The First Half All Value Stars by Paul Sporer July 18, 2018 Here’s a look at the best value players by position through the first half. There is no set threshold, but I’m using 150+ ADP as a loose guideline. I pushed that threshold at shortstop but still threw in a late-round honorable mention. CATCHER Yasmani Grandal, LAD| .251 AVG, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 41 R, 1 SB in 306 PA, 220th ADP Catcher has been a sinkhole this year, but we kinda knew that coming into the season as just three were taken in the top 100. I could’ve used Wilson Ramos here, who slots 2nd on the Auction Calculator and was drafted 159th on average. Grandal is just a spot lower at 3rd and was drafted 61 spots later. FIRST BASE Jesus Aguilar, MIL| .298 AVG, 24 HR, 70 RBI, 49 R, 0 SB in 316 PA, 535th ADP The NL’s home run leader hit one homer in 24 games during April, with just nine starts and 15 pinch-hit appearances. He only had three in his first 37 games before a four-homer barrage in a three-game set in Minnesota set him off. That was the beginning of a 21-homer surge in just 50 games, during which he also put up a .293/.371/.691 line. He almost certainly has to come down off this blistering pace, but there’s nothing in this profile that suggests a meltdown. Aguilar is a buy-high for me. SECOND BASE Scooter Gennett, CIN| .326 AVG, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 59 R, 2 SB in 389 PA, 206th ADP I saw someone call Gennett’s season a breakout, but that was last year when he popped 27 HR with 97 RBI and a .295 AVG. The sequel has been even better and it’s hard to see Gennett as anything but a reliable power source at the keystone in the heart of a sneaky-strong lineup. THIRD BASE Max Muncy, LAD| .271 AVG, 22 HR, 41 RBI, 44 R, 2 SB in 279 PA, Undrafted The Dodgers did it again. Another out-of-nowhere superstar for NL West’s top team. After being cut by Oakland, Muncy and his father reworked his swing with a host of small improvements that have turned him into the elite bat we saw flourish in the first half. Check out this piece by Andy McCullough on Muncy for more. I wouldn’t project his 31% HR/FB rate to continue, but like Aguilar, there’s nothing in the profile that suggests a major drop-off is coming. SHORTSTOP Trevor Story, COL| .292 AVG, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 50 R, 12 SB, 113th ADP This was my most lenient choice ADP-wise partly because shortstop has been pretty chalky (the expected studs have been the best for the most part) and partly because I wanted to highlight Story. He’s been leaning on his great park for the power production (.418 ISO, 16 HR at home) and running to sustain his fantasy value on the road (8 SB on the road). I still don’t understand when people use Coors against a Rockies player. “Well, he does most of his damage at home!” OK, unless he’s been traded, that’s not an issue. Plus, some counting numbers with a perfectly .260 AVG on the road from Story isn’t hurting. I might understand the critique for H2H leaguers, but in roto, it’s irrelevant. OUTFIELD x3 Michael Brantley, CLE| .308 AVG, 12 HR, 56 RBI, 55 R, 6 SB in 372 PA, 240th ADP Health was the reason that Brantley slipped in drafts and it was justified. He played just 101 games in 2016-17, twice hitting the DL because of his right ankle last year and even starting this year on the DL recovering from surgery on said ankle. He has stayed healthy since missing that first week and been the Michael Brantley that we’re used to seeing. Nick Markakis, ATL| .323 AVG, 10 HR, 61 RBI, 55 R, 1 SB in 419 PA, 435th ADP If it weren’t for Muncy, this might be the most surprising player in the league this year. Markakis was about as set-in-stone as it gets with his hitting profile. He was firmly in the “better in real life” category as a reliable league average bat, solid defense, and the ol’ veteran presents. He had a 105 OPS+ from 2010-17, ranging from 88 to 126 in that time and living in a 97-109 band the last four years. An early season power surge helped get him into his first All-Star game! He popped nine homers in the first 35 games of the season, but has just three in his last 59. He’s still hitting .315 in that time with 33 RBI and 32 runs, so he’s still helping. Matt Kemp, LAD| .310 AVG, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 42 R, 0 SB in 324 PA, 301st ADP Sometimes a #BSOHL story is the real deal. In fact, I’d say they get hand waved too often because of the meme. I’m not saying you should draft every single one, but routinely dismissing them isn’t a good idea, either. STARTING PITCHER x3 Blake Snell, TB| 2.27 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 28% K, 12-5 W-L, 196th ADP Ross Stripling, LAD| 2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 28% K, 14-8 W-L, 633rd ADP Miles Mikolas, STL| 2.79 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 17% K, 10-3 W-L, 287th ADP Snell’s ascent started late last season. I’ve talked about Snell so much that four podcasts and my NFBC sleeper piece are his last five articles on the site. Oh no! I’m also all of the last five articles for Stripling: I love what Mikolas has done. Not enough to have more than one entry in his last five articles on the site, but I definitely see a viable arm here. That said, I can’t imagine he maintains a 2.79 ERA the rest of the season. He’s not some soft-tossing junkballer, but he doesn’t get strikeouts with any regularity and I just think the batted ball fortune will smooth out a bit with this much contact being allowed. He’s going to be a WHIP asset even as his hit rate pushes up. RELIEF PITCHER Blake Treinen, OAK | 0.94 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 31% K, 24 SV, 171st ADP He made both lists! I was a fan coming into this season (humblebrag… or just a brag-brag, to be honest), but he’s even succeeded beyond my expectations by becoming a top 2 closer so far this year. He’s arguably been the best closer in baseball since getting traded to Oakland. Among the 37 relievers with at least 10 saves in the last calendar year (which happens to be exactly when Treinen was traded to Oakland), Treinen is 1st in ERA (1.47), 1st in IP (86, by 10 over 2nd place), 11th in WHIP (1.06), 10th in SVs (37, 8th-most w/ties), 13th in K% (29%), and 10th in AVG (.197). Read more on Treinen in this piece from Julian McWilliams at The Athletic. — How many of y’all have three or more of these guys on a team?