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)

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.