The first half is in the books. You suffered through the HR Derby and stomached the ASG. Congratulations, you’ve weathered the first “half” storm. We have about 65-70 games left, depending on the team, and you now have a good look at your team. Or do you? Plenty of players have outperformed expectations and a seemingly equivalent contingent of guys have been duds. I’m not gonna bore you with a long intro here. Let’s look at guys who should have increased value rest of season. Buy em or don’t sell em, but use it to your advantage.
First let’s talk about guys who had either zero perceived value first half or those who are extreme bounce back candidates for the second half.
Carlos Santana did maintain his normally high BB rate through the first half. That translates naturally to the fact that he’s still seeing the ball well. His K rate is up a bit by about 4% on his career average so far, but he’s seriously due to bounce back. His career BABIP is .275 and he’s at a .238 quip to start the season. His OPS is historically better post ASG by .070 in his big league career and his ISO is .050 better second half. Match all that with his first half OPS being .040 points lower than his career first half line and he’s the poster boy for being due. He’s a great buy candidate for any league, but he’s a points league monster when he’s right and he’s eligible at C, 1B, 3B and DH.
Matt Holliday is a microcosm of the Cardinals offense through the first half. I see no way that this team continues to hit at such a poor rate throughout the season. It appears as though Kolten Wong just may be the ignition switch for one of the league’s premier offenses and Holliday probably has the most to gain. Compared to his career numbers (which he has carried outside of Coors consistently) he has an OPS .150 below and an ISO .090 below those rates. Not only should those numbers improve towards his career average, but the rest of the lineup should improve as well which should boost his counting stats as well as he gets more opportunities with RISP, to be driven in and receive more protection in the lineup.
Ben Zobrist was another huge disappointment for the true first half (April-June). He really started to turn it on come July raising his OPS nearly .030 in less than two weeks. From 2011-13 Zobrist actually holds the 5th best 2nd half WAR among active players. He’s made for most points leagues with his HR/SB combo numbers being modest, but help boost his extremely solid AVG/OBP/R/RBI production. He’s also one of the top candidates to be moved by the trade deadline and will almost certainly end up on a team with a better lineup surrounding him.
JJ Hardy has had a revelation in AVG the first half which usually bodes well in points leagues. However, he also has only three dongs, which would be normally considered uncannily impressive. But we talkin baseball here folks. JJ has averaged 25 HRs in every season he’s played 120+ games since 2007. Barring a season ending injury he’s well on pace to reach 120 games. He’s nowhere near 25 HRs. If HRs are dongs and dongs are wieners, Hardy is VIP to the sausage fest.
So there’s the duds who should become dudes of the ranch 2nd half. Let’s look at the zeroes becoming fantasy relevant.
Luckily, Kevin Kiermaier, doesn’t K enough to have his middle name start with the same letter. He’s got really good, and potentially great, plate discipline. He’s the premier defender on the team and that should be enough with his developing bat to keep him in the lineup every day going forward. The Rays are also likely to lighten their roster as sellers at the deadline which should bolster his roster spot. He’s extremely fast, but not the best basestealer. That being said, he should definitely snag more bases than the 2 he’s managed in the first half. He has developing power witnessed by his 8 HRs already in only 158 ABs.
Chris Coghlan is the epitome of a post-hype sleeper. He won the ROY award in 2009 and has totally disappeared since then. Considering the Cubs are going nowhere this year they are very unlikely to call up any of the 88 prospects that are ready to see the show unless absolutely necessary. He should see regular time the rest of the year. He’s not going to be a guy that will carry your team, but he certainly can contribute some points as a fill in on your squad.
Rubby De La Rosa had no real expectation to be a starting pitcher this year. The Red Sox seemingly had a team together that should nearly repeat last year’s championship season. Many things have gone wrong in Beantown and the starting pitching is definitely one of those. De La Rosa has been fantastic so far this year in his limited work in the bigs. He was pegged for a full year of development following his 2011 Tommy John and his seeming lack of polish upon his return. He’s responded with excellent command every step of the way this year and boasts K/9 over 8 and a K/BB over 4 with the Bo Sox. He may not throw more than 60+ more innings this year but they seemingly will be productive ones.
I could go on and on here, but that just increases the likelihood I’ll look bad. Lemme rattle off a few more guys I like 2nd half and then get back to staring at the mirror to remove all self confidence.
Eric Hosmer – 2014 OPS is .697. 2011-13 his 2nd half OPS was .790
Jed Lowrie – 2014 ISO is .107. 2011-13 was .160
Chris Davis – 2014 BABIP .252. 2012-13 was .335
Allen Craig – 2014 BABIP .285. Career .332
Matt Cain and Justin Verlander – veteran established aces who have been way down so far this year. Peripherals don’t support a huge bounce back, but their track records do. If someone is selling low don’t be scared to take the risk.
James Paxton and Kevin Gausman – hyped prospects who have lost thunder due to injury and being bounced through system. Both look poised to post really nice numbers in the second half without inning caps.
Zach Wheeler and Brandon Belt – hyped prospects who’ve taken their sweet time developing that I expect to break out a bit (not huge) ROS.
Josh Donaldson – He obliterates the league with 1.45 runs produced per hit (Migs is only at about 1.2). He’s a very good hitter, but that’s some serious luck. The rest of the A’s will start to steal that number away from him and his run production should decrease substantially as he regresses to the mean.