Monday, July 6, 2009

2009 Fantasy All-Stars

There is no online fan-balloting for my fantasy All-Star team.

No one-player-from-every-team rule. No sentimental favorites or hometown heroes or feel-good stories.

My fantasy All-Star squad is all about the cold, hard numbers — just like the game itself. There’s little room for subjectivity or emotions getting in the way.

I’m simply recognizing those players who have made the biggest statistical impacts at their respective positions. Basically, if my all-stars were actually assembled as someone’s fantasy team, they would have dominated all competition in the first half of the season and would be running away with the league title.

So let’s do this:


The Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer is making a legitimate run at .400, but as if that weren’t enough, he’s already hit a career-high 14 home runs. Mauer cost more than other catchers in your draft, but he’s paying you back tenfold.


Albert Pujols has been off the charts: A league-leading 31 homers and 82 RBIs, an average above .330 and 10 steals, his most since 2005. Hats off to fantasy’s Most Valuable Player in the first half.


Ian Kinsler gets the nod despite a batting average that’s plunged into the low .260s — a disappointment after last year’s .319 mark. But everything else has been just fine for the Texas Ranger: he’s among the league leaders at the position in homers (19), runs (56) , RBIs (51) and steals (16).


In perhaps the most surprising choice, I’m giving the hot corner honors to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mark Reynolds, who leads all third basemen in homers, is second in RBIs and fourth in steals. He’ll never be a batting champ (.271 average through Friday), but the rest of the numbers don’t lie.


The Florida Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez is the only repeat from last year’s squad, despite the fact he’s registered fewer steals (14) than Derek Jeter and Willie Bloomquist. Han-Ram’s made up for that, however, by leading all everyday shortstops in homers and RBIs and ranking second at the position in runs and average. We’ll take that.


Raul Ibanez, fantasy’s biggest surprise of 2009 by far, was having an MVP-caliber year (.312, 22 homers, 59 RBIs, 51 runs) in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies before hurting his groin. Can he keep up that pace in the second half?

Jason Bay has blossomed in Boston, laying the groundwork for a career season and threatening to lead the league in RBIs (70 through Friday).

Carl Crawford’s already reached the 40-steal mark but has also mixed in power (eight homers) and an awesome average (.320 at last check) for the Tampa Bay Rays.


Roy Halladay? Johan Santana? Tim Lincecum? Josh Beckett? All worthy candidates. But if I had to choose just one starter, it’s Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke, a guy who was drafted later or cost less than all the aforementioned star hurlers. Greinke’s got as many wins as anyone else in the league, kept his ERA under 2.00, and walked just 18 batters while striking out 114. Remarkable.


Here’s another choice no one could have predicted: Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres gets the call over heavyweights such as Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon. Bell’s got more saves than all those guys and can hang with any of those revered closers in strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. No one said a fantasy All-Star has to be an actual star.

Photo by The Associated Press

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