With the All-Star break upon us, now is a good time to see who has been a fantasy star in the first half of the season and who has been a disappointment.
Owners of Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, Whit Merrifield and Eduardo Escobar have to be ecstatic with the overall performance of those four players. Semien has been the top-ranked second baseman for most of the season, while Altuve and Merrifield have been in my Tier 1 rankings for more than a month. Meanwhile, Ozzie Albies has rewarded those owners who didn’t freak out by his slow start and wanted to dump him. If you are one of those owners who did dump him, you deserve to be laughed at.
Albies is now back in the Tier 1 group and playing like the top second baseman he was expected to be this season. Escobar has been a surprise this year, at least for me, as I didn’t have him ranked at the start of the year. But when you slug 20 homers and drive in 60 runs in the first half, you deserve to be ranked as a Tier 1 second baseman.
For owners of DJ LeMahieu, perhaps your patience with him is finally starting to pay off. Like Albies, LeMahieu had a horrible start to the season and dropped out of the rankings completely. LeMahieu has not had the same rapid turnaround to his season as Albies has, but he is now ranked among the Top 25 thanks to a strong 30-day stretch. Meanwhile, players like Dylan Moore and Cavan Biggio have dropped out of the rankings at some point this season and have yet to return, though Biggio has at least shown signs of life since his early slump and stint on the IL.
So, with baseball taking a rest, let’s see who is ranked where in this week’s rankings.
Marcus Semien continues to produce for the Blue Jays and maintain his hold as the top second baseman in fantasy baseball. The right-hander entered the weekend slashing .279-.345-.526 with 66 runs scored, 21 homers, 54 RBI, and 10 steals. The runs scored and home runs rank first among second basemen while the RBI and slugging percentage ranked third and the steals ranks fifth.
Moving back into the Tier 1 group is Ozzie Albies, who started the season ranked first, plummeted out of the rankings, and has now climbed back into the top group. Albies is producing like everyone expected him to do, raising his slash line to .265-.328-.509 for the season with 52 runs scored, 15 home runs, 60 RBI, and 13 steals. In the case of Albies, he was hitting into some horrible luck the first two months of the season. His BABIP in March/April was .217 and in May it was .244. Since June, however, the balls Albies hit hard for outs are now finding holes as he hit .321 with a .607 slugging percentage in June with a BABIP of .366.
Jose Altuve has cooled off at the plate the last two weeks, but he remains in the top group. He ranks in the top five among second basemen in runs, home runs, RBI, and slugging. Meanwhile, while Eduardo Escobar plays for a horrible Diamondbacks team, but he is not the reason why the team is the worst in baseball. Escobar ranks second among second basemen with 20 home runs and his 60 RBI tie him with Albies for the most at this position. Over the last 30 days, he’s been outstanding as he is slashing .306-.344-.588 with six home runs and 19 RBI. A lot of that damage has come in the last two weeks as Escobar is slugging .636 with four dingers and 14 RBI. Somehow he is owned in only 82 percent of Yahoo leagues. That is ridiculous.
I battled back and forth with whether to put Max Muncy into the Tier 1 group and drop Whit Merrifield down to sixth in the rankings. So I cheated and have six players in Tier 1 this week with Muncy and Merrifield tied. Outside of stolen bases, Muncy is having a better season than Merrifield. For the year Muncy’s OBP is .412 and he is slugging .540 (and slugging .600 over the last month) with 51 runs scored, 18 home runs, and 47 RBI. Merrifield’s 24 steals leads all second basemen by a wide margin and he ranks in the top 10 in runs scored and RBI – which is hard to do with playing for a Royals team that ranks 26th in the majors in runs scored. But without the steals, which are harder and harder to come by in fantasy baseball, Merrifield would be a Tier 2 player.
Chris Taylor drops down to Tier 2 because of Albies and Escobar moving up and due to a somewhat cold month of June in which he slashed .227-.330-.375. All three of those numbers are his lowest for a month this season. Through his first 35 at-bats this month, Taylor has turned things around by slashing .343-.378-.457. McMahon is having a nice season with 50 runs scored, 16 homers, and 47 RBI while slugging .474. But over the last month, he has only three home runs and 14 RBI while hitting .259 and seeing his slugging percentage drop to .444. Over the last two weeks, he has no homers and is slugging .326.
Jake Cronenworth continues to prove that last season was not a fluke. I was not sold on Cronenworth earlier this season due to the fact he was a 26-year-old rookie last year. But Cronenworth has been a vital cog on the Padres offense this year, scoring 62 runs and hitting 12 homers while slashing .277-.352-.458. Over the last month, he has been outstanding, slashing .280-.368-602 with seven of his 12 homers and 16 RBI, nearly half of his season total of 34.
Jonathan Schoop’s resurgence continues for the Tigers, who have been an above .500 team since going 8-19 record in April. Schoop has 16 homers and 50 RBI entering the weekend and is slugging .467. Over the last month, he is slashing .313-347-.544 with seven homers and 22 RBI. Owned in only 81 percent of Yahoo leagues and 89.5 percent of ESPN leagues, there is a chance he is still available on the waiver wire. If you can, add him.
Brandon Lowe still isn’t hitting for average or getting on base at a great clip, slashing .203-.312-.434. But he has 18 homers and 44 RBI to go along with 44 runs scored. The homers tie him with Muncy for fourth among second baseman and his RBI rank 10th. And over the last month, he has become a huge threat at the plate, slugging .644 with eight homers and 19 RBI. He is even hitting .247 with a .353 OBP. The time to buy low on Lowe has passed, but he’s still available in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues and 10.5 percent of ESPN leagues. If he is available as a free agent, snatch him up.
Luis Urias has put together a nice season for the Brewers, hitting 12 homers and driving in 42 entering the weekend while scoring 41 runs. Over the last month, he is slugging .446 with five home runs, 17 RBI and 21 runs scored. In fact, most of that production has come in the last two weeks as he is slugging .500 with four dingers and 10 RBI. He’s owned in only 33 percent of Yahoo leagues and 37 percent of ESPN leagues. If you need middle infield depth, Urias is a good player you should be able to pick up off the waiver wire.
DJ LeMahieu finally makes his appearance back in the top 25. For the year, his numbers don’t stack up to the expectations people had of him, slashing .272-.347-.370 with only seven homers and 36 RBI. But over the past 30 days, he slashing .317-.388-481 with four round-trippers and 21 RBI.
Meanwhile, I need to give some love to Adam Frazier. The Pirates’ second basemen gets overlooked in a game that values the home run and slugging percentage. That is not Frazier’s game. All he does is hit, get on base, and set up the hitters behind him to collect an RBI. For the year Frazier is slashing .328-.397-.464. Among players with more than 200 at-bats, his batting average ranks first and his on-base percentage ranks second only to Muncy.
Two years ago I traded Jazz Chisholm, and the trade helped me win my league that season. But if I know then that Chisholm would have the power he has shown over the first half to go with his speed, I may not have made that trade. The Marlins’ second baseman enters the weekend with 10 homers and 10 steals to go along with 32 RBI. Dropping him in the standings right now is the fact he has a .315 OBP for the season and a slash line of .220-.284-.370 and one stolen base in the last month.
Kike Hernandez has been in and out of the Tier 5 group this season and is not back in thanks to a fantastic two weeks in which he is slashing .313-.433-.688 with nine runs scored, five home runs and 11 RBI, raising his season home run and RBI totals to 11 and 30. He is owned in only 36 percent of Yahoo leagues and 39.5 percent of ESPN leagues. Able to play both middle infield spots and all three outfield spots in Yahoo leagues, now is the time to snag Hernandez.
Like Frazier, David Fletcher is caught playing the game during the wrong era. Fletcher has only one home run this year for the Angeles, but he has scored 50 runs thanks to a .302 batting average while getting on base at a .330 clip. Over the last month, he is slashing .392-.416-.515, leading all second baseman in average and ranking fourth in on-base percentage among second basemen with more than 75 at-bats.
After a poor start that sent him to Triple-A, Keston Hiura is back with Milwaukee and looking solid at the plate. Over the last month, Hiura is slashing .265-.373-.531 with three homers and 13 RBI, and over the last two weeks that slash line is .279-.392-.512 with two home runs and 11 RBI. Hiura was lost at the plate at the end of April, when he was hitting .167 and had 29 strikeouts in 72 at-bats. He was even worse in May, slashing .038-.107-.038 with 13 strikeouts in 26 at-bats before being demoted to the minors. Since his return, he has struck out at a horrid 42.4 percent of the time (basically matching the 42.9% whiff rate before the demotion), so he still needs to make more contact. But he is owned by only 50 percent of Yahoo and ESPN teams, so he is worth taking a risk on.
If Ketel Marte could stay healthy this year, he’d be a top-10 second baseman. But that has not been the case as Marte has played in only 37 games is currently on the IL once again. Jean Segura could easily still be in the top 25. I’ve dropped him because I’m taking a gamble on Hiura. Segura is still playing well, slashing .328-.366-.448 with 10 RBI over the last month, and if you believe in him more than Hiura, that makes sense. But I’m going with Hiura’s power upside right now over Segura’s better slash numbers.
Nick Solak is no longer ranked due to poor performance at the plate, slashing .208-.265-.247 with one home run and seven RBI the last 30 days, and Garrett Hampson hasn’t been too much better over the same span of time, slashing .254-.286-.388 with only one home run and five RBI. Freddy Galvis gets the combo reason for dropping out – he’s hurt and he has not played well lately, driving in only three runs over the past month while slashing .228-.254-.246. Gavin Lux is healthy, but after a nice stretch, he has stumbled over the last month with a slash line of .229-.366-.313 and only one homer with nine RBI.