2013 NL Fantasy All Star Team

Yesterday I honored the mid-season AL Fantasy All Star Team. Now it’s time to do the same for the NL.
I’m picking the team by finding the biggest positive difference in RotoValue prices computed from current stats at the break compared with preseason Consensus projections, on the theory that the Consensus data are a reasonably good proxy for how much players would have cost in a preseason auction. Whether you draft or hold an auction, getting big value from an unexpected source is a huge part of a successful fantasy team. We expect Clayton Kershaw to be great, so you need to use an early pick or a lot of budget to win him, but if you got Patrick Corbin, you probably didn’t pay much at all. So he’s been the much more valuable fantasy pitcher in the first half. I’m ranking people in two formats, 10 team 4×4 and 5×5 NL-only leagues, a rather deep format.
So by position, here’s my 2013 NL Fantasy All-Star Team:
1B: Paul Goldschmidt was expected to be a good source of power among NL first baseman, but most people would have probably preferred Joey Votto or Adrian Gonzalez. But Goldschmidt has been not only the league’s best 1B so far, but its second-best player overall. He’s hitting .312 with 21 HR, 60 R, and a league-leading 77 RBI. And he’s added 9 SB also, giving him a $42.98 RotoValue in the 4×4 format, and $39.29 in 5×5. His Consensus projections for the full year were .276, 23, 79, 81, and 13, so he’s nearly matched those cumulative totals at the break, and has hit for a much higher average. In the consensus projections, Goldschmidt was expected to earn $26.36 in 4×4 and $25.61 in 5×5, so if you paid in that range for him, you’ve earned a $13-$16 profit.
2B: Matt Carpenter moved to second this season, and is indeed having an All-Star caliber year. He’s batting .321 with 9 HR, a league-leading 72 runs scored, 45 RBI, and a SB. In 5×5, his $28.15 RotoValue leads all NL second basemen outright, and in 4×4 his $23.93 RotoValue trails only Brandon Phillips, whose runs scored and RBI totals (46 and 74) are nearly exact opposites of Carpenter’s. But Phillips was projected to be the league’s best 2B before the season, while Carpenter was not – his Consensus projections were .271 with 9 HR, 54 R, 54 RBI, and 4 SB, good for $7.22 in 4×4 and $7.94 in 5×5. So Carpenter has given much bigger return on investment to his fantasy teams.
3B: Pedro Alvarez proved to be an excellent sleeper pick last year, when he hit 30 HR, but his low average likely scared off many bidders this season. But he’s been a great power source this year, second only to Carlos Gonzalez in the NL with 24 HR at the break. He’s driven in 62 runs and scored 39, and added 1 steal, giving him a $26.73 4×4 RotoValue, and a $22.99 RotoValue in 5×5. Compared to Consensus projected stats of .244 with 22 HR, 57 R, 71 RBI, and  2 SB, worth $10.58 in 4×4 and $9.99 in 5×5, he’s been the biggest bargain at 3B. Only David Wright had higher RotoValue among NL third basemen in either format, but his owners paid a lot more to get him.
SS: Jean Segura has been a breakout superstar this year, batting .325 with 11 HR, 54 R, 36 RBI, and 27 SB at the break. He ranks 3rd overall in the NL in RotoValue in both formats, with $40.76 in 4×4 and $36.38 in 5×5. The former Angels prospect was acquired last summer in the Zack Greinke trade, and was called up in August, batting .264 with 0 HR, 19 R, 14 RBI, and 7 SB in 148 AB for Milwaukee, but those brief major league stats did not lead to stellar projections – a consensus of .266, 6, 44, 38, 15 gave projected RotoValues of $8.58 in 4×4 and $7.56 in 5×5, making Segura the 2nd biggest 4×4 bargain, and 3rd biggest 5×5 bargain.
C: Evan Gattis was thrust into a starting role when teammate Brian McCann  began the year on the DL (unfortunately after many leagues had already drafted). If you own McCann, I hope you were lucky/shrewd enough to add Gattis, as he hit much like McCann during his starting stint, batting .250 with 14 HR, 24 R and 39 RBI, and earning $16.40 in 5×5 RotoValue and $17.90 in 4×4 RotoValue. McCann returned on May 6th, and has posted amazingly similar stats since, batting .293 with 12 HR, 22 R, and 32 RBI. Since McCann’s return, Gattis is batting .237 with 7 HR, 13 R, and 21 RBI in  76 AB, as the Braves have used him a little in the outfield as well as backing up McCann at catcher. McCann’s return has hurt Gattis’s value, but he’s still been the 7th best NL catcher in both formats since. Not bad at all for someone who had never played in the majors before, and had projections from just one source, Steamer/Razzball. Preseason statistics are usually not worth paying much attention to (very small sample size, among other reasons), but Gattis made the Braves’ decision to replace McCann easy by having an excellent preseason, hitting .379 with 7 HR, 13 R, and 19 RBI in just 58 AB.
OF: A few weeks ago I noted Domonic Brown’s breakout season, as he was fantasy player of the week in week 9. Brown heads the Fantasy All Star outfield, and indeed was the biggest bargain in both 4×4 and 5×5 formats in the whole NL. He’s batting .273 with 23 HR, 49 R, 67 RBI and 8 SB, giving him a $37.25 RotoValue in 4×4, 4th best in the entire league, and $33.49 in 5×5, 6th best. Brown had been a highly touted prospect who had yet to hit at the big league level. Still, his consensus projections, .255 with 10 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, and 6 SB were better numbers than he had posted in any of his major league seasons, and were good enough to have slightly positive RotoValue in each format: $1.42 in 4×4 and $2.06 in 5×5. But this season he’s fulfilled his five tool potential, and his owners have to be ecstatic with his breakout.
One big question entering the season was who was going to play in the Mets’ outfield. 35 year old Marlon Byrd provided a good answer in center, reviving his career by batting .270 with 15 HR, 39 R, 52 RBI, and 1 SB at the break, earning $20.78 in 4×4 and $19.43 in 5×5. The Consensus projections on Byrd were .258, 6, 31, 27, 2, with negative RotoValue in both formats. He’s posted the 12th best 4×4 RotoValue, and 15th best 5×5, among NL outfielders, not bad at all for a waiver wire or last round pick. Byrd had the 2nd best profit behind Brown in 4×4, and 3rd best in 5×5 behind the third outfielder in my all-star team.
Starling Marte has blossomed in his second year in the majors, batting .291 with 9 HR, 59 R, 28 RBI, and 28 SB, 2nd most in the NL. Those totals result in a $29.81 4×4 RotoValue, 8th best among NL outfielders, and a $30.29 5×5 RotoValue, 5th best. Compared to consensus projections of .268, 10, 51, 42, and 16, Marte has been quite a boon to his fantasy teams.
Honorable Mention: Yasiel Puig
I’ve generated this team by comparing players’ YTD RotoValue prices with their consensus forecasts. The Dodgers’ phenom still has only 151 major league at bats, and thus suffers in comparison to those who have played in the majors all year. Puig has hit .391 with 8 HR, 28 R, 19 RBI, and 5 SB since his June 3rd debut. Compared against the full-year stats of other players, he’s just outside the top 20 outfielders, with a $15.28 RotoValue in 4×4 and a $13.07 RotoValue in 5×5. But when I compare him against all players’ stats from June 3rd on (RotoValue’s Search page lets you see stats for any date range you like), Puig leads all NL players, with a $42.44 RotoValue in 5×5 and $42.12 in 4×4.
SP: I cited Patrick Corbin at the top of this article, so it’s hardly surprising he heads my Fantasy All Star rotation. Corbin has been the 4th best NL starter in each format, with 11 wins, a 2.35 ERA, 0.997 WHIP, and 109 Ks in 130.33 IP, earning $30.60 in 4×4 and $29.52 in 5×5. Corbin needed to win the final spot in the Diamondbacks’ rotation this spring, but his regular season numbers have been far better than his spring stats or his projections. Fifth starters are usually available on the waiver wire, and Corbin’s projections gave him a slightly negative RotoValue. He’s been a great boon to his owners, and the 2nd biggest bargain in 5×5, and 3rd best in 4×4.
Mets’ phenom Matt Harvey was expected to be good – after all, he’d shown more in his late year callup last year than Corbin had – and his projections reflected that: 9 wins, 3.65 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, and 157 Ks in 155 IP, worth $6.87 in 4×4 and $10.48 in 5×5. But Harvey has been outstanding, arguably better than Corbin – he’s posted an identical 2.35 ERA, but a better 0.915 WHIP in 130 IP. Yet Harvey has just 7 wins, but he’s also fanned 147 batters, giving him a better $30.09 5×5 RotoValue, where strikeouts are a category, but a worse $25.79 RotoValue in 4×4, where Corbin’s edge in wins offsets Harvey’s advantage in WHIP.
Pirates’ rookie Jeff Locke won the final rotation spot this spring, and has been outstanding also, with 8 wins, a 2.15 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, and 73 Ks in 109 IP. Those numbers have earned $20.07 in 4×4 RotoValue, and $18.08 in 5×5 RotoValue, good for the 2nd best profit in 4×4, ahead of Harvey, and 4th best in 5×5, where his relatively low strikeout total held him back. None of the projections pegged Locke to pitch even 75 innings, and the Consensus stats of 2 wins, 1.374 WHIP, and 4.35 ERA would not have warranted a bid or selection in these draft sizes.
Mike Leake has been impressive for the Reds, with 8 wins, a 1.120 WHIP, 2.69 ERA, and 71 Ks in 117 IP, earning $20.14 in 4×4, and $16.57 in 5×5, where the relatively low strikeout total hurts him. Still, both numbers are well above expectations – a consensus of 7 wins, 1.292 WHIP, 4.26 ERA, and 87 Ks in 123 IP. Leake is on pace to pitch 200 innings this year, which would be a career high by 20. He ranked 4th in profit among pitchers in 4×4, and 6th in 5×5, so makes the starting rotation in either format.
Travis Wood ranked 5th in 5×5 profit, and 6th in 4×4, based on numbers quite similar to Leake’s. Wood hits the break with 6 wins, a 1.027 WHIP, a 2.79 ERA, and 86 Ks in 122.67 IP, earning $17.26 in 4×4, and $17.44 in 5×5. His better WHIP and more strikeouts more than make up for Leake’s 2 extra wins in 5×5 value, but don’t quite match him in 4×4. Their consensus projections were quite similar, too: 6 wins, 1.294 WHIP, 4.24 ERA, and 103 Ks in 130 IP. Both pitchers projected to be available at the end of most drafts, yet they both have been in the top 15 among starters.
The last spot in the 5×5 rotation goes to Cardinals’ rookie Shelby Miller, who has 9 wins, a 1.118 WHIP, 2.92 ERA, and 112 Ks in just 104.67 IP, earning $20.71 in 5×5 RotoValue, ranking 3rd in profit over projections, and $17.96 in 4×4 RotoValue, ranking 7th in profit. The consensus average for Miller was 6 wins, a 1.326 WHIP, 3.72 ERA, and 87 Ks in 92 IP. Like Corbin and Locke, Miller needed to win the last rotation spot this spring, and he’s pitched even better in the regular season than he did in March.
The final slot in the 4×4 rotation goes to former AL phenom Francisco Liriano, who moved to Pittsburgh this year. After beginning the year on the DL, Liriano made his seasonal debut on May 11th, and has been outstanding since – posting 9 wins, a 1.187 WHIP, and a 2.00 ERA with 80 Ks in just 76.67 IP. Those stats earned $17.82 in 4×4 RotoValue, and $17.20 in 5×5. Liriano hadn’t had an ERA under 5 since 2010, but had shown flashes of brilliance in Minnesota. Still, projections were muted: 7 wins, 1.338 WHIP, 4.05 ERA, and 125 Ks in 128 IP. When I value Liriano since his return from injury, he’s been the NL’s 2nd most valuable pitcher in 4×4 with a $30.19 RotoValue, just ahead of Mike Leake, and in 5×5 he’s ranked 3rd with a $32.18 RotoValue. Top starters are worth more in 5×5 leagues because they get plenty more strikeouts than relievers.
Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright have the highest overall RotoValue among starters, with Kershaw slightly ahead in 5×5 (he has 9 more Ks), and Wainwright just ahead in 4×4. But they would have been more expensive at auction, or cost a much earlier draft pick, than the fantasy all stars.
RP: Edward Mujica leads the bullpen in both formats.  Jason Motte was expected to close for the Cardinals, with Mitchell Boggs setting up. When Motte’s “mild” elbow sprain turned into a stint on the 60-day DL, Boggs got the first chance to close, but he struggled after recording just 2 saves. So the Cardinals turned to Mujica, who has been stellar, with 2 wins, 26 saves, a 0.750 WHIP, 2.25 ERA, and 33 Ks in 40 IP, earning $24.48 in 4×4, and $17.01 in 5×5. His consensus projections were as a decent middle reliever – 1.146 WHIP, 3.51 ERA, 4 wins, 1 save, and 51 Ks in 63 IP – worth a roster spotin leagues that need to fill several relief slots, but not especially valuable. Instead, Mujica’s low WHIP and 2nd best save total rank him as the top closer in 4×4 RotoValue, and #3 in 5×5.
Jason Grilli was named Pirates’ closer in the offseason, but with just 5 career saves entering the season it was far from guaranteed he’d keep the job. But he’s been the best 5×5 closer this year, leading the league with 29 saves while posting a 0.861 WHIP, 1.99 ERA, and 63 Ks in 40.67 IP, earning $18.89 in 5×5 RotoValue, and $22.66 in 4×4 RotoValue. Projections varied widely, with the Consensus averages 1.189 WHIP, 3.14 ERA, 3 wins and 14 saves being worth $7.42 in 5×5 and $9.46 in 4×4.
The Mets’ Bobby Parnell takes the last slot on this team. Behind Frank Francisco on the off-season depth chart, Parnell has been effective, with 5 wins, 17 saves, a 2.30 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, and 38 Ks in 43 innings, making him worth $22.06 in 4×4 and $15.79 in 5×5. The consensus projections were for 1.293 WHIP, 3.26 ERA, 4 wins and 12 saves, as some systems projected Francisco to get the bulk of the saves. Parnell returned a higher profit than Grilli in 4×4, while Grilli’s higher strikeout total makes him the better value in 5×5. The volatile nature of closing and saves makes them very hard to predict, but I have to be happy about my RotoValue projections for both Grilli and Parnell. I revamped my projection model for saves (as well as wins and holds) before the start of this season, and of the projections available at RotoValue, mine did the best in predicting the value of these two closers.
With the All Star Game in Citi Field last night, the Mets’ home park, it’s fitting that Matt Harvey was the only starter in the real all star game to make this Fantasy All Star team. But several reserves made both teams: Domonic BrownPatrick CorbinJean SeguraJeff LockeEdward MujicaJason GrilliPaul GoldschmidtMatt Carpenter, and Pedro Alvarez.

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