Fantasy Baseball All-Stars and MLB Spotlights

by Corey Pieper
Fantasy Baseball All-Stars

This week's MLB Spotlights article focuses on the trade we've seen in MLB and the Fantasy Baseball All-Stars from the first half.

We are in the middle of the last week of games before the players get a few days off to rest and recover. Of course, the very best players still are participating in the All-Star game. This year's game will take place at the Texas Rangers stadium in Arlington, Texas.

If you're in a weekly lineup league, make sure to check your league rules as to how they are handling next week. It's possible to have a very short week of three days. Another option is to combine the three-day week with the following week. If that is the case, nearly every starting pitcher will be a two-start option.

Read this week's MLB spotlights to see an update on the first major trade of the season and who were the fantasy All-Stars for the first half.

Fantasy Baseball All-Stars and MLB Spotlights

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Trade Season Begins

The MLB Trade deadline is the end of the month. The Milwaukee Brewers have been in first place in the National League Central nearly all season. It's an impressive feat considering all the starting pitchers they've had that are now injured. To help them remain atop their division, the Brewers made a big acquisition of the MLB trade season.

Aaron Civale to the Milwaukee Brewers

Aaron Civale's debut with the Brewers was reminiscent of his season with the Tampa Bay Rays. He threw too many pitches to go deep into his game and was hampered by the home run.

His final stat line was five innings pitched, four earned runs, three walks, and eight strikeouts. He hasn't had a game where he has given up more than four earned runs going back to May 3rd. Yet, he has given up at least one earned run in every game, and has given up four earned runs four different times. The home runs have been the issue all season. He has surrendered 19 home runs in just 92 innings. The 19 home runs are the second most in all of baseball. The only pitcher who has surrendered more is Jose Berrios with 21 home runs allowed. Berrios has thrown 23 more innings than Civale.

The eight strikeouts against a tough-to-strike-out Los Angeles Dodgers team were a nice bonus. Checking his pitch mix for the game shows he leaned more into his sinker than usual. It didn't work in this game, but that could be a way to limit the home runs going forward.

Fantasy Baseball All-Stars

The MLB All-Star game will occur before the next iteration of the MLB Spotlights articles. It's a game highlighted by the brightest talents in our game including Jose Ramirez, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Shohei Ohtani. For fantasy, all those players were first-round picks who are returning the value we were expecting. The fantasy All-Stars below were afterthoughts at the draft table (if they were selected at all) who have been fantasy darlings throughout the first half. There is one play for each of the positions.

David Fry, C, Cleveland Guardians

In the offseason, there was a lot of hype about the Cleveland Guardians catcher who could provide a power and speed combination that is rare for catchers. It's just that the player was Bo Naylor, and the one who has delivered on that hype is David Fry.

David Fry's current stat line is 29 runs, eight home runs, 33 RBI, four stolen bases, and a 300 batting average. It's so rare to get production from each of the five categories at the catcher position. While his playing time was sporadic in April, he has now solidified himself as a middle-of-the-order presence in the Guardians lineup. There has been so much production that he also was chosen to be an MLB All-Star.

The good news for fantasy managers is that while he often plays outfield or designated hitter for the Guardians now, he has already appeared in 22 games as a catcher. That means that he'll carry that eligibility another season.

Jake Cronenworth, 1B/2B, San Diego Padres

Jake Cronenworth has appeared in two MLB All-Star games in his career out of only five seasons. Yet, he struggled so mightily last season that he was often available on waiver wires to start the season. I know that I added Cronenworth to a dynasty league roster after the Korean Series simply because of his place in the batting order.

Fantasy managers who bought back into Cronenworth have been handsomely rewarded. He has 47 runs, 12 home runs, 54 RBI, two stolen bases, and a 263 batting average. He has already passed last season's totals for home runs and RBIs, and is rapidly approaching in runs scored. His average is over 30 points higher than we got from him last season.

While he's at first base for this article, it's more likely you have been playing him at second base. He's already appeared enough at both positions this season to ensure he'll carry that multiposition versatility again next year.

Brice Turang, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

I just wrote about Brice Turang in the last edition of the MLB Spotlights article so this one will be short and sweet.

Turang continues to provide a plus batting average, runs scored, and stolen bases. While you don't count on him for home runs, he isn't completely devoid of helping in that category with six home runs this season.

Willi Castro, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins

Shortstop is arguably the deepest position in all of fantasy baseball. The position is ripe with top-end talent. Willi Castro is not a top-end talent, but he was already valuable in 2023 for fantasy baseball. His value came in a stolen base specialist type of role. He finished 10th in all of baseball with 33 stolen bases but he was below average in the four other rotisserie categories.

In 15-team rotisserie drafts, Castro was a late option if you were behind on stolen bases. Strangely, while his 10 stolen bases have been useful, they are not why he is on this list. He has shown a more well-rounded skill set this season for fantasy baseball.

Castro has provided 54 runs, seven home runs, 29 RBI, and a 272 batting average to go with his 10 stolen bases. Barring an injury, he should set new career highs in every counting statistic. Perhaps, even by the end of this month. Add in the incredible positional versatility, and Castro has been a fantasy stalwart, especially in daily leagues.

Alec Bohm, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Who is the league leader in RBI? Yeah, it's Aaron Judge with his incredible 83. In the National League, it's Marcell Ozuna with 72 RBI, but Alec Bohm is right on his tail with 70 of his own.

Bohm was the highest drafted of the fantasy All-Stars with an ADP of 158. That selection still placed him outside the top-15 at both corner infield positions. He is now top-5 at the position behind fantasy stalwarts Gunnar Henderson, Elly de la Cruz, Jose Ramirez, and Rafael Devers.

Bohm has provided 40 runs, 11 home runs, four stolen bases, and a 296 batting average to go along with all the RBI. It's such an impressive season that not only is he a fantasy All-Star, he is starting for the National League All-Star team and participating in the Home Run Derby.

Jurickson Profar, OF, San Diego Padres

Flashback over a decade to 2013. Flappy Birds is the mobile game of choice, Miley Cyrus is in the news constantly, and there was a blackout at the Super Bowl. Jurickson Profar is also the top prospect in baseball for the Texas Rangers.

Back to 2024. It's been a long road, but Profar is having his best offensive season as a professional. He has 52 runs, 14 home runs, 59 RBI, five stolen bases, and a 315  batting average. He leads the National League in on-base percentage at 408.

Profar is another fantasy who is also going to his first All-Star game. Not only is he participating, but he is starting the game for the National League.

What has led to this career resurgence at 31? Many factors make him appear to be an entirely different player. He has a career-high barrel percentage, average exit velocity, and expected batting average. Even though we have a decade of average production at best from Profar, his current looks repeatable more than flukey.

Seth Lugo, SP, Kansas City Royals

Take away the shortened 2020 season and Seth Lugo has been an above-average pitcher since 2018 by ERA+. He has reached a new level this season with a career-best, and MLB-leading, ERA+. He also leads the American League in both wins and ERA. While not league-leading, his WHIP is in the top-15 of the league.

Surprisingly, his strikeout rate has dropped to its lowest level since the 2017 season. It's not unplayable, but just over eight strikeouts per nine innings isn't what we're looking for in fantasy baseball. The good news on the strikeout front is that he is going deeper into games than the average starter. He has 116 innings pitched which is also leads all of baseball. So while he may not be doing it on a per-inning basis, he is getting it done in that category through volume.

I would be surprised if Lugo led the American League in ERA. I would also be surprised if Lugo falls off so much that he isn't a must-roster fantasy option for the rest of the season.

Trevor Megill, RP, Milwaukee Brewers

This one may be the most surprising of any of the fantasy All-Stars. When it was announced that Devin Williams was going to miss a substantial portion of the season with a back injury, everyone was planting their flags on their preferred option in Milwaukee. Trevor Megill was the fourth Brewers reliever to get a save at the start of the season behind Abner Uribe, Joel Payamps, and Hoby Milner. Since he got his first save on April 25th, there has been no question who the preferred option has been.

Megill now has 18 saves to go with his 1.53 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He's especially stingy in run suppression since the start of June allowing just one earned run since June began. That's means over his last 15.1 innings his era is a microscopic 0.59 ERA.

The interesting discussion with Megill is that we know that Devin Williams is on the way back likely in the next few weeks.

The assumption is that Williams will step back into the closer role. He has been an All-Star in that role for the past two seasons. However, we've also witnessed him be incredibly effective as a setup man for Josh Hader. Keep holding Megill even when Williams comes back.

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