Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and St. Louis Cardinals second… (Patrick Semansky / Charles…)
It never hurts to have Miguel Cabrera on your fantasy team, but championships are usually won by owners who are the beneficiaries of breakout seasons by unexpected sources. As the league returns from the All-Star break, staff writer Tim Hubbard chooses most-valuable-player and Cy Young Award winners from each league based on their first-half performances in relation to their pre-season projections by the fantasy experts at MLB.com.
American League MVP
Chris Davis | 1B | Baltimore
Davis may end up battling Cabrera for the real MVP award, but for fantasy value, Davis gets the nod. Though ranked in the preseason by mlb.com as the 19th best first baseman, Davis' 37 home runs and 93 runs batted in have surpassed his predicted output. It's scary to think there are probably fantasy teams who have Cabrera and Davis manning their corners.
AL CY Young
Hisashi Iwakuma | SP | Seattle
Nobody expected Max Scherzer to start 13-1, but he still came with a high sticker price on draft day. All you need to know about mlb.com's opinion of Iwakuma is that he was ranked No. 71 among starting pitchers, five spots worse than the Angels' Joe Blanton, who is having a miserable season. Iwakuma leads AL pitchers in WHIP and is near the top 10 in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
National League MVP
Matt Carpenter | 2B | St. Louis
Who? What? Listen up. Versatility is an underrated commodity in the fantasy world, and this guy can play almost anywhere on the field. Going into the season, Carpenter was ranked No. 360 overall by mlb.com with most of his value coming from his eligibility at multiple positions (first base, third base and outfield). Now the Cardinals' starting second baseman, Carpenter is hitting .326 and leads the NL in runs with 73. That's some real value. Honorable mention goes to Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura (.324, 29 stolen bases), who is quickly becoming the league's best shortstop not named Troy Tulowitzki.
NL Cy Young
Patrick Corbin | SP | Arizona
Matt Harvey | SP | New York
This one's too close to call. Corbin, who was not as highly regarded by mlb.com (106th-ranked starter, Harvey 62nd), is certainly the bigger surprise, racking up an 11-1 record with a 2.35 earned-run average and a 1.00 WHIP. Harvey (7-2, 2.35) may have fewer victories, but his NL-leading 147 strikeouts are 38 more than Corbin's.