifying players to watch in recent memory, the Cuban import is batting a ridiculous .392 with eight homers and five steals through his first 37 big league games. The 36 strikeouts are a problem though, as he will need to become way more selective at the plate in order to take that next step forward. If he continues to swing at everything, opposing pitchers will adjust, and they will take full advantage.
OF Michael Cuddyer (OF Rank: 38)
Health, not performance on the field, has always been Cuddyer’s chief nemesis, and the trend continued this season, as the veteran outfielder landed on the DL back in May due to a neck ailment. But he’s still on pace to surpass the 25-HR mark. And then there’s that 27-game hitting streak to talk about. Consistent yet underappreciated. That pretty much sums up Cuddyer’s career. Would I be surprised if he finishes this season as a top-20 OF? Nope.
OF Carlos Gomez (OF Rank: 25)
I knew about the speed. I knew that he had some pop (19 homers last year). But I never would’ve thought that at the All-Star break, Gomez would be on pace for 25 homers and 37 steals to go along with a batting average a shade under .300. I actually felt that ranking Gomez 25th was a stretch. I was wrong. Very wrong.
UT Raul Ibanez (OF Rank: 109)
What happened to the idea that Ibanez’s move from Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field would result in a power outage? It seemed logical at the time. It really did. But 24 homers in 269 at-bats? Are you kidding me? Here’s a fun stat for you. The 41-year-old Ibanez is projected to finish the season with 41 home runs.
That would be cool. Very cool.