With the fantasy baseball season right around the halfway point in most leagues, it is time for the 2017 “All-Not-On-Your-Draft-Radar” First Half Fantasy Baseball Team. These are the players who have excelled for fantasy players despite not being drafted in most leagues, or being drafted very late just to fill up a bench.
For those eligible at two positions, we went with the position they played more at (ex. Cody Bellinger has spent more time in the outfield than first base).
Catcher – Alex Avila
Unfortunately for Avila’s owners, he has split time with James McCann behind the plate for the Tigers for much of the season. Still in 186 plate appearances, he is batting .325 with 10 home runs. He came into the season with just a career .240 average.
Honorable mention: Tyler Flowers
First Base – Justin Smoak
Smoak is someone who has seen regular action for much of his career since it began in 2010, despite never producing much at the dish. Before this season, his career-high in average was .238. So far this year, he is batting .308. He has already equaled his career-high of 20 home runs, and has 48 RBI’s and 43 runs.
Honorable mention: Logan Morrison, Eric Thames, Justin Bour, Yonder Alonso, Mark Reynolds
Second Base – Starlin Castro
A three-time All-Star with the Cubs, Castro hit 21 home runs in his first season with the Yankees last season but went undrafted or drafted very late in nearly every league this year. He is 17th in the majors in average (.315) and tied for ninth in runs (52).
Honorable mention: Jonathan Schoop, Chris Taylor, Scooter Gennett, Brandon Phillips
Shortstop – Zack Cozart
Cozart hit a career-high 16 home runs last season, but wasn’t a blip on nearly anyone’s fantasy radar. His .320 average so far this season is 12th in the majors, and 74 points higher than his career average entering the year. He has also added nine home runs and 39 runs.
Honorable mention: Chris Owings, Didi Gregorious
Third Base – Travis Shaw
Shaw had a decent season with the Red Sox last year, but a .242 average didn’t leave him with great fantasy hopes heading into his first season with the Brewers in 2017. So far, he has improved that average by 47 points to .289. His 15 home runs are tied for 32nd in the majors, and his 53 RBI’s are tied for 14th.
Honorable mention: Mike Moustakas, Joey Gallo, Jedd Gyorko
Outfield – Aaron Judge
In a brief appearance with the Yankees last season, Judge hit just .179 with four home runs and 42 strikeouts in 95 plate appearances. It took until the day before the season started for him to be named the starting right fielder for the season opener. So far this season, all he has done is lead the majors in home runs (26) and is second in runs (66), tied for third in RBI’s (59), and fifth in average (.332).
Outfield – Cody Bellinger
Bellinger started the year in the minors, and didn’t make his MLB debut until weeks after the season began on April 25. Despite only playing in 57 of the Dodgers’ 77 games, he is second in the majors with 24 home runs, and 10th with 55 RBI’s. He has also added 44 runs and five stolen bases.
Outfield – Avisail Garcia
Garcia saw regular action in the outfield each of the last two seasons with the White Sox, combining for a .252 average with 25 home runs. This season, he has come out of nowhere and is sixth in the majors with a .331 average. He also has 11 home runs, 51 RBI’s, and 40 runs.
Honorable mention: Trey Mancini, Michael Conforto, Marwin Gonzalez
Starting Pitcher – Jason Vargas
Vargas pitched just 55 innings in 12 starts in 2015-16. This season, he has stayed healthy making 15 starts and pitching 94.1 innings. He is tied with Clayton Kershaw for the MLB lead with 11 wins, and his 2.29 ERA is second only to Max Scherzer. He has a 1.13 WHIP and 70 strikeouts.
Starting Pitcher – Robbie Ray
Ray struck out 218 hitters in 174.1 innings last year, but still finished with an unimpressive 8-15 record and 4.90 ERA. So far this year, that ERA has dropped over two runs to 2.87 and he has an 8-3 record. His ERA is eighth-best in the majors, and his 119 strikeouts are the fifth-most.
Starting Pitcher – Ervin Santana
Santana has been in the majors since 2005, and has been seen as a waiver-wire add for much of that time but has never been consistent enough to be considered an every-start pitcher. He entered the season with a 4.09 career ERA. He has been outstanding this season for the Twins, and has thrown three shutouts. He is third in the majors with 10 wins, fifth with a 2.80 ERA, and sixth with a 1.05 WHIP.
Starting Pitcher – Chase Anderson
Anderson had a 9-11 record with a 4.39 ERA in 30 starts for the Brewers last season. Decent numbers, but not quite fantasy worthy. Fast forward to this year, where he is 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 84 strikeouts in 15 starts. His 2.92 ERA is ninth-best in the majors.
Starting Pitcher – Luis Severino
Severino was outstanding in his first MLB action in 2015, posting a 2.89 in 11 starts. He was on fantasy radars in 2016, but struggled mightily to the tune of a 3-8 record and 5.83 ERA in 22 games (11 starts). He has regained his 2015 form so far this year, with a 5-3 record and 3.30 ERA in 14 starts. He has struck out over a batter an inning (95 in 87.1 innings), and is 11th in the majors with a 1.09 WHIP.
Honorable mention: Gio Gonzalez, Ivan Nova, Mike Leake
Closer – Corey Knebel
Knebel ended last season with a 4.68 ERA, two saves, and a 1.47 WHIP. It’s safe to say he wasn’t on too many people’s “Must Draft List.” While he didn’t start 2017 as a closer and didn’t record his first save until May 14, he has been nothing short of phenomenal. In 37.2 innings, he has a 0.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 12 saves, and an incredible 65 strikeouts.
Honorable mention – Greg Holland, Brandon Kintzler