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Split Squad: Second Half For-Wards

Conan Hines

Conan Hines

Conan Hines writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Justin Green

Justin Green

Justin Green writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Finally, the most boring three days of the summer are over. Okay, okay, maybe you like the All-Star Game, but since the infamous tie we’ve been more interested in re-tooling and strategizing for the second half. In preparation, we have compiled our first annual Second Half For-Wards. It’s pointless from a fantasy perspective to tell you who has done well and hand out awards, so we’re telling you who to keep, target, and trade going forward. We also project each player’s second half stats in the 5x5 categories at the end of each breakdown. Here’s the key:

Hitters: [R-HR-RBI-SB-AVG]
Pitchers: [W-K-SV-ERA-WHIP]

Most of these guys are higher profile, but we would love some discussion in the comments about some of the fringe guys.

Justin’s Second-Half For-Wards

MOST LIKELY TO REPEAT AWESOME 1ST HALF

Paul Konerko – Owners have to be ecstatic with Konerko’s performance so far. The 34-year-old has been mashing the ball, hitting 20 home runs in the first half, just eight short of his home run total in 2009. Konerko has also walked 39 times this year, 19 times shy of his 2009 total. Those walks have been good enough to increase his OBP by 30 points. Konerko has a stronger approach at the plate and that approach will continue into a strong second half. I’d look for some adjustment in his home run total however. [38-12-35-1-.272]

Ubaldo Jimenez – Jimenez started the All-Star game and was lights out in the first half. He struggled a bit in consecutive starts (versus the Red Sox, Padres, and Giants) but put things back together in his last start of the first half, limiting the Cardinals to just one earned run over eight innings to pick up his 15th victory. If Jimenez keeps the walks down, be ready for a strong second half. [7-94-0-3.02-1.12]

MOST LIKELY NOT TO REPEAT AWESOME 1ST HALF

Corey Hart – Hart had a big first half, but many are saying it will not last and I agree. The 28-year old has struggled the last few years trying to find out who he is at the plate. He has had hot streaks in the past that indicated his potential, but he has never been able to sustain that production for a lengthy period. The self-proclaimed ‘mountain man’ will chop his way back to reality in the second-half. Hart has struck out 70 times so far this year while walking just 28 times. Additionally, trade talks are swirling around the right fielder, so he may not bat in the prime position ahead of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder for much longer. Hart’s chances for a big second half do not look too hot. [28-10-34-3-.264]

Mat Latos – The biggest obstacle for the Padres hurler in the second half is his age. The 22-year-old is on a 150-180 inning limit this season and his chances to rack up wins and strikeouts will dramatically decrease. Throw in rumors that Latos may start the second half on the DL and it is hard to see a repeat performance through all the red flags. This could be a sell high that garners a lot of value in return. [3-44-0-3.75-1.28]

MOST LIKELY TO BOUNCE BACK IN 2ND HALF

Mark Teixeira – Easy pick here. Dreadful in the first half, Tex began to show signs of life towards the end of the first half, going 10-4-11-0-.410 in the last 10 games before the break. He started off slow last year but ended up scoring 103 runs and hitting 39 home runs. Look for Texeria to wake up big time in the second half. [41-14-49-2-.301]

Wandy Rodriguez – Most owners have lost sleep wondering how a guy could go from being so good to being so bad. Rodriguez has not been able to find the plate but it looks like his struggles are over. He allowed five runs total in his last four starts before the break, walking no more than two batters in any of those games and striking out 25. Rodriguez is just 23 walks away from his season total last year but all signs point to him regaining his control in the second half. [6-72-0-3.25-1.32]

PROSPECTS WHO WILL MAKE THE BIGGEST IMPACT IN THE 2ND HALF

Pedro Alvarez – Called up towards the end of the first half, Alvarez struggled early, but it did not take him long to regain his composure. Alvarez recorded at least one hit in eight of the last 10 games before the break, hit three home runs, and drew seven walks. Alvarez has found his footing in the bigs and will continue to improve as the season progresses. [42-11-43-3-.288]

Jeremy Hellickson – The youngster has been off the charts in Triple-A this year. Sporting a 104/26 K/BB ratio with a 2.21 ERA, Hellickson is ready to step into the Rays rotation and make an impact. He was drafted out of high school and is seasoned in professional baseball. When he gets the call up, expect him to keep his composure on the mound and record a bunch of strikeouts. [6-49-0-3.41-1.23]

Conan’s Second-Half For-Wards

MOST LIKELY TO REPEAT AWESOME 1ST HALF

Martin Prado – The BABIP is a little high (.354), but not as high as you may think. With BABIPs at .357 (’08) and .331 (’09), don’t expect the rate to plummet. Prado is smacking line drives at a nice 22%, while limiting the flyballs to just about 30%. Groundballs and line drives keep the BABIP high. The power could be legit as well; and if it is, a flyball increase could hurt his average, but help his home run total. Overall, Prado plays multiple positions, gets on base and scores a ton of runs – look for him to stay hot after the break. [52-7-33-3-.312]
Jered Weaver – No pitcher has outperformed his expectations more than Weaver. Only 27, his performance seems to reflect his talent more than any sort of luck. He’s throwing his curveball more, and changeup less, and seems to be equalizing hitters much more. You have to love a K-rate that has jumped upwards of three strikeouts per game from last season. He’s also issuing fewer free passes than ever, inducing more groundballs, and still keeping the ball in the yard. There’s no reason to believe Weaver won’t continue dominating in the 2nd half. [9-93-0-3.32-1.17]

MOST LIKELY NOT TO REPEAT AWESOME 1ST HALF

Adrian Beltre – Want to talk about luck-inflated performance? Look no further than Beltre. I know Fenway is a better place to mash than SafeCo, but don’t be fooled by the king of foolin’. His .362 BABIP is off the charts, so don’t think Adrian has turned into a spray hitter. He’s seeing less junk, more hard stuff, and hitting in the Red Sox lineup has certainly helped. A problem I see going forward is people may be forgetting that Beltre isn’t running. The lineup around him has experienced some injuries, and so has he. Beltre won’t fall to his 2009 line, but don’t kid yourself and think he’s an elite third baseman. I’d sell high while you still have the chance. [33-7-40-2-.282]

Ubaldo Jimenez – Don’t email me, this is not a typo. Jimenez is still a good pitcher, but I would feel more comfortable if I had him alongside another number one starter. And if you have some depth on your staff, I’d certainly look to deal him if you can get a pirate’s bounty (not the Pittsburgh Pirates – that would be horrible). As I said a few weeks ago, Jimenez has gotten extremely lucky. His BABIP (.248) and LOB% (82.4%) reek of undeserved fortune. The strikeouts aren’t amazing (8 K/9) and the walks aren’t great either (3.26 BB/9). He may be great at suppressing the longball (5.4% HR/FB), but I don’t see him pitching like he did in the first half. [6-80-0-3.91-1.32]

MOST LIKELY TO BOUNCE BACK IN 2ND HALF

Aramis Ramirez – He still has a finicky thumb, but Ramirez is worth taking a chance on. If you have him, keep him. If you need a high-upside bat for cheap, go get him. Now, I know I tried to talk you into him a while ago, but I think now is the time to jump. From July 6-10, he had a five-game multi-hit streak. He went 11-21 with four homers, two doubles, a triple, four runs and nine RBIs. Since this nation’s anniversary, A-Ram has raised his average 30 points. With more rest thanks to the All-Star break, I’d expect Ramirez to start producing at a level more reflective of his draft slot. [37-12-48-0-.278]

Scott Baker – Owners should be disappointed in Baker’s season so far, but the blame should be placed entirely on the baseball gods. Not only is Baker striking out more guys and walking less than ever before, he is giving up a BABIP of .335. His LD% is at an all-time high (over 23%), while 12% of his flyballs are carrying over the wall. Keep an eye on his elbow over the break, but look for his luck to improve when the second half begins. [8-85-0-3.85-1.18]

PROSPECTS WHO WILL MAKE THE BIGGEST IMPACT IN THE 2ND HALF

Mike Stanton – If you need big-time power, look no further. He’s already owned in 28% of Yahoo! leagues, but if he’s available in yours, go pick him up. Before Sunday, Stanton was on a six-game hitting streak that saw seven of his eight hits go for extra bases (four doubles, three home runs). You need to own a team that can sustain his poor average, because I can assure you, it will remain low. Besides that he should score a good amount of runs, garner plenty of RBIs and put a bunch over the wall – while also managing to swipe a few bases. [38-13-46-4-.243]

Madison Bumgarner – The word is already out on this kid but hopefully you took a flier on him before he impressed us with a quality end to the first half. His ownership, now at 25% in Yahoo!, has jumped about 20% just over the past week. Not yet allowed to legally consume alcohol, Bumgarner has shown extreme poise and maturity through his first four starts. He’s averaged seven innings per start and has already faced the Red Sox and pitched in Coors. He shut down inferior teams in Milwaukee and Washington, and both games were away. I don’t know if he’s an under-3.00 ERA guy, but I think he’s worth the risk to shore up your staff. [6-61-0-3.86-1.27]