The fantasy baseball season is at its halfway point already and is really heating up in the middle of the summer months. Like every season there have been some surprises and some major injuries, but the season must go on. The All-Star break gives players a chance to regroup and allows fantasy owners a chance to do the same. Below is my mid-season report of the 2012 fantasy baseball season:
Best Fantasy Stick:
OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT – McCutchen continues to swing the hottest bat in all of the majors. He drove home that point by crushing 2 homers last night, the day before the All-Star festivities were slated to begin. McCutchen is hitting an insane .362 through the first half of the season and the 24-year old has proven to be a fantasy cornerstone this season. He has 18 homers and 14 stolen bases so far, and can carry any fantasy team.
Best Fantasy Arm:
SP Justin Verlander, DET – Many people believe that the first half fantasy Cy Young winner would be Matt Cain, but Verlander has been much better over the last month. Verlander has won four of his last five starts, while Cain has only one victory in his last four starts. Verlander currently has an impressive 9-3 record along with an insane 2.61 ERA and an even better 0.956 WHIP. Verlander continues to be the most dominant fantasy pitcher and he will certainly help more then a couple fantasy owners win their league this summer.
Honorable Mention: SP Matt Cain, SF
Biggest First Half Surprise:
SP R. A. Dickey, NYM – Dickey’s rise to grace has come out of nowhere, as the 37-year old was practically an unknown fifth starter when the season started. However, the knuckle baller has enjoyed one of the most remarkable first half performances in the history of the MLB. Dickey has an unbelievable 12-1 record so far, but more impressive was his 44 2/3 innings without allowing a single run. His amazing command over his knuckle ball and ability to throw pitches from 60-85 MPH has made him a strikeout machine through the first couple months. He has struck out 123 batters in 120 innings this season and has been practically unhittable. I mean, who honestly thought he would have a chance to start the All-Star game. Dickey had the most value of any first half player in all of fantasy baseball and has earned his spot atop fantasy rotations.
Rookie of the Year:
OF Bryce Harper, WAS – The majority of the fantasy baseball universe has been waiting on Bryce Harper since he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009 and he certainly has not disappointed. Harper is hitting a respectable .282, but also has blasted 8 homers and stolen 10 bases. We knew he was going to be good, but the fact that he is playing All-Star baseball at 19 years old, is absolutely unfathomable from a fantasy perspective. He will be one of the best sought after fantasy keepers this winter, so fair warning for Harper owners.
Prime for a Second Half Explosion:
SP Tim Lincecum, SF – Lincecum is having one of the most self-destructive fantasy seasons in recent memory. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner (2008 and 2009) is missing his targets badly and has more wild pitches (10) in 2012 then he had all of 2011 (9). Lincecum’s ERA is sitting at a jaw-dropping 6.42 ERA and has a 3-10 record so far in 2012, and he simply has not seemed like the same pitcher. His fastball is a couple MPH slower then it normally is and the former ace appears to be winded in every inning he pitches. However, the kid is too good to keep pitching this miserably on a nightly basis. The All-Star break could not have come at a better time, as Lincecum obviously needs some time to regroup. Expect his ERA to decrease as the season goes on, and it is at least promising to see his strikeout rate sitting over 1 per inning (104 strikeouts in just over 96 innings pitched). His stats should even out to be a decent second or third pitcher by the time the playoffs come around, so fantasy owners should not give up on him just yet.
Some Quick Predictions:
Who will finish 2012 with the most home runs?
What pitcher will finish 2012 with the most strikeouts?
SP Justin Verlander, DET – 221 strikeouts
Who will finish the year with the highest batting average?
OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT – .340
What pitcher will finish the 2012 season with the most wins?
SP Cole Hamels, PHI – 23 wins
What closer will end the year leading the majors in saves?
End of Year Predictions:
AL MVP – OF Josh Hamilton, TEX
NL MVP – OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT
AL Cy Young – SP Justin Verlander, DET
NL Cy Young – SP Matt Cain, SF
AL Rookie of Year – OF Mike Trout, LAA
NL Rookie of Year – OF Bryce Harper, WAS
World Series Prediction:
Texas Rangers defeats Washington Nationals 4-2