Ben’s 2014 It’s All Good Team
Last week, I took a look at my all-disappointment team; a group of 15 players who have murdered my fantasy hopes and dreams in plenty of leagues this year.
This week, I’ll attempt to be more positive, even though it is once again Monday morning, which is, as always, the worst. Once again, this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of the best players this season — rather, this represents some of my personal success stories as the season nears the halfway point.
I encourage you to share some of your own biggest hits in the comments below.
C: Evan Gattis, ATL
1B: Justin Morneau, COL
2B: Jose Altuve, HOU
3B: Anthony Rendon, WAS
SS: Xander Bogaerts, BOS
Thank god for several of the players listed above — without them, I’d be in even deeper trouble in many leagues than I am now. I’ve never been a big Gattis believer, but he fell to me in several drafts in shallower leagues and I figured I’d roll the dice and pray he received ~450-plus PA. Not only is Gattis right on pace to meet that mark, but he’s hitting .297/.348/.589, which is pretty much best-case scenario.
Morneau was a popular buy-low candidate this offseason, and I bought low often. He’s slowed down as of late, but has been impressive nonetheless. Everyone seemed convinced that Altuve was going to stop running as much this year, but it wasn’t really a concern I shared. I only ended up with Altuve on two teams, but he’s been really, really good this year, contributing meaningfully in AVG, SB and R. If he can keep this up as the lineup behind him gets better, he’s going to be a borderline top-5 second baseman for a few more years.
And now we get to two of my favorite youngsters. Rendon was way under-drafted headed into the year, falling behind the likes of Brad Miller, Howie Kendrick and Brett Lawrie in terms of ADP. He’s had a really strong season so far, and his dual 2B/3B eligibility is gold. And then there’s Xander, who is basically exactly living up to my preseason prediction of .270/.350/.425, except he looks like he’ll actually be even better in OBP. This is what love feels like.
OF: Ryan Braun, MIL
OF: Justin Upton, ARI
OF: Rajai Davis, DET
UT: Adam LaRoche, WAS
This is an interesting mish-mosh of players, but it’s a group that’s paid significant dividends for me. I took Braun in the late first/early second round in several drafts, and while he’s not performing as the fantasy monster we saw from 2007-2012, he’s been quite good and I’m confident he’ll continue to get better. I’ve been beating the “Just Upton will win an MVP” drum for a long time now, and while he’s going to fall short of that lofty expectation, he’s been a nice asset as a second- or third-rounder. Davis is turning out to be one of my more prescient pre-season targets. He cost almost nothing in drafts, and he’s been very productive to this point.
LaRoche is simply an example of capitalizing on under-performance. He’s always productive when healthy, and he’s an underrated fantasy asset in general. Bad BABIP luck and some injuries hampered him in 2013, but I didn’t take that as the sign of a significant decline. My faith’s been rewarded in 2014, though he’s missed some more time with injuries.
SP: Julio Teheran, ATL
SP: Jordan Zimmermann, WAS
SP: Tim Hudson, SF
SP: John Lackey, BOS
SP: Trevor Bauer, CLE
RP: Cody Allen, Cle
I whiffed on a lot of pitchers this year. Mat Latos. Clay Buchholz. Matt Cain. Joe Johnson. Joe Nathan. The list goes on and on. Fortunately, many of the names above have prevented my staffs from completely tanking. Teheran has been absolutely filthy, surpassing even my expectations, and he’s now safely nestled among the best young starters in the game. Zimmermann missed time early in the year and has had a few bumps in the road, but here we are in mid July and he has a sub-3.00 ERA with a decent strikeout rate once again. He’s one of my favorite fantasy pitchers.
Hudson and Lackey represent two of my better gambles on unsexy veteran pitchers, and Hudson has been especially dominant since moving to San Francisco. That was a match made in fantasy heaven, and as long as he can stay healthy I expect him to continue to produce. Lackey doesn’t really excel in any one fantasy area, but I drafted him late and he’s a fine No. 5 or 6 fantasy starter.
Bauer’s season numbers won’t blow you away, but considering most people didn’t even have him as a top-100 prospect coming into the year, you have to be pleased with his progress. I’m one of the few who truly stuck with Bauer, and while my faith in him has yet to be fully rewarded, it’s headed in that direction. Allen is the love child of me and Bret Sayre, and, much as both of us projected, he’s already usurped John Axford as the closer in Cleveland. He’s super good, and I got him after other people were drafting Fernando Rodney and Jose Veras.