The All-Star break is upon us, and with it comes the ideal time to take a look back at fantasy baseball's best and worst of the first half, as well as forward at some of the most promising stories to come in the second half. Today, we take a look at the National League at the season's traditional midway point. (The American League ran yesterday.)
FIRST-HALF AWARD WINNERS
First-half Fantasy MVP: Alfonso Soriano, OF, Nationals. Though he finished the first half ranked third in the NL on the Player Rater, Soriano did plenty to prove RFK Stadium wouldn't affect his statistical output. Jose Reyes might have finished in the No. 1 spot, but Soriano's the one on pace for 49 homers, 101 RBI and 36 steals, and he's both second base and outfield eligible in many leagues, further increasing his value.
First-half Fantasy Cy Young: Chris Capuano, SP, Brewers. Only two pitchers finished the first half among the NL's top 10 in wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, and while Brandon Webb is well worthy of the nod, Capuano earns the honor because he's the one picked nearly eight rounds later on average in preseason drafts.
Fantasy Rookie of the Half: Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins. A Rule 5 pick out of the Arizona organization this past winter, Uggla might have been lucky to begin the year in Triple-A on any other team. Instead, he finished the first half leading all rookies in batting average (.307) and OPS (.875) and ranked second in homers (13) and RBI (51).
Breakout Fantasy Player: Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies. Those of you who caught the Home Run Derby know all about his awesome power, but in case you missed it, Howard entered the All-Star break ranked second in the NL in homers (28). Key to his breakout is his improvement against left-handers; he has five homers in 98 at-bats against them.
Bust Fantasy Player: Tim Hudson, SP, Braves. Many people believed he would bounce back with a year's experience in the NL, but instead, Hudson has been one of the many reasons Atlanta seems destined to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990. His ERA (4.56) is more than a run higher than his career mark (3.43).
FIRST-HALF FANTASY ALL-STAR TEAM
C: Since I have to pick one, I'll take Josh Willingham, Marlins
1B: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B: Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B: Scott Rolen, Cardinals
SS: Jose Reyes, Mets
OF: Carlos Beltran, Mets
OF: Matt Holliday, Rockies
OF: Alfonso Soriano, Nationals
SP: Bronson Arroyo, Reds
SP: Chris Capuano, Brewers
SP: Jason Schmidt, Giants
SP: Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
RP: Tom Gordon, Phillies