Biggest Surprises – Hitters
Aaron Judge (OF – NYY)
Pre-Draft ADP: 264
23 HR, 53 RBI, 60 Runs .336 Avg 1.147 OPS
What can we say about Judge that has not already been said? The 6 foot 7 outfielder has taken the majors by storm with his eye-popping power to all fields, and ability to hit for average as well. Coming into the season, although he had a very nice spring, Judge was not a lock to make the Yankees Opening Day roster. There was also a good chance he would be splitting time with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Hicks, who are all starter-level outfielders. Judge earned manager Joe Girardi’s faith, and then proved it was not a mistake by earning his every day starts in right field. He is currently ranked #1 overall in Yahoo.
Ryan Zimmerman (1B – WSH)
Pre-Draft Average Draft Position: 354
19 HR, 54 RBI, 45 Runs .349 Avg .794 OPS
The first surprise is that Zimmerman has managed to stay healthy to this point in the season. At 33 years of age, he is enjoying the best season of his career. Dusty Baker and the Nationals have been wise to give Zimmerman off days every now and then, as he tries to avoid missing time like he has in many seasons during his career. He has always been a great hitter, and has put it all together with power, improved discipline, and veteran leadership in a very dangerous Nationals lineup.
Travis Shaw (1B/3B – MIL)
Pre-Draft ADP: 356
12 HR, 47 RBI, 32 Runs .295 Avg .876 OPS
Shaw was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers during the off season, for now injured reliever Tyler Thornberg. The Brewers wanted to add some power at the corner spots, and Shaw has delivered just that. He has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners who likely picked him up from the waiver wire in April if they did not draft him with a late round pick. He is settling in nicely in his new situation, with lineup protection and a good hitters ball park to make matters even better. He has even added seven stolen bases just for fun. He may not continue to hit around .300 the rest of the way, but the power and run-production is for real.
Corey Dickerson (OF – TB)
Pre-Draft ADP: 312
15 HR, 34 RBI, 49 Runs .330 Avg .856 OPS
Dickerson has put up some nice seasons while he was with the Colorado Rockies earlier in his career, but he missed most of 2015 due to injuries and had an up and down season with his new club last year in Tampa Bay. This year has been nothing but the best of Dickerson, as he has been one of the most complete hitters in all of baseball. The 28 year old has not shown signs of slowing down after a tremendous April and May. A late round selection in the majority of fantasy leagues, Dickerson is now establishing himself among the elite outfielders, and worthy of a spot in any team’s lineup.
Biggest Surprises – Pitchers
Alex Wood (SP – LAD)
Pre-Draft ADP: 380
7-0 1.96 ERA 1.26 WHIP 72 K 59 IP
What a lift for the Dodgers rotation, as they now feature two dominant lefties for opposing hitters to try to figure out. Clayton Kershaw has been doing it for years, but now Alex Wood is putting up Kershaw-esque numbers here in the first half of 2017. Once a talented young arm for the Atlanta Braves, Wood has had injuries prevent him from pitching to his potential in any given season, including last season. Due to this, Wood was not projected to be a useful fantasy pitcher to start 2017. He likely will not challenge Kershaw and the other elite NL starters for awards this season, but he is the real deal and should continue to succeed and provide tremendous value for his owners.
Ervin Santana (SP – MIN)
Pre-Draft ADP: 283
8-4 2.56 ERA 0.95 WHIP 68 K 95 IP
Santana has been on three different teams in his young career, but seems to have found a home in Minnesota. The Twins right-hander is enjoying a remarkable season, and a big reason why his club is in the hunt for their first playoff berth since 2010. Santana has always had great stuff despite lower end strikeout numbers, but he has improved his ability to remain in games longer and success has followed. He already has three complete game shutouts and it’s only June. However, there are some factors that show he has also been somewhat lucky to this point, including an increased walk rate and more fly balls as well. If you can sell him sooner rather than later, you will be pocketing great value.
Luis Severino (SP – NYY)
Pre-Draft ADP: 367
5-2 3.02 ERA 1.26 WHIP 90 K 80 IP
Here is another young righty who was overlooked by most, if not all draft rankings. Luis Severino is having a breakout season for New York, a tough place to pitch as the AL East has traditionally been a division to avoid (with some exceptions: Google Chris Sale). Severino has been keeping the ball down and keeping hitters guessing. His strikeouts have come in bunches, as his command has been much better than he showed as a starter last season. It appears the shift to reliever in 2016 has paid off, because now Severino is a confident young pitcher, not just a thrower trying to blow hitters by with his high 90’s heater. Not many sources believed he would make the leap in 2017, but he has rewarded those who picked him up, and the wins and Ks should continue to accumulate.
Robbie Ray (SP – ARI)
Pre-Draft ADP: 209
7-3 2.99 ERA 1.18 WHIP 114K 84 IP
Ray has been a wonderful surprise for the fantasy world, oh and for the Arizona Diamondbacks as well. The young lefty is piling up strikeouts and keeping hitters off-balanced with a new breaking pitch he uses to complement his nasty slider. Prior to today’s start, he has posted five consecutive wins and a 0.24 ERA! That kind of dominance will really turn some heads around the league. We know that this kind of pace will not last, but he can strike out double digits on any given night. Owners will surely take that to the bank. The downside is that Ray still allows a good deal of hard contact, and in a hitter’s ball park for half of his games, the home run ball will snake bite him down the road. He has provided excellent value in the later rounds, but owners should not expect him to carry on like he has been.
Biggest Bummers – Hitters
Manny Machado (3B – BAL)
Pre-Draft ADP: 8
13 HR 32 RBI 29 Runs .217 Avg .715 OPS
It is hard to believe a young hitter with a world of talent like Machado could still be hitting just .217 on June 18th. However, you can credit much of his struggles to bad luck, as his hard-contact rate is actually way above his career level. Thankfully for his owners, the power numbers are still on a good pace, but that average has been a major disappointment and he likely will not come close to the .294 mark he posted just a season ago.
Trea Turner (2B, SS, OF – WSH)
Pre-Draft ADP: 13
7 HR 30 RBI 42 Runs .257 BA . 704 OPS
Another popular 1st or 2nd round pick, Turner drafters had big expectations coming into 2017, especially given what he did after being called up last Summer. In 73 games he slashed .342 with an OPS of .937 along with 33 steals, 13 home runs and 40 runs batted in. The speedster has eligibility at both middle infield spots as well as outfield, making him even more valuable for his versatility. His speed has not been the problem at all, as he now has stolen 15 bags in his last 18 games. Power and plate discipline have been causes for concern, with just 7 home runs in 253 at bats, and a disappointing .704 OPS. Major league pitchers have adjusted to him as a hitter, but once he makes his own adjustments he should still be able to produce useful numbers by season’s end, just not what owners had in mind as an early pick.
Starling Marte (OF – PIT)
Pre-Draft ADP: 25
Marte was being selected as a 2nd or 3rd round pick in most formats, and for good reason. The dynamic Pirates outfielder burst onto the scene a few years ago, showing power and a ton of speed. He also hits for average at the top of a once dangerous lineup. Then the disappointment came. Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance and received a suspension of 80 games. What a tough break for his owners who were banking on him to provide great counting stats and a quality average. Owners have either made the decision to trade, release or use a roster spot for Marte, as he is not due back until late July.
Rougned Odor (2B – TEX)
Pre-Draft ADP: 44
12 HR, 31 RBI, 34 Runs, .224 Avg .681 OPS
Odor had a fantastic 2016 for the Texas Rangers, swatting 33 home runs to go with 88 runs batted in. He slugged .502 and swiped 14 bases as well. It was a true breakout for the young second baseman, and he went viral after landing a huge punch to Jose Bautista in the most memorable bench-clearing incident of the season. This year, owners were taking Odor in the early rounds. Now they might be regretting it, as he is off to a slow start batting only .224 with a very low on-base percentage of .267. The free-swinging righty will never lead the league in walks, so he needs to bring his average up in order to provide owners with usable ratios. The power is still visible, and Texas always heats up over the Summer, so a strong second half could very well be just around the corner for Odor.
Biggest Bummers – Pitchers
Madison Bumgarner (SP – SF)
Pre-Draft ADP: 14
0-3 3.00 ERA 1.07 WHIP 28K 25IP
It is certainly hard to contribute towards fantasy, or your own team for that matter, when you make the mistake of getting into a motorcycle accident in the first month of the season. Bumgarner has been one of the most reliable and effective fantasy starters for the first four years of his already spectacular major league career. The former World Series MVP was being drafted as a top 5 pitcher going into this year, but the unfortunate accident has left his owners out to dry. He recently threw 40 pitches while he works towards a comeback, but he is still not expected to return until after the all star break.
Noah Syndergaard (SP – NYM)
Pre-Draft ADP: 19
1-2 3.32 ERA 1.11 WHIP 32K 27IP
Syndergaard is another dominant strikeout pitcher who was being taken very early in drafts, only to disappoint fantasy owners when the news broke that he would be out of commission for months. With the numbers he has put up early in his career, and the huge amount of potential he has shown, Thor was being taken in the second round of most drafts. A torn lat muscle is certainly not a quick fix, and with the Mets having a rough time of staying in the wildcard mix to date, there is a good chance Thor will be shut down for the rest of 2017.
Masahiro Tanaka (SP – NYY)
Pre-Draft ADP: 74
5-7 6.56 ERA 1.54 WHIP 76K 74IP
Tanaka has managed to stay healthy so far this year, however for a while there most Yankees fans were hoping the team would place him on the DL just to get him out of the rotation for a while. It has been a brutally poor first half for the right-hander, and this is something the 29 year old from Japan has never experienced yet. A big time winner at all levels through his career, Tanaka has mixed in some better-looking starts lately, however the numbers remain ugly.
Pre-Draft ADP: 65
4-3 4.12 ERA 1.21 WHIP 51K 61IP
Kyle Hendricks was a revelation a season ago. He finished 16-8 with a microscopic 2.17 ERA and 1.00 WHIP for the World Champion Chicago Cubs. Coming into 2017 he was selected as a player where even if came close to his most recent stats, he could be a solid #2 for any fantasy staff. Now, he is on the DL with tendinitis in his hand, and there is currently no time table for a return. However, barring a setback, we can expect Hendricks back sometime before the all star break, but it would not be a shock if he sits out until he is completely pain-free. The right-hander will not suddenly begin to pile up strikeouts, as he is a ground-ball pitcher who likes pitching to contact, but you can expect that ERA to drop and for the wins to come, as the Cubs are still a winning club and are poised for a big second half.
Average Draft Position from FantasyPros.com
Statistics as of 6/19/17