White Sox

Fantasy Baseball: Handing out MVP, Cy Young and other awards

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Fantasy Baseball: Handing out MVP, Cy Young and other awards

The Twins, Rays and Astros all above .500? Dallas Keuchel starting the All-Star Game for the American League? The White Sox and Red Sox in last place of their respective divisions?

The first half of the 2015 MLB season has not disappointed with surprises, but we've also seen young stars live up to the hype.

Everyone on the North Side of Chicago worships the ground Kris Bryant walks on, after a fast start to his major-league career. Outfielder Joc Pederson has been providing the power for the Dodgers lineup and his big-time potential was put on display at the Home-Run Derby. Eduardo Rodriguez has been one of the lone bright spots for the Red Sox rotation and Carlos Rodon, while walking too many people, has flashed his ability to breeze through some of the best lineups in baseball. 

Because handing out awards is fun, we decided to dish out our midseason awards for Fantasy Baseball as the Midsummer Classic finishes and teams prepare for the second half. Love or hate our picks, share your thoughts on our selections in the comments below or tweet us your thoughts @CSNFantasy

The Stud Muffins (MOST VALUABLE PLAYER)

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI - The Diamondbacks have been a respectable team this year after coming into 2015 with low expectations and a lot of their success has to do with their budding superstar. Goldschmidt did it all in the first half: Power, RBI machine, Speed. Wait, really? Speed?

Yes, actually. 

Goldschmidt has racked up 16 stolen bases this year, most of any first baseman in baseball, to go along with his .340 BA, 21 HR and 70 RBI. The added speed element really put him over the top for me when I was considering MVP candidates compared to someone like Bryce Harper. 

The Arizona slugger wasn't in a lot of discussion for being the No. 2 overall pick after the obvious selection of Mike Trout in drafts this spring, but he's proven he belongs with the fantasy elites. (John "The Professor" Paschall) 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Dee Gordon, 2B, MIA - Maybe it was because of his position, or because Giancarlo Stanton wouldn't stop raking, but somehow Gordon seems to have somewhat flown under the radar in what has been a magnificent year for the second baseman. Going from the potent Dodgers lineup to a marginal one in Miami hurt Gordon's stock some in drafts, but he's proved last year's breakout campaign was no fluke. In addition to his .338 average (third in the NL) and 33 stolen bases (second in the MLB), Gordon's OBP and SLG are both up from a year ago, and while he won't be in a Home Run Derby anytime soon it's still a tiny added bonus for a guy who is leading plenty of fantasy teams to the top of the standings this year. And once Stanton returns these numbers will only improve. He's been every bit an MVP for teams, and his draft value (as opposed to the expected guys like Trout and McCutchen) only further his case. (Mark Strotman)

Bryce Harper, OF, WAS - Coming into this season, Harper was heralded as a bust by some even though he was only 21. But this year, Harper has been arguably Fantasy's top performer, contributing in every category but steals - .339 AVG, .464 OBP (thanks to 63 walks), 26 HRs, 61 RBI, 59 Rs, 21 2Bs, culminating in a ridiculous 1.168 OPS. (Tony Andracki)

The Dud Muffins (Least Valuable Player)

Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS - Look, I hate using injuries as an excuse for why someone is a dud, but even when Strasburg takes the mound for the Nationals, he's just not putting up the numbers he should. He's 5-5 with a 5.16 ERA this year (nauseating how many five's there are in that stat line). 

The Nationals really are a good enough team to support him during his starts but he's got to stay on the field and also avoid getting rocked. 

Fantasy owners that took the right-hander with a live arm are feeling not so thrilled about their decision. Don't hit the drop button just yet but he's got a short leash going forward (after he gets off the DL, of course). (JP)

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Robinson Cano, 2B, SEA - $240 million doesn't buy what it used to, apparently. When the Mariners signed Cano to a massive 10-year deal, it was considered relatively safe. In his final six seasons with the Yankees, Cano had missed EIGHT games, hit at least .300 each year and averaged 26 home runs, 99 RBIs. and 96 runs. So when he went in the second round of most fantasy drafts it was a solid investment. Until the year started. He's hitting a career-worst .251, has hit just six home runs and driven in 30 runs. He's almost matched his strikeout total (64) from a year ago (68) and simply doesn't look like the same player he was in New York. Maybe he turns things around - he's batting .327 in July with a pair of homers in 12 games - but for now he's been arguably the biggest disappointment from the first few rounds of re-draft leagues. (MS)

Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD - Puig was the 18th player drafted in ESPN leagues on average, but has missed 47 games and is hitting just .261/.343/.429 (.771 OPS) with only four homers, one stolen base, 14 RBI and 17 runs. He's barely worth owning in Fantasy, let alone living up to his billing as an early second-round pick. (TA)

Cy Young Award

Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT - I hope you got an invite to Cole's coming out party because if you didn't, you're really missing out.

It was fun watching Max Scherzer dominate for back-to-back starts, flirting so aggressively with no-hitters you'd think he was a college party animal going after the hot girl at the party. But his record is only 10-7 this year. Cole sets himself apart from the rest because of his ability to get wins (13-3) and rack up the strikeouts (116).

Cole's breakthrough is enjoyed by his owners because his ADP was 78 in ESPN leagues. His 2.30 ERA is making those who drafted him look pretty, pretty smart. 

It also helps he's on one of the best teams in the majors and is supported by an offense that can put up runs for him every night. (JP)

Francisco Liriano, SP, PIT - Look at Liriano's 5-6 record and you'll wonder how he could possibly he considered a Cy Young fantasy candidate. But digging just a hair deeper reveals that Liriano, a late-round pick in most drafts, has been stellar. Consider his MLB ranks in the following categories: Seventh in strikeouts (125), 13th in WHIP (1.03), 26th in ERA (2.98) and sixth in quality starts (14). No one will confuse him for Max Scherzer, but considering where he was drafted and how reliable he's been all year you can make the case that he's been the most valuable pitcher to certain fantasy staffs. Maybe not the best, but his value speaks for itself. (MS)

Max Scherzer, SP, WAS - Scherzer has proved his worth as baseball's highest-paid pitcher and has undoubtedly been worth the high Fantasy price tag as well. Scherzer's done it all this year with a no-hitter on his resume as well as a ridiculous 0.78 WHIP plus a 2.11 ERA, 150 strikeouts and 10 wins. He's been Fantasy's highest-rated pitcher since Day 1. (TA)

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.

Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert

As the White Sox have added young Cuban stars in the making in Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, Jose Abreu's long-term role on the team has shifted.

The 31-year-old first baseman has been looked at as something of a mentor for the two young Cubans. He seems to be delivering on that so far.

Abreu picked up Moncada from the airport when he first was called up to the White Sox last July. Now he's helping Robert in the batting cage.

The Cuban trio is expected to play a big part of the White Sox future in the coming years. 

Robert has already stated his goal of making it to the majors this year to join Abreu and Moncada, but that may be an overly ambitious goal. Either way, plenty of eyes will be on him throughout 2018 as he marches towards the White Sox roster and his Cuban teammates.