As we come out of the All-Star break, it is time to reassess where our teams are. Do we have a chance to get into the money? Do we mortgage the future to make a run for a flag? Who should we target for the second half? Who should perform better in the second half? Who will be worse? If we aren’t running for the flag, who do we target to build up our fallen dynasty?
In single or redraft leagues, the question is a bit tougher to answer. You owe it to the other players in your league to play out the string. If you have an injured player, replace him. If you get a trade offer, respond to it. Play the remainder of the season like you did the first two weeks.
I’ve been on my own little All-Star break over the last week or so as work has gotten in the way of this fantasy island. As Hervé Villechaize said “The plane! The plane!” – Let’s see who our guests are this week.
There is no such thing as a second-half player
You will hear many folks spout off and say that second half players do not exist. The sample sizes are too small. There is no reason for a player to be worse in the first half and better in the second half. I say hogwash! There must be something to it. Well, let’s look at some players to target who have shown these splits over their career.
Pre All-Star break – .268/.362/.506
Post All-Star break – .294/.381/.557
Teixeira started the second half off with a bang. He’s much like our friend Mr. Ramirez discussed later. He’s been a consistent second half performer throughout his long career. If you need just about anything (other than stolen bases) he is a great target.
Pre All-Star break – 4.31 ERA, 1.378 WHIP,
Post All-Star break – 3.60 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, 706 OPS against.291/.349/.523
Scherzer is a tough one to recommend completely. He has really looked awful at times, but his peripheral statistics show he should be much better than he is. For those who have a higher risk tolerance (or really need to make a push) Scherzer is a good guy to target in a deal. If you cannot easily move players in and out of your lineup, I might hedge a bit on acquiring him.
Pre All-Star break – .277/.337/.478
Post All-Star break – .291/.349/.523
Perhaps more impressive than the 50 points of OPS is that Ramirez has five more home runs in the second half in his career in almost 800 fewer plate appearances. He’s consistently produced well in the second half. He’s a great target in all formats if you are in need of power.
Pre All-Star break – .235/.297/.331
Post All-Star break – .266/.334/.386
For deeper leagues, Cliff Pennington of the Oakland Athletics is a great pickup for those looking for SBs. He’s generally buried near the bottom of the lineup, but should be a cheap acquisition in deeper leagues.
Pre All-Star break – .246/.325/.469
Post All-Star break – .274/.361/.507
Scott is one of the streakiest players around. He can hit seven homeruns in a week and then not hit another for three weeks. If you need to make a push in the power department, Scott is a cheap option.
Pre All-Star break – 3.36 ERA 1.23 WHIP 7.992 K/9
Post All-Star break – 2.83 ERA 1.20 WHIP 7.824 K/9
Wainwright’s numbers are actually strikingly similar in the two halves of a season (except for the half run difference in ERA). Wainwright’s on this list because I think he will continue to improve in the second half on his way back to being a front line starter for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pre All-Star break – 4.81 ERA 1.35 WHIP 6.849 K/9
Post All-Star break – 4.06 ERA 1.29 WHIP 7.392 K/9
Floyd’s latest injury gives me pause on recommending him, however I still think he’s got a solid chance to be an above average performer in the second half. Monitor his injury status over the next week and be ready to make a deal.
I mean what I say when I say regress to the mean!
Brian McCann has been awful for the first half of the year. Now, I generally do not recommend catchers as big second half players as the belief is the physical demands of catching wear on a player over time and his hitting suffers along with the physical breakdown. However, McCann has been awful this year hitting only .240/.303/.426 when his career line is .282/.354/.481. I have a hunch he gets back towards his career averages in the second half of 2012. And that hunch is based not on stats, but on this. His conversation and hitting session with his brother (a former professional baseball player) is just the thing McCann could need to get over any mental hurdles he has.
Dan Uggla was almost in my splits section above, but I thought the spread wasn’t big enough to include. However, his 12 homeruns in the first half leaves a lot of room to get back to his usual 30 homerun total. He will kill your batting average (I don’t see him getting past .240 for the year), but he likely has 17 to 20 HRs left for the second half.
Cliff Lee had one win in the first half. I will go out on a limb and say he will have more than that in the second half. I know the Phillies are a miserable team, but they do get Halladay back this month and Lee should pitch well enough to pick up a few more wins along with his superior WHIP.
Kevin Youkilis struggled mightily for the Boston Red Sox. His relationship with manager Bobby Valentine could have been labeled toxic at best. He was a classic “change of scenery” player and he’s shown to be that so far in his time with the Chicago White Sox. He is still only 33 and there is plenty of evidence that his last two season (2011 and 2012) in Boston were fraught with discord (and injury). As long as Youkilis stays healthy, I can see him approaching his career .875 OPS over the remainder of the season.
Jemile Weeks has a very short career record in the major leagues, but what he does shows a big split in first half/second half. Weeks seems to be slowing dragging himself out of his funk. If you need SBs and batting average over the second half he is your man.
Mat Latos’ first year with the Cincinnati Reds started off quite poorly. He’s righted the ship recently and I can see that improvement continuing in the second half. The only numbers out of line with history are his HR/9 and that was to be expected based on the move from Petco to Great American. We will see him finish with an ERA below 3.75 and above average numbers all around.
Tim Lincecum – Nope, I’m still not recommending him. I don’t see him being useful in any league the rest of the season. Something is wrong with him (injury, mechanical, etc.). Nope, I don’t believe his last start. Nope.
Are you Ryan Vogelsong? No? Because you sure look like him.
Mike Fiers seems to have come out of nowhere for the Milwaukee Brewers just like Ryan Vogelsong last year for the San Francisco Giants. Fiers’ statistics are even more impressive than Vogelsong’s. However, can Fiers sustain it or is he just another Josh Collmenter? Nathaniel Stoltz wrote an in-depth analysis of Fiers at Beyond the Boxscore. It is worth the read and gives me reason to recommend him for the remainder of the season – he is not another Josh Collmenter. There is a bit more to him. You may find an owner who wants to sell high on Fiers. I think he will continue to provide value (albeit not quite at this level – perhaps 85 to 90 percent) for the remainder of the season.
What did you say your name was again?
Juan Carlos Ovideo used to be known by a different moniker – Leo Nunez – but he’s the same guy to us. Ozzie Guillen said that the Miami Marlins will go with a closer by committee for the second half. Heath Bell is likely in that committee along with Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica. However, Ovideo is lurking in the shadows as he has just started his way back from suspension. Ovideo has the experience to potentially grab the chair of this committee. Don’t expect a ton of saves out of this bullpen, but Ovideo is a good target for 5-8 saves over the second half. Note: Ovideo was removed from his last minor league game with a sprained UCL so monitor his status. Cishek picked up the first save in the committee.
Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
Wil Myers is probably ready to make his debut for the Kansas City Royals. However, he doesn’t have a spot yet as the Royals would like to see what they have in Lorenzo Cain. If Myers is called up this year, he won’t see the minor leagues again. He’s been touted as the best or second best hitting prospect in the minor leagues. However, there is a little wrinkle at Yahoo!. Myers is eligible at catcher. If you are in a Yahoo! league go out and grab him now. He’s going to see the majors this year and could give you that extra push to get to the top of the standings or through the playoffs.
I’m out of it. Which prospects should I target?
I’m all for targeting the next hot thing. From Dylan Bundy to Oscar Taveras to Jurickson Profar, there are hundreds of prospects out there from which to choose. I’m not a scout, so I can’t offer anything more than Kevin Goldstein, Jason Parks, Keith Law and the crew at Baseball America can offer. The key to wading through their rankings and reports is to focus on the offensive upside with the knowledge that a prospect’s defense, while not important to fantasy, may hold a player back from promotion to the big leagues. Moreover, just because a hitter’s statistics say he should (or shouldn’t) be promoted doesn’t mean he will (or won’t).
Major league teams generally have a plan with prospects, but there has to be an opening at the major league level for a prospect to fill. I can remember making a push one year and dealing both Mark Teixera and Dallas McPherson from my farm system. One of those players turned into gold, the other, not so much. With the increased focus and information on minor league prospects, they have become overvalued and often require a premium when being dealt.
The undervalued targets in rebuilding trades are those major league players (many of them young) who may be blocked for a job this year, but have an opening next year. As a fantasy owner, you don’t want to be in constant rebuilding mode. You would like to chase championships year after year. A great tool to use when researching opportunities for next year is Cot’s Baseball Contracts (now part of the Baseball Prospectus family). All salary data below is from Cot’s. Here are a few targets for you that might be more easily acquired.
In Minnesota, the Twins are likely going to have a new closer next year. Matt Capps is on the trading block and is likely a free agent after this season (the Twins hold a $6M option with a $250,000 buyout). The two most likely candidates on the roster currently are Glen Perkins and Jared Burton. Perkins is a lefty who was seen as the closer in waiting coming into the season. He is signed through 2015 for just $10.3M. He would be a solid target in most leagues for next season. I wouldn’t pay top dollar as he is far from guaranteed the spot, but he’s got a better shot at picking up saves next year than say Brian Wilson. I give Perkins a 50% chance of holding the job next season for the Twins.
Jared Burton is the other player in the mix for saves in Minnesota current. Burton is the right hander who was signed to a minor league deal this year and is a free agent after the season. He’s had a pretty sordid injury history (including shoulder surgery which forced him to miss most of 2011). I’d rank him behind Perkins at the moment and I’d give him a 5% chance of holding the closer role next year for Minnesota with the field (including Capps) the other 45%.
The Kansas City Royals closer for next year is far from settled. Jonathan Broxton has been dangled in trade talks this year (though there is talk of Kansas City trying to re-sign if he isn’t dealt). The incumbent coming into this year, Joakim Soria, will be coming off of his second Tommy John surgery. Soria is a potential target that should cost next to nothing. Beyond Soria, the Royals have a plethora of arms that could fill in next season. Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Jose Mijares all have some skills which could lend themselves to being a closer. They should all be relatively cheap to acquire as well.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the best fourth outfielders in the majors in the person of Gerardo Parra. The current outfield is comprised of Chris “Eternal Disappointment” Young, Justin “Trading Block” Upton, Jason “Hamstring” Kubel. Parra is a gifted defensive player who can provide some help in all categories. And he’s only 25 years old.
Another set of undervalued players to target are “failed” prospects that are still young enough to have some development in their futures and have fallen out of favor with their current owners.
Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals has been offered up as bait in many of the leagues I’m in. Many people (including this author) saw Hosmer as contending for an MVP award this year. Perhaps we were a bit overzealous based on his hot last two months of 2011. I will call this a gut feeling that we will see a much better Hosmer over the final half of the season. He’s going to be useful in mixed leagues before the season is out and carries the added bonus of being
Domonic Brown just came off of the minor league DL for the Philadelphia Phillies. It seems that he has been around forever, but he is just 24 years old. In 2011, he was basically league average over 210 PAs (99 OPS+) and then was jettisoned to AAA so that Phillies could play Raul Ibanez regularly. His 2012 has been a lost cause due to injuries, but he still has the talent. He many need a change of scenery to unlock the talent, but he’s worth the gamble. He was the #4 prospect prior to 2011 as rated by Baseball America.
We will be back to our regular format next week. And it might even be submitted on time. All of my previous columns can be found at here.
Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.