If you follow fantasy, you are familiar with the king of second-half swing, a titan in the ugly-duck-to-beautiful-swan industry, the ultimate All-Star week pickup, Adam Laroche. The numbers are remarkable. Not that I put to much stock fantasy-wise in batting average, but check out these splits:
–> 1st half: .251
–> 2nd half: .323
–> 1st half: .239
–> 2nd half: .312
–> 1st half: .251
–> 2nd half: .304
–> 1st half: .250
–> 2nd half: .311
–> 1st half: .253
–> 2nd half: probably 50 points higher…
Those numbers simply don’t lie. Like clockwork, every year, Adam Laroche hits approximately 50 points higher in the second half. It’s remarkable. Even this year, when he started out hot (.296 in April), he has corrected himself, clearly. Mr. Laroche must just take a few months to get his legs under him. As I set out to write this post, I got to thinking about second half standouts. And this year is a prime year for second-half second chances (Aaron Hill, your ears should be BURNING). Using my considerable mental prowess, I have devised a collection of players I feel are going to be second half studs, whether it be due to injury comeback, past history, or plain and simple waking the bleep up. I may be wrong (I will almost assuredly be wrong about some) about a few, but in the gambling sense, I honestly can tell you the majority of these cards are going to land you on top (and that’s a power position, wink wink). So here they are, the Adam Laroche All-Stars, guys we think will have good if not great second halves, complete with various levels of statistical evidence to back us up.
Aramis is a staple of the teams I build. He is also a very frustrating player. A notorious slow starter, Ramirez heats up when it heats up. He has also been, on a scale of one to Alex Gordon, very poor this year. So here is my thinking; baseball is a statistical game. There is obviously a human element, however. These two work together thought, not in opposition as some might think. Life is a game of averages. I’ll break it down. If somewhere in the world usually gets 11 inches of rain in September, but it only has received 2 inches, you can safely assume there is going to be more rain coming. In the same way, if Albert Pujols averages .320-30-115 but is under that projection thusfar, you can bet that even if he doesn’t exceed those numbers, the stats are going to settle closer to the average than where he currently stands. This is not just a statgeek phenomena is my point, it’s the human condition. Aramis is a good player. He should be hitting 25-35 homers and driving in 90-100 runs. I’m betting his numbers end up closer to that than the Mendoza Line. So expect a nice second half.
Let me first start off by saying I am a huge fan of Nick Markakis. Just to get that out of the way. Markakis is having a fine season, with 28 doubles and a .395 OBP, but we as fantasy owners do not want ‘fine,’ we want ‘stellar’ or ‘marvelous’ or even ‘exemplary’ (thank you, thesaurus). Markakis is known as a great second half player. His K:BB ratio is an excellent 51:50. Clearly, with the 28 doubles and his fantastic eye, there is no issue with his swing. I maintain that Markakis is going to go on a tear at some point in the second half and the homers will come. I don’t mean he’s going to hit 40- At this point, he does not appear to be more than a 30-35 homer guy, which is fine with all the doubles he hits- but watch out for Markakis in the second half. He’s currently the 206th ranked player in Yahoo leagues. I don’t think I’m reaching when I guarantee that he will finish much higher than that, nor do I think it is a stretch to say he will finish in the top 100 players after the second half he has. But only time will tell, I’m no Gypsy.
Maybe it’s just me being sympathetic, but I just picked Aaron Hill up in a league where he was dropped. I have watched many Aaron Hill at bats over the course of his career. Aaron Hill is not a .189 hitter. He simply is not. He still has 12 homers, which is very respectable. I’m envisioning a correction here, where the season average settles in to a more reasonable .275 range, meaning a strong couple months for Mr. Hill. Or at least I hope so, because Pedroia isn’t coming back soon and I need a 2B.
Three different cases here, all very intriguing. Mr. Blanks has been written about in this space before, as Dave has a man crush on the big fella. And he is a BIG fella (6’6” 270). Blanks has the minor league numbers to suggest that once he settles in, he is going to be a useful power prospect, a 25 homer 100 RBI type. It might have been a good thing for him to go down with an injury, for as far as I know, players spend some of their downtime watching tape. If Blanks comes back feeling more comfortable with major league pitching, look out, he could be in for a monster second half. Borbon is an entirely different case. He’s been working out the kinks all season in Texas. Though he scuffled in 31 July AB’s, look at his June numbers and you will know why the Rangers are sticking with this kid. A .400 OBP with 30+ steal potential speed is a deadly combination and as Borbon adjusts, I expect him to have stretches where he plays closer to his June numbers rather than April. It only makes sense both statistically and rationally, as he is better than a .200 hitter and is becoming more comfortable at the higher levels of pitching. You cannot, I repeat cannot, teach speed, making Borbon someone to look out for, regardless. I should be fair in my assessment of Drew Stubbs– I think his he makes me all the more interested in his fantasy potential. Stubbs appears to be a legitimate 25-25 threat in the years to come. He is blessed with good speed and good pop, it’s just a matter of time and patience as to when he breaks out- so why not this second half? His K numbers are high, I have mentioned as much. But Cincinnati is a young emerging team with a young outfield, it is not hard to imagine both Stubbs and his teammate Jay Bruce improving their numbers this summer as the race in the central heats up with the weather. Let’s not forget, Cincy plays in a good hitters ballpark and the likes of Bruce, Stubbs and Jonny Gomes (also an interesting player in this upcoming second half) are all due for an impressive stretch of hitting. Look out for the Cincinasty outfield is the long and short of it.
Volquez is expected to make his triumphant return any day now, after a stellar (that word again…) rehab start (100 pitches, 7 innings, 1 hit, 9 K’s). If the maturation of Johnny Cueto is any indication, the Reds, with their aforementioned outfield, could be looking to surge ahead following the break. Volquez will certainly have a few starts where he struggles with control, as any pitcher is wont to do coming off an injury (and him especially), but the strikeout numbers are undeniable. He is someone to grab now if people have slept on him in your league- he will be a valuable fantasy contributor one way or another.
Dave and I are both big Anderson supporters. I should hope he is owned in most of your leagues, stashed in a DL spot somewhere. If not, grab him now and get him on your side. Anderson has ace-type stuff and an ace-like mentality. He appeared to only be improving on an excellent rookie campaign (150 K’s to 45 BB’s). And his troubles with giving up the longball have been addressed (none in the 30+ innings this year compared to 20 last season, not ridiculous for 175 innings, but still improvable). Anderson is poised and confident on the mound and is a gamer. I expect him to come back strong as the A’s make their traditional march into relevance in the second half. Anderson is an excellent option as your second or third pitcher and can probably be traded for on the cheap, as few people read our blog… grab him while you can and enjoy the second half of solid starts.
Staying in the AL West…
Erik Bedard was an outstanding pitcher. Do you remember that? Neither do the M’s. Every year, Dave and I say, “If Bedard gets healthy, I’m gonna make out like a bandit stashing him.” This year is no different. This guy had a 1.09 WHIP and 221 K’s in 182 innings in 2007! That’s only 3 years ago! It seems like he hasn’t been healthy in a decade! Enough exclamations. Bedard appeared to be coming back healthy before experiencing discomfort as he as supposed to come off the DL… but it was relatively minor. Here’s to hoping this is the year, Erik. Dave will be thrilled.
and last, but not least:
Yup, it could happen. Look at his minor league stats this year…
That’s all the time I have folks, you’ve been a great audience. Enjoy the second half. Hopefully I’m correct about at least one of these guys so I don’t look like a complete bozo. Otherwise, be on the lookout for SECOND HALF DUDS