Rants from the seat of my pants: The Joe Mauer episode
“I saw a commercial that said, "forget everything you know about slip covers!" So I did. And it was a load off my mind. Then the commercial tried to sell me slip covers, but I didn't know what the hell they were.” – Mitch Hedberg
First off, let me start by saying that I do not understand why the All-Star game is in the middle of the season. I never have and I never will. The NFL’s Pro Bowl is at the end of the season because, well, what the hell do we know halfway through a season of competitive sport? Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP last season, but what did he do in the first half? He threw 6 INTs in the first 8 games and had 3 games with fewer than 200 yards passing in that span. Sound like an All-Star?
In comparison, we have players in baseball who are voted in by the fans, which in itself is a complete leap of faith. Couple that with the fact that the Midsummer Classic now has implications regarding which team gains home-field advantage in the World Freaking Series, and you have a train wreck. Joe Mauer leads all AL catchers in ASG balloting. Really? JOE MAUER???? You mean the same Joe Mauer who has 8 HR and 26 RBI through 301 at-bats? I’m sorry, but Joe Mauer doesn’t belong in the All Star Game simply based on his batting average. Yan Gomes is a backup catcher and he has 6 HR, 20 RBI and a .284 average in 116 at-bats. Just saying… “I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it.” – also Mitch Hedberg
First Half Surprises: These guys we knew had potential, but they outperformed our wildest dreams.
- Jean Segura turned himself into a roto gold mine in the first half with a .325 BA, 11 HR, 33 RBI and 24 SB. Those numbers are almost what his season projections were.
- Chris Davis has always had the ability, but never the role. Even with the ability no one could have predicted a ridiculous first half such as the one “Crush” has had with his .332 BA, 31 HR and 80 RBI.
- Domonic Brown has been a prospect with all the tools since about four years ago when he first got to Double-A and hit 15 HR with a .317 BA. The young slugger has 21 HR and 57 RBI with a respectable .273 BA for the Phillies through July 1.
- Matt Harvey was a prospect-- we knew he was good, but this good? Not a chance! Harvey didn't take his first loss until June 13, and he pitches for the Mets. He will have a chance to go 10-1 before the ASG with his 7-1 record, 132 K through 117 IP, with a nifty 2.00 ERA and 0.85 WHIP.
- Josh Donaldson had been a run producer in the minors reaching back to 2009 where he drove in 91 in 455 at-bats with AA-Midland. Donaldson had issues with contact which stunted his chance at everyday play. Now with Scott Sizemore out of the picture Donaldson has flourished in the Swingin’ A’s lineup with a .315 BA, 13 HR and 53 RBI. At the prime baseball age of 27, he could be one of the rising stars at the hot corner.
- Justin Masterson had a rough stretch in June, but posted another solid performance his last time out on June 30. His 10-6 record with 125 K over 124 IP are a welcome boost for him as he only struck out 159 in 206 IP last year.
Honorable Mentions: Patrick Corbin, Bartolo Colon, Jason Grilli, Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Gomez, Manny Machado, Nate McLouth, Leonys Martin, Raul Ibanez (19 HR)
Perennial Performers: “They are who we thought they were!”
- Miguel Cabrera is on another record-setting season. He is the modern-day Hank Aaron, failing to reach 30 HR only once since 2004 (26). Miggy is on pace for a 50-homer, 164-RBI campaign.
- Yu Darvish has 151 strikeouts through 113.3 innings pitched. His arsenal of pitches is just plain unfair. With a 2.77 ERA and 1.01 WHIP the Japanese star is flourishing in the Show.
- Mike Trout is nearly a 20/20 guy already. He’s got 13 HR and 20 SB with a .315 average through 330 at-bats. While his career is young, we know what we have here folks, and it is special.
- Carlos Beltran has quietly led the St. Louis Cardinals offense thus far. When healthy; Beltran has always been one of the game’s best hitters. His .307 avg., 19 HR and 50 RBI have flown under the radar. He’s 36 years old for Pete sake!
Other consistent studs: Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, David Wright
- Jason Kipnis has a chance to have an amazing breakout fantasy season if he keeps trending the way he has recently. His average keeps rising, his stolen base rate is on its way up and Kipnis could poised to be a second half standout.
- Yoenis Cespedes has disappointed thus far with his .226 BA. However, the A’s slugger has still managed to crush 15 homers and drive in 42 RBI. He even missed a few weeks with a hamstring issue. He could be a huge asset in the summer months.
- Eric Hosmer started out the season very, very quietly. The young (23) Royals first baseman has woken up of late however and has added 4 HR in the last 7 games and now has a .276 avg with 33 RBI. He could get super-hot and finish with over 20 HR easily.
- Bryce Harper was no slouch in the first half. He does have 13 HR including one last night. However, injuries have plagued the young star. If he stays healthy he could rise to the top 10 in the second half.
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Follow Shawn Caswell on Twitter, or don’t: @CasKnowsRoto