SLB: 2011 First-Half Awards

The All-Star Break is in full-swing and that means we’ve got three-straight days without fantasy baseball. To fill that void, I took a few minutes to pound out some quick first-half awards.

It’s nothing fancy, it’s rather short (just six categories), but I figure it’s better than nothing.

Give it a whirl and go nuts in the comments, always good to hear some dissenting opinions.

Best Value Pick – Offense: Curtis Granderson – OF – NYY

Granderson has long been deemed a fantasy disappointment after failing to live up to the hype he created when he went 20/20/20/20 and posted a solid .302/.361/.552 batting line in 2007. He followed it up with good, but not great seasons with Detroit in ’08 and ’09 before landing with the Yankees last season where most people thought he’d return to his previous dominant form, unfortunately, that was not the case.

Although the power was there–he blasted 24 home runs–he was a disappointment everywhere else, especially in his overall numbers posting a dismal .247/.324/.468 batting line. As a result, Granderson slipped all the way to the 6th round and 81st overall pick before he was picked up by Justin.

Granderson has responded by blasting 25 HR, swiping 15 bases and posting a solid .361 OBP through the first 87 games of the year.

Best Value Pick – Pitching: James Shields – SP – TB

Shields came into 2011 on the heels of his worst season as a professional after he posted a dismal 5.18 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and a .294 batting average against last season. Granted those lackluster numbers were accompanied by yet another year of pitching over 200 innings, a career high strikeout total (187) and the second highest single-season win total (13) of his career.

Shields was never an ace, but has long held a lot of fantasy value for his high strikeout totals and ability to win a dozen games on a seemingly yearly basis. His disappointing frontline stats, however, pushed his value down far enough that he went to InSaNeAuDiO in the 10th round with the 136th overall pick.

Throughout most of his career Shields has been a great #2 or #3 starter and this year he’s produced like an ace, certainly a big value pick for a team that desperately needed to land some value this year.

Worst Value Pick – Offense: TIE – Shin-Soo Choo / Jimmy Rollins / Dan Uggla / Justin Morneau / Nelson Cruz

All of these cats went in the first round and nearly all of them have been absolutely awful this year—with the exception of the occasional short burst from Uggla and Cruz throughout the first half.

I don’t think I need to get into much detail to tell you how awful all of these first-round picks have been thus far in 2011. Between general ineffectiveness, injuries and age most of these dudes probably wouldn’t go any earlier than the 10th round if we were to re-do the draft today.

Worst Value Pick – Pitching: John Danks – SP – CHI

This one is very tough to pick because pitchers are such a tricky beast to draft. I could have gone with the likes of Brandon Lyon, Jonathon Broxton, Joe Nathan, Ryan Franklin or Fernando Rodney; but closers lose their job every year and should always be drafted with extreme caution.

That narrowed the scope to starting pitching and although there have been some real duds, I’ve got put the bomb on John Danks because of how early he went in the draft. Danks was drafted by Radioactive Rush in the 4th round with the 56th overall pick. He was essentially drafted to be the second ace of the staff. It was a reasonable pick too given that he’d put up three-straight years of sub-4.00 ERAs, solid WHIPs of 1.28 or better and won double-digit games every season.

It seemed like the perfect time, especially with an improved offense, to draft Danks as a frontline starter. Instead, Danks started the year 0-8 and was getting lit up like the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Danks had finally started to rebound in four June starts when he posted a solid 3-0 record, a 1.14 ERA and a .89 WHIP, unfortunately he then landed on the DL with a strained right oblique.

Biggest Surprise: Radioactive Rush

I’ll be the first to admit that I clearly underrated Grant coming into the season. In fact, I ranked him 12th out of 14 teams headed into the season and here we are at the All-Star break and he’s sitting soundly in third place overall and is tied for the second highest winning percentage in the league. He’s made many moves—many of which I disagree with—to improve his club and he’s hanging around. There’s a lot of season left, but right now, he looks legit.

Biggest Disappointment: InSaNeAuDiO

After spending the bulk of the winter bragging up his team and talking trash coming into the 2011 season, many thought that G-Doggy might finally step up to the next level in the Salmon League. Instead, G-Doggy has been one of the league’s most disappointing teams through the first half of the season. Poor draft picks, coupled with poor roster management have led G-Doggy to the brink of desperation. A big run in the second half could propel him into the playoffs, but right now it looks like he settle for another year in the consolation bracket.