All-Star Snubbery (and other notes from 7/6/15)

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For fantasy baseball purposes, the All-Star Game player voting and selection has zero bearing on anything, but the game and festivities themselves are a nice break in the action where we can have a short hiatus from constantly checking on box scores, live updates, MLB.tv, and the like.  It’s a period where our significant others will be glad to have us paying more attention to them and less attention to a bunch of dudes in tight pants (*in most cases, wink wink).

So on Sunday the All-Star starters were announced, as voted on by the fans, and on Monday the rest of each league’s roster was released.  As always, there were some interesting and undeserving selections that people are going to have some beef with.  These were my AL All-Star predictions and these were my NL All-Star predictions.  Overall, out of the 68 players that have been announced as All-Stars so far, I selected 50 correct for a 73.5% success rate.  That’s lower than I would have expected, but these managers made some unexpected choices.  Here are the rosters as reported by CBS Sports:

AL Starters (fan vote)

C Salvador Perez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, (injured, will not play), 2B Jose Altuve, SS Alcides Escobar, 3B Josh Donaldson,(leading vote-getter overall), OF Mike Trout, OF Lorenzo Cain, OF Alex Gordon, DH Nelson Cruz

The AL starters didn’t pan out as I exepcted, as I felt that the fans would get it right by electing Jose Bautista over Alex Gordon and I predicted that the Royals faithful would be able to get Kendrys Morales in over Nelson Cruz.  So the Royals will have four starters, which I suppose is better than the eight that they were projected to have at one point. Cain is a borderline All-Star, but Gordon definitely has no business being here.

AL Reserves

C Russell Martin, C Stephen Vogt, 1B Albert Pujols, (will start in place of the injured Cabrera), 1B Prince Fielder, 1B Mark Teixeira, (replaces injured Cabrera on roster), 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Jose Iglesias, 3B Manny Machado, OF J.D. Martinez, OF Jose Bautista, OF Adam Jones, UTIL Brock Holt

Brian McCann got left off the team, which is probably the correct call, but another Yankee Mark Teixeira made it onto the squad because of the injury to Miguel Cabrera.  Despite Alex Rodriguez’ strong performance to this point, he was omitted from the roster, which may speak volumes as to how the players and coaches feel about him.  Jason Kipnis made it on as a reserve second baseman, but Brian Dozier definitely should have been included somehow.  Jose Iglesias and his superior defense made it over Jose Reyes, which I do not have an issue with.  But one big issue that I do have is Adam Jones making it onto the roster when there are outfielders like Brett Gardner and George Springer who are having much more impressive seasons.  Brock Holt doesn’t really have the stats that scream “All-Star,” but I have no issue with him making it as the Red Sox representative because he really has been that team’s MVP with his ability to play all over the field.

AL Pitchers

RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Felix Hernandez, RHP Chris Archer, LHP David Price, LHP Dallas Keuchel, LHP Chris Sale, RHP Dellin Betances, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Kelvin Herrera, RHP Wade Davis, RHP Darren O’Day, LHP Glen Perkins, LHP Zach Britton

All the starting pitchers selected were no-brainers, but it got a little tricky with the relievers.  Dellin Betances, Glen Perkins, and Zach Britton have undoubtedly been the the American League’s best closers, but Huston Street could have easily been selected over Brad Boxberger.  Then there’s no issue with manager Ned Yost selecting his own setup man Wade Davis and the Orioles setup man Darren O’Day, but it is a bit of a homer pick by Yost to choose Kelvin Herrera.  Herrera is having a nice season, but nothing too dominant, and this spot could easily have gone to Street or he could have chosen one of the outfield snubs.

AL Final Vote Candidates

SS Xander Bogaerts, OF Yoenis Cespedes, OF Brett Gardner, 2B Brian Dozier, 3B Mike Moustakas

Out of the final vote candidates, Brett Gardner and Brian Dozier are clearly the most deserving of being All-Stars, but given the strong backing for the Royals players this season, I expect Mike Moustakas to win the vote.  Moustakas is having a breakthrough season at the plate being able to hit left-handed pitching now, but there are better players that deserve it more.

NL Starters (fan vote)

C Buster Posey, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Dee Gordon, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Todd Frazier, OF Bryce Harper, (leading vote-getter in NL), OF Matt Holliday, (injured, participation questionable), OF Giancarlo Stanton, (injured, will not play)

All the NL starters went as I predicted and everyone is deserving of the starting nod besides Matt Holliday.

NL Reserves

C Yadier Molina, C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B DJ LeMahieu, 2B Joe Panik, SS Brandon Crawford, 3B Nolan Arenado, 3B Kris Bryant, (replaces injured Stanton on roster), OF Andrew McCutchen, (will start in place of the injured Stanton), OF Joc Pederson, OF Justin Upton, OF A.J. Pollock

Right away there’s a snub that with Yadier Molina making it over Derek Norris.  Having Molina as an All-Star is purely just a reputation pick because Norris has been the better offensive catcher all season long and though his defense hasn’t been as good as Molina’s, he still ranks pretty high up there for NL catchers.  With Joey Votto’s recent slump, it’s no surprise to see Adrian Gonzalez selected by Bruce Bochy.  Also no surprise to see is that Bochy went with the homer picks and selected his middle infielders, Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford to the team.  One of them should have been left off the roster in favor of Troy Tulowitzki who has been ripping the ball as of late.  Kris Bryant is a questionable pick to take Giancarlo Stanton’s place on the team, but the fans will surely like to see Bryant partake in the Home Run Derby if they can’t see Stanton.  And it is a bit odd that Andrew McCutchen was selected over his teammate Starling Marte despite the fact that Marte has been having the superior season.  Perhaps Marte’s recent oblique injury had something to do with it, but he is still on the active roster and not on the DL.

NL Pitchers

RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP A.J. Burnett, LHP Madison Bumgarner, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, LHP Aroldis Chapman

I am a bit surprised that Clayton Kershaw is not on the All-Star roster, but I do not have a problem with A.J. Burnett appearing to be the one to have beaten Kershaw for it.  Kershaw just hasn’t been as dominant this season, despite leading the league in strikeouts, and it’s a nice honor for Burnett to go to the game in what is going to be his final season in the Majors.  It is a bit of an upset for Mark Melancon to make the squad over both Jeurys Familia and Drew Storen.  Yes, Melancon has leads the league in saves, but Storen and Familia have been much more dominant.  If Ryan Braun had been selected as the Brewers representative, then that would have left Francisco Rodriguez off, which also would have opened up a spot for either Storen or Familia.

NL Final Vote Candidates

RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Jeurys Familia, LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Carlos Martinez, SS Troy Tulowitzki

Despite the Reds playing host to the All-Star festivities, I expect Clayton Kershaw to beat out Johnny Cueto for the final vote.  MLB fans around the nation just love Kershaw too much for him to not win this 5-man popularity contest.

Now let’s look at Monday’s slate of action!

Eugenio Suarez – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R.  Suarez hit his 3rd HR of the season and also has his AVG up to .329.  He’s been a great replacement for the injured Zack Cozart, and he does deserve attention in fantasy leagues for his decent pop and speed combo that I have mentioned a few times now.  Give him a try.

Danny Espinosa – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Espinosa launched his 9th HR of the season on Monday as he continues to be an everyday player due to the rash of injuries that the Nationals have had in their infield this season.  He’s got 20 HR pop over the course of a full season of playing time, so deep leaguers will want to check him out for as long as he is holding a starting job.  And as always, he’s usually a fairly cheap DFS option.

Josh Harrison – Harrison landed on the DL with torn ligaments in his thumb that he suffered on a slide in Sunday’s game. Naturally, I just traded for Harrison in a league last week, but like the Pirates, I will move forward.  The injury will shelve Harrison for about 6 weeks and they will go with Jung-Ho Kang at Harrison’s starting third base position, which means increased playing time for both Kang and Jordy Mercer.  Kang should be given a look in leagues where he is available.

A.J. Burnett – 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.  On the day that he was announced as an All-Star, Burnett pitched another gem to reduce his ERA to 1.99.  He is very deserving of the All-Star selection, but will probably see his ERA regress to around 3.00 in the second half as his 81.6% strand rate comes down to a more normal level.  However, his control and walk rate is at a career best of 2.39 BB/9, so he should continue to see nice success.

James Shields – 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.  Shields was in a duel with Burnett and for once he got some nice defense behind him.  He walked away with a no-decision, but he improved to a 3.88 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.  Beware of the poor Padres defense though the rest of the season, as they may inflate Shields’ ERA and WHIP.

Preston Tucker – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R.  Tucker has seen his AVG take a big dip, but the 4 hit game has brought it up to .252 and he also hit his 5th HR of the year.  He doesn’t exactly get full-time starts, so for season long leagues he isn’t the greatest of options, but he can be very productive as a cheap DFS option against right-handed pitching.  Just know though that he does get pinch hit for or subbed out for a defensive replacement late in the games a lot.

Carlos Carrasco – 4 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K with the L.  I’ve mentioned the Indians and their poor defense a lot lately, and it was featured in “Sometimes A Pitcher Is Only As Good As His Defense.”  But I watched Carrasco’s 4 innings of work on Monday and boy, it was painful to see with my own eyes.  Out of the 10 hits that Carrasco allowed, at least 7 of them could have been prevented with better defense.  The main culprit was Michael Brantley who broke in on a ball that then sailed over his head, he got twisted around on another ball that then sailed over his head, and then he let a bloop single fall in front of him despite never going into a sprint to even attempt to catch the ball.  So naturally, Carrasco’s BABIP rose from .323 to .340 in this single game.

Jon Lester – 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K with the L.  Lester carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning in Monday’s affair with the Cardinals, but he allowed a couple of hits and an error led to him being charged with 2 unearned runs and the eventual loss.  Lester hasn’t been meeting expectations so far as a Cub, but he seems to be slowly turning things around and now has a 3.48 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, which are right in line with his career numbers.  He’ll probably settle in right around there.

John Lackey – 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K with the W.  Lackey outdueled Lester to improve to 7-5 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 81 K/27 BB in 110.2 IP.  He’ll likely regress a bit as the second half wears on, but he’s a quality pitcher and the Cardinals did him a solid by allowing him to earn salary incentives despite being signed for just the league minimum this season.

Kelly Johnson – Johnson has the tendency to hit soft-tossing righties pretty well, and that’s what he did on Monday by taking Kyle Lohse deep for his 7th HR of the season.  He’s been serving as the Braves 3rd or 4th hitter in the lineup against righties with Freddie Freeman on the DL, so he’s carrying some value right now, especially in DFS.  Use him against these types of pitchers.

Gerardo Parra – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Parra stayed hot on Monday by logging his 6th multi-hit game in a row and smashing his 8th HR of the season (3rd HR in the last 4 games).  There’s just simply not a hitter that is hotter than Parra is at the moment.  I’ll keep repeating that he should be owned and used in many more leagues than he is.

Manny Machado – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  The Macho Man went yard for the 18th time this season.  I’m running out of things to say about this kid.

Adam Jones – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Jones was selected to the All-Star team on Monday in undeserving fashion, but clearly he wanted to make a statement to show that he belonged so he hit his 11th HR of the year.  It’s not that Jones is doing poorly — though he is well off pace of his stats the last three seasons — but rather there were just other outfielders that were much more deserving of the nod.

Brian Dozier – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Dozier’s 17th HR of the season was of the walkoff variety.  There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be an All-Star, and he’s going to keep on producing well for fantasy.

Chris Sale – 9 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.  Sale was unable to get his 9th double digit strikeout game in a row, but he did do something that he hadn’t done all season long — get a complete game win.

Josh Donaldson – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  You know Donaldson’s a lefty killer when he homers off of Chris Sale.  He now has 20 HR on the season and figures to blow by his career high of 29 HR set last season.

Chris Colabello – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Colabello’s batting average is very slowly trending downward now at .335.  His .436 BABIP is just unreal and I’ll keep saying it — it’s not sustainable and his AVG will be under .300 eventually.  But he was able to launch his 8th HR of the season off Chris Sale, and he still figures to be somewhat productive hitting in that powerful Blue Jays lineup even when his batting average does begin a more swift decline.

Hisashi Iwakuma – 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.  In his first start back form the DL, Iwakuma was bit by the long ball as he gave up 4 solo shots.  It’s also a problem that he had in his 3 starts before he went on the DL, so it wasn’t exactly an encouraging sign.  Though, not a whole lot should have been expected from him in his first start off the DL.  His next start will be against the Angels, and he may not have much luck there either.

Victor Martinez – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R.  Since coming off the DL, V-Mart has been hitting .338 with 2 HR, 12 RBI, and 13 R in 17 games.  He’s stabilizing this Tigers offense, even without Miguel Cabrera.  His batting average will keep increasing from the .264 mark that it is currently at.

J.D. Martinez – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R.  “Just Dongs” Martinez at it again!  Holy moly!  That’s 3 straight games with a HR, 11 HR in the last 13 games, and 14 HR in the last 20 games.  This is some kind of an epic run for “Just Dongs,” and he’s making the absence of Miguel Cabrera a whole lot easier.  His season line is now a .290 AVG, 24 HR, and 58 RBI.

Nick Castellanos – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R.  Castellanos is not building on his rookie season at all this year, but he came through with a big game on Monday.  He was a line drive machine last year with a 28.5% rate, but that is all the way down 20.7% this season.  So that is why there is no improvement in his batting average.  He’s not a great fantasy option.

Alfredo Simon – 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K with the W.  Simon continues his downward spiral.  His ERA is finally over 4.00.  I can rest easily.  Avoid him everywhere.

Jon Niese – 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the W.  Another nice start from Niese who remains in the Mets 6-man rotation but is showcasing himself nicely for a possible trade.  He’s got his ERA down to 3.58, but his 1.42 WHIP and 6.15 K/9 are unimpressive.  He should make for a decent innings eat for a contending team, but he’s not a great fantasy option for the remainder of the season.

Chris Heston – 7.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K.  It wasn’t a super sharp outing from Heston from a control standpoint as he walked 4 and hit a batter, but he improved on his ERA and WHIP.  He now has a 3.51 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while contributing moderately with a 7.03 K/9.  He’s capable of performing at this level for the remainder of the season.

Cesar Hernandez – 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K.  If there’s anyone who can rival the batting average hotness of Gerardo Parra, it is Cesar Hernandez.  He’s now 25 for his last 59 (.424 AVG) to bring his season AVG up from .225 to .302.  Pick him up everywhere while he’s hot.

Howie Kendrick – 4 for 5, 1 RBI, 2 R.  The 4 hit game has HK-47’s batting average back to .300.  He was once thought of as a future batting champion, but he simply just doesn’t make contact enough for that.  However, he does have the skills to hit near a .300 AVG, so it is no surprise that is where he is at right now in his first season as a Dodger.

Yasmani Grandal – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  And this is why he was selected for the All-Star team.  He’s having a true breakout season in the same way that Devin Mesoraco did last year for the Reds.

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