Recently, the 2011 MLB season reached its midway point. While they don't hand out any official awards at halftime, I figured it was an appropriate time to give some players their due.
In order to make it as fair as possible, I made the cut-off July 1. That way, only stats accumulated on June 30th or earlier were taken into consideration. Awards given are: Most Valuable Fantasy Player, Fantasy Cy Young, Rookie of the Fantasy Year, and Fantasy Sleeper of the Year (batter and pitcher). Some players were nominated for more than one award, but no player was allowed to win more than one. Here is a look at some award winners after the first three months of the season.
MOST VALUABLE FANTASY PLAYER
This was one of the closest races, and really came down to Jose Bautista vs. Matt Kemp. While Bautista's numbers are spectacular, Kemp's rare ability to hit for average and power coupled with his speed and prowess on the basepath makes him arguably the most dangerous players in the league.
Curtis Granderson and Adrian Gonzalez are both having monster seasons as well. Granderson had the edge in runs and Gonzalez has the the edge in hits, batting average, and RBI, but much like Bautista, they lacked the all-around dominance of Kemp.
So there you have it, your Fantasy Island MVP award for the first half goes to Matt Kemp, outfielder for Los Angeles Dodgers.
FANTASY CY YOUNG
Another difficult award to hand out, this one also came down to who carried their weight in the most categories. Justin Verlander's torrid June wasn't enough for him to seperate himself from Phillies ace Roy Halladay.
If I was to give this award out to one player from each league, it would have easily been Verlander and Halladay. The reason Halladay took the edge in this award was his consistency and his ability to complete games. Maybe a little home-town bias went into this, but you can't argue that Verlander deserves it much more than Halladay does.
Jair Jurrjens, Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver both put up worthy resumes, but Halladay and Verlander were in a class by themselves.
Therefore, the Fantasy Island Cy Young award for the first half goes to Roy Halladay, starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.
ROOKIE OF THE FANTASY YEAR
Like the other categories, this one was trimmed down to only include statistics from the first three months of the season. In order to be considered a rookie, however, a player couldn't have had more than 50 career at bats before this season.
Danny Espinosa, like Kemp and Verlander, has proven to be an all-around player, hitting for power and stealing bases. While he struck out more than my other two finalists, Mark Trumbo and Mitch Moreland, he had a distinct edge in runs, RBI, home runs, and stolen bases. His average may not be up to par, but the rest of his numbers were more than enough to break him away from the pack.
The Fantasy Island Rookie of the Year for the first half of the season is Danny Espinosa, second baseman for the Washington Nationals.
FANTASY SLEEPER OF THE YEAR
Usually, a sleeper is a player who has gone from relative obscurity to proven commodity without missing a beat. My two picks for this year's sleeper award are anything but.
Lance Berkman, who could have been considered for the MVP award, has to be considered a sleeper. While he has been known to put up some big numbers, not much was expected of him coming into the 2011 season. The Cardinals outfielder was going in the 22nd round, on average, in Yahoo! fantasy drafts. Even more staggering, he was only going in about 50% of drafts. He was ranked as the 283rd player, but this season his numbers have him ranked 19th overall and he is now owned in 91% of Yahoo! leagues.
I have no idea who is playing in the 9% of leagues where he isn't owned, but I wish my waiver wire was that pretty.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Melky Cabrera were the other top contenders, but neither have made the kind of impact that Berkman has. Asdrubal went from a preseason ranking of 190th to currently ranking 22nd. Melky was ranked 374th before this season and now sits at 34th. While those are both impressive jumps, Berkman could contend for the MVP if he has a great second half.
For pitchers, Jair Jurrjens has to take the prize. Like Berkman with the MVP, Jurrjens was considered for the Cy Young. He was the 247th ranked player heading into the season and was only drafted in 72% of leagues.
After injuring his oblique in spring training, causing him to miss a few starts, Jurrjens has been on fire. His injury caused a lot of concerns among owners, but those who were lucky enough to hold on to him or grab him off the wire, are being handsomely rewarded.
There are a few other pitchers that made a strong case for this award, including James Shields, Michael Pineda and Alexi Ogando, but none have been able to put up the same kind of numbers.
Therefore, Lance Berkman, outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Jair Jurrjens, starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves share the Fantasy Island Sleeper of the Year honors.
Here is a more in-depth look at the stats for the guys I've previously mentioned. Let me know if you agree in the comments section below.
FANDUEL UPDATE: Don't forget to sign up for the Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship. It will continue through early September, with a new finalist named every Friday. Picks lock at 7 p.m. tonight, so make sure to get your picks in before the rosters lock.
Matt Mullin is a sports producer at philly.com. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin