First-Half Fantasy All Stars

Here are the players at each position who have earned the most profit relative to their draft-day costs. All average draft position (ADP) data, courtesy of and based on standard 12-team mixed leagues. A player not taken in the top 188 picks is considered undrafted for purposes of this exercise.

Catcher: Alex Avila (ADP not drafted), Russell Martin (ADP not drafted)

While Joe Mauer (19) and Buster Posey (38) have been derailed by injuries, Avila's put up a .286/.370/.506 line with 10 homers, 46 RBI and three steals. Martin's hitting only .220, but his 10 HR and seven steals are a huge bonus for a catcher available very late in most drafts.

First Base: Paul Konerko (ADP 66)

Coming off a career year at age 34, Konerko was expected to regress to his previous norms, with some downward adjustment due to his advancing age. Instead, he's hitting .319/.390/.564 with 22 HR, 67 RB and 47 runs scored. Justin Morneau (ADP 57) and teammate Adam Dunn (ADP 49) were both routinely taken ahead of him.

Second Base: Danny Espinosa (ADP not drafted)

While Espinosa's real life .242/.332/.460 line is merely solid for a middle infielder, his 16 homers, 52 RBI, 45 runs and 12 steals make him a star fantasy player. At age 24, and with only 429 career big league at-bats, he's only likely to get better.

Third Base: Jose Bautista (ADP 37)

Despite hitting 54 home runs last year, Bautista was drafted well behind third basemen like Ryan Zimmerman (24), Alex Rodriguez (15), David Wright (11) and Evan Longoria (7). Bautista leads the majors with 31 HR, and is hitting .334/.468/.702, with 65 RBI, 73 runs and five steals. He might well be the best player in baseball after being a non-prospect just 15 months ago, making his shocking ascension one of the greatest stories in league history.

Shortstop: Jose Reyes (ADP 33)

His hamstring injury notwithstanding, Reyes is putting up a .354/.398/.529 line with 65 runs scored and 30 steals. He was taken well behind shortstops like Hanley Ramirez (2) and Troy Tulowitzki (4).

Corner Infield: Mike Morse (ADP not drafted).

Morse started slowly, but has come on to post a .306/.351/.535 line with 15 homers and 49 RBI at virtually no cost.

Middle Infield: Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP not drafted)

Cabrera's got 14 homers and 12 steals already, with 51 RBI, 55 runs scored and a .293 average.

Outfield: Matt Kemp (ADP 21), Lance Berkman (ADP not drafted), Jacoby Ellsbury (ADP 63), Curtis Granderson (ADP 73), Melky Cabrera (ADP not drafted)

Kemp cost you a second-round pick this year, but he's delivered No. 1 overall production with a .313/.398/.584 line and 22 homers, 67 RBI, 55 runs and a whopping 27 steals in 30 attempts. Kemp has a chance to be the league's first-ever 40/50 player. Berkman has outperformed teammates Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols with a .290/.404/.602 line and an NL-leading 24 home runs. When healthy, Berkman's been a borderline Hall of Fame-level hitter, and he's healthy this season - at least for now. Ellsbury is not only hitting .316 with 28 steals, he's slugged 11 homers, driven in 49 runs and scored 62. At this rate, he's a first-round pick next year. Granderson has 25 homers and 15 steals already, and he's scored a major-league leading 79 runs. A 40-30 season with 140 runs scored is within reach if he stays healthy all year. Finally Cabrera, who was left for dead by many after an abysmal season in Atlanta, has managed 11 HR, 12 SB, 51 RBI and 55 runs scored, while hitting .293.

Starting Pitchers: Justin Verlander (ADP 59), Cole Hamels (ADP 61), Josh Beckett (ADP 172), James Shields (ADP 177), Michael Pineda (ADP not drafted), Alexi Ogando (ADP not drafted), Bartolo Colon (ADP not drafted)

Verlander didn't come cheap, but at No. 59 he's been a huge bargain, tying for the league lead in strikeouts, posting a 2.15 ERA and 0.87 WHIP and winning 12 games. Hamels was two spots behind Verlander and has been nearly as good. Shields rebounded from a disastrous 2010 to be fifth in strikeouts (137) with a 2.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. The other four pitchers all were available late in mixed-league drafts and have produced excellent numbers, most notably Bartolo Colon who pitches in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium and has reprised his career against long odds.

Relievers: Kyle Farnsworth (ADP not drafted), Sergio Santos (ADP not drafted)

Farnsworth was supposed to be part of a committee that included Joel Peralta and possibly Jake McGee. Instead Farnsworth established himself as the team's sole closer with a 25:5 K:BB ratio and a 2.11 GB:FB rate. The results have been good - 17 saves, a 2.02 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Santos took over the job after Matt Thornton struggled early and hasn't yet given it back with 18 saves, and 56 strikeouts in just 42 innings.


By: Zenguerrilla
On: 7/12/2011 5:22:00 PM
No Beltran?
By: quails144
On: 7/12/2011 6:55:00 PM
thought this was a list of value picks, until I realized those really are the best players by position. Shocking! There's not a year in recent memory with that many undrafted or unheralded players making it big.

h/t to rotowire for getting me to target Verlander and Hamels on draft day.

'... greatest stories in league history.'
Well, it's definitely in the top 450.
By: bogfella
On: 7/12/2011 7:45:00 PM
Very good list, but despite the low strikeouts, I gotta find room for Jurrjens
By: lvtdude
On: 7/13/2011 7:57:00 PM
You could probably list 25 starting pitchers. Kershaw, Hanson, Marcum and J Garcia have been great contributors for me. Also, Jeremy Hellickson has chipped in 8 wins, a 3.21 ERA and 1.147 WHIP. Very nice for a rookie, even if the K's aren't really coming yet.
By: lvtdude
On: 7/13/2011 7:59:00 PM
Hanrahan and Kimbrel should top the closer list. I targeted Hanrahan in every league and got him. Traded him in most (who knew it would continue???)

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