If you haven't noticed already, each day this week, Fake Teams has been tackling the American League and National League fantasy all-stars at each position. Today, it's shortstop, and the pickings are slim. The two players who likely would have been the AL and NL all-stars if we had done this a month earlier (Derek Jeter and Rafael Furcal) are both struggling big time. And when I say struggling big time, this is their COMBINED June line: .205, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 28 R, 3 SB.
Regardless, let's jump into my selections. These are made with value relative to draft position in mind, not absolute value. So even though Elvis Andrus is the #1 SS in fantasy this year, he's not the AL MVP since he's doing essentially what was expected of him as a 4th/5th rounder. And the most amusing thing about my two MVP selections is that they've combined for a .298 OBP and 26 walks. To put that in perspective, those 26 walks would be good for 8th place among shortstops. But this is fantasy baseball here, and unless you're in an OBP league (in which case your MVP's would look much different), it just doesn't bother us all that much.
And now that's enough for an intro. Your MVP's are after the jump...
American League: Mike Aviles
Unless you're in an AL-only or 14+ team mixed league, Aviles probably was not even drafted. But for those of you who picked him up after he started his hot streak in April, you were rewarded with some pretty great performance from a pretty weak position. Yes, he has a .285 OBP, and that is really unfortunate for the Red Sox, but when you have a waiver wire pickup at shortstop on pace for a .260, 20, 20, 80, 80 season, that's how you win fantasy leagues. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that Aviles will be the fantasy MVP at SS for the full season, since he's been slowing down as the season's gone on -- while other guys have been heating up. But as long as he remains in the Sox lineup, he'll be worth throwing out there in all leagues, given the current state of the position.
Honorable Mention - Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera*, Derek Jeter*
National League: Ian Desmond
According to the last iteration of pre-season mock drafts, Desmond was the 18th shortstop taken - behind such fantasy stalwarts as Stephen Drew (who has 3 hits on the season) and Yunel Escobar. And those owners that believed in him on draft day continue to have the last laugh. Through Tuesday's games, Desmond was at .279, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 43 R and 8 SB in 326 PA. Those 45 RBI are tops among all shortstops, and the 14 HR are tied for second behind the Zombie Babe Ruth version of Trevor Plouffe. Only time will tell if the power will hold at this level, but he's been an across-the-board contributor and will continue to be valuable even if he tops out at around 22 HR. On one hand, his 16.3% HR/FB rate is bound for some regression. On the other hand, he's hitting ground balls at the lowest rate of his career. That said, I like his chances of maintaining his value better than Aviles over the rest of the season.
Honorable Mention - Starlin Castro, Rafael Furcal, Jed Lowrie
* For those of you who have been reading me during the off-season and my Double Play Depth columns during the season may know that my one of my bolder predictions from the pre-season was that Derek Jeter would produce more 5x5 value than Asdrubal Cabrera this year. They're clearly trending in opposite directions right now, but as of right now Cabrera is 9th and Jeter is 10th -- separated by three hundredths of a point on the ESPN Player Rater (that's less than one run or one RBI). We'll see how the rest of the season plays out..
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