Let’s kick off the post break action with a look at some of the pre-break studs. FWIW, the Touts were asked to define MVP how they wished.
Who is the first half fantasy MVP batter? MVP Pitcher? What initial Top-50 player with a disappointing first half will rebound the most?
Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Valued added meaning Draft cost vs Actual Production is Josh Bell hitter and Hyun Jin Ryu SP. Paul Goldschmidt to rebound.
D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): Figuring in preseason ADP, I’d have to say Josh Bell. Bell wasn’t drafted as a top-10 first baseman in standard mixed leagues, and maybe not even top-15, but here he is a top-five overall player. The 26-year-old has enjoyed a true breakout with a .302/.376/.648 batting line to go along with 27 home runs and a major-league leading 84 RBI in 88 games. He’s driven in 13 more runs than anyone else in the majors. As for pitcher, I have to go with Max Scherzer, mostly because getting the return on investment for a top starting pitcher can be tricky. He’s been amazing as always, with a 2.30 ERA and a ridiculous 181 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings. Expect the excellence to continue. As for top-50 drafted player to rebound, I’ll put my money on Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. making some major strides in the second half.
Alex Chamberlain (Rotofraphs, @DolphHauldhagen): For hitters, I don’t know if there’s a correct answer side from Josh Bell, although DJ LeMahieu is nearly as worthy of the title. For pitchers, it’s a little more difficult: Ryu has been the superior pitcher but had more preseason fanfare by measure of ADP/draft capital, whereas Lucas Giolito was effectively an afterthought, even in 15-team formats (NFBC ADP 437). Rebound: this is a selfish selection, but Khris Davis’ contact quality and outcomes are so far removed from his typical self that I’m having a hard time believing them, especially considering the state of the ball (i.e., juiced). It’s one of those situations where I’ll look past xwOBA, just as Paul Goldschmidt’s early-season xwOBA in 2018 belied his 2nd-half production.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): DJLM has to be the hitting MVP and on pitching side, probably Ryu. Pretty great value there. For *my* teams: John Means, Dan Vogelbach, Rafael Devers, Carlos Santana, Omar Narvaez–and Ryu. 2H I am pretty excited about Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Eloy Jimenez.
Tim McLeod (Prospect361.com, @RunTMc59006473): It’s hard to pass on Josh Bell, but figuring him to be the obvious pick, I’ll go a bit deeper and look to Rafael Devers of the BoSox. His first half puts him at or near the top of the 3B rankings and as the 20’th or so 3b off the board last Spring that’s a huge return on that investment. Several young players drafted late have also enjoyed incredible success. Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. deserve a shout out. Ryu has enjoyed an incredible first half, but so has Lucas Giolito and in most formats Giolito was a bench pick or early Waiver Wire grab. Those that invested late in Marcus Stroman or Matthew Boyd also have reason to smile. Paul Goldschmidt has had a disappointing first half. I’m expecting better numbers after the break.
Michael Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): My first half fantasy MVP for players completely off the radar is Ketel Marte and his .311 batting average along with 20 home runs and 53 RBI. My first half MVP in terms of best ADP is Pete Alonso who is tied for the second most home runs in the league with 30 as a rookie. He has also maintained a respectable .280 batting average which is impressive given his inexperience. The obvious choice for fantasy MVP pitcher is Hyun-Jin Ryu in terms of ADP value. However, I will go with Max Scherzer even though he is doing what we all expected him to do. He has provided exactly what the top pitcher in the league should produce, and more. With respect to a top-50 player rebounding from a bad first half, I will go with Jose Ramirez. He was banged up in spring training and got off to a horrendous start to the season. He is far too talented to not see a significant increase in production during the second half.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): First half fantasy MVP batter is – DJ LeMahieu. He is the #1 player bargain when looking at net profit (value earned less cost to acquire) when looking at NFBC earned values versus NFBC pre-season average auction values. For only a $1 AAV, he has earned almost $32 of value. First half fantasy MVP pitcher is Lucas Giolito. Same reasoning as above. Giolito went for $1 at NFBC auctions this year, yet has earned over $26 of fantasy value. As far as disappointing top-50 player to rebound – I’m going to go with Jose Ramirez. With many paths to value, Ramirez has a lot of ways to produce value, so he makes for a great target. Unlike a Joey Votto, he is still in the prime of his career. After a hot week, he is showing signs of coming out of his funk.“
Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I’m not going to deny Josh Bell his near-unanimous vote for fantasy MVP, but I’d at least like to put Yoan Moncada on the radar here. Everyone had dumped on him preseason and he came out in the first half with a .308 avg, .364 OBP, 16 HRs, and six steals. And he did it from the middle infield. For pitcher, how about Charlie Morton? A 2.32 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 142 Ks in 112 2/3 IP. Plus the 10 wins — whether you believe they’re a good stat or not, that’s a category in fantasy. My rebound player is Yu Darvish. And I can’t pull out much besides “”he can’t be this bad.”” He has a 5.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, and it’s not like we can point to blisters anymore. Maybe it’s the weird ball (he’s given up 20 HR), maybe his arm wasn’t fully fixed with the quiet October surgery. I think he just needs a week to clear his head and come back in his old form. I’m probably wrong and just too much of a Darvish romantic, but you dig a little, and you see some weird stuff. Like his cutter has been great, and he’s using it more than any other pitch and more often than he’s ever thrown it (https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/yu-darvish-506433?stats=statcast-r-pitching-mlb). One would reason that it would lead to good stuff… but it’s not. Maybe it’s hen he’s using it or his sequencing… or maybe he’s tipping his other pitches. I don’t know. I just feel like Darvish has to click one thing for everything to come rushing back to his former glory.”
Zach Steinhorn (Baseball Prospectus, @zachsteinhorn): I’ll go with Josh Bell for MVP hitter. While Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout have been better from an overall fantasy production standpoint, Bell has delivered far more profit relative to his draft day price, as he was drafted well outside of the top-200 in NFBC leagues. Although Bell was a popular bounceback pick heading into the season, who could have expected this? Sticking with the profit theme, I’m choosing Lucas Giolito for MVP pitcher. Giolito wasn’t even drafted in the vast majority of mixed leagues but is finally living up to his potential as a former top prospect. He hasn’t been quite as dominant lately, however, and considering his thin track record as an elite big league starter, trading him while his market value is at the level of a fantasy ace might not be a bad idea. As for the bounceback player, Jose Ramirez would be the chalk answer but at least he’s providing considerable value with his steals. I’m choosing Paul Goldschmidt instead. I just can’t believe that a career .294 hitter will finish the season with a sub-.270 AVG, and the low RBI total can at least partly be explained by his .235 AVG with runners in scoring position. Oh, and he did close out the first half with two homers and six RBIs over his final three games.
Scott Engel (Rotoballer, @scotteTheKing): Josh Bell is going to get the consensus MVP vote, but Pete Alonso does deserve an honorable mention. He went incredibly late or for very low dollar amounts in most drafts. Ryu has actually stayed healthy and I probably just jinxed that. I have a gut feeling Jose Ramirez will have a very good second half.
Dan Strafford (FNTSY Radio, @DanStrafford): There’s nothing quite like a MVP debate! There are a number of ways to evaluate the idea but for this process I suppose it’s best to say which player has most exceeded their draft day value. DJ LeMahieu had an ADP of 212 according to FantasyPros.com and has been a godsend for fantasy teams and the Yankees alike. In the National League, it’s tough to ignore what Josh Bell has done. With an ADP of 254 at FantasyPros, Bell has injected himself right into the middle of the NL MVP discussion. For pitchers, there’s a whole slew of starters who could enter into the conversation, but I’ll take Lucas Giolito as the most valuable starter. He was left largely undrafted and has finally rounded into form this year. For those of you crazy kids still playing roto, Will Smith has been my most valuable relief pitcher. I’d love to think Jose Ramirez is the top 50 player to rebound, but I think we might have just gotten his breakout wrong. I’ll take the easy way out and say it’s Giancarlo Stanton.
Michael Beller (Sports Illustrated, @MBeller): Josh Bell is the definitive right answer for the hitting MVP, which plenty of people have already said. Instead of echoing their thoughts, I’ll give an honorable mention to Carlos Santana. Remember, back in March, we were all concerned about the depth of the first base pool. Santana was one of those guys who looked like a worthy gamble, and he has paid off in a big way. I understand the return-on-investment argument for Hyun-jin Ryu and Lucas Giolito, but there’s something to be said for an expected ace living up to the billing and being the anchor he was expected to be. I’m giving the pitching MVP to Max Scherzer, who has watched all the other supposed top-flight starters around him fail to live up to expectations (with the exception of Justin Verlander) and gone into the break as the No. 1 pitcher in standard 5×5 leagues. Lorenzo Cain has been too good for too long without any signs of cracks in the foundation to fall off a cliff for an entire season. I think we see him bounce back in a big way in the second half.
Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): My 1st half MVP would be DJ LeMahieu who could have been had for $1, and has returned $35 (10 team AL) for a $34 profit. Thought to just be insurance for Didi for 3 months, he would also be the AL MVP if the season ended today. Yes, I would vote him over Trout. My MVP Pitcher would be Hyun Jin Ryu who was projected around $13 and has returned $42 for a $29 profit. It would be a close race between him and Max for NL Cy Young. For bounce back, I like Blake Snell as his K, BB, and xFIP numbers are identical to 2018, but his BABIP is .351 and the HR/FB rate jumped.
Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): The MVPs are Yelich/Scherzer. If we’re going based upon expectations though… Josh Bell, Rafael Devers and DJ LeMahieu have all posted tremendous efforts. I’d be hard pressed to argue against any of the three, but with Josh Bell setting an NL record for extra base hits at the ASB, he’s my vote for the out of nowhere MVP. On the hill, it has to be Hyun-Jin Ryu. He’s been flat out amazing. The rebound player will be Carlos Correa, that is if he avoids receiving any more massages of death.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Defining MVP as profit over draft cost, we’re looking at Pete Alonso and Hyun-Jin Ryu. With due respect to Josh Bell, his return on investment trailed several hitters. Hat tip to Lucas GioIito’s first half. I agree with Ray, Christian Yelich and Max Scherzer lead the pack in terms of pure production. I’ll check back later with my second half surger, though off the cuff I agree with Lenny and Goldie and expect Andrew Benintendi to figure things out.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Another vote for Alonso (although his teammate McNeil isn’t a bad choice). Ryu has to be the pitcher. Disappointing hitter Jose Ramirez; disappointing pitcher Diaz.
Dr. Roto (Scout Fantasy, @DrRoto): Josh Bell has to be the offensive MVP and if anyone saw this explosion coming I tip my cap to you. There are better pitchers than Lucas Giolito, but I might argue that anyone who drafted him has to be doing pretty darn well in the pitching categories right now. I will pray that Jose Ramirez and Aaron Nola both turn it around in the second half of the season. They can’t both be this bad all year long.
Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): My first half MVP as far as hitting is concerned has to be Cody Bellinger, not only does he have 30 home runs already, but he’s also hitting .336 with eight steals. I took him at the end of the third round in my Tout draft and have been reaping the rewards all season. Pete Alonso has been a fantastic hitter and while we thought he would hit for power, this is more than I hoped for all year and it’s only the Break. A pitcher having a great year that I don’t think is getting enough attention is Luis Castillo. Eight wins, a 2.29 ERA and 124 Ks in 106 innings. Bravo sir! My bounceback candidates will be Aaron Nola, he is way too good to be this subpar.
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): I’ve always calculated MVP value a little differently: dollars earned (per BaseballHQ) + profit (from NFBC), which is a nice balance between overall production and draft-day “value”. The top two hitters are no surprise: Bellinger ($42 in production + $21 in profit = $63) and Bell ($33 + $30); the next three are Devers ($57), Yelich ($55) and LeMahieu ($55). Top five on the pitching side: Ryu ($34 in production + $27 profit = $61) is the clear winner, followed by Morton ($51), Verlander ($46), Mike Minor ($46), and Zack Greinke ($45). I’m surprised this is the first Mike Minor mention. Sure, he’s not this good, but 117 innings of a 2.54 ERA with 8 wins and 114 Ks has certainly played from his 350+ ADP. Top-50 rebound? Give me Jose Ramirez—his skills really aren’t that far off from 2016-18’s peak.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): For straight up earnings, the MVPs are Justin Verlander (by decimals over Max Scherzer) and Christian Yelich. If you’re asking about value relative to auction price, the winners thus far are D.J. LeMahieu (with Fernando Tatis in 2nd) for hitter and Hyun-Jin Ryu for pitcher (with Lucas Giolito the best bargain in the AL). Paul Goldschmidt has shown signs of breaking out and is my pick for Top 50 ADP second half resurgence.
Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): Yelich has been the best fantasy player. Scherzer/Verlander a dead head for best SP. In terms of most valuable, I would rank it: 1) Fernando Tatis Jr. (2nd in $/Game to Yelich on Razzball Player Rater – https://razzball.com/playerrater/), 2) Hyun-Jin Ryu (6th in $/G + 109 IP), 3) Josh Bell. For top 50 ADP comeback player, I’ll say Jose Altuve. He’s been barely above replacement level in 12-team leagues on a per game basis. I think he bounces back to being a top 20 hitter the rest of the way.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): My 1st half fantasy baseball hitter MVP is Christian Yelich. You could make an argument for Cody Bellinger, but Yelich delivers more stats across the board, especially when comparing is 19 stolen bases to 8 for Bellinger. My 1st half fantasy baseball pitcher MVP is Max Scherzer. He’s gritty and anyone that can pitch the day after taking a black eye in batting practice is someone I want on the mound for my fantasy teams. You could make an argument for Justin Verlander, but Scherzer has almost 30 more strikeouts to date. My initial Top-50 player with a disappointing first half that will rebound the most in the 2nd half of the season is Chris Sale. The strikeouts are still there with 153 Ks in 107 innings of work and a 12.87 K/9. He just needs to work on keeping the ball in the park and not having those big innings where he gives up multiple runs in a single inning. He’s the perfect buy low candidate.
Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): It’s Bellinger for MVP. Great return with position flexibility for a 4th round pick. As for pitcher, I love what Shane Greene as done for his owners. He could have been picked up for peanuts in drafts and has provided his owners with some much needed Saves.
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Between Yelish, Bellinger and Bell, it has to be Yelish because of his SB’s. A fantasy MVP has to the guy delivering in the category that’s hardest to get stats! Mad Max has lived up to his number one pitcher taken in drafts. Ryu and Verlander have been good, but Scherzer ‘s K’s put him ahead of the rest . Perhaps it’s wishful thinking because the Cards can’t win the Central if he doesn’t bounce back, but Goldschmidt will rebound . He had a bit of a break out over the weekend in San Fran, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come!
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): My contribution to this discussion is to say that this question can definitely be interpreted two different ways…by MVP do we mean who produced the most sheer value, or who did best relative to ADP/auction price? I took a twitter poll to see how people would answer this question. 46% said sheer value, 54% said relative to ADP/auction price. For sheer value, I say Yelich slightly over Bellinger due to SB…and Max very slight over Verlander. Rebound candidate I’ll say Jose Ramirez…but that’s just hope more than logic. He can’t keep hitting .218 with little power, can he???
Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): I view MVPs/LVPs in context with draft/auction value, so it would be tough for me to go with Yelich or Bellinger here. Josh Bell isn’t far off from those fellows on the ESPN Player Rater but he was a late selection, if selected at all, in ESPN leagues. Rafael Devers deserves much credit as well, but he was a mid-round pick in most leagues and most of us thought his best days were ahead. For Bell, this is stunning, just as it is for Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, my pitcher choice. Amazing season when considering value. As for who rebounds, I see little reason to go with Jose Ramirez, the clear bust of the first half. What’s changing? Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew Benintendi and Aaron Nola seem more likely to turn things around.
Adam Ronis (Scout Fantasy, @AdamRonis): It’s easy to take the best players so I look at more value and for offense I go with Pete Alonso. He went late in most drafts and has produced elite power with 30 home runs. Hyun-Jin Ryu is my pitcher. He has been dominant and rarely has a bad start. He was discounted due to the injury concerns and to get a pitcher in the middle rounds with his stats is a big difference maker in this offensive environment and with some of the early pitchers not living up to the draft cost. Paul Goldschmidt will be much better in the second half.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Like Ryan B., I set “value” by adding production and profit (based on pre-season projections, $1 minimum). Based on that, Bellinger among hitters—he has 3 HR, 8 SB and 35 points of BA on Bell. Among pitchers, using the same method, I have Giolito as most valuable. As for a rebound, I’ll take Jose Ramirez, more as a prayer/wishful thinking than anything.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): I tend to pick bang-for-the-buck over elite performers regardless of draft position, but considering Cody Bellinger was barely a top-40-overall pick in the preseason but has been the clear No,. 2 earner for the year, he’s got to be my hitting MVP. On the pitching side, I’ll take Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was talented enough to be universally drafted yet cost practically nothing in mixed leagues due to his injury history. Hey, sometimes that works out! As for the rebound, since it’s top-50 players, Blake Snell gets my nod. Among pitchers with at least 90 innings, he’s sixth in xFIP (3.12) but you’d hardly know it by looking at his traditional Rotisserie stats.“
Al Melchior (FNTSY Radio, @almelchiorbb): Josh Bell is the batter MVP based on the value he’s returned, with Rafael Devers as runner-up. I’ll go with Lucas Giolito over Hyun-Jin Ryu for pitcher MVP, since Ryu was at least on the radar of owners in most drafts. Blake Snell is the strongest bounceback candidate among the preseason top 50. As many have noted, he has actually been a better pitcher from a skills perspective this season than last.”
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Shocking to me no one has mentioned Khris Davis as a bounce back. At .236 he’s still 11 points shy of .247.
Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): Josh Bell was the first name that came to mind as far as first-half MVP Hitter, but I want to show Fernando Tatis Jr. some love. He’s been a top-12 shortstop despite the missed time, and the 13 steals have really helped from a player who was a $1 add or a reserve pick in most drafts (at least in those drafts that took place before we got word that he could actually break camp with the team). MVP Pitcher so far has been Mike Minor. Unreal first half and he was mostly an afterthought in March. I still like Vlad Jr. to hit enough to be a top-50 player rest of season.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): I’ll answer the question literally, as the most valuable hitter and pitcher, regardless of draft/auction day cost. According to the FanGraphs auction calculator, Christian Yelich has been the most valuable hitter so far, while Justin Verlander has been the most valuable pitcher. I’m hoping Jose Ramirez rebounds the most in the second half, but despite my biased view, believe he has a good shot to. The speed is still there, so even if he isn’t delivering on the power we expected, the steals provide a floor and he’s still able to generate value. He still maintains a fantastic strikeout rate and is hitting tons of fly balls, so he could take advantage when/if that HR/FB rate spikes back up into double digits. He also seemingly has significant BABIP upside, as his current mark is a lowly .234, well below his career average.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Fantasy MVP hitter is Pete Alonso when equating draft ADP value. Anytime a post 15 round draft selection returns 1st round value he’s an MVP. Josh Bell is a very close second for the same reason. Pitching MVP is Lucas Giolito. A waiver wire add in many leagues he’s now the 31st overall ranked player on yahoo with 120 Ks and a 3.15 ERA and 11 wins.My top 50 player to hopefully return some of his investment is Jose Ramirez. An elite player can’t fall off that fast, can he?
Ian Kahn (Rotowire, @IanKahn4): I’m going to go with Josh Bell on the hitting side with his 249 ADP (NFBC) slightly ahead of Pete Alonso with his 216 ADP. Ryu has been fantastic, but his 171 ADP at least suggested that he could be a #2. Giolito with his 440 ADP has been dominant, and likely was living on the wire even in 15 team leagues to start the year. I will be looking for Aaron Nola to continue his trend that he has had these last four starts. 29 2/3 Innings,2 runs, 22 runners allowed, 34 K’s. Looking for 2018 results from 2nd half Nola.