Fantasy

Unlikely Fantasy All-Star Team

With one month in the books, it is time to look up at your fantasy standings and try to make sense of a wild first month of the season. The first month is filled with overreactions in fantasy baseball and while many of the players on this list are clear sell-high candidate others have made adjustments that suggest their early season success is sustainable.

Criteria:
All the players on this list were outside the top 5 at their position to start the season and currently rank within the top 75 players overall. 

Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers,  Rank (13), .324 AVG, 4 HR, 18 RBI

The Los Angeles Dodgers all but gave up on Yasmani Grandal during the 2017 playoffs. He has responded in style to begin the 2018 season.  Grandal leads the Dodgers in batting average (.324), RBI (18), OBP (.422), and is tied for the lead in home runs (4).

Not only has he been carrying the Dodgers offense but he also sits atop of every batting statistic for all catchers except for homers.  The two catchers that sit ahead of Grandal are Yadier Molina and Gary Sanchez, both of which were consistently selected ahead of Grandal in most drafts.

Most impressive about Grandal’s run is that his average draft position was in the hundreds if not outside of most draft boards.  Fantasypros.com had Grandal ranked as the 13th best catcher, average consensus pick of #146! Grandal is red hot to start the season, with a career batting average of just .234, keeping this consistent may be questionable but for now, he must be started in all formats. If and you have an extra catcher on your roster, sell-high now.

1st Baseman: Jose Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals, Rank (39) .311 AVG., 3 HR, 18 RBI

Jose Martinez leads all first baseman in RBI’s during the first month. The story of Jose Martinez is truly remarkable as his fantasy value pre-season was nearly non-existent.   

Martinez doesn’t give you the power that you are looking for from a corner infield position but he also won’t hurt you in any one category. Unlike some strikeout prone first baseman, Martinez has a legitimate hit tool. He currently leads the Cardinals in games played which means he has become the everyday first baseman for the foreseeable future in St. Louis.

2nd Base: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics, Rank (28), .352 6 HR, 24 RBI

While Javy Baez has begun to live up to his early career promise, veteran Asdrubal Cabrera has been the best bat in the Mets lineup, and Ozzie Albies has shown why the Braves were so high on him.  But the most unlikely all-star 2nd baseman has got to go to Jed Lowrie. 

Lowrie leads all second baseman in batting average and OPS.  Lowrie could be the product of a surprisingly potent Oakland A’s team. While he is an obvious sell-high candidate, Lowrie will likely help you out in runs. High draft pick second baseman Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve are currently playing catch-up to Lowrie.  The warning for Lowrie lovers is that he has had similar starts offensively and has only hit over .300 once in his career and only hit double digit home runs once. 

Shortstop: Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees, Rank (10), .354 BA 9 HR 35 RBI

Since the move to New York Gregorius has figured out how to hit and to hit with power. It doesn’t hurt that his home ballpark is perfectly tailored to his swing. In a lineup that features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, it is Didi that has been the most dangerous bat for the Yankees. He won’t be able to maintain this high of an average with a career-high flyball rate, but 35 homers and 100 RBIs is a strong possibility.

3rd Baseman: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals, Rank (16), .309 7 HR 18 RBI

No one wanted Moustakas in the regular season and he may have stuck around a little to long in most people’s draft rooms.  Moustakas currently leads all MLB third baseman with 28 hits, tied for the lead in home runs (7), and RBI (18). 

Moustakas has played the first month of the season with a clear chip on his shoulder.  He is out to prove that he was worth more then a one-year, $6.5 million deal he received this spring.  The average is unsustainable, but another 40 homer season is likely.

Outfield: Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners,  Rank (61), .305 8 HR 24 RBI

Mitch Haniger is developing into a star for the Seattle Mariners.  While the outfield has multiple choices for unlikely stars Haniger’s emergence is impossible to ignore. Haniger’s emergence is a byproduct of an improvement in flyball percentage, hard-hit percentage, and plate discipline across the board.

If Haniger keeps his patience he can be a valuable asset to any fantasy team. Haniger is as likely as anyone to give you 25 home runs and 20 steals at a time when such power/speed combos are hard to find.

Starting Pitcher: Charlie Morton, Houston Astros, Rank (45), 3-0 1.86 ERA 29 SO

Morton could end up being a top 20 starter this season despite maybe being the 5th best starting pitcher on his own team. Morton’s change in velocity has been staggering his average four-seam fastball velocity in 2015 was 92.9 MPH. In 2017, the velocity of the same pitch was 96 MPH. As the average velocity on Hader’s fastball continues to improve, so will his strikeout numbers. This is one guy on this list I would not sell-high on unless you are receiving a top-25 starting pitcher in return.

Relief Pitcher: Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers, Pre-season Rank (49), 3 Saves 1.17 ERA

The back end of the Brewers bullpen was a problem early in the season.  The injury to breakout fantasy closer Corey Knebel left a gap that had to be filled.  The answer is and always has been Josh Hader.  Hader has moved into that closer role or the Brewers and will continue to hold that spot until Knebel returns from the DL.  

Hader will remain valuable for the Brewers even after Knebel returns.  In 15.1 innings pitched Hader struck out 31 hitters, an average of over 16 K’s per 9.  He has three dominate pitches that are effective against righties and lefties. In a time of match-up pitching Hader has the diversity necessary to be used in any situation.  Coming up through the minors Hader was a starter so he is able to go more than an inning. 

 

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