By Moe Koltun, Matt Cott, and Matthew Schwimmer of Roto Analysis
After bringing you our AL Fantasy All-Stars, this week we at RotoAnalysis are tackling the National League. To remind you, this isn’t your traditional all star roster – these are the guys who have improved the most and provided the most fantasy value. Just because a guy has been great doesn’t mean much if you drafted him in the first round. Those late round values and breakout performances are what win you your league, and what we want to recognize at the season’s halfway point.
Catcher: Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies
Although Rosario is not close to joining the ranks of Yadier Molina and Buster Posey, he is a distant 3rd amongst catchers so far this season and has provided more draft day value than the other two. Rosario’s 13 homers shouldn’t surprise many as he was always known for having a lot of power. However, his .273 average has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners. Rosario has overcome major strikeout concerns by making extremely hard contact and hitting 24% line drives. Going forward, Rosario should continue to cut down on his strikeouts as he has every year since joining the majors and his power will continue to benefit from playing half of his games at Coors Field. Count me in as a converted believer in Rosario.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Like Rosario, Goldschmidt has silenced the many critics of his swing that he had in the minor leagues. Goldschmidt’s 21 homers show the power he often showcased in the minors, but his 24% HR/FB ratio may be in for a slight decrease. The real all-star category for Goldschmidt has been his average which has improved in large part to his decreased strikeouts. In his rookie season, he struck out 29% as opposed to his current rate of 20%. There is no reason to believe that Goldy should not be the national league’s best first basemen for years to come and that is something I cannot believe I would have ever said two years ago.
Second Base: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Carpenter went undrafted in almost all formats coming into the year, yet so far this season he’s been the best fantasy second basemen in baseball. The scary thing about Carpenter’s stats is that they seem like they might be almost completely sustainable. His .322 batting average doesn’t seem to be very lucky as his .358 BABIP isn’t well above his career average, plus he’s hitting 26.4% line drives, 14th best in major league baseball. If he was a first basemen, .320 with 15 homers wouldn’t seem that special, but at second base .320 with 15 homers in a good lineup is enough to make Carpenter a top 5 option at the position for the next few seasons.
Shortstop: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
While Segura was a well-regarded prospect who was a major part of the Zack Grienke deal, nobody expected this kind of performance from the young shortstop. 11 homers and 27 steals later, Segura has emerged as a fantasy monster. His 20/50 pace may slow down a little bit, but he has displayed the tools to have the power/speed combo that fantasy owners drool over. His .323 batting average should drop closer to .300 by season’s end but hey, not too shabby for a 23 year old who went undrafted in most leagues.
Third Base: David Wright, New York Mets
Third base in the national league is pretty atrocious across the board, except for the one, glaring exception of David Wright. Other than his single injury plagued 2011 season, Wright has hit over 20 homers in every season but one, hit .283 or higher every year, and stolen a minimum of 15 bases a year. That’s unheard of consistency, and in a year where the second best third basemen in the NL is probably Pedro Alvarez, more of the same from Wright is more than enough to warrant his inclusion on this list.
Outfield: Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
As a part of the Johan Santana trade, most thought Gomez’s career was dead in Minnesota, but Gomez has continued to improve and is enjoying a breakout season for the Brewers. In addition to producing 13.9 runs of value defensively, Gomez has 13 homers to go along with 20 steals and a .308 average. While I would love to say that Gomez has turned into an elite superstar, his .368 BABIP will likely reduce. That being said, it won’t reduce to his career average if he continues to hit linedrives at a 19% clip as opposed to his 17% average. Gomez will have a chance to end the season as a member of the 25-40 club and although I would take the under on both, fantasy owners can’t complain what they have received so far this season.
Outfield: Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies
This is no ceremonial bone we’re throwing to you Philly fans – this is legitimate and well deserved. An afterthought in most drafts, Brown was no more than a late-round flyer that you had faint hopes for. His ridiculous 12 home run/.303 average month in May immediately paid dividends for anybody who drafted him. Brown’s power is tremendous and he was a pleasant surprise that should continue to rake into the second half.
Outfield: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
Starling Marte was drafted as the 64th outfielder off the board coming into the year, being taken on average in the 23rd round. Well, right now he is the 12th best overall scorer in fantasy with his 58 runs (11th best in baseball) and 28 steals (3rd best in baseball) being his primary fantasy tools. But, impressively, Marte rounds those out with non-zero outputs in the other 3 categories, posting 9 homers, a .288 average and 27 RBIs so far this year. Marte is a better player for fantasy than real life thanks to his ridiculously low walk rate, but as a fantasy performer he shows no signs of slowing down. Add in the fact that he is only 24 years old, and Starling Marte’s long-term fantasy upside is as high as anyone this side of Mike Trout.
Starting Pitcher: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
The likely starting pitcher for the National League in the all-star game, Harvey has posted a ridiculous 2.35 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Sadly for fantasy owners, the Mets have only provided Harvey enough run support to earn 7 victories. Harvey’s natural stuff suggests that Harvey should continue to achieve elite levels of success, but fantasy owners should be wary that the Mets will shut him down around the 200 inning mark. With 130 innings already pitched this season, fantasy owners should try and sell on Harvey if they can get an owner who is completely unaware of his inning restrictions.
Starting Pitcher: Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
Corbin is one of those guys who you don’t believe at all. Then he goes out and has another great start. Eventually he wears you down to the point where you recognize how good he’s really been, and have to pay him his dues. That’s exactly what we’re doing here as he has fought his way to be a top 10 pitcher on the player rater. Despite not being a highly ranked prospect, Corbin had a breakout year in AA last year and has carried it over to the bigs. He earned a spot to the actual all star game next week and was clearly deserving of a spot on our squad.
Starting Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright was the 12th pitcher selected on draft day in 2013, and so far he’s done nothing but exceed even those lofty expectations. Right now Wainwright is 12-5 with a ridiculously low 0.90 BB/9 rate and a very respectable 8.06 K/9 rate. More impressively, Wainwright is garnering more swings-and-misses this year than ever before, with a 10.4% SwStr% (Swinging Strike Percentage) compared to an 8.9% career average. This indicates that he might even have more upside in the strikeouts department. When all that is paired with a 2.30 ERA that might be relatively sustainable, and with the fact that Wainwright is the prototypical workhorse, already logging 140 and two thirds innings (good for first in the major leagues), Wainwright is a no-doubt fantasy all star and a top five starting pitcher option going forward.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems, Matt @KidCotti21, and Matt @Schwimingly. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.