RotoWire Partners

Circling the Bases: Second-Half OPS

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

Circling the Bases: Second Half OPS

Last week I touched on some of the pluses and minuses on the hill in the second half of the season in Second Half ERA's. This week I'll take the same tact but look at the men who hit the ball for a living.

*NOTE: Minimum of 200 plate appearances to be included in the discussion.

THE GOOD:

1.102 – Buster Posey
1.074 – Miguel Cabrera
1.006 – Prince Fielder

The only three men who had a four-digit number after the All-Star Break.

.990 – Aramis Ramirez
.983 – Ryan Braun

Miguel Cabrera won the Triple-Crown. His teammate is Prince Fielder. Fielder used to be a teammate of Ryan Braun. The Brewers brought in Ramirez to bat behind Braun when Fielder went to the Tigers. Pretty amazing the symmetry we've got working here.

.978 – Chase Headley
.966 – Mike Trout
.965 – Adrian Beltre
.959 – Ryan Ludwick
.951 – Brandon Moss

Headley had posted an OPS of .734, .702 and .773 the previous three seasons hinting at nothing that we saw from him this season (he finished the year at .875). Headley blasted 31 bombs. He had hit 27 homers the previous three seasons. Clearly, no one on the planet saw that coming. Be wary, and I mean like not talking to strangers when you were five years old wary, as there is simply no way Headley is repeating as a 30-homer bat in 2013 (even with the fences being moved in at Petco it's still a very tall order). Headley not only managed to more than double his previous career best in homers, but he did it hitting the fewest, the fewest, fly balls of his career in terms of his fly ball rate at 32.1 percent. How can you double your previous best in homers when you hit fewer fly balls than ever before? Why by doubling your career HR/F ratio of course. Not only did Headley double his career rate but his 21.4 percent mark is more than his total the previous three years, combined (18.3). Twenty seems doable for Headley, but don't go paying for a full repeat.

In 2008 Ludwick socked 37 big flies while driving in and scoring over 100 (113 and 114) for the Cardinals. Since then it was three straight years of declining production before Ludwick caught fire this year with the Reds. Can't say that Ludwick can't repeat what he did this year in 2013, he did have a .966 OPS in 2008, but from 2009-11 his OPS was .731 which was lower than the league average of .745 during that time.

Moss was a second half monster hitting 11 big flies with a .309 average over just 178 at-bats. Moreover, his .573 second half SLG percentage was better than Mike Trout (.565) and Fielder (.558). Moss ended the year with a .954 OPS, virtually identical to his second half total, and '12 was his first season of .800 since 2007. Talk about out of control HR/F ratios. Moss more than doubled his HR/F ratio entering the year with a massive 25.9 percent rate. His previous single season best was 13.1 percent in 2008.

THE BAD:

.745 – Jason Kubel
.742 – Carlos Beltran
.729 – Adam Dunn

Kubel blasted 30 dingers and drove in 90 runs in a very successful season, but his struggles toward the end were certainly a drain on his owners. Kubel had a .367 OBP in the first half, a mark that was nearly .100 points higher than his second half OBP of .275. In 68 fewer at-bats after the break he struck out only seven less times though he did manage to go deep 15 times, his same mark as the first half. For just the second time in his career he had a SLG above .475 – it was .506 – but his .328 OBP was actually lower than his .334 career mark. Again, a successful season no doubt, but hardly an overly impressive one.

Beltran entered the break hitting the ball as well as he ever had with 20 homers, 65 RBI and 50 runs scored through 82 games with a slash line that sparkled (.296/.382/.542). Unfortunately injuries, as they always seem to do with him, dragged him down to the point that his OPS dropped nearly .180 points in the second half.

Dunn hit .199 in the second half. Amazingly, the guy hit .204 with an OPS of .800 for the season.

OH, AND THE UGLY:

Who was below the big league average of .724 in the second half this season?

.720 – Ryan Howard
.707 – Ian Kinsler
.704 – J.J. Hardy
.693 – Jacoby Ellsbury
.676 – Asdrubal Cabrera
.650 – Carlos Lee
.651 – Jason Kipnis
.630 – Mark Trumbo
.610 – Trevor Plouffe
.586 – Mike Moustakas
.565 – Drew Stubbs
.515 – Colby Rasmus

Howard had 14 homers and 56 RBI in 71 games, but he hit .219 and struck out in literally a third of his at-bats. It remains an open question just how much of a rebound we will be in for next season, but let's just say that the Phillies blundered when they signed him to that huge contract (2013: $20 mil, 2014-16: $25 mil, 2017: $23 mil or a $10 mil buyout).

Kinsler only had a .783 OPS in the first half. His second half wasn't impressive as he hit one fewer homer (10) than in the first half but scored 31 fewer runs (42), had 10 fewer RBI (31) and stole nine fewer bases (six), oh, and hit .229.

Hardy, for the second straight year and fourth time in six years, hit 20 homers with 65 RBI. He's got solid power for the shortstop position. However, he's really not that great a hitter. For the 2nd time in four years he failed to hit .240 (.238), and he posted the lowest OBP of his career at .282. Add in a career worst 106 strikeouts and it's pretty hard to believe he scored 85 runs. Funny thing with Hardy. Even though his .704 second half OPS was below the 2012 big league average that mark was actually .062 points better than what he slopped up there in the first half (.642) so he actually went from pathetic to just terrible.

Ellsbury had a second season in three years wiped out due to injury. Ellsbury's SLG went from .552 last year to .370 in 2012, six points lower than his .376 OBP in 2011. Ellsbury also hit only four homers in 303 at-bats bringing his career total to 24 homers if we remove his 32 homer effort in 2011. He's just not a 30-homer bat. He also didn't steal bases as we expect. In 2008-09 he averaged 60 thefts a year. In his spooktacular 2011 effort he stole 39 bases, and in the just completed campaign he stole 14 bases in 74 games. How willing are you to take a chance on the dynamic talent in 2013 given all the uncertainty?

Asdrubal Cabrera failed to match his 2011 effort. If you ever thought he would you just weren't paying attention. In the end his batting average only went down three points while his OBP went up six points leaving him with a mere .030 point drop in his season long OPS (from .792 to .762).

Lee finally lost it. Batting just .264, matching his career worst set back in 2002, Lee drove in 77 runs, the first time he failed to knock in 80 in his career (14 seasons). The good times just kept on rolling as he went deep nine times, half his total of 18 from 2011 and his first season with less than 18 since he hit 16 as a rookie in 1999. Oddly, his K-rate went down and his walk rate went up leading to a 1.18 BB/K mark which is excellent. Now if only he didn't weight 360 lbs...

Kipnis had 14 homers, 76 RBI, 86 runs and 31 steals in a downright special season, but oh was he a disaster late in the year. You can sum up his second half failures pretty simply by just referring to one number – three. That's the number of homers he hit over his final 69 contests. You have NO right to complain given his overall work, but he was dreadful for half the year after his amazing start.

Trumbo had better numbers in homers (32), RBI (95), runs (66), average (.268), OBP (.317) and SLG (.491) than he did as a rookie in 2011. However he also hit only five homers in his last 52 games and had a lower second half OPS than Luis Valbuena (.635). That's embarrassing.

Plouffe qualified all over the field and hit 24 homers with 55 RBI and 56 runs scored --- and you added him off waivers so you have nothing to complain about. At the same time he hit .235 (career .231), got on base at a .301 clip (career .295) and hit five homers over his final 53 games.

Moustakas hit .268 in the first half and had an OBP of .261 in the second half. He hit 15 homers in the first half and hit five long balls in the second half. I could go on, but the point should be obvious – he vomited all over himself like that drunk in the corner of the bar on Friday night.

Stubbs stole 13 bases in the second half, but that's all that can be said in the positive for a guy who hit .211 with 89 Ks in 242 at-bats (that means he struck out in 37 percent of his second half at bats.).

Rasmus has talent. He's also a head case and maddeningly inconsistent. He tied his career best with 23 homers, and for the first time scored and knocked in 75 runs, but he also hit .223 with a .289 OBP. In total he has appeared in 186 games as a member of the Blue Jays hitting .213 with a .273 OBP and a .384 SLG. Uh, Blue Jays, that is p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.