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Top Five Fantasy Baseball Players of 2014

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Summary: While the first half of the baseball season has been quite unpredictable, look for conventional logic to prevail in the second half. Plenty of baseball’s big name superstars will rebound with spectacular second halves and you can ride their success to victory. Remember to buy low, sell high and always make moves with your league’s specific scoring format in mind.

We are more than halfway through the 2014 baseball season and there’s been a ton of surprises. Who would have thought that Jose Altuve would be the number one ranked player? Who could have predicted that Jose Reyes would rank out of the top 75 halfway through the season? Let’s take a look at the top five fantasy players per ESPN rankings as of 7/22/2014.

1) Jose Altuve
The 5’5”, 174 pound spaaltuverk plug is the number one fantasy player. That is not a misprint. The little man is batting .336 with 3 home runs, 31 RBI, 41 stolen bases, 51 runs and an on base percentage of .373. He has only struck out 34 times and has 23 walks through 402 at bats. He is first in the American League in batting average and steals. Now, let’s see a raise of hands as to who picked Altuve with their first round selection. Anyone? Bueller?

Altuve’s production could be even more amazing if he batted in a lineup that is halfway decent. As long as he keeps getting on base, he’ll remain a superstar because he’s so quick and opportunistic on the base paths.

2) Mike Trout
The 22 year old All-Star Game MVP is batting .310 and slugging .605 with 23 long balls, 74 RBI, 69 runs, 10 steals and 54 walks in 365 at bats. He is the American League leader in OPS at 1.002 and ranks in the top five in slugging percentage, walks, runs, RBI and homers. Simply put, the sport has never seen such a superstar. Trout is on pace for one of the greatest fantasy seasons in the history of sports thanks to a loaded Angels roster that offers him lineup protection in the form of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

3) Felix Hernandez
The King has a 2.02 ERA, 163 strikeouts, a .90 WHIP and an 11-2 record through 21 starts. Both his ERA and WHIP are well below his career averages of 3.11 and 1.18, respectively. Of particular note is his win total. The Mariners are finally good and might even make the playoffs. This will likely be the first year that Felix hits the 20 win mark. The closest he has come was 19 wins in 2009. It is hard to believe that the 9 year veteran has never broken the 20 win threshold, considering his remarkable abilities. The inning eater will likely remain the game’s top pitcher for the rest of the season.

4) Andrew McCutchen andrew
McCutchen is Mr. Reliable once again in 2014. The five tool superstar is batting .322 with 17 long balls, 62 RBI, 16 steals and 58 runs across 370 at bats. His on base percentage is a robust .419 and he is slugging a healthy .562. McCutchen is first in the National League with 61 walks. There is absolutely no weakness in his game. He is one of the most consistent superstars in all of sports. If he played in the American League with a better surrounding lineup, he would be ranked either first or second. If the Pirates add more protection to their lineup to force opposing pitchers to give McCutchen better pitches to hit, he’ll keep on pounding the ball throughout the second half.

5) Michael Brantley
Along with Joe Altuve, Michael Brantley has been the surprise of the season. He is hitting an amazing .328 compared to his career average of .285. His 2014 OBP is .388 compared to a career average of .339. His slugging percentage is also uncharacteristically high at .523 versus a career average of .404. The young lefty has 15 homers and 63 RBI. His unbelievable pace probably won’t continue in the second half of the season, though stranger things have happened. It is quite remarkable that he was considered an afterthought with limited potential only a year ago when he batted .284 with a mere 10 long balls.

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The Mindset of an Athlete: How Soccer is More Like Baseball Than You Think

Summary: The main takeaway here is that stars of each of the 2 sports are bred from the father of discipline and practice. Talent is nothing without taking that gift to the field and putting in the work that it requires to be one of the best. In their minds, winning is the only option, and in order to win, you have to put your heart, soul, and mind into your craft. You’ve got to really challenge your mind and hard-wire your brain to unlock your true potential. Only a select few have the mindset and determination to discipline themselves like the stars of these 2 sports have done.

Kicking around a clean white and black ball on fresh green turf is similar to smashing a tiny, red-stitched, white ball out of the stadium. What?! You probably think I’m either crazy or have never actually watched sports in my entire life. But believe me, the 2 sports ARE similar, just let me explain how in 1 word. Mindset!

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Practice: The Dirty Work
To play either of these sports at a high level you’ve gotta have an iron mind and a brain that is wired to never let you give up. You see, these 2 sports are something you have to seriously practice for. In soccer you have to train yourself to get your feet to do what your brain wants. Have you ever tried controlling something with your feet? It’s hard stuff! It takes a lot of discipline to be able to kick the ball around like the professionals do, making it seem so easy and effortless.

Baseball is the same way. Constantly repeating actions like pitching, hitting, and bunting. It takes some serious hand-eye coordination to be able to hit a 100mph fastball. How can these guys even tell if a pitch is going to be a strike or a ball when it’s flying across the plate? It’s just a white blur at the speeds they pitch at, but through practice they are able to figure it out.

Discipline: Consistently Doing the Dirty Work discipline
Accurately controlling and kicking a soccer ball is an art. How long do you think it takes to be able to control a black and white, air-filled ball smoothly? Days? Months? Not even close. Try 10+ years. Lacing up the cleats and hitting that green, perfectly rectangular field every morning is what it takes. These are the guys putting in hours upon hours of practicing kicks, headers, and fancy footwork. The professional athlete mindset is what you need to will yourself out of bed in the morning and get to work, no matter how tired you are.

Likewise, it’s amazing the kind of discipline that goes into being a good hitter. You’re talking batting practices after batting practices throughout the entire year. Hundreds of thousands of repetitions is what you don’t see when that home-run slugger steps up to the plate. The heart and soul he poured into his practices are afterthoughts to people when he’s out there. The mindset it took for him to put in all those hours day in and day out finally pays dividends when he steps out onto the plate while the crowd stands and cheers, knowing he’s their best chance for a comeback.

What About Other Sports?
Lets compare to other sports for a minute. Football, not futbol, requires a lot of practice, of course. But think about it, you have to be a big guy to have a chance at most positions in football. You have to be tall, wide, and just naturally big to have a chance at playing any position like lineman, tight end, linebacker, and running back. If you are 5’8”, all the practice in the world isn’t going to help you when a 350 pound lineman comes barreling at you.
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How about basketball? Doesn’t height give a huge advantage? Sure you have to possess a lot of natural skill to succeed at a high level, but if you have natural skill without height, you’re playing at a disadvantage. Of course there are exceptions to the rules such as Nate Robinson or Spud Webb, who both have had great careers, but in general height gives you a huge advantage in basketball.