The All-Star Game voting discussion is topical in real life, so why not talk about it in fantasy? I’m of the philosophy that All Star Games should be about the best players, not just the players off to a hot start over the first few months. In this case, I’ll define “best player” as the players that offered the most production over the past calendar year (i.e. June 2010 through May 2011). Below, the point values are FanGraphs Points, and the $ shown are the player’s average cost. Without further delay, here are your American League (fantasy) All-Stars!
Catcher: Victor Martinez (746.5 pts, .368 wOBA, $25)
Alternates: Carlos Santana (571 pts, .352 wOBA, $31) and Mike Napoli (565 pts, .343 wOBA, $12)
Now primarily a DH, Martinez continues to be an excellent fantasy producer. The guy can hit, and with catcher eligibility he’s just a terrific player–probably more so in fantasy than in real life, given his fielding issues. Santana is back after missing time with injury, and has largely picked up where he left off last year. Napoli might surprise some folks, but he got a lot of playing time after the first few months last year and produced very well. If only he could actually catch, he’d get more PT…
First Base: Miguel Cabrera (1254 pts, .424 wOBA, $48)
Alternates: Paul Konerko (1190 pts, .419 wOBA, $15), Adrian Gonzalez (1188 pts, .397 wOBA, $46)
A lot of owners were concerned in the preseason about Cabrera’s off-field struggles with alcohol, but the guy keeps on hitting. He was auctioned as the 4th-most valuable player in baseball, and may even be better now. Konerko’s an interesting guy who doesn’t get much respect, but has been amazing over the past year. Gonzalez’s numbers prior to this year are depressed due to PetCo, but he’s among the best in his league at his position in both fantasy and reality. I’m not including DH’s in this piece, but David Ortiz (1091 pts, .400 wOBA) would be just a tad behind these guys.
Second Base: Robinson Cano (982 pts, .363 wOBA, $42)
Alternates: Ian Kinsler (749 pts, .360 wOBA, $23), Howard Kendrick (741 pts, .338 wOBA, $5)
Big surprise here: Cano’s been phenomenal. Kinsler doesn’t have the massive point totals due to missed time, but when healthy he has produced just as well as Cano. I was surprised to see Kendrick show up so high, but he had such a good first two months this year that it’s lifted his calendar year totals to very respectable levels.
Third Base: Jose Bautista (1432 pts, .465 wOBA, $30)
Alternates: Alex Rodriguez (909 pts, .378 wOBA, $32), Adrian Beltre (957 pts, .364 wOBA, $20)
Another big surprise, right? Bautista’s just been ridiculous for the past year and a half, and is easily the best fantasy third baseman…and is approaching #1 overall status. Beltre hasn’t been quite as good this year as he was last year, but has still offered excellent production. A-Rod is, I think, approaching undervalued status…
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez (846 pts, .344 wOBA, $14)
Alternates: Asdrubal Cabrera (701 pts, .340 wOBA, $5), Jhonny Peralta (706 pts, .330 wOBA, $3)
American League SS is just miserable. But despite warnings of him being overvalued by many during draft season, Ramirez has really only gotten better. This year, he’s been overshadowed a bit by what Cabrera and Peralta have done. But if you look at the last 162 games, and account for the fact that Ramirez has played in pretty much every game, he ranks just a tad higher. Also worth considering because of the quirks of ottoneu position eligibility: Wilson Betemit (656 pts, .352 wOBA, $2).
Josh Hamilton (854 pts, .438 wOBA, $37)
Curtis Granderson (989 pts, .377 wOBA, $14)
Carlos Quentin (911 pts, .394 wOBA, $7)
Alternates: Shin-Soo Choo (858 pts, .360 wOBA, $34), Nick Swisher (843 pts, .356 wOBA, $13), Bobby Abreu (843 pts, .352 wOBA, $5)
Hamilton has missed a lot of time, but when he’s been around, he’s been the best there is by a country mile. You can make a similar argument about Quentin, but I’m giving Granderson the nod here because he’s played more. Choo’s been a huge disappointment thus far in 2011, but his calendar-year performance is still very solid (.279/.377/.440). Abreu continue to plug away and get relatively little respect for what he does.
Felix Hernandez (1351 pts, 2.82 FIP, $45)
Justin Verlander (1290 pts, 2.88 FIP, $33)
Jered Weaver (1275 pts, 2.84 FIP, $22)
CC Sabathia (1292 pts, 3.04 FIP, $32)
Alternates: David Price (1116 pts, 3.07 FIP, $26), Dan Haren (1168 pts, 3.10 FIP, $26), C.J. Wilson (1054 pts, 3.35 FIP, $7)
These are your elite AL pitchers over the past year, by pretty much every measure. Sabathia actually has the second-best point total, but his per inning performance hasn’t been quite as good. Given that there’s an innings cap in ottoneu, I ranked him 4th. But we’re sort of splitting hairs here. I do find it interesting that Weaver went for such little money in ottoneu, given his season last year.
Jonathan Papelbon (553 pts, 2.35 FIP, 35 SV, $9)
Mariano Rivera (525 pts, 2.64 FIP, 35 SV, $14)
Joakim Soria (546 pts, 3.01 FIP, 38 SV, $14)
Alternates: Brandon League (521 pts, 3.16 FIP, 25 SV, $3), Matt Capps (507 pts, 3.43 FIP, 33 SV, $3), Chris Perez (498 pts, 2.95 FIP, 34 SV, $5)
Ah, the fickle job of the closer. Joakim Soria was without a closer job only a few weeks ago, and yet still ranks as the 3rd-best reliever over the past calendar year. He actually has accumulated more points than Soria, but I’m ranking Rivera above him (slightly) because of better rate stats. Thing I didn’t expect: Brandon League has posted almost the same point total as Rivera over the past calendar year.
Justin is a lifelong Reds fan, and first played fantasy baseball on Prodigy with a 2400 baud modem. His favorite Excel function is the vlookup(). You can find him on twitter @jinazreds, even though he no longer lives in AZ.