Fantasy Baseball 1st Half Reactions: NL West


Jun 29, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder

Joc Pederson

against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With regular season games taking a backseat to All-Star festivities until Friday, I think it is an interesting exercise to identify certain events or players that have caught your attention so far this season. Some guys may have disappointed or surprised you, but taking note of your reactions can be a benefit as the season progresses or for future seasons to come.

We will go division by division throughout the week, up until we get back to regular season action, and back to the grind of the regular season. This piece will highlight the NL West.

Here are my reactions to the AL East, AL Central, AL West and NL East, NL Central.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers- To most it is probably no surprise, as the Dodgers are carrying a 4.5 games lead in the West at the break. They have high end talent both in fantasy and reality, leaving most owners highly invested in the Dodgers. While they have gotten production from veteran fantasy mainstays, there has also been a few notable surprises as well.

In terms of a first-half reaction, there are a couple of ways I could go, as the Dodgers have been the beneficiaries of some breakout or bounce back performances from some unexpected players. But, there has been one guy that has really stood out and carried not only the Dodgers but fantasy teams as well heading into the break.

Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant were poised to battle it out this year for NL ROY honors, and they have not disappointed. While Bryant’s promotion was being stalled by management, Pederson’s role was kind of murky in 2015. The Dodgers desperately needed a CF and Joc was clearly the guy for the job, but around draft time there were still doubts about whether or not he may be platooned.

For those fantasy owners that took the chance on Joc, they have been absolutely thrilled with his production so far in 2015. Even though he is a true testament to the three basic outcomes in baseball,  the HR, strikeout or walk, he has been nothing short of a stud so far. His .230/20 HR/40 RBI line has buoyed many fantasy owner’s teams, therefore showing him to be one of the best value picks of the draft so far.

Honorable Mentions: Zack Greinke outperforming Kershaw and Justin Turner’s breakout

San Francisco Giants- Coming off their World Series win and it being an odd year to match, many felt as though this was the year that Giants  took a step back. That really has not been the case though, as they have remained steady all year and are right there contending in the NL. Their rotation lacks depth and they still are short of power production, but they still offer solid fantasy contributors.

While I had some durability question about Madison Bumgarner and him near 300 IP last season, he has clearly shut me up as he is just doing his normal thing as being one of the best SP in baseball. The same goes on the offense as Buster Posey has gotten off to his usual solid start and is primed for another one of his second-half powers surges.

While these guys are the usual fantasy producers, there has been another player that has used his postseason success to catapult himself into one of the more solid fantasy 2B so far. Joe Panik was called up in 2014 as a young 2B prospect the Giants needed to stabilize the position. After his postseason success, fantasy owners were not completely sold on Panik and the value he brought to the table, making him widely undrafted. But, all he has done this year is post a .308/7 HR/33 RBI line, which ranks him easily in the top 10 2B wise so far. Truly making him a waiver wire steal so far.

Honorable Mentions: Chris Heston’s breakout and Nori Aoki’s bounce back

Arizona Diamondbacks- For a team with low expectations going into 2015, the D’Backs have been quite the competitive team so far. For a team that lacks pitching depth and consistent offensive production from the entire infield outside of 1B, they only sit 3 games under .500. The D’Backs have had some nice fantasy pieces though, offering fantasy owners value that may have been overlooked.

Baseball analysts like to throw around that Paul Goldschmidt is “the best player in baseball that no one has ever heard of”. While that may be true for the entry-level baseball fan, the fantasy community has a well storied affinity for Goldy.

How many players in the league are 30 HR/20 SB candidates anymore? Not many for sure, and for a 1B to offer that production, it is hardly fair. Goldy is one of my favorite players in the league because he just goes out and does his thing, without needing any fanfare or notoriety to validate his stardom.

Even after I proclaim my man-crush for Goldy, his production still does not surprise me. My first reaction is directed towards to a, 20 HR/30 SB, threat that was mainly a late round selection in 2015. A.J. Pollock found himself on many sleeper lists as he had shown flashes of his power/speed threat in 2014. All Pollock has done, is not only validate that sleeper tag, but absolutely break right through into OF 1 or 2 status with his .299/11 HR/42 RBI/19 SB line.

Honorable Mentions: Yasmany Tomas’s decent start and Brad Ziegler’s success

San Diego Padres- I will admit that I was all for A.J. Preller’s offseason wheeling and dealing, as I figured the Padres were in desperate need of a makeover. While Preller’s idea may have been right, the personnel he brought in has not done the job, and with him selling off most of the farm system, the Padres are easily the most disappointing team in baseball at the break.

From fantasy perspective the Padres have really been disappointing. Most of their offseason acquisitions have been busts and leaving owners wondering if they have a chance to turn it around in the second half. Justin Upton, and Craig Kimbrel have been pretty solid, but they also come with some warts as well. Upton has struggled mightily of late and if the season ended today Kimbrel’s ERA and WHIP would be the highest of his career.

I think the one main bright spot of the Padres season so far, has to be Tyson Ross’s emergence as the ace of the staff. Even with the presences of James Shields and Andrew Cashner, Ross has out pitched them both and has produced a solid 6 Wins, 118 K’s and a 3.34 ERA.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp’s disastrous start and Andrew Cashner’s struggles      

Colorado Rockies- It is the same old song and dance with the Rockies, a great offense that is hindered by the inability for any quality pitching. Unfortunately the Coors factor, will keep being the crux of the Rockies struggles until they either develop or convince someone to come in and be the ace of their staff.

The Rockies offensive fantasy contributors are always enigmatic, as they can be very frustrating to own because of their streakiness. But this season, they have offered some pretty solid options that have anchored fantasy squads. You may be expecting guys like Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki to be the fantasy stars of the 1st half, but they have been outclassed by the breakout season by Nolan Arenado.

Astute fantasy owners would have picked up on the signs that Arenado had a breakout on the horizon, as his 2014 splits all spoke to him progressing into a prime time hitter. I concede that I did not project the power spike that he has shown so far to develop so soon, as he has is on pace for 30+ HR’s and 100 RBI’s.

I know for a fact that Arenado has carried many fantasy teams so far in 2015, as he is in the midst of producing a top 10 fantasy season, all for the investment of a mid-round pick. Does it get any better than that?

Honorable Mentions: DJ LeMahieu’s breakout and John Axford’s reemergence