411 Midseason All-Surprise Team

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Zach here,

Many fantasy owners use the All-Star Break as a time to, well, take a break, and that’s probably a good idea. Take a break from the daily and often hourly responsibility of tracking the latest news, setting lineups, adding some players, dropping some players and trading other players. But personally, I have a hard time taking a break. Isn’t that what the winter is for? I like to use this “break” as an opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of my rosters, maybe make a trade or two in an effort to address weaknesses, and most importantly, begin to think about the second half of the season and what I can realistically expect from each of my players. And in order to do that, looking back at the first half of the season is a must. And what better way to look back at the first half of the season than to assemble mid-season All-Surprise and All-Disappointment teams. This has been a longtime tradition of the 411, and even though there will not be a podcast this week, we weren’t about to end that tradition. Here’s our All-Surprise team. Tomorrow, we’ll reveal our All-Disappointment team.

ALL-SURPRISE TEAM

C – Stephen Vogt – In 269 total at-bats last season, Vogt posted a .279-9-35 line. Through his first 279 at-bats this season, he’s batting .287 with 14 homers and 56 RBI. Pretty good for a guy who went undrafted in the vast majority of 12-team mixed leagues.

1B – Mark Teixeira – To be honest, I completely avoided Teixeira in drafts this spring, fully convinced that health would continue to be a major issue for him, not to mention the low batting average. Maybe he would hit 20 home runs, but there was simply too much baggage attached to those 20 home runs. As it turns out, Tex has 22 homers…at the All-Star break. All it took was 82 games for him to match last season’s 22 home runs and 62 RBI, and this makes the .240 batting average at least tolerable. Owners in OBP leagues have absolutely nothing to complain about, as his healthy walk rate has resulted in a .350 OBP.

2B – Joe Panik – From watching Panik down the stretch last season, it seemed like he was destined to be one of those guys who would always belong in the “better real-life player than fantasy player” group. Apparently not. Panik’s minor league numbers indicate that he’s fully capable of maintaining a batting average in the neighborhood of .300. But the power (seven homers) is surprising, and I’m not buying into it just yet. Add in the lack of stolen base production, especially for a middle infielder, and Panik is someone who I’d look to trade if I could get a quality return.

SS – Brandon Crawford – On pace to finish the year with 22 homers and 95 RBI, Crawford is clearly in the midst of a career year. But will he even come close to reaching those totals? Considering the track record, I have my doubts.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees

3B – Alex Rodriguez – What else is there to say? Well, I think it’s safe to say that a high percentage of fantasy owners who were willing to take a chance on A-Rod this year are in title contention. I chose not to draft him in any league, for moral reasons of course. But I really should’ve learned by now that fantasy baseball success is more about the stats and less about the morals, especially when the cost of those stats was minimal.

OF – J.D. Martinez – Even the most optimistic of Martinez believers could not have predicted that he would follow up his breakout 2014 campaign with an MVP caliber season in 2015. Although I’d hold off on the MVP talk, I don’t necessarily view Martinez as a sell-high player. His fantasy owners are probably better off simply sitting back and enjoying the ride, unless they receive a trade offer that is too good to pass up.

OF – A.J. Pollock – Pollock is similar to Martinez in that we knew he would be good, but not this good. The power is there. The speed is there. The batting average is there. While it might be unfair to expect him to continue producing at this rate, Pollock is legit. Congrats to all Pollock owners, especially those of you in keeper leagues.

OF – Cameron Maybin – Remember him? So I guess Maybin decided that he was tired of being known as just another former top prospect who fell off the map. At this point, a 15 HR/30 SB season is a distinct possibility, though I’d be surprised if the career .252 hitter maintains his current .289 batting average. An average in the .270-.275 range is more likely.

MLB: Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians

SP – Dallas Keuchel – Keuchel was drafted in the 18th round (216th overall) in the 411 Listener League. Keuchel will get the start for the AL in tonight’s All-Star Game. Enough said.

SP – Hector Santiago – Santiago has been a 411 favorite for quite some time, but up until this season, the consistency hasn’t been there. This season has been a different story (2.33 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 98 K’s in 108 1/3 IP). Santiago’s emergence this year is just another data point in support of the 411 philosophy of not investing heavily in starting pitching on draft day.

CL – Jeurys Familia – If it wasn’t for Jenrry Mejia’s PED suspension, we might have never known that Familia has the ability to be an elite-level closer. And that’s exactly what he’s been through the first three and a half months of the 2015 season. And that’s exactly what I think he will continue to be through the final two and a half months of the 2015 season. And if it wasn’t for Jenrry Mejia’s PED suspension, Familia might still be on your league’s waiver wire.

What do you think of this roster? Any other deserving candidates? As always, your comments are welcome.

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2 Comments

Yasmani Grandal, Mitch Moreland, Matt Duffy and Justin Turner are also great candidates for this list. I found the All-Disappointment Team easier to create.

Carlos Correa, Miguel Sano had pedigree, but that doesn’t always translate…for non-stop out of the gate production I’ll give them a “surprise” (Pederson, Bryant showed too 4A & MLB ready to be a surprise).
“Outta the Iowa Cornfield”; Lance McCullers, Taylor Jungmann, Mike Montgomery, Chris Heston, Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk
Surprise 2015 Breakouts? Mookie Betts, Erasmo Ramírez
Wish my keeper team had more of these guys.

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