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AL Fantasy All-Star Team

Zach here,

What better way to honor the upcoming All-Star game than to assemble Fantasy All-Star teams? Well, that’s exactly what I decided to do, starting with the AL squad today before naming the NL team tomorrow. The framework is simple. I’m using a standard fantasy starting roster of 14 hitters and 9 pitchers with the one caveat being that every real-life team has to be represented, just like in the real thing. So without further adieu, here’s the Junior Circuit roster.

HITTERS

C   Salvador Perez

C   Yan Gomes

1B  Edwin Encarnacion

MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays

2B  Jose Altuve

SS  Alexei Ramirez

3B  Miguel Cabrera

CI  Jose Abreu

MI  Ian Kinsler

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals

OF  Nelson Cruz

OF  Mike Trout

OF  Michael Brantley

OF  Adam Jones

OF  Jose Bautista

UT  Victor Martinez

PITCHERS

SP Felix Hernandez

SP Masahiro Tanaka

SP Yu Darvish

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics

SP Scott Kazmir

SP David Price

SP Jon Lester

RP Koji Uehara

RP Glen Perkins

RP Dellin Betances

And just like in the real thing, there are snubs, most of them as a result of that annoying representative rule. Don’t get me wrong, every player who I ultimately chose for this team is deserving, but here are the notable guys who were left off the team even though from a stats perspective, they certainly deserve a spot.

Chris Sale – Needed a Rays representative, so Price got the nod.

Garrett Richards – Needed representatives from both the Rangers and Red Sox, so Darvish and Lester were automatic picks. Felix and Tanaka were no brainers, so in order to fit Richards, I would’ve needed to leave out Kazmir. Richards vs. Kazmir was a very close call.

Greg Holland – Needed a Twins representative, and Perkins was the best option.

Derek Norris – Gomes beat him out by a tiny margin.

Brandon Moss – Counting stats are there but his unspectacular AVG held him back.

Agree with the roster? Disagree with the roster? Any other snub suggestions? Let’s hear from 411 nation!

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, July 11

MLB: Seattle Mariners at San Diego Padres

ZACH’S PICKS

Kuroda @ M. Gonzalez

Noesi @ Kluber

Buehrle @ Archer – Buehrle due for regression but I like this matchup.

Richards @ Tepesch

An. Sanchez @ Duffy – Challenging matchup for Duffy but I think he’s up for the task.

Lackey @ Feldman

Samardzija @ King Felix – Nice!

Al. Wood @ Arrieta

Zimmermann @ Burnett

Locke @ Latos

Alvarez @ Wheeler – Wheeler no sure thing but he did shut out Marlins last month.

Kelly @ Gallardo – Kelly a decent play in NL-only leagues but this matchup is a bit scary.

K. Johnson @ J. De La Rosa

Hahn @ Haren – Tough matchup for Hahn but I’ll give him a shot. Expect a rebound outing from Haren coming off Coors Field debacle.

Bolsinger @ Lincecum – Hard not to pitch Lincecum right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             CORY’S PICKS

Kuroda @ M. Gonzalez

Noesi @ Kluber

Buehrle @ Archer  - Buehrle has a 4.09 ERA in his last five starts…

Richards @ Tepesch

An. Sanchez @ Duffy

Lackey @ Feldman – Lackey 4.76 ERA since the start of June

Samardzija @ King Felix

Al. Wood @ Arrieta

Zimmermann @ Burnett – six straight QS for A.J. after rough May

Locke @ Latos – Reds struggle vs. lefties

Alvarez @ Wheeler

Kelly @ Gallardo

K. Johnson @ J. De La Rosa

Hahn @ Haren

Bolsinger @ Lincecum

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, July 10

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers

CORY’S PICKS

Quintana @ Lester
G. Gonzalez @ W. Chen
Phelps @ House
Santiago @ Lewis
Smyly @ Guthrie – struggling Smyly vs. lesser offense, or groovin’ Guthrie vs. big offense? I’ll sit this one out
Pino @ Wilhelmsen
Hendricks @ Bailey
Buchanan @ Garza
Kazmir @ Hudson
Harang @ Colon - Colon’s last two outings haven’t been sharp but I like him at home
Volquez @ Miller
Despaigne @ Kershaw

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, July 9

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets

CORY’S PICKS

Greinke @ Scherzer – yes please!
Stroman
@ Wilson
Roark
@ Norris
McCarthy @ Tomlin – bad matchup for McCarthy’s pinstriped debut
Sale @ R. De La Rosa
Ventura @ Cobb
Keuchel @ Darvish – Keuchel is regressing
Gibson @ Elias
Stults @ Jurrjens
Eovaldi @ Collmenter
Beeler @ Simon
Big Erv @ Gee – tough matchup for Gee’s return, but I’m going for it
Cumpton @ Lynn
R. Hernandez @ Lohse
Hammel @ Cain – nice matchup for Hammel’s A’s debut

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, July 8

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays

CORY’S PICKS

Tanaka @ Bauer

Ryu @ Verlander

Danks @ Workman – just when I started to trust Workman, he gets blown up by the Cubs

Vargas @ Hellickson – good spot for Hellickson’s return

Peacock @ Irwin – Peacock has skills but isn’t reliable enough yet

Dickey @ Skaggs – Dickey hasn’t been great on the road, but good enough

Bumgarner @ Gray

Hughes @ Young – most improbable double-pitch of the day… maybe of the year?!

T. Wood @ Cueto (Gm 1)

Wada @ Holmberg (Gm 2)

Norris @ Fister

Teheran @ deGrom

Kendrick @ Peralta

Worley @ C. Martinez – might as well roll Worley while he’s hot

T. Ross @ Morales

Hand @ Nuno

Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 7/7

MLB: Miami Marlins at Texas Rangers

PITCHES

Tom Koehler (@ARI, @NYM)

Yeah, Koehler did experience a regression period following his red-hot start to the season, but the regression period really wasn’t too bad. Regardless, he’s clearly back on track now, as he boasts a 1.89 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 over his last three starts. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to become a long-term believer in this guy. The @ARI matchup is a tough one, but Koehler has absolutely dominated the Mets this year, registering a 2.70 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in three starts against the Amazins. All in all, I think the reward here outweighs the risk.

Jason Vargas (@TB, vs. DET)

Vargas has been a quality start machine this season, reeling off 14 of them in 18 tries. Although he won’t help you much in strikeouts, his ability to limit free passes (2.7 career BB/9) often gets overlooked. While the Rays offense has improved of late, Tampa Bay still ranks 13th in the AL in runs scored. On paper, the vs. DET matchup might seem unfavorable, as he got roughed up the last time he faced the Tigers at home. But in his two other starts against Detroit this season, he allowed a combined three earned runs over 14 innings. Pitching Vargas next week is far from a no-brainer, but in mixed leagues of 12 or more teams, I’d give it a shot.

Trevor Bauer (vs. NYY, vs. CHW)

Despite Bauer’s mediocre ERA and WHIP, there’s still reason for optimism, as he sports a solid 8.2 K/9 and has significantly improved his control, lowering his BB/9 from 8.5 over four starts last season to 3.4 through 10 starts this year. And remember that the kid is still just 23 years of age. The Yankee lineup has been wildly inconsistent this season while the White Sox are coming off a month of June in which they scored the second-fewest runs in the AL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         DITCHES

Phil Hughes (@SEA, @COL)

Since limiting the Red Sox to two runs over eight innings back on June 17, Hughes has seen his ERA rise from 3.09 to 3.95. His most recent start, in which he allowed seven runs to the Yankees, was by far his worst outing of the season. Further regression could be in store for Hughes next week, as the home run prone righty travels to Coors Field to face a Rockies club that leads the Majors in runs scored at home. Meanwhile, the once inept Mariners offense isn’t as much of a joke anymore, as they now rank in the middle of the pack in runs scored. If Hughes manages to get through next week unscathed, maybe I’ll hop back on the bandwagon. But for now, I’m ditching.

Ryan Vogelsong (@OAK, vs. ARI)

I’ve been impressed by Vogelsong’s overall performance this year, but I would stay away from him next week. The A’s are the highest-scoring team in the Majors and he will be facing them on the road in an AL park. Vogelsong’s home/road splits are dramatic, as he carries a 3.06 ERA and 1.09 WHIP at home as opposed to a 5.20 ERA and 1.65 WHIP away from AT&T Park. The good news is that he will be making one home start, but the @OAK matchup makes pitching him not worth the risk. Plus, he has not been sharp against the Diamondbacks this season (7.20 ERA, 1.60 WHIP).

Chris Tillman (@WAS, vs. NYY)

After winning 16 games last year and establishing himself as a reliable middle of the rotation fantasy starter, Tillman has given his owners fits this season, mainly because you never know what you’re going to get from one start to the next. He did post a stellar 3.10 ERA in June but his first outing this month was mediocre at best (5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K). Both the Nationals and the Yankees have struggled to score runs this year, so maybe Tillman will use next week’s schedule to his advantage. Then again, the Nats just got Bryce Harper back and the Yankees are at least starting to show some signs of life at the plate. But most importantly, my confidence in Tillman will remain limited until I see more consistency.

Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, July 5-7

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Dodgers

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

M. Gonzalez @ Lester (Gm 1)

Jimenez @ Lackey (Gm 2)

King Felix @ Quintana

Phelps @ Pino

Archer @ An. Sanchez – Archer good enough of late to trust.

Guthrie @ House

Feldman @ Santiago

Buehrle @ Kazmir – All-Surprise team face-off!

Heaney @ Miller – Playing it safe with both.

Samardzija @ G. Gonzalez

Buchanan @ Volquez

Bolsinger @ Harang – Bolsinger not a bad NL-only option though. Harang too unpredictable for mixed league purposes.

Garza @ Bailey – Tough to bench Homer coming off CG SHO.

Haren @ J. De La Rosa – Dan Haren + Coors Field = Scary

Tepesch @ Colon

Hudson @ Despaigne – Keep an eye on Despaigne.

SUNDAY

Duffy @ Kluber – Duffy is on a roll.

Gausman @ Peavy – Not a good matchup for either.

Kuroda @ Nolasco

Walker @ Noesi – I’ll give Walker a shot here.

McHugh @ Richards – Wheels might be starting to fall off for McHugh and I don’t like this matchup.

Hutchison @ Mills

Price @ Porcello – Back-to-back shutouts for Porcello. Wow.

Gallardo @ Latos

Lewis @ Wheeler – Wheeler too inconsistent to trust right now in less than ideal matchups.

Miley @ A. Wood – Miley has been excellent on the road this year.

Arrieta @ Zimmermann

Burnett @ Locke – Burnett’s walk rate is concerning but he’s usually good for a quality start.

Alvarez @ Gonzales

Lincecum @ Hahn – Solid matchup for both, which probably means a 10-9 final.

Beckett @ Flande

MONDAY

Greene @ Masterson

Carroll @ Buchholz – Buchholz too erratic to rely on.

Shields @ Odorizzi – Decent matchup for Odorizzi.

Cosart @ Mikolas

Happ @ Weaver

Vogelsong @ Chavez – Too tough of a matchup for Vogelsong.

Correia @ Iwakuma

Tillman @ Strasburg – I have my doubts about Tillman.

Jackson @ Leake – Leake far from automatic lately but I’ll give it a try.

Minor @ Matsuzaka

Hamels @ Estrada – Estrada showing some signs of improvement but home run ball continues to plague him.

Morton @ Wainwright

Kennedy @ Matzek – Not a promising matchup for Kennedy though. Feel free to ditch in shallower formats.

Koehler @ C. Anderson – Anderson fading of late.

2014 Midseason All-Disappointment Team

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

Hey everyone,

As promised, here’s my midseason All-Disappointment team. Remember that in choosing these players, I’m focusing primarily on draft day cost relative to performance, so just because you drafted Jose Veras in the 17th round (as I did) thinking that he could serve as a solid #3 closer only to see him lose his job in April without recording a single save doesn’t mean that he belongs on the All-Disappointment squad because, well, you didn’t exactly invest heavily in him.

Also note that I avoided players who were injured for a significant portion of the first half, so no, Prince Fielder isn’t the starting first baseman even though from a pure stats relative to draft position standpoint, he clearly belongs on this squad.

OK, onto the roster.

C    Brian McCann

1B  Joey Votto

2B  Dustin Pedroia

SS  Everth Cabrera (Honorable Mention: J.J. Hardy)

3B  Evan Longoria

OF  Shin-Soo Choo

OF  Domonic Brown

OF  Alfonso Soriano

SP  Justin Verlander

SP  Homer Bailey (Honorable Mention: Matt Cain)

CL  Joe Nathan

Brian McCann’s counting stats aren’t too bad, but a .224 AVG from a career .274 hitter? Not good. He did homer yesterday, however, so maybe his bat will finally heat up as the weather heats up and he could take advantage of that short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. I was very high on him going into the season due to his power potential and remain cautiously optimistic. I’d be very surprised if McCann is a member of the end of season All-Disappointment team.

Unlike McCann, Dustin Pedroia’s batting average (.282) is acceptable. But outside of runs scored, his counting stats are brutal. Four homers and two steals through 83 games is unacceptable. Although I haven’t lost all hope in him just yet, as he’s been one of the most consistent fantasy producers over the past five-plus seasons, I have no idea what’s going on with this guy. Don’t forget that after a typical Pedroia first half last season, he faded in the second half, so this downward trend has been an issue for quite awhile now.

Back in March, no one was mistaking an aging Alfonso Soriano for an elite fantasy outfielder, despite the 17 homers he hit in only 58 games following his trade to the Yankees last season. That said, a 25-home run campaign was a reasonable expectation, and the draft day price wasn’t exactly exorbitant. But the fact that he’s currently on pace to finish the 2014 campaign with 12 homers and 45 RBI and has now been relegated to platoon duty earns him a spot on this team.

As always, your feedback is welcome. Are there any players who are better candidates than the ones I selected?

-Zach

Pitch or Ditch for Friday, July 4

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox

CORY’S PICKS

M. Gonzalez @ Lester (PPD)
Whitley @ Gibson
Stroman @ Milone – tough challenge for Stroman but he’s found his groove
Cobb @ Smyly
Ventura
@ Tomlin – have to go with Tomlin, right?
Elias @ Sale
Keuchel @ Wilson
Hammel
@ Roark – Hammel’s last start as a Cub?
R. Hernandez @ Cole
Cain @ Stults
Lohse @ Simon
Darvish @ Niese
Eovaldi @ Lynn – I still respect the Cards’ offense, results notwithstanding
Collmenter @ Big Erv
Kershaw
@ Jurrjens

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, July 3

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

CORY’S PICKS

Baker @ W. Chen
Bedard @ Scherzer
Tanaka @ Hughes
Dickey @ Gray – tough matchup for Dickey, I’m playing it safe
Oberholtzer @ Shoemaker
C. Martinez @ Bumgarner
Kendrick @ Hand
McCarthy @ Worley – McCarthy could be a Pirate soon enough but I’ll pass for now
Greinke @ Morales

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