“That’s Amore!” American League State of Mind
It is the time to make deals if you want to make the playoffs or make a run in the playoffs. If you’re in dynasty or keeper leagues, the bottom feeders will be looking to unload some valuable talent to stock pile drafts picks for next season. If you’re in redraft leagues, you get to deal with the headache of a lopsided trade that favors a guy that you’re for sure to meet in the playoffs. Yes, it’s fantasy playoff time!
I’m going to breakdown the five hitters, pitchers, and Waiver Wire Wizards from the American League that have made the All-Fantasy Team. There are many players that I considered for this honor, but the five chosen for each category were no-brainers. Pay special attention to the Waiver Wire Wizards as they could be acquired on the cheap side and make the difference between finishing first or second in your league.
Mike Trout, CF, LAA
Trout is an absolute no-brainer. He’s arguably the best player on the planet, let alone MLB. He was the first player off the board in nearly all redraft and first-year drafts, and will be for years to come. About two weeks short of his 24th birthday, Trout is headed towards the greatest player of this era. He’s your prototypical five-tool player and plays the game with a smile upon his face. This season, Trout is slashing .315/.405/.632 with 31 HR, 64 RBI, and 75 runs scored. He’s five home runs shy of his career record and looks primed to surpass the 40 HR plateau. He’s already been an AL MVP and has won two consecutive All-Star Game MVP awards. There was no other player that came close to reaching the top of this list. If you are an owner of Mike Trout, you should be thanking the Fantasy Baseball Gods every night.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, TOR
I can’t attest to the excitement when Donaldson was traded to one of the best hitter-friendly parks in MLB. Donaldson has been nothing but great since he arrived at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Just like Trout, Donaldson is five home runs shy of his career best 29, and looks good for 35+. He’s been a breath of fresh air for a Blue Jays organization that has been stuck with mediocre production from the hot corner. The Blue Jays won the Donaldson trade, having to part ways with only Brett Lawrie, who is hot garbage, Kendall Graveman, and two minor leaguers that probably won’t amount to much. I know Billy Beane has the magic touch, but he may have botched this one just like trading Addison Russell to the Cubs. Donaldson has blessed his owners by hitting .289 with 24 HR, 68 RBI, and70 R. He’s been consistent all season long as doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
Brian Dozier, 2B, MIN
Second base is very thin, but Dozier has been the top of his peers. For a player that wasn’t drafted until the fifth round, at the earliest, Dozier has provided great power. His average may not be the most attractive, but his OBP (.332) is above average. The home runs have come and he’s two short of his career high of 23. It’s possible that he goes for 30+. Naturally, he’s headed for the most strikeouts he’s had in his four-year career. I can handle the strikeouts and average as he’s been able to drive in 55 runs and score 72. He has the Twins near the top of their division, 7.5 games behind Kansas City while currently sitting in the second of the two Wild-Card spots. He will continue to be part of the Twins’ success as well as fantasy owners. Robinson Cano went in the second round of many drafts. If you waited and jumped on Dozier, you need to pat yourself on the back.
Manny Machado, 3B, BAL
Machado is blossoming into the star baseball people knew he would turn into. He turned 23 two weeks ago and he’s on his way to the best season in his four-year career. He’s battled injuries, and say what you will about his maturity, Machado is a guy you need to own for the future. The Orioles have finally found a player to fill the void left by Cal Ripken, Jr. Up to this point, Machado is slashing .293/.364/.522. His OBP has been great and has him sitting at 14th in the AL (25th in MLB). He’s another player that can easily eclipse the 30 home run mark while setting career bests in RBI and runs scored. To add to his completely healthy season, Machado is 14 for 18 in stolen base attempts. He’s turning into an all-around player and is near the top of the best MLB players under the age of 25.
Prince Fielder, 1B, TEX
Coming back from neck surgery that forced him to miss all but 42 games last season, Fielder has been one of the best hitters in the American League. He’s helped the Rangers stay near the top of the AL West, but there is only so much one player can do. The Rangers have faced adversity all season with a starting rotation that lost Yu Darvish for the season, Derek Holland for a majority of it, and Matt Harrison who has made three starts after missing almost all of 2014. I’m impressed with what this club has done and Fielder has been Texas’ MVP. Fielder’s .405 OBP is excellent and sits him fifth in MLB, .001 ahead of Mike Trout. His .917 OPS is top-10 in MLB. On one of the early season radio broadcasts, I stated Fielder is long gone from his 35+ HR seasons. Up to this point, he may miss out on 30 as I project him to fall short of 25. Regardless of his home run totals, Fielder has rewarded owners handsomely that were able to draft him in the seventh round or later.
Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA
It’s hard to remember that Hernandez is 29 and playing in his 11th season. That’s right, Hernandez was 19 when he made his Major League debut! He’s played for some horrible teams, but has produced in every season he’s pitched in. Even as a rookie, he sported a 2.67 ERA in 12 starts with 77 strikeouts in 84.1 IP. In 2015, Hernandez is poised for his seventh straight season of 200+ strikeouts. He already has 2,075 in his career and there’s no reason why he won’t surpass 3,000. Is it too early to start talking about the Hall of Fame? In his career, Hernandez is 137-97 with a 3.05 ERA and 2,075 strikeouts to only 611 walks. He’s never walked more than 80 batters in a season! Can you imagine what his win/loss record would be if he played for a team the caliber or the Yankees, Cardinals, or Red Sox? 2015 has been right in line with his career average. Hernandez is 12-5 with a 2.69 ERA and 1[24:39] K:BB ratio. Forget King James. If Hernandez played for a big-market team, he would be the only King. He always has been, and always will be great.
Dallas Keuchel, SP, HOU
After last season, there is no reason why Dallas Keuchel wasn’t on everyone’s target list. He’s a pitcher that wasn’t drafted until nearly the 15th round of drafts, and I saw him released before the season started in one particular league. He’s been dynamite in 2015 and even earned the start in the All-Star game. Keuchel was drafted as a third, fourth, or even fifth starter, but has produced as a number one. He’s the number one in Houston’s rotation and has easily become a number one starter in fantasy baseball. He currently sits at 12-5 with a 2.32 ERA to go along with 132 strikeouts and only 34 walks. His 0.993 WHIP has him sixth in MLB and first in the AL. Keuchel has been great, but there is still one factor that is mind boggling; Keuchel plays in a ballpark that has a short porch in left, and yet he’s better at home than he is on the road. He’s 9-0 (1.13 ERA/0.879 WHIP) at home compared to 3-5 (3.66 ERA/1.121 WHIP) on the road. His away numbers aren’t horrible, but it is something you may want to pay attention to as the season starts to conclude. I’m not saying he will wear down, but numbers don’t lie and he’s been hittable on the road. Respect the beard!
Chris Sale, SP, CWS
He’s arguably one of the most dominant starters in MLB. He plays for a White Sox teams that has underperformed all season long, yet Sale has dominated everyone and had a streak of eight straight games with double-digit strikeouts. I want it to be known that of Sale’s 19 starts he’s had double-digit strikeouts in 10 of them. This is the reason why he is number one in the AL and second in MLB in strikeouts. Clayton Kershaw leads Sale by 15 strikeouts while having started only one more game. There was chatter that the White Sox should consider moving Sale. There’s no way I would move a 26-year-old starter who has just stepped at the door of the prime of his career. Talents like Sale don’t come around often. Regardless of record (9-5), Sale is posting a 2.85 ERA, 0.995 WHIP, and 1[70:24] K:BB. If you own him, keep him. If you can obtain him via trade, I recommend you do so if he already hasn’t become untouchable.
Glen Perkins, CL, MIN
Perkins is neither the first or second option for closers in fantasy baseball. The Mustang himself, Joe Iannone, wrote my favorite article (“65Mustangs” Build a Better Bullpen: 2015 RELIEF PITCHER RANKINGS ) this season in terms of relief pitchers. He’d brought up the point of how valuable middle relievers are in MLFS leagues, and I’m sure he’d agree you can dominate leagues by not hopping on the likes of Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, but waiting for guys like Perkins. Perkins is tied for third in MLB with 29 saves (first in AL) and is on his way to 30+ saves for a third-straight season. He wasn’t drafted until the 13th round in many drafts. Closers like Perkins are the reason why you should let other owners reach high for closers while you build your roster and then get the same closer production they do in the mid-to-late rounds. To go along with 29 saves, Perkins has a 2.25 ERA, 37:5 K:BB, and 0.950 ERA. Perkins has been one of the best value picks in the later rounds.
Chris Archer, SP, TB
2015 has seen Archer transform into a true number one starter. He’s given up more than three runs in only four of his 21 starts. Archer (9-7) could easily have six more wins if he was pitching behind a better offense. Tampa Bay has had trouble scoring all season long, yet Archer has continued to mow hitters down sporting a 2.67 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 1[62:33] K:BB. He’s been one of the few bright spots for a Tampa Bay organization that can’t compete offensively in an AL East division that scores runs. He’s a pitcher that can be attained fairly cheap compared to other starters in fantasy baseball. I’d make a move for him, because if Tampa bounces back from this season or Archer is eventually moved, he could be the perfect ace to your fantasy roster.
Waiver Wire Wizards
These five players have added to many owners’ success this season and are players I’d target as the trade deadline approaches for many leagues. Many time, picking them up has to do with grabbing them before others can, or there is always the instance when claim order players a factor.
Wei-Yin Chen, SP, BAL
His record isn’t the sexiest at 5-6, but he has given up more than three runs (four) only once in his 19 starts. He was drafted in 65% of leagues, but that means he was available in many. Baltimore sits at seven games behind the division leading New York Yankees and a half game behind the second place Blue Jays. Chen has been extremely consistent with a 2.88 ERA, 1.126 WHIP, and [96:26] K:BB. He doesn’t overpower hitters, but he has been vital as a back-end starter to many fantasy rosters. If you’re looking to add depth to your starters, look at Chen.
Jose Iglesias, SS, DET
After missing all of 2014, Iglesias was drafted in only 5% of leagues. I’d love to see how many teams that drafted him actually kept him on their opening day roster. I’m sure he was dropped by many of the teams that drafted him. That being said, Iglesias is a vacuum with his glove. However, this season Iglesias has rewarded his owners from an offensive standpoint. He may never be a top option at shortstop but he’s perfect for a utility option. He’s hit .316 with two home runs, 19 RBI, 27 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases. He doesn’t strike out a lot, which is perfect if your league takes strikeouts into consideration. He could be had for dirt cheap.
Stephen Vogt, C, OAK
I can honestly say I added him in a long-time keeper league I’m in. Naturally, I failed to add him in League 3 after drafting Yadier Molina. I wish I would’ve jumped on my intuition as Vogt not only made the All-Star team, but has been one of the best waiver wire pickups of 2015. He’s hit .274 with 14 HR, and 58 RBI. He’s tied for 10th in the American League for RBI and has first base eligibility. I can’t think of a player that fits better under my Waiver Wire Wizards. If you’re looking for one of the cheapest players to add to your playoff-bound team, look no further than Stephen Vogt. If you own Vogt and will be looking to better your late draft pick position, Vogt could be someone to move to teams looking for depth come fantasy playoff time.
Alex Rodriguez, DH [3B ELIG], NYY
Yes, he was drafted in around 70% of leagues, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering how a 39-year-old A-Rod would perform after missing all of 2014. Say what you will, Rodriguez is one of the best hitters of our generation. He’s put in the effort and the results have always been there. A-Rod turned 40 yesterday, and is on pace for 30+ home runs for the 15th time in 21 seasons. If it wasn’t for the “upstanding” leaders who run Major League Baseball, A-Rod would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. His .278 average is impressive, as well as his 59 RBI that see him at ninth in the AL. At the age of 40, I can’t see an owner wanting too much if you’re looking to acquire A-Rod before the deadline. Here’s a great stat, he’s only eclipsed his current .921 OPS 11 times in his 21 seasons.
Hector Santiago, SP, LAA
Santiago is another perfect example of why you need to pay attention to the waiver wire. He was drafted in 4% of leagues and was a 2015 All-Star. He’s 7-4 with a 2.43 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, and 1[12:38] K:BB. He plays with arguably the best player in MLB in Mike Trout. My favorite stat with Santiage is he wins at home and on the road. His ERA has been consistent with both splits pitching to a 2.44 at home and 2.42 on the road. If you can, put him on your trade deadline wish list if you’re looking to snag a pitcher on the cheap side of things.
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